Sparkygate 2017

The Sparky costume lives in Janitorial Closet #2.  It is an uncomfortably small room, but well organized and unsuspicious–like a telephone booth. It’s never easy to put on the 5-piece orca costume, which comes with a faux tummy attachment to make Sparky extra huggable, but it is even more challenging when three of your children are with you asking questions and trying to help.  However, I thought it might bring some levity to an otherwise tumultuous morning of missing shoes, compromised lunch boxes and poor time management to include the children in my part time gig.  It worked. Soon we were laughing and hugging in the snuggly little closet — even deciding on a theme song for Sparky’s entrance. Ki suggested Back in Black.  Finally, we had achieved unity.  Nothing can bring people together like mascots can, except maybe Field Day…

We opened the door and exited “the phone booth” with slow motion swagger like Resevoir Dogs –ACDC playing on my phone in the background, muffled by my fuzzy fin.

Our first encounter was with my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher.  Her enthusiasm was palpable, appreciated and just what I needed to get really pumped up. Pictures were taken. High fives, “or fins” were exchanged. It was time to head outside…

Get ready kids. I thought. It’s Field Day–and Sparky came to play.

The Pasley kids went to their respective lines, proud of their mom and their school.  Abel,  a Pre K graduate, was my handler. We walked lockstep out onto the blacktop, where students mingled in haphazard lines awaiting the bell that would usher in Field Day fun.

The Kindergarteners were the first recipients of Sparky’s friendliness. They gently waved their little innocent hands and requested hugs from the lovable whale with subtle gestures, like outstretched arms, and doe eyed stares. I was in the zone.  Clever dance steps, and strategic fin placement communicated school spirit and tenderness all at once.

Damn, it feels good to be a mascot.

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As I moved beyond the lines of Kindergarteners, more and more children approached like a tide coming in. This wasn’t my first rodeo though.  I had a handler.  Sure he was less than four feet tall, and no where to be found, but, I knew he was out there somewhere. Perhaps even surveying the situation and seeking out an adult or two who could help out if things went off the rails.

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I felt a dorsal fin pull here and there as the crowd grew, but knew that came with the territory.  I am sure the Mariner Moose has had a child or two test his antlers. It wasn’t until, all the recipients of my mascot merriment were eye level, that I realized the demographic had changed. These were not students who wanted a little Field Day inspiration from their friendly neighborhood whale, these were older kids who were hell bent on discovering Sparky’s identity.

They begin to press their pre pubescent faces against the black screen that protected my personage.  Worse yet, their morbid curiosity became a challenge to one another. I took up defensive position against a thin white pole and looked for an adult while the diabolical boys batted at my head shouting out clues to one another.

It’s a girl!!!  They shouted as they caught a glimpse of my pony tail.

They pushed and pulled at my second skin, laughing maniacally. The heavy whale head bobbing up and down on my shoulders. I was drowning.

And then…

It happened…

Sparky got decapitated.

My sweaty head, and tousled hair sat naked atop the fuzzy whale costume in the middle of the populated playground of stunned children. It was like an episode of Scooby Doo.

A demonic voice came out of me that had previously been reserved only for difficult parenting situations..

“HEY!!!!!!! UNBELIEVABLE BEHAVIOR!” I screamed, Orca head in hand.

My eyes began to fill with tears as I looked around the school yard at all the the horrified faces.  My cover was blown. Worse yet,  I had broken the only hard and fast rule of mascotting (outside the handler height requirement) –never let them see you cry.

I placed the shamed whale head back over my own and walked toward Janitorial Closet #2, leaving in my wake a viral tale that is sure to live in elementary school lore forever.

Where were you when Sparky lost his head? They’ll say.

God knows I will remember where I was…

 

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*Thank you to Ms. H., Kindergarten Teacher of the Year, who let me walk around her empty classroom in a headless killer whale costume venting after the incident. I am sure the simultaneous laughing and crying was a little unnerving. Thanks for the “We Love Sparky” chant too.  It restored my faith in humanity, and made my retirement less traumatizing. 

**Please leave comments that detail what you would have said when your head came off.  I am pretty disappointed in my lack of creativity in that moment. 

 

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***Sparky Out

 

 

 

 

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?

Since My Baby Left Me…

Some things seem like a good idea at the time.

Speeding.

Chocolate.

Reorganizing your sock drawer.

Exercising with your children…

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Kiama lights up a room.  She smiles on command. She sleeps like a teenager.  She has a healthy appetite.  She even waits in her bouncer politely while I finish the dishes without making me feel guilty.  In other words, she is the ideal baby.  Her only flaw is that she turned my abdomen into a deflated pool toy.  She also caused instability in my pelvis. As a result, my hips don’t lie they just  hurt like hell most of the time.

Fortunately, I got onto the problem early thanks to repeated visits to the physio (Physical Therapist) shortly after giving birth. Lately, I have been feeling great.  Which is why I thought it would be a wonderful time to try and get rid of the pool toy.

But how?

Kiama isn’t a huge fan of the pram (stroller) nor is she quite old enough to enjoy a creche (childcare) hence power walking or attending an aerobic class is not an option.

So what does one do?

The answer came to me in a moment of great distress. Kenna and Chaylee were careening through the house at top speed running into walls and furniture.  Despite my cries to cease and desist, they continued using our home furnishings as leverage and each other as inspiration.

And then it occurred to me–if you can’t beat them, join them!

No one has more energy and stamina than young children. If I could tap into that power source, perhaps I could not only get the exercise I desperately needed but I could quench their desire to destroy property while simultaneously being an engaged parent void of rage.

It seemed like a really, really good idea.

We each chose two high energy songs a piece.  We then took turns leading one another in aerobic activity for the duration of our selected song.

Chaylee was first to lead.  She started by holding herself up off the ground with one hand while jutting her right leg at a 90 degree angle in the air, and from there it got worse- high speed jumping jacks, ergonomically incorrect push ups, extreme lunging and summersaults off the couch.  I knew it was  high impact–dangerous even, but I was committed. I mimicked her every move with precision.

Kenna’s routine was slightly less crazed but equally challenging. Her approach was more like a bitter PE Coach that always wanted to go pro but instead ended up in a multi-purpose room berating 8th graders who were unable to do the backwards roll in tumbling class.

I can’t tumble okay!  You happy now Kenna?

When it was my turn to lead I gave the girls a taste of their own medicine. My moves were fierce, repetitive and complicated. They required skill and rhythm and adult size appendages.

What’s up now kid…huh?  What now son?

We ended with some collective stretching and breathing exercises.  All in all it was a success. I had some minor aches and pains, but I was proud of the sweat on my brow and the time I spent with my kids.

Because of the success of my first aerobic endeavor with the girls, we decided to have another go the next day.  But, this time Kiama’s legacy became apparent.

Chaylee, once again, started her routine with her extreme one armed power stance, but this time my pelvis turned into a heartbreak hotel. I was in agony from the downbeat.  Every move was a challenge. Every haphazard sit up seemed ill advised.  I felt like an old woman. But, still I pressed on. I begged Kenna to go easy on me but she was merciless.  Soon, the pain was too much and I had to give up the fight and put my pelvis to rest.

As a result of my awesome idea, I am now disabled. I am unable to walk normally.  I cannot sit, stand or roll over with out guttural utterances. I am no longer capable of picking up any of my children without a shriek or grunt.  I currently sit on an ice pack when I drive and moan when I put on pants.

It really did seem like a good idea at the time.

Words of the Day:

Good Oil: Good Idea

Old Girl: Mother

It seemed like good oil, but this old girl just can’t keep up with her ankle biters.

Family Trivia:

Mike did warn me that my awesome idea might end badly.

Poll:

What was your best idea gone wrong? Tell me.  I really do want to know.

Australian fact that has nothing to do with pelvises or exercise.

If an Aussie asks you if they can nurse your baby do not be dismayed. They merely want to cuddle the child, not breast feed them.  I wish someone would have let me in on that little gem a bit sooner.

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.

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!!!)

Kenna the Enchanted One — and Chaylee the Brain!

“You know what is so cool about me?I am magic in my dreams. I can sprinkle my fingers when I want things to happen and I can say like, “cow” and a cow will appear. I can be a fairy or anything. I can even fly. Sometimes I have trouble flying though. I can’t always fly, but sometimes I can. I am so magical in my dreams.”

That’s rad!

Shout out to the Chay Bay: She officially counts to ten and says her abc’s. As you know she says B instead of V and P instead of F…even when she is saying them. It is very endearing. Love that girl.

Kenna Quotation

“I love the words “lunch” and “much” because I love the sound of “CH”. It just makes me so happy to say that sound. I like other words too, but just parts of them, like “stupid”. I don’t like that word and I don’t say it to people, but I like parts of it. And I think about other things too that you might not know about mom. Like, I think about if I were other people and they were me. And, what if I were the coolest person in the world. What if I were perfect and the world were perfect. Like, what if I was God and what would that be like. Or what the world is like and what other people are like…just what everything is and who I am and…I just think about those things. I can talk to you more about what I like to think about in the morning. ”

WOAH.

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