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.

 

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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.

Pasley’s Down Under – Part 1

It is raining cats and dingos down here. I have never seen anything like it. We live in the suburb of Roseville, which is just North of Sydney over (or under) the Harbor Bridge. It is near Chatswood/Willoughby…in case you can’t find it on a map. It is a beautiful neighborhood with incredible gumtrees and palm trees all about. It is very green with a tropical feel and the weather to prove it. It is generally hot as sin or raining hard enough to inspire ark building. No happy medium. It is an amazing place to visit! But, I must be honest that life without my dear ones near by has been tough to adapt to. In the words of Chicago, you (all are) a hard habit to break. (Just a note: I think I will incorporate as many Chicago lines as possible into this blog, just for giggles…enjoy). Some bulleted observations.

  • > 1. Australians LOVE Australia. They like America. They like Fiji. But they LOVE AUSTRALIA. You will understand if you come here.
  • >2.They do not speak English here. It is a little known dialect called: Strine (say it out loud and you will understand). For example: The barber asked Mike if he wanted a hotel. Mike said, “No thank you, I live here now.”                                                                                                                     “Naw mate,” he replied, “Do you want a hotel?” Mike again replied, “No I don’t really need one, I am heading home after this…” “Naw mate,” the barber responded, “a hotel, you know like to put on your face…a hot towel?”
  • >3. There are two types of Australians as far as I can tell so far: the type that want you to be terrified of the creatures that live here and the ones that want to downplay the immense danger. I prefer the latter but my driving instructor was unfortunately the former.
  • >4. If you see a caterpillar while you are here, do not touch it. It is not friendly. It will sting you!
  • >5. Thought I saw a funnel web our second day here. I screamed for Mike and held Kenna and Chaylee tightly. (Now imagine a Western movie score playing in the background). Mike comes out of the bedroom carrying a drinking glass, a Bill Bryson book, insect repelling incense and wearing nothing but underwear and work shoes. He was armed, dangerous, and ready to send that spider from hell back to his place of origin.  It turned out to be nothing but a giant cockroach. At least Mike was ready for him. He is a man that will fight for my honor. He is the hero, I’ve been dreaming of.
  • >6. We have yet to purchase an automobile so we currently get about via bus, train or by foot. I generally push the pram (stroller) all over town in lieu of negotiating the bus. You all will be happy to know that my thunder thighs are trimming up nicely. I have been downgraded from a category 5 to a category 3.  Hoping to become a tropical storm by the time we leave.
  • >7. Kenna has made many little Aussie friends and has been trying out a new pronunciation of tomato (soft a sound). I have joined a playgroup down the street and have met some very nice mommas. We have tea from time to time.

Quick poll: When, if ever, should I introduce them to my rapping skills?  How will I know when they are ready?

Phrase of the Day: “Stone the flaming crow!” Translation: You’re kidding me!

Word of the day: Icebox

Translation: Popsicle

Love to you all. You bring meaning to my life. You’re the inspiration…

G’day

Heather