Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ending April

By the time I get around to some blog time at night, my brain is a little tipsy mush. So this time, I'll let you invent your own stories for these photos from the past week.

I think you'll agree, I'm less likely to embarrass myself that way...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Head above water

Today's post is just going to be some pretty photos. April has mostly been a non-stop run of stressful events, with my phone's water damage only the tip of the iceberg (the car needing roadside assistance - twice in two days, sick kids during health insurance change over, more poo chaos). I've been oscillating between the foetal position while thinking it's all too hard to do on my own, or telling myself to suck it up, princess. 

Today? I'm sucking it up and sharing the nicer moments and things that please my eyes.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring happens

At a friend's apartment complex, not mine. Let's make that clear... 

Now that winter has truly left us in the dust, poolside play dates are starting to happen with semi-regularity - either at our apartment, or friends' homes. Given that summer is not even here yet, I can't help but be grateful for the warm days that are beginning to stretch into balmy evenings. Last night, I even kept the windows open overnight. It's the simple things, right?

Most days when J and I chat and compare our days, the weather inevitably comes up. The contrast between spring in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest makes me a little nervous.

Me: So today's been warm. We went [insert: to the park/for ice cream/for a swim]. I'm thinking of grabbing a glass of wine to have on the balcony once the girls are in bed.

J: Today's been fricken wet and grey.

Being from Sydney, I'm no stranger to warm winters and stinking hot summers. However, the unrelenting consistency of it in Los Angeles has 'softened' me even more. I'm also well-versed in grey, wet weather (hello London!) but our time in the UK ended nearly a decade ago. My idea of cold is certainly not what a Seattleite would define as cold.

I'm actually excited about a milder summer (for about two months each year in L.A, it is just too damn hot to do much outside in the afternoons - the lack of decent shade everywhere is a bitch), but the adjustment to the colder, wetter months is going to be... interesting. At least there'll be more snow into the bargain.

My spell in the UK had me wondering if I'm one of those unfortunate souls who experiences SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I'm not being dramatic, it's just that lengthy periods of grey, wet, cold weather don't agree with me. At all. Thankfully, I'm a whole lot older than I was in the UK so I like to think I'm better equipped with the skills needed for combatting the blues - or maybe I'm deluded. We'll see.

For now, I'm making the most of the beautiful weather. I have a morning hike date up Runyon Canyon with a girlfriend next week, which I'm unreasonably excited about. If someone had told me even three years ago that I'd be getting excited about such a thing, I'd have thought they were bonkers.

Anyhow... spring! Love it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

This is 37

This weekend, we did some early birthday-celebrating because my actual birthday is today - Monday - with J back in Seattle. He flew down late on Friday night, let me sleep in both days, entertained the girls, took us all out to brunch, bought flowers and passionfruit French macarons (a new favourite of mine), replaced my iPhone (turns out the older, borrowed phone was much slower and the photos all had a purplish haze in one corner), and cooked dinner. He even cleaned the cat litter box for me. We made the most of the weekend together, knowing that it'll be another three weeks before he comes down again. When we dropped him off the airport last night, I didn't want my 'birthday weekend' to end.

It's just as well I had a nice couple of days of being spoiled, because today's birthday reality is this: the Faery - claiming to be unwell - is home from school; Miss Pie - having gone three days without pooing - unloaded a massive slop into some pull-ups that I caved in and put on her, but then leaked onto the carpet (I guess if she'd been wearing undies, it would have been a hundred times worse); it's raining, and the coldest day in about two months. By L.A. standards, it feels more wintery than spring.

Cheering me up, though, are the frequent bleeps on my computer, and notifications on my phone, from birthday messages on Facebook. On days like this, I could hug Facebook. Also, never one to waste an excuse for cake, I dragged the girls out to a bakery to choose some cupcakes for later. A proper whole cake was tempting, but with only one adult in the home at the moment, my waistline would not be thanking me.

When I turned 36 last year, I had no problems with it. 36 had a nice roundness to it - a kind of symmetry. It was the completion of yet another cycle under Chinese astrology, and the Year of the Dragon... and I dig dragons.

Last week, I watched This Is 40, and was reminded of my own approaching nearness to that number. Still a few years off, but not many. The movie itself was enjoyable, and there were definitely moments I related to and giggled at... apart from living in a nice, big fancy house, filled with many pretty, expensive things - why does Hollywood have to do that? Sure, the main characters were having major money issues, but I'd probably have sympathised more if they lived in a more modest home, their kids didn't have their own Apple-everything, and their cars had cost half of what they did. Know what I mean? But then, I've never really been one to buy into keeping up with the Joneses. That aside, the movie had heart and is worth a Saturday night viewing, with a bottle of wine and your significant other.

Something that had me scratch my head - momentarily - was how one of the main characters kept denying her age. She'd been turning 38 for the last few years. Who really does that? I wondered.

Then I remembered. My own mother... guilty. When my brother and I were in high school, my younger brother and sister were still in the early years of primary school. For those school runs, my mother interacted with parents who - I assume - didn't really know about myself or my brother... and my (young) other brother and sister were truly under the belief that my mother was still in her late twenties - not a number they magically came up with themselves. Sometimes I marvelled at the audacity of my mother to pass off such a lie (How would she explain having a 16-year-old daughter? As it was, she was a teenager when I was born).

From that point on, I vowed I would never have hang-ups about my own age as I got older. And I don't.

I'm not going to lie, though. The number 37 does sound, well, older. However, my kids know how old I am, and I'm not about to start 'covering up' my age. I'm pretty sure L.A. has enough women who do that.

And really, there's nothing wrong with 37. In some respects, it's still young. I think any negative feelings I have boil down to one thing only: baby-making. I have no desire to be chasing toddlers and preschoolers around when I'm in my forties. I have a lot of respect for women who do it at that age, but I don't think (energy-wise) that I'd be very good at it. Which means.... if we are to have a third child, we need to get cracking. Soon. I need to get off the fence about another baby, but I'm stuck. I just don't know.

So. This is what 37 looks like for me. I'm mostly content with where I am and can't complain, yet there's an invisible question mark hovering over me. But on the bright side, this is the year that I'm going to move to Seattle, and that alone is something to be excited about, right?

In the mean time, there are cupcakes, lemon tart, and cannoli to be eaten.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Shit happens

The moment I realised my iPhone was possibly fucked:

It was a misty morning, but not that misty.

Let me rewind a few hours.

Being a Sunday morning, I was finding it a little harder to get out of bed. Totally psychological, but I do love to get a sleep in now and then. Not really happening these days, though, and both girls were climbing all over my bed, while I curled up in denial. Miss Pie kept opening up the water bottle by the bed, and sipping from it, despite my groggy repeated pleas for her to leave it alone.

Later, after getting dressed, I placed my phone and the water bottle in the same-ish vicinity of one another, ready to take downstairs. I thought I'd checked the lid on the bottle because Miss Pie had been mucking around with it... but not well enough. Or, perhaps Miss Pie had returned to my room, and drunk another mouthful on the sly - it's the sort of thing she'd do. See where this is headed?

After finishing up in the bathroom, I went to grab the phone... and it was partially in a puddle of water. The bottle had tipped over and leaked. However, it had a cover on, and after a quick wipe over, I thought it seemed okay - that I'd rescued it in time before any damage had been done, and the cover had protected it from more water getting in.

Hindsight's a killer, isn't it? I should have taken the cover off immediately, to check for water seepage, but I'm an idiot.

I decided to take the girls out and head to a nearby farmers market before the crowds began. The funny thing about L.A. is that, generally, no matter what day of the week, places don't get properly busy before midday. It would seem there are a few million other people in this city who like a sleep in too.

Anyhow, we arrived at the markets nice and early, and had space for the girls to tear around. I snapped two or three photos - all clear - and the earlier water incident was all but forgotten.

There was a large inflatable slide and jumping castle, and - trying to be 'fun mum' while I do solo weekends with them - I bought a bunch of tickets and let the girls go for it.

Naturally, I took a few more photos. Who can't resist the joyous faces of kids bouncing for gold? As they were putting their shoes back on, I reviewed the shots and noticed they were a bit hazy. Shit. I turned the phone over, and saw condensation on the inside of the camera lens. Shit shit. That was the moment I realised I needed to take the cover off, and that was when I saw drops of water that had been trapped between the cover and the phone. Fuck. Who knew how much more water had got in, and was already inside the phone?

My plans for the rest of the morning thwarted, I rushed us back home, and realised the network coverage on my phone wasn't working (therefore no making/receiving calls). The WiFi worked, so I thought not all hope was lost. After using Face Time with J and frantic questioning, I plugged the phone in, and backed everything to iCloud and the computer. Looking back, it was a miracle my phone managed to oblige, and four-hundred-odd photos were not lost. The battery wasn't recharging, though, so I was still worried.

Next, I popped the phone into a zip lock bag of rice (after removing the sim card). It sounds wacky, but I'd heard quite a few success stories of this trick working, and figured I had nothing to lose.

Fortunately, we had an older iPhone on hand for me to use my sim card with. A friend had upgraded his when the iPhone 5 came out, and the the plan was for the Faery to be able to use it - not as an actual phone (I'm not quite that idiotic, and yes, I judge people who give mobile phones - or worst, smartphones - to young children). She's been wanting a camera, and we thought the Face Time function might ease the separation from J over the next few months.

I held my breath for two days, then tested my phone last night. Popped the sim card in, switched it on. The AT&T logo appeared for reception, the battery percentage increased slightly after I plugged it in, WiFi worked, and - importantly - so did the camera. I punched the air, then immediately sent J a text to let him know the good news.

Fate was tempted, and fate stepped in.

The AT&T logo disappeared, along with the WiFi. Shit. Then with no warning, the screen went blank, then alternated between the Apple start up logo, and the red battery warning display. No indication of it charging at all. Fuck.

So... today I found myself at the Apple store. A technician opened my phone up, took a look inside, and gently broke the news that it'd be cheaper to replace it with another iPhone 4S than to repair it. I'm currently deciding whether to fork out to replace it through Apple, or wait until later in the year when I'll be eligible for an upgrade through AT&T (continuing with the current 'borrowed' phone, an iPhone 4). Truth be told, I don't feel the need for an iPhone 5 (but then, that's how I felt about iPhones in general before I unexpectedly got mine). I'm not happy with the camera in the iPhone 4, so it's a tough decision. Fork out now for instant gratification, or save money and wait until October for an even fancier phone.

I know, first world problems.

I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that in twelve years of having a mobile phone, this is only the fourth one I've had. I think that's a track record to be proud of. Until this week, I've never had to repair or replace a phone that's been dropped, smashed, or taken a swim. I've never lost a phone, never had one stolen. My phones have lasted an average 3-4 years each, and were only replaced simply because they were getting old.

So... spilt mik, crying, and all that... but for now, I'm still fucking annoyed with myself - something bad happening to my phone is something I've imagined and been anxious about, and now that fear's come true. Dramatic? Yeah, but I'll get over it.


*   *   *

The Awful Phone Incident was the the first shitty fear-come-true event this week... but there was another. 

Monday was a staff development day at the Faery's school, and I decided it would be the perfect chance to go to the zoo, before the weather in L.A. gets stupidly hot. Feeling pleased that we'd be avoiding the weekend crowds, I put my 'fun mum' hat back on and packed up a bag of snacks and spare clothes (because although Miss Pie has been day-time nappy-free for a little while now and hasn't yet had an accident in public, I didn't want to tempt the gods - they'd already been mean enough this week).

The sun was out, but I'd chosen the windiest day so far this year to walk around a zoo. Good planning, Madeleine, good planning. Palm tree fronds were falling from the sky, by the dozen. Those things are fucking huge, too.

Still, we were having a pleasant enough time, and stopped for a beak in the zoo's playground. Miss Pie had been to the bathroom with me not long before that, and she insisted she didn't need to go again. A few times, I caught her with that far-away look that kids have when they want to take a dump, so I rushed over each time to check on her, and encouraged her to come with me to the toilet block. She was having none of it, and insisted she didn't need to, so I let her be. Idiot.

Of course, she then did the hugest shit in her knickers. Should I even be writing about this? Probably not. But I'll delete this before she's old enough to read it herself.

So, yeah. Massive shit in her pants. Not skid marks. Not a little turd that can be neatly tipped out into the toilet, but a massive one that, well, is impossible to clean up without it first getting everywhere. I had wipes galore, plastic bags and spare everything, but nothing could have prepared me for that nightmare. Shit. Everywhere. Not baby shit, which I can deal with. Three-year-old shit. Did I mention it got everywhere?

Let's just say I was a hot mess of crankiness. 'Fun mum' had packed her bags and left the building. It was on par with the pool incident. I'd been dreading - for some time - the thought of Miss Pie crapping herself spectacularly while out and about, and that fear came true. 

... and that's been my week so far. Aren't you envious?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hello, hills

Our little family was reunited briefly last week. J arrived back in town last Wednesday - visa stuff finally sorted - and we were more than happy to have him around. It was short and sweet, though. He left for Seattle on Saturday, but not before we'd squeezed in an afternoon at Griffith Observatory the day before. It's one of our go-to spots in Los Angeles when we have visitors, but it's been a while since we last went. J hung out with the girls at the observatory, and I went for a mini-hike on one of the nearby trails, before meeting them back under the planets. Everybody wins. It was sunny, the birds were singing, and I got to be alone in my thoughts, properly, for the first time in weeks.

Just as well, because the last couple of days have been... interesting. Two of my biggest fears (albeit first world problems) came real, but I'll save the details for another day.

Monday, April 1, 2013


It's been nearly two weeks since J left for Australia, but he should be back in L.A. any day now. Just a few days, and then up to Seattle to start his new job.

I'll admit, I've been crazy jealous. He's messaged me a gazillion photos of all the sorts of shenanigans that I'd like to get up to in Sydney, and it got to a point where I almost replied, Enough with the fucking photos already. You're killing me.

He reminds me that although he's been having a great time, it's been hectic and busy for him to catch up with everyone again.

Poor baby.

Am I supposed to feel sorry for him? Because no matter how busy he might be, it can't possibly match the level of craziness that our trip was last year - after two and a half years away. Catching up after only six months? Sans children? It must be nice to wake up each morning and be your own boss. What does that feel like? (In a nice hotel, paid for by one's new employees, no less. With city views.)

I know. Jealous.

In all honesty, though, these last couple of weeks haven't been as difficult as I'd anticipated. Sure, Miss Pie has been outdoing any previous efforts of hers to test my limits, but I suspect it's partly a reaction to her missing J. Cognising that hasn't made my hand itch any less to giver her a slap in some situations, though. I haven't, but sheesh, you know? Trying to climb heavy tall bookcases, deciding she has to take a dump just as we're out the door to take the Faery to school, steadfast refusal to cooperate... well, ever... today, alone, she crapped in her undies three times. One of those times, I found her standing a metre away from the toilet, refusing to sit on it.


Stubborn three-year-old issues aside, I think I'm managing this solo gig okay. As long as I can put my damn iPhone down during the whole dinner-bath-bedtime routine, I am capable of running a pretty tight ship. If I allow myself to get distracted on, say Instagram, though? It's game over for me, and the girls know it. I'm learning.

The main part I struggle with is mornings - just the time between the alarm going off at 6.45am, and getting all three of us out the door by 7.35 (the Faery's school starts at an ungodly hour). I am not a morning person... and it's my own fault. If I'm in bed, with the lights out before midnight, I'm doing well - but it's rare. My 'me' time: watching TV, reading, surfing the net... I find it hard to know when enough is enough. Funnily, whenever I do actually get eight hours sleep, I still want to stay in bed. I just don't like early starts, and never have. Anyhow, once we're out the door, it's all good, and calm descends on me.

I feel super lucky with how much our friends have offered help if I need it. The day after J left, a sweet girlfriend organised a poolside play date so that the girls would be distracted for the day, and not too upset. And after a birthday party for the Faery's best little buddy, her family - who we adore - invited us to stay on for dinner, and insisted on a sending a generous amount of leftover pizza home with us. It was really thoughtful of them, and Miss Pie rewarded them by managing to accidentally get herself locked in their bathroom, and melting down (it had been a long day) while my friend's husband had to dismantle the entire door knob to unlock the door. Awkward.

Last week, I managed to do pretty well in terms of dinner for myself, once the girls were in bed. Early on in the week, I'd made a huge batch of Southwestern chicken soup in the slow cooker - far too much to eat in a few meals, so the freezer is well-stocked now. I also defrosted various batches of healthy leftovers... but this week?

Excuse the poorly-lit mobile phone shot.

Leftover pizza, (home-made) mini cheesymite scrolls and hot cross buns - that's about as random an assortment of food as it gets. But hey, last night I remembered to give myself some salad too. That addition means we can call this tapas, right? Especially when wine is involved.

Anyhow, this post is going nowhere, and pretty painfully at that. This is what happens when you have no adult company in the evenings. Just imagine how fascinating this blog - being my sole outlet - will be over the next few months (actually, be very afraid). My point I wanted to make, though, is that I'm doing fine. We are doing fine. These next few months will only be an inconvenience in the big scale of things. I mean, it's not like I'm a military wife and mother, and have to do this regularly, for lengthy periods of time. And there are plenty of women whose husbands frequently travel far and wide for their jobs. My current situation is nothing unique; I just need to keep that perspective in mine if a pity party starts up in my head.

So all in all, things are okay... in case anyone was wondering.