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.

Suddenly Seymour


Warning to my male readers: This blog contains graphic and disturbing imagery that may cause you emotional distress and discomfort. Read on at your own risk.

The time has come to ween my beloved Chaylee Jane. As a newborn, Chaylee was a baby icon. Never had there been a new life that slept so peacefully, cried so little or latched onto the breast so naturally. Her only quirk, a strange inclination to put her tiny hand in my mouth as she suckled. How sweet. How tender. Her tiny fingers exploring my teeth, gently discovering the intricacies my cheeks. However, the once tender quirk is now a hellish nightmare….

She has become a deranged dentist, clawing at my gums, gripping my mandible and thrusting it downward with inhuman strength, scraping my taste buds with her tiny talons!

You may be thinking, why don’t you simply move her head out of the way Heather?  Good question.  And I have a good answer.  Because samurai toddler over here goes mortal combat on my cakes and grabs my trachea with her ninja death grip. You may suggest pulling her off the breast when she goes for the mouth. Well, I would if she wasn’t a biter.

Case in point. A few weeks ago, I awoke at three in the morning on the couch with Chaylee biting down on one nipple while pinching the other like a vice. “There is no escape” she said… with her eyes. How could I have let this go on for so long. Sleep deprivation can make people do crazy things I guess.

For nearly a year I have allowed myself to live like a show pig at the Puyallup fair. I lay in bed at night allowing her to have her way with me like a ravenous piglet with a keen interest in dentistry, just so I can enjoy the benefits of an hour of sleep. I have been in prison and lactating has been my only crime. It’s parole time baby. I love you Chaylee. You are my little star, my precious possum, my baby girl, but it is time for mommy to find a new dentist.

Weened at 18 months.  Photo taken at 3 years.  Just in case there is any confusion.

Poll: What is worse:
a) falling off a swing, exposing your bum to the public
b) walking naked through the neighborhood in a rainstorm
c) being tortured by a baby dental hygienist

Fun Fact:
80% of babies in Australia start out on the breast, rates drop off quickly, with 50% still feeding at 1 month and 24% at 6 months (Australian Bureau of Statistics,).

Words of the Day:
Happy Little Vegemite
noun:- a happy and contented person. Derived from an advertising campaign recently revived where chipper Vegemite eating children are described as happy little Vegemites.

Oh little Chaylee, this too will pass and you will once again be a Happy Little Vegemite.

 

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.

 

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.