Dark side of the baby

Before I go ahead and tarnish the up-til-now perfect reputation of Little Miss, I’d just like to reiterate how awesomely placid this kid is. She takes everything – and I do mean everything – in her stride with barely a whimper. From a few days after birth, we’ve taken her out and about and generally conditioned her to sleep whenever and wherever.

Ten days ago, she was woken at 1am, had a boob thrust in her mouth (no complaints there) then tossed in the car for a 1.5 hr drive up to Auckland, stuck in the sling, hauled to the airport, into a plane, across the Tasman, slung in the sling, hauled from International to Domestic, cuddled by Aunty and Uncle, back in the sling, onto a small pocket rocket before being greeted by lots of family she hadn’t met yet and a heat that she was not entirely familiar with. Travel time from whoa to go was approximately 14 hours.

She was magnificent.

Hardly a fuss was heard.

A wee little trooper.

Then she had days of being tossed around like a small cuddly football (it’s her own fault for being so cute, I reckon) as we made her introductions to all and sundry.  You have to understand – this kid is a miracle. We had people with their fingers crossed for years for us to hit the reproductive jackpot and finally all those positive thoughts coalesced into Little Miss. Consequently she was quite popular with the locals and let’s face it – everyone loves a baby.

 

Then the whirlwind week was over.

We were up at 7 am to say goodbye to her big brother at his work (and get one last coffee from him – he’s an amazing barista!) then troop around to family for breakfast then catch up with bigger brother before heading to the airport at 1 pm.

Then it was: sling – pocket rocket – sling from domestic to international – sleep on couch for 1 hr – sling – plane across the Tasman … and here’s where we start to break down …

She was a little grumbly on the plane. Nothing a boob didn’t fix, but we sensed a storm approaching. Fair enough, too. It was 11 pm NZ time so waaayyy past her bedtime. She eventually passed out in my arms about 45 minutes before landing in Auckland.

Then it was sling again so we could have enough hands to grab bags.

Still good.

We got through baggage and customs really quickly and were heading towards the shuttle bus area in record time, just taking the opportunity to do one last nappy change before retrieving our car and driving the 1.5 hrs home to Hamilton.

It was 12.30 am.

We took her out of the sling in the baby change room and she proceeded to goo and gaa and be smiley-cute while we changed her and told her she was our favourite baby because she’d been soooo amazing – not just for the flight but for the whole holiday.

It was a Kodak moment. Seriously.

Then we went to put her back in the sling for the last time.

And that, Officer, is how the fight started.

I think we can all agree that we’d really pushed the patience and good will of the poor little tyke and she’d handled it all with grace and aplomb. But that last tussle into the sling was the final straw for her.

She was in and I was doing up the clip on Daddy’s back when she arched her back and screamed so damn loud I thought a banshee had suddenly appeared in the room.

Uh-oh. Houston … we have a problem.

The wailing was less ‘cry-of-pain’ and more a roar of absolute fury. In fact,  she screamed so loud she actually choked herself and stopped breathing briefly.

Meanwhile, we’re frantically trying to figure out what’s wrong with the sling set-up. Was her arm trapped? Was her leg bent? Was there something sticking into her bum?

But no. She’d just reached her absolute limit and was letting us know in no uncertain terms that she was “Not. Happy. Jan!“.

Unfortunately, we needed her in that sling or we wouldn’t have enough hands between us to get her and bags out the door and onto the shuttle bus. Briefly, I wondered how the hell we were going to do this with a miniature Jack-Jack in tow.

I pulled her out and gave her a hug while Daddy checked everything over and gave the all-clear. Then we tried again.

This time, she cried and wrestled briefly but must have been all out of strength from her previous mini-explosion. Tired, miserable and all done in, she buried her head in her dad’s chest and passed out from exhaustion.

We breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed everything and got out while the getting was good. She slept the whole way home, through a final nappy change and into bed.

Watching her lose her shit, even if it was short-lived, was impressive though. Good to see the kid has a bit of bite!

Committing to it

I’ve been planning this post for a while now, as a celebration of our upcoming visit back home to Oz. It was just going to be a list of all the things I miss about home – Smiths original potato chips; Allens Jelly Beans; teabags with string; decent free television channels;  a bathtub and straight roads being my “Top 6 Things I Miss About Home”.

But recently, a group discussion made me question  how I really felt about our life here in New Zealand.

At our last weekly Space session we were talking about the principles of respectful parenting and asked to share an experience that we’d found challenging but eventually succeeded at – the point being that our babies are constantly meeting challenges but will get a great deal of satisfaction out of succeeding on their own and at their own pace.

I shared my experience of finishing my degree whilst raising three kids, managing a home and working simultaneously – it took me 10 years but I eventually got there and it’s something I’m immensely proud of.

Others related stories of sky-diving; having twins and coping largely on her own and travelling overseas alone. But something one of the ladies shared really struck a chord with me.

She talked about the time she made the decision to really commit to settling and making a life in New Zealand. It was difficult, she said, but in the end she realised that she’d been here long enough that whichever way she went, she was going to miss someone.  That resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

In the famous words of Peter Allen, I still call Australia home, even though it’s been over a year. In my mind, I’ve realised I’m still treating this time in our life as a brief sojourn overseas and haven’t committed to the idea of living here ‘forever’.

The other day NIH and I were discussing what we’d do if we won the lottery and our lists were fairly comparable – pay off the mortgage currently giving us grief; travel around NZ and really see everything (we’ve barely scratched the surface!); buy a bigger car; find a bigger place to rent – but then I finished off with “or move back home”.

NIH stopped and looked at me. “Really?” he said, “I haven’t actually got to the place where I think of going home yet.”

Maybe it’s because I miss my ‘big kids’ so much.

Maybe it’s the emotional and physical demands of a new baby combined with the financial stress of one income to tackle a mortgage and rent.

Maybe I’m just bad at commitment.

Whatever it is, I’m not quite there yet.

When I use the logical part of my brain (rather than the purely emotional sooky-lala side), I realise that moving back to Emerald is not the solution.  As NIH put it, we’d be taking a huge step back rather than moving forward.  The only things I miss from there are my kids and friends.

So if we did move back to Australia, we’d be living somewhere with a more favourable climate … but I’d still be in the same boat, missing the kids and friends.

And I’ve realised I actually rather like it here. The climate suits me. The surrounds are beautiful. We have access to all sorts of services and events that make life more interesting. I’ve even started to build a community of mums with bubs as well as strengthen good friendships from work.

All in all, where we are is really good … I just have to commit to it.

The phenomenon of birth stories

birth-storiesStories are fascinating, and I’m not just talking about fiction here. The method of handing down knowledge from one generation to the other began with oral recitation long before the printed word and perhaps this primal desire is the reason why women invariably feel the need to share their birth stories.

 

I’ve been mulling over doing a series of my previous three birth stories in the lead up to Number Four for the following reasons: one is to remind myself that every birth is different yet no less miraculous and wonderful and two is because I find them a fascinating phenomenon.

You’ll be sitting in a group at a social gathering – be it a casual barbecue or formal dinner – and the women will start to chat together. Even if they’ve only just met, there is a relatively predictable pattern to the conversation that ensures. At first it starts out as general niceties – the weather; their work; their other halves. Then, if they are mothers, it will move onto their children.  Once a sense of familiarity has been reached – the ratio of wine consumed being directly proportional to the speed with which this occurs – the birth stories will often start.

If you’ve ever been through a birth yourself, you’ll understand why.  No matter if it was a good or horrendous experience, it’s a badge of honour every woman wears for the remainder of her life. I would liken it to a warrior’s story of undergoing an epic battle on all three fronts of  physical, spiritual and mental.

I use the word “battle” to describe labour and birth, not to emphasise pain or drama (even though there’s often plenty of both), but rather to highlight the power and long-lasting effects that such an experience has on you.

Ina May Gaskin, hailed as the mother of authentic midwifery, said it best:

“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”

You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie there, Ina May.

Birth stories are unique to each mother … and in turn, each child they have. Every one of my three birth stories are as totally different as the baby that arrived at the end of them.  Each one gave me an opportunity explored my strengths and weaknesses at that given stage in my life, offering a glimpse into my inner self and what I was capable of handling.

After hearing other mothers’ birth stories over the years, I also recognise that I was incredibly fortunate to have three positive outcomes that only served to build up my confidence and resilience as a mother.

I only know the following tidbits about my own birth story from my mother:

  • I was three days late and the start of her labour interrupted Sunday lunch
  • I was breech so they whacked Mum out on drugs to deliver me
  • I spent time in a humidicrib but when I kicked out the bottom, they decided I’d survive
  • I was born at 5.55pm Sunday night but Mum didn’t get to see or hold me until Monday afternoon
  • I had a weak palate so when I cried I sounded like a lamb bleeting (that was Dad’s contribution to my birth story. This was back in the day when husbands didn’t get to go in with their wives for the birth. He was waiting outside when the nurse wheeled a whole bunch of babies past. He smiled at the funny cry and she said “Don’t laugh – that one’s yours”.
  • Dad insisted on carrying me out of the hospital, against hospital policy of a nurse doing it.

Mum is coming over to spend time with me before and after Little Miss arrives and I plan to ask her for more details about her birthing stories.  It makes me wonder if it is a generational thing or she just didn’t want to scare me before I had my own stories to tell.

In fact … I don’t know if I’ve ever shared all the details of my birthing stories with my children.  Perhaps it is considered too intimate and the stories share too much of our true selves?  Maybe we don’t want any negative experiences we might have had to be misinterpreted by the child that was part of it until they are old enough to understand that the birth stories are actually not about the baby at all but about the mother?

Maybe we are just so busy in the first 18 years of their life on earth that we just don’t get around to it …

Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to share mine.

Kids, have I ever told you how I met you ….

 

Well … that was disappointing …

A few weeks ago, with the impending arrival of Little Miss looming ever larger in our minds (and in my stomach!), we decided to look around for another rental that may suit our upcoming needs better. I don’t think our expectations were unrealistically high. We just wanted somewhere that had perhaps:

 

  • a separate laundry, rather than a washing machine at the end of the kitchen bench;
  • a bathroom with a bath as well as a shower;
  • an extra bedroom maybe?

We were hoping to get this for not too much more than we are presently paying (after all, we will be back to one pay packet from March and we’re still paying a mortgage in Australia on top of rent here so it’s going to be tight).

First of all, let me just say kudos to the real estate photographing geniuses who can make a shoebox (I’m not kidding – Shoe. Box.) look like a spacious mansion online.

Well done you.

The first place we looked at was tucked down a long driveway beside another house. They have a thing here with putting two or more separate dwellings on the one block (or as it’s called in NZ, section) of land so you get the whole “46A” and “46B” thing happening regularly. Possibly it’s a city thing.

So we trudge down the potholed gravel driveway and the first thing I think (actually the second thing – the first thing I thought was “At least I get to see what this is like in the rain”) is “Oh hey. That looks waayyyy smaller than the photos.”

It’s supposedly a three bedroom house with a long front deck. Hmmm. So we walk in the front door which is straight into the main living area that has the kitchen along the wall at the back – close enough to flip pancakes from the stove onto the waiting plates of anyone sitting on the lounge I was trying to picture actually fitting in there – and I can already see with a sinking heart that while, yes indeed, there are three bedrooms, that is a wild stretch of the imagination.

I once flatted with friends briefly in Brisbane and since I was last in the house, I got what was known as ‘the cupboard’. It had enough room for a single mattress on the floor and a couple of boxes with my clothes in them. The mattress was as long as the room so it was cosy at best. Putting actual furniture in there would have been impossible.

These rooms made me reflect fondly on ‘the cupboard’.  We may have been able to fit our queen size bed in one of these rooms … but only if we wanted to jump into bed from the doorway. Literally.

Not to worry. We’ll know better next time. Onward and upward, as they say!

Bierflaschen, Ladakh, IndienThe second place was once again down a long muddy driveway at the back of someone else’s house but this time it ended in a large muddy pool before you were herded around to the back door … where a veritable mountain of empty liquor bottles greeted us, along with the agent hurriedly saying “Ooh don’t worry about that. The cleaners haven’t been through yet.” Obviously the previous tenants liked a tipple and were happy to try anything that was on special …

Needless to say, any hopes I’d had before arriving were well and truly dashed before even walking through the door. And the rest of the house did nothing to raise them.

Hovel. Does anyone use that word anymore? ‘Cause that’s the word this place deserved.  I got the giggles walking through it while muttering ‘Holy shitballs, Batman’ to myself.

The third place was not as bad. It seemed reasonable. The gangland-style house with the front yard full of rusty cars was further up the street. It did not have a mountain of liquor bottles to greet us at the front door.

But the shower door was off and sitting in the bathtub. Paint was peeling off all the walls. And the stove … well, apparently three of the four plates on top don’t work. And the real estate agent indicated that wasn’t going to change anytime soon.

Sigh. Maybe I am fussy. Possibly I expect a little too much.  Needless to say, we gave up after that and figured we could just rearrange a few things in the second bedroom so she’s not actually sleeping in a box wedged between the computer desk and the PS4 set up.

Did I mention that we are renting out our 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 huge living areas, massive undercover area, huge shed, solar panelled house in Australia for less than what we’re paying here?

Sigh once more.

However … this morning , I got an email notice of a nice little place that’s just been listed (because I didn’t cancel the email subscription in the vain hope that something suitable may come up) and it’s not far from us. It only has two bedrooms but other features include:

  • good neighbourhood
  • separate laundry
  • bathtub and shower
  • separate toilet
  • ‘conservatory’ (enclosed front porch)
  • fenced yard

And all for $20 extra per week.

I have emailed the real estate agent …

Oh the joys …

0007045011864_500x500Way back in a previous life, I lived next door to a charming and lovely older couple in their mid-70’s.  I don’t know what we were talking about one particular afternoon over the fence but the woman told me that she had a nightly ritual she swore by.

Instead of dessert, she and her husband would each have three prunes generously soaked for a few days in a jar topped up with gin.   The gin popped them off to sleep nice and easy and the prunes made … let’s just say “other things” … nice and easy the next day.

“Huh,” I thought, “Must be tough to get old and have to resort to such measures.”

Well … Meet my new best friend, Mr Prune Juice.

I am pretty sure we were not friends back when I was pregnant at 22.

Or 24.

Or 26.

In fact, back then I had no idea who or why you would ever drink Prune Juice. But now? Oh now, we are best mates. I have a shot every morning as part of the breakfast routine. It *ahem* keeps things operational. I do so wish I could try the gin trick but we don’t want to pickle Little Miss before she arrives. She’s going to have enough fun with traces of wine in the boob juice because MUMMY NEEDS A DRINK, DARLING.

Funny how things change over the years. It’s been so long since I was last pregnant, I only have vague recollections at best with no hope of remembering the fine minutiae.

It was only when I sat down to write this post that I realised it is exactly 21 years, almost to the day, since I was 16 weeks pregnant last time. Little Miss is actually due around March 25 and my youngest son (soon to be ousted from his title as ‘the baby of the family’ after an impressive reign) made his arrival on March 22.

I still find it hard to believe we’re here, to be honest. It’s been such a long, hard road with so many tears along the way. I was only reading the other day that babies such as Little Miss are often referred to as “Rainbow Babies” – the shining beauty that comes after the rain.

So far, this has been a relatively problem-free pregnancy with just the usual stuff you’d expect from a huge influx of hormones and the beginnings of major construction of a small human being. I have been very lucky with the morning sickness, although it was more like  ‘all-day’ sickness from week 6 to week 13.

When I say ‘lucky’, I mean I felt disgusting and there were a few occasions when I had to stop and take very deep breaths to avoid throwing up – but I didn’t actually chuck. When I hear some of the stories of throwing all day and being hospitalised – yeah, I would call myself lucky.

And now that’s settled down, the bump is really starting to pop out and I can feel the tiny little movements that signal I’m not imagining things – we really are having a baby.

This is the glory time when it’s lovely being pregnant and I intend on enjoying it.

How did that happen?

google-searchesOne of my workmates shared a really interesting article back in early August about Google stats on cost priorities for countries based on their most frequent searches and this one really made me laugh.  Of course, I had no idea back then how amazingly accurate Google’s stats would be …

If I’m friends with you on Facebook, you would no doubt know the incredibly amazing news. That’s right, folks! Maybe it’s something in the water, the fresh air, the change in temperature or the simple fact that we preoccupied ourselves with taking a chance and setting up a new life overseas in NZ – whatever the contributing factor, the outcome is that we are expecting a little bundle of joy at the end of next March!

20160919_172634Pictorial proof that it’s not the bacon that’s causing my jeans to get tight but in fact a very healthy Little Miss (this is her at 13 weeks – isn’t she cute?).

To say NIH and I are absolutely over the moon but still a little shell-shocked is a slight understatement. We’ve spent the better part of six years hoping and dreaming yet having those hopes smashed repeatedly. To have it all happening now seems so surreal that I keep the first ultrasound picture of Little Miss at 9 weeks (a wee blob with a fluttering heartbeat) on the fridge to remind me every day that it’s actually happening and not just my wild imagination.

To be honest, I believe this all came about because we shook things up.  We decided that if we couldn’t have the adventure of children, we’d do something else life-changing instead, such as moving overseas to live and work. We got side-tracked with new environments, new jobs and a new way of life.  Funny how many people have recently told me they went through similar experiences to have the same outcome.

And one other thing happened to change my inner belief system …

When you have fertility issues, you never give up. Not really. It’s a bit like grieving for a lost loved one. The pain is always there inside you but as time goes by the ache becomes a little duller and easier to handle. You’ll see a small child being cute (as they do) out in public and look at each other a little wistfully – a “wouldn’t it be nice” moment. But it’s ok. You can cope.

On a whim one day, I typed in ‘pregnant at 47’ and the first result back was a little story on one of those babymama websites from a woman here in New Zealand (not far from Hamilton actually) who was turning 50 and had a gorgeous 2.5 year old. They’d started late and tried for about 6 years to have a child. Medical professionals couldn’t find anything physically wrong and the multiple miscarriages were put down to a result of old eggs.

Then, out of the blue, she became pregnant and successfully delivered a baby girl with no issues or complications. She had written on the forum, she said, to give others a bit of hope.

It really affected me. In the back of my mind, I’d always held onto the belief that I was too old. That I was being greedy to want more children, since I already had three lovely fully-grown kids. That I was completely crazy to think it would ever happen. But after reading that little story that had oh-so-many correlations with our experiences, my beliefs changed.  And about three months after … well, you’ve seen the photo.

I can only hope that my little story, such that it is still a work in progress for now, can have the same effect on others like me.

I’m dreaming of a … BIOS PXE boot?

NEMHydra_PXE_BootDevicePriority2

Oh my god what is this?

For the past six weeks, I have been on a major learning curve. Like, HUGE.  I considered myself fairly proficient with technology. Almost advanced, even. Then I started this job and now I realise what I knew was just a teeny tiny tip of the gigantic iceberg that is all things hardware, software and world wide web based!

All my dreams are about keyboards and data and trying to recover passwords I didn’t know I had to have and understanding procedures that are not procedures but merely checklists. I guess you could say that each night my brain is trying to sort through the learnings of the day and figure out where best to shove it so I can retrieve it again – a defrag, if you will.

I was warned when I started that documentation wasn’t strong and part of my role is to fix that up. I’m bugging everyone in my section with “how do you do this?” then writing up a procedure for it as I go. I’m well aware of the irony of creating the “Infrastructure for Dummies” guide that I wished I’d had when I started but at least the next poor bunny will have a little more to go on than “BIOS settings for PXE boot (Enable)” when trying to reimage a computer for the first time.

The conversation went something like this …

Me: So, how do I do this?

Them: Easy – we have a document for it. Just follow the steps.

Me: Huh. Ok.

[Finds document. Reads document. Scratches head. What the actual hell is a PXE boot? Is it small and green and pointy?]

Me: Uhhhhh. What’s a PXE boot?

Them: Oh. It’s the setting in the BIOS.

Me: [slowly, trying not to upset them] Uh, what’s the BIOS?

Them: [looking at me now like … well, like the dumbarse I am] Uhhh it’s the Basic Input/Output System.

Me: [pause. FUCK. Just say it.] Ooookkkkaaaayyy. How do I find it?

Them: [trying not to sigh] Just turn the computer on and hit the delete key until it comes up.

Me: Well! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong. They are a great bunch of people and infinitely patient with what must seem like a constant barrage of questions from me. But they’re computer engineers. They know this shit like the back of their hands. I, on the other hand, am a complete novice.

But I do know how to write a step-by-step guide. It’s probably been a great way to cement the learning process and build my confidence a bit at a time in the process.

And all my procedures start with the very basics, such as:

  1.  Turn computer on and hit that delete button until a blue screen of jibberish shows up.

Pain is gain?

cartman beefcakeThere’s a #Beefcake fitness challenge going on a work and whilst I do have a habit of being a ‘joiner’ and am all for office camaraderie, I think I may sit the rest of this one out.

The first week was stairs – 300 and something of them situated in a tower block not far from the workplace. The idea was to see how fast you could do it in.

Whilst I was tempted – it was one week in from starting and I do want to make a good impression – my knees said “Do that and we WILL kill you.” My left  hip chimed in with “And I will ache and ache for days so you can’t sleep.”

Fair enough. I skipped it.

The second week was 30 minutes of exercise. This could be anything from walking to gym routines – and a variety of different activities would get you bonus points. More people took up this challenge, including myself. The fact it coincided with the release of Pokemon Go was probably a major motivational factor. I did that one – mainly because I walk a minimum of 60 minutes every day to and from work. Why not take advantage of an existing situation? I didn’t care about the bonus points; just getting my name on the Beefcake Challenge ladder was enough.

Last week was “5 for 5”, seeing how may squats, lunges, burpees, sit ups and push ups you could do in five minutes. That’s five minutes for each activity, not five minutes total. I thought “Nah. I’m good.” and decided I would wait to see what Week Four would bring.

I walked past the Company meeting room around lunchtime on Thursday and the #Beefcake organiser was just finishing his session with a person checking his times and counting. I popped my head in to say a few encouraging – ok, smartarse – words. Before I knew it, I was doing squats. 80 of them. In five minutes.

Two things I have learnt from this experience:

  1. Doing 80 squats from a cold start is not going to end well. And not just for that day but for days and days and days after. The pain – oh, the pain – of trying to sit on the loo; get into the car; get OUT of the car or walk around the lake – lying in bed, even.
  2. Mr #Beefcake Challenge has missed his calling. With two sentences, he managed to get a fairly sensible woman who hates squats with a passion to do them. And not just do them but do LOTS of them. He should totally be a fitness instructor … or Head Torturer for some dictatorship.

The only thing that makes me feel better about the whole painful episode is that there are several people hobbling around the office at the moment muttering “Curse you, Phil” under their breath.

Wigging out

wiggly good timeMy daughter and her boyfriend have just finished their seven week trip around the US and Canada with a day at Comic Con in San Diego. They got into the spirit of the event, dressing up as Princess Leia (the original version with the buns and white dress) and a Jedi warrior. They also met some really cool people, including Adam Savage from Mythbusters fame.

Before we got the opportunity to move to New Zealand this year, we actually had Melbourne Comic Con in our sights.  Like the kids, we’d dress up and enjoy the atmosphere and meet famous people. I’ve only just realised the one little issue with that – I don’t handle meeting famous people very well.

Last weekend, we dropped into our local Countdown on the way home from pokemon hunting a lovely afternoon walk. NIH and I were standing at the packaged salad section of Fruit and Vege, debating which salad dressing to get for the coleslaw (Ranch is nice but Japanese Sesame adds a whole new dimension IMHO) when a guy with a grandma-dorky style light blue beanie walked past and started massaging the avocados.

I stopped mid-sentence. My jaw dropped. My eyes bugged out of their little sockets. NIH looked at me quizzically.

“Oh. My. GOD,” said the little voice in my head, panting slightly with excitement, “That’s Anthony, the Blue Wiggle!”

I turned slowly to look at NIH. I thought I whispered but it may have been louder (apparently I stage whisper – you know, so the people at the back of the room can hear).

“OH MY GOD THAT’S THE BLUE WIGGLE”

Once NIH registered that I was not having a stroke – just a ‘moment’ – he looked over where I was pointing with my eyes. Or the salad dressing. It’s all a blur, really.

“Oh. Yeah,” he said casually, “So it is.”

I then proceeded to back AWAY. Yep, back away. I could no more front up to a famous person and ask for a selfie then do over 80 squats in five minutes (but that’s a story for another blog).

Moving slowly, so as not to frighten the Wiggle (although I believe he had headphones on and was probably bopping away to Big Red Car or some other major hit) I backed up to the Nuts Section (appropriate) at the back of the shop so I could still see him but not run the risk of having him see my dopey oh-my-god-someone-famous face and know that the weird older lady limply holding two bottles of salad dressing had figured out he was “someone”.

Was it him? I’m sure it was him. I mean, I wouldn’t know for sure unless I just walked up and said “Hey, aren’t you the Blue Wiggle?”. Or possibly both flatter him and show my age with “Hey, didn’t you used to be in The Cockroaches?”. But I think we’ve established either scenario was never going to happen.

Meanwhile, NIH thought the whole thing hilarious. In many respects, I’m fairly confident. I can speak in public (even recite my own poetry) and have been known to get up on stage once or twice. But saying hello to famous people is not within my range, it would seem.

The rest of the quick shopping trip saw me pretending to be calm on the outside whilst the little voice in my head was still shouting “Oh. MY. GOD!”, sounding more and more like Janice from Friends.

In light of this revelation, it seems attending Comic Con is not such a great idea and would render me speechless to the point of jibberish. Quite possibly I’d spend my time back-peddling away and hiding behind whatever I could, whilst my inner Janice went wild.

Maybe there’s a Nuts Section there as well.

Holy cleaned out sinuses, Batman!

First waterfallRemember how I was saying I have a bit of a competitive streak?  Sometimes … ok, most of the time … that streak gets me into all sorts of trouble. My first whitewater rafting experience is definitely one of those times.

HOLY SHIZZLE!

HOLY COMPLETE IMMERSION BATMAN!

You see, NIH and I celebrate our birthdays only a few days’ (and just over a decade) apart so we try to take time off and do something amazing for ‘birthday week’. In the past six years, we’ve celebrated our birthdays in Canada and Europe; patted a tiger at Dreamworld and walked the Brisbane Story Bridge (albeit belatedly). There’s only one birthday week where we didn’t do anything spectacular – pretty good record, I’d say.

So this year, we were lucky enough to already be in New Zealand so tick box for ‘away from home’. And NIH often talked about the couple of occasions he’d done whitewater rafting so I knew he was keen to try it out again here in the land that is king for such adventures.

Now, I had never previously experienced such pleasures, being a mother with three children who depended on me to not drown on some escapade such as rocketing down the face of a waterfall with a life jacket, helmet and obvious death wish. In short, I was a newbie and therefore terrified of trying a Level 5 course with a 7 metre drop – the largest drop in New Zealand apparently.

A summary of the conversation NIH and I had one afternoon when contemplating such an adventure went something like this:

Me: There’s a great one here that is a Level 3 – includes picnic lunch and lovely sites. Doesn’t that sound great? Honey?

NIH: Meh. That’s ok. I’ll wait until someone comes to visit and wants to go on the Level 5 with me.

Now, my brain heard that last sentence and translated it to “When someone who isn’t a COMPLETE AND UTTER PUSSY wants to go on the Level 5 with me”.

Challenge accepted.  So basically what ensued over the next two days was me talking HIM into doing it. Crazy, right?

Still ALIVE

STILL ALIVE!

Meet my close acquaintances, everybody – Fear and Losing Control. They have governed my decision making since a wee small kiddie and until a few years ago, they made me a timid-on-the-outside-fair-boiling-mad-on-the-inside passive-aggressive crazy person.

Then my life went to hell and I discovered that despite all the shit, I actually could survive – thrive, in fact.

So when the unwitting gauntlet was laid down by NIH, I picked that bastard up. And even though my sinuses had a fair cleaning out during our rafting experience, it was an absolutely magical adventure. I totally loved it and will definitely do it again … when it gets warmer.

Looks like Im having fun

THE INSTRUCTOR SAID “STAND UP AND SMILE”

If you’re ever near Rotorua, I totally recommend Rotorua Rafting. The guides were fabulous and really knew the river. They were also great at making complete novices like me feel relatively safe! The river itself was just beautiful – no words can really describe it.

I’m so glad I took the plunge.

Yep, pun intended.