Saturday, March 28, 2009

Arrived in Adelaide

We arrived in Adelaide this morning after a flight on which I was "startled" a few times. Startled is my new favorite word and is an AKA for "stressed out an in a panic". We arrived at the airport at 7.20am thanks to Sandy's athletic driving through a detour from the Sydney Harbor Bridge, we had moments to spare. We arrived at check in and the lovely Qantas assistant at the e-ticket booth encouraged me to try e-checkin with my e-ticket. It was straightforward and she commented "You know, people often are startled by it but it works well."

Since I was anything but startled (imagine getting up at 5am with 3 kids between us and 8 pieces of luggage) it has really stuck with me as a nice gentle way of describing a more chaotic mental state. I was in this state for much of the flight to Adelaide because Wren yelled and performed and was impatient the whole way.

We are now HERE and Frost and Wren have already played in the sprinkler, eaten milo, played with Roy and gone to sleep. For the second night in a row Frost fell asleep with the lights on without saying goodnight. Last night was on the couch in the living room in the middle of a pizza party but tonight he fell asleep with his finger still marking his place in the latest Mistmantle book he was reading.

Before the big collapse this evening the kids saw the koala in the tree by the front lawn, Frost was bitten by a stinging ant and Wren already knows that he must not touch snakes. Frost wants to go off exploring but has been told not to.

Both boys are a bit afraid of Roy, the 4kg Cairn Terrier puppy who is mum's new dog. Roy has little sharp teeth but is really sweet. He sits down when Wren tells him but then Wren continues to speak to him so both of them are confused. Roy was scared when Wren through a page of the paper at him and it opened into a big wafty flap like a ghost. He now stays away from Wren.

Meanwhile, Frost said he could not read because the birds are too noisy. Those would be the lorikeets and Australian Magpies who had congregated in the trees outside.

I will post more tomorrow. We hope to go to the beach early, before the heat. I am Very Tired.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jet Lag Day 1

Apparently you cannot simply keep kids up until their new bedtime and expect them to sleep through the night. Wren went to bed at 8pm and woke at 1am, 2am, 3am and then was up for the day. Yes, 3am. I cajoled and kept lights off. We read a few books in half-light and Wren persisted in his sing-song question "all done nap time?" I wasn't all done of course.

Eventually, at 4.45am I let him get up officially and turn lights on. That was the cue for Katie and James to join us - apparently they had been woken at 3am too and were waiting for someone to stir.

We tried to encapsulate ourselves in the kitchen and front playroom but its a small house and with the wooden floors I don't think anyone got much sleep after the wee hours. Sandy is sitting on the couch with her laptop looking like an owl at midday. I think we will all enjoy a nap later.

The fun continues despite sleep deprivation. Stacey is chasing down a cockroach which is climbing up the kitchen wall. Wren and Frost and James have had nuttella on toast for 1st breakfast. Wren has also had cornflakes for first breakfast.

Roger: "Why don't you smack it with a newspaper?"
Stacey: "Because I don't feel like killing anything right now"
Roger: Ok, this is what you do. You need some paper.
Stacey: Its in here (indicating red plastic cup upended over the cockroach)
Roger: Now you take it outside and say 'fly cockroach fly, be free!"
Stacey: It wasn't happy to be trapped but it is happy to be free!

Ten year olds are a lot more help than 7 year old boys!

It is still dark and slightly rainy and we are going to catch a train to the city to see the Sydney Harbor area and go to the Darling Harbor chocolate shop - the Lindt Chocolat Cafe.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Its 9.30pm and I am still at the point of jetlag where it feels like 3am in the US. This is going to be quick - just a few pictures for Josh and those of you wondering how the long haul flight went.
It went well. Frost had trouble sleeping and Wren went a bit bonkers at one point in the middle of the defined darkness of night but all in all they were good travelers. Frost has crashed to sleep tonight - out for the count - not surprising since he watched 3 movies and about 5 TV shows instead of sleeping.

Frost spent the flight shouting because he had headphones on and our seats were just behind the wing and very noisy.

Wren enjoyed his carseat, especially in the fully recline position. In the morning he ate a full bowl of cornflakes with milk, scrambled egg and a breakfast sausage. He was starving. He was very happy in his pajamas (we changed at LAX) and fell asleep as soon as the noisy part of take-off was completed. I made a tent out of a blanket so he was not disturbed by the dinner service. He hugged a pillow because big snuggle bunny was in the suitcase. The only problem with his carseat was that Frost couldn't get a turn by the window and Wren's tray table was inoperative because it was too low and could not open with his feet in the way.

Here are the kids at the pymble pool this afternoon. They are all in the shallow pool because Wren was afraid of water. We called this the puddle or the splashing pool and he had fun in it. After a while he moved into the deeper pool and splashed the kids there. He also chased kookaburra and noisy mynahs (birds) and dug dirt. A thunderstorm interupted our swimming for a while but it passed. It was very hot (32 degrees C) and humid but has been raining tonight. Wren and Frost were interested to see ants, a lizard and many bright birds including cockatoos, gallahs and kurrawongs.

Here is Wren in Sandy's garden with his two dried hydranga stem swords.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

LAX Oneworld Lounge

We have made it as far as LAX and are living it up in the Oneworld Business Lounge, thanks to a freebie "invitation" coupon from Mum.

Wren and Frost are the youngest business-men by a long way and Frost had to be dissauded from digging into the bar snacks. We have now eaten dinner (mini-pizza, thai beef, rice, carrot sticks, ranch, noodles) and will have desert soon although this trip is proving to be one long desert.

Both kids did well on the first flight although we were late in departing and had to wait about 40 minutes in the plane after pre-boarding. Wren decided that he was done after an hour and headed to the back door to exit. He was a bit sad when he realized he couldn't get off and had to be jelly-beaned for a while. Pens and paper, jelly-beans and books have been our greatest success as well a stickers. I hope to leave with time to buy a few more stickers for the next stage. [Wren is watching Wiggles on Youtube in the lounge with me while I type].

We had to recheck for new boarding passes at Tom Bradley International (yes Mum, we are flying from Tom Bradley not Terminal 4) and had an African-American helping check us in. Wren sat on the counter and said "its OBAMA!" which was both embaressing and amusing. Thankfully the checkin dude was a queen and thought it frightfully funny.

I don't think I will shower because Wren would find it too traumatic and I would not really get much benefit. STill, it is lovely to have a real clean toilet and nice smelling soap. Frost says "it is a real five star lounge and Wren should be a gentleman [ie not talk at high volume all the time as he is doing demanding "lets see it THIS ONE" a few seconds into each Youtube video.

Thanks mum. This is making things very easy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Uh oh, da toofbrush gone DOWN. Dond stick your hand Mummy. No no!

The last few days have been a bit of a roller-coaster of ups and downs.

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for Baby Pat who died following his Norwood surgery. He was 13 days old. I did not know Pat and Pui well but they had attended our local CHD support group before he was born and they seem to be lovely and loving people who were gentle parents to Pat. They had a hard path in Pat's short life but handled his death with grace and wisdom. I know it is not right to expect people to cope with the passing of a child in any particular way but in our society we are so insulated from dying that it is important and significant when a family lets you see it is the part of life that it is and come through it.

After the memorial a few of us from the support group gathered and Anita mentioned that when Gabe was younger (he is 18 now with a single ventricle) it was far more common for babies to die from their CHDs. As a parent of a child who is in the 'new' generation of babies with complex heart problems I feel a deep sense of respect and compassion for those who went before and watched their children suffer and struggle with the field of pediatric heart surgery in its infancy. I know that we have a long way to go but Baby Pat is the first little one I have known and 'lost' from a family in our support group. I wish it could have been different.

Other sad news
On Sunday morning I received an email to our support group with the devastating news that Linda's husband had died overnight of a massive heart attack. He was 52. Linda has two little girls one of whom (Gabby) has a complex heart defect. The awful thing is that my first thought was about life insurance not the emotional implications of your husband dying. Josh says that I think of him as Mr Moneybags so it is probably time to get a job. I should tell him that he is Mr YOUNG Moneybags which was my secret plan in marrying him - get some good years out of him while he can still get up off the couch.

Anyway, I shouldn't enter this tone of levity because I am still just shocked and not sure what you can do to help someone with such a momentous loss and life change. I shall ask.

Now, the humor
Potty training is going well and those from the British gene pool can always make a joke out of bottoms and toilets. Wren is very keen on potty-training. When he needs to pee or poop he says he has a 'hot tummy' or 'need pee NOW' and we try the potty. After a few 'tries' he has results and always says "so PROUD" which is what I said the first time he used it. After that we pour the contents of the potty down the toilet, I rinse out the potty and dump the water in the toilet and Wren gets to flush.

Yesterday Wren was waiting to flush the toilet while I rinsed the potty but he jumped the gun a bit and flushed early. While he was flushing he was holding a kids toothbrush Frost had been given as a freebie somewhere. It had a red flashing light on the handle and a bubble of water with fish in it.

"Uh oh" said Wren, peering at the receding vortex in the toilet bowl "da toofbrush gone DOWN."
"What?" I screeched. Turning around and spilling potty water on the floor. I joined Wren in peering into the toilet but it was empty. Clean. White. Empty.
"It come back up?" Wren said, hopefully. Ever since he saw poop get stuck once and need plunging he has had a theory that stuff in the toilet may come back up at any time.
"No," I said looking closer for any sign of a toothbrush. "Its gone."
At that point Wren read my mind that i should stick my hand IN to see if I could feel it stuck there. Of course, he didn't read track two which was simultaneously saying "F*ck. What is Joshua going to say about THIS disaster. He just loves expensive plumbing emergencies and how do I explain how I let a toddler put a toothbrush down the toilet?"
"NO NO Mummy" he shrieked. "Dond stick your hand Mummy. No"
I said I wasn't going to... really... but then I tried, tentatively and felt nothing.
"Donddoid!" yelled Wren, grabbing me. "It not go down?"
You may recall that Wren has a phobia of things including mothers and Wren's being sucked down the plug in the bath. The toilet is noticeably bigger than the plughole so he suspected that one or both of us or perhaps just my arm could conceivably go down.

I flushed and it backed up a bit.

I flushed a few more times and it ran fine.

Josh handled the news with surprising equanimity and googled toothbrush down toilet or similar terms learning that it is one of the worst bathroom calamaties and unless you can rig a contraption out of a tube and a balloon to stick down and retract the best remedy is to remove the toilet and find the toothbrush which is invariably stuck in the bend behind it, capturing an increasing blockage of toilet STUFF.

Joshua is threatening to take the toilet off its seating when we are gone. I am afraid of this but glad I will not be there regardless.

He is hesitating only because it is a child's toothbrush which is a circumstance not addressed directly in the googled literature. Can a child's toothbrush make the turn?

Leaving tomorrow
We are leaving for Australia tomorrow. Josh will join us in a few weeks. I managed to submit our tax return yesterday so I am looking good to go. Our suitcases are overfull but they will be consigned and I am going for a month so a few extra outfits are in order. Wish us a safe and happy 22 hours from tomorrow evening till we arrive in Sydney.