A few days before our trip I took the girls in the stroller up to our local park. It's uphill all the way, and the Phil and Ted's, ergonomic though it may be, when packed with girls and diapers and snacks and drinks is a bit like trying to take a Sherman Tank for a power walk. It was a great workout, and we weren't exactly racing along the streets.
Anna was not asleep, so that means she was talking. And talking. And talking. Like quite a few prolific talkers, she doesn't need much in the way of actual 'conversation' so I usually keep my iPod on low and throw out the occasional 'yes, uh-huh' or 'really' at random, and that seems to sustain her momentum. Halfway to the park she suddenly broke from her monologue and said 'That's Shelly's house'. To which I replied 'yes, uh-huh-, really'. This time she was not to be fobbed off. 'Mom, look that's Shelly's house!'.
In the space of 5 seconds, maybe less, I thought: 'wait, what? Who's Shelly? how come I don't know anything about any Shelly while my daughter has clearly been over to her house? Is this how I find out? LK's been having an affair, taking my daughter over to her house and I've been completely oblivious and this is how I find out?! Oh My God, what am I going to do, what.....'
"Mom, Shelly is a snail form Sunny Patch Friends and that is her house - look!".
We had literally been going at a snail's pace and Anna had been pointing it out. Turns out, the 'other woman' in our relationship wasn't some ho called Shelly, it was TV, and more particularly a TV show.
I stepped back from the precipice.
Because of this one TV show, Anna now calls all snails 'Shelly'. When we went to England she was in hog heaven because my Mum and Dad's gorgeous garden:
Contains about 10 snails per square foot. It's a veritable Marks and Spencers food court for snails.
Anna set about collecting them all.
My Mum suggested she keep them in an old fishtank (read, snail Auschwitz). Anna thought this was a brilliant idea, completely oblivious that she was hastening their demise. She is absolutely fearless when it comes to all things creepy, crawly and slimy. She had the time of her life with her 'Shelly's'. We counted them, we raced them (riveting), she even found a gorgeous stripy one. I suggested we call her 'Speed Racer' because of her go-faster stripes. "Or..... we could call her Shelly?" suggested Anna.
England was kind to Anna. Thousands of Shellys, lots of frogs, slugs and wood lice to capture. So imagine my horror yesterday when I saw the biggest black widow spider I ever saw in my life, just taking a gentle stroll around our property.
There was no mistaking her - fiercely black, with a perfectly round body, like a spider wearing a latex fetish suit. About the size of an old 50p, it took half a can of Raid before she finally twitched herself on to her back - displaying that tell-tale red hourglass on her abdomen. I finished the job with the non-so-delicate heel of my English winter boots. No show and tell this time round.
Imagine what could have happened if I hadn't spotted her first? In California, Mother Nature bites back.
I think our little Gerald Durrell needs to take up stamp collecting.