Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dumped Bridesmaid Opens Up About Wedding

So, you might remember a little while back, I wrote a catty blog about being unceremoniously dumped as the bridesmaid from my sister-in-laws wedding.  If you don't then scroll back a bit and have a read... I'll wait.

Oooooooooo I hear you gasp - dumped as bridesmaid by your sister-in-law. Yes. Yes I was... I mentioned that all expenses had been spared at the bride and grooms request - I assumed the day would be a disaster, so I will have to gobble up my words now.

The wedding was a whole heap of fun - everyone enjoyed themselves, including me, the dumped bridesmaid.

I wrote that the venue was a pub, which I had not frequented before the big day.  When I thought of a pub (insert grog shop) as a venue for a wedding I nearly choked - skanky, smelly, dark and dank.  However, I got it wrong, so wrong.  The venue is not known as a pub... it is a "tavern" and while that doesn't really invoke glorious wedding images in my mind, it is a slight step up from, awh we got married at the pub, mate! (Don’t forget your ocker accent with that, it’ll make more sense).  It was a beautiful sunny day and the tavern was light and airy with rolling green lawns and clean toilets.  The public bar was still open for punters and while we could see each other across the bar, none attempted to crash our party - pleasantries and jovial ardour were exchanged.

The bride with her daughters as flowergirls arrived on time to be met by her groom on the tavern verandah.  All guests, including myself stood or were seated on the lawn.  Several family members in hushed tones asked me if I was supposed to be the bridesmaid, I am sure I rolled my eyes and whispered the short version of the story - I was fired.  I didn't want to be disrespectful to the bride on her big day after all.  But I do have to dispense some bitchiness now.  All through the ceremony the bride’s dress straps kept falling down - it was driving me bananas, surely it was driving her, her groom and the celebrant bananas too - it was such a distraction.  If I had been bridesmaid... well you know what I am going to say.  Otherwise the bride looked nice... in her forty dollar dress with her fake flowers.   I'm just dark I didn't get to wear my "special" forty dollar dress - not.

After the ceremony we all lined up for photos in a somewhat organised fashion.  I was standing in my place and happened to look down and noticed the youngest flowergirl didn't have any shoes on.  Now, I guess like the straps, no shoes was not going to be the end of the world.  But from my own experience with wedding photos you pay a crap load for - I wish someone had told my niece in the front row on my wedding day to close her legs so that her orange knickers weren't showing.  So I piped up and highlighted the fact that the youngest flowergirl was sans shoes... I was quickly put in my place.  However during the next break I quickly put her shoes on and adjusted wonky hairclips.  Even if the bride doesn't notice in the photos - I will know that I put those shoes back on!  Pat on the back for me.

The cocktail food was tasty and plentiful and seemed to keep coming out all afternoon.  There were two wedding cakes - a serious, fruit cake number with the standard wedding caking white icing and a hunk of chocolate cake with no icing... who in their right mind doesn't like icing on chocolate cake?  The bride that's who... They almost forgot to cut the cake, and by the time they got around to cutting it, it was late in the proceedings when everyone was too inebriated to care.  If I had been bridesmaid... well you know what I am going to say... luckily I was there with my camera to take some photos instead!

The beer and wine was free flowing so pretty much everyone was happy.  I was designated driver, but I too was happy.  Late in the afternoon, after I had been ready to leave for about two hours give or take, my husband decided he would use his cousins spare football tickets and take his other cousins boyfriend to the footy.  I could have left two hours earlier - but still I was happy.

I think it must have been a combination of events that left me happy on the day - the weather, the food, the venue, being surrounded my husband’s fantastic, social and supportive family, and not being bridesmaid.  Perhaps it was much deeper than this... perhaps I was truly happy that my husband’s sister was happy with her lot on her big day.  If I had of been her bridesmaid, this would have been my task - to make sure she was happy, comfortable and organised on her day.  And blow me down, she proved herself truly capable of organising things for herself, just the way she wanted them.  Well done!
She really didn't need a bridesmaid.

I saw my sister-in-law on the weekend and I started to internally cringe a bit, but she put an immediate stop to that, giving me my usual peck on the cheek and then coming to sit next to me.  Clearly she is not into grudges.  I've learnt a couple of lessons from all of this and that is, do not accept any role right away, just to seem polite and cheap wedding are just as much fun as expensive one - just without all the expense!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Australian of the Year and MS-er

It's come to my attention that the 2011 Australia of the Year has MS.  Bet you didn't know that!!  Yeah, I know, perhaps you did, it was announced months ago - so maybe I am really the last to know...  Anyways in case you didn't, or if you forgot, his name is Simon McKeon.

Simon has an impressive resume and is well known as a prominent investment banker,  he is an active philanthropist, climate change advocate and accomplished yachtsman, not to mention handsome - with a mop of wavy dark brown hair (can't fail to mention the important things).

He has had some fairly frightening MS symptoms - temporarily blinded and paralysed from the waist down.  He says that, one thing he firmly resolved after this, was that he would try not to take any day for granted. He didn't want to leave, having a very serious connection with the community until he was old and past it.  Clearly he has the fighting spirit and has used it to overcome his diagnosis and become a highly successful man.  This is an inspiration to me... just because you have a terrible diagnosis, doesn't mean you can't harness the emotions surrounding the diagnosis and use them for good to whatever level you wish.

It got me to thinking about other Australians with MS - celebrity Australians as they seem to be most often recognised as role models... I came up with Chrissie Amphelett of The Divinyls, Betty Cuthbert Olympic gold medalist in sprinting and Collen McCullock - great Australian author, although she rarely publicly mentions she has MS.  And that's it, thats my list... do you know anymore?  Surely there are more... leave me a comment if you know more celebrity Australians with MS please.

The important thing to remember is that, even though the majority of people with MS are not celebrities, we are all inspirational in our own right, to the people who know and love us well and to those we have just met.  Keep on keeping on people... be inspirational by being the best person you can be one little baby step, moment or day at a time.  Good luck.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Mothers Day

I know, I know, Mothers Day was a little while ago now... perhaps someone would like to speak with my lecturer who insists on setting super hard statistical assignments that take up all my time and brain space.  Statistics seem to sap the creativity right out of me!  However, my assignment is just about all done, so I thought I'd get back to my blog.

So Mothers Day right?  For some mum's, mine included, Mothers Day isn't a big deal - it's just another day.  I can hear where those mothers are coming from... but as the mother of a five year old, I just totally love Mothers Day, because my five year loves it, she gets so excited and that excitement is contagious.  I am going to be so sad when her excitement about things dissipates... or she gets to cool for school for genuine, jump out of your skin, turn yourself inside out enthusiasm.

So her excitement builds in the weeks leading up to Mothers Day.  It almost peaks a few days before when at pre-primary they make Mothers Day cards, gifts and attend the Mothers Day stall at school.  So let me initiate you to the Mothers Day stall. 

Several weeks before Mothers Day, a note in the school newsletter goes out requesting donations of gifts to the Mothers Day stall.  It doesn't say what type of things to donate, or whether they should be brand new or second hand.  I have always assumed that the donations could be preloved - but in good condition - perhaps a re-gift... but I wouldn't have really thought people would go out and buy a donation.  How wrong I was?  I am now a member of the P & C, and the fundraising committee and well people on the committee expect the gifts to be new - I know, go figure.  To me half the fun of it, is seeing what interesting pre-loved knick knack my daughter thinks I will think is the most beautiful, awe inspiring thing I have ever seen.  I fear that something that is totally new, will lend itself to being just another item for me to re-gift because it has no special character... but I guess some hand lotion wouldn't go astray.  Anyway, if your child brings a gift then they can be one of the first to line up, pay $2 and select a gift.  Those who do not bring a gift are not left out, because many parents donate several "gifts" and so provided you have given your kid $2 and they haven't lost it on the way to school... then you too can get a Mothers Day gift!

When I picked my daughter, Chynna, up from school on the day of the stall, she gave me strict instructions not to open her bag because the gift was in it!  I had to wonder if, since it was early in the week, she would be packing her own lunch for the rest of the week.  Of course we negotiated a solution - she would observe me remove her lunch from the main pocket of her bag... leaving the small pocket holding the gift untouched.  Then she would take her bag to her room and hide the gift until her Dad came home to help her wrap it and she would return her bag to the kitchen, so I could repack it the following day.

By the time Mothers Day came around, I had no idea about what the gift was - none!  It seems at five years of age, you are quite good at keeping a secret.  A few time, I had to remind her to keep her secret, as did her Dad a number of times over dinner.  But I really had not an inkling.  I was much more concerned about the fact that no one had booked breakfast anywhere the day before Mothers Day.  I wrote my husband a list of places doing breakfast in the Swan Valley.  He was "good" (eventually) and called them all - but of course they were all booked out all day and had been for weeks!  My mum telephone for something quite unrelated and happened to mention that they were going for breakfast at Seventh Avenue, but they hadn't booked!!!  I was like, oh um, I don't think you'll get in, but if I book it for you can we join you pleeeeeeease.  So that is where we had a surprisingly delicious buffet breakfast at 8am.  I think the early start was possibly the key to the deliciousness of it all.

Having breakfast with my Mum was great.  We hadn't done it, probably since Mothers Day the year before.  We got to have a nice relaxing breakfast, while my Dad and husband kept the kiddly winks in line.  What's even better is that I got my mum a really useful and most awesome handmade gift.  I knew right away that she'd appreciate it.  It was a handmade peg apron, so that she wouldn't need to bend over to reach her pegs anymore.  It was made by my sewing virtuoso friend, Jacquie, who has a new online store - Pebble Lane Studio, check it out:

http://www.facebook.com/Pebblelanestudio, or

My mum loved her peg apron - love your work Jacquie!

Anyway, I've left my favourite part of Mothers Day until last.  Chynna walks into my bedroom, jumps on the bed and snuggles up.  My husband whispers to her, did you forget, it's Mothers Day and she promptly jumps off the bed and runs down the hall.  She returns moments later, with her gifts.  She gives me a big hug and tells me to open the card first.  Being the obedient mother that I am... I contain my urge to rip open the gift.  There are three little parcels and so she hands me the card.  It is so gorgeous that I almost cry... thank goodness for teachers, who are mothers themselves and know what will make us beam the biggest smile.
It's so much better than it was last year, because Chynna can write her own name and copy words now.  I will treasure this card forever and I will put it in my "glory box", well, what will be my treasures box.  It'll keep me in touch with what is important and that is that Chynna loves me because I cook her noodles and pizza for dinner every night!!  Hahaha - how easy would my life be if that was the case.

Next she handed me a little, totally unexpected little package.  And again it nearly made me cry.  It is amazing the things your kids know about you.  She knows that my favourite colour is green. She knows my favourite food is raspberry chocolate - I think she means Cherry Ripes, I guess if I had to name a favourite food I would say Cherry Ripes (because, in general I just love to eat and therefore food is my favourite food)!

 She has also indicated that I like to cook dinner - which is my absolute favourite past time!  Good try sweetheart.  And she loves me because I cook dinner for her and well, that might be translated to I cook her special dinner when she refuses to eat the dinner that everyone else is eating!  This was a fantastic gift, it made me laugh and well, I just felt special - really, truly!  That sounds sarcastic and I really didn't mean it to be because I am being 100% sincere.

Inside the above little fold out card, wrapped in tissue paper was a pair of Chynna made earrings.  How cute are they? I wore them all day and made sure I pointed them out to everyone.  It's so cool to be able to wear something that your daughter has made for you.  Earrings as well - what a good idea!  I think, after opening the cards and earrings I said, I didn't need anything else for Mothers Day - I could feel the love from my handmade cards and earrings.  My husband sighed and said he'd take his present back to the shop.  It's a bit hard to compete with a five year old.

Last was the Mothers Day stall gift.  Like I mentioned earlier, I couldn't wait to see what Chynna had picked for me.  Chynna was so excited to finally give me the gift that she was bouncing around all over the bed.  It's an interesting little number... she followed in the jewellery theme... I'm just not sure I have anything to wear it with - since it will absolutely own the outfit!

Hehe, obviously she loves it - shiny and big, like a princess necklace.  What a cack!  

So thinking I had completely cleaned up in the Mothers Day gift department, my husband gives me my final gift and it turns out to be something I have wanted to get myself for awhile.  His ears have been switched on afterall.  He gave me an Emjoi.  Goodbye shaving, hello silky smooth legs - if I can find the time of course!!

I love Mothers Day.  May it alway be as exciting and as precious as this one.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Easter Holidays

I know I am about two weeks too late, but happy Easter every one.  I hope you had a great time eating Easter eggs and the like.

My family and I went away for Easter, with another family to a small city in the mid west of Western Australia, called Geraldton.  It is about a four-hour drive if you drive non-stop, but if you have kids, and I do, it took around five and a half hours.  It is a lovely coastal city, with great beaches and warm weather (also humid so I discovered) and picturesque ranges to the east.

The family we went away with, to be known as the G'mer's we have known for around one and a half years.  This friendship began through our daughters, who became "best" friends almost immediately on commencing kindy together.  The G'mer's consist of Mummy Maz, Daddy Brett, Chelsea (5), Riley (3) and Kourtney (4 months).  They are super friendly, super generous and posses miles of integrity, not to mention they are all beautiful to boot.

So here is what I learnt this Easter holiday trip away.

No matter how good your intentions are you might not get up and leave by 5am. However the G'mer's who also had the best intentions to get up and leave much earlier than us, left much later than us.  We discover this when they pulled in to the Badgingarra Roadhouse half an hour after we did.... they had a problem with fuses and trailer lights - not a lascivious love affair with sleep.

We stayed with Daddy Brett's uncle Bob and his lovely wife, pot plant extraordinaire and photographer Leslie.  Leslie has a super cute English accent, which I couldn't help but imitate after a couple of days!  She has a heavy metal rock star son, who has recently been on a world tour (perhaps she might add a comment, telling us the name of the band, cause I've forgotten... pretty sure it had a 666 in there).  Bobby, a bit of a secret gardener, lawn bowler (I didn't hold that against him) and is a mean card playing train driver.  He has a fantastic train set hiding in his back shed and there home is scattered with train memorabilia.   I learnt that these people are lovely, generous and incredibly patient.  One of the first things they said to us was, "our home is your home"!  I kind of wonder if they wished they could eat their words right back up the first time we unleashed the kids in the back yard.  I know that their teeny dogs, Sasha and Amber probably would have chewed those words to shreds.  It turns out they had no interest in baby sitting our kids and spent most of their time in a custom made cupboard kennel!   

The best laid plans might as well mean no plan... as far as our sleeping arrangements were concerned.  Both the G'mer’s and ourselves carted our tents to Geraldton.  We also knew that there was a spare room and an empty caravan.  I guess, by the fact that we both brought tents - meant that we were sleeping in our tents.... but it's not quite what happened.  Only one tent went up, which was inhabited by my husband Ryan, our daughter Chynna and Chelsea.  I slept in the caravan with Sabin, my son.  Brett and Maz slept in the spare room with their daughter Kourtney, and Riley, bless him, slept in the lounge room.  I'm pretty sure Riley would have loved to have slept in the tent, but he has a funny little habit of waking up, finding a new location and going to sleep again.  Maz has said that she has had to search her home for him on several occasions.  It might not have been good to find him asleep atop a rose bush!  Anyways... I was quite happy with my sleeping location in the caravan with Sabin.  He sleeps really well, I was protected from the cold and condensation, had a modicum of privacy and was not forced to get up at 6am when the girls got up because I could lock the door, although I could still hear them - loud and clear!

I learnt that the Dongara Irwin Race Club holds a meet over the Easter weekend for the Dongara Cup.  It was super casual - we had a bit of a picnic set up under a huge gum tree right by the race track.  While it was super casual... you could get dressed up if you so wished.  There was a Ladies Fashions on the Field comp for those so inclined.  I learnt that my twenty-month-old son is fascinated by horses and horses racing around a track.  He stood on the fence for each race and on a couple of occasions refused to move from the fence between races in case he missed something.  At one point, he motioned to a woman sitting on the lawn every 30 seconds that the horses were gone and when would the next race be.

I also learned at the races that my husband is a very fast sprinter indeed.  As between race entertainment they held a 100 metre dash - one for the boys and one for the girls.  Two of the boys... not our two, got out on the track in their undies - tight black boxers (very nice indeed) and off white well worn y-fronts (not so nice- but good try).  Our boys got out there and had a bit of a wager on who would come in before the other.  Now I knew hubby was quick, but Brett is pretty fit... so I really didn't know who was going to get up.  There was a lot of elbowing at the start, but my husband is really darned fast and he came third overall.  My question is how fast would he be carrying three of us, if a massive tsunami was approaching???
Ryan has the denim shorts and green shirt with yellow stripe on.

I learned that at 5 years old it is acceptable to lie about, dob on, yell at and hit your best friend often.  Then five minutes later, have forgotten all about it, but then five minutes after that shoot the other one down again.  This is where I know Leslie and Bobby were very patient souls indeed, they didn't yell and scream, like I did probably with one and a half days to go (well I guess to be fair to myself... I didn't scream either, not out loud anyway).  There is only so much whinging, whining and dobbing one can put up with, especially if you have MS, have been going hard for three and a half days and then are so worn out that all you want to do is sit in a quiet room and not move for 48 hours.

I learned that your children will suffer no lasting ill effects if they eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some other crap thrown in for good measure!  If we were at home I would have let Chynna have maybe one Easter egg at breakfast, then slowly consume the rest over the coming weeks.  And Sabin... he's tricky, because Chynna at the same had not eaten much chocolate at all in her short 20 months... but obviously because he see's Chynna eating chocolate he wants some too, so he would have to have had one at breakfast too.  I also would have consumed my eggs slowly... but I learned (just not in Geraldton) that if you have eggs and other crappy food to eat, whether you eat it in one hit or slowly over a few days/weeks you are stilling going to eat the same amount of calories anyway.  I also learned that Maz and I have the same eating philosophy... eat what you want and if it tastes nice lots of it.  I am paying for it now of course... on a watch what you eat health kick - more like boot up the date health kick!

I learned that my son is the gatekeeper and loves to watch model trains.  Sabin over the five days we were in Geraldton, opened and closed the little gate onto the patio, like a million times.  He and Riley had a number of squabbles over it... which I think Sabin won.  He liked to open it to let you in and open it to let you out - he'll make a great concierge one day.  He loved to join Bob in his shed, stand up on an old chair and watch the model trains go around and around on the track.  We live right near a freight line, so Sabin sees trains daily and I tell you he is “obsessed”.  One day to escape the arguing 5 year olds, Bobby and Sabin went and hid in the back shed all by themselves.  When the girls discovered them, Bobby firmly asked them to go away. Good on ya Bobby.
I learned that I can play cards.  One night we all sat around the table and played a game called Sevens - no adding or subtracting in a hurry thank goodness!  Cards are played out to form a layout of sequences going up and down in suit from the sevens a la solitaire and the game is won by emptying one's hand before the other players.  I won a round... as did everyone else.  Bobby has a serious poker face and won several rounds.  Card games are great I’ve decided... because you can gossip and muck about in between some serious- strategic-plan-making card stuff... which gets progressively more serious when alcohol is involved!

I learned that my daughter is probably never going to go fishing again.  She caught the first fish on her first ever beach fishing trip.  She was very excited until she found out she would be eating the fish and that this meant the fish would die.  To avoid a monumental break down, I quickly suggested that because the fish was so small that we throw it back.  But then later Chelsea caught a fish and it was put in the bucket and Chynna had an EPIC meltdown.  I tried to explain that there are millions of fish in the sea and that I couldn't make someone else chuck the fish they'd caught back... but she wouldn't have it.  Ryan caught another tiny fish and I made him throw that one back without Chynna seeing it.  Brett decided Chynna had been watching too much Bindi Irwin (if you don't know who that is google her - crikey!) and that she was some Green Peace warrior, but I think it was more likely that she was totally unprepared mentally for the ordeal.  You know the catching and eating thing... I could have helped her, by telling her in advance about the reason for fishing which didn't mean looking at the shiny, sparkly, pretty fish - what a bad mummy!  Eventually Chelsea's fish was set free because nobody caught anything else anyway.

Lastly, I learned that water is a great entertainer for children of all ages, even the ones in their 30's and 40's!  Geraldton has an awesome water playground, which kept us all entertained for hours.  The biggest problem associated with this was the sun and sunburn.  Ryan copped some flack for the amount of sunscreen he put on the kids, which was our usual amount.  People think that sunburn cream is supposed to go on lightly and leave no trace, when in fact the opposite is true.  Sunscreen should be applied liberally and not rubbed in until it disappears.  Proof is in the pudding - none of the kids got burnt.  I can highly recommend the water playground at Geraldton’s foreshore, it’s grassed, has shade and it’s close to the gelato shop, The Dome and cafes… what more could you ask for.

So that wraps up what I learnt… almost.  I also learned that holiday trips are fun when you go with family and friends.  I am really looking forward to next year’s Easter break and the trip we have planned to the Dongara Races.