Where the Streets Have No Name

 

We’ve come a long way, Mike and I. Six months ago, we were navigating the Sydney suburbs with little more than a stroller and an atlas. Three months ago, we purchased a vehicle and drove sparingly; gripping the wheel at 10 and 2 like petrified high school students on the first day of Drivers Ed. Today, we both are capable of eating a burger, talking on the phone, grabbing an unruly child by the ankle and steering simultaneously. How is that for progress?

But progress brings with it challenges of it’s own. An increase in confidence has led to more driving excursions, and it doesn’t take many of these to discover that Sydney is cruel.

Would you like to take a right, Heather? Shut up. You will turn right when I say you can and that won’t be for another 10 kilometers!!!!

Oh, did you make a mistake? Would you like to turn around? NO! Now turn off your blinker before I force you onto the freeway.

Oh…you didn’t want to get on the toll infested freeway? Too Bad. Pay up Beeyotch!!!! And when you figure out how to turn around and head back the other way you will pay again…..mmoooohahahahaha moooooohahahaha!

Oh you need to turn left? You want to be in the left hand lane? Oh you do?Okay…..PARKED CAR!!!

Mike finds the random parked cars that pepper the left lane particularly irritating. Legendary tirades have ensued after near misses with said cars.

And then there is the issue of navigation. I am convinced that google maps is against me and my family. Not sure what we did to anger Mr. Google and his map making minions, but they seem to want us to be permanently lost. It has gotten so ridiculous that Mike and I have decided to always find our selected destination a day ahead of time.

“Hey honey, let’s go to the drive-in”.
“Okay, we’ll drive there tonight and go tomorrow”.

Today, I took the girls to Bi-Centennial Park in West Pymble. There are about four Bi-Centennial Parks in Sydney. Just like there are 18 Macquarie Streets, 12 Warratah Roads and 32 Victoria Avenues. Fortunately, I did my homework and found the park I was looking for on (dun dun dun) google maps.

Google thinks it funny to say things like, “Exit toward Ryde”. No street name. No Exit number. Just a suggestion. If I knew where Ryde was, I would go toward it. It reminds me of how my mom gives directions

“Go West.”

“What? I have not a compass! Left or right woman…left or right!”

The rest of the directions were less vague but completely wrong. I relied soley on my Gregory Guide (cousin of Thomas) to get me there. And you know how conveient ancient map navigation is while driving. Greg and I worked together and got us there though. Good on ya Greg.

TAKE THAT GOOGLE MAN!

Kenna Quote: Context-When I could not find the play area at the park we spent a half an hour trying to find. “Mom, it’s okay. Strawberry Shortcake says that hill is more than just a hill it’s a possibility. You add skill and love and that’s how a garden grows.”

She has been throwing out a lot of gems lately. Yesterday she said she loved me because I make her feel like she has glitter and bows in her heart. She also told me I was pretty like the “Queen of Israel”. (stunned silence) That’s awesome.

Chaylee quote of the day: Momma. Momma. Mommy. Mom. Momma. Momma. Mommy. wasssisiss ticka was he he dada ha.

Shout out to my man: Mike was named Foreign Driver of the Year when he took on a two lane round about at night during rush hour without breaking a sweat. Cool as ice, that man. Cool as ice!

Word of the Day: Fair suck of the sav! : exclamation of wonder, awe, disbelief.
Fair suck of the sav, I am where the streets have no name!

Trivia: It is World Youth Day here in Sydney. The Pope is here presiding over the largest Mass in Australian History this morning at Darling Harbour. I had no idea the Pope was such a Rock Star. The youth were beside themselves. It was a lovely spectacle.

 

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Thoughts on parenting and coolness


Most of my time these days is dedicated to preserving two human lives. My goal is to provide my offspring with the best childhood memories possible. If all goes well, they will still like me when they leave the nest and need minimal therapy. The rest of my time is spent trying to run our household. Since Mike (God bless him) has been been confined to a desk from dusk till dawn ( such is life in a penal colony) the onus has been on me to keep things running here on the home front. Those of you who know me well, know that my administrative skills are only slightly better than my track and field abilities. And domestically, I really only have one gift and that is cooking. I can cook the bee-jeebies out of a hunk of meat, but cleaning up the pan after the fact is a hell I try to avoid at all cost. And then there is the art of laundry. I am sort of a Jackson Pollock in that regard. I like to sort of throw a variety of color in the wash and see what comes out. Mike (God bless him) will not actually let me near his garments. I think he just doesn’t understand my genius.

I have learned some very valuable life lessons from my time at home with the wee ones though. Particularly from my oldest…since she is the only one that is currently speaking a dialect I am familiar with.

Lesson 1: Any argument can be won by using made up words.

Me: Kenna, I need you to put on your shoes, it is the last time I am going to ask you!
Kenna: Mom, I am in the middle of a “constrination” so I cannot listen to you right now!!!
Me: (stunned silence.)

Lesson 2: Fake plans will get you out of anything. I call this maneuver the Crane. There is no defense, if done properly.

Kenna: I want to go to Joan’s house.
Me: I am sorry Kenna. Now is not a good time.
Kenna: Mommy please, I want to go and have a chat!
Me: Kenna, you can go tomorrow honey.
Kenna: (tears) But, mommy, tomorrow I have a wedding to go to and a meeting! I can’t go tomorrow!!!!!!
Me: (stunned silence)

Lesson 3: Life is like a sitcom

Kenna: What is going on in this show mom?
Me: I am not sure. I didn’t watch it last week. These shows are kind of like chapters in a book.
Kenna: My life is like that. Each day is a chapter. When I wake up in the morning I decide if it is a good chapter with my behavior, or a bad chapter, or a sad one or a boring one. It is like God, writing the bible. He’s writing a book about me.
Me: (stunned silence)

Lesson 4: Singing a song can chase your blues away.
Sometimes I find Kenna standing still with her hands by her sides and her eyes half closed singing. It is almost always one of three songs: Tomorrow(Annie), Silly Dreamer (Strawberry Shortcake), or I’ve Gotta Go My Own Way (Troy and Gabriella). I have even caught her on a few occasions at the park after pre school…alone…singing…eyes half closed. I once asked her why she did this. She explained that it made her feel better if she was feeling sad, lonely or left out. I too use this method now; although I am struggling a bit with song selection. Don’t Stop Believin is a shoe in. The other two slots are still up for grabs. Chaylee has already adopted her sister’s mood adjustment method with a couple of minor alterations. She prefers to make up her own songs and she usually throws in some rapid arm movement just to mix things up.

Lesson 5: Its harder to be cool when you have kids.
Sometimes I miss my own youth. I realize 30 is the new 12, but there is something about being in my thirties that makes me feel like I can’t dance anymore. Maybe it is because when I shake it these days, Kenna politely asks me to stop. Or maybe it is because of generation Y and their cyber judgments. I watched some hip-hop videos from my school days on youtube one afternoon (Thank You Julie) and made the wretched mistake of viewing some of the comments made by chronologically challenged individuals. One youngster referred to Ralph Tresvant’s “Man With Sensitivity” as an oldie. WHAT? “Unchained Melody” is an oldie. “Louie,Louie” is an oldie. Hits produced by New Edition and it’s former members are not!

I digress.

I just want to be cool forever. Which brings me to my next life lesson!

Lesson 6: It is possible to be cool forever.
My best friend in Australia is Joan Karrad. She is 88, semi immobilized by mild CP and arthritis and still, she is the coolest person I have encountered in the whole of Sydney. She is clever, kind, funny, empathetic, fearless, faithful and bold. Everything I want to be. I refer to her as “my old lady”. Kenna refers to her as “cool”. I guess there is hope for me yet.

Poll: What songs would you select if you decided to use the Kenna Pasley mood adjustment.method?

Fun Fact: * In 1832, 300 female Convicts at the Cascade Female Factory mooned the Governor of Tasmania during a chapel service. It was said that in a “rare moment of collusion with the Convict women, the ladies in the Governor’s party could not control their laughter.”

Phrase of the day: galoot: a foolish person
The older I get the more I realize what a galoot I am.

*I realize that at a glance, my fun fact for the day has nothing to do with parenting or life lessons. But consider this: when you feel imprisoned by a monotonous life; when you are incarcerated by day to day responsibilities; when it seems no one is on your side…

moon someone.

Let the Games Begin!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fashion Frenzy

They laughed at me. 

I told the women at playgroup that I won’t spend more than 20-30 bucks on a pair of shoes and they laughed at me.

Evidently, they have never heard of Payless Shoes around here…or is it Volume…or is it Payless? The women of Roseville are high end shoppers. Their version of casual is cashmere and fancy boots. Some have even paid big bucks to have their “colors” done. Ally, for example, is an Autumn with a touch of spring. So you can imagine how taken aback they were when I revealed that not only do I have little to no fashion sense, but I am cheap.

When the topic of shopping comes up, I am always unsure how to engage. Do I nod and pretend I am one of them? Or, do I go with my usual self depreciating humor that seems to endear me to others. This week I went primarily with option B. It was only moderately successful however.

When discussing the latest trend in boot shape I whipped out some of best material “my cankles wouldn’t fit in those things if you used a commercial size shoe horn and vaseline.” I wish I would have said that actually. That is good stuff. What I actually said was a bit less hardcore…”I couldn’t get these babies in there if I tried”. Then I simply pulled up my pant leg and let em have a look. Unfortunately, the raucous laughter I expected, was more like a sympathetic chuckle.

“Poor girl’s got calves like a Polynesian man.” I could hear them thinking.

When discussing a sale going on at David Jones, I threw out: “Do they have candle lit dressing rooms, because I am not down with getting naked in front of mirrors with spotlights shining on my thighs. I am smoking in candlelight though!”

Again….nervous laughter.

That’s it. Next time I am going with option A. If I am going to use my insecurities to bring others joy and laughter, I am going to need a far better pay off.

Trivia: The 80’s are back with a vengeance here. I even saw a young man wearing a gray hoodie with flouresent pink jagged stripes in the back. This is good. Now I can wear leg warmers to cover up the cankles.

Poll: How do you deal with your insecurities?

More trivia: I have lost close to 20 pounds since I moved to Sydney. Will my sense of humor be no more once I have achieved my ideal weight?

Words of the Day:
Clobber: Your clothes. —I like casual clobber.

Disclaimer: The women of Roseville are wonderful and I adore them. They do chuckle at me a bit. I just can’t tell if they think I am actually funny. I may send out a survey this week.

TROY RULES! He is not just my cousin…he is my pal.

The Dinner Party

I was told to bring Hors d’oeuvres. 

I toyed with chips and salsa but then decided on something more impressive. Avacado Egg rolls with a Cilantro dipping sauce; a Cheesecake Factory recipe I seized from the internet. The sauce itself had a difficulty level of about a 9.5 on the Olympic gymnastic scale. As a safety measure I decided to throw in an easier dish as well; brie with honey, caramelized pecans and some sliced apples. It sounds fancy, but all you really do is throw a pricey hunk of brie in a frying pan with some pecans and dump honey on it. Easy. Delicious.

I started work on my contributions to the dinner party early in the day. The sauce was completed with time to spare. All that was left to do was purchase egg roll wrappers, stuff them gently with a mixture I prepared in advance, throw on some “glad rags”, and warm up the brie.

I decided to start my search for egg roll wrappers at Asian World. I perused each aisle with care. I found won ton wrappers, spring roll paper, and dumplings of all shapes and sizes but nary an egg roll ingredient. I asked several employees and a customer. All looked at me as if they had n2ever seen or heard of an egg roll before; as if somehow the concept itself was disturbing. Did I mention I was shopping at Asian World?

I would have to use won tons. Appetizers should be bite sized anyway.

I cooked up the first batch of miniature morsels without incident. However, round two was “a damn nightmare”. Chaylee arose with a passionate cry from her premature slumber. Mike intervened. A knock at the door followed: the teen babysitter arrived accompanied by a DVD of Sex In the City. I was thinking something more along the lines of Care Bears or perhaps Shrek. The wee one was inconsolable. I nursed her frantically and ask Mike to tend to the deep frying. He promptly removed the little guys from the lake of fire, but it was too late. They were visually disturbing and nearly inedible. It was 8:00. The guests were without their nibbles.

We arrived at The Dinner Party forty minutes late.

As we entered the room it was clear that we had come grossly under prepared. The table looked like an evening at Buckingham Palace. Each place setting had countless utensils, three wine glasses per person, extravagant candle holders accompanied by fresh flowers and linen napkins.

Our contribution? One deep fried wonton per person and a blackened brie pancake with store brand crackers and sliced apples haphazardly arranged on a bright green dinner place covered in crumpled foil.

Bon Apetite!

The next course, provided by the host, was a creamed corn fancy-naise of some kind, topped with seared scallops, spring greens and caviar. I suck. Thankfully, the martini and the three glasses of wine that I was obliged to drink for cultural reasons made it all seem okay.

Poll: What recipe do you use to dazzle? Do you have any plating tips to throw my way?

Fun Fact: Australians love to drink. They always have.

” All through Australia, in every class, it is not considered good form for a man to drink by himself. Very few even of the most hopeless drunkards ever do so. The consequence is, that when a man feels inclined to drink, he immediately looks out for someone to drink with” “At whatever hour of the day a mans meets another whom he has not seen for say twelve hours, etiquette requires that he shall incontinently invite him to come and drink. This is a custom that pervades every class in the colony, and cannot be departed from without something more than a breach of good manners.” Finch Hatton 1887

Words of the Day:
Tucker: food
That’s Bonzer: That’s great
That’s Bonzer, my tucker sucked.

My Mom

It was Chay’s Australian Birthday. Chay baby and I dropped off Kenna at school and headed to Chatswood to pick up a birthday treat and a few things for her little party ! It was a lovely morning. The sun was shining, the leaves were falling, and the town was bustling. Heaven.

My bliss was interrupted by a large camera, a boom mic and a smallish woman with a clipboard.

“Hello, we are from the Today Show (AU) and we are asking people to give shout outs to their mums. Would you like to say something to your mum?” Slightly stunned by the opportunity, I explained that my “mum” lives in the US and so I may not be the best candidate. They instructed me to “ave a go” anyway.

They had no idea what it was they were asking me to do. Before I was able to utter a single syllable, a lump the size of a melon emerged in my throat. I knew I was in trouble.

“Crap,” I said. “I don’t know if I can do this. I am crying already.”

They appeared moved.

“Go on”, the smallish one said. “What do you love about your mum?”

“What don’t I love…..” It was a strong start, but what began as a moving tribute became an unintelligible slew of guttural utterances. You see, I am completely incapable of crying and speaking simultaneously. Those of you who know me know this is true. It is sort of a cross between Yoda and Sloth from Goonies. The tears were magnificent. You would have thought I had just returned from her memorial.

The crew seemed more concerned then moved at this point and so I brought my deluge of emotion to an end and walked away. Much to my chagrin, the tears continued. I looked very unstable as I navigated the streets of Chatswood.

Mom, it appears I love you. And evidently I miss you more than is normal. I pray that one day when my daughters are older and asked to express how they feel about me, they too will crumble publicly. It is an honor to be yours. You are the kind of woman I am trying to become and….it appears I cannot type and cry all at once either.

Happy Mother’s Day Mummy.

Your baby girl,

Flow Pow

 

 

My left thumb

People thank God for the strangest things. We thank Him for helping us find our keys. We thank him for nice weather on special days and snow on Christmas. We thank him when we are happy and when we get stuff we always wanted. But today I want to publically express gratitude to God Almighty for something I have never found cause to thank Him for. My left thumb. 

All of my life I have had a double jointed left thumb. I can bend it in impossible directions and it even appears a bit shorter than it’s twin on the right. It is an oddity I have never given much thought to unless I am performing party tricks or frightening small children with the removeable thumb illusion. But today something amazing happened.

I was driving to the drycleaner through heavy traffic. I was experiencing the usual light headedness, shortness of breath, and heart palpatations when something miraculous happened…

I begin to notice that every time I took a right turn into the left lane I was involuntarily bending my freakish thumb back. It was as if my ridiculous thumb was a beacon of safety guiding me into the correct lane. With each turn confidence swelled within me. With my trusty thumb at the wheel my family as well as Australian motorists and pedestrians will be safe.

Cougar may have turned in his wings, but I am no Cougar….
The codename is Thumbelina baby. And this soldier can roll in any hemisphere.

Thank you dear readers for your support and thank you Lord for my thumb. It was a comfort to me as a child and is a comfort to me now.