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!!!)

What’s Cookin?

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. The strangest things seem to keep me up for hours. Case in point. The other night, I woke up at 3am completely out of sorts. I was crazed; desperate to be interesting. Earlier in the evening, I succumbed to the crazy antics of facebook (sorry myspacers) and all of her minions by writing 25 Random Things about myself. I had been “tagged” by about 25 people, and the pressure was getting to me. So I quickly shot off the requested amount of random facts about myself, shut down the computer and headed to bed. That was my first mistake. Not leaving ample time between public reflection and bedtime. My second mistake was reading so many wonderful random lists right before creating my own. The stage was set for compulsive comparison. My third mistake was spending so little time on something I evidently cared about. Why did I care so much, you ask? Well, because, I want people to think I am awesome. That’s right…I said it. I want everyone I encounter to think me awesome. For at least an hour, I thought of all the random things I should have mentioned.

..q

..I know sign language

..q

..I miss living on Star Lake.

..q

..I like blue best.

“Not quite interesting enough,” I thought.

..q

..-I love scary roller coasters unless they dangle me upside down for too long. I require speed and dynamic loops to be satisfied…

“Ooh that’s good, and so true.”

..q

…I love the way Chaylee moves her shoulders when she dances and the way Kenna talks out of the side of her mouth when she makes a joke lately.

“Nice: remind everyone what a great mom I am for noticing the little things. “

..q

..I sang at the Stanley Cup when I was ten.

“Taking it too far.”

…this went on for some time…this internal madness…until finally I realized that if I did not act, I would not sleep. I located the laptop and made revisions.

I pressed Post. I went to bed. It was the temporary sedative I needed, but it did not quell the dull ache of rut-dom. (That’s a new word I made up, in case you are going for your dictionary). After all, life is good. I have the coolest husband in two hemisphere’s, two fancy daughters, and access to beach life. So why do I feel so uninteresting? Is it the yoga pants I wear day in and day out? Perhaps. Or could it be my monotonous domestic responsibilities and respective deficiencies? Is it because I am 30…+1? The answer is, none of the above. Yoga pants rule and domestic responsibility comes with the territory. Sucking at it is a little tough, but nothing I can’t overcome.

The answer is…I NEED AN AUDIENCE. That’s right. Children 5 and under are wonderful. Mine bring me great cheer, but they, in many ways, are a tough crowd. Witty metaphors go over like pork chops at a Bar mitzvah. Yet, merely utter the words “pee pee” or “poo poo” and get out the pull ups. It would be okay if I liked potty humor, but I am not a fan. The audience I seek will not require me to say “ca ca” to get a laugh.

Hence, the end of my tale. While watching an episode of “Ready, Steady, Cook”, it occurred to me: this show is filmed in front of a live studio audience….. the people in said audience are cheery and required to laugh and provide positive bio feed back to the contestants. I love to cook…..Ready Steady Cook is seeking contestants. And so instead of whining about my rut, I set out to do something truly interesting. I emailed the show and quipped:

“I am Ready. I am Steady. Let’s Cook”.

I called a fellow expat and friend to be my fellow contestant. We auditioned last week. If that is not interesting I don’t know what is.

I’ll keep you posted.

Words of the Day

Troppa: To go crazy or insane….

Rippa: Great Job….

I have been going Troppa lately but I think Ready Steady Cook will be a real rippa. ….

……

Trivia

Ready Steady Cook asks two contestants to cook with Australia’s best and brightest chefs while they go to battle with paring knives drawn. Each contestant brings a bag of their favorite ingredients to cook with. The chefs, with help of a trusty sidekick (that would be me) must make a meal with the provided ingredients in no less then 20 minutes. I hope I won’t go troppa under the pressure.

http://readysteadycook.ten.com.au/

……

Poll: What is the craziest thing you have done to get out of a rut?

……

Family Fun Facts

Chaylee is fluent in English. Kenna started Kindergarten, Drama Class once a week, and will be on the Roseville Rookie Soccer team as of next month. –Oh no…it just occurred to me…I am a soccer mom! Get out the scissors.

Little Bird

I was not anticipating this level of emotion. It’s just kindergarten. It’s not like I am sending her to Nam. She will be fine. I will be fine. I think. 

I attended the Roseville Public Kindergarten Orientation tonight. I was greeted with a “cuppa” tea, various dessert trays and the Roseville Public Concert Band practicing “Our House”. The poor little drummer was an emotional wreck. I could tell he was struggling rhythmically on the verses so I told him he rocked. He got tears in his eyes and mouthed to his father, “I don’t want to play!” My encouragement actually made the situation worse.

Lesson 1: Discourage Kenna from playing drums in the Roseville Band. Emotional damage may ensue.

I found a seat adjacent to the other mums from pre school and the band begin “Our House”; this time for real. I could not help but sway and sing a line or two. Some of my enthusiasm was intended to mend my broken relationship with the fragile drummer. I thought maybe if he saw me getting down to his music he would no longer hate me. When the song ended I even let out an emphatic “woohoo”. Evidently, Australians typically save that sort of fanfare for footy, because I was the only one vocalizing during the applause. He never did smile at me.

Lesson 2: Kid Drummers are jerks.

The rest of the evening was not far from what you would expect in the States; apart from the discussion of canteen duty (the parents voluntarily run the hot lunch program) and the uniform purchasing tutorial. I think I became visibly confused during this portion of the evening. It may have been my passive aggressive way of protesting the fees imposed, or maybe I was trying too hard to be the interesting foreign woman. Whatever my motive, it was a clear moment of cultural disconnect. For example:

What is a jumper? (Hint: It is not a dress).
Answer: A Jacket.
What is an excursion bag?
Answer: A bag used on excursions, a.k.a. field trips.

The excursion bag is actually one of four different carrying devices you are asked to purchase. How exactly is Kenna going to negotiate these bags…she’s like 3 feet tall?
Crazy Australians.

Lesson 3: Start making Kenna carry around as many bags as possible. That way she will be confident in her bag handling skills when school begins.

Total Cost of school cosi (translation: costume)-$200
Total Cost of Bags-$100
Total Cost of Accessories: $25
Total Cost of Public School tuition for expats: $4,500
Seeing my baby leave the nest in her little school uniform:- Priceless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words of the Day: ·

Ankle Biter: Children
By Jingoes: Surprise

By Jingoes! My ankle biter is goin to kindie!

Trivia: The school year in Australia runs from Feb.-Dec. School operates year round with the biggest break occurring in January. There are four terms with 2-3 week breaks in between.

Poll: Have you ever had a run in with an overly sensitive drummer?

 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun Fact: We just got back from a weekend on the South Coast. We encountered many wild kangaroos (who by the way seem more menacing in the wild), visited with some extraordinary kookaburras and parrots, had a run in with blue bottle jellyfish, and had the privilege of watching two humpback whales splash about in a storm. There was also a minor incident involving Mike, a forestry road, some burnt trees and our Pajero, but other than that…

License to Ill

I think Australia might be trying to kill me. I am not sure yet. Sometimes, it seems like Australia loves me and never wants me to leave. Like when the sun shines, and the waves crash and the guy at the counter calls me Sheila (that hasn’t actually happened but I trust that it will at some point). But much of the time I think Australia wants me dead.

Why? Because She has waged a campaign of biological warfare against me and my kin. Over the last two weeks, my girls and I have been ravaged by a flu/cold from hell. Fortunately, Mike has been spared. Good thing too. He works for an investment group. Not sure he would survive a physical assault as well. This is cold/flu number 15 since we have arrived.

My theory may be wrong. Maybe Australia is just trying to bolster my wimpy immune system, because it cares; like a drill Sargent trying to beat the weakness out of me. If this is the case, the World Youth Day Pilgrimage to Sydney was like the boot camp finale. The Pilgrims brought with them love, prayers, and germs from around the world. So it could be that this hellish flu is not Australian at all. Maybe this humdinger is Latvian. Hard to say at this point. It is more likely an Asian flu, because it has brought out Chaylee’s legendary kung fu skills.

You see, when Chaylee weaned (see Suddenly Seymour) she may have stopped suckling, but her fascination with the human mouth did not cease. She continues to rely upon sticking her hand in my mouth when she is in need of comfort or rest.

Therefore: Chaylee + Illness = root canal for mommy.

Example: Last night I was up from 2am till 4am being worked on. She used some of her traditional moves like the inner cheek scratch and gum claw. I used some of my own defense techniques like the lullaby method and snuggle hold. When these defenses faltered I attempted to hold a pillow in my mouth in hopes that she could not enter . The pillow was no match for her misery and immense need for comfort. She pulled a side maneuver and entered through the gap between fabric and cheek. Exhaustion and empathy prevailed.

It was like negotiating with a little terrorist. Okay, okay, you can put your hand in my mouth, just stay away from my frenulum…and no scratching.

Now that my hair is longer, she has incorporated some new comfort seeking techniques. Namely, twirling my hair and then jamming it into my mouth. This is a favorite of mine. Another meditative strategy she now employs involves a flat hand and a swift jabbing motion aimed directly at the uvula. Any attempts to thwart said strategy is met with rivers of tears and agonizing cries of “momma”, cough, cough, sneeze, cough, “momma”. How can you say no to a sickly baby dentist. I can’t. Especially one as lovely as she.

Word of the Day: Oldies: Parents.

I refuse to use this in a sentence.

Poll: Does anyone else have a child or know of a child that is comforted by the inside of his/her mother’s mouth?

Family Fun Fact: Chaylee Pasley DDS is an amazing little girl…it would take ten blogs…even more…to capture her loveliness. She is a delight not just a dentist. Just wanted to let the world know.

Surgeon General Notice: By the time guests arrive in Sydney once again, our family should be completely immune to germs worldwide.

The Wenlock Adventure Down Under Part 1

 

They arrived on the third of August. My beloveds. My blood. My family. In anticipation, Kenna helped prepare freshly squeezed orange juice while Chaylee made up a routine to Men at Work. I set out an array of tropical fruits native to Australia in addition to cream puffs and croissant breakfast sandwiches. Impressive.The anticipation was becoming physically uncomfortable. Mike called just in time. 

“I have the package.” He said.

The girls and I squealed with delight and put the Men to Work. “Land Down Under” played at maximum volume as we headed for the front door to greet our kin.

The series of hugs that ensued would have made you cry. It was as if we had been kept apart by the Iron Curtain. We sent Oprah the tape. As a result, she is buying Qantas for us. Good on ya Oprah!

Day one was spectacular. The children frolicked gleefully, the grown ups relished the bliss of international togetherness. The Wenlocks were impressed with their accommodations and my awesome driving. There was a minor incident involving a sand pit, a mini tractor and Rowen’s eye at the park… but, all in all, it was a strong start. There was also a minor vomit incident involving Mike and some chicken. But, overall…

Day two brought much excitement. While Mike recovered from his evening poolside, the family and I headed into town to see Sydney and it’s Darling Harbour. The outing did not disappoint. The panoramic views, peaceful promenades and world famous Aquarium brought hours of oohs and aahhhs.

Later that evening, there was a minor incident involving Rowen, some vomit and the occasional dry heave. But, overall…

Day three took a bit of a nose dive. An incident developed involving Kirsten, allergies and a nasal infection. Story also experienced some flu like symptoms throughout the night. But all in all…

By day four Kirsten’s right nostril had doubled in size and was a shade just shy of crimson. I told her she was still pretty. She cried. Then I told her that her nose looked a lot like Bill Clinton’s and reminded her that he still gets a lot of A$ despite his bulbous nose. That seemed to help. At least until I was able to get her to the doctor. Though the Medical Center I frequent has a fairly undesirable reputation, it’s convenient and cost effective so we decided to disregard Mike’s “clown medicine” jokes in order to save some cash. The Doctor glanced at my sister’s nose, agreed that it was infected, reminded us of the proximity of the nose to the brain, then mistakenly wrote up a prescription for children’s Erythromycin . Dr Feelgood said if it got worse there was nothing more he could do for us and we would need to head for the ER. Send in the clowns!

Poor Kirsten left feeling worse than when she arrived and far more anxious. But hey, at least she had her bubble gum flavor antibiotic.

Day five brought a whole new set of issues. The nose now appeared broken. Although Kirsten desperately wanted to avoid the subject of the nose, it became a focal point; an impossible feature to avoid eye contact with. Through glassy eyes, Kirsten confessed that she thought she might lose her nose. Mike consoled her by pointing out the fame and notoriety of Voldemort. She was in no mood for dark humor.

My efforts to bring peace were thwarted by my own terror at what was transpiring. I could not seem to keep myself from the maniacal manifests of WebMD. That bastard cyber doctor convinced me that Kirsten had nose cancer accompanied by MRSA with a touch of encephalitis. Tough to tell someone it’s all going to be okay when you have just received their death sentence.

Unfortunately, the nose situation was not the only medical malady of the day. Young James was next in line to be attacked by the House of Pain as his gastro intestinal system fell victim to the bug that seemed to be taking out each family member in kind. But outside of the physical suffering and agony, things seemed to be going well.

I would have been far more discouraged by the escalating crisis were it not for my bearded Hungarian Bride, Big James, who helped me keep the boat afloat by executing diaper changes, doing dishes and bathing children.

On the sixth day the swelling had become more localized with a painful hint of purple. Frightening facial numbness had emerged as well. Not the improvement we were hoping for. It was time to take drastic action. We could head to the ER or return to the circus. I decided to take my soon to be noseless sister back to the Medical Center to Dr. Townsend. The notoriously long line to see him suggested to me that he was the Obi Wan our Princess Leah needed. Maybe he would nose what to do.

Day seven brought healing and hope. The new medicine prescribed by Dr. Townsend was fast and effective. Kirsten’s nose was not going to fall off. We nearly set out to celebrate but then came a minor incident involving Big James and some vomit, but overall…

Phrase of the day: “You’re crook but not crook as rook wood” Dr. Townsend
Translation: You’re sick, but your not going to die.

Poll:
Which is worse?
A: A runaway nasal infection
B: Chunder Down Under
C: Accidentally showing your buttock to a park full of people.

Trivia: Taste is 75% smell. I hate the word smell. So does Kirsten.

Next Blog: Things Are Looking Up

 

Let the Games Begin!

Did you know that when you ask for ketchup (or Tomato Sauce as they call it in Australia) you are given a maximum of two packets. If you ask for more, they will just look at you funny and give you one additional packet. As if an extra teapoon of “tomato sauce” will be satisfactory.  In fact, I never knew what an absurd amount of “tomato sauce” we use in America until I came to this land of little ketchup. Mike believes the real problem is the packet system. After all, it is a dipping sauce. What the heck is it doing in a packet. It should be in a container suitable for dipping. (1 point America)Did you know that there is no baseball here? Cricket is the game of choice instead. It is sort of the older cousin of our beloved sport…or maybe the dirty uncle. The cricket batting instrument is about as wide as a dollar store fatbat which immediately makes it less of a game in my mind. The players wear polo shirts and sweaters. What? Do they think they are better than me?
The one upside is that the game uses words like “wicket” which is a word I like to say aloud. Wicket. That is until the announcer says something like, “the batsman has taken out his wicket”. Then I just feel dirty. Especially when I consider that the wicket is made up of three stumps. (1 point America)

Rugby is awesome.  Almost as awesome as the NFL (a.k.a Grid Iron football). It involves a lot rough housing and ballyhoo with little padding. Instead of touchdowns these thick-necked lads score “trys”. Isn’t that pleasant? Sometimes at the South Sydney Rabbitohs games, I yell, “Nice Try!” They probably are tired of that joke, but what can I say, I love word play. (1 point Australia)

Australian Rules Football is a lot of fun as well. Mike actually prefers it to Rugby, but I am not yet persuaded. It is a fine sport though. I like the oval playing field and clever uniforms. The name of the sport brings me some joy as well. It is so literal. They didn’t try to come up with some ridiculous name like Awesome Ball or Bombastic. They decided to just call it what it was. A game involving feet and balls and rules made up by Australians. Not big on the cutesy little nickname they use for it though: footy. But that is kind of how these Aussies roll. It’s not a diaper, it’s a “nappy”. It’s not a breakfast, it’s “breaky”. It’s not lipstick, it’s” lippie”.  (1 point Australia, 1 point America)

Did you know, that Australia has just edged out America for fattest country in the world? What? What? Are they sure? Must be those Banana Benders in Queensland because the residents of Roseville are as fit as a fiddle. (0 points awarded)

Did you know that American Food Chains are plentiful here? (See paragraph above) But, don’t be fooled. Kentucky Fried Chicken is not the KFC we know and love. For example: I once asked for a biscuit. A soft, buttery, processed, biscuit. The man behind the counter looked bewildered by my request. You see, in Australia, like many other nations represented in the Commonwealth, biscuits are actually what we know as cookies. Shockingly, it appears they do not serve biscuits or cookies at KFC…or should I call it AFC! Nor do they make extra crispy chicken. The Cornel would not be pleased!

I ran into the same problem at “McDonalds” which is affectionately called “Maccas” in these parts. I wanted a sausage biscuit. A buttery, soft, processed, biscuit with mystery meat tucked quaintly inside. No luck.  Oh, but the place is crawling with English muffins!!! Friggen POHMs. They make up for the biscuit void by putting beet root and fried eggs on the burgers. I always thought Ronald was a sinister looking clown anyway. I never trusted him.  (2 points America)

On the way home from our biscuit-less endeavor today, Chaylee threw-up in the car. She then ate a partially digested raisin. It sent Kenna into hysterical laughter. Which was good because she was miserable and sickly prior to the unfortunate event. Nothing like a little chunder down under first thing in the morning. Did I mention that I accidentally left the vomit soaked car seat in the sun? Awesome! (No points awarded)

It’s a beautiful day.
(Australia 3 points)

Kenna Quote of the day: A little context-Kenna splashed a significant amount of water onto the bathroom floor. Mommy got agitated. Kenna responded: “Mom, it’s not my fault! The government made me do it.” Good on ya Kenna. When in doubt, blame the government!

Chaylee Milestone: Chaylee high-fives, blows kisses, gives pats on the back and likes to find steps to sit on so she can swing her little feet back and forth.

Poll: Throw up your best vomit story? Love that word play.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Australia has its own version of Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother, Battle of the Choirs, Gladiators, and so on. They have some of their own as well, like “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!” which is a reality show that requires Australian superstars to survive in the Outback. They are pushed to their breaking point until they have no choice but to shout the aforementioned phrase.

Word of the Day: Centralia:
1–The inner part of Australia…you know where the celebrities go to revive their careers. 2—A lovely little town that lets you know you are nearing Elma, home to Grammy Ostrom.