Tag Archives: family

Faux Pas

5652724063_de2b6d2ee5_zI wasn’t sure I wanted to have a child when I was younger.

I spent my 20’s traveling, working, eating at great restaurants and generally enjoying life. I had a good job that paid well with a company car, laptop and phone. My personal expenses were almost zero. I lived in an apartment just steps from the beach, and I used my 4 weeks vacation a year to travel overseas as much as possible.

I ended up giving up the well-paying job and moving to Ireland and then England to travel, before finally settling in the USA with my (now) husband. It was so much fun! Living in and experiencing new countries and cultures should be a rite of passage for all 20-somethings. I met so many interesting people, visited so many fascinating places and wanted more and more of it. I wasn’t sure that kids and the kind of travel I envisioned for my life would mix very well…

Then my son came along. After a few years of misery (the kid was born 3 months early, spent 4 months in intensive care and never slept through the night until he was three years old due to a feeding disorder – so yes, I can honestly say it was often miserable), he became one of my primary reasons for a good laugh.

Kids are funny, they just are. Even better, most often they aren’t trying to elicit a response so their hilarity is even more endearing. Like when we were driving by a large cemetery in a city far from our town and the headstones could be viewed as far as the eye could see. The 8-year-old said:

“WOW, it looks like a whole lot of people have died…”

Yes it does son, yes it does.

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However, the biggest laugh my husband has had of late can be attributed to me when talking about my son to his teacher during a school interview a few months back. About halfway through the interview all was going well with the teacher until I came out with the following;

“Sorry he hasn’t completed all of his homework over the past few weeks, we’ve just moved house and getting internet hooked up in this town is harder than scoring cocaine…he’ll get it finished as soon as we are back online.”

Yeah, I really said that. It sounded a lot better in my head than it did after it came out of my mouth and I saw the teachers response (she did not smile). I couldn’t see my husbands response, his head was already in his hands by the time I looked over at him.

The conversation in the car afterwards went something like this:

Hubby: ” I can’t believe you said that! It’s possibly the number one thing you should never say to your child’s teacher!”

Me: “Oh come on, she had to know I was kidding, I volunteer in class every week for Gods sake! Surely that buys me a little credibility? Surely I can get a pass based on my history of good works? It just explained the situation so well. We moved weeks ago, and the damn telco company still hasn’t been able to get our internet hooked up, it’s ridiculous!”

Hubby: “I’m sure she’s reporting us to DOCS.” (Dept. of Community Services)

Me: “Oh well then, judging by the copious quantity of cigarette-smoking parents towing bare-footed children behind them with snot running down their faces and coughs that sound like the death rattle in the middle of winter – along with the large display of grammatically incorrect cuss words spray painted on the bridge heading out of town, they seem largely useless at their jobs – so I suspect it will all turn out just fine.”

Kiddo (little voice from the back seat): “Why is cocaine so hard to get?”

Hubby and I (in unison): “Because its dangerous, don’t ever try it!”

Hubby has since announced I am banned from future interviews until he has time to redeem our family name.

With him on the job it could take decades.

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Mothers Day

1 Day old. Not much bigger than the BIC brand ballpoint pen shown on his back. 1 pound 7 ounces.

8 years ago, I had my first Mothers Day. My son was 3 months old at the time, but in reality, was not even due to have been born!

Born at 28 weeks he was not only 3 months premature, but small for gestational age (SGA). At 1 pound 11 ounces (765 grams) and dropping to 1 pound 7 ounces (652 grams) he was what is considered ‘micro-premmie’.

Micro premmies are babies born less than 2 pounds and/or less than 26 weeks gestation. The list that the doctors give you as a parent of a micro premmie of things that may be wrong with your child, is both large and fear-inducing.

70-75% survival rate with 50-60% of children having lasting disabilities, with a much larger proportion of boys than girls. Disabilities range from cerebral palsy, mental retardation, blindness, deafness, developmental delays, behavioral issues, and more.

Our son is 8 years old now, he is in 2nd grade and is on par for all his subjects, except Math and Art. He excels at Math and has won awards for his Artwork. His sports skills leave a little to be desired (but that is much more likely a result of being my son – a less co-ordinated person you probably could not find than me!)

He is smart, funny, kind and compassionate. He reads and writes well and is also learning both French and Japanese at school. He has no behavioral issues. He is our miracle boy!

He was placed on a ventilator the day he was born. A ventilator is a machine you often see that breathes for the person – it puffs air into the lungs via a tube. It it often means your child will be diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease. (Something my son has been diagnosed with – though I suspect since our move to Aus, if he were to be re-evaluated he may have the diagnosis reversed – he’s so healthy here!)

Moments after birth, the doctors hand seemed so much larger than his head!

He spent a little over 3 months in the NICU and the fun times included (in addition to the day-to-day dramas) Pneumothorax (Collapsed lungs), Full Blood transfusion, various infections, feeding difficulties, almost daily bradycardia incidents (heart beating too slow), breathing stopping on various all-too-frequent occasions.

Fun stuff!

Holding Hands – holding my pinky finger the day after he was born

Holding babies these small is not usually an option right at the beginning, their skin is so fragile that movement and touch can be physically painful for them. ‘holding hands’ is the closest we got other than a few family photos for the first few days.

Nearly 3 weeks old and his fist still fits in daddys wedding ring

I wish I had taken this ring photo earlier, he was nearly 3 weeks old here. Had we taken it the first few days after birth he would have been wearing it as a bracelet. FYI my husband has small fingers, this ring is a size 7.5 women’s (I know this because I am a size 7 and this is only slightly large on me.)

Pacifier is getting smaller!

In the photo above he is nearly 4 weeks old! As you can see the pacifier is getting smaller….or maybe… he is getting bigger!

9 Weeks old! Pacifier is IN the mouth and shrinking!

And… a few weeks after he came home (4 months old) at just over 5 pounds:

Lastly, a photo take today.

8 years (almost to the day) that he was released from the hospital, and here is the very same brand and style of pen that was in the original photo. How 8 years changes things!

8 years old. The same brand of pen. How things change.

So Happy Mothers Day to me and all the mothers out there ! I have a happy, healthy, growing and thriving boy – what more could a mother ask for?

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It’s The Post About Nothing That Makes It Really Something

Unknown Cystic just wrote me a rather chastising comment bringing my attention to the fact that I had only written 3 posts this year.

Of course I made an un-spellable sound, something like pffftttttsshhh, and tossed my head as though the mere thought was absurd.

Then I logged onto my blog and began scrolling. Which, if you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know means that I didn’t even get one full swish on the Macbook mousepad in before I came to the end of my posts for 2012.

Because there were only 3 posts!!

I knew I had been neglectful of course, in fact I previously dedicated a whole post to my neglect, but I didn’t realize that I was four days from the 5th month of the year and only had three posts to show for it – meaning that I couldn’t even claim a post a month!

(A dismal failure in anyone’s world, but one that I was prepared to tell myself was acceptable.)

He told me to ‘just write about what’s happening in life’. So here I am, with nothing of value to say, but posting nonetheless.

I’ve been working on an article on Organic Chicken Farming for days. Days! It should have taken me about 2 hours at most. I cannot seem to make it come together. I have never farmed a chicken (organic or otherwise) so I know nothing about it. Of course this requires me to research it in-depth, and then write about it as if I know what I’m talking about. What fun! I hear you say.

My husband calls it the BS factor and says I have it. It’s one of the nicest compliments he’s given me this year. I’ll leave it to your imagination to decipher what the “BS” stands for.

So I’ve been toiling over this article – so much so that once its done my hourly rate will end up being less than I’d make working the drive-thru at McDonalds – I’m sure of it. But at least I’ll know all about how to farm chickens. One must always remember, the rewards are so much greater than what shows up in the bank account.

My sister interrupted my afternoon of floundering through figurative chickens and their coops, by sending me a copy of her resume and asking me to check for errors like spelling, grammar and these things: ; ‘ ” , . :. (that would be punctuation).

I started reading and her resume went something like this:

Degrees:

Administration

Business

Agriculture

Environmental Planning

Marketing

Law

Running the Country

Experience:

Administration

Corralling Bosses

Sorting Out Industrial Disputes

Solving Environmental Issues

Calming Down Psychotic Staff

Working with Big-Time Lawyers

Pacifying Angry Executives

Pretty Much Running The Country

The thing went on for about 15 pages and used intricate phrases I couldn’t even comprehend like, “….external stakeholders to ensure the organization meets its natural resource management outcomes…”

What the hell does that mean? What’s natural resource management and how does one measure the outcome?

All in all I ended up quite dizzy from the vast majority of complex information on the pages, and had to lie down for a spell. I rallied though and got myself through it, offering key support on the refinement of such an important document.

I contributed things like ‘this would look better with a comma’ and ‘there was a period missing there’ and my favorite, ‘if you switch these two words around, it will look much better.’

Vital stuff.

We all know when she applies for a job and gets it, who she’ll have to thank, don’t we? In typical family member fashion, I’m sure she wont be greasing my palms with my percentage of the salary increase though.

Just for kicks after I sent off my corrections, I pulled out my resume to review the past 20 years of my life. It went something like this:

Degrees:

None that count

Experience:

Rep for an (evil) Multi-National Pharmaceutical Company

Repped for an even more evil Big-Pharma Company

(got a company car and a business card and thought I’d hit the big time)

Moved to Ireland to drink beers with Will and Pamela at the Crown Bar

Moved to England (Cambridge) to drink beers with Wingnut at The Eagle Pub

Moved elsewhere in England (Near Oxford) to drink Tequila shots with Lucy and look after her children (a brilliant merge)

Moved to Denver, Colorado to elope with my (now) Husband

(seemed like a good idea at the time)

Started a business

Got pregnant and deathly ill and closed the business

Had a kid

Started another business

Sold it 2 years later for a very nice profit

(this was the pinnacle of my career, it’s all downhill from here)

Moved to Texas

Started to become green, Texas version of a hippie

Spent 2 years learning that Y’all means You all, and not some guy called “Yoll.”  (Y’all coming to dinner… Y’all welcome to use the pool, Y’all going on vacation. For a long time I thought I had just never met “Yoll.” but knew he was sitting pretty when it came to the invitation department. Seemed everyone, everywhere wanted him around!)

Started Writing with some Focus

Moved to Australia

Decided it was a great idea to study 4 degrees at once

Current Day:

Realized my sister is 8 years younger than me and has achieved more than I will in the next 40 years!

As you can see, if its good times and fascinating stories you’re after, I’m your girl. But if it’s an educated woman with a brain, my sister might be a little more up your alley.

Still, we can’t all be smart, who would all the men marry?  Who would fulfill the black sheep roles?

Every role is important, lets face it, we all really value that our trash collector comes every Wednesday. He is a vital part of our world, he is not unimportant!

I’ll leave you with that deep thought.

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Beauty or Brains?

If someone can show me the full-amenity indoor bathroom and tell me the number to dial for turn-down service, this is the kind of camping I could get excited about.

My sister and I are about 8 years apart in age and we are vastly different beings.

I am older and wiser. (ie. I have more grey hair and love handles). She is blonde (with the help of a little Loreal) and I am brunette. She is short (5 foot even – though she claims 5′ 2″- and we all nod and smile encouragingly while rolling our eyes at each other behind her back), and I am tall(er) at 5′ 5″. I’m know I was 5′ 6″ at one point but I seem to have somehow shrunk over the years, and I have no idea where the inch went.

It’s generally agreed that she got the looks in the family and I got the brains. (By ‘generally agreed,’ I mean by me.)

My father and my mother seem to think she got both the looks and brains and I’ve just pretty much wasted my prime years perusing J Crew cataloges and visiting Anthropologie stores while mastering the complexities of social media and decorating houses. But what are parents for if not to blow their opinions off as senile and absurd? So that’s what I do.

Our grandmother won’t commit on subjects like these, she’s considered our family’s version of Switzerland and will probably take her true opinions with her to the grave, and I love her all the more for it.

Regardless, for the purpose of this post my sister is the pretty-but-sometimes-dense member of the family. With that in mind, I’d like to recount to you a conversation we had recently.

My sister rented a cabin in our town with some girlfriends and spent the week doing what young women do best; eating out, sleeping in, drinking cocktails and lying on the beach sun bathing. At the end of the week her friends left town she came to stay with us for the weekend, before heading back to her life in her own town a few hours away.

We went out to lunch together and were chatting about her week, when I asked her about the accommodations at the cabin. I am not a fan of any kind of camping – especially when it’s made to sound like it’s a more exclusive experience than camping – like when people call it a cabin but what they really mean is a tent with firmer walls.

To me, unless your cabin has a/c, cable TV, fancy soaps in the bathroom and daily maid service – it’s camping – and no fancy siding or stylish roof line will convince me otherwise.

We had started this discussion about how cabins were still roughing it (in my world) before she went on the trip, and she had tried to convince me of the luxurious level of these particular cabins, adding that they even had air conditioning! I have to be honest it had impressed me, so now I wanted to know what other luxuries were on offer that I didn’t know about.

I mentioned the a/c and asked how the stay was overall, her response went something like this:

The first day we got there there was a horrible smell in the cabin (just as I suspected – glammed up camping is still camping!) and there was no air conditioning or seaside views as had been promised in the photos when we booked, so we went up to the reception area and complained. They responded instantly, assuring us they would move us to a suitable replacement.

We went out that day and when we got back they had moved all our stuff for us into a nicer, more modern cabin, and it did have the a/c wall unit and the ocean views from the deck, so we were pleased.

We got changed and showered and decided to go out for the night and in preparation of our homecoming later, we turned on the a/c to full power to make sure the cabin was nice and cool when we got home and we were trying to sleep.

We got home many hours later (it was a big night!) about 3am, and the place was stinking hot and smelled of something burning!  We had to open the windows to let the hot summer night air in, just to be able to breathe comfortably.

We had seen a sign on the a/c unit asking us to never leave it on when we were out of the cabin, but we had ignored it, assuming it was a cost-saving measure. Now we were panicking, had we done something to the unit leaving it on for so long in our absence?

Had running it for so long unattended somehow overheated the unit? We didn’t want to get into trouble or have to pay for it, so we turned it off and sweltered our way through the rest of the week without mentioning it to the staff.”

The day we left when returning the keys, the guy at the front desk asked if our stay lived up to our expectations?

I made the comment that the a/c hadn’t worked for the entire stay and the guy looked at me with confusion. “we don’t have a/c in our cabins” he said.

I argued with him, “I saw it in the photos when booking online, and we definitely have one, it just wasn’t working.”

“I can assure you, none of our cabins come with a/c.” he responded. I started to get irritated, thinking that instead of offering an apology or some kind of refund, he was being difficult and rude. “Well, what do you call the big unit with the on/off switch on the wall that blows out air?” I retorted.

He looked at me with a huge grin. “I call it a heater. All our premier cabins come with those.” “Oh,” I said, “Well, that explains the burning smell…”

I know the guy at the desk was going to enjoy the memory for the rest of the afternoon, so humiliating!

This story sent me into gales and gales of laughter, because of course it proved my point. There is no such thing as luxury camping, or camping with amenities, and that’s why no one will ever get me out there.

Ever.

Even better, it proved my point that despite my parents obvious disappointment at my lack of achievements in life, I’m still the smarter one.

As an added benefit, I get to repeat this story to all her friends and future children over the coming decades – not to mention the blogosphere – and we can all have a chuckle at her expense. As a sibling, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Disclaimer: My sister has a very important job earning lots of money and by all accounts her boss thinks she is brilliant. Still, she’s my little sister, so to me she will never be allowed to be smarter than me – it’s simply not possible – right Beck? 😉

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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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Dear Father.

My father is by nature a fun-loving person.

He was the one who short-sheeted my bed as a kid – so when I got in I couldn’t get my feet down to the bottom – the one who filled his left had with axle grease, hiding it as he put out his other hand offering a handshake. When I responded in kind, he grabbed me, pulled me close and rubbed the axle grease in my hair.

He would on occasion start a food fight at the table, flicking peas at us with his fork, much to my mothers exasperation.

I remember the time when we were traveling Europe on vacation and he spent a whole day with me in a pinball parlor – spending an exorbitant amount of money – for a day that by most mothers standards (including mine), would be considered a complete and utter waste of family time and finances.

Still, these are the moments kids remember, so perhaps they weren’t so wasteful after all.

These days he’s much more serious, he owns stores in the Sydney area and is always pouring over the books and dealing with some crisis or another and when he comes to visit it’s inevitably a whirlwind trip, because he has to get back to put out another theoretical fire back at base camp.

Until recently.

He and my mother recently left on a trip to Canada for 5 weeks. Australians get a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation leave every year, so its pretty standard that if you accrue some leave, people will go overseas and stay for 4, 5 or even 6 weeks.

They’ve traveled the east coast of Canada visiting Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, over the border into Buffalo? (am I right here?), and by all accounts are having a ball. I have deduced that they are also very relaxed as I see signs of the man who once was.

I worked this out, primarily by this little stream of text messages my dad sent me. His messages are in white, mine in green (note the time he sent the first message).

This is what old people do when they relax, they go insane.

My question re: ‘The funny weed’ refers to what my parents call marijuana.

My husband finds it mildly amusing that my parents wont actually use the word marijuana (as though by using it, they may give it credence), so they call it ‘the funny weed.’

My sister and I just find it hugely irritating and tell ourselves that that’s what old people do, so we don’t think any less of them.

Here, the absurdity continues:

As you can see, I have a 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mentality.

I gave up in the end and decided to fight fire with fire, and it all pretty much went downhill from there.

And here is where it becomes painfully obvious whose child I am.


He never responded after that, I guess that one had him stumped.
After about a week I called my sister to see if she had heard anything from them – she hadn’t. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Have you heard from the olds?”

Her: “No, you?”

Me: “Not after those insane text messages, do you think they went crazy and performed some kind of suicide pact?”

Her: Nah, dad wouldn’t want to miss out on the Holiday business at the stores, they’d do it after the new year if they were going to.”

Me: “Do you think they’ve been eaten by a bear? Do they have bears in Canada or is it just moose? I think its moose – and they can be very violent – so can the beavers. Maybe they were attacked by a pack of rabid beavers?”

Her: “I’m headed to their house now, if I take (boyfriends) car I can beat you there and clean the place our before you arrive. There’s all that artwork and jewelry and stuff. Though mum wore all her most expensive jewelry and dad had on his nice watch too.”

Me: “Well if you clean out the house I’ll be going to collect the bodies, and I’ll pry it all from their cold, dead hands if I have to.”

Her: “We’ll flip for the jewels, OK?”

Me: “Seems fair.”

They called later that day. They’re fine.
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Ode To My Husband (The Only Man In The World Who Would Have Me)

The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado

9 years ago today, we walked into a courthouse in Denver and eloped.

As we left, you with a lifetime of possibilities and me with my free goodie bag of Tupperware (a total 1950’s housewife gift, I was insulted and planned on writing a complaint letter. Like most of my planned complaint letters, it never materialized), I hoped I’d done the right thing.

The Day We Eloped - Ootober 18, 2002

A few months later with 80 of our friends and family, we officially tied the knot at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel (and I was right, it was an improvement on a Mexican restaurant).

The roller coaster ride began, and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Our wedding day - January 2003

The first day of our honeymoon as we began our drive down the coast of Mexico, you impressed me by crushing a beer can on your forehead (splitting your head open when you used the wrong end – the one with the sharp edge).  I laughed for hours, and have rarely stopped laughing since.

I knew without question then, you were the boy for me.

As far back as our wedding day you were making me laugh

You have been the best sport as I laugh at you more often than with you (most often in blog posts that I share with the world), and as we incessantly argue the value of crap shows like Smallville and True Blood, your addiction to community Poker games, the necessity of me owning more than 50 pairs of shoes, why Channel and Chanel sunglasses really are not the same (despite appearances), and the inappropriateness of showing your kid how to use a whoopee cushion on unsuspecting guests.

We have come to an agreement that you may not criticize my country’s wacky city names, when your own has a place called Arkansas (Ar-Kansas) and yet, you pronounce it Are-Can-Saw. This one city name definitively established that whatever the subject matter, you have no case – and never will.

You now know that here in Australia, a napkin is not something you use to wipe your face at dinner but rather, a ladies sanitary item. (That was a humiliating lesson to learn, I know.)

We have established that we can raise a great kid, but have no clue how to raise a well-behaved dog.  We know how to run successful businesses, but cannot work in one together, we’re different in almost every way, but we’ll both stand up for what we believe in (even if the cost seems exorbitantly high), and we have learned together, the largest of sacrifices result in the greatest rewards.

Our badly-behaved, but adorable dog

We can live anywhere in the world together and have a good time (not always keeping on the right side of the law, and that’s OK, because most laws are overrated and antiquated anyway). We now know that a foreign drivers license and a confused expression will get you out of almost any tight fix.

You are a man with remarkable patience, and impressive tenacity. Your fortitude is great, and your resilience is admirable. You are the best father I know (even that man in Cracker Barrel thought so), and your ability to kill a bug in the middle of the night without your contact lenses (by sheer bionic-perception), is extraordinary!

You are the son with the integrity, the father with the most adoring son, and the husband with impeccable taste…

If you are ever unsure why you are with me, remember what you told that guy who asked you why you didn’t marry an American girl:

“ Because my wife can defend the honor of a family, confront a scam artist (and convince him to accept an appropriate consequence), make a meal, prove a doctor with a foreboding diagnosis wrong  – reclaiming the health of our child, run a business and keep a house. And she can do it all without carrying a gun, visiting a shrink or popping a Xanax. That’s why I married an Australian girl.”

It’s been a crazy ride, but one well-worth taking.

Happy Anniversary!

xxx

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How Do You Like ‘Dem Apples?

Nectarine

Image via Wikipedia

Picture the scene if you can….

7:30am summertime. (School is on vacation so I’m still asleep, but hubby is up because he has to go to work.)

Kiddo says he is hungry, and could he have an apple?

Hubby goes to the fridge, and peels and cuts an apple for our son. He gives it to him and walks away.

Moments later, my son comes into the bedroom and I hear the whining; “Daddy this apple doesn’t taste like the apples mummy cuts up for me…I don’t like it.”

[The opportunity for sleep is gone with all the action, coupled with the fact that the two boys in my life sound like a herd of raging elephants when they walk around the house, so I give up on sleep and get out of bed to investigate.]

I view the offending ‘apple,’ and see immediately what the problem is.

My husband has peeled and cut up a nectarine for our son.

I mean, really?? Think about that for a minute. Do you know how hard it would be to peel a nectarine? They are soft and squishy and not created to be peeled. The mess when he peeled and cut it must have been extraordinary!

It’s one thing to mistake a nectarine for an apple as you pick it up – who am I to judge? But to peel and cut the whole thing up, never once during the process stopping to think; “hmm… this doesn’t look/taste/smell/feel like an apple, perhaps I have the wrong fruit?

Then we get to the HUGE-ASS STONE in the middle…what on earth did he put that down to?

The whole concept of such colossal failure is beyond me. I can’t express my incredulousness to you. I really can’t. I didn’t even say much to him, I just kind of looked at him thinking; who are you, and how did you function in life before you met me?

The next day I found my voice and after ribbing him mercilessly, he began to claim the reason he thought it was an apple was that it was “so early and I had just woken up.”

Uh huh. That’s right, sleep deprivation was the problem here.

I blame his mother. She is responsible for this disgrace. By his own admission he was never fed nectarines when he was growing up. If you listen to him, all he ate was Doritos’ and M & M cookies slathered in a little spray cheese. (The Doritos, not the cookies – at least that’s what I assume he meant.)

Still, on the positive side it tells me that I am needed.

Without me, my son might be eating ice packs instead of ice cream, cardboard instead of toast, eggplant instead of eggs, and uncooked quinoa instead of cereal. Clearly they cannot get by without me, and though we mothers know this in the depths of our hearts, I have never had the evidence thrust before me in such a shameful display before.

As it stands, no matter how fat my life insurance policy, I simply cannot die. They won’t survive in the wilderness that is the 21st century – you know – with all its confusing fruits and vegetables and stuff.

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Water Boarding With Nemo

Photos from a protest against waterboarding, o...

This is what they did to my son. Well, without the face cover and tie downs - because THAT would be inappropriate. Image via Wikipedia - waterboarding protest.

Just before Christmas in 2009, the kiddo presented with H1N1 flu symptoms and a fever of 104.8 that wouldn’t reduce with Tylenol.

Because his regular Doc’s office was closed and the fact that he is at high risk status with Asthma and Chronic Lung Disease, the Children’s Hospital recommended we come in so they could check him out and run some tests.

Off to the emergency room we went at 3pm. (Way to spend a Sunday!)

After the basic questions and evaluation, I was told that they needed a sample of his snot for testing. (Sorry, snot isn’t really a very nice word is it? Is there a better word than snot? By better, I mean politically correct and lady-like.)

Is there? Well if so, I don’t know it.

Anyway, they needed a sample and he couldn’t get one by blowing his nose, so they decided they needed to ‘get it themselves’.

And I let them.

They laid him back on a gurney sloped downwards so his feet were raised higher than his head. With one nurse pinning his legs and another large male nurse pinning his arms and body by almost laying across him, a third held his head tipped back and shot water up his nose with some kind of electric powered water-filled syringe.

As it overwhelmed his senses spewing water from what looked like every orifice he had, they put a suction tube up his other other nostril and collected the precious snot. The gagging, screams and thrashing that came from his body during this procedure were incredible.

Our son has had many, many visits to the hospital and there was never this much drama. Not when he had to have an IV put into his skull when he was younger,  not on the many occasions he has had blood taken, or when he’s been unable to breathe and has had to be on a respirator, or from his stays in intensive care.

Never!

Now, take a look at this description from Wikipedia on a form of torture called water boarding:

Water boarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages, causing the captive to believe he or she is dying.[1] Forced suffocation and water inhalation cause the subject to experience the sensation of drowning.[2] Water boarding is considered a form of torture by legal experts,[3][4] politicians, war veterans,[5][6] medical experts in the treatment of torture victims,[7][8] intelligence officials,[9] military judges[10]and human rights organizations,[11][12] although other current and former U.S. government officials have stated that they do not believe water boarding to be torture.[13][14][15][16]

In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, water boarding precipitates an almost immediate gag reflex.[17] While the technique does not inevitably cause lasting physical damage, it can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, if uninterrupted, death.[3] Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.[7]

Do you see where I’m going with this?

They totally water boarded my 5 year old, and it happened at a Children’s Hospital in Texas, administered by medical personnel (who signed the hypocratic oath, no doubt).

To top it off, note the part highlighted in red that refers to the possible damage of lungs… on a child with lung disease.

I know, I know, medical personnel would tell me its really not the same thing. All I know is what I saw.

Reading this description and combining what I witnessed, could have been the manuscript for the “Water Boarding 4 Dummies, How-To-Tutorial.”

That’s what I know.

Let me also clarify – before they were going to do this, I asked the question – “Would your treatment be the same regardless of the results?” “No”, they said. The treatment would differ depending on whether a flu virus was found or not.

Thus it seemed necessary to do this, to ensure proper, safe and effective treatment. The result?

A negative H1N1 that we are then told is only about 70% accurate so they wanted to give him Tamiflu anyway. Seriously.

I pondered the risks of asking the doctor the thoughts that were running around my head. Thoughts like;

“Are you even really a Doctor at all?

or

“Have you perhaps been laid off from your job at Guantanamo?”

or

“Do you moonlight as a Mafia hit man?” (These are questions all good parents should ponder.)

Against my will, hubby convinced me not to. He felt that it wouldn’t help improve the service our son would receive. (He’s conservative like that.)

Someone really needs to reflect on the approach of Doctors and nurses at these places. People laud the wonderful care given by the staff in the Cancer wards and the like, but in my (vast) experience, the treatment when arriving at the ER in Children’s Hospitals has never been more than disappointing.

(Sorry to all the great Doctors and nurses that work in Children’s Hospitals, I know you are out there, I just haven’t met you yet.)

That being said, when kiddo was admitted into the  emergency room at Skyridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, CO and then transferred to the PICU in Swedish Medical Center, CO a few years previously, the staff there were awesome – so kudos to those staff.

As an aside, here’s how hubby coped with the stress of the day:

This is what hubby does during stressful hospital stays for kiddo

That’s right, stealing hospital products and making rooster balloons – its good to see some people weren’t traumatized by the day.

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Worlds Greatest Dad

My husband finished work early and I invited him to come along to Target with me, to find a small $5 gift for the father’s day stall at our son’s school. Apparently the offer of such a fun-filled afternoon was too tempting to resist, and a short time later we were wandering around the store.

He took a business call when I happened to pick up a mug;

“World’s Greatest Father,” it read.

He finished his call and looked at it sitting in my hands. He stared at it thoughtfully for a few seconds before announcing; “You know whoever manufactures those mugs should stop processing the tens of thousands they do every year. They should just make one, and sell it for a fortune.”

I laughed my way around the store as he stared at me perplexed. “I love these moments;” I told him. “The moments where I am not only reminded why I married you, but actually glad that I did.”

Yes, like many women I spend a good percentage of my lifetime frustrated my husband, and the drawbacks of being married to a man with so many (perceived) faults.

Things like loose socks left lying around, spilled coffee on the kitchen counter, cartoon watching, buying whoopee cushions for our son, procrastinating of household chores, the insistence that imported beer is definitely one of the five food groups (and considered daily necessity for basic survival), and the resulting beer bottle caps that are found all over the house.

With these constant reminders of how my life would be neater, cleaner, less work and more peaceful if I were not married, its good to get another reminder; that it would be a heck of a lot less fun, as well.

That said, happy early fathers day to my husband. Never forget the words of the old man in Cracker Barrel who leaned over his table to ours and said;

“I’ve been watching you since we sat down, and I just want to congratulate you on being a really fantastic father.” (I need to mention here that he said nothing of my excellent mothering skills, an omition that I am sure was merely oversight.)

Funny, and a fantastic father. I guess I can pick up a few more socks and tolerate another episode of The Avengers, (that show that you insist is not a cartoon, but in fact animated television).

You’re a bit of all right.

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