Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mucho, of everything.

We wish you a merry Christmas!

(Please don't be disturbed by the Crazy Eyes from Nate.)

We are knee deep in wrapping paper at the moment, and realizing that too many gifts we have require parental construction.

We also sat with the kids this morning, and talked about what Christmas means, and how our giving gifts is reflective of God's greatest Gift to us. Which I have a feeling they mostly endured so they could go on and open presents. But I'm *sure* it's sinking in. Right?

Later today and tomorrow, we'll be enjoying a Mexican feast. Our own Feliz Navidad! ¡Olé! We decided that when we're in Australia for the holidays, we wanted to start our own tradition--why not eat the food we like the most, instead of slaving over a turkey or ham? So we'll have shredded beef tacos, cheesy chicken, enchiladas, homemade salsa, spicy rice, and whatever else we can slather with cheese, sour cream, and salsa. ¡Muy bién!

Wherever you are and whatever you eat, I hope you have a wonderful day. May God bless you and yours. I'm sending you a big, cheese and sour cream infused smooch!

¡Feliz Navidad! (Can you tell I'm excited I figured out how to ¡ on my phone? ¡Wheeeeee!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease

Last Christmas, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to get Jason. He loves tech-y stuff, but whenever I go that route, I always get the wrong thing. He's gracious in receiving it of course, but then he inevitably returns it for the "right" thing. He has a 3 foot high pile of T-shirts and a lot of clothes, so I didn't want to give him more clothes either.

Then I remembered that a friend passing through Sydney had taken a class at Sydney Trapeze School. I checked, and you could buy a voucher for a single, 2 hour class that would teach you the basics of trapezing. (Let's just say that's a word.) As I've mentioned before, Jason was a springboard and platform diver for about 10 years.(Click the link to see some great photos!) And even though he doesn't dive anymore, he still has a love for heights, doing flips, and all-around general craziness. Here's the story I always tell to illustrate this: Once when we were still dating, he told me that when he saw a skyscraper, he'd daydream about how many flips he'd be able to do off the top before he blacked out and fell to his death. Yeah. Should that have been a red flag? Opposites attract, I guess.

So, obviously, a voucher to the Sydney Trapeze School was a no-brainer! And he was excited when he opened the envelope on Christmas morning last year. But you know how it is. The year got busy, the weekends filled up, we traveled--life ensued. Finally, last week I reminded him that the voucher was only good for a year and that it's now or never. So, he got online and booked a spot for that coming Saturday. We decided to make it a family affair--it's not everyday your husband/dad swings on the trapeze. Unless you're a Wallenda.

The school is on the complete other end of the city from our house--it took us over an hour to get there, with traffic. With Grace asking every 45 seconds where we were going. But once we got there, Jason dove right in. There were about 5-6 others in his class, and the instructors had them up there pretty quickly, with very little preamble.

And away he went! It looked like fun. I mean, for him. I was quite happy on the ground, even though he was cabled in and there was a huge net underneath.

Look at his expression! Loving it. So, the instructors have everyone practice going up, swinging from their hands, and then pulling their knees up and hooking over the bar. Then, you unhook your knees and swing till they tell you to drop. Jase did this 3 times maybe? Then the male instructor came over and explained to the group how to swing from their knees and then let him catch them from another trapeze bar. As he grabbed their hands they were to let go of the bar with their knees and swing to victory. I eyed the instructor with doubt. He was strong, but lean. Jason is not a small guy. In fact, Jason wandered over and mentioned that he was on the upper end of what the instructor could catch! Hmmm. Good thing for those cables, right?

Okay, so then the instructor goes over to the other side of the net, and grabs hold of this thick rope that's suspended from the ceiling. He then proceeds to climb up the rope, hand over hand, his legs held outward in a perfect split. All the way up to the second trapeze bar, where he lets go of the rope and climbs on. It was amazing, watching him just climb up that rope like it was nothing. I'm going to let you in on a well-known but seldom discussed fact. When you see a display like that, you can't help but develop a small, temporary crush on whoever is doing it. Look--it's like, a law of nature or something. I didn't write the law, okay? Yet like all other humans on this planet, I am subject to its dictates. So there it is.

Most of the students weren't able to get the timing right on the catch part. I can imagine it would be pretty nerve-wracking up there. Even if your mind knows you're hooked in and there's a net underneath you, your body doesn't always respond to that. The first go, Jason didn't hear the instructor's command at the right time, so he missed the cue. But the second time, he got it! Duh, of course. (I have a secret belief that he can pretty much do anything. Except spell, which is why I'm here.)

Here's my first attempt to embed a video. This column is too narrow on the blog to show the whole width of the picture, but it gives you a good idea.

Yay! (Did you catch Ava calling me "Mum"? Such a little Aussie.) By then, our 2 hours were up and the class was over. He had a great time, but I could tell he really wanted to get up there again and try multiple flips off the bar. I asked him if he'd wanna give it another go, take another class--but he said no. It's just too far away from our house, and it would get pricy. Ah, the realities of life settling in as you return to earth. But it was fun while it lasted!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

21st Century Issues: Holiday Edition

--When you find yourself rummaging around your sleeping 8 year old's room at 11:30 pm, looking for her iPod Touch. Why? Well, after returning home from late night Christmas shopping, you realize with a gasp that your Christmas list, which you've been updating on your iPhone, might be syncing itself to her iPod. Cause of the iCloud. And she could find it and read it and that would be iBad. iSheesh!

--When your 8 year old already has an iPod Touch. Yes, you are those parents.

Friday, December 9, 2011

In the meadow, we can build a snowman.

Maybe you've been listening to too much Christmas music when you start to analyze the lyrics.

"To face unafraid, the plans that we've made..."

Isn't that a bit foreshadowing? I mean, "Winter Wonderland" is such a cheerful, whimsical song, until you get to this line. What plans have they made that could be so full of uncertainty? What troubles are they facing, that may be heading their way after New Year's? Here they are, roaming the frigid countryside, steeling themselves for what's to come.

I've been thinking about this. No really, I have! I think it could be in reference to the fact that they want to get married. "In the meadow we can build a snowman. And pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll say, 'Are you married?' We'll say, 'No, man, but you can do the job when you're in town."

Here's this young couple, hiding on the outskirts of town. They've resorted to roaming through a snow-covered meadow, for the chance to be alone. Who knows, maybe they're being pursued. They build a snowman to act out their own wedding, because maybe it falls outside of the plans their parents have for them. Forbidden love? Oh, I think so.

This song is clearly fraught with suspense, fear, and uncertainty. Even the title "Winter Wonderland" is this couple's attempt at irony. Here they are, in their own icy prison, kept from being together by societal pressures and expectations. "A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight"--but in the morning we go home to the awful fate that awaits us. Chilling.

Your thoughts? I really think there is a lot to work with here. And don't even get me STARTED on the implications of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". ("He sees you when you're sleeping..."). And "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is one of the more tragic songs of our era.
Aaaaannnd, I think I've just found a thesis topic.

Merry Christmas, everybody! Be of good cheer!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The other night, Jason and I were watching an episode of 30 Rock. We are just now getting into this show and loving it! Yes, we are like 5 years behind. Ever since Jason used his voodoo magic skills to get us Netflix instant streaming, we've been catching up on all the American shows we've missed.

In the episode the other night, there's a scene where Will Arnett's character is eating a hot dog. "Oh man, that makes me want a hot dog--a really good American style one," I said to Jase. Australia has many, many merits: gorgeous scenery and outdoor life, free quality healthcare, and friendly locals, to name a few. But they have not quite mastered the hot dog.

However, I knew where I could get one. You see, back in April, Costco opened here in Sydney. That was arguably the best day of Jason's life, as Costco is his happy place. (More about that here.) I mean, he'd say that marrying me and the births of our three children were his best days...but I mean, he has to say that, doesn't he?

So, the next day I texted Jason. "Can you take a lunch break and go to Costco with me? I WANT A HOT DOG." And off we went.

See? It doesn't take much to make me happy. Just a 30 minute drive through traffic for a $1.49 hot dog. WHICH WAS AWESOME.

But then, as I finished my hot dog and the crazed look died out of my eyes, I realized. We'd been taken in. Hoodwinked. Hornswoggled. Bamboozled. By Costco and Will Arnett and his hot dog eating ways. "You realize what's about to happen, don't you?" I asked Jason. "We're about to go in there," I said, pointing behind me, "And spend a lot of money." Because--hello!--it's Costco. And there are buffalo wings in there. And 50 yards of Christmas ribbon for only $9. And mud cake. And exercise balls that come with the DVD! And are we really gonna drive across town and fight for a parking space and not go in? Ohhhh no.

And so we did. And so we spent. And that is the story of how a $1.49 hot dog cost me $200.

These advertising people are genius. Genius, I say! It's not even advertising, though, cause the show that showed the hot dog has nothing to do with Costco!



Monday, December 5, 2011

Special Snowflakes

Today, Jason accompanied Ava on her class' excursion to a local environmental centre. They had a great time going out into the bush, catching bugs in the swamp, and then looking at them under magnifiers and stuff. But don't worry; no bugs were harmed in the making of this field trip. Here she is with a praying mantis on her shirt:
She said its eyes "looked evil". Wow.

I was asking Jason about how the day went and he said it was a fun day, and that the kids really enjoyed themselves. He mentioned that there was one boy in Ava's class who was pretty unruly. He described him to me, and I knew who he was.

This boy's mom once spent 10 minutes explaining to me that her son acts up in class so much because he's really smart and gets bored easily. She went on and on and on about how intelligent her son is, and that he needs to be challenged more, and that this is why he has behavioral problems. Mmmm Hmmm. Oh good grief. Do moms still do this to other moms? I guess we do. I mean, I'm sure this kid is very smart. In fact, he could possibly be bored in class. That's not even the point. But really, other mom who I barely know? This is our first conversation? In which you humblebrag about your own child while making my child and her other classmates sound dumb by comparison?

It's like, that's not how we play the game. Step one is establish rapport. Step two is take an interest in the other person. Step three is brag on your own kid if you feel the need. That's in my handbook, isn't it in yours?

I'm sure I've done things like this too, without realizing it. I guess every parent wants reassurance that their child is special. I think sometimes our insecurities find their way into conversations--even with strangers. Thank goodness that my children actually are special and amazing! Phew! That's a relief. I can't imagine what it must be like to be all those other parents, with boring, average children.

Anyway! Today I was cleaning up the kitchen from Hurricane Weekend, and I found this note on our kitchen table:

It reads: "Stop touching EVERYTHING YOU SEE!" Oh man, I really laughed when I saw this. I think Ava must've written it awhile back--it was in a pile of craft stuff the kids had pulled out. So I don't know what it's really in reference to. I'm sure it had something to do with her brother. I love that it has the feel of someone just really needing to vent. Like how the last half of the sentence is in all-caps? Bless her. It's like the note-version of screaming into your pillow or something. Actually, maybe she was taking dictation, cause I'm pretty sure I've said that to Grace before, especially in public restrooms. Never mind.

But really, it's pretty good advice. I don't have to touch everything I see. Deep. I tried to take it to heart today. But I wasn't so successful with the dark chocolate and hazelnut bar after dinner tonight. Sorry, Ava. I'll try harder.