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?

 

 

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…

———————————————————————————

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

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

But how?

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

So what does one do?

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

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

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

It seemed like a really, really good idea.

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

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

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

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

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

What’s up now kid…huh?  What now son?

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

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

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

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

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

Words of the Day:

Good Oil: Good Idea

Old Girl: Mother

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

Family Trivia:

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

Poll:

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

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

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

Me, Myself, and Eilene

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

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

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

The Doctor

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

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

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

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

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

The Ward

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

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

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

“Well, you’re here now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Meltdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you think happened?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

It was time for the drip.

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

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

She turned up the pitocin.

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

The final exam

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

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

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

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

At 8:00pm, Eilene handed her keys to the night crew , apologized to the anesthesiologist for troubling him (not kidding)  and with little more than a goodbye, my nemesis was gone.  Mom took the opportunity to shout out what we had wished to say all evening long. “Goodnight Eilene!”

In a Pinch

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

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

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

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

“I need to push! What do I do?”

“Pinch it!” Said Mike. For some reason I understood what he meant.

“Call an audible.” Suggested Mom.

The epidural only worked on one side of my body.  I felt off kilter and was shaking like a frost bitten climber with altitude sickness.   I could see the summit.  I could almost touch the top. But my  Sherpa was still en route.

The Delivery

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

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

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

We cried…hard.

It was time to meet our girl.

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

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

They Meet

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

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

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.

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

MOUNT OLYMPUS

Warning: This blog is my most revealing to date. It is raw and vulnerable. The naked truth. Proceed with caution and be gentle. Pray you don’t see me any differently when you are done.

Disclaimer: This is a bit more lengthy than my average entry. Just bare with me.

Aunt Barbara might be the most persuasive woman in the world. Not just in the Northern Hemisphere…in the world. When I was 12 years old I went with her to the Oregon State Fair. The only parking spot we could find was a small patch of grass between two haphazardly parked cars. Her solution? To hop in the stranger’s car that was preventing our parking progress, put it in neutral and push it forward till our parking needs were accommodated. She can even get a parked car to do what she wants! This would explain why she was able to convince me to come face to face with one of my most debilitating phobias–nudity.

I am the woman in the locker room who does not remove her towel even to shower. I get creative. I am uncomfortable revealing my humps and lady lumps. I don’t really want to observe the markings of my motherhood, or the scars that have come from multiple organ removals. The giant vein from hell that is invading my lower right quadrant is something I would like to ignore. It is far more fun to pretend that my body is a wonderland and a towel is my little red pill.

It was Dec. 20, approximately 10am, when I sat down at a long wooden table with some of my favorite women in the world, my mom, my cousin Sue, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Barbara. It was there and then Barbara dropped her voodoo magic on me.

“Get ready honey, cause we are going to the naked spa.” It was as if she had monochromatic spinning tops for eyes. Every fiber of my body, every nervous limb, screamed HELL NO, WE WON’T GO! And yet, as if hypnotized, I said, “okay”. She had put me in neutral.

The Olympus Spa is located in beautiful downtown Spanaway. It is surrounded by spacious parking lots, Asian specialty shops and is conveniently close to the B&I. Location, location, location. Mom and I arrived fashionably late and collectively nervous. Neither of us were particularly comfortable with the concept of communal bathing, but we were nonetheless ready to ave’ a go, not wanting to squander the generosity of Aunt Barbara.

We were warmly greeted by the friendly Olympus Staff and given a tour of the facilities. The warm marble floors and tranquil sound of silence intrigued me. We were shown all the luxurious amenities: the salt-room, the mudroom, the dry sauna, the steam room—little dens of serenity. My anxiety was briefly pacified by the anticipation of peace promised. We were handed thin, hospital grade robes, soft white towels and informed that we had exfoliation and massage appointments in the hours to come—we would also need to “soak” for one hour before their commencement. Then it hit me… I would soon be naked. I put on my robe and clung to it like bones cling to flesh. Without it I might die.

Just then Aunt Barbara and Aunt Nancy came bursting out of the mud room, guns blazing, stark naked and just happy to be there. They were free birds, soaring about in the nude. My sweet mom looked at me knowingly, in an attempt to reassure me that our liberation was just around the corner. I was not so sure. They could see my panic, but the clock was ticking and it was time to get “soakin”. We headed to the poolroom…the hall of nakedness…land of the robeless.

I feel, at this time, it is necessary to add this caveat for all my male readers.

The naked spa is not a gathering of super vixens with legs that don’t quit and anti-gravity breasts giving each other neck massage. Instead, there are women of all shapes and sizes represented. Some are 300 pounds with legs that quit after ten minutes. Some have breasts as large as human heads. Some have no breasts at all. Some have skin conditions. Some are 90.

As I entered the pool area my panic peaked. It was time to get naked. I stood there gripping the flimsy strings of my robe like they were harnesses preventing my eminent demise. It would take the jaws-of-life to get that thing off me. The room was filled with birthday suits and the air void of self -consciousness. Which was why I stood out like a nun at an erotic bakery. My beloved family made every attempt to embolden me but their humorous encouragement soon morphed into genuine concern as I began to cry. Even Master Jedi Barbara was no match for this phobia. The force was strong with me, but I could not seem to let go of my fear. Barbara began to pray…but unfortunately things went from terrifying to unbearable for I discovered…the exfoliation room!

It looked like a gynecological experiment from hell. Naked women lay prostrate on what looked like operating tables, being scrubbed violently from head to toe by small Korean women with oven mitts, before being doused repeatedly with large buckets of water.

Mom witnessed my discovery and collected my hand in hers.

“It’s okay honey. We’re okay. You’re okay. Let’s soak.” She said with a nervous smirk, knowing it would take a miracle to get me on that table. I was no parked car I was a jumbo jet.

We looked for the tub with the lowest population. Mom bravely entered first. My immersion however, was not so courageously executed. A robust older woman, with a thick gold chain around her neck and smudged garish make-up approached me with an air of empathy and concern.

“I was just like you my first time too, now I come here everyday. It makes me feel so clean. You’ll be walking around without that robe in ten minutes. You just gotta get in there honey.” She said with a gentle shove.

There was so much wrong with what had just happened that I could not find words to respond. I just stood there immobilized, bewildered, and deeply disturbed.

“C’mon hon, just get in there!”

Before I knew what was happening, my harness, my lifeline, my shroud was whisked away by the lipstick clad jaws-of-life.

I dove into that tub like go-go speed racer and swam to the corner to seek solace in the jets. I clutched my knees to my chest in an attempt to keep all orifices tightly under wraps. My poor mom was also stunned by what had occurred and sought to comfort me with humor and tenderness. Though her efforts were valiant and appreciated, I knew why I was marinating in that pool. Soon, I would have no water to hide my form, just a couple of roving oven mitts.

For the next hour I hopped from pool to pool with the moral support of my mom, who would stand waiting for me with a towel at each exit, like I was James Brown. Noting my neurosis and the looming skin care appointment, my cousin, Sue, attempted to make a private appointment for me so that my exfoliation would not be quite so public. But her efforts were in vain. The clock struck 1. It was my turn.

The Exfoliation Room

“Hello, my name’s Patty. This your first time?” She was kind and observant.

“Yes. In fact, I was wondering how you would feel about me keeping this here towel on me during the process.” I said humbly.

“ How bout I give you this.” It was a hand towel. I was noticeably disappointed but grateful.

“Oh you so shy. You be fine.” I wasn’t fine. I laid there, whimpering, on my belly with a hand towel partially covering my posterior. The exfoliation had begun. She scrubbed me like a cleaning lady scours an oven. She was fast and furious and thorough. Where there was skin, there was exfoliation. I closed my eyes and tried to find a happy place, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t decide on a destination.

Just then, I heard the distinctive tambour of Aunt Barbara’s voice in the distance. I decided to open my eyes to trace the sound. I looked up slowly and…

BAM!!!

VAGINA!

They were everywhere. Fearless vaginas. I couldn’t escape. I buried my head into the table, mortified. It was time to turn over. I gripped the sides of the table and held on for dear life. Patty kindly placed the sacred hand towel over me like a fig leaf and continued her work. I used the ceiling as a focal point, as if I were a woman in labor giving birth to softer skin.

Then, something wonderful happened. Patty collected warm soapy water in a bucket and poured it over my new and improved epidermis. Warmth overwhelmed me. I opened my eyes…and smiled.

It was a miracle. I was comfortable. Happy even.

The aquatic blanket was heavenly. Then came the oven mitts. Patty moved her magical mitts in quick circular motions over every inch. PATTY! PATTY! PATTY! I didn’t want it to end. For a moment, I did not feel naked, I felt new. She wrapped my security blanket (robe) around me and sent me on my way.

It was a little victory. Little Patty had pushed back this jumbo jet. And although I didn’t summit Mount Olympus naked, I did gain some altitude. And sometimes…that’s enough.

Words of the day

Dag: a down to earth gal.

Spit the dummy: Get upset

Patty really knows how to handle a dag that spits the dummy!

Aussie Trivia

Sydney is home to a popular Korean “naked” spa, known as the Ginseng House. I don’t think I’ll go.

Poll

Do you have a phobia? Tell me about it.

Song of the Day

I’m a Jumbo Jet and I’m Okay