Sneaking in the Back Door

A barnstar given to people as an apology

(Nothing says "I'm so sorry'" like an apologetic Barnstar)
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You know that friend you have that seems to disappear off the face of the earth?

You wonder where in heck she’s gone, leave a few voicemail messages, wonder if she’s alive or dead and eventually give up on the whole thing. You refer to her as some kind of urban legend in your subsequent conversations with your group of friends for years to come.

Then one day you’re at an event and she comes sneaking in the back door, quietly trying to meld into the crowd and pretend she was never missing in the first place. She doesn’t want a scene and she thinks she may have gotten away with it as she cheerfully joins in on conversations.

As you watch her, you’re annoyed. Agitated. You called for goodness sake! You left messages! She couldn’t even put themselves out for a simple reply?

You and your group of friends lock eyes and give each other a simple nod.

You all know what’s going on. You head on over to the person with a determined look on your faces, you will get an explanation and it better be a *doozy. (Secret CIA mission would probably be acceptable…or astronaut duties, coma, lost at sea, or even becoming a monk would scrape them by. That about covers it though.)

She knows it and you know it. It’s going to be addressed.

As she watches you all head her way, her palms become sweaty and she starts to rehearse in her minds what she’ll say. It all comes down to this. How they handle it will make or break the friendships. (Talk about pressure!)

I’m that person.

I wasn’t sure what the blogging equivalent of ‘sneaking in the back door’ was, but I wanted to attempt it and have you all forget I was ever gone.

I spent at least 4 excruciating minutes thinking about it, trying to figure out how to make it work.

I had nothing.

Zilch.

At the 5 minute mark, my mind started to wander and I ended up thinking about that special I saw in my email inbox about J Crew shipping to Australia for free. That in turn became a marathon online shopping hour at J Crew, and that got me thinking about a winter wardrobe for my son.

I was completely off course.

Trying to be clever clearly wasn’t going to work, so I had to get focused. I visualized the equivalent of the group ‘heading on over’ (and might have peed my pants a little).

I imagined Eleanor and Carrie and Elyse and maybe even UC and  SSM storming over with that ‘you owe us an explanation missy‘ look on their faces… (it bears mentioning, you people are considerably frightening when I think of you banding together in some kind of ‘pack’ mentality.)

(Just saying.)

So I decided to pull up my big-girl panties and grab the bull by the horns and address it directly. Like a grown up. One that isn’t afraid or anxious. Or worried. Or considering wearing combat gear.

“I’m just a really bad person. I’m inconsiderate, irresponsible, selfish, lacking discipline and uncaring. I have no excuse that will give me a clean slate, I’m just plain terrible… so…. is there any chance I can play again? Be one of the gang? I’ve really missed you – I have – but life just has a habit of getting in the way sometimes. Work, study, the end of summer holidays and getting kiddo back into school, planning an 8th birthday party, hubby expanding his business and a house move. 

I actually have 3 posts that I started to write but was never able to finish, I’ll use them one day. (They were good!)”

Well? Where are we at? How was it?

Pass?

Fail?

How about a little sucking up as well?

“On a positive note, I’m nearly all caught up on reading your posts, I’m good on UC, Carrie and most of Elyses. I haven’t even started Eleanors (this weekends treat!) and SSM and Dor’s I will be reading later this week. We are actually going on vacation (thank God) this week, so I will have plenty of time for my favorite bloggers gems of wisdom.”

C’mon that had to help, at least a little?

I’m moving into ‘pretend-I-was-never-gone’ mode, let’s see how that works…

It’s Easter this week as you probably know, and in Australia we have 4 public holidays in a row. Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. The only places that are really open are restaurants and of course the shops will be open Saturday – Monday for shorter than usual hours. All other businesses are closed. It’s a favorite weekend of the year here – the only one with 4 consecutive holidays – so many people go away on vacation.

We’ll be heading to Sydney again.

Sydney is kind of like the New York of Australia. If you able to go there, why go anywhere else?

It has so many fabulous things to see and do, the weather is great this time of year,  and we can be there within a day. Other people go to the beach for vacations, we live at the beach, so to us the city is our ultimate vacation destination!

Many of you will be in church celebrating the meaning of Easter this week. I will be in a restaurant somewhere celebrating with a good-quality meal and some not-often-seen family. It will be the first time these particular family members have been together since before my son was born – 8 years ago! A nice way to celebrate such an important holiday.

My son offered up an excellent ‘modern day’ Easter story to me last night that I think I’ll share with you as I shuffle out the door with the crowd, laughing and joking as though I was always a part of the party and never really left…

My 8-year-old:

“Mummy, I learned about Lazarus and Jesus in school  today. They both died and they were wrapped up in material like mummies and their bodies were placed in a tomb, and a rock rolled in front so no one could get in there. But God rose them from the dead, and when they walked out of the tomb, people were really freaking out because they would have looked like some of those guys from **Plants vs Zombies.”



Plants vs. Zombies

Out of the mouths of babes…eh?

* Doozy is a slang word that I think is only used in Australia?? Doozy:  something extraordinary or bizarre, difficult or daunting.
** Plants vs Zombies is a computer or ipad game that has these ugly-looking zombies and mummies that you have to ‘kill’ to ‘save’ your garden from being destroyed by them. It’s a huge game amongst my 8-year-old and his friends (and my 38-year-old husband).
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Halfway Dead

Cover of "Happy Birthday to Me"
Cover of Happy Birthday to Me

I am 38-years-old today, that’s right 38-years-old! 38 years!!

Happy Birthday to me, right?

This reminds me of Bill Cosby on the ‘Himself’ tour, talking about being in first class on a flight, and little ‘Jeffrey‘ running up and down the aisles announcing “I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old!” throughout the duration of the flight, driving everyone crazy for hours. It ensured they got no sleep, and it was the worst 2 thousand bucks they have ever spent traveling between New York and LA.

I reminded my husband of this when I repeated my age 12 times before breakfast; “It could be worse, at least you aren’t on a plane with little Jeffrey.” He didn’t seem to feel there was a whole lot of difference.

By far my favorite line from the show was this one;

“I said to a guy, Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful, and he said, because it intensifies your personality. I said, Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

I know a few of those cocaine snorting assholes, and so the statement rings even more true now than it did back in the 80’s, when I first saw the show. It never loses its humor to me, and that’s one of the many brilliant things about Bill.

Bill Cosby - Quinnipiac Law

Bill Cosby, comic God.

I’ve seen that “Himself” video (yes video, it was released in the dark ages, otherwise knows as the 80’s) dozens of times – and if you haven’t I highly recommend you rent it out – I guarantee your sides will hurt for days for having had the experience, and it’s much more enjoyable than a Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred workout (yes, I speak from experience on this one), with arguably the same result.

Moving on.

I’m 38-years-old today, and my husband tells me I don’t look a day over 37 and 11 months, (he really knows how to flatter a girl). 38 is kind of a big deal, because in just over 2 years, by the law of averages, I’d potentially be halfway dead.

In fact, though I like to pretend our move to Australia was for more noble causes, the actual reason I hopped up and moved, was I saw the latest life expectancy statistics in the US.

The average life expectancy for a woman in America is 81.3 years, but here’s the kicker, the average life expectancy for a woman in Australia is 84 years, the third highest in the world following Japan (not sure that it’s accounting for the recent disasters) and Hong Kong.

Do you see what I just did there? I added almost three years to my life, just by packing up and moving to the other side of the world!

Genius? I think so!

Right now, I am a full 4 years from halfway dead! So awesome! (Of course this precludes terrible accidents like being hit by a bus, or my stalker hiring a hit man to take me out.)

It’s weird isn’t it, when you begin to see your life in terms of how long you have left.

Granted, there probably aren’t a lot of 38-year-olds that think this way, but they should. I suspect people would be a whole lot more productive in life if they made decisions based on how it’s going to affect them in the afterlife – or in the few months or years before they get to the afterlife.

I for one, am determined to be a lot nicer to my son.

After all, it’s he that will make or break me, when it comes to crunch-time. When I’m begging him to let me live with him, and not send me to that dreadful home – promising not to soil my adult diaper ever again – I’m going to remind him of all the times I let him have a day off school just because, and the times I paid out his pocket money even though his table-clearing and dishwasher-packing skills, left a lot to be desired.

And I have a backup plan – you simply cannot be too prepared when it comes to your inevitable demise – I’m going to be rich.

In the unfortunate event that I do a terrible job raising my son, and he wants to dump me in a home quicker than I could say “geriatric neglect,” I will use the undervalued power of manipulation. I will wave the all-desirable will in front of his face with threats to leave it all to the pygmies in Africa.

I don’t actually know who, or what, the African pygmies are, but my grandmother has spent her lifetime sending them all her money, and they still don’t seem to have enough, so they seem as worthwhile of a cause as any.

As for the riches, I don’t actually have a concrete plan for how I will be building the massive wealth, but you know, you can’t get too caught up on the details – do you think Steve Jobs made his money overnight? – Of course not! So I’m not sweating the small stuff in my master plan, all in good time.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my 3rd January on a beautiful summers day here in Australia, Happy New Year to all my friends all over the world who followed in the footsteps of Australia and finally made it into 2012.

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Hello 2012, The Year Of Contentment.

sydney habour bridge & opera house fireworks n...

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I’m naming 2012, ‘The Year of Contentment,’ is there really any better goal in life?

To be rich, beautiful, famous, successful… whatever your desire, we see these people splayed over our TV’s, ipads and computers. Attaining these goals has not made them more content, nor more worthwhile individuals. Do we really think Kim Kardashian is content? All that (plastic) beauty, money, fame, travel, clothes…not for one minute do I believe she leads a full and contented life.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, J-Lo,  when I look at these people – and the train-wrecks that are their lives – I see nothing even resembling contentment. It’s been written about, and proven time and time again, money doesn’t buy happiness, but what about reaching ones hotly-desired-and-worked-for goal?

Whether it be fame, riches, notoriety, publishing your first book, building the dream home, buying your first new car, a laptop, phone, holiday…. people dream and wish and hope, and gruel-it-out at their jobs just to get to the goal.

When they finally do, they are left with a stark reality. They are the same person – with the same struggles, angers, frustrations and flaws – as they were before they attained the goal. Goals are not a terrible idea, but placing all your life’s hopes and dreams on one ultimate goal, may well set you up for disaster.

In gambling we all know that riding all your money on one hand can make or break you – and the odds are not good, of it making you. Non-material goals are probably going to work out a whole lot better than the material ones, they bring a sense of self-satisfaction that a iMac just can’t compare with.

The only way to truly become content is to be happy with who you are, and the choices you are making right now. Who knows what 10 years will bring? Sure its good to have your 5-year and 10-year goals – we all have them, and it often helps us focus and not get lost or overwhelmed with day-to-day life – but be careful not to live for your goal.

You may find your life has passed you by, in your desperation to get to the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow – or worse –  you may find that it was all a fairy-tale to begin with and the pot of gold doesn’t even exist. It was built-up to such a frenzy that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype that was created and it’s not nearly as satisfying as it was supposed to be. (Kind of like Google +.)

So my ‘goal’ for 2012, is to be content, just the way things are.

I still have a way to go, but I know I am closer to it than I was 12, 18 or 24 months ago, and that’s an achievement in itself. I make my choices for me and for the betterment of our family, and have zero concerns about outside influences and their opinions of my choices.

So what are my goals for 2012, other than contentment? (A heady goal, I know!)

One of the foremost long-term goals I have, is the kind of son I want to raise. Sticking him in school to get an education, and exposing him to a few sports for team camaraderie, while feeding him 3-minute pizza and mac ‘n cheese, simply isn’t going to cut it for me. In recent years we have made some tough decisions for what we believe is his benefit.

On an ethical level, we wont’ take him to the circus, even if ‘everyone else is doing it,’ because our family will not play a part in contributing to the suffering and abuse of animals.

On a moral level, we have removed people from his life who were dysfunctional, choosing to further their own agenda, at the expense of him and his betterment.

On a physical level, we moved him to a new environment – 1/2 way around the world – in part, to help with his health, and his lungs have never been better! He hasn’t seen a doctor in over 12 months, a first for our family where we have been used to bi-monthly visits.

On a nutritional level, he eats a 90% organic or biodynamic, home cooked, wholesome diet – because without it – we believe his mind and body cannot operate as it was intended.

But what about character?

I have a clear path and direction that I want to lead him in. It is not one of achievements, trophies and awards (though those things are of course nice, and even admirable), its of a greater achievement for which there is no adulation, no award and no prize.

My goal is to raise him to be a person of integrity and clear values. A kind, considerate and empathetic person, someone who will sacrifice of himself to help another. To see a need, and move to fill it as a matter of habit. A person who will evaluate the cost of a decision and make a choice – even if it is to his detriment – if it accomplishes a greater good.

I watch the world we are creating for our kids. A world of processed foods, high-tech TV and video games, instant gratification, and selfishness. One where people no longer matter unless they contribute something to us of value. The term “networking” has become the new way to find employment all over the globe. People pass out cards and promote themselves endlessly. What about reputation? Integrity? Hard work and consistency? Honesty? They seem to have fallen by the wayside in favor of a buck, (or saving a buck).

I don’t want to forget to teach the basics, opening a door for a lady, saying “please” and “thank you,” standing for an elderly person, or pregnant woman on a bus. Respecting your elders, even if the conversation seems boring and out-of-touch.

I don’t care whether he grows up to be a Jew or a Christian, a punk, or preppie. I don’t care if he chooses to be a janitor or a doctor. I care about the impact he makes on the world around him, however small that impact may be. I want him to leave this world a better place than he found it.

He will have flaws, it is of course, impossible not to.

Acknowledging his mistakes, and making an effort to do better is as important as never committing the mistake in the first place.  A lesson without a mistake to learn from, is not a lesson – it’s a tutorial. (Personally, I never learned too well from tutorials.)

To this end, this holiday season, after reading the wonderful post by Southern Sea Muse, we researched children’s homes in our area. Unfortunately, we are in a small country community and the do not exist here – though we do have the contact details to use for some in the city, come Easter and next Christmas.

We made the decision instead, to call our local public nursing home run by the Salvation Army. They service both low-care and high-care patients, and after talking with a wonderful lady, we agreed to bring gifts and cards to 8 elderly people with no family. 4 women and 4 men.

We arrived bearing our gifts, plus flowers for the ladies. My son had made cards for each and every person, and they loved it. He was in fact (as far as I could tell), the closest thing to being treated like a Rock Star, without the microphone and sell-out crowd.

 

The Kiddo, Bearing Flowers and Gifts for the Elderly

Oh, I watched him cringe when the first old lady with long whiskers sprouting from her chin wanted to hug and kiss him, and I also watched when he softened at her delight and he hugged her just a little bit harder. We laughed together at the 96-year-old man wanted me to ‘come back tomorrow’ so he could bring me some roses from the home garden and ‘take me out on a date.’

We felt somber as we visited with the elderly woman with no hair and a body swollen with  fluids who, we were told, would not survive the next 48-hours. We patted her hands, left her with the last Christmas card she would ever see, and her last human contact from someone who wasn’t earning a paycheck to be there.

We wondered out loud, how one is unfortunate enough to end their life this way.

My son received an education in the theory ‘it is better to give than to receive,’ and in the harsh realities of life for those that have no family who care, and whose friends have all passed on long ago.

Did he leave his experience so impacted that his life would be changed forever? I suspect not.

The indicator? On our way home while I was extolling the virtues of the experience, I suggested we do the same thing every year. He responded with ‘uh, how about every second year?’ Clearly my job is nowhere near complete. He is a child after all, a 7-year-old boy who has no true understanding of loneliness, old age and death…. and as it should be.

But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? This is why my goal for raising him must never lose focus, never deviate.

It is the nature of the beast to want to satisfy ourselves, turn a blind eye and pretend we didn’t see that thing we should take action on, and fulfill our own empty desires. It is the nature of this 21-st century to tell us we deserve it, we deserve it immediately and without sacrifice – and should anyone else get in our way we should cut them off at the knees – it’s a dog-eat-dog world, after all.

This is what parents these days have to contend with. It’s a crap-shoot people – we’re just rolling the dice, hoping for the best – and praying we did our ‘homework’, that the job we have done is enough, and we won’t see them on the channel nine news in a police chase inside a decade.

I jest of course. I will be content this year if I fulfill my role to educate and guide my son, to be better than what the world tells us is acceptable, even desirable. If I guide him to want more than what is on offer from the media, and the ‘cool kids.’

Oh, what a goal I have undertaken!

Lets face it, whether you are rich or poor, beautiful or homely, healthy or sick – we only have one shot at this year that is 2012 – let’s make it count for all the right reasons.

Happy (Australian) New Year!

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Loyalty Cards

English: Different customer loyality cards (ai...

Image via Wikipedia

At this time I have about 53 loyalty cards either crowding my keyring, overflowing my junk draw or cramming up my wallet. They are the bane of my existence for two reasons;

1. I hate all the extra crap I have to carry.

2. I cant not have them because I’m possibly missing out on a discount, a rebate check – or worse – a free set of blunt steak knives made in China, from some kind of cheap, toxic plastic and quasi-metal.

I went to the local grocery store the other day and as I was checking out, the lady asked for my loyalty card. As I searched in my bag for the card I said to her; “I’m not sure if I have one, Im not really that loyal.

Of course what I meant, is that I wasn’t that loyal to that particular store. I usually shopped at a grocer much closer to our house. I dug around in my purse a little more, and then looked up at her to find her staring at me oddly.

I immediately realized what I had just said and stupidly decided to explain myself further.

Well I am loyal, you know…..in life. I’m just not that loyal to your store. I’m really a very loyal person by nature, I mean, I’m not having affairs all over the place on my husband or anything….but, you see, all these grocery stores are so close together, and they all have a card, and there are so many cards, its so hard to keep track, and well….”

My voice trailed off as much for breathlessness as for lack of a really plausible explanation, that would clarify things, and get us on a better track.

You know that moment where you know you are rabbiting on like a raving lunatic, and you know the other person is thinking you’re a total whack-job? Yet for some reason, you can’t seem to stop yourself rambling aimlessly, in a desperate attempt to sound like a lucid person?

This was my moment.

Of course I intend to reward her for my humiliation by showing absolutely no loyalty, and never visiting that grocery store again.

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In The Spirit Of The Holidays And All Things Good

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

“You Must Be The Change You Want To See In The World”

Mahatma Ghandi

Though I spend most of my time making this blog one of light, airy humor, there are times where something of a little more substance is warranted – today is one of those times, and I do hope you read on, because this is vitally important.

One of the most poignant and valuable writers I have found on the web today is Southern Sea Muse.

She is a clinical therapist to ten broken children. Children that we – humanity – have broken. They were not born this way, but it has been their unfortunate lot in life to have the hope, faith, joy and happiness extracted painfully from them over time, by the very people who should have protected them.

SSM takes it upon herself, to spend her days doing what she can to restore their faith in us, willing them to give us another chance.

In her spare time, she portrays in such vivid detail on her blog, the lives of these children – I feel like I have stepped into their world – if only for a moment. In response to her herculean efforts, it’s up to us (yes, you and I), to take up the baton and do what we can to help her on this mission to restore what she terms as their “disintegrated hearts.”

Especially at Christmas.

SSM writes very openly in her blog about how she sees these children and their experiences, and it is insight into a world I personally cannot comprehend. A world, I need to hear and learn more of, because without education there is no understanding, and without understanding there is no call-to-action.

This being the case, I thought it a perfectly worthwhile venture to repost her latest post here (with her permission), in the hopes that more people will not just continue to stop and be thankful for a moment about how fortunate we are, but more importantly, take action and do what we  can for the forgotten children who exist in our cities.

To pave the way for a better future for them and children like them.

Without further ado,

The Sequestered Angel Tree

by Southern Sea Muse

In a land far away from our minds stands a lone angel tree today, seen by few, known by fewer. This tree is different from the rest.

You know of the others. Right now in stores across the United States stand hundreds of “angel trees,” decorated with carefully disguised identities of needy children in the community. These are children who through no fault of their own are in situations which render them financially less fortunate than other children on Christmas day. These children may live with their families or perhaps are foster children, but they still have the freedom to live with a family, attend school, and, although challenged, have a fairly typical daily routine in the daily world.

Allow me to introduce you to a similar, but rarely-seen angel tree.

This tree also has the names of carefully disguised identities of needy children, but these children are apart from the community. These children are the emotionally less fortunate who, through no fault of their own, have been subjected to and somehow survived unconscionable circumstances which have scarred their souls so badly, that they are unable to function in society as we know it. These children cannot live in a home, neither with family of origin nor foster home. These children cannot attend school due to their disintegrated hearts.

These children are locked away in an institution, both for their safety and for the safety of the community, or because they are the most emotionally fragile of children. They simply cannot handle life as we know it. They are there to mend their hearts and souls, and remain there until they are fit for society. This may take days or weeks for those in acute care; months, or even years in the long-term residential facilities…all of which are eternities, in a child’s eyes.

There they spend their days and nights, eating and sleeping, playing and fighting, wondering how they got there, and contemplating what they need to do to get out. There they try their hardest to get through each day with the shadows of their past following and haunting them, trying to do what schoolwork they can, trying to get along with others, with varying levels of success.

Some try their hardest because they have hope. Others do not try because they have given up hope, and need encouragement from one moment to the next. Still others try their hardest to show others their very worst, because if they can be disliked or violent enough, they can reject others before others have yet another chance to reject them…at least it is one thing in life they can control.

Their angel tree sits quietly in the corner of the small, empty lobby, the only unlocked room in the building. Other than the receptionist, it is only seen by the few still connected to these children who are able to visit: the state worker who must ask the child to choose between a voucher for clothing or a voucher for toys and who will be home with their family on Christmas; the ashamed, distant relative who is reluctant to be involved but wants to make a good show, the occasional lost driver who took the wrong turn down the end of the long road; the tireless staff and nurses doctors. Oh, and the UPS guy and mail carrier, neither of whom bring things addressed to specific children living there, except on rare occasions.

The requests for needs for these children seem somewhat unusual. The angels on this tree bear wishes for things like socks, because their roommate flushed their last good pair down the toilet during another one of his nightly rages, with enough bone-rattling shrieking to create a new nightmare for another child down the hall on the unit, unable to sleep…and not a shred of memory of the crisis, come sunup.

Like playing cards, since many of the games on the market, electronic or otherwise, further cause them to be unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, and may trigger violent flashbacks. Or reinforce their tendency to want to solve problems with disconnected sarcasm and indifferent violence.

Like soft, stuffed animals or dolls, since anything battery-operated requires batteries – and anyone who’s been behind those locked doors long enough knows that if you slam a battery in the door near the hinges just right, it will expose a very sharp object that can be found in the core of the battery, which can then be used as a weapon to hurt someone. Or, for the self-harmers, to cut on themselves and draw blood, and wind up wearing scrubs and on 24/7 observation for days as a result. It is unfathomable to think how a young child might learn such behavior, but there it is.

Hygiene products are also popular, since the hospital-issued products are not exactly kid-friendly, and it is much more fun by far to brush your teeth with sparkly bubble gum toothpaste, like most other children enjoy on a daily basis. A pretty ribbon for her hair. An emery board, since nail clippers are not allowed on the premises, and long nails can be used to gauge eyes in a sneak attack from behind. A SpongeBob blanket for a bed instead of the typical ho-hum hospital sheets. Warm Cinderella footie jammies. Or a visit from a volunteer big brother/big sister or mentor, an objective other who will play a game with them and listen to their story…a story most can’t bear to hear, a story which defies common sense and human rationality.

Food item requests are never found on this angel tree; some children are on strict diets due to side effects of medications. And besides, the child who roamed the streets for his next meal has been known to wheel deals with other children: “I’ll give you the coupon I earned for extra game room time, if you give me your snack.” Snacks are then discovered hoarded under mattresses, up in ceiling tiles or in the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom which the adults all assumed were locked and childproof.

Some children ask for earmuffs to block out the incessant noise, which may come from either side of their skull at any given moment.

How did they get there, anyway? It may be because their parents sold them for sex in exchange for drugs. Or left them for long periods of time to fend for themselves. Or perhaps they locked them in closets or entertainment cabinets for their convenience. Or molested them repeatedly over the course of years.

These are the children who don’t know where their parents are, and the parents are either dead from their misdeeds or are happily homeless, preferring drugs and alcohol over their child….or simply abandoned the child and left the state, never to be heard from again. Some children may know where their parents are, but their parents voluntarily turn them over to the state because they don’t want them anymore. These children may have been in 15 foster homes, with no stability or sense of permanency. These children may have been along for the ride and witnessed a drug deal gone bad, resulting in murder. Or witnessed murder in their very own living room. Or tried to murder their family during a psychotic episode.

The end result is a child who is unable to make sense out of the world, who relates to others as they have been related to, and who does not and may never know childhood, as it is supposed to be known.

These are the children we forget about because they are quietly locked away from the rest of us while they pick up the pieces of their bewildered, shattered lives. You will not see them in schools or on sports teams. You may spot them briefly at the store, at McDonald’s or on a playground closely monitored by staff, if they are deemed well enough to go out into public at the time and their medication and behavior are stable. If that is the case, you will likely not know it is them you are seeing, and it likely will not register in the moment you see them, just where it is they lay their head at night – a place where they must be to work out their raw feelings of depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis…their fear, their disappointment, their confusion, their rage

The angels on their tree represent a completely different type of need – a need that is real but often goes unknown and unheard by most.

Still needing and wanting to believe in something despite their inability to trust mankind, the younger ones hold fast to their belief in Santa. No, there is no chimney in this place, but they are assured that Santa has keys to the joint, nonetheless. Their lives may have taken an unthinkable course, but their anticipation and hope in being loved and cared for like any other human is entitled to, is no different from yours or mine.

I urge readers (and writers) to locate the nearest children’s psychiatric hospital in your area (and they are there, somewhere…I cannot point you in the direction of the children I know due to privacy and confidentiality issues). Please consider dropping off a small gift  for one of these children who will wake up Christmas morning behind locked doors…on the inside looking out, never sure when they will be ready, if ever, to be the one on the outside looking in.

This gift needn’t be material…write them an anonymous letter and tell them how brave they are, how proud you are of them for enduring all they have. Tell these children that they can do it, that they are loved, admired and respected. That they are believed, that their feelings are real and important. Tell them that they matter. Color them a rainbow with your words, that they might be assured that their world will hopefully not flood like that again.

Such a small gesture has incredibly meaningful ramifications.

For what is small to us, is huge to them, bigger than we might ever guess…whether or not we remember about their angel tree now and in years to come. Like a standout, cherished childhood memory, they will remember, and it may just be the one memory of hope and love that will help heal them on their horrific journey. It may be the one thing they have, hold, hang on to and refer back to as the biggest spark of light that brought them through their darkness.

God, help us all help the sequestered and forgotten children of the world, the ones least seen in our communities – the ones who most need miracles and a reason to believe again.

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Planking Mario’s, School Principals, and Lunar Eclipses.

We love my son’s school. Love. If I could go back in time and go to school again, I’d attend myself.

It’s one of those nice unexpected surprises in life. You pretty much assume that you’re going to like some things about your kid’s school, tolerate others, be totally agitated by a few, and pretty much just get through. When your expectations are exceeded, it’s like winning the lottery.

Before my son started at this school, we checked out another. We met with all the appropriate people and liked them. It seemed like a good fit, the grounds were well-looked after, facilities were great, class sizes reasonable. It ticked all the boxes – until we met the principal.

I’ve had a theory since High school that all school principals are assholes (sorry to all the principals reading, but bear with me on this!) My principal(s) were very small men (figuratively), who took great pleasure in being king of their castles, and wielding the power whenever possible. I went to a private schools so rules were usually more strict and discipline was of primary importance.

One such rule was when you were old enough to get your drivers permit, you could only drive your car to school on approved days. The reason?  There was not enough parking in and around the school for teachers and students.

What this translated to for most students, was the permission to drive to school a day or two per week, necessitating train and bus transport for the remaining days.

This is almost an exact replica of my first car. Except mine was a faded baby-poo green. I'm sure you can imagine my popularity and level of coolness.

Unlike most of my more intelligent counterparts, who drove whenever they liked, and parked a decent distance from the school – walking the rest of the way and keeping the school none the wiser – I decided to confront the system with honesty, and buck it to their faces.

Why, I questioned, did the school not plan for this growth and expansion by choosing a location with ample parking? What was the board of directors doing about this issue? Many hours of valuable homework time were being lost by seniors, wasting time on public transport when they could be home focusing on work (or the latest cosmo magazine and manicure), depending on your definition of ‘work’.

I found a lovely old lady who lived a few houses up from the school, who had no car and an empty driveway. She was more than happy for me to park my car at her house every day. The principal declared it a ‘no-go’. It would be unfair to other students, he claimed.

My father got involved and there was a lot of back-and-forward letter writing for a while, before, totally exasperated, dad decided to call the principal and talk it out – hopefully solving the problem once and for all. I don’t remember much about the conversation other than hearing him shout “You have your head so far up your ass you can’t see the light!”

My father was not prone to bad language. In fact, this might be the only time I ever heard him use the word ‘ass’. Clearly this principal had driven him to the point of absolute frustration with his lunacy. I understood completely.

As I heard him hang up the phone, I smiled to myself, knowing that only a positive outcome for me could come from such a statement.

It did. I drove every day for the duration of my schooling.

I digress.

When we met with the principal at the alternate school we were checking out, he put out his hand to shake ours and his voice boomed; “You are so lucky to find a space with us…. this school has such an exemplary record, we have a waiting list of people desperate to get in. You really should consider yourselves incredibly lucky. I was honored as one of the top 20 principals in NSW in 2002.”

2002!! That’s like 9 years ago dude! Before wireless internet and Justin Beiber (his fame – not his birth – though it’s probably a close call). It barely counts as this decade! (Judging from his personality,  I also suspected the criteria was very ambiguous.)

I mumbled something polite, while giving my husband the look. The look said; “we are not sending our kid to learn under this douches guidance, under any circumstances.”

We left and I exclaimed, “Can you believe it? I thought it was only because my last memories of school were as a kid, that I thought all principals were such douchebags! They’re still douchebags, even though I’m an adult!”

(Perhaps not the most eloquent way to describe it.)

My opinion changed when I met my sons current principal.

I liked him immediately. As we toured the school he shared story after story with us, keeping us laughing and impressed all at once, but what sold me was this statement;

We have a zero tolerance rule for bullying in school, we don’t have a bullying problem…well except for Jennifer L,” he sighed dramatically.

Jennifer L is a grade A student, prodigy at violin, mathematics state champion 4 years running, volunteer firefighter and all-round incredible person. Unfortunately she had a fight with her boyfriend in the senior center last year and slapped him across the face and she’s been labeled as a bully ever since.”

“I flinch every time I see her, or use a book as a protector shield if she comes to my office – I just never know what she might do. She is mortified. I use her as the example for bullying for every new student that comes in the school.”

His eyes twinkled as he described the situation and his mouth showed the beginnings of a smile.

It was hilarious imagining this super-achieving ‘good girl’ let the emotions get the better of her (as only teenage girls can do) – and slap her man  – and then be the poster-child for bullying for the rest of her school life.

I loved it. And so did he. The smile on his face told me he enjoyed telling the story and he enjoyed ribbing her about it at every opportunity. I suspect she is able to laugh about it too.

So here my son will stay (at least until their bullying mascot graduates and then we’ll need to reconsider our options), and in the meantime this school has given me hope that there are school principals that exist who are nice, normal, amusing, and not on some kind of crazy power trip.

Thank you to all those who fulfill this role with dignity, fairness and kindness.

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As we all know the lunar eclipse happened on Saturday night (Australian Time). It started about midnight and I had decided to stay up to watch and try to get some photos.

Clouds did not predict a successful outcome

I am not particularly great with a camera. I love photography, but the aperture, ISO, white balance..blah, blah, blah… is just all to technical for my little mind and so I just randomly change these things up and down as I take photos and hope I get a few that work. (Really, I do. Makes my husband crazy.)

Unfortunately, this theory landed me with a hundreds of photos from the eclipse that were useless at best. Shockingly, a few of them did turn out OK and I decided to include them here. All I used was my Canon Rebel XSi, a tripod, my Front Porch, a Sigma 70-300mm lens, and a bottle of wine.

(Bottle of wine is mandatory, remember you are staring at a big light in the sky for hours with nothing else to do but check out the edge work on your neighbor’s lawn. Studying that edge work is a lot less arduous when you are liquored up. Trust me.)

It started really cloudy, so I didn’t get any good full moon shots, and I wasn’t sure how it would end up

They eventually started to dissipate and I decided to hang in there to see what might be

Clouds moving - Showing some promise

I got it!

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The Real Blog Post (Not The 7-year-old Clicked Publish Before I Was Done, Post)

English: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Q...

Image via Wikipedia

***Apologies to those that received an unfinished version of this post earlier today. My son was playing around on my computer and I had my account open and somehow he hit the “publish” button. (Note to self: lock the office door when I am not around, to avoid nervous breakdown and desire to strangle child)***

I can’t believe we are this close to the end of year! We have now officially been living in Australia for just over 1 year and my husband and son are starting to jive with the culture and seem a little less out-of-place.

A few weeks back we took a trip to Sydney.

Our first stop was my Holistic dentist where I had my last two mercury fillings removed. Not the most fun thing to do, nor was it as bad as I had anticipated. An excellent practice, incredible staff and safely getting rid of those toxins once and for all, made for an all-out pretty pleasant day and they we’re done in under an hour – impressive!

Next stop was our hotel in Double Bay.

One of the most affluent suburbs (often referred to as Double ‘Pay’), it is also an incredibly beautiful place with designer shopping, quaint cafes and bars, located (as is indicated by its name) in a bay on Sydney Harbour.

It’s only a short train or ferry ride into the city (great for kids)  – for those of us not wanting to pay Sydney’s $50+/day parking fees. (That would be me.)

Double Bay, (Sydney) Australia. I took this photo as we were heading out of the bay towards Sydney Harbour on the ferry.

Even as a former Sydney-sider, I delight in taking friends and family members on a ferry ride on the Harbour. There is something completely magical about it. I have lived in a number of places over my lifetime and so many of them have that “special something”. Sydney’s “special something” is its Harbour.

As we boarded our ferry along with the business people on their way to work, I wondered how great it would be to sit outdoors in the sunshine with the sea-air blowing in your hair as you traveled your mode of ‘public transport’ to work – not too shabby!

The Harbour Bridge in the Distance, Taken From The Ferry

We then took in some of the sites of Sydney and had a blast, I highly recommend spending time in your “home” city as a tourist. Stay at a hotel, see all the sites and you may be surprised at how cool it is and what’s on offer!

Charlie Chaplin Reincarnated?

The Big Smoke

We started by wandering down “The Rocks” area, it’s on the edge of the Harbour, full of historic buildings, Australian artifacts, tourist shops, artwork etc. I love the rocks, its quaint and historical.

"The Rocks"

Next we watched an aboriginal play a didgeridoo on the foreshores of the Quay. (HA!) This guy is about as “authentically aboriginal” as I am.

I’m not saying he doesn’t have aboriginal heritage, but I promise you, he goes home to his big screen TV, and judging from his pecs, he eats plenty of McDonalds and drives his 4wd to ‘work’ everyday.

But, the tourists love it. (As did my son and husband. I just snorted in disgust and took photos for my blog. Note the gold rimmed glasses. My husband named him “Kanye Dundee” )

"Kanye Dundee"

We took a walk to Darling Harbour (about 25 minutes walk from Circular Quay – where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is located), and discovered a cool playground with a mammoth climbing structure (amongst other things), that my husband declared. would never exist in any playground in America.

His reasoning? “It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen”. We wouldn’t sue here, we’d just brush little Billy off after his fall and tell him he’s “fine”, and to “stop complaining, you’re scaring the other kids.”

Regardless, it proved hugely popular with the kids, including ours who in this photo is perched on the top left.

"Lawsuit Waiting to Happen."

Next to the playground was a water park that had an awesome array of lessons. How water works, ways to pump, divert, spray and more. It was the perfect place on a warm summers afternoon and we spent hours there.

Cool toes on a hot day can only be a good thing!

The afternoon had worn on and we left the water park behind.

Father and Son Are Insperable!

On our way out of Darling Harbour we saw Santa trying to escape the city unnoticed.

Someone needs to tell him when you are this big and jolly, incognito is not really possible.

We decided to walk back down to the Circular Quay (where the Harbour bridge and ferries are located) to eat. On our way we passed a floating Sunglasses Hut store, my husband thought it was ingenious.

The ultimate transferable store

And motorbike parking that was markedly cheaper parking (reason to own a motorbike when living in the city).

We grabbed a quick dinner at Mad Mex, a place my husband had been dying to visit since we moved to Australia. It had rave reviews as fast food Mexican, and as we haven’t found any decent Mexican in Australia ( I don’t think Mexican restaurants even existed here when I left to move overseas in 2000), he was desperate.

It was as good as he hoped it would be and their frozen margaritas were as authentic as any we’ve ever had. The most spectacular thing was the Corona beer bottle chandelier, something we had never seen before, but a totally cool idea!

We decided to put an end to the day and caught the train back to the hotel, much to our 7-year-olds delight.

"Train Expectation" - Town Hall, Sydney, Australia (Iphone Photo)

All in all, we had a fun day, and after a good nights sleep, we took on the city again the next day!

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While I was on my SIBL (Self-imposed Blog Leave), my all-time favorite red-haired blogger (C’mon Carrie, don’t be thinking you’re the only red haired blogger, their must be plenty!)  had a surprise waiting for me when I returned.  A blog award!

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty un-talented. I’m not good at much of anything, which has resulted in a gaping empty space in my awards cabinet (What? It’s weird to buy and awards cabinet in the hope that it will karmic-ly cause awards to be bestowed upon you?? Apparently NOT, because it worked!)

No more!

Carrie from A Sassy Redhead has broken my 37 11/12th years drought, and given me an Liebster Blog award that I will be forever grateful for.

(That one in Kindergarten for “best talker” doesn’t count because we all know what was the five -year-old equivalent of a backhanded compliment from the teacher).

(In all seriousness, Thank you Carrie, you rock! )

(And not just because of this.)

(Really)

My job is to now send you on your way, to explore the wonders of five other awesome bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve your support. So this I shall do, as I bid you adieu.

1. The Unknown Cystic – He and I get each other. (Which kind of sucks for him, because I’m pretty odd.)

2. Fifty Four and A Half – She is the most interesting writer, and she uses her age in the title. Being another person that cares not a whit about telling people my age, I think this rocks  – and that’s all before you start reading her awesome blog!

3. Spit and Spirits – He doesn’t post as much of late, he’s getting married and preparing to be under the thumb (kidding!!) but his posts are awesome, and he assures me he will be back, so you gotta love you some Jake J Fox.

4. Good Food 4 All – I just found this blog in the past few days. It’s awesome, all about toxins in our day to day life, organic living etc. For all those that don’t know I’m a closet hippy (if you want to see more of my activist-hippy side you can check out  Natures Conspiracy or This Dish Is Veg). Before you do check out GF4A.

5. Meg’s Simple Life – Meg has a family friendly blog about life, love and family. It’s wholesome, interesting, and she seems sweet as pie.

(Note to Mark at Yelling Near You. Wanted to add you, but I couldn’t because Carrie stole you first.)

She has it coming now…

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Your Children Aren’t Nearly As Intelligent As You Believe. (Trust Me On This.)

This company assumed children blessed with the gift of logic, would be drinking their milk.

Today it became crystal clear to me why Doctors say our kids shouldn’t be drinking flavored milk, or soda pop.

Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the sugar content, obesity epidemic, rampant ADD in our schools, or the complete lack of nutrition.  In fact, it’s a much less hotly-debated issue.

The reality is, they aren’t at the age where they are equipped to deal with the complexities of these drinks.

“Complexities?” I hear you ask; “what could be more simple than drinking a sugary treat?”

What, indeed.

Last night my seven-year-old finished dinner, we were eating outside (it was a beautiful night), and my husband left us to return a phone call.

I had promised my son after he had eaten his dinner, he could have the chocolate milk I had bought him (a rare treat in our house), and his pleasure was evident when I distractedly handed him the drink, and began texting on my phone.

I was paying no attention to him, until I noticed him wiggling a little in his seat. In typical parenting style, I ignored it (not wanting to open up a dialogue on kid related things that would almost certainly be akin to watching paint dry on a wet and cloudy day).

The wiggling continued and turned into actual bodily shaking… he was now standing in front of his seat with his hands and arms moving in the air as well!

“What the hell?” I thought to myself.

Don’t ask”, my inner voice warned, “don’t open up that can of worms, continue on with your texting.

I knew this was a road I really didn’t want to travel, so I left it alone and continued with my text.

Moments later, he sighed loudly and sat back in his chair, with a force that comes from the exhaustion of moving so energetically on a warm evening.

Then the lunacy spewed forth from his lips;

“mummy, why do I have to shake well before opening this drink?”

Note the little " symbols they have added to the bottle to really emphasise the shaking - little did they know the confusion this would cause.

This my dear friends, is the result when one’s reading ability, far surpasses their intelligence level. (A condition I suspect many adults also suffer from, but that’s fodder for another post.)

As a result of this illogical display of senselessness, my son will only be given one  beverage option – water – when requiring relief from his thirst for the next half decade or so.

Until he is capable of reading the label and deciphering for himself that wording like “twist top”  is not an instruction related to the shirt he is wearing, “contents under pressure” does not refer to an unresolved emotional conflict or a tight work deadline for the beverage, and “ring pull”, is not the can asking you to present your buttocks for any kind of assistance – he will be banned from all beverages that are not see-through.

And from what I’ve just witnessed, it may be a long 5 years.

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And The Mouse Made Four

Previous Freddo Dairy Milk design (12g)

The delicious Freddo Frog (Image via Wikipedia)

The evening after Halloween, kiddo asked me if he could have some left-over chocolate Freddo’s. I nodded in the affirmative and moments later, he brought me the whole bowl – asking why so many of the wrappers had been torn, and the chocolate eaten.

It turns out we have a mouse.

A mouse that favors Cadbury Chocolate Freddo Frogs.

Of course I was horrified at the mere thought of a mouse running around my kitchen while I slept, and out came my trusty humane trap, something I have used previously to deal with such incidences.

Regular traps just aren’t an option for me. The idea of waking in the morning to find a dead mouse splayed out with a metal rod across its back is too much for me to bear – and the alternative thought of it not actually being dead, just suffering endlessly until I have to hit it with a brick or something – well, I simply cannot imagine.

We have a deal in our house – I can use humane traps and my husband will empty them for me – far, far, away from our home. Our house backs up to a reserve of forest-type land (an area kept protected for the wildlife), and as a result we see the occasional field mouse.

My husband set the trap with chocolate inside (since this was obviously the mouse’s poison of choice), and I put the bowl of remaining chocolates up high, away from the place where the mouse first tasted the decadence.

The next morning the trap hadn’t been touched, but the bowl had once again been raided! I was incensed! I triple-sealed the remaining untouched chocolates in zip-lock baggies and went about my day, as hubby left on a business trip.

To be honest I forgot all about the trap, until last night.

I turned off my light at about 12:30am and prepared for sleep, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes later that I heard someone trying the handle of our front door – or so I thought.

A strange jiggling sound had me on high alert (granted it would have to be the loudest burglar in the history of the world, but that’s all I could figure). I got up and turned every light in the house on, as I checked all the doors.

Nothing.

All had gone quiet and I went back to bed, perplexed.

Of course it started again, and it was so loud, it sounded exactly like someone trying to get into the house! I went checking again and nothing! I repeated this one last time, and this time I picked up my iphone as I lay in my bed hearing this strange noise and I turned on my voice recorder to record it.

What I was doing, I can’t tell you. If I were to be found dead in my bed, the cops would all be shaking their heads…“she had time to run for her life, but instead chose to lay in bed and record the burglar coming to attack, what was she thinking?”

Apparently people do strange things when they are tired and perplexed. And by people, I mean me.

A few minutes later I remembered the trap and considered the possibility that it had something to do with the noise. I ventured to the cupboard and sure enough the trapdoor was closed, signalling entrapment.

I was terrified – much more terrified than if it had been a masked burglar. I was all for ‘saving the mice’, but I didn’t want to have to be actively involved in the disposing of them.

This is why one finds a husband. Rodent removal, diamonds, and to teach sons how to pee.

I went back to bed hoping that now I’d figured out what it was, I could ignore the mouse and get some sleep and my 7-year-old could deal with it for me in the morning (parenting at its best).

The subsequent noise was incredible. Reaching a crescendo of epic proportions this mouse had clearly decided to throw itself with all its weight at the trapdoor, time and time again, in the hopes it could break free – at least that’s all I could figure.

I felt vaguely sorry for it as I imagined its fear and desperation. I threw a pillow over my head and willed myself to sleep.

Moments later, the kiddo woke up from the deafening noise and called out to me, asking what was going on. I told him to go back to sleep and I gritted my teeth and told myself that I was going to have to deal with this – there was simply no other option.

THE MOUSE IS IN HERE RIGHT NOW!!!

I opened the cupboard door and gingerly picked it up (making sure to keep the oh-so-important door sealed) and headed for the front door.

As I opened the door, the dog pushed past me and ran out. He had seen a kangaroo (they often feed on our lawn at nights), and was now taking off down the street in chase.

The culprit.

I broke into a run of my own, all the while doing the yisper (you know that thing you do when you are yelling; “get back here now!!” But you have to do it in a loud whisper, because its 3am and you live on a super quiet street in a cul-de-sac, and you don’t want to piss off the neighbors?)

Your mind is yelling, but your voice is loud-whispering. Yisper.

So this is what it’s come to.

A kangaroo being chased by a labrador, being chased by its owner (while balancing a trapped mouse), at 3am down a quiet, suburban street.

We chased  each other through 3 gardens, 4 yards, an empty block of land, past a “Koala Corridor” sign and over a roundabout. At which time I realized I was a more than a street away from my home, my 7-year-old was alone asleep in bed, it was 3am and I was in my pyjamas with bare feet, holding a trapped mouse.

(It’s stories like these that get people arrested. “No officer, I wasn’t going to streak or break-in, I was chasing-my-dog-chasing-a-kangaroo-holding-my-mouse. I just didn’t have time to get dressed.”)

Logic took over and I turned around.

The dog would have to work his way back – thankfully the kangaroo is way faster than the dog anyway – he would soon realize it was a hopeless cause.

I got to my driveway and looked at my trapped mouse (who probably had awful motion sickness by now).

I set down the trap in the forest area opposite our house, lifted the trapdoor back…and ran like hell back to the house. As I did, I heard the door fall again and I realized he wouldn’t be able to escape this way. The mechanism that makes this humane trap work is based on the principal of a sea-saw.

When he walks towards the door, the contraption tips and the door closes. There was no possible way the mouse could get out without me standing there and tipping him out – and that couldn’t happen with my phobia and history of bad-ass luck – if I did that, he’d be sure to turn and run over my foot and up my leg and I might have a heart-attack.

I couldn’t believe that my nightmare wasn’t over yet, and now I was going to have to start a damn craft project!

I made a decision and headed back to the house and returned outside, bringing a tape dispenser out with me. As I sat on the roadside rigging my plan in my pyjamas, I thought about what a complete idiot I would look like if someone saw me.

I placed two large pieces of tape to the front of the door and got ready and pulled back the door and taped the remaining ends to the back of the trap, all  in one swift motion …and hightailed it back inside the house.

I never looked back (until this morning when the kiddo wanted to know what happened to the trap and I pointed to the other side of the street as we left for school).

This was my blissfully empty trap the next morning. Ready for reuse! All for the bargain price of $2.49

Later, I thought about how much crap my hubby was going to get from me when he got home, for being away on the one night this all had to happen. One night a year that he has to be “the man of the house” and deal with a mouse – and he’s not around for it!

Typical.

I’m thinking of trying to get a refund for him. “Excuse me sir, mines not working, he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to – whats the return policy?”

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I Was Flamingoed (and more of my week)

Kana from Kana’s Notes flamingoed me last week. What does being flamingoed mean? Well, I suggest you read her highly entertaining post for yourself.

In short, I happened upon her blog and read it religiously and comment when its worthwhile – and of course because she’s such an awesome blogger, its always worthwhile. So I got flamingoed (its all very logical).

Here is my flamingo.

In turn she asks that I flamingo my supportive blogger friends and so I have elected my chosen few.

[As an aside I think Australia is the only continent that doesn’t actually have native flamingos, so what are the chances that you would be flamingoed by an Australian girl with no native flamingos? I know. If this isn’t a sign from the heavens to purchase a lottery ticket, I really don’t know what is.]

Without any further ado…

Carrie, at A Sassy Redhead – Shes  hilarious and she comments on all my posts – she might well be the perfect woman (and she’s currently single boys, so line up)!

UnknownCystic – He’s deep thinking, reflective and funny, and he manages it all while living next a gun-toting neighbour. He deserves an award for that alone!

Tinkerbelle at Laughter Is Catching – She reminds me of me, when I was in my 20’s, I just love her and her outlook on life. Plus she featured me in a Halloween blog post, so she has excellent taste.

Eleanor from How The Hell Did I End Up Here? – The kind of woman I hope to be when I’m a little older. Fun, energetic, full of fascinating stories and gorgeous!

I know I have so many more friends that I have met recently, and please don’t think I don’t appreciate you all!

Thank you to Kana for the awesome idea, and I do hope that now your flamingo has gone global, your fame doesn’t change you. 🙂

Onto other news…

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I jalk. A jalk is a term I have coined that describes the hour + that I spend jalking (jogging + walking) around the beach, almost every day. (And by almost every day, I mean twice a week on a good week.)

It basically means I jog for a while – until my eyes are seeing double, my lungs feel like someone cut through them with a blunt spoon, the sweat has stuck my hair to my neck and my shirt to my back, and my feet no longer face in the direction in which I am headed – then I start to walk. (This typically happens after a credible 40 to 50 seconds of jogging.)

At this point, I walk for a while, and when I have determined that I am not in fact, going to die, I start to jog again and the cycle continues.

Jalking. And yes, it really is as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, it really is beautiful where we live and often I will see whales or dolphins out playing in the ocean, and so I thought it would be cool to take along my iphone and take pictures of the path I take on my jalk, to give you an idea of what I see and experience. These were taken last Wednesday.

The beginning

 

This is where the gasping starts

The end of jogging as my feet start to wobble in the wrong direction. Here's where death is nigh and I move to walking to ensure I stay upright and lucid.

Walking upright and relatively coherent

Love this rockpool

Perfect dolphin and whale-watching vantage point

I actually saw someone crawling up these once, they're so intense. Sure, it was a toddler, but still.

Almost there

This is where I have the team of paramedics waiting. I'm kidding. At this point I turn around and have to go all the way back to my car, and I often consider flagging down a teenager on a skateboard for a ride I'm that desperate at this point for it all to be over.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into life in coastal Australia, and for one last treat, I will leave you with a photo I took last year from the vantage point of a whale playing out in the ocean – I had my zoom camera with me, sadly I cant get anything decent with the iphone.

Love.

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