There and Back Again — A Pasley Tale

It’s a lovely world

Up, over and under.

Same stars that we all call ours

To look upon and wonder

Good to see another point of view

Good to show my daughters

Courage can kick start a heart

Scared of crossing waters.

Still I think it serves us leaving what we know

Though there may be days when my heart gives way

To the pulling undertow…and I want to go home.

My sister wrote this song for me before we moved to Sydney.  I used to sing it to myself when I felt lonely or lost or on the wrong side of the road.  It was such a gift–such a comfort.  But Australia no longer feels  foreign to me.  It’s not just the birthplace of Crocodile Dundee and animals that want to kill me.  It’s where Chaylee learned to walk and talk, where Kenna learned to read and ride a bike, where our baby girl, Kiama took her first breath.  It’s home. Wild kangaroos and wombat roadkill, kookaburra wake up calls and startling cockatoo cries,  crushing waves and God painted sea shells, the seductive curves of the Opera House and the  iconic arch of the Harbour Bridge….they all  feel like my natural habitat now.

In fact, it has taken a while for the pointy evergreens of Washington to feel natural to me again. The mountain still takes my breath away, but the dark green waters have taken some getting used to.  The chill in the air doesn’t feel quite right yet either.   But, in the words of the great Australian singer, song writer and wise sage, Josh Pyke,”when the city that you’re from makes a stranger of you, you know you’ve been away too long.”

So, though I have avoided writing this final chapter, I think it time.

Many blog worthy stories from our journey never made it to cyberspace.

Like the time I slipped on a cruel patch  of seaweed at Mona Vale whilst wearing a bathing suit in front of the only man in all of Australia, other than Mike Pasley, that ever attempted to chat me up.  My landing was hard,  awkward  and painful–my ending pose, unfortunate.  I tried to put the gentleman at ease with my spill by making light of my injuries.  He was concerned for me. That made it worse. Much worse.  I was so glad to return to the arms of my husband who is more than happy to laugh with me when I bite it.

Then there was  the time  a young woman working the phones at ABC Carpet Cleaners made me cry when I nervously called with a customer service complaint.  She hated me and my stupid request for better service.  She told me to never call again. I called her a big jerk.  I think she worked at the Artarmon Post Office too.  Hey, blondie…if you are reading this, put your manners back in.

And we can’t leave out the infamous Roseville Public School Art Auction and Fundraiser where Mike was coaxed by a teary wife into purchasing an unsightly map of Australia decorated by Kenna and her fellow first graders for $350.   I was in charge of the project. My original vision involved, through the eyes of a child, style photography and some simple framing.  This concept soon evolved into a large map of Australia decorated with homemade post cards created by the students.  It devolved into a grotesquely large particle board collage of muted coloring pages pasted on a background of hard to read “hand-written post card” entries.  The night before the auction I attempted improve upon the deteriorating design by framing the individuals drawings with some exotic red sand we had collected from our journey inland to Dubbo.  I thought that would give the final product an, if you will, rustic motif.

What emerged was a humiliating hodge-podge of kid art in smeared dirt frames stuccoed onto a now irreparably contaminated canvas. It was a lost cause. My dirty map would have to go to auction. That’s when I started crying.

It really wasn’t that hideous if you considered it “child art”, but the other class pieces were definitely outsourced with only peripheral ankle biter involvement.  One class even constructed a 5’4 wishing well out of stones from the playground.  It sold for over one thousand dollars.  As it should have.  Thanks Mike for buying the dirty map of Australia.  I’m sorry it had to come to that.

On a side note, the fundraiser was amazing. Those Aussies really know how to invest in public education.  Among the door prizes;  a win your height in cases of beer raffle, and a vasectomy.

I don’t believe I blogged about my frightening encounter with an angry bird either.   I was walking to Jane’s house one sunny Sunfay afternoon when suddenly a deranged bird of prey repeatedly attacked the hair I had bundled on top of my head.  No one warned me to avoid nest like buns during magpie mating season.  After the assailant’s fourth sortie,  I was able to take up defensive position utilizing a book I had brought with me.  Unfortunately,  I dropped several creative expletives in front of Jane’s neighbors during the assault, thus bolstering my already tarnished reputation.  (See the Chicken Situation– https://heatherpasley.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/jane-says/ ).

Another favorite was the accidental bikini car wash drive-by on the way home from the hospital after having Kiama.  No woman wants to sit at a stop light observing scantily clad, childless women in their twenties caressing muscle cars just after she has given birth to her third child.  Mike and I got a good laugh of out the juxtaposition,  then I gave them the bird…in my heart.

And an honorable mention goes to Chaylee’s surprise performance of “poker face” at her final ballet lesson before an audience of puzzled parents.  The whole experience was a bit more subversive than I had anticipated.  The lyrics suddenly became crystal clear, as if I were hearing them for the first time.  What once sounded like gibberish, sounded downright inappropriate.

I won’t tell you that I love you, kiss and hug you

Cause I’m bluffin with my muffin…

What the?

It was like Little Miss Sunshine but with  improvisational, and if you ask me, superior choreography.

Another gem worth a nod came by way of the International moving company that packed and loaded all our worldly possessions.  Evidently our belongings were not very impressive.  “You sure you want to bring this?” “This is garbage”  “You need three barbeques?”  ” Why you have this?”  His choppy English  cut deep.

There are many more stories that deserve a paragraph or two but the time for closure has drawn nigh.

I never knew when my sister shared that song with me nearly four years ago that home would become more of a feeling than a place.  Perhaps she knew that would be my fate…that one day I would long for the Southern cross as much as I once longed for the Fourth of July.

Feelings they come

Then they go like a dream slept by

Can’t remember why I cried so hard

Staring up at the sun swept sky

Another day of finding love

Forming bonds and virtue

Fighting fear and finding recompense

F0r all the things that hurt you

Still I think it serves us leaving what we know

Though there may be days when my heart gives way to the pulling undertow

And I want to go home

Final Poll

What does home mean to you?

Aussie word of the day:

Australia:  The land derived it’s name from the Latin term Terra Australis which means unknown land of the south.   The original Spanish name for the Land Down Under was La Australia del Espíritu Santo which means, “the southern land of the Holy Spirit”.  That is perhaps my favorite.
Family Trivia

I went indoor skydiving in August to celebrate my dear friend Michelle’s birthday. I came away with a shoulder injury.  After a month of continuous discomfort I decided to go to the doctor.  I knew he would want an x ray so I went ahead and took a pregnancy test to satisfy my conscience when I confidently checked the “not pregnant” box.

It’s a boy.

When Harry met Pasley

I should have known better.

Apologizing in this country is futile.   In fact, it is seen as a sign of weakness.  Instead, Australians say “no worries” when they do you wrong.  Somehow this is supposed to prevent the wronged party from worrying about the transgression.  Mike has embarked on  many a comical  tirade on this very issue .   And yet, I have continue to employ my Americana apologetic strategies when dealing with Aussies.  It’s in my nature.  At least, it was.  Then I met Harry.

We  accidentally booked the wrong dates for our Easter/Anzac road trip.  Worse yet, we paid the full balance when making our reservation at the Wharf Apartments in Narooma. I apologized profusely to Harry, the Property Manager, when attempting to cancel the reservation.   When I suggested that the cancellation protocol was a bit unclear and requested 50% of our deposit back,  in accordance with the policy, Harry got personal.

He used aggressive CAPS and emotionally loaded punctuation!!!!  I am surprised he didn’t throw in a emoticon with devil horns just to twist the knife.  He hated us and our stupid mistake and let us know that we were incompetent, irresponsible and unworthy of reimbursement!

I am not sure why Harry was so angry.  Maybe it was because he “wrote the policy” and felt like I was insulting his knowledge of contractual language.  Perhaps he didn’t take kindly to foreigners.  Or maybe he went on a bad date with Sally and failed to have what she was having.

Whatever the cause, I was dumbfounded by his  rage at our request to be partially reimbursed.  All I could think to respond with was, “I don’t like the tone you are taking with me”  so I handed off the task of negotiating with Dirty Harry to Mike.  And he delivered.   The man whipped up a retort that made him sound like he practices contract law on the side just for pleasure.  He used legal bonus words like, clause, tariff and restitution.   We got our deposit back, but not before being cyber bullied for weeks thereafter by Harry the scorned Apartment Manager. Maybe he and Eileen should go bowling?

Australia Rock-Narooma

Words of the Day

Have a Blue: Have a fight.

Mean As Cat’s piss: MEAN!!!!!!

We had a blue with Harry who was as mean as cat’s piss!

Fun Facts

We never actually got to stay at the Wharf Apartments. Or any other fancy apartment for that matter. Instead we stayed at the Tree Motel which included free instant coffees, an ash tray, 80’s VHS rentals and a parking spot near the “lobby”.  Read Crouching Tiger, Hidden Baby for further details.

Poll

Have you ever had a customer service representative take your cancellation policy questions personally?

Me, Myself, and Eilene

It was January 3rd.  I laid in bed wide awake for what seemed like hours. In the morning I would face the tenuous task of pushing a human being out of my body. I felt like the playground bully had put me on his calendar for a good ass kicking after morning tea. The idea of scheduled agony made me feel uncomfortable and nervous, like the opening bars of Mama Mia.

I tried to empower myself with prayer and victorious thoughts. I pictured myself as a heavy-weight boxer before a title fight.

And in the pink corner, wearing a floral moo moo…

The Doctor

We arrived at the hospital at 8:30am and met with Dr. Gill to finalize the plan.

“Well, we’ll go ahead and…(muffled whisper)…..water! I think he said they would break my water, but due to his curious quirk of trailing off mid sentence, only to exclaim the final words, I could not be sure.

“And if that doesn’t work, we can put some gel on your…..(more muffled whispering)…to get things moving!” I assumed that the aforementioned gel would be placed near the baby exit, but only time would tell.

“And if that doesn’t do the trick,” he said strongly, “we can…(muffled whispering continued)…and she’ll be right out!” No idea on that one. I looked to mom for some sort of interpretation, but my intended subtle inquiry was met with an uncontrolled guffaw. I realized then, that mom and I would have to avoid eye contact during all future meetings with Dr. Gill.

Despite the shocking volume of unintelligible speech, I was comforted by Gill. He had an excellent reputation and a certainty about him that made me feel safe in his care. He also had a Fonzie quality during physical examinations —an effortlessness that made it seem like checking a cervix was as easy and checkin the oil on a Camaro—like he could catch babies blind folded—but, I’ll get back to that…

The Ward

I held Mom’s hand tightly on the way down while Mike rubbed my back like any good coach before a big fight. I had my hair tied back, my soundtrack ready to blaze and my moo moo on deck. It was game time and I was ready to represent not only my family, but my country. I even shouted Team USA (not kidding) as I left the lift and headed toward the maternity wing.

“Finally you’re here! I called your mobile and your home phone!” She said firmly. Her name was Eilene and already we could tell that she was an angry elf. She was older with wise gray hair and a phlegmatic expression.

We explained that we were told to see Gill first and that we headed straight down after conferencing with him. She seemed unmoved.

“Well, you’re here now.”

We hoped that her cool demeanor was just an Aussie thing. Sydneysiders (unlike most Aussie populations) are notoriously curt, so it wasn’t entirely odd to have such a shrill exchange right off the bat.

We all threw comedy and kindness at her to get her back on our side, but our valiant efforts were quickly laid waist by her infectious charm.

“So what were your previous labors like?” She asked.

“A little rough. Both girls were posterior. I had about 24 hours of back labor with my first and 2 ½ hours of pushing. The second was hit and miss for a couple of days followed by about 12-14 hours of back labor with Pitossin about 8 hours in.”

“That’s average,” she said smugly. “Mine were longer than that and they weren’t posterior.”

Who was this woman? Had she not read the manual? Page 46 clearly states that all women want a pat on the back or at a least a “good on ya” in response to their laborious tales of woe. And all midwives know that back labor is a special sort of hell reserved for those of us with unique birth canals, odd pelvic layouts, and/or stubborn babies. Come on woman! Work with me!

The Meltdown

In an attempt to document the sacred birth experience, Mom took out her fancy ipod video camera and begin to roll tape. Eilene, who had been attaching fetal monitors to my belly stopped abruptly.

“I am just going to tell you this now. I do NOT want my picture taken and YOU DID NOT ask me for my permission! I DO NOT wish to have any photos taken of me! You should have asked!” My eyes immediately filled with tears. Nurse Ratchet was going to deliver our baby.

I wanted to tell her that she was not allowed to speak to my mother in that tone, but every bad-ass bone in my body broke and I crumbled. I rolled onto my side, hiding my tears from the woman I now viewed as my opponent, rather than my advocate.

And in the black and blue corner wearing surgical gloves and a “no flash photography sign…”

I wanted to stop the fight. I felt like I had already lost. My coaching staff had not given up on me though. Mike begin to stroke my head and pray quietly in my ear. Mom, in a display of unparalleled restraint, apologized profusely and calmly attempted to clarify Eilene’s terms and conditions for filming the momentous event.

Eilene escorted Mike out of the room to show him around the ward. Mom and I hugged and processed what had occurred and soon Eilene and Mike returned. She seemed different. She had not warmed up, but she had clearly called off the attack.

After a hellacious examination lasting at least 5-10 minutes, my water had still not broken, so the three of us played cards and waited for the tide to turn. Contractions came and went without form or pattern. Occasionally Eilene would come in quietly and stare at me for a bit, but her presence was infrequent and aloof.

“What do you think happened?” I asked.

“I had a word with her.” Mike answered calmly.

I was completely destroyed by love for him in that moment. He had taken back my lunch money.

From then on, the three of us created a impenetrable realm where Naomi Cambell and her paparazzi paranoia could not injure me, at least not for a while.

Enter Pitossin (a.k.a. Syntocinon in Australia)

Despite my frequent though irregular contractions, Eilene made it clear that labor had not begun. Of course, this is exactly the kind of encouragement that I needed. I mean really, what woman doesn’t’ want to feel like a sputtering hooptie holding up traffic.

It was time for the drip.

As the contractions strengthened the back labor materialized. Yet another Pasley girl was posterior and loving it. We tried various and sundry methods of coping including “gas” and a hot shower, but the gas mask was making me nauseous (which Eilene said was basically all in my head) and the shower which started out feeling amazing soon became like Chinese water torture. Mom helped me find comfortable positions and Mike manhandled my lower back to ease the pressure.  All I needed was some Vaseline around my eyes and a mouth guard to get me back in the ring. GO TEAM USA….

But, I was no match for the drip.  The contractions were not coming in waves they were violent and sudden and without pause.  The only time they eased was when Eilene would come in the room and ask how far apart they were.  It was as if my body seized up in her presence.  Contractions that were 1 minute apart instantly became 3 minutes apart.  I felt like a liar–like perhaps I wasn’t pregnant at all, just really front-loaded.

She turned up the pitocin.

I was in the pit of despair battling COUS’s (Contractions of Unusual Size). I could not move without feeling like my back was breaking.  My only source of solace was the certainty that I must be nearing transition if not already there.

The final exam

“Looks like you are only at a 4 or 4.5.  Wish I could tell you different but I would be lying.”

Read the damn manual Eilene!!!  Page 132:  How To Offer Hope to the Stagnant Uterus.

I wept uncontrollably.  Mike and mom showered me with praise and comfort but all I wanted was relief and progress…and there was only one man who could give me that.  His first name was Epi, and his last name Dural.

When Epi finally arrived he asked for my status.  Eilene, gave him a glowing report.  She is at a 4.5…maybe a 5.  Glad she had an extra centimeter of cervix to spare for the anesthesiologist. 

At 8:00pm, Eilene handed her keys to the night crew and a glorious new midwife greeted us warmly.  And with little more than a goodbye, my she was gone.  Mom took the opportunity to shout out what we had wished to say all evening long. “Goodnight Eilene!”

In a Pinch

Mike departed to forage for food in a land where everything closes at 5:00pm, including the hospital coffee shop.  Dr. Gill also headed out for sustenance with his wife, when suddenly an appalling pressure paralyzed me. I needed to push.  She wanted out and I wanted to help her evacuate expeditiously.

Mom and Mike informed the midwife of my insatiable urge.  She passed the news onto Gill who was just about to take his first bit of dinner. I didn’t know how long I could wait.  Suddenly, the little girl who I thought would never leave her womb, decided to try and sneak out unsupervised.

The midwife told me I could give little pushes but that I should try and hold on until Gill arrived unless I wanted her to  catch the baby.  I had come too far and been through too much to not let Fonzie deliver the goods, so I held on for dear life.

“What do I do? I don’t know what to do.”  I said, grasping the side rails of my hospital bed, whilst doing gold medal worthy kagels.  Even Eilene would have been obliged to give me a 9.5.  I could almost hear the Star Spangled Banner play…

“I need to push! What do I do?”

“Pinch it!” Said Mike.

“Call an audible.” Suggested Mom.

I was shaking like a frost bitten climber.  I could see the summit. I could almost touch the top. But my  Sherpa was still en route so I listened to my team…and pinched it.

The Delivery

Dr. Gill walked in just in time, kind of like how Fonzie used to enter just when Richie Cunningham needed him most.  Happy Days were here again.

Mom called Kirsten and sat the phone next to me on the bed.

“I love you sissy,” I said. “I can feel you with me.”

We cried…hard.

It was time to meet our girl.

The offspring was crowning.  Mike held my hand.  Mom rolled tape.  I panted wildly.  The Fonz put on his gloves one at a time in what felt like slow motion.  I was certain he was going to give me two thumbs up before getting underway.  Instead he gave me gentle and shockingly clear instructions to slowly, very slowly …push…

Every fiber of my body wanted to push with primal abandon. To show them what an American Woman could do!  But, Gill urged me to be controlled and deliberate.  And although it felt counter intuitive, who was I to question him. Gill knows the cervix like Bo knows baseball…like Fonzie knows women and motorcycles,.  So with pelvic control like that of a matronly ninja, I gently pushed…

They Meet

As he placed her on my chest, it all made sense.  It was not the pregnancy, the labor, or the birth that bonded me to her. It was the knowledge that we belonged together, that our life stories were inextricably intertwined.  This beautiful little body would be a permanent character in my story from here to eternity.

Kiama Joelle Pasley
January 4, 2011
8:32pm
3340 gms
49.5 cms
Sydney, Australia
Pop Quiz
Can you translate this beautiful piece of Aussie jargon?
We may have had a bodgy midwife who made me as mad as a cut snake but in the end we had ourselves a fair dinkum Aussie Ankle Biter!
Family Trivia
Kiama was born on her Great Grandma Betty’s 75th birthday!
More Family Triva
Mike wrote a beautiful letter to the hospital about our experience. Once I find said letter, I will insert a paragraph or two here.  It will make all you lady readers swoon.  God Bless Him!
Yet More Family Trivia
Mikey got a promotion!  We’re coming home!

T minus 3 Days and Counting

It was my last painting class and I was running behind schedule.  We were supposed to be doing an all white painting, using color to suggest change in tone. I was excited. It sounded fun.  Instead I walked into the art room 40 minutes late only to find myself face to face with a naked man standing on a pedestal in the center of the room, legs akimbo, wearing only a beaded rainbow bracelet.  This was not the all white painting I had in mind.

I tried to set up my work-space without disrupting the nude dude or the students who were attempting to capture his likeness.  I quietly found a spot near the exit, but kept nervously dropping my supplies.  Picking up my fallen items was no picnic either as third trimester bending is like doing yoga in stilettos.  It’s a challenge.  Not only was the situation awkward for me but, the rest of the room seemed to be uncomfortable on my behalf.  They kept giving me sympathetic glances, but seemed afraid to leave the comfort of their dirty drawings for fear someone would see what they had done.

I also made the mistake of texting Mike about what was occurring. He then proceeded to send me endless text messages full of phallic wordplay.

Then came the painting.  I could not seem to make sense of his form.  All of my attempts were futile verging on humorous. He was in his sixties, with a curious gaunt,almost feminine  build punctuated by a modest pot-belly and sparse muscle tone.  I could not seem to make him look masculine on canvas and I did not have the balls to paint his manhood. So in the end, I painted something that looked more like a misshapen eunuch.  He didn’t seem impressed.  

I have some other things going on right now that are blog worthy like being 9 months pregnant.  I just haven’t felt inspired to write too much about it. After all, the prenatal blog market is saturated.

There are the super-mom bloggers who start nesting in week six.  They are household CEO’s;  familiar with cutting edge infant technology, up on where to find the latest and greatest in nursery décor, and generally knowledgeable about all things fetal.

There are the neophyte bloggers, irritated by the horror stories they have been inundated with. Little do they know that before long, they too shall mercilessly terrorize soon-to-be parents with their own tales of insidious contractions, tearing flesh, bleeding nipples and sleepless nights.

There are the granola bloggers, who intend to rid the world of all things synthetic.  They are well educated in the ways of the ancients and ready to apply pressure , perhaps even employ sanctions on those who do not utilize their local diaper service.

There are the maternal bloggers who believe in frequent anatomical updates. They are not afraid to use words like “vulva”, “discharge” and “hemorrhoids”. All words I hate!

I do not fit into any of these categories.  I am a cheap skate, sub standard consumer who uses whatever is on hand to tend to infant need even if it is made in China. I also prefer to use euphemisms to describe the human body and it’s functions.

I have spent most of this pregnancy, as a happy mother of two and a reluctant mother of three.  When asked if I am excited about being pregnant, I have answered with self absorbed diatribes about how much this is gonna suck.  Or in the words of Louis CK, how a human is about to burrow out of my body and step on my dreams.  No one wants to hear someone complain about a blessing or whine about a gift. I know that. So, early on I decided not to write about being pregnant, so as not reveal my cynical and downright inappropriate response to the turn of events in my life.

The truth is, I am just scared. I am scared of a mid life crisis hitting me mid diaper change.  I am afraid of returning to the classroom after a ten-year hiatus and using nomenclature that is dated.  I am afraid of loving another person as much as I love my girls–of worrying about another human being to the degree that I worry about them.  I fear not having enough hands to reach them if there is danger, or a big enough lap for them all to fit on…or too big of a lap because I am in my thirties now and let’s be realistic, I’m more Oprah than Gayle.

And then there is labor.  In an effort to prepare myself for what lies ahead, I watched a youtube clip the other day called, The Miracle of Life – A Vaginal Birth.  It was a bad idea.

But, today something happened.  I pictured her. I saw her clearly in my arms and I saw the look on my face when our eyes met.  I was not scared.  I was not reluctant or regretful, and I heard myself say, “Momma’s here.”  “Momma loves you.”.   And I meant it.

FAQ’s

How many days to go: 4+

Got a name: We think so.

Any action: Lots of contractions lately but nothing consistent.

Will she be an Australian Citizen: No.  One of us would need to be Australian or a

Permanent Resident to make that happen.  This will be her home away from home though.

Do you like your Midwife?  I have a male OBGYN.  He is great, but I am still a little nervous about being “examined” so thoroughly by a male physician. He is a smallish man with puffy gray hair, three daughters and a broad Stralian accent. He is kind, humorous, warm and comes highly recommended.  He does have an unusual habit worth noting though. He begins each sentence very abruptly, then trails off leaving the listener unsure of what just happened.  As a result, I usually only understand about 25% of what is said.  Hopefully this will not impede his ability to instruct me when it counts…”So, Heather, go ahead and puiusidjkfjdklajdfjld…..”

What have you enjoyed about pregnancy:  Mostly how uncomfortable I make smokers feel.  They hide their heads in shame when I pass.  Sometimes I throw in a delicate cough on top of my waddle to twist the knife. I also enjoy the special treatment I receive in public places. The varicose vein that has decided to add texture and color to my right thigh is nice too. I always wanted one of those.

The Strawberry Shortcake Situation

Charlotte had brought the house down with a fantastic speech on lamingtons. Her mum had even brought in the classic Aussie dessert to share with the class. This week’s speech topic was “my favorite fruit” and not to be outdone by Charlotte and her lamingtons, Kenna decided to bring in some culinary bribery of her own.

She started work on her upcoming oratory six days ahead of schedule, meticulously making note cards and rehearsing endlessly in front of the mirror and any live audience that was willing to sit through her spiel on the joys of strawberries. The clever speech included descriptive diatribes, questionable facts, eye contact, and impressive vocal stylings. This was an A+ waiting to happen. All she needed was some culinary support and perhaps a carefully planted slow clapper at the end to intensify the electrifying response she was sure to receive.

To showcase the strawberry we settled on an all-American confection–Strawberry Shortcake. The novelty alone would win the hearts and minds of the natives.  I utilized imported Bisquick to create the pastry and purchased copious amounts of fresh strawberries from Harris Farms to make the ambrosia filling. I whipped fresh cream into a frenzy for the finale. The speech and its shortcake counterpart would no doubt become the stuff of legend. I finished the masterpiece with minutes to spare and headed to Roseville Public with Aunt Leslie and Chaylee to deliver the goods.

Leslie and I arrived just early enough to quickly assemble the shortcakes. Fortunately, the children were still in the main hall enjoying a bit of dance, so we had ample time to work our magic. We layered the tasty morsels in small plastic cups, leaving room for a dollop of cream. They looked beautiful and tasted even better. There was the small problem of having limited cutlery, but Leslie and I determined that most first grade classes came equipped with some form of plastic utensil for occasions such as this.

We could hear the children in the distance and the melodic though strained voice of Mrs. Burnside* leading the way.

“Come now children. Don’t run! Hats by the door! Take your seats! Quietly please…quietly 1B***!”

Kenna’s eyes widened with utter delight as she saw her precious strawberries displayed gloriously in the clever little cups! Her mates gathered round excitedly to see what “Kenna’s Mum” had brought them. They were clearly impressed.

“Mom, I will put on the whip cream as a demonstration okay?” I nodded with maternal confidence. I had done it. I had taken her speech from here (insert hand motion) to here (repeat hand motion with increased elevation).**

Mrs. Burnside approached and offered Kenna the option of going first or last. It felt like the coin toss at the beginning of a big game.

“First please.” She replied.

That’s my girl!

Kenna delivered her speech brilliantly and without error, and before I could deliver the slow clap, I was called upon to help serve-up the big finish. It occurred to me, however, as I approached the table that some key planning had not taken place. I had not brought napkins, nor had I addressed the cutlery issue with Mrs. Burnside.

“Mrs. Burnside, I only have 11 forks. Might you have some available?” Her already palpable stress visibly increased. “No, but you may be able to find some in the faculty lounge, Mrs. Pasley.” She was passively displeased.

I quickly ran out the door to do some fork finding while Kenna placed uncomfortably large portions of whipped cream onto the shortcakes. Meanwhile, Mrs. Burnside, noting our lack of serviettes, asked Max to run to the back of the room to collect paper towels. I raced back from my successful mission to find Mrs. Burnside crouched uncomfortably near Kenna and Aunt Leslie holding back nervous laughter on the sidelines. The children were hovering over the table of treats like little pugnacious vultures, fighting for flesh.

“I want that one!”

“I don’t like strawberries! I just want cake!”

“I don’t like the cake, I just want the cream!”

“I’m hate strawberries!”

“I want the big cup!”

“No, I get that one!!!”

“Mrs. Burnside, how would you like us to proceed?” I said, hoping some leadership would emerge amongst the chaos. I don’t think she heard me. She continued to attempt to bring order, correcting individual student transgressions like a flustered nanny.

Since the speech was only supposed to take three minutes, and it had already been nearly ten, I decided to just start handing out the cups randomly, not realizing that the napkin situation had not been brought under control. Max was running around aimlessly near the paper towels, clearly not meeting his objective. Leslie intervened but it was too late. The children had begun to eat before the utensils and paper towels had been distributed. That’s when things got ugly.

Mrs. Burnside was beginning to unravel—she was like a mildly deranged Mary Poppins.

“Sit Down! Place your rubbish on the table! I said, sit down! That is NOT where that cup goes. Place your rubbish on the table! Be more careful please. Sit down 1B!”

Strawberries were being strewn across the newly cleaned carpet and haphazardly crushed into the grey threads by wandering school shoes. The red chunks of pulverized fruit were accompanied by bits of shortcake and entrails of cream. Many a school uniform was compromised as well. It was a disaster. The clever little cups were no match for the little uncoordinated consumers.

Aunt Leslie offered to address one of the stains on the floor. Mrs. Burns accepted her offer with a sort of righteous indignation. I cowered in the back, intermittently eating left over shortcake, while frantically cleaning off sticky cutlery. I could over hear Mrs. Burnside instructing Leslie to address additional stains like she was Jane or Michael Banks. Apparently, there were many. Despite the guilt of knowing she was on her hands and knees scouring the floor, I could not make eye contact Leslie, knowing that one look would send us both into a hysterics. How could it all go so horribly wrong?

We collected our rubbish and left over samples and headed quickly for the door before Grace’s speech on Rock Mellon got underway. Evidently, she had samples too.

Words of the Day:

Rhyming Slang

Good thing I was not Pat Malone (alone) when I got into froth and bubble (trouble). Ta Les.

Poll:

Have you had any classroom debacles as a parent or child that you would like to share? Because I would like to hear them.

Points of Interest:

* Mrs. Burnside is not her real name. I decided to use an alias to protect her virtue.

** This famous saying is a Carolee classic but must only be used in conjunction with the    suggested hand motions

***Classes at Roseville Public are referred to by their year followed by the first letter of    the teacher’s name. 1B thus stands for Year One-Mrs. Burnside.

Family Not-So-Fun Fact:

We have been evicted. The landlord wants his land back by then end of November. It’s going to be an interesting Christmas. Maybe I can find a nice stable to give birth in. Looking forward to the life lessons that are coming my way. Or that’s what I am telling myself in between sobs. No really. I am okay. Not really. No, really, I am. Sort of. Hopefully this situation will get funny soon too.

Man v. Wild

We were in search of Beach Access. We thought we had found it…

It had to be right. Sure there was a locked gate and no beach access sign, but according to the map it was the correct spot and there was clearly a trail. The rickety old gate was probably just a relic of some kind. An artifact the caravan park felt some affection for and was unwilling to part with. After all, if it was intended to keep out the general public it wouldn’t have the attractive grassy knoll beside it luring tourists onto the mildly overgrown path it guarded.

As we set out, we could hear the roar of the ocean on our right. Sure it was girded by gum trees and thick brush but, we knew it was there; Emerald Beach, the final destination on our Dubbo to Byron Bay Caravan of Courage. We trudged along through the occasional puddle of mud and stagnant water in our summer flip flops eagerly anticipating the imminent waves that would refresh them.

We walked and walked and walked…and walked…and yet the droning sound of waves was abating making the path we chose increasingly questionable. The quality of the trail was diminishing as well, making the beach seem less and less accessible with each step. Wildlife also started to emerge as a concern.

In the distance Mike spotted a striking and vaguely menacing wild kangaroo blocking our path. It glared at us as if to say, “You shall not pass!” before jumping into the bush. He was big. Not like the kangaroos at the zoo. He was clearly eating more than Koala Park cheerios.

We felt like we were on the discovery channel. Not in a good way. The kangaroo was a reminder of sorts. A warning that we were in a notoriously wild and dangerous land. He was a symbol of what could go wrong. Like a gazelle on the discovery channel. They don’t do specials on gazelles. They do specials on the lions that eat the gazelles.

“You know, this is probably the wrong country in which to take the road less traveled,” I said. Mike laughed in agreement, having been skeptical of our judgment from the start.

We turned around and begin our hike back to camp, this time motivated by a quiet fear rather than the spirit of adventure and anticipation we had set out with. It was a good thing we headed back too because Chaylee no longer wanted to walk on her own. Even when I held her she complained that her feet were bothering her. I hadn’t realized how far we had actually trekked into the bush until I was forced to carry the complaining toddler. We were approaching “the gate”. The gate which no longer seemed like a mere monument but a well placed deterrent.

As we emerged from the “the trail” Kenna called out curiously,”Mom? Dad? What’s on the back of my leg? It looks like a worm?” Mike had his hands full having relieved me from kid courier duty. It would be up to me to handle the worm, or dirt, or whatever it was.

I approached her sun kissed calf and batted at the culprit gently, assuming it would submit without a fight. But it did not come off. I begin to slap at it wildly this time with vocals. It wouldn’t come off. Kenna started to panic as I relentlessly beat her leg silly. I just wanted it off!!! I wailed and swatted at the little bastard like I was in a cat fight. If it had hair, I would have pulled it! Anything to get it off my girl. It finally succumbed and fell to the ground, leaving a trail of blood behind. Her blood.

A better woman would have consoled her daughter. A better mother would have offered her a hug. Instead I just stared blankly at the lifeblood trickling down her little leg and cried out in horror, “THEY”RE BLOOD SUCKING LEEEEEECHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“What? Blood? I’m bleeding? What? Blood Sucking? What?” Kenna’s eyes begin to fill with tears. She was looking to me for comfort and found only hysteria. I was no use to her or any of us.

Meanwhile, Mike began frantically searching for the sinister little suckers. Having remembered Chaylee’s declared discomfort, he took off her shoe. At least four leeches had attached themselves to her fleshy little appendage. I broke down. All I could hear was her sweet little voice…”Mommy, my foot is boddering me. Mommy, my foot is boddering me.”

I was out of the running for Mother of the Year.

They were everywhere. On our legs, in between our toes, feeding on us like we were the other white meat. Mike was bent in nervous, uncontrollable laughter frantically searching for foes as his wife, his partner, spun the children into a frenzy. The other campers did not appear moved by our plight. Or perhaps they were afraid of the crazy lady who was tossing shoes and expendable apparel into the air with abandon in search of black vampire worms.

We finally made it back to Maui (our camper) where more carnage ensued. Mike, God Bless Him, had the presence of mind to methodically search each one of us we before entered the camper so as not to let the leeches into our lair. Unfortunately, one particularly persistent leech made it through the blockade by hiding out on the bottom of my foot. Upon discovering the stow away I, as is customary, began to flail and swipe at my foot recklessly and with no regard for where the flying leech would land. Mike gently chastised me like a 911 operator trying to calm a panicked caller. I took a deep breath and attempted to recapture my maternal instincts. But, my confidence as a caregiver was dismantled once again when we found another leech on the back of Chaylee’s knee. I recognized this one. He was the the free loading sycophant that used my ped to pry his way into our caravan. That means it was me and my savage fear that led to her discomfort. I embraced her and whispered apologies and affection in her ear. Somehow, she held no grudge.

When it was all said and done, we sat on at the caravan kitchen table, emotionally drained, half naked and covered in band-aids. Finally…it had gotten funny.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

WORDS OF THE DAY

# sponger

noun:- a free loader, or one who lives of the good graces of another.

# she’ll be apples

misc:- everything will be OK, there is no need to worry.

# clod hoppers

noun:- your feet

“Once we get the spongers off our clod hoppers she’ll be apples.”

AUSSIE TRIVIA/LEECH FACTS

http://www.wettropics.gov.au/st/rainforest_explorer/Resources/Documents/factsheets/Leeches.pdf

POLL: How would you respond to a leech situation?

SHOUT OUT: My hilarious friend CK pointed out that living in Australia is like being in a video game. Level 1- Driving on the wrong side of the road.

Level 2- Huntsmen Spiders

Level 3- Blue Bottle Jellyfish

Level 4- Rip tides

Level 5- Blood sucking leeches

Chaylee post leech attack

FAMILY FUN FACT: A leech wasn’t the only sponger I picked up on our journey. Shortly after arriving home, I discovered that I was hosting yet another free loader. That’s right. In a surprise twist we are expecting our third Pasley offspring.

FAQ’S-

Was this planned? No

How far along? I am fifteen weeks

Where will the baby be born- Sydney

Are you going to find out if it is a boy or a girl? Yes

Do I need a hug? Yes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlander

I had successfully created man heaven. Extra cushions and blankets were strategically placed on the couch. Pre-made snacks and beverages were arranged on the coffee table within reach. Films with gratuitous violence and chaotic action sequences were rented. A child containment action plan was put in place. The universal remote was in position. All that was left was the man with the repaired meniscus

He arrived home decorated with an impressive knee brace and oddly shaped crutches better suited for a polio patient. He looked just pitiful enough to lavish sympathy upon with sincerity. He felt loved, at peace, grateful for modern medicine and a loving bride. He was enjoying himself. And who wouldn’t? Everyone likes a little non-life threatening illness or injury now and again, particularly when one is provided with around-the-clock-in-home-care and heaps of codeine.

The next morning Mike was served a two egg omelet breakfast with toast and tea as he lounged on the couch. Other than performing intermittent leg exercises, he was required to do nothing but heal. He was living the dream. Now all I had to do was get the kids out of the house and I would be inducted into the Spousal Hall of Fame.

But the dream would soon be compromised and my induction ceremony cancelled.

“MIKE! MIKE! MIKE! MIKE! I NEED YOU! (Expletive)…MIKE!”

He hobbled to the front door to see what had gone wrong only to find Chaylee in hysterics and me crumpled on the rain soaked ground holding my right foot with tears in my eyes. My notoriously sturdy ankle had failed me…had failed him.

“Are you okay?” He said, clearly hoping that my hollering was a gross overreaction to a minor incident.

“No.” I replied trembling, still clutching my throbbing limb.

“But there can be only one.” He said, as the magnitude of the situation begin to hit.

“There can be only one!”

It was pitiful. I could not rise unaided and he could not bend. He staggered over to his crutches and handed them to me. I began to cry, which sent the already fragile Chaylee into a tearful frenzy.

“It always has to be about you, doesn’t it.” He jested, but I was in no mood for dark humor.

It was becoming clear that the ER was in my future. Fortunately, Patrick the Irishman and Isabella, would be by later in the afternoon to pick up the kids for a play date at Wizzy World, but in the meantime, I needed a ride. I needed a friend, but no one was home. In Roseville, when school holidays commence, the entire neighborhood evacuates, except for a few despondent cab drivers. One of them would have to do.

Mike escorted me through the rain to the cab and handed me his crutches. My heart sunk into my belly as I watched him lug his impaired appendage back into the house unaided, where he would be faced with two confused and hungry children. In a matter of moments, man heaven had become man hell.

My visit to Northshore Hospital was uneventful. I was x-rayed and diagnosed with a “bad sprain” The 12 year old doctor provided me with a brace, some panadein forte, and more suitable crutches. I was relieved but still in pain.

My homebound cabbie was even less sympathetic than the gentleman who picked me up. He sat comfortably perched in his warm vehicle while I waddled unsteadily toward him on crutches, negotiating my purse, a bulky sweater, a shoe, paperwork, and of course, Mike’s loaner crutches. The indifferent chauffeur did not even pretend that he wanted to assist me. Instead, he sat muttering to himself about the “idiot” in front of us who was blocking the roundabout. “Yeah,” I agreed sardonically. “What a jerk…”.

The fun-loving chauffeur spent the rest of the ride home explaining why he hated Australia and was desperate to get back home to Iran. I thanked him for the ride and encouraged him to go ahead and make that dream come true.

The days that followed were not easy but there were some flowers that emerged among the thistles.

For example: my left ankle happens to look incredibly dainty next to my grotesquely swollen right one. This has always been a dream of mine.

Communal ice packs and his and her crutches can really bring a couple together…(or tear them apart…we experienced a little bit of both).

Times such as these make you appreciate your friends, family and all the comforts of home.

Codeine is awesome.

Poll

Have you and your spouse ever been ill or injured at the same time? Did you continue to like one another?

Words of the Day

  • Cook: Ones Wife
  • Built Like a Brick Sh#@ House: Big strong bloke.
  • Dag: Nerd or goof
  • A over T: to fall over, from “arse over t*#s”.

This cook felt like a dag when I fell A over T. Good thing my man is built like a brick sh#@ house.

Random Aussie Trivia

Australians make up nicknames for everyone. Even the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is known as Ruddy. His Treasurer Wayne Swan is referred to as Swanny. So to pay homage to my countrymen here in Australia I will now affectionately refer to the President and Vice President of the United States as Bamo and Biddie!

One Last Note

I love to use a variety of features when writing that facebook does not believe in…like bold print and italics. I feel this note lacks drama because of the absence of said features, and for that I am sorry.

International Mall Mayhem

All malls are the same regardless of hemisphere. Each one has a food court, curious mall music, wandering wayward youth who should be in school, skin care specialists who want a moment of your time , and department store mirrors designed to hurt your feelings.

Exhibit A

My little girl looked so beautiful: her fine hair pulled back haphazardly, her giant, hypnotic, hazel eyes gazing into my soul, tomato sauce strewn across her little fingers…It was an ordinary moment with an extraordinarily moving aura about it.

Why was I so moved? Why was I welling up? What was this raw emotion? Then it occurred to me. It was the music. It was the mall music. The ambient, manipulative melody of Joshua Kadison’s classic… “Jesse”. I don’t even like that song. In fact, I can honestly say, it is just above “Sometimes When We Touch”…in fact, the two sound eerily alike, if you think about it.

It was humiliating. I was publicly moved by an Elton  John wannabe and his voodoo magic. Everyone saw it happen. Even the wayward youth that should be in school.

Exhibit B

I should not have made eye contact. It was an accident. I was in no mood for skin care advice and I had a happy baby in a fancy car buggy that I had hired for five dollars an hour. Never wake the sleeping dragon. Never.

I risked it.

‘Would you like to have soft skin that looks younga?” He said with a distinctly Greco-Australian accent. He grabbed my left limb and begin to apply a silky gray clay from “the dead sea” to a small area just below my knuckles on the back of my hand.. I must admit, it felt nice. He rubbed the top of my hand in a circular motion, before washing off the deceased ocean clay from my skin. He then remarked on the significant difference in softness from the course, scaly, state of my epidermis before the treatment….that is what I felt like he said. He then requested that I lift the other hand to provide contrast, in an effort to again prove the awesomeness of his product. The problem was, my right hand was still speckled with tomato sauce as a result of a speedy departure from the food court after the “Jesse Incident”. Once again, I tried to explain, but he seemed repulsed. I was humiliated. At least the dragon was still sleeping. When he realized that I was probably not going to be a paying customer, be tried a new tactic. “You know those red spots on your face and those splotches, this will actually make those go away completely, giving you a more youthful look.”

Evidently, Zorba the Aussie, didn’t realize that the way to a woman’s heart is through affirmation. Never insult the client! Never. A woman wants to feel like she is smokin as is and on fire with a little help. This guy was a rookie. Why did I even risk waking the dragon for this fire fighter.

Exhibit C

Getting half naked in front of a mall mirror is like being forced to listen to “Jesse” in surround sound while being insulted my an effeminate skin care “specialist”. It moves you to tears.

Poll:

Have you ever been emotionally manipulated by mall music?

Have you ever been swindled by a salesman working out of an island in the mall?

Have you ever woke the sleeping dragon while shopping?

Have you ever been mocked by a mall mirror?

Do you agree candle lit dressing rooms would improve overall mall sales?

Have you had any mall mishaps lately?

Words of the day:

  • Bogan : person who takes little pride in his appearance
  • Bail (somebody) up : to corner somebody physically
  • Spit the dummy: get very upset at something

I nearly spit the dummy when the bloke bailed me up and made me feel bogan.

Trivia

Has wine consumption affected my blog writing ability?

My Mojo

I have lost my blogging mojo. I don’t know where it has gone. I have started about seven of them, but about half way through, said mojo vanishes. So here they are, without solid transitions, clever endings or well constructed quips. They are really more like clips. Snapshots of my life over the last month.

You know you love someone when you are willing to clean up their vomit. You really know you love them if you react compassionately as they throw up on you and then sneeze on your face. I must really love Chaylee.

Kenna had a dream the other night that sent her into a frenzy. A bad man was trying to steal her magic. That bastard!

We have been carless for three weeks because I had a run in with a blue cement support column. The column had it’s way with me. Thus, we had to walk to the grocery store for supplies every few days. On my first excursion I became overly excited at the prospect of having time to myself. I was a woman of leisure. I made multiple impulse buys…one after another. I was reckless and erratic. I even purchased a weighty craft project and a butternut squash. I had six bags of goods by the time I headed home. It was a nightmare. I quickly began to curse the craft project and to berate butternut squash audibly. What was I thinking? It was a good life lessen though. We carry so much more than we need on our journey home. Most of our burdens we purchase ourselves. We spend the rest of our lives trying to find clever ways to carry them, but they are exhausting and uncomfortable. My journey home would have been so pleasant were it not for the friggen squash.

Michael Jackson died. Crap!

I just encountered a woman at Liquor Land* that baffled me. She had just sampled a reputable sparkling red wine. When asked how she felt about it, she moved her cell phone away from her mouth and replied in a thick Greek/Australian accent, “I hated it!” The woman who allowed her to sample the aforementioned wine was clearly taken aback.“It might be because you did not clear your pallet before trying it.” “No”, replied the woman, again adjusting her moblie phone, “I know wine. I know it, and that tastes nasty in my mouth and I don’t like it.” I wanted to chime in with, “Why don’t you tell her how you really feel?” but I held my tongue. I could not tell if I admired the cross wine sampler because she was frank, or was repulsed by her shocking response. I am the opposite of Frank. I am Betty Sue, in moments like those. I will buy the stuff, even if I don’t like it, if the salesman seems at all vulnerable or needy of my purchase. *Liquorland is a drive-thru liquor store. Only in Australia!

Phrase of the day: Stuffed Up—to wreck something or make a mistake.

I stuffed up the car.

Poll: Are you Frank of Betty Sue; or someone else altogether?

Aussie Trivia: The taronga zoo has a new baby elephant. Elephants are known as Elepants in our house. They are Chaylee’s favorite animal.

Game: Chaylee replaces F’s with P’s and B’s with V’s. Try it. It’s fun!

Family (un)Fun Fact: We have been sick for a total of three weeks with various and flu like symptoms and infections. I bet dimes to Aussie dollars we are survivors of Swine Flu, because I am more of a ham than ever. Not kidding about the swine flu though…I really do think we had it. The over the counter codeine you can get here though, has really saved our bacon! (YES! ANOTHER GEM!!!)

Finding Nemo

 

The boat was called FantaSea 1. A perfect name for the vessel that was about to make my dream come true. However, the dream was nearly extinguished before it was ever realized. The night before our intended departure on FantaSea 1, Chaylee sent projectile vomit down my shirt destroying my only truly supportive brazier and my dream. The poor girl did not intend to vomit on my dream. In fact, she was clearly displeased herself. No one enjoys the stomach flu. No one. I actually like a good solid head cold. And if you really think about it, I bet you do too. Consider: You can lounge around guilt free, a tumor is not a likely cause of the illness, and you get a fair amount of sympathy with minimal suffering. 

I digress.

Mike went ahead and rescheduled our voyage for the next day in hopes that our girl would turn her hat around and rally. And rally she did. At 8:50am we boarded FantaSea 1. The dream twas revived!

I was glad to hear it would be a two hour trip rather than a three hour tour. I stood up on the deck and stared at the big blue spread out before me. You can see why people thought the world was flat. A thin line of indigo separated the sea from the horizon. It seemed as if the water actually came to an end. Knowing it continued past what I could see provided me with just the existential, spiritual fodder I was seeking. God is real.

Kenna, Chay and Mike joined me on the terrace as the boat began to slow. A bright green shimmering band cut through the water like a stream. As we drew closer, the colors became even more brilliant and the contrasting blues even more surreal. The colossal reef carved a giant barrier through the aptly named coral sea and thus we had a arrived at the Great Barrier Reef: home to Nemo, Marlin, and my dream

So as to not interrupt my stream of consciousness, I skipped the part about Mike deciding at the last minute that he would go scuba diving in addition to snorkeling.

Announcer: Anyone interested in scuba diving should head downstairs for a quick tutorial.

That was all the convincing he needed. “I think I’ll do it.” He said non-nonchalantly as he headed downstairs. I was speechless. Bewildered. Not entirely happy. Actually downright miffed. (Miffed is really a terrible word. Say it a few times.)

My arguments against Scuba Diving
a) embolism
b) independent scuba diving may interfere with couples snorkeling
c) embolism
d) brief tutorials are not safe tutorials
e) embolism

Once I realized that his scuba (great word) experience would not interfere with my snorkeling ambitions I released him from my emotional prison. The truth was I was a bit jealous that I didn’t have the balls to do it too.

We docked at Reef World, a huge pontoon situated on the Hardy Reef. Does it bother anyone else that the name of one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth is Hardy? Who decided this? Shouldn’t it be called, Paradise Reef, or Beautiful Land or Enchanted Coral Garden?

Mike headed to the scuba section.

I took the girls on the fancy submarine ride.

We ate lunch.

Mike arrived from his scuba excursion. He looked happy. He was alive. I was proud.

I still had not touched water.

Mike dropped the girls off at the Clownfish Kids Club and I headed to the dressing room to put on my stinger suit. A fluorescent orange leotard designed to protect snorkellers from jellyfish and conceit. It served its purpose. It made me feel safe and humble. I looked like a giant orange road safety cone. It took me a good 15 minutes to pull the little number on. Two nineteen year old girls slipped on powder blue suits with ease, unzipping the front in an effort to reveal the little cleavage they were able to conjure up…Afterall, it is common knowledge that tropical fish love cleavage. Especially the ones that live on “hardy” reef.

“I think I will go for the Angelina Jolie look” said one of the snorkeling vixens.

I unzipped my special suit and responded. “I’m going with the nursing mother motif.”

They laughed…and laughed. Little did they know tropical fish prefer orange!

Mike came around the corner in his dark blue stinger suit. It really made his eyes pop. Good look for him. We were stopped at the equipment bin by a woman with a camera and a cockney accent. I just wanted to get in the water. She had other plans. She told us about a one-night stand she had with a man from Portugal, her parents home in London, her work as a school photographer, her run-ins with Canadians….
Finally, I just put on my snorkel mask, inserted the breathing apparatus and continued listening until she got the point that it was snorkel time.

The minute I hit the water I was filled with awe and wonder…unfortunately, my mask was filled with water too. It took me at least 20 minutes to situate my goggles in such a way that I would not drown every time I attempted to view the reef. Once I achieved correct goggle positioning I achieved Nirvana!

Clownfish, fox faced rabbit fish, angel fish, grouper, giant clams the size of Kenna, every colour of the spectrum surrounded me. Huge schools of silver fish darted back and forth in perfect unison. I was swimming through a Wild Kingdom. At one point, I looked down at the fields of coral and creatures and sang through my snorkel,

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…Praise Him all Creatures Here Below!”

After an hour of bliss, we beckoned Kenna to join us. She put on her stinger suit and was transformed into a sort of aqua teletubby. She has never looked more adorable and that is saying something. She didn’t last long in the water due to the ill-fitted breathing apparatus, but she did swim to the reef’s edge and squealed with delight as the friendly fish swam by her side.

After Kenna returned to the pontoon with Dad, I swam out once more determined to find Nemo before our departure. I swam around the reef’s rim peeking in each crevice like a underwater game of hide n’ seek. I nearly gave up my search when I saw a tiny orange fish poking his fin out of an anemone.

I found Nemo.

It was time to go home.

Poll: What is your dream?

Fun Fact: The Great Barrier Reef which is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. One down, six to go!

Word of the Day:

  • togs–noun:- bathers or swimming costume in Queensland and Victoria.
  • This sheila looks hot in her flaming orange tog.
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