Sep 30, 2008

To the DC of Australia

Ben and I decided to take a little roadtrip to the Floriade Festival {we didn't and possibly still don't know what is is either, but it was fun!} in Canberra, ACT.

Ben called me on like Tuesday or Wednesday saying our friends, the Hall's, another American family here in Sydney, were going and wondered if we wanted to join up. We said GREAT! And packed our bags and went road trippin'.

Due to our late notice, we paid through the nose for a little dive called the Embassy Motel, ya, you read that right MOTEL, but it was all good. We saw the sites, ate the food, drove around, walked a bajillion kilometers, and basically just enjoyed learning new things and seeing patriotic stuff from this land of Oz.

First stop was The Questicon Science Museum. This is MY kind of Science museum. Rides, games, crazy wierd science stuff that makes science look alluring and cool and exciting.

Ben about to do the death slide -jumpsuit & booties and all

Me, Gabey, my comb over... Isn't she lovely...?

Seriously, look how talented my boy is! I said, 'C'mon Gabe, we're at a science museum, make a dorky face!' He did so well!

What's up -cool girl is back -er maybe Ben snapped the pic and I was unawares, you decide...Here's when we decided to park on the grass at the Questicon 'cause that's how we roll... er maybe because all of the spots were full, you decide

Laine snapping a pic outside the War Memorial -good girl Laine

Ben at the pool of reflection, he looks so peaceful. You probably can't see the eternal flame in the water, but it was beautiful and reminded me of the 80's.

Inside the Memorial in the Discovery Center

Ben and the kids taking off, much to Ben's apparent surprise

Oh yeah, and Laine driving a submarine

Oh, right, and how could I forget the Floriade Festival, of which we were there for in the first place!? I thought with a name like that we would be seeing a lot of dental products or flavored sports drinks -nope, just a lot of flowers and home-grown products and carny rides, and carnys

Not a great pic, but the best we could do with a cheap point and shoot with fingerprints all over it that we discovered at the end of the trip and the kids being all pictured out by this point. This is the closest we came to everyone looking at the camera, sad as that is...

... And a little petting zoo! I decided to spare you ALL of the cuddly, fuzzy, and adorable pics. It came down to one with this really, REALLY cute little brown goat, another of Gabey white-knuckling Ben while being forced to pet a lamb, or goose, or bunny rabbit -there were several white-knuckle pics, or this one of Laine with gooses. I just like this one! My little ragamuffin!

We stopped by this delightful and charming park on our way out of town. Gabey growling at Ben over the pizza. In his defense, it was woodfired Italian, and it was delicious


Sep 24, 2008

Junior Fire Brigade

Up in the truck

Third from the left in the bottom row

Looking a little bored

Oh, there, she perked up

Okay, I'm all outta funny and crazy, for the time being. Sorry. I honestly can't think of anything in the last few days to report, such a shame. If I think of anything in the next few hours before ya'll wake up, then I'll come back and edit this post.

For now, this is mostly for my Dad, Pop Pop, who as you should well know by now is a firefighter.

Last week the 'Fire Brigade' came and did their thing at Laine's school. So here are the pics of our little Jr. Firebrigaders.

They take skin cancer seriously here, and all of the kids always have to wear hats. They make me giggle.

Sep 21, 2008

Free? Not so much...

There she is, what a beaut...

And the swing set looks good too right? No seriously, the kids were lookin' hot after swim lessons this morning

I held back on the details I had to suffer through to get this beauty, and there also was some new developements in the story over the weekend...

The Dad was creepy, weird K, just creepy. I think I shall just refer to him as 'the Pear-Shaped Man' because that is what he was. When I first went to see if they still had the set, they invited me in to the house to see it. I had to laugh at PSM's unfunny jokes, and graciously act like his entire DVD collection and model airplanes were the most fascinating things I'd ever seen while he held me hostage for 20 minutes with my friend in the car. I am the PERFECT victim for this. I'll smile and laugh and make you feel like what you're doing is 'normal...'meanwhile having '000' button ready on my cell phone, and wondering why you're acting like I'm the first human being you've seen in 15 years, which I swear to you PSM was. Yeah, little scary. I was relieved he wouldn't be there when we came to pick it up and haul it home the next day, fearing he may well have his finger and toenail collection all shined up for me...

We went and got it, and Ben set it up for the kids the next morning and we've been enjoying it in the sunshine all week. Until Yesterday.

About 11 in the morning there is a knock at the door. To my horror, it was Pear Shaped Man, who is fresh into town after being on a trip all week long. He was furious his wife gave the set away and didn't take any money for it. We were floored, for several reasons, the top one being that they put a poster up in front of their house saying they were giving it away and them trying to give it to my friend who didn't have room in her yard for it... He said he paid $1000 for it {1. yeah right! 2. ELEVEN years ago, your kids got plenty of action from it, trust me} We still have no idea how he found us, and it makes me a little scared.

He ended up leaving with 30 bucks {pathetic}, mostly in change, since that was all of the cash we had on us {besides the hundred dollar bill I didn't want to let him know about -oops, I've said too much, he's probably already found this blog}

Okay, onto the next matter. Oh yes, my car battery is dead, no, really dead. You have to jump the car EVERY time you start it now. Which for a late person such as myself does not add a bright spot to your day. The other morning I was so flustered after having to jump it for the first time on my own, that I left charging out the driveway to get Laine to preschool on time and left the tailgate up and didn't notice for about 3 minutes! The trunk {boot} was full of stuff and I don't know how we didn't lose it all. It actually was hilarious, only because I had to laugh at my stupidity for leaving it open in the first place, then not noticing for 10 blocks, and then the fact that I first noticed it after hearing the wind sound and I kinda dismissed it at first and then scanned the windows, nope nothin', and then finally I see out the rearview mirror that the back of my car is gone. Holy cow, oops! I pulled over, shut it hoping not too many people noticed even though I was on a busy-ish street. I race off and get another 10 blocks before some car behind me is riding me like Seabiscuit and honking / brighting / waving. We pull over and they give me back my swim noodle that had flown out, THANK GOODNESS it was returned safely right? Acutally I would have given it up to not have to face anyone in my embarrasement but thanks anyway.

The next day Laine cut Gabe's hair again, to the scalp in 4 places. Yep, family pictures are tomorrow... Perfect. I won't go into the details for the parental beatings, but let's just say she swears she is never doing it again...

Here are some pics of Gabe's lovely new haircut, which looks worse than when my Dad cuts the family dog Cujo's hair, which is really saying something. We all affectionately call her 'Nick' after her cuts, partly because she is covered in nics, and partly to tease bro-in-law Nick. The pics are flattering, really, it looks much worse in real life. This is AFTER I've fixed it the best I can by the way. And it's so short now, mama likes it with a little bit of shag...

'You're welcome for Gabe's haircut Mom, it was my pleasure'

Better get used to the hat kid

Sep 16, 2008

What the kids have been up to

The day Gabe got impatient... You just can't expect a boy to wait when there is water and bubbles RIGHT THERE!

Okay, sorry. I know I used to be such a good blogger! And though I haven't slumped to the likes of Aimee {Taylor} Hada who hasn't posted since February {maybe she has by now, I stopped checking a few months ago...} I know I am no where near my usual pace. I just have been REALLY busy {read on, I'll tell you} and I have lost a little of my zeal -what with having to update 2 blogs. And I just refuse to let the quality of this blog slip... -you know? I am just not going to post to post. When I print this out into a book, I doubt I will be relieved that I posted 3 times a week for 10 years! I don't think we will need THAT much information about ourselves!

Anywho... let's see, where to start... Oh, I fell down the stairs yesterday... that was cool... I broke the already broken phone {Gabe threw it from the loft down to the tile below a few weeks ago. That's been a fun new game he's discovered} and I think my elbows, which caught the brunt of my weight, will never be the same again. I was worried I was going to be on some type of Aussie Rescue 000 show where Laine had to dial the emergency number when Mommy couldn't get up. That was a doozy, I think I'll put some effort into not doing that again...

Laine has started all sorts of new lessons, in a move that has further complicated my life and schedule, all for the better though... right? She and Gabe started swim lessons on Monday. Laine loved it, and I thought my water-boy would too, but scaredy-cat boy superseded and he screamed and white-knuckled me most of the time...

Laine also started piano lessons, which has been fun but time consuming with having to make her practice. Her teacher is this British guy that was so genteel and proper over the phone. From our convos I was picturing a man in a tux, sipping tea, James Bond -but more refined and not quite so rough around the edges, you know?. They went a little something like this, "Ah yes, Mrs. Riley, just ringing to confirm Laine's premiah lesson shyehdyoould for this afternoon at 3:30 sharp" and then he signed off with a "playsiyuh" -which is possibly why today when I thanked Laine for helping me, both times she replied "it was my pleasure Mom"...

Anyway, so we arrive at the house last week for our premier lesson, again, expecting the tux and the tea with the pinky finger. Instead we step into our time machine and are heading straight back to the 70's. The house, though pristine, looks like the picture perfect 70's manor and Richard himself is dressed Halloween party style 365 apparently. He comes complete with one of those 70's cotton candy mullets, you know, super fluffy and lethal. He sports one of those thin mustaches too. He is a crack-up. I wondered how Laine would do with a male teacher, it is so fun to sit and see how your child interacts with other adults! It is good times to see him instruct her and watch what she does with his instructions. I think she is really liking it, and she love music so much.

Oh, BIG news, you remember the whole swing-set debacle of aught-5? WHELL... I was gabbing to some friends about it at the time and then one of them happened to see a sign for a FREE swing set in her neighborhood and rang me up a few days ago! I raced over to the house to see if they still had it and they did! We went last night and dismantled it and hauled it home and Ben put it together this morning. You'll never believe, but is is the EXACT same swing set as the other one. So yeah, crappy, an eye-sore, and dinky. But it did come with the 'slippery dip' {slide} -which not all do you know... And it was better than nothing since we {read: Ben} didn't want to invest in such luxuries when we are here temporarily {even though we should be here more than twice as long as the longest time we've ever spent in any other place, seems pretty settled to me...} But, you know, the kids don't know the difference and they are ecstatic about their new swing set so I'm happy.

We got to go to Bondi beach again last week, oh man, I love the beach. And Bondi is without a doubt one of the most fantastic beaches I've ever been to in my life. It is really warming up here, so it was nice to enjoy the sun and just play in the sand with the kids.

Our other big news is that we got to go to see a symphony -AT THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE! I am kicking myself harder than I ever have that I didn't bring my camera! I have caught several glimpses of it over the last few months, but usually while in a car, so I totally screwed myself over that I forgot it for this time. I will post the complete story later, when I find the cable to my phone that I did manage to get some shots with.

Okay, just a few items of TCB:

1. Okay, maybe this is a stupid thing to say, but I feel moved to bring this up. Many of you blog stalkers may be afraid because of the 'ol sitemeter posted down at the bottom. You wonder if I've discovered you lurking behind those trees.... I should just take it off of this blog, I honestly haven't had time to check it in about 4 months -so you're secret stalking has not been and is not going to be discovered, so stalk away. And whatever you do, DON'T leave a comment!

2. I've noticed that many of you haven't noticed there is a new button for HOTGP. Keep your old one for all I care, but I think this one is a little better, so if you feel so inclined to switch it out, help yourself to the new code. Thanks!

Sep 7, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

I know, what the?!

Maybe you don't remember, but Aussie and American Father's Days don't fall on the same day. And since Mother's Day did, hence I only got one, I told Ben he wasn't going to be milking it and getting two.

Since June was still a crazy time for me / us, and I'll do anything to procrastinate, I decided the Aussie September Father's Day was going to be our best bet. We celebrated it yesterday, but not nearly as much as our Dad really deserved!

Ben is such a great Dad, and the kids just adore him. The happiest moment of their day is when they hear the sound of Ben's car pulling into the driveway. They get so excited, they just eat him up like he's made out of candy!

I personally LOVE to hear Ben reading to Laine. He does all of these funny voices and I just sit outside the room listening and cracking up. And of course Laine is dying with laughter. He makes things so fun for the kids and thinks of so many things to do and say to make them laugh that I would never think of. And all day long Gabey asks for 'Daey! Daey!'

I love how he loves to be home with us. As we've been married longer, I've realized that sometimes guys need to be with their guys. But Ben rarely takes his night out, and spend almost all of his time with us and with me, which is great because he is so much fun and is so funny -we have such a great time together!

Ben is really caring and he is very self-sacrificing. He gives me my way almost 100% of the time and he is very patient and forgiving. He is almost always the first to say 'I'm sorry'... He builds me up and give compliments freely. He is so supportive. He's just all around a great Dad and Husband.

Happy Father's Day Ben!

Sep 1, 2008

Natalie Riley -Mrs. Super Obsessive Helicopter Parent? I think not.

Whilst some of you applaud and revere my 'honesty' on the blog, I am aware {or at least I believe} there are others of you who get slightly annoyed at my 'complaining' and occasional 'negativity'. Sorry. I was meant to do a post about my house, I'll probably do that next. I've snapped a few pics but still need more and I just don't feel like it today. Instead there is something else on my mind that I feel I need to say.

So I am what you may call a 'casual' parent... {If I were saying this outloud rather than writing it my fingers would already be exhausted from all of the air-quotes, yeah?}.

Anywho, if you don't know me well enough, I'll tell you. I'm 27 years old and have a 4 year old daughter. Yes, I had Laine at 23 and I was married at 21 if you're curious. Obviously I am no teenage mother, but this is still QUITE a bit younger than the average these days when many people aren't even married before 30, let alone having kids. I feel like many people, neighbors, friends, perfect strangers look at me and think I am too young and immature for such a responsibility at this age.

It doesn't help that my life's motto is "Myeh" -accompanied by a shoulder shrug. I am just not uptight about MOST things, there are some that I am borderline anal retentive about -I'll give you that. But the everyday stuff is pretty much "Myeh".

I think people take this attitude, and my age, and spin it into irresponsibility. But what most people don't know is that I am a very, VERY calculating person and I posses the ability to think several different thoughts in the space of one moment. My ability to multi-task is only surpassed by my lack of micromanagement.

For example, you may see my kids out in the front yard, alone, and think they are too young and are going to be hit by a car. You are talking to them all the while thinking 'where is your mom? you are far to young to be playing outside by yourself!' I'll tell you where I am, I'm probably sitting on the couch doing my make-up and I don't want to come out until it is presentable -further, if you don't get the mascara right the first time, it looks horrible all day! Another strong possibility is that I'm up in the loft checking my email or doing blogs. But either way and no matter what I'm doing, I hear every word you are saying to my child. I'm sitting there, listening, because I've left the door open, I may even be looking out the window watching you. I also realize Gabe has no pants on or is still in his pajamas at 3pm. I probably have clothes sitting at the top of the stairs that I tried in vain to wrestle him into, or again, looked at him in his jammies and shrugged, "myeh..."

I'm well aware of everything. And by everything I mean EVERYTHING. I hear them screaming and fighting in the back yard. No, I didn't come running, you're right. But guess what, they'll figure it out. I don't need to ride them like Seabiscuit. I never child-proofed my house, the cleaners aren't on high shelves, the electrical sockets are exposed... In 4 years we've had one trip to the ER when Laine was 1 1/2 and was playing with my kitchen utinsels in the kitchen while I made dinner and she tripped and feel onto a cheese grater and sliced two of her fingers. It was an accident, which was sad, but we learned from it and moved on and have never had an incident again. We careful, and we do take precautions, but I think it is okay if there is some trial and error involved and mostly my children have been able to learn because I've let them make mistakes. Yes, even at age 1 and 4.

Sometimes I wonder, is it me? Do I just THINK people think I'm irresponsible because of my age and personality? And sometimes maybe it is some of that. But other times I am convinced people are seriously worried about the welfare of my children under my care. Many of you in Utah may or may not relate, because MOST mothers in Utah are young. But when you move away, people aren't as young as we are, which is part of the problem. People who were still getting drunk at parties and still being a kid themselves at this age,especially the 23 when I had her, can't imagine having the maturity to do what I do.

It's true I don't know everything, and sometimes things sneak up on me and surprise me. Sometimes I see other Mothers and what they do and wonder why I don't have the inclination to do it like they do. But most of the time I know I am a good, responsible caretaker of my children and I too have a lot of things figured out. So why do I care what anybody thinks?

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