Just call me Cougar

I got the call at 7:30pm. 

“Meet me at Ashley and Archer, ” he said.

It was dark, very dark. The enormous, silver, diesel, she-beast sat in the carport waiting for me. Naked…no plates. But that didn’t matter because it was dark, very dark.

I strapped my trusty sidekicks into our new silver bullet and then attempted to enter the vehicle confidently, but on the wrong side. My second attempt was more successful but equally disconcerting. Everything felt wrong. Windshield wipers where the turn signal should be; my left hand suddenly responsible for all the most important tasks, i.e. shifting, stereo manipulation, air conditioning… With very little experience and no “rego” I was an outsider and an outlaw.

I rolled out slow on the creep tip with track nine settin the tone in the background T-Town style.

“They see me rollin, they’re hatin, patrollin, tryin to catch me ridin dirty…try to catch me ridin dirty, try to catch me ridin dirty, tryin to catch me ridin dirty”

Paranoia raged within me like a stoned teenager. The soundtrack somehow helped though. And when I saw my man approaching I rolled down my window so he could hear our rebel anthem. He nodded. I nodded back. _______

My next excursion did not go as well.

In order to register a vehicle, one must get a green slip (insurance) a blue slip (auto inspection) and a pink slip (from the DMV which is called the RTA). A gal from down the street was nice enough to let me follow her to Castle Cove so I could obtain said Blue Slip. The drop off was without incident, but picking up the car proved dangerous.

I packed Chaylee and a carseat in the pram and picked up Kenna from Kindie and walked 1km to the mechanic. This time I would have to take the car into rush hour on my own. I took a wrong turn within 5 blocks.

Bollocks!

I found a landmark I was familiar with and got back on track.

Bloody great!

Jane, a friend from down the street happened to pull up behind me as I drove (still dirty) carefully down the crowded street. Her presence brought minimal comfort and a great deal of pressure. I must perform. I must let her know that her children are still safe to walk about in the neighborhood with me on the road, I thought.

Nearly home, I sat patiently on Penshurst waiting to take a right (which is akin to taking a left at home). The cars kept coming and coming. The sun was piercing and distracting. Panic begin to seize me…

Jane is waiting. They all think I am a terrible driver. I have not plates. Is that a cop? Grow some balls Hev. Come on! Just turn right. There’s a gap…go, go, go….

And go did I. Straight into the right lane…the wrong lane.

There I sat frozen, staring into the young man’s eyes whom I nearly struck head on. I pleaded with him like a deranged mime begging him to back up so that I could get off Penshurst and experience my shame and total loss of confidence in the quiet of my own culdesac. He obliged, stunned and curious. I rolled down my window and shouted in my most apologetic voice…

“I’m sorry. I’m American!” Once again representing my nation with dignity and grace.

Jane consoled me from her automobile and I pretended to be fine. I wasn’t. As she headed on her way I started to cry. Kenna caught on quickly and attempted to reassure me.

“Don’t worry Mom. We all have accidents. Sometimes I pee.”

I laughed briefly and then proceeded to cry some more. The crying continued off and on throughout the evening. Peaking when I picked up Mr. Pasley from the train station. My wingman Michael “Maverick” Pasley offered to drive home and I suggested I turn in my wings.

Click on this link for dramatization:

Pray for me dear ones. I am homesick and longing for the peace of mind that comes with knowing how to friggin drive.

Poll: Would you rather:
a. walk through your neighborhood virtually naked in a storm
b. reveal your buttocks whilst at the park
c. humiliate yourself on the open road by driving on the wrong side of the street in traffic.

Trivia: In the early years of English colonization of North America, English driving customs were followed and the colonies drove on the left. After gaining independence from England, however, they were anxious to cast off all remaining links with their British colonial past and gradually changed to right-hand driving. The first law requiring drivers to keep right was passed in Pennsylvania in 1792, and similar laws were passed in New York in 1804 and New Jersey in 1813. Only 1/3 of the world drives on the left. (Wikipedia) America, a truly independent nation!

Words of the day:
Figjam : “F*ck I’m good; just ask me”. Nickname for people who have a high opinion of themselves.
Seppo: An American
Cockroach: Someone from NSW

I use to think I was a Figjam Seppo, but now all the Cockroaches know this drongo doesn’t know how to drive worth a darn.

Family Fact: Chaylee loves vegamite. Kenna does not. Chaylee walks, sort of.

Love to all. Pray for safe travels with me behind the wheel…if I can bring myself to ever drive again.

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Misc. Moments

On Australia Day I was struck several times by an angry disabled, elderly woman whom I was trying to assist. She had me cornered. Mike sprung into action by escorting Kenna and Chaylee off the elevator safely. Evidently, he felt I had things under control. 

“No Hitting!” was all I could think to say as I stood paralyzed…conflicted. She was throwing combinations and I felt it all. A touch of terror and a sympathetic ache. Poor old girl. I would have liked to have been friends.

Thankfully, a train station worker saw me on the ropes and relieved me, assisting the agitated woman. I only hope that if I start throwing punches at random strangers in my old age, I can strike with the same accuracy and flare.
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On Wednesday I locked myself in the house. Not out of the house. In the house. I locked my keys in the stroller, which was in the garage, which could only be accessed by using said keys. In fact, all doors leading out of the house require keys. Why not open a window you ask? Because our landlord, Houdini, decided to put decorative bars on all the windows in addition to automated metal shutters. How should we go about exiting the premises in case of an emergency? Not sure yet. Suggestions are welcome. In this case, a neighbor came to my aid. She opened the garage, located the keys and set the little ones and I free.

I was wondering how I would go about humiliating myself in front of my neighbors this week. Glad that’s out of the way. At least this time I kept my clothes on.

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Mike sprayed the perimeter of the house a while back in an effort to reduce the amount of roaches of unusual size that were taking up residence in the house. Later that evening, we discovered a plethora of curious red bites on his ankles. His feet swelled up like a pregnant woman. He now refers to himself as “Mike, it’s what’s for dinner.” or, “Mike, the other white meat”. Evidently my brand of flesh is only appealing to caterpillars.

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We still have no car and rental furniture. Pray both reach us soon. Till then, may we continue to grow and stretch and embrace what is in our reach.

Word of the day: Blue: fight
The poor old gal wanted to have a blue with me.

Daily Poll: Have you ever been locked in? Mom….this is a great opportunity for you to tell your story. Go ahead…let it out.

Trivia: Britain decided to use its new outpost (Australia) as a penal colony. The First Fleet of 11 ships carried about 1500 people—half of them convicts. The fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour on 26 January 1788, and it is on this day every year that Australia Day is celebrated.

Nuddy in a Southerly Buster


It was just a drizzle. A gentle tickle of rain. I dressed Chaylee in a valor sweat suit with a hood just in case the chill in the air began to nibble at her soft cheeks. We were off to pick up Kenna from kindie. 

I didn’t bring much other than my phone and some sultanas (raisins) for Chaylee. I wanted to pack light so that I could negotiate the pram with greater ease. It is a 40 minute round trip walk so every little bit helps. The walk was a dream. The cool temperature, a welcome departure from the scorching sun.

Kenna was eager to tell us about her day and walked along side the stroller with much to say. I could only listen with moderate attentiveness however, because I was distracted by some ominous clouds that were quickly approaching. They were black. They were bulbous. They screamed of pending doom!

“Hey Kenna…we may need to pick up the pace here dove. It looks like rain is heading our…..” No sooner had I spoken did the dam break.

This was biblical rain.

I grabbed my phone from my pocket and placed it in a small compartment next to the cup holders that were steadily filling with water. It would be safe there. Kenna screamed with delight. Chaylee splashed in the pool that had developed in her tray. Water begin to fill my shoes as it rushed down the sidewalk. It was then I looked down and realized…

I was naked.

How could I make such a terrible wardrobe error? A long sleeved white shirt, a black brazier and a pair of thin light beige pants? WHAT? Nothing was left to the imagination. Every curve and crevice was on display. I begin to push with even greater fury and purpose. I kept my head down, my stomach sucked in and my arms arched so as to prevent shirt suction.

It did not help matters that the entire neighborhood was out in force picking up their children from school. Umbrellas floated all around me. Children ran all about in rain jackets and clever hats. My children looked as if they had been thrown in a pool.

At least we survived. My phone was not so lucky.

An old family adage: If you can’t make it good, make it memorable.

Poll: Would you rather:
a. Fall off a swing in a public park exposing your bottom
b. Have your whole neighborhood see you naked due to flash flooding

Trivia: They are referring to this summer in NSW as the “lost summer” due to the unseasonable cool temperatures and abundance of rain.

Word of the Day: Nuddy: Naked
“I got nuddy in a Southerly Buster”

I just couldn’t swing it

It was a beautiful day today in Roseville. We walked beneath a canopy of large palms and gum trees as we made our way home through Beauchamp Park: the pram loaded with groceries and our hearts blooming with gratitude and wonder. Mike would make his way home with two ridiculously heavy bags of groceries, in an effort to get certain products to a colder climate. I would stay at the park with the girls for a bit to enjoy the day before carting the rest of the weeks food supply home.

Kenna ran to the sand pit to play with her gardening toys and I sat perched on a robust swing with Chaylee so I could feel her delight and watch the gentle wind play with her soft hair….ahhhhhhh. AHHHHHHHH!

It is amazing how many thoughts can actually make their way through your mind in a split second…

Oh no…
We are falling backwards.
Chaylee, hold on.
This is going to hurt!
My pants are falling off.
There are people at the picnic table.
How am I going to make this okay?
Can they see my  bare butt?
Indeed they can…why did I wear maternity pants?

Although all these things crossed my mind I only uttered two words.

“F%$# ME!”

In summary, not only did I fall off a swing in public, sparing my child, but exposing the top half of my buttox, I swore in front of children in a distinctly American accent. I let you all down. I am sorry.

You will be glad to know however, that I rallied. I sat up and laughed and laughed…and laughed some more in an effort to make those around me more comfortable with what had occured. I demonstrated optimism and humility. In that moment, I made America proud.

And with an aching back and squandered pride, I pushed the mega-ton stroller home.

All in all, it was a good day.

Daily Poll: What is the best way to handle a fall that occurs in public? Do you like when people try and help you?

Terms of the Day:
Come a gutser: to have an accident or make a mistake.
-I would put this in a sentence for you, but I don’t know how!

Cack Handed: Clumsy
“I must have looked like a right cack handed sheila.

Factoid: Overall, about 79 percent (three-fourths) of the injuries that occur on public (playground) equipment involve falls, primarily to the surface below the equipment.

Australian Party Habits

 

Today is Kenna’s Birthday!!! She is four years old and very proud to be so.

I have to admit, I was afraid of what this day would be like for her. Our parties at home are generally a raucous affair. Typically, I cook way too much food, invite far too many people, provide ludicrous amounts of sugar to small children, spend way too much on cheap decor, and lean heavily upon the help of friends and family to pull it off. At some point during the night, I usually get my groove on to some old school beats with the help of my beloved sisters/girlfriends (and Mitch) and we dance into the night, stopping only to eat some more…

So, what is a mommy like me to do when her little girl is about to embark on another year and family and friends are an ocean away? She invites the three families she knows over for ice cream.

It seemed perfect. Quaint, simple, and easy.

Last week I noticed that Kenna had made a sweet little friend named Elspeth. I decided to ask El’s mom if she could come to our little party. Unfortunately, it wasn’t her mom. It was the mother of another student and hence, my quaint plans begin to unravel before my eyes like a dollar store sweater.

“Oh…well, Matt can, uh, come too…I mean, we would love to have him…all the children are welcome,” I said with an unsure stutter.

I called upon my Aussie friend Jane and explained the scenario to her in hopes that she could help me deal with the situation in a way that was culturally appropriate. She instructed me to post a little note at the preschool the day of the party informing parents that there would be a gathering to celebrate Kenna.

This morning Mike took Kenna to school and delivered the small, hand written party invitation to Kenna’s teacher. When I arrived to pick Kenna up from Kindie, I was greeted with a giant sandwich board containing my homemade invite, a larger typed version of said invitation and three balloons adorned with ribbon curls. I knew I was in trouble.

Poll: If you were invited to a stranger’s child’s birthday party the day of the event, would you attend?

Fifty people, mostly children, showed up for Kenna’s party today…ON TIME! I was flabbergasted, appalled, paralyzed by culture shock. Who are these people?

My friends Jane (a.k.a. Super Jane) and Sonja saved the day. They brought snacks, wine, extra dessert, and tea. Evidently, no party is complete without tea. Holla!

Word of the day: Cuppa: Short for cup of tea. “Come over and have a cuppa and we’ll chat about how full on the party was.”

Factoid: * In 1954, Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob later became the Prime Minister of Australia. What does this have to do with birthdays and pre schoolers? Nothing. I just found it intriguing and thought I would share it with you.

 

Carless Whisper-Life on the Pram

I was going to use this venue to complain about my lack of vehicle. After all, it always feels kind of nice when people feel sorry for you. However, I have decided to take another approach. How have I grown over the last month of carlessness?

1. I have become more muscular from pushing 100 pounds up and down rolling hills several times a day in sweltering heat and dehydrating humidity.

2. My spacial relations skills have improved as a result of having to fit 13 bags of groceries into a stroller (pram) with two kids in tow.

3. I have become more resourceful. One has to be to get the aforementioned items home.

4. I have become far more brave. How could I not? You try pushing a double stroller in flip flops when suddenly a tropical thunderstorms begins to pelt you and your children with rain while thunder rolls and lightning strikes.

5. I have become a better liar. “I love thunder and lightning. Don’t you Kenna? I think this is really fun!” See? Who needs a car?

Word of the Day: Donk: Engine for a car or a boat. “I wish I had a donk on my pram.”

Poll of the Day: Would you be willing to go without a car for a month?

Factoid: The new Australian Prime Minister just held a National Day of Apology to the Stolen Generation…a generation of “half-caste” Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents to be assimilated into Australian Society. The PM, Kevin Rudd gave a breathtaking speech that was aired on every station in Australia. It was incredibly powerful. I was honored to be a witness to such a historic event in Australian history.

Movie Suggestion: If you have not seen it, I highly recommend the film, Rabbit Proof Fence. It beautifully depicts the true story of three such children.

Shout Out: Kirsten, my beloved sister. No one can possibly know how much I love you. How much you are a part of me. How much I miss you. Happy birthday sissy. There are no words to describe how grateful I am we were put together  in the same family. You are a musical genius and a brilliant sister. I LOVE YOU.

Hooroo

Ahhhhh Screw it!

I bought a kitchen set for Kenna and Chaylee for Christmas. It seemed like the right thing to do. Kenna is always envious of other children and their culinary toys and tends to tantrum when pulled away from said activities. I figured we would purchase it at home and have it shipped down to be assembled in Sydney.

Life without a car is not easy, and neither is life without power tools. When Mike and I opened up the kitchen set, I assumed SOME assembly would be required. SOME ASSEMBLY! I did not realize I would be responsible for piecing together hundreds of parts by hand with nothing but a rusty Phillips Screwdriver and a vague pictorial manual. I knew I was hosed when I glanced through the instructions and saw steps 1-30. There was no way I was going to take this project on without some power tools. Kenna would have to wait.

At play group I met a very sweet mother of twins.  She invited me over for tea and we discussed life with children, life before children and what life would be like after the children had moved on. We also ate biscuits (a.k.a. cookies). During the visit I noticed she had an elaborate kitchen set up for the twins.  I mentioned my own kitchen quandary and she offered to let me use their new battery operated, rechargeable, red screw driver. It was part of a larger matching tool set and even came equipped with 8-10 different heads. Great, right? I marched home determined to have my way with the kitchen.

I wrestled with it.

It taunted me.

I said mean things to it.

I could almost hear its sinister laugh.

I grabbed a beer.

It pointed at me and called me a sissy.

Such comments only empowered me…I noticed however, that near the end of the battle, my trusty battery operated, rechargeable, red screwdriver was slowing down.  I figured it was a battery issue so I promptly plugged it in. It was still a little slow. Three more screws and victory would be mine. I held the screw driver in the air…

“I ain’t quitten you!!!!” I cried out.

My inspirational language must have done the trick…a twist here, a turn there and the kitchen was done! Unfortunately, so was the screw driver.

I tried to revive her. I charged her. I sought counsel (Mike). We removed her innards (the battery) and reinserted. We charged her again! How could this happen? What did I do wrong? Was this the work of the kitchen? Was it all a part of her evil scheme? What if no one in the neighborhood trusts me from now on? What if I am the talk of playgroup? What if King Edwards is the Wisteria Lane of the Southern Hemisphere and this incident becomes a colossal scandal?

For those of you who are followers of Christ, please pray for me. I am bringing Victoria a replacement screwdriver of comparable value today, but it is not the same as the original. Pray that she responds with the national mantra, “no worries”.  She spent time in London though, and I am not sure how much the POHM’s rubbed off on her.

Poll: If you were Victoria, how would you want me to handle the situation?

Factoid: Victoria used to play Professional Net Ball in Sydney.

Word of the Day: Drongo–a stupid, inept, awkward or embarrassing person, a dimwit or slow-witted person.

Aussie/T-Town Hybrid: I don’t wanna be a drongo, feel me?

Shout out: Happy Birthday Young James! Aunt Hevy misses you more than you know.

Next Episode: Carless Whisper: The thrilling tale of life on the pram.