Forty Things

In an effort to make sense of the passing of time, and embrace the transaction taking place of youth for wisdom, I have assembled a non-comprehensive and somewhat unoriginal list of 40 things I have learned over my forty  years.

Playing cards is more fun if you wear bright red lipstick and listen to Vicki Carr. A plate of cold cuts also improves game play–especially generic thin sliced honey ham.  Aunt Helen would typically  just throw some slices on a plate straight out of the plastic container, but I always thought that was cheating. I mean, how hard is it to roll the ham into little edible tubes? Come on Helen.

May I hon? “Hon” is the official term of endearment on my mother’s side of the family.  It also makes any plea more palpable. Try it out.

“Get that for me!” (aggressive)

“Get that for me hon!”  (adorable)

A Spotify playlist can never take the place of a solid mixed tape.  I recently discovered  a treasure trove of mixed tapes from my adolescence.  Some carefully assembled with damn near professional transitions and others taken straight from the radio, with subtle static and the occassional commercial for Summer Jam.   My husband continues to tease me about my cryptic labeling. But, I know what is on every one of those tapes.  The Duality of Man is a tape my Dad made containing benign hip hop and ganster rap. Songs I Really Like to Listen to Right Now has a whole lot of Counting Crows, U2 and Radiohead on it. Then there is my neon pink and yellow tape with the label torn off, which we all know contains radio cuts of SWV,  Mint Condition and some tracks off De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising record. The point is, my labeling system is consistent.

AlwaysNeverSometimes…Life is wrought with nuance. There are very few always and nevers, and an abundance of sometimes.  Getting rid of  “You always…” and “You never…” allows for better marital problem solving and overall relational health.

I want to see other women as my sisters and not as my competitors. I am so competition averse that I actually end up thinking everything is a competition that I must avoid.  Ironically, in that scenario, everything IS a competition. My solution? I don’t have one yet. I guess that is what the next forty years is for.

Parenting is hard, but I think that’s what I like about it. When taken seriously, it begs us to come to terms with our own short comings before they take up defensive position in our young. Love is the easy part, the existential reckoning, however, is a doozy.

“Patience is a virtue, a wait won’t hurt you. In the long run, it will serve you.” (Ladies and gentleman, the musical stylings of Soul II Soul — “Our Time Has Come”) I’m not naturally patient.  This may be, in part, why I am not a skilled house keeper.  If I have to wrestle a hanger for more than 15 seconds, that garment and its demon hanger are going to end up on the ground. Although I think I have become more patient with the humans I love, I am less patient with myself and people who drive slow in front of me.

I am only responsible for my own choices. I realize this is not a new novel idea, but those of you who know me, know this is hard for me.  Really hard.  I tend to think I am responsible for everything from poverty, to traffic, to lysteria outbreaks.  I have a fun little Junior Jesus complex, as my friend Dee calls it.  Fortunately, I am not the Messiah.  In the coming decades I am going to try and focus less on single handedly solving the crisis in Syria and start by just remembering where I put my car keys.

In an argument, the first one to the cross wins. My brother-in-law, James, is the author of this life lesson and it works. When we turn towards grace, then anger starts to morph into something more like love–more like reconciliation.  This is a marital game changer. Don’t fight to win. Fight to grow.

We bring weather with us wherever we go. Uncle Kenny shared this little gem with my daughter’s 4th grade class and it stayed with me. I am capable of producing all kinds of weather systems. I aim for sunshine, but am known to bring much rain (I am a big cryer).   Occasionally, I have dropped a fat bomb cyclone on my kids, but I really try to save that for emergencies. We can’t always bring a sunny disposition but acknowledging that our mood and emotional energy affects the people we are around is important.  If we can’t being sunshine at least we can have an umbrella handy for the people who will be in contact with our stormy moods.

Pain only knows itself.  Pain is by nature self absorbed. I am much less hard on people in general having embraced this fun fact.   It also has helped me to identify when my own pain blinds me to my affect on others. Then again, how would I know, if I am blind, who my pain might be hitting?

Music changes my mood. One way or another. I can manipulate the hell out of myself with it.

Our bodies age so that we learn to let go of the physical. I was complaining to my lovely mother about the various and sundry maladies that seem to be appearing weekly, if not daily on my personage.  My mom, who is sixty two, agrees that it can be disconcerting at times, but insists that if I see it as letting go of the physical, of the trivial, of vanity, of the shell that houses my soul, I will start to see that I am growing into eternity.  Just like I had  to get really, really pregnant and uncomfortable before I was not only wiling, but desperate to push a human being out of my body– our bodies need to decline, so our souls can grow out of them. I am exchanging my body for my eternity.  Seems like a pretty impressive exchange, except that the very concept of time and eternity makes my head want to explode…so the exchange seems mildly terrifying albeit a sweet deal.

Steeping garlic and tarragon in simmering milk and then pouring it over a bed of spring onions and crisped chunks of herbed bread and then smothering it with guerre cheese is…just….just…(insert extended guttural utterance indicating bliss here). Thanks for this Momma.

Oh, to be not a sponge, or a shield, but a container.  I am naturally spongy.  I will emotionally absorb the hell out of whatever human is near me, be it family or the lady on the elevator.  It is an unfortunate gift.  My over active empathy gland can be a real jerk.  However, my dear friend Chris Holowaty, told me that it is better to be a container.  Sponges absorb what is not theirs.  Shields deflect and can hurt others in defense of their own heart, but a container collects and pours out.  This is where faith in God comes in handy.  I have a place to pour it. As a mother, having a containment policy is handy.  It cuts down (not out) on crying spells and tongue lashings.  Working on fortifying my container and preventing spillage.

Mascotting is not for sissies. See Sparkygate 2017 for details.

I am blessed to have kids but I do not have so many dang kids because I am blessed.  I have known far too many couples who deserved babies and were never able to have them, and too many others who had them and did not value the privilege. It is a lie from the pit of hell (as my mother would say) that children are a sign of blessing.  They are not merit awards. They are not bonus checks.  (Although, according to Mike they are a little like a time shares. You aren’t sure what you are signing up for when you “attend the meeting”– if you know what I mean.)   Children are not an indicator of worthiness. They are a gift to those who choose to take up the mantle of parenthood. It is the experience of helping a child grow up and out into the world that is the blessing. Too heavy handed? Probably, but I can’t help it. My hand feels like a thousand pounds right now.  All muscle.

Always give it to Marshawn on the 1 yard line.

Monitor and Adjust.   When life gives you four kids…

Present Heather should help Future Heather.  My husband is a master at this skill. He is always considering how his future self will feel about his choices.  Particularly in the area of product placement.  Need a flashlight? Past Mike is on it. Need some hot coco in appallingly cold weather conditions?  Mike knew you would.  Marshmallows or no marshmallows is his only questions. Some say, stay in the present. Mike says, that’s fine…but what about future you. That guy would like to avoid getting screwed. I fail future Heather on the regular, and beat the shit out of past Heather for sport.  I am working on being nicer to past Heather and more thoughtful of what future Heather might need.

Hot chocolate is better with chili in it and yet very few coffee establishments want to serve it to me this way. Where is the justice in that?

Blessed Self Forgetfulness. Tim Keller made a strong point that conceit and insecurity are two sides of the same coin.  Both come as a result of comparing ourselves to others.  Either we think we are downright more awesome  and get prideful or find ourselves ‘lacking and get depressed.  I am a undercover comparer shrouded in an “I don’t care how I look” bodysuit.  I have lackluster leg structure.  I joke about it a lot and stay as casual and unassuming fashion-wise  as possible to draw attention away from them. In other words, I am noticing your legs–and I am wishing they were mine.  But, the problem isn’t my legs, or yours.  The problem is that I am thinking about MY legs so much, instead of nurturing them and being grateful they exist at all. Trying to think less about myself all together makes me feel kinder, more authentic and more loving. (But, if I could safely get a ankle transplant I might….MIGHT)

Growing things change and changing things grow. Mom strikes again. We can’t grow without being willing to change, and we cannot change unless we are willing let go of what we were.

One way to get your kids to start eating something other than dino shaped chicken nuggets and cereal is to teach them to cook dinner.  I do not understand the science behind this, but for some reason, if I make my young sautéed mushrooms in a rosemary wine reduction, they act like I am asking them to eat garbage, but they will eat overcooked herbed carrot fries by the handful if it is their handiwork.

Marriage requires nudity.  I don’t like being completely naked (See Mount Olympus). It’s just not my thing. I practice a sort of primitive snap chat.   I like to be in control of lighting and coverage at all times, so as to emphasize the elements of my birthday suit I fancy most.  Being nude for me, is like taking live selfies without editing options. However, marriage  asks that we take off everything and show ourselves both figuratively and literally without filters.  If we keep parts hidden (physically or emotionally) because we find them unattractive, we can be together but we can’t be as close as we were intended to be.

If you can’t make it good, make it memorable.  Pretty much every blog I have ever written has been about this. If I could tattoo it to my forehead without looking weird I would.

Feelings don’t get hurt, but egos do. Tim Keller told me, via the internet, that when my  “feelings are hurt” it is actually my pride that has been wounded. I am hurt that I am not who I thought I was, or who I wanted you to think I was.  I am wildly sensitive and easily hurt, so apparently I have an ego the size of Texas. Maybe that is why I invented my alter ego Tonya.

Space Dust IPA is truth serum. Healthy in small doses.

Hearts either break apart or break open.  I have heard this put in several ways, and have no spin, just recognition. Hearts that break apart tend to hurt others. Hearts that break open, grow and strengthen.

Prayer is a strange and wonderful thing. Sometimes I pray and I am pretty sure I am talking to myself.  Sometimes I pray and I am actually talking to who I am praying with. Sometimes I pray and I am merely complaining. Sometimes I am  begging. Sometimes I just scream at God as loud as I can. Sometimes all I can do is breathe, and that ends up being my prayer. Sometimes I pray and I fall apart. Sometimes I pray and I get put back together. Sometimes I pray and don’t feel anything. Sometimes I pray only because I think I am supposed to.  Sometimes I pray and nothing happens.  Sometimes I pray and it all makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes I am okay with the mystery.  Sometimes I am not.  Sometimes it becomes very clear to me, that God is real and so I will keep on praying.

Peace comes from a quiet mind, entertaining no hypothetical bind.  This is a line from a song my sister wrote. It has become a mantra for me since I not only have a very noisy mind but I am incredible at coming up with dangerous and sinister hypotheticals. It is a dark gift.  I have taught this lyrical mantra to my children in an effort to counter their worries and assuage my own.

Struggle changes us one way or another. It either makes us bitter, or it makes us wise. Either way we change. Another Keller wonder-thought to think upon.

When preparing a meal whose origins are of another land, it is imperative to listen to the music of that land whilst cooking.  For example, I love to prepare enchiladas to the musings of  the Gypsy Kings.  Making Cordon Bleu? I suggest the Amelie soundtrack. If I could govern my own country, I would make this a law, punishable in no way, but a law just the same.

Govern yourselves or you will be governed.   My mom’s dear friend taught her this one.  It is wildly effective on unruly youth since they are generally not fans of governance.

Even Mother Teresa struggled with doubt and depression. That thought used to terrify me.  If Mother Teresa doubted God and his kindness, being the saint that she was, then aren’t we all screwed? But, after a great deal of consideration, I have come to this. What kind of human would she have been if she did not struggle with those things– having witnessed that degree of suffering.   Only the coldest of hearts would not break. It brings me peace to know it is okay to wonder. To not understand.  To love God and love people anyway.

Mumus solve everything. They level the playing field.  It is like fashion communism. An equal distribution of fabric.

I would like to be a pastor for a day and give a sermon with bullet points derived entirely from the movie Elf. 

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  I am okay with the neighbor part I think. Although, poor Dave and Marilyn, next door, pretty much only see me if I need sugar.  But, I am not too adept at the self love. I think I have been a little put off by the idea that people need to love themselves more.  We modern folks love the hell out of ourselves to a fault.  But, my friend Jenah put a spin on this that was helpful. She told me that when she wakes up in the morning, she looks in the mirror and says I love you, how can I help you today?How can I take care of you so we can go out there and fight the good fight. This makes self love about being our best so we can be available to others, not so we can supplant their needs.  So, I shall implement this policy…but perhaps I will make it an end of the day love chat. I am not a morning person, and I don’t really like anyone until about 8:30am.

The truth really will set you free. An honest marriage is infinitely more beautiful and sustainable than one with secrets.   Mike and I call it the full knowing.  Those seasons of reveal can be painful, but without them we can not deepen our root system or protect our nest.

Very few arguments are worth winning. My dad is endlessly fun and light hearted, but he is also a deep well. Every once in a while he will casually say something ridiculously poignant. That is probably what makes him such a great song writer. He can simplify the profound. He made this point in regards to marriage, but I think it applies to encounters of every kind.  Social media debates are a great illustration. People will fight to the cyber death with a stranger in Iowa, to “win”.  They will tear their mystery opponent apart if need be–attacking their position, their grammar, their profile picture, their character, all in the name of winning.  There are causes worth fighting for, but not every cause is a calling and very few injustices can be rectified through “arguing”.  I have been in my fair share of debates.  And a few were even worth my while, but most devolved into something other than progress.  As I get older, I want to lift people up,  not just call them out.

Build up the library of your heart.  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.~ Psalm 90:12  The term wise up is fascinating. We think of it like, get your head in the game, or you better recognize–but, in the biblical sense, I think it might  mean, build up the library of your heart.   Store up truth and goodness, so that when things fall apart, you can put yourself back together again. And boy, do I fall apart sometimes. Usually, because my hormones have staged a mutiny on my soul, or because I didn’t take the high road, or I am in the midst of sub par parenting episode.  I am not immune to a good old fashion melt down, but the more expansive my library–the less often I lose structural integrity and the more I can be strong for others.   If you love Wisdom and don’t reject her, she will watch over you” –Proverbs 4:6.

Forty is the new 39.  

CHALLENGE:  Mike Pasley, you are it! What are your forty things?  

Time after Time

 

So, what are you going to do now that all the kids are in school?

I would like to officially apologize to every woman I have said this to. I am pretty sure, I tried to funny it up when I asked, but the meta message was still there.

What on earth are you going to do with all that time, I wish I had, but I don’t.

I am not sure what a better question would even be. What are you going to do with all that potential?   How do you intend to use your super powers now? Will you finally get to do all that you dreamed of doing before you became a nurse log? No matter how the inquiry is framed it feels something like: GET A JOB!

Mike calls this season my sabbatical–my golden moment to pursue health and discover my passions.  (Where did I find a man like this, you ask? I had him made. Thank you Ken and Deb.)  Unfortunately, my focus on health has awakened my inner hypochondriac.  I can’t seem to get rid of the sensation that there is something stuck in my throat and am fairly confident that I am at death’s door. I don’t think this is what my dear husband had in mind, but here we are.

The pursuing my passions piece has been interesting, but I confess the pursuit has mostly consisted of random career assessment tests, solo brainstorming sessions and crying spells. I have unsuccessfully submitted one story to NPR, written one blog about being stuck in my own pants,  painted a portrait of Einstein, and researched the voice over industry and how middle aged women can break into the field as painlessly as possible. I coach choir club once a week and occasionally practice long vowel sounds with Mrs. Juhl’s first grade class.  I rock the orca costume from time to time, against my better judgment,  but no longer on the regular.  Overall, I just spend a lot of time feeling like somewhere along the way, the list of things I wanted to do with my life got lost, and now I need to find it.

As a result of my weird, possibly hormonally driven, quasi midlife crisis, I have  required Mike to prepare and deliver weekly pep talks on the beauty, sexiness, wisdom and viability of women in their forties. (I turn forty in three months. The separation is in the preparation.) During these pep talks, I have been encouraged to think outside the box. So here I go. Jobs I would be interested in, if prior experience, education, salary and aptitude were non issues–followed by naysaying.

Astronaut–I am terrible at math, claustrophobic, and have poor vision. Not a great candidate for space travel.

Today Show Host: A little late to the game. The women seem to age out in their forties on that program.  It’s like Dazed and Confused. Lauer keeps getting older… and the girls stay the same age.

Foreign Correspondent:  Family put the kibosh on this option due to safety concerns but I think I would be awesome at it. As long as I am not required to wear pencil skirts. Those don’t sit well with me.

Travel Writer: Waiting for Rick Steves to kick the bucket.

Motivational Speaker:  Might need to nail down my own motivation first, but I do have a stage name on lock down:  Robin Tonies.

Artist: I set up an etsy account to sell paintings, but my “cyber store” remains empty due to a total lack of confidence and a fear of art consumers, who seem naughty by nature and prone to judgy feedback.

Disney Land Tour Guide:  Typically this role is reserved for young people willing to wear safari shorts and tropical button downs.  Not sure if I am willing to relocate the whole family to make that happen.

Diplomat: I AM a push over. So….you know….maybe.

Member of an Improv Troop: I hear these cats make like $50 a night and the hours are flexible.

Sea Gal: I could be the lady that all the wives don’t mind.  The Sea “every woman” gal.  The one that helps them decide it’s okay to wear pants.  I would also encourage them to bring an end to the shimmy, shimmy, bend move.  It is tiresome.  Simply bending over is not a viable dance move and adding a couple shimmies before-hand doesn’t make it good.  If I don’t make the cut, I will just promote the drinking game I created years ago, (aptly named) “The Shimmy, Shimmy, Bend Drinking Game”.  The rules are simple. If they double shimmy and bend over, you drink.  I guarantee public intoxication by half time. Go Hawks.

Blogger:  With approximately 3 views a day, I think it might behoove me to seek other avenue for revenue.

Teaching: Not just yet. I want to get my little ones farther along in their own academic journey before I become uninterruptible after school due to a heavy workload. Teaching is no joke man.

Insert suggestion here: __________________________________________________________________

I realize this is a wonderful problem to have. And I completely understand if women with toddlers and or folks working 60+ hours a week want to punch me in the face. But, consider this: there is a degree of additional responsibility that comes with not having as many responsibilities anymore.  For example: When you have four children, people expect you to be late. They are not surprised if you cancel.  Most mistakes can be blamed, at least in part, on children. In general, no one expects much out of you outside of executing your maternal responsibilities. You are a hero for bathing.

So, what am I doing with myself, now that all the kids are in school?  I’ll let you know when I find out.  In the meantime, I am going to take a bath whenever I feel like it.

 

Questions for my little audience that I love:

  1. I am nervous about turning forty and I am not sure why.  Any ideas?
  2. If you are in your forties, what do you love about it?
  3. Did you or someone you know experience a mild crisis during a similar transition?
  4. Know any good sermons on aging gracefully?

 

 

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.

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 the 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 “strine” 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.

Suffering Sycophant

A vicious parasite had taken over the house.  It was clear upon entry to our home that we were not well.  The abode was a mess and an aroma of illness had become entrenched. No room was spared. It was my day to stay in bed.  Mike was doing his best under great duress to man the offspring in the TV room. Well, actually the television was doing most of the work, but he was in charge of the remote.

Chaylee had not yet fallen victim to the pending affliction but was showing signs of weakness.  Her temperature was on the rise and her demeanor was in decline.  We could tell her demise was eminent.

I laid in bed in nauseous agony feeling sorry for myself. Not only had I become host to a cruel and unusual parasite but, I was still in the throws of morning sickness and mild to moderate depression as a result of rabid hormones, homesickness and baby shock.  All I could think about was my two arms.  TWO.  Only two arms had I–one for Chay and one for Kenna.  I could hear the baby cry already.  I could hear her desperation and desire to feed and be changed.   All I could see was need all around me– need and my lack of a third arm.

Amidst my despair I could hear the pitter patter of footy jammies approaching.  It was my daughter. My beautiful little girl, Chaylee, was coming to me in search of comfort.  Her prominent, kind eyes hovered above the crest of the bed.  I picked her up and pulled her in close. It gave me great pleasure to console her.  Perspective had been restored.  Motherhood felt, once again, like a great blessing; a reward in itself.

“Oh Chay, Momma loves you…You okay honey?”  My mouth was agape with words of love and affection.

***************

He could hear the screaming over the television and through two shut doors. He rushed in to find us both covered in an obscene amount of vomit and me scrubbing my tongue furiously with a quilt, tears cascading down my face.

“It’s in my mouff…..(sob)….she threw up in my mouff (sob, sob) I can feel some in my froat…(sob, heave, wail)”  The muffled cries were barely audible through the blanket that I had shoved in my mouth.

Chaylee was sitting beside me cloaked in her own vomit. Her hair was matted with partially digested food. None of it was identifiable which meant it had been sitting in there a while just waiting for the perfect moment to re emerge.

As with the leech incident, my ability to effectively cope in an emergency situation was once again brought into question.  Did I seek to comfort Chaylee? No. She seemed happy enough to be rid of the ruminating remnants of dinner. Did I stand up and set aside the soiled bedding and clothing for stain treatment before calmly accessing the showering facilities? No. I just sat there weeping, stupefied…rhythmically scraping my tongue with a small patch of vomit free bedding.

Mike took the reigns and helped Chaylee and I out of bed and into the bathroom as I continued to cry.  I collected myself and took Chay into the shower with me.  I washed her hair while simultanously gulping as much water as I could.  About every two minutes I would gag involuntarily in rememberance.  What I really wanted to do sit on the cool tile under the hot water rocking back and forth in the fetal position. But, a little girl needed me to wash her hair.  And that need prevented me from wallowing in my own despair.

Sure, I will be living with yet another human who is incapable of controlling her bodily functions for a period of time. Yes, another little soul will need me and my breasts in the wee hours of the night when I would rather be sleeping.  Perhaps the danger of me choking on someone else’s vomit will increase with her birth. But this little someone needs me and it’s time to get out of the fetal position and step up to the challenge which has been placed before me. I may not have enough arms for the job, but I think I have a big enough heart for the task at hand.

So, welcome to the family sister.  Momma’s here!

Aussie Words of the Day

Chunder: To vomit (usually from being drunk)

Sook: A weak-willed person who is likely to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Also called a cry-baby.

Sickie: A sick person.

“You too might turn into a right sook if a sickie ankle biter chundered in your mouth.

Family Trivia

Yes, we are having another little girl. Mike will be selecting a male dog to live with us upon our return to the United States.

Health Tip

  1. If you are interested in becoming bulimic, have someone regurgitate INTO your mouth.  You will never need to stick your finger down your throat again. All you will need to do is reminisce about the experience and gagging will come naturally.
  2. Do not snuggle face to face with a host of a parasite. Instead, point the infected party in the opposite direction of your face.

Poll

Would you rather:

a. Expose your buttox to a park full of picnickers  (See I Just Couldn’t Swing It )

b. Fall victim to accidental nudity due to a freak thunderstorm  (See Nuddy in a Southerly Buster )

c. Be attacked by blood sucking leeches (See Man Vs. Wild)

d. Have your child vomit in your mouth?

FAQ’s

How far along are you? — 23 weeks

Feeling any better about it all? — Yes, I think so.

Any names picked out? — A few ideas, but still undecided.. Feel free to post suggestions.

Where are you having the baby? — Northshore Private Hospital here in Sydney.

Will she be considered an Aussie? In our hearts, but technically she will be an American Citizen.