Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome to the family

I took princess to her speech therapy session this morning.  We have been working hard on trying to get rid of a slight stutter, so have been attending sessions every month or so to try and control it before she starts school next year.  We refer to the stutter as bumps.  On the way to her session, I am told “I can’t wait to get some bumps today mummy!”  After trying to explain that we are off to get rid of the bumps not to get them, my daughter replies, “Oh, well if I can’t get some bumps, can I get a pet.”  Hmmmmm.
The next 5 minutes is spent explaining rental agreements including a no pet clause; I observe my daughter picking her nose in the rear view mirror and take an educated guess that she is not 100% interested in restrictions of any sort. I am interrupted mid-sentence, “I know, I know, I know, not that sort of pet, it can’t have claws.”  (That is not her stutter by the way, I checked with the therapist, apparently that is the teenage attitude rearing in my 4 year old.  Marvellous.  Good times ahead!)
“I would like a bunny, does it have claws?”
“Oh yes darling, very, very sharp claws, ouch. I think bunnies  are illegal as pets in Western Australia.  I think you can have them in Queensland where Nana and Pa live?  Maybe you should ask them to get one that you can play with when you visit?  I am sure Nana and Pa would LOVE a pet rabbit!”
I look in the rear view mirror again to see princess staring out the car window tracing the raindrops with her finger.  Phew, close call.  Obviously this conversation is over.
“What pets don’t have claws, I don’t want to get scratch and hurt.” DAMN!!!!  I know sarcasm, children really love sarcasm!?!
“Whales.  Giraffes.  Maybe we should get an elephant.  What about a meerkat?  Daddy would love a meerkat!?!”
Response.  “No mummy, they are wild animals, not pets!”  Seriously.  I did not teach her that, is it wrong to be upset at the effectiveness of the state education system.
“We cannot get a pet that needs room to run, we do not have the room so it is not fair on the animal.”
“What pets do not run.”
“A fish.”
End of conversation.

We had a fabulous therapy session, going back in 6 weeks to check articulation, (ching, ching, goes the monetary sound of our therapists holiday fund), but she has improved immensely and we are all very proud.  “You did a great job, hardly any bumps, mummy is so proud of you!  Do you want to do something special before we go to get your brother?”
“We can get a fish now.”  Hmmmmmmm.  What just happened?  Did I agree to this?

We now have a fighter fish.  (Because they live alone and it is less responsibility for life?) It is purple.  It lives in the kitchen.  The tank has purple rocks. And we are going to the bed to think about the name.  It has to have a name, but apparently we need to think about it.  Choices; Arial, Violet, Flappy, Anita, Tinkerbelle, Bubbles, Splash and Fishy.  Before bed I catch her saying her farewells.
“Goodnight fish.  I love you soooo much, welcome to my family.  I will love you forever.  See you in the morning.  What’s that mummy?”  She says as she points towards the defrosting food sitting next to the fish tank. 
“That is mummy and daddy’s dinner.”
“What is it?”
“What is it?”
“It is fish…..”  I whisper.
“No!!!!!!!  Don’t eat our pet!  He has a new home!”
Thank goodness I did not buy a duck!  They don’t have claws, and I love to eat duck…. Awkward!

NOTE: Bunnies are actually legal in WA and illegal in QLD.  I’m glad my 4 year old can’t Google.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Faulty Towers not Hollywood Hotel

What would an adventure be if it didn’t have a few bumps in the road?
My only request in Hollywood Hotel, (I mean Hollywood Hospital), was that the food better the experience of the stay.  Understandably, it is going to be pot luck for food choice for the first day.  But I choose after that and I was looking forward to my choices.
I must admit that I was a little bit disappointed when my first meal out of surgery had a ‘white theme’.  I didn’t realise it was a fancy dress party for my lunch tray.  White bread roll, butter, mashed potato, cauliflower, vanilla yoghurt; really?  Do I have the left overs?
Dinner was water with a beef stock cube and mashed potato  with mystery meat and brown gravy, (that was actually described as pork and apple sauce).  I think these pain killers have seriously altered the effectiveness of my taste buds.

I hate to carry on about the food.  Seriously, I do.  You know it is not like me to complain.  Don’t you?  But I was so looking forward to my pimped up aeroplane food!  Since being diagnosed with IBS, I have been diary free and attempting a diet that is wheat and gluten free where possible in order to train my insides to behave.  I was quite looking forward to my chosen breakfast of Spanish omelette, roasted tomato and fresh fruit.   Unfortunately, the weetbix, full cream yoghurt and white toast I received did not exactly match my dietary requirements.  Neither did the Brussels sprouts I received for lunch, where the heck is my duck and orange salad?
I questioned several staff from nurses to those food servers.  The general response being “Surprise, surprise” and “Oh, yeh that happens a lot”.  Unfortunately none of this can be corrected without hunting down the elusive ‘menu person’.  I think she avoided me in the morning while I was attempting a shower, but like a women scorned I went on a ‘menu person’ hunt.  That’s right do not mess with the hungry patient tracing the hallway in her pyjamas and waving her catheter bag around like a drunken teenager with a half empty bladder of goon wine.  I was not to be messed with.  I fixed my dinner meal, ordered for tomorrow, and assured the ‘menu lady’ that yes I can have the spinach and ricotta meal because ricotta had NO diary in it. 
As my visit goes on, my stay at Hollywood Hotel is enhanced with more memories.  I decided to lessen the children’s fear of the sterile room by taking them on a ride on mummies bed.  Perhaps not the best idea.
“Look, that button puts the bed on an angle.  And to put it back, you press this button.  No.  Maybe it is this one?  Or this one?  How about this one.  Oh no.”  My bed is now stuck at a 45% angle with my feet to the ground.  Do not think this will be to comfortable.

Good bye bed
The next half hour has several nurses trying to fix the bed, which is slowly taken apart and then removed from the room.  We have a quick visit from the supervisor, and a few of the nurses pop their heads around the corner, just to giggle at me standing in the middle of the room with my wee bag in hand and my children lying on the carpet where the bed is supposed to be.

Yay.  New bed finally arrives as nurse attempts a 5 point turn to manoeuvre it into the room. Forward, bang, back, bang,  forward, bang, back, bang, forward, bang; yep, pretty sure it is not going to fit.
He leaves with that bed and returns with another that my husband helps to semi-dismantle in the hallway, before successfully squeezing through the doorway.  Now I have a brand new bed, never used before, they are even taking plastic off the cords.  I have the latest model and when I look at the remote, this one has two extra options of  bed direction.  If I like I can sleep 45% with my head to the ground.  I think it may be best that I do not touch anymore buttons.   

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Holiday in Hollywood

This is not particularly something that I want to talk about, but to be fair to the purpose of this blog, which is to act a family life journal, I have decided to include all of the important (and obviously unimportant) happenings and events that affect my family.
I love aeroplane food.  I love the fact that your food comes to you on a tray with a lid.  I love that everything has its own little compartment.  A space for meat, vegetables, salad, soup, bread roll, dessert.  When I receive a tray of aeroplane food, I picture myself in the 1970’s, sitting with a stable table on my lap and peeling off the foil of my t.v. dinner.  Fantastic.  So.  You can imagine my excitement when I found out I was going to hospital for a few nights.  They provide aeroplane food on steroids, the trays are larger, and when I am finished, I can push the tray away and sails across the room on the trolley table!  I am so excited!
I will not give you any details as such; I will just say that I told myself that my body has felt broken for a while and 2012 was to be the year of fixing.  It was now time to act upon the physical gift of aftermath from two beautiful healthy sized children.
Time for a holiday. Two to four nights away.  It was not exactly Byron Bay, or Madrid, Spain, but it was Hollywood.  Really, it was Hollywood, (Hollywood Private Hospital, Nedlands WA).  Time for instant butler service by a push button, strap on leg massagers for the first 24 hours, and guess what, I do not even have to get out of bed to pee!  How cool is that?
I arrive at 7am and have not been allowed to eat or drink since the day prior.  Needless to say, I was a little anxious and I did not get much sleep prior to going on ‘holiday’, and what sleep I did have involved me dragging myself through the Sahara desert with no oasis in sight, whispering “water, water”.  I know, I am even over dramatic in my dreams.  I spend the first hour of my day scraping what saliva I do have stored from the inside of my cheeks, it seems enough to make it through.
After admissions, I wait in 2 separate lounge areas, I fill out a meal request for the following day, Woo Hoo, and then I am escorted to my first bed of the day.  Here I am asked to get changed; my first offering is a pair of disposable knickers.  Disposable undies, what a fabulous idea!  Surely these would be a profit maker amongst lazy college students who just turn them inside out when they near laundry day?  As well as paper pants, I get a pretty blue dress, with several bows up each shoulder and a few bows at the back, a little breezy back there, but pretty none the less.  My calves are then measured in width and length, (something I have never thought to measure before), and I am fitted with some stockings.  Now I look like a patient, I answer several hundred questions as though I am applying for life insurance and sign several forms.  Now I can relax on my curtained off bed for the next hour and ears drop on my fellow patients as they discuss their allergies ailments, and where you can buy the best apple strudel in Perth.
I am then informed that it is time for my next destination.  I hold on tight as my bed is backed out, pumped up in height then pushed down the corridor.  I felt like I was in the movie ‘Bed knobs and Broomsticks’ only I was travelling through the open credits to ‘Get Smart’.  Buttons were pushed to release each large sliding door; I watched them close behind us.  Immature as I am, I giggle to myself as I am pushed backwards down the hallway, I wanted to say “faster, faster”, deep down I knew that was not appropriate for this situation.  What is also not appropriate is the fact that my legs are too long for this bed, and my feet keep brushing up against my chauffers groin as he pushes me along.  Awkward.  Not quite sure what small talk you make with the male nurse at this particular stage of the ride.  “Tickly under there?”  It is times like this I wish I could whistle.  Yep, the skill of whistling would really come in handy right now!
Next to the holding room.  Here I meet my anaesthetise, then my surgeon, and another nurse who quizzes me on all the life insurance information I have already disclosed.  I am tagged with name, age and serial number on my wrist and my ankle.  I am gathered I am tagged at opposite ends of the body just in case I am chopped in half; it makes it easier to put the puzzle back together.  They also keep asked me what procedure I am having done.  I am getting a little concerned that I am running the show here, shouldn’t they know what the operation is by now.  I secretly wonder if I whispered boob job and tummy tuck if I would come out with an added surprise. To complete my beautiful outfit, a bright red mesh shower cap.  Now, I wait, again.

Large Slovenian nurse come now.
Man voice, man build, man face with make-up.
Lady hair, lady smile.
“You name?”
“You date birth?”
“You allergic to?”
“You having operation of what?”
“You come with me.  I put you to sleep.”
Hmmmmmmm.  Okay. 
Being pushed backwards through the doors, I have no more giggles about the opening scenes of ‘Get Smart’ , now I feel as though I am being wheeled towards a torture room in an old 007 Bond movie.  Must be a busy morning.  My Slovenian nurse is keen to get this party started, and we overtake another bed trolley in the corridor like we are fighting for the car space closest to the shop entrance.  My legs have not shrunk and my bed has not grown, I am now “Tickly under there” with my he/she chauffeur.  Double Awkward!  We are racing now.  I am tempted to make the eeeeeerrrrrrr sound of screeching tyres as she takes the last corner.  Shockingly, I think she is just as eager to give me my drugs as I am to receive them.
I enter the operating theatre, it is extremely bright.  What if I hear whispers, “Go towards the light”? Which one?  There are so many.  And televisions, there are a few of them hanging above my head also. Are we watching a movie?  I filled out my menu preference, but I did not see the movie list.  I hope it is something funny.  I think I am in the mood for a comedy.  Looks like my holiday officially starts now!
“You name?”  (Argh, here we go again!)
“You date of birth?”
“You allergic to?”
“Breath into mask now”
“One, two, goodnight she/male nurse ………… welcome to Hollywood!”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Let the boy slide carni folk!

The days outing was Garvey Park, for the 2012 Autumn River Festival, and we unhappily sat in traffic for an hour, (we were informed by the GPS the entire trip would only take 20 minutes).  With husband away, it was up to me to entertain my impatient travellers.  Mental note, they are still too young to play 'I spy'. 
"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with C."
"Elephant"......  next game.
"99 bottles of soya milk on the wall, 99 bottles of soya milk, if one of the soya milks should happen to fall, there'd be 98 bottles of soya milk on the wall!"  Bored by 97.

The Autumn River Festival had free children's entertainment and activities; a fish Fest with Kailis Bros. famous fish and chips; free water activities including water ski shows, gondola rides and kayaking; live music, art and craft stalls, free sausage sizzle and wine tasting.

Fun times watching the gondola rides and kayaking up and down the river, unfortunately they
were fully booked by the time we escaped the bubble chasing!

Unfortunately the rain was like an on-again off-again teenage relationship, and we spent the day ducking from quick spurts of rain.  This put a bit of a damper on the day, and a down poor had us all sprinting to the car.  But of course as I am driving away, I see the suns rays in the rear windscreen.  We missed the opportunity for the children top see the water ski show, something I, (I mean we) were looking forward to.  In all honesty, children were happy with their jumping castle fix.

Fun on one of the 3 jumping castles on offer!

It was a great day, and as you know I love free.  This was definitely free.  Free parking, free food, free entertainment.
I got henna markings, ('Aries symbol') while princess was on jumping castle.  There were tears on the way home when she saw my markings and also wanted a "flowery twirly stick thing".  You could not touch it for 15 minutes.  Not a chance; daughter would of smudged within the minute and would of looked like she had a poo stain on her hand for 5 days!
Any complaints.  Of course.  I am a tough crowd.  Children were enjoying the infaltable slide.  My son went for his second turn, the 'cuddly, hairy carni-folk' changed his mind and decided that my son was now to small to go on the slide.  "I know you have already had a turn... but... you know... too small."  Awesome Mr 'Cuddily, hairy, carni-folk', do you want to be the one to explain to my son, why all of a sudden he looks smaller than he did 2 minutes prior?  Can't you just let the boy slide?  How do I explain this, "Sorry son, apparently you are growing shorter not bigger, chin up, shoes back on, let's go".  He obviously has not met my 2 year old drama queen.  Seriously... he is more drama then the entire cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert rolled into one temper tantrum.  Awesome!  Thank goodness for the funny sailor on stilts and the big bubbles.  (Thank god he also has the attention span of a goldfish.)
She walked for hours with her plastic rat juggling in strong winds and rain,
hope she either got paid well, or really loves her job!

Chasing bubbles, parents being smacked in face with dish washing soap, hilarious!


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Get some culture in ya!

I attended a musical high school so I think I appreciate the skill of young musicians.  My school prided themselves for their marching bands and musical theatre productions.  It was compulsary to participate in the musical program in the first year of high school whether that be via choir or learning an instrument.  In reflection my musical achievements for the 7 years prior had only resulted in a screeching note on my recorder that reflected a flock of seagulls surrounding a tourist with hot chips at Bondi Beach.  Therefore, I opted for the choir and also attempted to be a flag girl.  Unsuccessful.  I got kicked out of choir for giggling at the breathing and warm up exercises, and it turns out, if you have not mastered tossing your flag in the air, you can harm yourself, (and others).  My musical career was short lived, unless you count holding a great tune in the shower by myself.  But you will have to take my word for it, because as they say, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

My children have been introduced to classical music from birth as it was always played for them at rest times.  And truth be told they probably heard it in my womb also.  Do not be thinking I have Bach's Greatest Hits playing on road trips, this music has purely entered my life as relaxation or sleep assistance.  And truth be told it probably achieved this for me in a few school assemblies.  I think it is important for children to be exposed to experiences and cultures, in order to educate and allow them to make their own decisions.  My aim of taking the children to see the orchestra?  An appreciation of music, and an understanding that a double bass will not fit in the back of our car and would be awkward on public transport. 

Learning the basics...
 The Babies Prom is aimed to introduce children to the excitement of the orchestra and the joy of music.  The Western Australia Youth Orchestra (WAYO), performed tunes themed around movies.  These were perhaps aimed more at parents, as the presenter had children trying to guess tunes from Titanic, Superman, Jaws, 007 and Mission Impossible, all perhaps a little before my 4 year old's time.  Although to please all in attendance, the children (and parents) were encouraged to be interactive with marching, swaying and keeping rhythm with conducting, (it is now evident to me that majority of 'Perth parents', have no rhythm, must be something in the water)?  Children were introduced with a brief description and demonstration of instruments.  Apparently my daughters favourite was the 'Violino'.  I presume that this is a mixture between the piano and the violin?  Good to see my money for the tickets is not going to waste on her education.
First conducted by Maestro....

Then conducted by an 8 year old volunteer!

Making a quick get away!
A couple of children were selected to conduct the orchestra, and at the end the children were asked to stand with their favourite instrument while they played their final song.  I think the crowds overwhelmed my children slightly and they retreated, (quickly) before harmonies began.  But confidence aroused as the crowds dispersed, and they tried the double bass and drums, (2 instruments I would not encourage while we are in apartment living), but they seemed to enjoy themselves.

This was a great experience for us, and I have nothing but admiration for these young students dedication, talent and tolerance while the toddlers are plucking their well tuned strings!

Drum 1, 2, 3, left symbol, right symbol, then repeat 3 times!  Pretty good rhythm for a 2 year old.... unfortunately drums do not fit in the boot of my car, and are awkward to carry on public transport!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photos say it all...

Byron Bay is a trip looked forward to each year; I now hope this will be an annual event.  So far it has been a chance to reconnect with friends, family and to meet some amazing people.  Children wander from parent to parent and we all quite happily swap and choose them as we please.  Conversation flows.  Life seems easy.  Cares are melted away with early morning yoga but happily awakened with your own children playing in the park behind you. Subconscious or real?  It all seems to melt into one.  This seems to be my one time of year that I reflect on the past and predict the future. Like a car, I need to be serviced.  Byron Bay is my yearly service. 
Time to wax the board....

And hook the line...

Parents try to escape...
Children try to escape

Play 'Bay Watch' theme in background

surfing with cousins

Still trying to escape at night time, points for persistence.......

Faster, faster!!!!

Time for family and time for me; a time for understanding...

Faster Pa!
Faster Nana?!?


Practice on dry land....

Beauty is serene...

Attack aunt as instructed!  Now!  Woo Haa!!!!!

Corny, cheesy, beefy, fishy, chickeney.... what ever you want to call it.. "My Byron Family",
(No matter how far I roam...")


Monday, March 5, 2012

Shoo fly, don't bother me

After a good nights sleep, we were prepared for a day of exploring Hyden.  Our first stop is Wave Rock.  This was our 'draw card' in the first place, as it is Hyden's major destination. This is evident by their merchandise of t-towels, key rings, thermometers and stubbie coolers.  Wave Rock is a granite cliff that stands 15 metres high and 110 metres long.  The wave-like shape was caused by weathering and water erosion, which has undercut the base and left a rounded overhang.

In 1960, crystals from Hyden Rock were dated as being 2700 million years old, amongst the oldest in Australia.

After surfing the rock, we all climbed to the top to explore various rock formations, to view the damn, and enjoy the 360 degree view, (while spotting some lizards).  Warnings are given to wear appropriate footwear, and in hindsight thongs and crocs were probably not the best foot attire for steep and slippery rock climbing.  They had a picture of high heels on the sign, so I figured thongs would not be so bad.

Hippos Yawn consists of an unusually shaped granite top that was formerly part of the larger outcrop.  It is next to Wave Rock, and yep, you guessed it, was shaped like a hippo yawning.  You could climb into the cave and the children particularly enjoyed being passed from rock to rock like a swinging monkey, needless to say, a good workout for the parents!
Hippos yawn

Little explorers

There was a salt pool on offer, (every Resort has a swimming pool), only this one is a little different.  First warnings were from the receptionist at check in, "Good fun, really harsh on your skin".  Okay....  We spoke to some other swimmers yesterday, "Don't put your head under, it burns your eyes."  Okay...  Written warning next to pool "Enter with caution."  Okay...  So for some strange reason I was a little dubious to take the children in .  But surely this is where the magic happens, or was that just the Lake Magic? I am encouraged to go first, (I've always been hopeless with peer group pressure), and 'apparently' I volunteered to be lab rat for this particular experience.  The crowd sits on the edge telling me to "get on with it", I have a funny feeling if I scream it burns, I will be the only one swimming today.  The water was actually refreshing, and guess what else?  Magical!  I could not sink.  I was as buoyant as a rubber ducky!  On my back I could of quite easily floated reading a book and balanced a cocktail on my belly, I was not going under.  On my belly, my bottom bobbed above the water like J-Lo and it was near impossible to do a breastroke kick without my calves waving around like a beginner synchronised swimmer.  Due to the lack of co-ordination my children possess, (no idea what side of the family that comes from), they had both acquired many grazes after the morning's climbing adventures.  I am presuming by the volume of their screams on the waters entry, that this would indicate the burning of salt water on open flesh wounds.  Perhaps not my most proud parenting moment, but I satisfy myself that salt water will clean the wounds.  Keep in mind this satisfaction does not arrive until well after the screaming ceases.  Despite my judgement in parenting, the salt pool was worth the floating experience.

The last stop for our busy day of exploring Hyden was at Mulka's cave.  I had mentioned earlier the rumour of the cabins being haunted.  This is regarding the Aboriginal Legend of Mulka. Mulka was the illegal son of woman who fell in love with a man with whom marriage was forbidden according to their law.  It is believed that a result of breaking these rules, she bore a son with crossed eyes. Even though he grew to be an outstandingly strong man of colossal height, his crossed eyes prevented him from aiming a spear accurately and becoming a successful hunter. Out of frustration it is said Mulka turned to catching and eating human children and he became the terror of the district. He lived in Mulka's Cave, where the imprints of his hands can still be seen, much larger and higher than that of an ordinary man.
Fish and half moon

Hand prints

The cave was fascinating to explore. It was hard to see the hand prints, so I found myself going snappy happy with the camera, and viewing them after the photo was taken. Hidden images seemed to appear from nowhere. Maybe it was just my paranoia working overtime, or just the spiritual feel after being educated about Mulka, but I think I got an image of a face. Could it of been Mulka?
Do you see a face?
Mulka's Cave

The Humps are a large granite rock formation that is used as a water catchment.  After climbing through Mulka's cave, we trekked over rocks, through bush (stumble, trip, stumble trip), to be greeted by lovely views and more steep climbing.  We kept trekking until all 3 of our little explorers literally fell apart, I think the adults were in denial for a little while.  Fatigue, clumsiness and hunger set in so we cancelled our expedition and tried to successfully find our way back to the car.  I must admit, I am glad that I shared this experience with the children... but... if they were not in tow, and we were wearing better shoes, and had more sunscreen, and had more water, and I had a hat with corks hanging off it, then hubby and I could of trekked for a few more hours.  Regarding the hats with the corks; the flies were like an artillery of insect warriors.  I spent the majority of my time outdoors waving my arms like a ninja with invisible num-chucs trying to swat flies.
Nanas talking about the view

Shoo fly, don't bother me!

Wanted to trek some more!

Apart from the flies, it was a wonderful holiday, and I would recommend the area of Hyden to anyone wanting to explore inland Western Australia.  I would love to say we will be back, but probably not, as there is so much more of Western Australia to explore.