Excrement This.

So today was splendid. One of those summery, hazy days accented by a wind so wistful it felt like a lovers caress (if a lovers caress occasionally whipped dirt into your eyes and upended the outdoor furniture.

Anway, so it was pretty nice.

Today was also that final languid day of summer holidays. Tomorrow the year would really begin, tomorrow the Big Kid and the Middle Kid would begin their institutional year with School and Kinder opening its doors to the pitter patter of the marauding hoardes of bored, sunburnt, slightly larger little people.

But that, my friends, is tomorrow. And today was today.

[Needs a stiff drink before retelling the events of 28.01.15]

With innocuous undertones, I began the day with a mission in mind. To enjoy the summer, relish the final day of holiday fever…and, you know, tuck a little bit of work in (just a little bit…big grant due, trying to get it in on time…yanno, for future employment and all).

So I bribed promised the girls a bountiful playdate filled with all the joys that their imaginations could muster: but first, mummy needed to work. So let’s just work together, play nice, be creative and Eat All the Snacks that I had dutifully laid out with my Undies on the Outside Parenting Moment (“Not just Tasty! Healthy Too!”).

And it TOTALLY worked! It was so freaking fabulous, I could of cried for joy. I trimuphantly hit ‘send’ on the grant, raised my weary body from the chair and stepped into the hall…

…and into a full sensory assault.

Oh.My.God.

WHATISTHATSMELL??? WHYAREMYEYESBURNING??? WHYOHWHYAMISTILLBREATHINGTHROUGHMYNOSE????!!!!!

The house, was silent. I could hear the rapturous delight of my eldest two children taking in summer’s gift of awesome, while here, in this House of Hell no light penetrated, no swift breeze offered hope of reprieve..

I stumbled my way down the hall, whispering with increasing fervour: “no, no, no, no, no, no, no” as the dawning realisation of what it was that was attacking my senses was verified, at the precise moment that I lunged into the lounge room and saw…

All.

The.

Shit.

Smeared, clumped, flung. And there, with a look of defiance and a smattering (not unlike the patterns of poo on the wall behind her) of guilt, was the Creator of Excrement herself.

Squirrel Baby.

Steaming pile of slightly oozing poo that had yet to be relocated remained on what was her nappy (diaper for y’all playing away from home). This is what one *might* refer to as ‘Caught Red Handed’. Except the colour scheme is all wrong.

Like a master negotiator with a person on the wall, I gently (slight undertones of rising panic – or was that vomit?) asked Squirrel Baby if she had done Poo [Here, I feel the need to remind readers that in tense situations where you are faced with a slightly unstable, unpredictable Two Year Old, there is no such thing as Too Obvious. One must let the Two Year Old see an opening, a way out of a really (and I mean really) bad situation so as not to incite further escalation of really bad situation].

This was bad.

As Squirrel Baby saw her opening, looked at the steaming pile in her hand and realised that she was Totally Busted, her defiant/guilty expression morphed into one of increasing alarm and total amazement, that somehow, in someway and totally unbenkownst to her she has found herself inextricably covered in her own excrement. This turn of events, her resignation that the poo party was over allowed me to take in the greater scene and notice the details. And like in a slow motion movie scene as Squirrel Baby took a fateful step towards me, it was then that I began to realise the extent of excrement.

Her toes, squelched (yes, squelched) into a hot steaming piece of poo, it oozed between her toes; she looked down to see what that feeling was and her hair fell into her face; she reached over with her free hand to sweep her golden locks aside and left a giant, brown smear across her chin, up over her lips, across her eyelid, onto her forehead and into her hair. I gazed across at her hand. Covered. Chunky Style. I gagged.

There was just nothing I could do to alleviate the situation but dive straight on in. I reached over to grab the offending nappy and faster than the speed of light, I had it wrapped bagged and gone for good. Before Squirrel Baby had a chance to spread the love any further I told her in no uncertain terms that she was to stay So Very Completely Still.

Cleaning an excrement encrusted Two Year Old is a new experience for me. Realising that poo can get under fingernails and clump to hair is a new experience for me. But most crucially, having a Two Year Old who thinks that they are totally toilet trained (but are not) and therefore live under the motto “nappies are for babies” is an entirely new experience for me. The moment that kid pees (or, as I have now learnt) poos, the nappy is off. Apparently having proven to us all with a triumphant Pee on the Potty two days ago has now meant that she is in total control. And she is.

And so as I crouch, in the darkened room, while the sun shines outside and the sound of children’s laughter wafts on the wind through the window, I scrub. I wash. And I pray that Squirrel Baby keeps her nappy on.

Of course, that totally didnt happen….

red right hand

Guilty as Charged: With her Red Right Hand

Butt naked and a tube of red paint (non toxic Darlink…it’s how we roll).

Smokin’

There’s a wailing going on…and as luck would have it…it aint the kids! *ba boom ching* (comic genius alert)

I am a person that lives up to the nickname given me within minutes of my poor mother naming me…’Bear’… and just like a Giant Brown Bear I feel a deep and abiding need to hibernate when the temperature falls below a certain centigrade… usually when it is excruciatingly frozen…so somewhere below 25 degrees celcius (77 farenheiht to peeps playing away).

If it’s cardigan weather it is sleeping weather. Fact. [Side Note: Cardigans are cute. I had no idea, living in the tropics that one of the perks of living somewhere with seasons were these little long sleeved “not jumper tops” with cute as buttons…and if you are feeling really frisky they even come in styles with SHORT SLEEVES…oh risque!]

That said, I did get used to the idea of a roaring fireplace and a *wee* glass of sherry of a cool winter’s evening…but the sherry bottle is dry dude: and I point blank REFUSE to buy another bottle. It is a matter of principle that come October, I refuse to believe that it will be cold ever again.

But then again, I guess you could say that I live in a somewhat unique part of the world. There is a saying attributed to the Big City close by that it experiences four seasons in one day (and no, they are not talking about Oprah’s fave-as hotel chain). Of course, that all pales in comparison to what you experience out of the Big City…even just 100kms down the road (and for my European friends…that is meant to read as: ‘not far’).

Today was/is such an example. It is hot. Like awesomely so. As in 30 perfect, sunny degrees. The kids have been totally killing the ninja moves on the ol’ slip and slide and burying a few bindis in their sides for all the effort.

Which brings me back to the wailing. You see, as the day progresses and the sun rises we all develop a particular orange hue. The shadows develop a particular crispness that is all at once pretty and foreboding…and that’s when you know that it’s time to look up.

And sure enough, there’s the smoke. And where there’s smoke there’s fire. And within minutes the Country Firies are ringing the bells and gathering the troops in their Big Red Firetrucks of Awesome (so shiny! Like lollipops!)

And now I hate summer. Like seriously, my all time favourite part of the year…the bit with blowflies, long days, swimming and holidays. Childhood memories of endless fun and cool (no pun intended) clothes. But all of that got squashed. It all got obliterated with our first ever fire season out here in The Country.

You see, and here’s the trick: Husband I didnt really do our research when we moved out here…totally shocking I know. We saw a pretty house, on a bigger bit of land than we had and didnt really pay heed to the last page of the Contract of Sale that read: House in a Designated Bushfire Zone.

Ho Hum. Trust a bunch of academics to not do the research.

That said, we were like:

“s’cool, totes see how that can be decided…we do live a block away from a national park and a couple of kilometres from a giant, mostly abandonded pine plantation”

“yeah, like, seriously yo, you’d have to be a no0b to think that fires aren’t a remote possibility out here in The Country…alllll country areas are kinda fire prone, yeah?”

Yeah. Nah.

Our special little part of the world as we found out (upon collection of our free bushfire survival plan pack*) was that, in fire terms we hit the jackpot…the jackpot of poo.
We had set up house, one block from a national park and only a couple of kms from a giant, mostly abandoned pine plantation in one of the most fireprone areas…IN THE WORLD. Now that takes talent.
I always thought prior to this move that our move to Fiji a few years ago was unprepared (“where’s Fiji?” “Um, dunno…somewhere in the ocean over there…let’s go!”), but I think that this takes the cake.
And last season we were tested. We were unscathed, but humilated (read: horrified) in our lack of preparedness.
I thought I had totally done a Martha Stewart on the matter and believed that I was all over it like a rash…turns out I was too Martha Stewart and forgot to pay the taxes…my plan sucked. It read like a ‘dream run’ with easy to follow instructions that took no account of the hazy grey areas (again, puns to be approached with caution) where there is an out of control bushfire a few kilometres away but no warning from the automated Firie App telling me what to do…I NEED IT TELL ME WHAT TO DO ARGGHH!
If it’s not happening on my smartphone, is it really happening?
The answer is yes.
To back up a little, the afternoon prior to my plan being exposed as a fraud written by a schmuck with no idea, a fire started. I treated it as a fact, but was not concerned. It was one of 156 fires currently burning out of control in the state (read: No Big Deal *snort*).
I mean, at times I would wander out on to the verandah and note how the smoke was pretty thick and the smell was pretty bad, but then I would wander back inside, maybe check the ol’ phone of infinite wisdom and resume our daily activities.
Credit to the Country Firies, it all seemed under control (I get the irony of writing that when the fire itself was not in control, but it appeared to be playing nice) and so when I got my sleepy on that night I curled up in my bed without a second thought…
That is, until Elvis Entered the Building.
I woke up in the wee hours of the following morning to the incessant wailing of the Country Fire Station: “weird?! usually the peeps are close at hand and they have their trucks up and at ’em in no time…wonder what’s the go go?”
As the wailing continued to pierce through the walls, there was a cacophony of sirens and the Big Red Firetrucks (oh so shiny!!!) went past…one! two! three! twenty! Whooshing down our usually quiet country road reserved for the odd car, the Duck of Road Domination (he is a force to be reckoned with) and the mob of local kangaroos. It was quite a sight.
I decided to head out and see what the go-go was. Thick smoke curled around tree tops and sweeping up the drive, the dog looking less than impressed…and Elvis the Firefighting Hero of the sky gliding above our heads.
It was at this point my smartphone decided to inform me that there was a fire kinda close. Like less than two kilometres away.
Usually this would entail ensuring that you have your shit sorted. And I honestly believed that we kinda did. We had our emergency box packed and the girls were on hand and the car was parked forward ready to get out.
But this is kinda where the plan fell apart. When do you leave? Do you wait for a text message when you are not a customer of the Giant Telco who owns all the reception in the land? Do you just pack up and head into town and buy icecream (tempting).
You see, I thought deciding when to leave in an actual situation would be easy. I thought that if an out of control fire fell within a 10km zone of our home that we would dutifully pack the kids up and head to our designated ‘safe zone’ (be that in town…no official designated gathering point), or to the Big City, or at a stretch the *slightly* bigger town down the road.
But in my mind of imagining such scenarios I truly believed that we would *know*, that we would know well in advance that it was time to go, that it would be so entirely obvious and clear cut, and that our little handheld pieces of technology loaded with all the apps would tell us. Would let us know, would keep us updated. But this, my peeps, is why 4 out of 5 people who perish in bushfires are near their homes; because like us, like the vast majority of us living out here in one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world, we just dont take this shit seriously enough. The ol’ homeland adage of ‘she’ll be right’ is a mantra that filters through so deeply into our innate core, that when faced with situations like this, or even the mere possibility of such events unfolding, no one actually really gives a shit.
Prior to our close call of last year, in the months leading up to official fire season, I asked neighbours (as per our little bushfire survival plan booklet’s instructions) what their plans were and if there were options to join together to ensure safe procedure. What I was met with were condescending smiles, and shakes of the head as the Old Timer Locals told me, in no uncertain terms that this Little Country Town will never burn (because, so far, historically, it never really had).
But last year was a lesson learnt. Last year taught a few of us (our wee family included) that fire doesnt care if you live in the middle of bush, or on the fringes of farming land – it will burn and it will do so without taking into consideration Times Past). For the first time, Big City’s outer suburbs were swept up in flames and the McMansions stood in front of firefronts barreling down towards them.
Our climate is evolving, the more adventurous of us, might say changing, and it’s time to throw the rule book out, and actually look up and see what the lay of the land is doing. The fire season is longer, the fires are changing in nature and behaviour, and although official policies stay the same, people on the ground are beginning to change. This year, this year my attempts at raising conversation about other folks fireplans are not met with derision, but met with earnest detail and planning; people too are taking more notice of the daily fire danger ratings and planning days accordingly.
And this season? We breathe. The skies are clear, the days are cooler and the rains did come. This year the wailing has been less, and we breathe. Two more months. Two more to go. I hope that I dont need to grab our evacuation bag, I hope that we dont have to hear the wailing, I hope that I dont need to put the plan to the test, but if we do, we stand a better chance than last year. A lesson learnt.
*Available at your local council offices or local CFA branch if you are Oz based

Squirrel Baby

It’s so early in the morning. In fact, I have no idea if one can even call it morning when the hour is still dancing with midnight…but for two little creatures it is the P.E.R.F.E.C.T time to start releasing the vocal chords and sing like nobodies listening (that is a total Liz Lemon reference…I need me some of those shiny sweatpants).

One of the ‘singers’ happens to be a deranged rooster that lives beyond our backfence, and like a badly wound clock, he decides to choral in the Brand New Day at 3am. Every.Single.Morning.

Now, for the most part, I never hear him. But another little creature in our house does…Squirrel Baby.

So, unbenknownst to me, as I sleep drooling into my pillow, a Rooster Crows and a Squirrel Sings.

And I wake from my slumber with a start to the song “LET IT GOOOO, LET IT GOOOOO!’ Quickly followed by “HERE I STAND, HERE I’LL SttTTTAAAaaaaaYYYYYyyy!!!!!!” belting out of my youngest daughter’s cot.

Frozen Hate. It’s a Thing. And I have it bad.

What started off as a lovely story about sisterly love conquering all is now, for me, a story where zombies need to come down from the mountainside and eat all of their brains out. Now. Before I start singing That Damn Song.

And because I am a good friend here it is:

With ‘sing-a-long’ words for your increased viewing pleasure…MWHAHAHAHAHahahahharrrrrrghhhhhh!!!!

Anyway, as you are probably fast realising, it’s catchy, it gets seared into your brain and once Squirrel Baby chortles out a few stanzas at 3am in the morning…my day is doomed. It’s all over. No one can ever take me seriously: at the checkout, as I rip out my cash to pay for groceries I do with a dramatic sweep of the arm and power ballad out a few “let it go(es)!’ for posterity and joy. Coming from a thirty something woman, it’s well, a bit sad really #frozenruinslives

And this is how, a few days ago, my day began. A day when I needed to be Parent with the Undies on the Outside, a day when I needed to hurl us down the freeway to the Big City with kids in tow and discuss Squirrel Baby and her Quirks to Mr M, her neurologist.

Oh, sweet, frozen love.

It all appeared to be working totally against me: the sun had decided to take an extended holiday, the wind picked where Mr Sun of No Fun left off and quite frankly, all my frozen nightmares were comng to fruition, namely my brain.

I am usually one of those parents that have all the kids in the car with their own wee little activity packs, and little lunchboxes of healthy snacks (I go wile sometims and throw in a strawberry yoghurt frog…watch out, she’s unleashed!). But so not this time, instead, on that day it was all about beanies on heads to hide the unbrushed hair and threats of hauling AAAALLLLL the clothes to the Op Shop if they insist on wearing summer clothes when it is 4 degrees outside (yes, yes, irony…but logic got the fast train out of there that morning).

ANYWAY. By some miracle, not one (Not One!) child needed a toilet break, or gouged a sister’s eye out…we were WINNING and with half an hour to spare, we made it, singing like some suck-back scene from the ‘The Sound of Music’…I am sure the pessimists on the sideline to our movie-family soundtrack were vomiting into their satchels [Assumption: Hipster Pessimist – the Childrens Hospital is dangerously close to Hipster Central].

In the months between appointments, the hospital got all Automatron (intentional pun…I am having visions of a robot nurse ala something you would see on Dr Who on us. The machines that go *ping* have multiplied and entered into the spaces of waiting and reception [Perks 101: Never Speak to a Soul Again!] [Reality 101: The Shit Doesnt work].

It’s like checking into a flight, except you dont go anywhere fun…and no, the meerkats desperately climbing up the glass wall to find escape from the constant harrassing squeals and eyes of a bazillion children day in, day out is NOT fun. It makes it all the bit more depressing.

Anyway, the Machings of Unfriendly ate our numbers and churned out an appointment card. We marched off to the waiting area while the Big Kids and Squirrel Baby made a beeline for the craft table like they owned the joint (we go there too often).

Much to my horror, I realised that Automation had followed us. No longer were you called by your friendly nueorglogist who would then guide you with a cheerful skip to your room (read: “BARRY?! IS THERE A BARRY?!” – no, but there is a meerkat pooping in public), instead, now there was a number displayed and the most horrifying thing was that you had to Find Your Own Way. I am not kidding when I tell you this place is a rabbit warren. That coupled with my frozen brain and complete lack of navigational skill set, I was packing it.

But that’s when, you realise that there are perks belonging to a small unit. I have mentioned in previous posts that the neurological ward is a special little place, a place where we all seem to know eachother and we dont have to share with so many people. As I sat there, watching the screen for our numbers to come up (who will win the ‘waiting room lotto’?!), Mr M, Squirrel Baby’s neurologist comes down the hallway with a chipper wave and a conspiriatorial whisper that he acts under subterfuge and will refuse this new fandangled technology of isolation. He rocks.

So anyway, we head in, I with high hopes of dishcharge (Full Bill of Health!). There was this fervent desire for Mr M to chortle with good humour when I told him of the small number of ‘quirky moments’ that Squirrel Baby had over the last few months. I told him that she has had no where near as many, and that as a result was coming out of her shell and dominating the world like it was nobodies business.

That’s when he asked me what the ‘quirks’ were. Damn. So I had to explain her last Big One: the one where she spaced out for well over a minute (maybe two) ala ‘lights are no, nobodies home’ and then began to twitch and thrash her legs. It was, to me, scary at the time, but with distance from the even and an ardent desire to pretend it didnt happen, I had shoved it away as a concern and convinced myself that it’s what all young toddlers do (the Power of Denial runs strong in this one!).

Mr M has always been optimistic. He has always told us that Squirrel Baby is totally awesome and no doubt just ironing out a neurological delay (with a slim chance of something more). In previous appointments we have left with a sense of hope that is all nothing, or if anything, something that probably isnt epilepsy or nasty.

But this time. This time, as his face dropped and his frown deepened, and he twiddled his hands while thinking, I knew the appointment was taking a different turn.

The thing is, with anything to do with neurological things, is largely a time thing. It is all about waiting, seeing, recording, discussing, but mostly about waiting. Ardently hoping that with time, your little one stops the quirks and ‘grows out of it’.

Mr M turned to us and said it: Epilepsy.

He told us, that it wasnt so much the twitching or physical movement, it was the staring, the vacant expressions. He told us that we have been working towards a place of thinking that she was simply quirky and would grow out of it, but it kinda wasnt. After eighteen months in his care, it was time to start thinking differently.

I wasnt shocked. I thought I would be. I thought that I would feel lost at sea or maybe a little bit frightened. But I wasnt, I’m not. She is who she is, and right now, she is a healthy happy Squirrel Baby who from time to time has to deal with some not fun stuff.

Mr M assured us that it doesnt change a thing. It simply means that we keep watching, keep taking note and see how she goes. No meds, no worries.

She has to have another EEG in the coming months to compare with her baseline EEG done way back at the beginning of all these capers, but that’s ok: she’ll have me to cuddle for an hour or so.

And if she’s lucky I’ll sing her a song: “Let it go, let it go….Can’t hold it back anymore”

 

 

 

The Traffic is Insane.

I often get asked how our transition to The Country has gone.

It goes ok.

In all honesty, I miss the Big City and our Wee Little Casa: the memories, the fabulous neighbours, even Big Sister’s school.

The Country.

I feel a fraud when I tell people that we moved to the country. In my mind, ‘the country’ is a place of my childhood 80s envisioning of sleepy, dusty towns and red dirt speckled utes comprising of the local RSL, a pub (or two) and a chinese restaurant. It’s a dreamscape that has pleasant and terrifying memories all rolled into one..in fact, on our roadtrips across the nation to visit family and friends, I insist on a ‘detour’ of sorts to have my favourite 1980s chinese australian dining experience…so it’s like 150km out of the way…so what?!

So worth it.

But that’s not where we have moved. Instead, we have moved to what has been begrudgingly described as a ‘country’ version of what we have just left. We have the delight of some of the most fantastic cafes offering local, biodynamic produce as par for the course, we have a weekly food market that involves me getting all the things we need for the week and spending the next 3 hours chatting with friends and drinking woodfired coffee (yes, that’s a thing), and there are more social activities going on in a week up here (from state and literature festivals and touring music and art exhibitions) than you can poke a stick at. In this (almost) one year that we have lived up here I have never been so social, so busy and so surrounded. Think of the country as idle, gardening bliss: think again yo!

And yet. I miss the dirty, grungy streets of the Big City. I miss the cadnor and brutal nature that is walking through a playground on the way to shops and dodging prone drug addled bodies and telling my children to NOT pick up the crap from the ground. I am twisted.

There is (there must be) something wrong with me.

This all came to a head of sorts after spending a rather glorious (and rare) sunny day in the Big City, visiting some friends and watching the ease in which our kids slotted back in with theirs, those shared memories unrelenting in the face of time passing.

So torn, so very torn. The reasons we decided to pull up stumps in the first place still exist, and this gentle, beautiful town has embraced us and has more than offered what we sought and more.

And yet, as we left the city and slotted into the cars heading north, I found my nostalgia train had gotten up steam and was powering forward.

I made the drive home while Husband the girls slept in the car…we hit peak hour like it was no man’s business. I was left alone with my thoughts and dulcet tones of the radio spewing out some random techno crap [too lazy to change the dial yo] and was wondering when the magic of the place we have moved to would hit me (as it has Husband, and even the girls) and in my quiet inner voice I began to think that maybe it never would, maybe it was simply a process of learning change, of letting go. I wound our way through the quiet country road that takes us home and slowed the car to eighty. No rush, no need.

And that’s when a bloody big kangaroo decided to jump onto the road in front of me.

By some weird-ass miracle ala ‘Matrix’ style everything turned into slow motion and I could see the kangaroo jump into my peripherial vision and skirt the beam from my car’s headlights; my foot off the accelerator and a gentle tap of the brake.

The kangaroo somehow stopped itself on the middle line of the road as our car swept past, and yet its momentum meant that it had to keep hopping in order to stay upright. I decided to slow right down and give it’s way.

Instead of simply jumping across the road as it had obviously originally intended to do, it decided to join me, on my ride home. And so, began our shared journey, he in front, hopping down the road, showing me the way, showing me the sights, while I followed behind; until at last, as the limits of the village before our town came into view, he veered ever so slightly off and up the embankement and back to the darkness of the forest skirting the darkened, sleeping homes.

It was cool, it was precious and it was something unique to this place. Without this move I may never have shared a roadtrip with a kangaroo at the helm.

So, I suppose when people ask what the move to the country has been like, I could just tell them the truth: The Traffic is Insane.

The Zombie Apocalypse Will Begin in Ikea

It begins almost immediately. The subtle changes from fully functioning human being slowly compromised the further inside the you enter the Ikea Machine…

As I zipped my car up the ramp to the Ikea carpark yesterday I was a girl on fire; my undies were totally on the outside and I was winning. I had even managed to pull the car up close enough to reach the button for the ticket *without* having to undo my seatbelt!

Like a boss I dominated the car park spaces and pulled in within 30 seconds of the boom gate closing behind me.

Squirrel Baby was fast asleep…successfully transferred her into the pram (any parent knows that is a total “undies on the outside” in the parenting zone accomplishment by any standard) and waltzed right into the yellow and blue building of fake swedish-esque homewares.

And then it began. This is all in hindsight mind you. Truth be told, the subtle mind-eating zombie attack that is Ikea had me from the moment I entered those sliding doors. Maybe it is the ‘Ikea Smell’: toxic plastic mixed with meatballs, maybe it is the soft tones of Cyndi Lauper playing at 11am in the morning…whatever it is, whatever it was, by the time I had walked the 25 metres to the elevator doors my jaw had grown slack, I was losing my sense of self direction and my brain was no longer able to tell my limbs what to do in any sort of timely fashion. I stumbled over my own feet in my sudden indecision as to whether or not take a yellow bag (return it or die!) or not.

Thank God for the arrows.

Without those helpful little arrows (now lit from above…dont look up…eye burning ensues) we would never find our way out and might end up in one of the ovens about to be eaten for dinner by a (daim) candy-loving witch.

Anywho…So I was there, for yanno, Stuff. Back at home that Stuff was so clear in my mind, but as the Ikea experience enveloped me and lobotomised my brain that ‘stuff’ got lost and instead I really needed coathangers…and a vase and…oohhhhhh! AND THAT CUTE AS PILLOW WITH ARROWS! WHY DO I LOVE ARROWS RIGHT NOW AND WHY IS MY INTERNAL DIALOGUE SCREAMING AT ME??? AND WHERE AM I??!!!!

Oh, right, Ikea, Lounge Display.

Part of my Plan of Awesome was to undertake this trip sans Husband. Ikea as a family always seems like a good idea and is totally ok…until it isnt: which in our wee family’s case usually happens somewhere between sliding entry doors and the wait for the elevator. By the time the doors to the display level have opened the divorce papers have been signed.

But this time, oh this time I was winning. I was flying solo. I smugly strode past the 1000th pregnant couple having a heated sotto voce argument by the Klippan Sofa [No! Don’t do it! You’ll never ever change the damn cover!] and continued on my well-planned military precision task of getting Stuff.

Just need to head to the section…of…whhh..aaa….tttttt…..nnooooooooooooo!

Gone.

Slack-jawed and staring as I wavered in no mans land between kitchen and outdoor living the inner zombie that my subconcious had been dating behind my back decided to rain down on my party and vomit on my entire cerebal cortex.

Of course, I fought the invetitable. Which leads to the next, curious, yet highly predictable behaviour of an Ikea Zombie: I began loading up. I was piling up random crap into the side basket of my pram (I began to seriously doubt my nochalant denial of the yellow bag earlier) and justified this with thoughts that surely at least one of the things that found it’s way in there would be Stuff…but to make sure – and to ensure that it will not be a wasted – trip I better just chuck whatever I find within arms reach in there.

Coathangers!

Tea Towels!

Cardboard Box Thingy!

And that’s when I reach Market Hall and realise that I remember Stuff.

Like a shining light from above (or is that just the arrow LED?) the Gods of Ikea have been kind and allowed me this small window of opportunity…so I hightail it to the Land of Many Aisles (after scribbling with an infuriatingly small pencil the location of said Stuff) with my undies firmly on the outside (Squirrel Baby continues her snore-a-thon) to the right section AND…

Find

Stuff

Not

There.

Like a duck I am calm on top and furiously paddling underneath. I become, the heated, sotto voce couple incarnate with the added bonus of conducting said argument entirely alone. Now it is my turn for the smug couple with their matching sandals and cargo shorts to waltz past me with their stupid sofa while I stand there, fists clenched ready to throat punch Stuff.

Squirrel Baby stirs. No time to dally! Must buy all this Random Crap. Because, pffft, I am sooo not wasting the entire trip…those coathangers, what a buy.

I somehow make it through the line, out through self-check out (I totally dominated it) and make my way to the car, with the validated parking ticket (I wasnt going to let Stuff ruin my whole day) and begin putting Random Crap in the car. Squirrel Baby has decided to avoid the entire Ikea experience and transfers sleepily into the car seat (win!) and we are off. In 10 minutes I will be home. I can feel my brain slowing returning, the cogs, although slow are turning. I feel like a winner! Those Tea Towels, what a buy!

Everything is proceeding with awesome and I get to the boom gate, pop in the ticket to freedom and wait.

And Wait.

Ticket flies back out and hits me in the face.

Rejected.

I quickly glance behind me and see a line of cars 20 deep waiting on me…witnessing the rejection of a lover that was never mine…and knowing that somewhere, in my chain of actions I have messed up and will have them wait longer than the required 30 seconds.

In the split second it takes me to assess the situation I turn around to press the call button. Only, it’s not there. Gone. Just like Stuff! Gone.

Like a reboot, I put the ticket back in. It practically richocets off my passenger window and lands in my lap with REJECTED blaring across the screen. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!

It’s that moment with angry red twin cab hilux muscle man up my sweet battered old civic’s bum that Squirrel Baby decides to wake up. And it isnt pretty. There is copious amount of snot in a seriously stupidly little amount of time.

So begins the Drive of Shame.

I kick the gear in reverse. And wait.

I wait for the line of cars now 40 deep to realise that I am a wanker and have broken the machine and need to reverse out and check my ticket.

Of course, Hilux man in his infinite wisdom of closeness has meant that we all have very little room to negotiate.

It was, let’s just say, if I want to be generous, a 16 point turn.

I drive back to my parking spot, lean my head on the steering wheel and breathe.

Squirrel Baby is silent. I think somewhere deep in her primal being she realised that I had reached my mental capacity for Dealing. All this for Stuff.

We get out, I check my ticket. I wasnt hallucinating, by their reckoning it works. Okay.

Hop back in car, line up, and wait my turn.

Wind down the window and put the ticket back in. The bastard ticket worked.

I sat there for what felt like 10 minutes (but was like 2 seconds as I have a weird fear of being chopped in half by a boom gate) in silent rage wanting to kick the damn machine to smithereens: how dare it work NOW!

The Tea Towels look fabulous.

As I knew they would.

 

 

 

Kardashians and Other Katastrophies

One thing you learn almost immediately after you have a baby is that time alone becomes nothing more than a whimsical dreaming.

When memes start appearing on Facebook of a 19th Century chick on a feinting chair lamenting the loss of her private poo time, you know it to be true.

But, yanno, whatevs. I am strong. I wear the undies on the outside [most of the time] and hit the parenting zone with gusto [most of the time].

There are however, moments during my ‘undies on the outside’ moments that I begin to realise that just when you got this shit sorted, someone poos on your foot.

It happened. Three days ago. Henceforth to be called ‘The Grossest’. And it has taken me this long to digest the moment in all its glory. But we’ll get to that bit later. First, we must, MUST discuss the Kardashian/Kanye vogue (vague) fiasco.

So apparently, The Kimye’s (I totally had to google their little ‘brangelina’ cutsie-I-wanna-vomit name-mashing thingo) had a moment to shine on the covers of Vogue; but soon enough all that shining got dimmed by a dark, vicious social media storm (OH MAH GAWD, not the coveted halls of a Fashion Magazine!): THE SKY IS FALLING (apparently, for all us No0bs out there, reality television stars are Not Allowed to spoil the sanctimonious halls covers of Vogue.

But anyway, the haters hating isnt my focus for this evening. Because, while everyone was up in arms about Kimye gracing the covers of (apparently) a ‘sacred place’ I was pushing poo down a plughole in the shower.

It all started out so lovely, with rainbows and bluebirds flitting about: I was jumping into the shower that morning and I had made the drastic mistake of not closing the bathroom door tightly enough (read: locking it down alcatraz style) and before I knew it, I was spotted by Squirrel Baby. She gleefully (and teeteringly) toddled in my direction pointing and begging to join me in the shower. Because I was having a total Parenting Zone moment, I was like: “I got this. It’s cool, totes happy to share the shower space”. How bad can it be?

How Bad Can It Be?

As I pick her up to pop her into the shower, she pees. All over the bath mat. “S’Ok, good thing she’s having a shower now” #ParentingWin

As I place her on the floor of the shower, she stands up, holds my leg and craps on my foot #ParentingFail

I don’t have it. I got nothing. And all of a sudden, my cleansing shower has turned into a massive hot steaming turd room x1000. Of course, the moment Squirrel Baby pops it out she is off crawling around between my legs and the water is beating down on me and this fast spreading mass of poo. I am cursing the high powered jets of my shower head as bits of poo go flying, splattering, smearing across my foot and onto the shower floor. And all the while I am thinking: “WTF?” *breathe woman breathe* “OMG DO NOT BREATHE! OMGDONOTBREATHE” I frantically search the space (one must assess the situation in moments of danger) I look to the toilet bowl sitting a metre away and then scan across to the toilet paper and then back down again at my feet. Too Late for Paper peeps.

For a brief moment I entertain the thought of picking up the fast melting nuggets and hurling them towards the toilet bowl, but I have never, ever been a good shot and it would never have ended well.

There was nothing else to do but to make it go down.

Oh how I tried to keep hands free. I directed the water with all my might to corral the pocket rockets of evil smell down the plug hole, but they resisted, they would not go down; Squirrel Baby was almost completing her circuit of the shower cubicle and was reaching towards her deposit with full joyful abandon…

So I did it. With an iron-fast resolve I bent down and pushed those babies down the plug. It was the single most grossest thing I have ever done. And that is when I thought of Kimye.

Bet that Kim hasnt done that yet. I am so one up on her it isnt funny. Take that Vogue.

 

 

Lunch.

I love nothing more than sitting down with my wee family over a good meal recounting our day and sharing in stories that we heard throughout the day.

Last Saturday was not dissimilar. After Husband whipped up a pasta we all sat down with gusto. It was, as usual, chaos, yelling, laughing and countless spilled glasses of water; but after the 10 minutes of settling into things, a filled silence of gratitude filled the dining room (still cannot get ove rthe fact that we have a dining room…but I digress).

It was at this point that Middle Child looks up with wide eyes and a face of wonderment: a thought has crossed her mind…

“Mama, mama, you MUST listen to me! Mama!”

Me: “Yes Middle Child, what is it?”

Middle Child: ” You know, you know, you know [it’s sometimes totally overwhelming to get a sentence out mid thought yanno!]…

Me: “know what?”

Middle Child: “If there was poo in your lunch it wouldnt taste very nice” *giggle*

Right. Thanks for the enlightenment.

I finish my forkful of pasta and at that moment gaze up and notice Middle Child eating her pasta with her hands (forks are overrated).

The cobwebbed cogs in my brain began to creak into action.

Me: “Middle Child…”

Middle Child: “Yes Mama” *slurp* *lick* *slurp*

Me: “Did you do a poo before lunch”

Middle Child: “Yup” *slurp* *lick* *slurp*

Me: “Middle Child, did you wipe your bottom?”

Middle Child: “Yup, all by MYSELF!” *slurp* *lick* *slurp*

Me: “Did you wash your hands??”

Middle Child: “Nup”

Me: “Oh…”

Middle Child: “I think I had poo on my fingers. Can I have more pasta?”.

Yup. That. #parentingwin

 

 

 

 

A House Called Dudleigh

DSC_5055

We have been here a month. Our new home.

Is it strange that rather than feeling like the lords and kings or queens of our domain, we instead find ourselves describing our role at Dudleigh house as caretakers? Because, quite frankly this is how, one month in, we feel.

History(ish):

dudleigh1

Dudleigh was built in 1890 for a dude called Mr Beddard who took up twenty acres and decided to grow stuff; people thought him crazy, sniggering into their beers that nothing could be produced in the soil in this part of world. So Beddard put the smack down and grew a vineyard and made wine. Copious amounts of wine. So much so that, upon realising that he had a glut of wine and was in Very Real Fear of seeing his wife and family turn into a bunch of lushes he then embarked on building a hotel to sell his goods. As you do. This became known as the Royal Hotel and theatre. The theatre – known as the Royal Theatre is Australia’s longest continually running theatre to date (it is a pretty spesh spot even if I do say so myself).

Being that they found themselves in the middle of nowhere in a land of brown, burnt grass and whipping hot winds, soil that was unforgiving and full of animals that will bite and/or kill you, it wasnt long before he (and I assume his family) were longing for the glens and green of their faraway home in bonny Scotland. To cure this nostalgia Mr Beddard sent off for some handpainted glass depicting some of his favourite scenes and icons of his motherland. Some time later this is what arrived:

DSC_5492

A door off the side of the drawing room. A pretty little ditty I will concede.

pckh4tj062owwswcoco4sw8s

One of the front doors.

I’m sure it cured the nostalgia. Not.

In fact, in all honesty, I fear that it probably gave rise to his wife feeling even more trapped in her Victorian home in the middle of bloody nowhere looking at that bloody glass and it’s castles. Of course, Mr Beddard, was also, it seems nostalgic for some bosomy Egyptian-esque babes eating grapes under palm trees. Tut tut.

Anyway, after he left some other peeps moved in. I have no idea who. Apparently some lovely old ladies that would hand out candy used to live here (Fact File #154 of the Country Town Archives aka Gossip Line). After a bit of time and a change of hands in between it was soon our turn to call this place home.

Back to now, Yo!

Moving day was hot, which, let’s face it, for Melbourne is a turn up for the books. Of course, this Rare Event had to happen on the day that I had to have the three kids, Husband, the Dawg, the Hens of Zen and 5000 earthworms all in the same car hurtling down the freeway for 120kms.

And of course, as we turned out of our old street, with the chickens on my lap they both decided to shit their brains out.

We said goodbye to our house of old:

DSC_5162

And opened the doors to our house of new:

DSC_5188 copyDSC_5190

There actually is a house somewhere behind all that overgrowth. True Story.

The kids made hay while the sun shone and felt all their christmases had come at once as box after box of toys that had been packed away since the middle of the year came out of the truck and were unloaded. As I was busy yelling at Husband and heaving boxes from one room to another, the Girls were entertaining themselves in rather ingenius ways. After hearing my lament regarding Squirrel Baby’s innate ability to bust my guts by crawling off to the far yonder while I unpacked, her Big Sisters came up with this novel idea to keep her not only entertained, but more importantly, contained:

DSC_5197

The baby bath is upcycled!

I will not lie. This house has been a discovery of many wonderful things. Even a month in we are finding cool things that have been secreted away in the overgrowth: little pathways throughout the gardens, nests of baby finches in the rose bushes, two enormous carriage wheels hidden under a mass of ivy, and, just the other day as I was trimming back some of the roses I found the most delicious and heavily laden plum tree to date (and that is saying something as I have counted in the vicinity of 50 of the bastards).

One of the more satisfying discoveries has to be, hands down, the wildlife. The family of ducks entertains us no end in the afternoon as they make their way across the street at the front of our house to have a waddle and feed in our gardens. The Dad Duck is a total Boss and owns the road. It is not a rare sight for him to hold up the whole street and instead of crossing with dedication and in a timely fashion, has been known to quack loudly at the stopped vehicles and groom himself. It would appear, after a few observations with my G&T in hand while sitting on my verandah, that honking your horn only infuriates him and he is more than likely to take offense and shit in front of your car and flap his wings loudly and call in the rest of the family to perform a ‘duck in’ and refuse to move. The amount of times this has happened and resulted in people having to ‘offroad it’ and go around them and up the embankment is worthy of a standing ovation.

DSC_5706

These two cockatoos busted showing an ability to share with rosellas. How very bucolic.

Despite the many distractions of wildlife and a garden in serious need of taming (20 years of overgrowth anyone?) we managed bit by bit to unpack the boxes and slowly find ourselves moving in and adjusting to the *slight* size difference.

Like seriously, one of the entry halls is about as big as our entire wee Big City casa:

DSC_5745

[I have also come to the fast realisation that with all these damn chandeliers it is going to be a costly business…six to eight lightbulbs each is a whole lot of mirabella]

One my rules of thumb is to get the kids bedrooms done first and foremost (we like sleeping babies).

Squirrel Baby got an upgrade and is now inhabiting her own room. I had this ‘vision’ of her ‘sleeping’ better if she had her own room. HA!

But anyway, I did enjoy setting up a proper baby room, something that I didnt get to do with Middle Child or Squirrel Baby back at the wee Big City casa.

I walked in thinking I would take a nice picture of her room and busted her big time  fossicking through her dirty laundry hamper – Parenting Win #158.

DSC_5769 DSC_5765

So, because I am awesome, I turned my back on her antics (what you dont see isnt happening, yanno) and took a snap of my bed the chair that I spend an inordinate amount of hours in of a night feeding Squirrel Baby. It is comfy, just not that comfy.

Fast Fact #204: So, the sun goes down at night.

Fast Fact #205: It be dark in the country.

This was something that logically I knew, but practically has resulted in me *maybe* walking into a wall. And a door.

Which brings me to another first. Nightlight. After a week of ‘bump in the night’ I hightailed it down to our local Baby Boutique (you know it is a boutique over a general baby/kid store by the presence of saltwater sandals…for my readers playing away from home: they retail here on our giant island at $85 a pair: I shit you not. I am wishing now that I had of bought one of every size when we were in LA).

So now we have a bunny that glows. He is my best friend:

DSC_5759

Because you are one of my more astute readers, you will have noticed that there is *quite a bit of wallpaper. You’d be right. The Lady of the House before I filled her boots (not with cement you sick bastards!) was/is an interior designer. I love it. Some folk have told me that some of it would be enough to give them nightmares.

DSC_5784

Not sure what they are talking about really.

Who doesnt love a lizard being strangled by creeping vine while parakeets watch on?

Squirrel Baby reckons it makes for great viewing and stares endlessly at it (then again, Squirrel Baby also doesnt sleep of a night, coincidence?)

DSC_5798 DSC_5787

And this is our room: (I can only imagine that it might be a nice place to sleep: so soft, so horizontal, so bed-like…)

DSC_5751

So, one month in.

Truly, a time of transition. It is not the Big City, I miss my friends and neighbours…because they rock out.

But it is special. It is a place that I know, if I let it, will, like the ugly-ass coco vine growing outside, wrap me up and tie me to a pole and have me put down roots and call it home. It has that potential.

In the last month I *think* I have socialised and engaged with more people than I ever did while in the Big City during the same time period. Ever. And of the BEST things, something that I have missed ever since returning from living in Fiji (yep, did that) is the ‘drop around’. Peeps do it here and I love it! I love that I can be grumpy in the kitchen putting dinner on and all of a sudden there is a friendly face at the door wanting to hang out, watch the sunset and share a beer on the verandah. It’s special and it makes life that little bit less lonely and, for that, this time of transition is worth it.

DSC_5741

Squirrel Turns One

There was so much rush, so much mayhem and disorganisation that accompanied us on our transition away from the Big City to the Country Delights but amongst it all we threw a party!

A very special party indeed! Squirrel Baby celebrated her first year of life ex-utero! How Fabulous!

We knew that this was to be the last gathering of all our special people in our wee little Big City home, how strange, but how joyful to have everyone there, celebrating with us, our Squirrel Baby’s Big Day of Fabulous.

I spent (as usual) the night before baking like it was going out of fashion, being grumpy and short with Husband (admittedley he was supposed to organise the catering for the party as I did not want to spend the day cooking…upon which 2 days out he informs me that his (not) well laid plans fell through, so could I get some food together to feed the masses) and busily clearing some space so that people actually had space to stand and sit in our 2 bedroom terrace: with 26 kids and 17 adults that was no easy task!

But we made it.

DSC_5005

There was, naturally enough, a slight “Squirrel” theme happening…

DSC_4997

Nothing beats vanilla lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Om nom nom.

There were party games, fine wine and cool beer and, of course, fabulous company to help us in celebrating Squirrel Baby’s awesomeness.

DSC_5012

I even managed to find this really cute knitted squirrel…acorn and all!

DSC_5009

The cake was decadent and delicious. I came across some lovely peonies and from there the cake was born. It was a simple, vanilla butter cake with raspberry couli centre and a sour cream icing. Again, it was totally Om nom nom. There were no leftovers.

DSC_5031

Squirrel Baby herself polished off with glee her cupcake! The icing she insisted was *particularly* fabulous.

And despite a long day of festivities, the lady of the hour somehow, from somewhere managed to gather enough strength and awesomeness to find it within herself to tear at the beautifully wrapped gifts that were brought for her by our special people. She loved them all!

DSC_5037

It was a fun-filled day, a day of joy and friendship and hope. It was also a day of gathering our friends close and saying goodbye in one of the best ways possible to our wee little Big City casa. I hope that some of that happiness left a mark on the place for the new family taking up residence.

And now, as I sit, overlooking gumtrees from the window in my study at our new place, I find myself laughing out loud at the 12 or so Lorikeets fighting it out over the bounty growing on the plum tree in front of our verandah.

I watch, as a family of wild ducks stop all the cars that come past our place as they waddle to and fro across the street from our home to our neighbours, and I know, that come dusk, the shy, tentative family of kangaroos will make their way down the street, sometimes stealing a morsel of grass from our lawn as they make their way to the paddocks further down and I realise, that it is time for me to write about our new home, and our first few weeks in a House named Dudleigh.