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

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There and Back Again – A Pasley Tale

It was stunning. The rolling hills of emerald green spackled with gum trees and other botanical formations unknown to the people of America. Livestock, and foreign birds sang in foreign tongues. Golden light poured over the landscape like a warm blanket. And in the distance, the Tasman Sea, lapped wildly against cliffs unseen.

T’was my turn to drive but my heart and mind were laid waste by what I had just witnessed. I pulled back onto the winding road and drove…and drove…and drove, occasionally staring into the eyes of my beloved spouse…the one whose hard work and adventurous spirit led us to this distant land…this….

“Hey honey, look at that truck. What an idiot. He’s in my….lane…..”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” I screamed and swerved frantically into the left lane, the correct lane, without regard for other motorists. I was too stunned by my own failure. How could I do such a thing? I’m no tourist. I am an Australian Resident for crying out loud. I know who Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are. I drink tea and throw trash in the rubbish bin. I like beetroot on hamburgers and I am no longer confused when people say “Ta” instead of thank you. I have no right to make mistakes of such magnitude.

But hey, my passenger, Captain America, didn’t exactly steer me in the right direction either.

Word of the Day: trucky – A driver of trucks. A blokey type.

Poll: Have you had a run in with a trucky?

Trivia: Kevin Rudd is the Prime Minister of Australia and Malcom Turnbull is the leader of the opposition party. This position was at one time held by Brenden Nelson.

The story above is a small snippet of our Great Ocean Road Adventure which included an RV, much driving, staggering scenery, bird sized moths, wild koalas and kangaroos,bush rats, Jedi navigating, late nights, early mornings, coffee with Baileys, excited kids and much fun. We journeyed from Sydney to Melbourne to Port Fairy and back again. I love my family.

Part 2: The Hungry Caterpillar

That’s right, the fuzzy caterpillar from hell got me. Right on the wrist, where the veins are plentiful. It wasn’t a nibble actually, but a sting. Words of advice: don’t eat the mayo. It’s not mayo….or the cottage cheese for that matter. Whatever thatched roof cottage it was made in should be burninated! It tastes like chalk. The rest of the food however, is quite nice if you don’t mind Jenny Craig sized servings. If you are looking to diet this is right country for you. You don’t even have a choice really. You’ll lose about ten pounds of water weight in the first few hours and then comes Jenny. Maybe that is why all of the women at play group look like “after” pictures. They “apparently” have had children, but you wouldn’t know it. I am sort of the tweener shot at this point. You know, midway between the enormous pants and the bikini.

A struggle I am having: I have yet to make anyone laugh here, except for Mike. I believe they think I am nice and friendly, but funny? Not so much. I don’t know what to say. I start with, “Yes, I am from the States. My husband is working at Russell. I’m adjusting well. I love your country. How old are your little ones?” and then I completely run out of things to say. I start to panic and find a reason to walk away. Someone help me! I used to have people in my life that at least appeared to be amused by me…even entertained. I need some lines that scream; HEY you want to be friends with me because I am humorous and good natured! Maybe I should just be direct and tell them exactly that. I guess “she’ll be right”, (I’ll be okay).

Kenna starts preschool tomorrow. Three days a week from 9-3. I love my girl. We’re going out tonight to get her all of her supplies and snacks. She will be in the pre-kindie class.

A question for America: There is no yellow cheese here of any kind. My question is why do WE have yellow cheese? Milk is white. Cheese comes from milk. Talk to me about the yellow?

Word(s) of the Day: Fair dinkum : true, genuine Dinky Di: true, genuine

Daily Poll: Do you think I will be adopting either of those phrases? Why or why not! If you know me at all, this should be a no brainer!

Fun Factoid: We are called Yanks and the British are called POHM’s

(Prisoner of Her Majesty) As most of you know Australia began as a penal colony. The ships carrying criminals (most of which were petty thieves) had POHM on the hull. Those Aussies really know how to turn things around. Now they are a mighty nation and the Brits are POHM’s (Prisoners of her Majesty).

Goodnight America!