'D' is for...

Posted July 10th, 2006 by Penny Wise

Well the Alphabet Holiday programme hasn’t exactly gone to plan since I last wrote. I mean, we’re still keeping up with the letter of the day, but there have been a few unexpected activities thrown in – if that’s what you can call them. ‘Cars’was great! A real ‘boy movie’ but nonetheless an enjoyable outing (and us grown-ups got to see the movie at kids’ prices too). It was only when we got to ‘D-Day’ that plans started to go awry. On that day we discovered that D is for:

Dudley – had to whiz him off to the vets yet again with another infection in the same eye as before.

Downpour – we got caught in one when miserly moi decided it would save petrol to walk to the shops instead of taking the car.

Doggie Doo – Got home from shops to find that Tui the puppy had done Number Two’s in the middle of the stairs. Unfortunately nobody realised until Ali had trodden in it and left a pooey trail all along the practical pale beige carpet up to the top of the stairs, across the landing, through the bathroom and loo and throughout Liam’s room. I don’t mean just a bit either; we’re talking large heel-shaped imprints here. I could have cried (not to mention gagged) but was mercifully saved by some carpet cleaning recipes from the Vault and now you would never know – saved me calling out the experts!

Date – Couldn’t remember the last time Noel and I actually had time for a proper conversation with each other so asked my Mum to have the boys overnight so I could prepare a nice meal just for the two of us. Time was running short so with the help of the Destitute Gourmet I prepared delicious Wine Braised Beef with Herby Dumplings (dumplings being the only ‘D’ food I could think of) and Sticky Date Pudding. A very pleasant evening it was too – unfortunately we didn’t realise that when we shipped the boys out for the night, we would have to babysit their Devoted Dogs instead. Noel and I had no sooner turned off the light than Hubble and Tui broke into woeful serenading, followed by indignant barking at the absence of their young masters. We had no choice but to bring both wriggling dogs into bed with us and resign ourselves to a night of disturbed sleep. Fighting for bed space with those two was rather like trying to play Twister in the dark. We both greeted the new day feeling as though we had been beaten with a baseball bat and when Tui’s sharp wee claw suddenly shot up my nose at 6.00am I knew it was time to get up. So much for our romantic evening!

‘E’ day started the right way with Eggs for breakfast, but soon went downhill when we received word from the vet that Dudley’s Eye had popped its lens and would more than likely need to be removed – the whole eye that is. ‘Of course’, the vet reassured me gently ‘his hair’s so long, you could never see his eyes anyway, so nobody will be able to tell!’ Maybe not, but I’ll know what’s under there – or what isn’t under there any more. What a decision to make; it was either remove the eye for $500 and put an end to the problem permanently, or visit a specialist for $120 and spend $1500 on an operation to try and save the eye which very possibly wouldn’t work anyway and would then result in the eye being removed after all. Poor little guy. The afternoon was spent visiting the local Eel Factory for an impromptu free guided tour (seeing as we know the owner). The boys loved watching all the different sized eels swimming around and were very excited, to learn that some of the biggest eels were caught from ‘our’ lake where we live and were winging their way to Japan the next day – still swimming in their pools!

‘F’ Day meant Family Football, Fish for tea and unfortunately cleaning the Fish tank. I must stress that the fish for tea were not the same fish as those from the fish tank…

‘G’ – ah yes, the weather was diabolical so the boys decided on a Gameboy day and I went Grocery Shopping with Grandma. Not strictly a holiday activity I know, but a very necessary one. After months without really setting foot in a supermarket, the time had come to brave the aisles in order to do a ‘big shop’. I was excited, yet nervous – would I be able to control myself against all the appealing luxuries I had denied myself for months? I couldn’t believe what I saw – it felt as though I had been away for years! I mean, the recent shock of discovering frozen Yorkshire Puddings was bad enough, but I have since found convenience food taken to a new level. First it was in the frozen foods aisle – it seems we can now buy bags of frozen potato wedges delicately sprinkled with a) Cajun seasoning or b) Sea salt and black pepper. I ask you, is there anything wrong with making one’s own and being daring enough to use salt and pepper from one’s own pantry? A couple more aisles along I found some more new potato creations – this time bag upon bag of instant mashed potato infused with garlic and other delights. Is it really so much of a drama to peel and mash a few spuds at home and chuck a bit of garlic in? Tut, listen to me, I’ll get off my soap box! It’s not like I’m perfect anyway, after all I came home with 19 pottles of yoghurt – but it had been so loooong!

Which brings us up to today – ‘H’ day, which unfortunately stands for Hospital. After six weeks of constant illness, my little Ali’s tonsils are so huge they are a danger to his breathing and he has to have them removed as soon as possible. Just goes to show how rubbish he must be feeling as he begged the doctor to take them out then and there. I had to do plenty of ringing around the various specialists to get him admitted quickly – little did I realise how much money could be saved on tonsillectomies! I secured the earliest available appointment but with no health insurance I was pretty down in the dumps to hear that Ali’s operation was going to cost $1050. I soon changed my mind when I realised that elsewhere we would be expected to pay between $2200 - $3000! The difference? It was a private hospital and their overheads are much lower, that was all. I felt pretty smug this evening when talking to a friend – she said her son has been on the waiting list for four months so far to have his surgery in the city hospital and she has to pay $3000. Ali only has to wait two weeks. ‘What’s your secret?’ she asked, amazed. ‘Just a Simple Savings mantra’, I replied sweetly – ‘shop around, always shop around’…

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