Sunday, 27 May 2012

"I have enough friends."

That’s not true at all. I have the most amazing friends. Some I’ve known forever, some recently acquired, all fabulous! I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by so many people who I find supportive, caring and just extremely good company. Some I see loads of, some not much – it doesn’t matter – I like you all! And I’m confident that every new project will bring more terrific people in to my life.

But I did say exactly this to my 13 year old because I was laying bare the fact that I have absolutely no compunction in not wanting to be her friend. I do think it’s very sweet when girls say their mother is their best friend. That’s lovely. But I was pointing out to Eleanor that I see my role not as her friend, but as her mother. I have no deep need to be liked by her and nor will I make decisions that will make me popular with her, or her friends, so I thought it worthwhile to be clear just so all expectations can be managed.

By being the mother, as I explained, I will invariably make decisions she won’t like. Not to be mean but because I think they are the right decisions for her welfare, safety or development because that’s my job. So she can winge and complain and yell that she hates me – but that’s okay – I have lots of really, really great friends!!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Trip - Part X

After two rugged nights, the same clothes, no shower and endless lugging of luggage, the novelty is starting to wear thin. The train left two hours earlier than scheduled and I suddenly wake up in fright thinking.... it’ll be arriving at 6am and we won’t be ready and..... before we know it we’ll be in Saigon and..... then we’ll have to work out how to get back to where we’re supposed to be….ahhhhhhh!!!

Geoff heads out to find someone and is told it arrives at 7am. We’re up, packed and all ready by 6.30. Seven comes and goes. At 7.20 we ask another person in a uniform. ‘Five minutes,’ we’re told, confidently. We arrive an hour later.

It’s Sass’s birthday. She’s 6.

Two days ago when it was Elle’s birthday, we had that conversation you often do with kids about when they were born, what names where on the list, etc. Even though it was Elle’s day, Sass was insistent to hear her story. I told her I liked the name Maisy. Geoff didn’t. Sass declared that henceforth, she will be known as Maisy. Fine, I always liked the name!  

We get a cab to The Sheraton Hotel & Spa - and it's great! This was the accommodation I lashed out on! The kids have deep, warm baths and can watch cable TV through the glass wall in the bathroom. George is watching Phineas and Ferb and Sass, Banana's In Pajamas. Heaven!

A recovering nap, a trip to the supermarket and the bakery and we're ready for our in-house party!

Happy birthday Sass...I mean Maisy.....

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Trip - Part IX

You may recall, a long while back, we got to The Trip Part VIII, (our Christmas trip across Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia). We were just boarding an overnight train to Hue.....

The Train was actually better that the last time we'd done one of these trips. It was squeezy and there was a cart with a plastic cooler serving hot soup with an assortment of stuff to add to the broth that we didn’t recognise, but it did brag a sit-down toilet and a couple of basins with running water – even if they were in the corridor.

Here’s how the journey was looking…..

After a restless night, we arrived in Hue, the old capital of Vietnam, at about 7am. We had another train to catch that night to Nah Trang so organised to store our luggage at the station, then went out and did exactly what the travel agent in Hanoi had told me not to: we got a guide and car right there. The station isn’t in town, so his suggestion to go to a hotel or travel agent seemed a bit hard. That and the fact that the guy who approached us was very convincing. He flashed me a map, pointed to some places, said of course they could take us somewhere for breakfast, showed us an immaculately clean and new seven-seater car – plenty of room for the wheelchair – all for US$40 for the day. Done!

It was only then that we realised this good looking young man with the perfect English was not actually coming with us. He introduced us to our guide and driver, Mr Foo, and assured us he spoke English. As it transpired, his English was about as extensive as my Vietnamese.

First stop… somewhere. It looked significant. Mr Foo said ‘Good,’ then pointed to his watch to indicate he’d pick us up in 2 hours. There were bus-loads of tourists so we knew we were on the beaten track – but after purchasing tickets, we discovered there were no signs in English – any where. It was old and crumbly and very impressive – whatever it was! (I had left the Vietnam guidebook in Australia by mistake – right now it seemed like a very big mistake. When we got back to Australia I discovered it was the Compound of the Emperor, built only 140 years ago….)

The old place - of some unknown significance.....

We then went to the Citadel – the site I was keen to see while we were here. It’s huge and impressive – and the kids (and Geoff) lost interest pretty quickly so we took the opportunity to frock the girls up for about $2 each, which was the price if you promised to take your own photos. George declined.

The girls as ancient Vietnamese royalty

To finish the Citadel, we thought we’d take a cyclio around the perimeter. Geoff has a personal objection to being peddled around by another human – fair enough – so the kids and I went. We negotiated a price – well above what Mr Foo had suggested – but I figured it’s only fair we pay the ‘don’t speak the local language tax’. After a pleasant trip – although the conversation about what the average monthly wage was in Australia should have rung alarm bells – I hand over a 500,000 note and expect 200,000 change. I get 50,000. It gets a little heated and we point out it’s not about the money, it’s the principle. I don’t think they give a fuck about the principle – they want money. They hand over another 50,000. Geoff is a big guy, not that he has any inclination to be physical, but I actually start to admire their tenacity! They hand over another 50,000. Geoff tells the guy in charge he needs to get his  drivers under control – he just stands there, stoic, as I’m sure he’s getting a slice of the action. Mr Foo arrives, there’s some discussion and he yells at them for our benefit. We cut our losses and head off.

Another pagoda and another attempt at ripping us off to buy incense – this time quickly thwarted by my new hero, Mr Foo. There’s a mix up in the communication (who’d have thought?!) and we find ourselves standing on the dirt road in the middle of nowhere for about an hour waiting for a very apologetic Mr Foo. We’re just so grateful he’s turned up – we have a train to catch!

The local market is a treat for everyone. The locals clearly don’t see too many tourists in wheelchairs.

A leisurely dinner then back to the station to find our luggage and board the next train – which by comparison to last nights, is pretty grubby…..

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mother's Day

I had planned on running the Mother’s Day Classic, another of those oxymoron Fun Runs, but when asked Elle a couple of weeks back, she was non-committal. (I'm not even sure why I was asking here - she beat me in the recent Run For The Kids - but only by 3 minutes.) Time went on. Earlier this week she asked if I’d signed her up….

I checked the website to see if we could register on the day and it didn’t seem so. I then checked the weather and saw it was 12 degrees and raining. All’s well that ends well, I say!

So I woke up at about 9.15am, ripped into my pressies including a very stylish travel glass complete with a range of gourmet teas, a beautiful bowl of cyclamens and these amazing paintings by George.

Aren't they beautiful!

I then went off to the study to do my own Mother’s Day Classic on the treadmill while Elle prepared brunch. She had actually walked to supermarket yesterday and hidden the various ingredients in the fridge in the shed – and under her bed! But check it out – who needs to go out??

Eleanor's Mother's Day brunch - it was as good as it looks!

Having said that, we then did go out for afternoon yum cha with the cousins – we’ll be guzzling water for the next 3 days!

I know Mother’s Day is all about telling your mum how great she is, but I’m happy to tell anyone who listens how great my kids are.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

On The Blink

The dryer is on the blink and the washing machine is making a funny sound – and I’m excited!

I can’t pinpoint the moment I became so infatuated with new appliances, but each time one needs replacing, the thrill might even be greater than a new pair of crazy shoes. You may recall the fridge we bought – you know, the one that cost about the same as a small car – and a new small car at that. I still love that fridge. I literally puff up with pride when anyone glances in its direction (not hard given the rest of the kitchen really needs a renovation – it is the highlight – trust me.)

Anyway, what I can remember is a new vacuum about 10 years ago. We were excitedly unpacking it in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. My brother was staying and his blind date had arrived. I answered the door and welcomed her in, as my sibling was still busy preening himself for the occasion. She stepped into the kitchen and her eyes lit up, she stood taller and a dazzling grin spread over her face…and I don’t think it was our new vacuum. ‘This is my partner,’ I said, doing a quick intro, ‘my brother is just in the bathroom.’

Back to the dryer….I’ve been hankering for one with a condenser for years. In spite of being shacked up with a plumber, do you reckon that dryer is vented? NO, IT IS NOT! So every time we crank it up, the laundry turns into a steam room, sadly not like the lovely ones at Aurora Day Spa with tasteful tiles, relaxing whale-calling, plentiful white fluffy towels and chilled water served in gorgeous little Moroccan glasses, more like our laundry full of rapidly chilling fog.

In addition to a condenser, I want a sensor. I hate it when the clothes get over cooked and that smell only clothes-left-in the-dryer-too-long get. It reminds me of absolutely everything that came back from my boarding school laundry.

So the plumber has now added gas-powered to the list.

I want to renovate, the plumber wants to move – but at the rate we’re investing in appliances, I’m not sure either will be happening any time soon. But more disturbing, is my ever escalating excitement over appliances. That and linen.

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...