The Strawberry Shortcake Situation

Charlotte had brought the house down with a fantastic speech on lamingtons. Her mum had even brought in the classic Aussie dessert to share with the class. This week’s speech topic was “my favorite fruit” and not to be outdone by Charlotte and her lamingtons, Kenna decided to bring in some culinary bribery of her own.

She started work on her upcoming oratory six days ahead of schedule, meticulously making note cards and rehearsing endlessly in front of the mirror and any live audience that was willing to sit through her spiel on the joys of strawberries. The clever speech included descriptive diatribes, questionable facts, eye contact, and impressive vocal stylings. This was an A+ waiting to happen. All she needed was some culinary support and perhaps a carefully planted slow clapper at the end to intensify the electrifying response she was sure to receive.

To showcase the strawberry we settled on an all-American confection–Strawberry Shortcake. The novelty alone would win the hearts and minds of the natives.  I utilized imported Bisquick to create the pastry and purchased copious amounts of fresh strawberries from Harris Farms to make the ambrosia filling. I whipped fresh cream into a frenzy for the finale. The speech and its shortcake counterpart would no doubt become the stuff of legend. I finished the masterpiece with minutes to spare and headed to Roseville Public with Aunt Leslie and Chaylee to deliver the goods.

Leslie and I arrived just early enough to quickly assemble the shortcakes. Fortunately, the children were still in the main hall enjoying a bit of dance, so we had ample time to work our magic. We layered the tasty morsels in small plastic cups, leaving room for a dollop of cream. They looked beautiful and tasted even better. There was the small problem of having limited cutlery, but Leslie and I determined that most first grade classes came equipped with some form of plastic utensil for occasions such as this.

We could hear the children in the distance and the melodic though strained voice of Mrs. Burnside* leading the way.

“Come now children. Don’t run! Hats by the door! Take your seats! Quietly please…quietly 1B***!”

Kenna’s eyes widened with utter delight as she saw her precious strawberries displayed gloriously in the clever little cups! Her mates gathered round excitedly to see what “Kenna’s Mum” had brought them. They were clearly impressed.

“Mom, I will put on the whip cream as a demonstration okay?” I nodded with maternal confidence. I had done it. I had taken her speech from here (insert hand motion) to here (repeat hand motion with increased elevation).**

Mrs. Burnside approached and offered Kenna the option of going first or last. It felt like the coin toss at the beginning of a big game.

“First please.” She replied.

That’s my girl!

Kenna delivered her speech brilliantly and without error, and before I could deliver the slow clap, I was called upon to help serve-up the big finish. It occurred to me, however, as I approached the table that some key planning had not taken place. I had not brought napkins, nor had I addressed the cutlery issue with Mrs. Burnside.

“Mrs. Burnside, I only have 11 forks. Might you have some available?” Her already palpable stress visibly increased. “No, but you may be able to find some in the faculty lounge, Mrs. Pasley.” She was passively displeased.

I quickly ran out the door to do some fork finding while Kenna placed uncomfortably large portions of whipped cream onto the shortcakes. Meanwhile, Mrs. Burnside, noting our lack of serviettes, asked Max to run to the back of the room to collect paper towels. I raced back from my successful mission to find Mrs. Burnside crouched uncomfortably near Kenna and Aunt Leslie holding back nervous laughter on the sidelines. The children were hovering over the table of treats like little pugnacious vultures, fighting for flesh.

“I want that one!”

“I don’t like strawberries! I just want cake!”

“I don’t like the cake, I just want the cream!”

“I’m hate strawberries!”

“I want the big cup!”

“No, I get that one!!!”

“Mrs. Burnside, how would you like us to proceed?” I said, hoping some leadership would emerge amongst the chaos. I don’t think she heard me. She continued to attempt to bring order, correcting individual student transgressions like a flustered nanny.

Since the speech was only supposed to take three minutes, and it had already been nearly ten, I decided to just start handing out the cups randomly, not realizing that the napkin situation had not been brought under control. Max was running around aimlessly near the paper towels, clearly not meeting his objective. Leslie intervened but it was too late. The children had begun to eat before the utensils and paper towels had been distributed. That’s when things got ugly.

Mrs. Burnside was beginning to unravel—she was like a mildly deranged Mary Poppins.

“Sit Down! Place your rubbish on the table! I said, sit down! That is NOT where that cup goes. Place your rubbish on the table! Be more careful please. Sit down 1B!”

Strawberries were being strewn across the newly cleaned carpet and haphazardly crushed into the grey threads by wandering school shoes. The red chunks of pulverized fruit were accompanied by bits of shortcake and entrails of cream. Many a school uniform was compromised as well. It was a disaster. The clever little cups were no match for the little uncoordinated consumers.

Aunt Leslie offered to address one of the stains on the floor. Mrs. Burns accepted her offer with a sort of righteous indignation. I cowered in the back, intermittently eating left over shortcake, while frantically cleaning off sticky cutlery. I could over hear Mrs. Burnside instructing Leslie to address additional stains like she was Jane or Michael Banks. Apparently, there were many. Despite the guilt of knowing she was on her hands and knees scouring the floor, I could not make eye contact Leslie, knowing that one look would send us both into a hysterics. How could it all go so horribly wrong?

We collected our rubbish and left over samples and headed quickly for the door before Grace’s speech on Rock Mellon got underway. Evidently, she had samples too.

Words of the Day:

Rhyming Slang

Good thing I was not Pat Malone (alone) when I got into froth and bubble (trouble). Ta Les.

Poll:

Have you had any classroom debacles as a parent or child that you would like to share? Because I would like to hear them.

Points of Interest:

* Mrs. Burnside is not her real name. I decided to use an alias to protect her virtue.

** This famous saying is a Carolee classic but must only be used in conjunction with the    suggested hand motions

***Classes at Roseville Public are referred to by their year followed by the first letter of    the teacher’s name. 1B thus stands for Year One-Mrs. Burnside.

Family Not-So-Fun Fact:

We have been evicted. The landlord wants his land back by then end of November. It’s going to be an interesting Christmas. Maybe I can find a nice stable to give birth in. Looking forward to the life lessons that are coming my way. Or that’s what I am telling myself in between sobs. No really. I am okay. Not really. No, really, I am. Sort of. Hopefully this situation will get funny soon too.

The Chicken Situation

“We are on the Central Coast. Would you mind checking on the cat while we’re gone?” requested Jane. “I asked Victoria to take care of things, but I may have forgotten to mention the cat. And, while you’re there, go ahead and grab any eggs you find in the ‘chook’ pen.”

I would do anything for Jane. She was the first Australian to take me under her wing and the least I could do is check on her chickens and throw out some feed for her feline in her absence. She assured me that the “chooks” were quite easy to handle and that if they tried to escape, they could be easily coaxed back into the pen with a broom. Or, at least, that is what I thought I heard her say.

I took the girls down the road with me to enjoy the kid paradise that is Jane’s backyard. The gated, grassy plot is home to swings, a trampoline, a semi-friendly cat, a cubby house, a scrumptious garden and a pregnant guinea pig.

I put Chaylee in her favorite swing and tended to the cat before heading to the coup with Kenna, broom in hand. Inside were two eggs with my name on it, guarded by a protective hen with a stern look and unnaturally large feet.

I could hear Jane in my head, “If you run into trouble, just use the broom.” I gently batted at the guardian chicken with the aforementioned broom, all the while speaking words of encouragement to her.

“Hello there tender chicken. Can I have those eggs please? Pretty please?”

She stared me down, unmoved by my words. I opened the gate wider and advanced with greater authority. Just then, two hens escaped between my legs with lightening speed and mind-boggling accuracy. Kenna screamed. Flustered, I turned my gaze toward the escapees, and in doing so, left the egg monitor with large feet, unsupervised. She too flew the coup and headed straight for the swing set.

Chaylee was a sitting duck; perched on a swing that was no longer swinging, she wailed wildly, sure she would soon be eaten by chickens. I rescued her from certain death and placed her on the trampoline out of harms way. Kenna grabbed the once heavily guarded eggs before heading to the trampoline as well, which thereto became known as, “the rally point”.

“Whatever you do, do not leave your post!” I said.

“But Mom…” Kenna interrupted.

“DO NOT leave your post! It’s time for Operation Chicken Recovery.” Wielding the broom like a maniac I chased down the rogue chickens, masking my panic with tender words.

“Come on you crazy chickens. Go back to your home. Come on. Please!”

Just as “chook number one” was just about under my control, I heard yet another scream. Kenna stood up and cried out in distressr, egg dripping from her pink ruffles; our first casualty.

Chaylee began to panic. Her whimpers evolved into genuine sobs. The chicken situation was worsening by the minute. Kenna, abandoned her post, and wearing nothing but a t shirt and underwear headed for the hose. I resumed my efforts with the broom. Chaylee continued to weep.

A young neighbor peered over the fence. I smiled and waved.

“I have everything under control.” I said with waning confidence. I was out of my element. It was time to call in reinforcements.

Although Kenna had encouraged me to bring my cell phone on our excursion, I did not. I would have to get in the house somehow. Fortunately, I knew where the spare key was located and was able to enter the house and use the landline. Kenna resumed her post at the rally point to comfort her sister, while I entered the home.

“Mike…we have a chicken situation. I repeat, the chickens are on the loose.” He was not surprised.

I pressed on till help arrived…and oh yes…it did arrive. Mike Pasley had a weapon I was unaware of.

Himself.

You see, Mike Pasley is a chicken whisperer. I did not know this when we met or married. But, this man has a gift. He walked over to the freakish hen with the large feet, and calmly picked her up. The chicken did not fight him. She went willingly. It was then I discovered, that my husband is in fact, the Beastmaster.

Could diplomacy have been the answer all along?

Just then, Victoria and family entered the battlefield and witnessed Mike’s magic for themselves. I shared with them what had transpired and with a kind giggle she broke the news.

“Actually, the chickens will go back into the pen themselves at night. I think Jane just uses the broom to get the eggs.”

Poll

Have you ever been in a chicken situation? (Dee I expect you to have some good stuff to share)

Phrase of the Day

Cracked a Wobbly: To freak out or lose it. ….

I just about cracked a wobbly when those chooks escaped.

Trivia

Did you know that when people yell at you with an Australian accent it actually hurts your feelings more? I will share more about this interesting fact, in my next blog entitled, “The Jerry Springer Carpet Cleaner”

Little Bird

I was not anticipating this level of emotion. It’s just kindergarten. It’s not like I am sending her to Nam. She will be fine. I will be fine. I think. 

I attended the Roseville Public Kindergarten Orientation tonight. I was greeted with a “cuppa” tea, various dessert trays and the Roseville Public Concert Band practicing “Our House”. The poor little drummer was an emotional wreck. I could tell he was struggling rhythmically on the verses so I told him he rocked. He got tears in his eyes and mouthed to his father, “I don’t want to play!” My encouragement actually made the situation worse.

Lesson 1: Discourage Kenna from playing drums in the Roseville Band. Emotional damage may ensue.

I found a seat adjacent to the other mums from pre school and the band begin “Our House”; this time for real. I could not help but sway and sing a line or two. Some of my enthusiasm was intended to mend my broken relationship with the fragile drummer. I thought maybe if he saw me getting down to his music he would no longer hate me. When the song ended I even let out an emphatic “woohoo”. Evidently, Australians typically save that sort of fanfare for footy, because I was the only one vocalizing during the applause. He never did smile at me.

Lesson 2: Kid Drummers are jerks.

The rest of the evening was not far from what you would expect in the States; apart from the discussion of canteen duty (the parents voluntarily run the hot lunch program) and the uniform purchasing tutorial. I think I became visibly confused during this portion of the evening. It may have been my passive aggressive way of protesting the fees imposed, or maybe I was trying too hard to be the interesting foreign woman. Whatever my motive, it was a clear moment of cultural disconnect. For example:

What is a jumper? (Hint: It is not a dress).
Answer: A Jacket.
What is an excursion bag?
Answer: A bag used on excursions, a.k.a. field trips.

The excursion bag is actually one of four different carrying devices you are asked to purchase. How exactly is Kenna going to negotiate these bags…she’s like 3 feet tall?
Crazy Australians.

Lesson 3: Start making Kenna carry around as many bags as possible. That way she will be confident in her bag handling skills when school begins.

Total Cost of school cosi (translation: costume)-$200
Total Cost of Bags-$100
Total Cost of Accessories: $25
Total Cost of Public School tuition for expats: $4,500
Seeing my baby leave the nest in her little school uniform:- Priceless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words of the Day: ·

Ankle Biter: Children
By Jingoes: Surprise

By Jingoes! My ankle biter is goin to kindie!

Trivia: The school year in Australia runs from Feb.-Dec. School operates year round with the biggest break occurring in January. There are four terms with 2-3 week breaks in between.

Poll: Have you ever had a run in with an overly sensitive drummer?

 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun Fact: We just got back from a weekend on the South Coast. We encountered many wild kangaroos (who by the way seem more menacing in the wild), visited with some extraordinary kookaburras and parrots, had a run in with blue bottle jellyfish, and had the privilege of watching two humpback whales splash about in a storm. There was also a minor incident involving Mike, a forestry road, some burnt trees and our Pajero, but other than that…

The Wenlock Adventure Down Under Part 1

 

They arrived on the third of August. My beloveds. My blood. My family. In anticipation, Kenna helped prepare freshly squeezed orange juice while Chaylee made up a routine to Men at Work. I set out an array of tropical fruits native to Australia in addition to cream puffs and croissant breakfast sandwiches. Impressive.The anticipation was becoming physically uncomfortable. Mike called just in time. 

“I have the package.” He said.

The girls and I squealed with delight and put the Men to Work. “Land Down Under” played at maximum volume as we headed for the front door to greet our kin.

The series of hugs that ensued would have made you cry. It was as if we had been kept apart by the Iron Curtain. We sent Oprah the tape. As a result, she is buying Qantas for us. Good on ya Oprah!

Day one was spectacular. The children frolicked gleefully, the grown ups relished the bliss of international togetherness. The Wenlocks were impressed with their accommodations and my awesome driving. There was a minor incident involving a sand pit, a mini tractor and Rowen’s eye at the park… but, all in all, it was a strong start. There was also a minor vomit incident involving Mike and some chicken. But, overall…

Day two brought much excitement. While Mike recovered from his evening poolside, the family and I headed into town to see Sydney and it’s Darling Harbour. The outing did not disappoint. The panoramic views, peaceful promenades and world famous Aquarium brought hours of oohs and aahhhs.

Later that evening, there was a minor incident involving Rowen, some vomit and the occasional dry heave. But, overall…

Day three took a bit of a nose dive. An incident developed involving Kirsten, allergies and a nasal infection. Story also experienced some flu like symptoms throughout the night. But all in all…

By day four Kirsten’s right nostril had doubled in size and was a shade just shy of crimson. I told her she was still pretty. She cried. Then I told her that her nose looked a lot like Bill Clinton’s and reminded her that he still gets a lot of A$ despite his bulbous nose. That seemed to help. At least until I was able to get her to the doctor. Though the Medical Center I frequent has a fairly undesirable reputation, it’s convenient and cost effective so we decided to disregard Mike’s “clown medicine” jokes in order to save some cash. The Doctor glanced at my sister’s nose, agreed that it was infected, reminded us of the proximity of the nose to the brain, then mistakenly wrote up a prescription for children’s Erythromycin . Dr Feelgood said if it got worse there was nothing more he could do for us and we would need to head for the ER. Send in the clowns!

Poor Kirsten left feeling worse than when she arrived and far more anxious. But hey, at least she had her bubble gum flavor antibiotic.

Day five brought a whole new set of issues. The nose now appeared broken. Although Kirsten desperately wanted to avoid the subject of the nose, it became a focal point; an impossible feature to avoid eye contact with. Through glassy eyes, Kirsten confessed that she thought she might lose her nose. Mike consoled her by pointing out the fame and notoriety of Voldemort. She was in no mood for dark humor.

My efforts to bring peace were thwarted by my own terror at what was transpiring. I could not seem to keep myself from the maniacal manifests of WebMD. That bastard cyber doctor convinced me that Kirsten had nose cancer accompanied by MRSA with a touch of encephalitis. Tough to tell someone it’s all going to be okay when you have just received their death sentence.

Unfortunately, the nose situation was not the only medical malady of the day. Young James was next in line to be attacked by the House of Pain as his gastro intestinal system fell victim to the bug that seemed to be taking out each family member in kind. But outside of the physical suffering and agony, things seemed to be going well.

I would have been far more discouraged by the escalating crisis were it not for my bearded Hungarian Bride, Big James, who helped me keep the boat afloat by executing diaper changes, doing dishes and bathing children.

On the sixth day the swelling had become more localized with a painful hint of purple. Frightening facial numbness had emerged as well. Not the improvement we were hoping for. It was time to take drastic action. We could head to the ER or return to the circus. I decided to take my soon to be noseless sister back to the Medical Center to Dr. Townsend. The notoriously long line to see him suggested to me that he was the Obi Wan our Princess Leah needed. Maybe he would nose what to do.

Day seven brought healing and hope. The new medicine prescribed by Dr. Townsend was fast and effective. Kirsten’s nose was not going to fall off. We nearly set out to celebrate but then came a minor incident involving Big James and some vomit, but overall…

Phrase of the day: “You’re crook but not crook as rook wood” Dr. Townsend
Translation: You’re sick, but your not going to die.

Poll:
Which is worse?
A: A runaway nasal infection
B: Chunder Down Under
C: Accidentally showing your buttock to a park full of people.

Trivia: Taste is 75% smell. I hate the word smell. So does Kirsten.

Next Blog: Things Are Looking Up

 

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.

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.
—————————————————————————————————

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.

—————————————————————————————————-
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.

—————————————————————————————————-
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.

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 giant 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 Crap?”
“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 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.

Previous Older Entries