I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And they call it puppy love...

Okay so he's not a puppy, but as for the love part...well, I think that's obvious, isn't it? This is DH and Teddy, our dog we've got on a two week trial to see if he fits into our home and life and if the kids can handle it. He's from the local Greyhound Adoption Program, so he's an ex-racer. I don't think you would know that, though, from how much he just kinda lopes around the house all mellow and chilled out. We took him to school pick up today and although he was rushed by a mob of kids, he just kinda stood there and let them pat him. Not a jump, not a bark...what a gentleman he is!

...the trial lasts for two weeks, at which point we decide if we want to give the kids back or not. As far as DH is concerned, the dog stays.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cuisine Americaine

The disclaimer to this is that I spent my time in California (SoCal) and a bit in Hawaii and a bit in Monterey ... so it's possible my opinions on this topic are slightly skewed from those locations. I'm willing to believe things in other parts of the US are different. Plus, I'm going to make a whole lot of sweeping generalisations, knowing full well there are of course exceptions to every rule.

In no particular order, here are my observations on Cali-merican cuisine, of the every day variety (so no, I didn't get to go to the French Laundry or Beso or anywhere else fabulous, but I DID eat 1,233 bagels and visit at least a half dozen different supermarkets of varying financial standing.)

1. Among endless articles about the American obesity epidemic, children getting fatter, people having higher cholesterol and basically loads of media attention surrounding the whole WE ARE FAT AND SHOULD PROBABLY DO SOMETHING issue, the cheapest food to eat is high fat, low nutrition fast food. Drive down Ventura Blvd and see how many things you can buy for 99c or less - 3 different kids of burgers at Carl's Jnr, and entire meal of things of the McD's $1 menu, pizza slices the size of your head for 99c and so on. It amazed me that our whole family could eat a substantial meal at a fast food joint for less than it costs me (alone) to have a reasonable lunch here in Melbourne. Anyone else see a small hypocrisy problem with this?

2. There seem to be endless excuses to eat, even in situations where you don't really need to. Shopping for toilet paper at Costco? Here! Have a sample of a burger/granola/drink/hot dog/whatever. It's free! You don't actually need to go out to dinner any more ... just get a Costco membership and eat out between aisle 11 and 18 every night. Going to the movies? Here, have some free samples and also a burger. Food is literally everywhere. I realise this in part is because of the population ... but sheesh, do I really need to eat while getting my hair done?

3. Wait a sec, wait a sec. You want fresh, healthy, good quality, well presented food? Let me introduce you to a small place called "Whole Paycheck" (sometimes also known as Whole Foods). Nowhere else can you buy overpriced exotic Indian incense sticks with your organic pomegranate juice...but nowhere else would you want to, either.

4. There is a guy named Trader Joe's and he is apparently some sort of deity.

5. Food at Disneyland was expected to be overpriced, unhealthy, and be made up of small portions of deep fried crap. Surprisingly, none of that was true as there were plenty of healthy, well priced, family friendly eating options all over the park and we could obtain fresh fruit, water, and vegetable matter without even trying hard. I'm not sure why the rest of SoCal has not yet gotten the memo. It's also the scene of the amazing cancelling out food: when you buy a corn dog, they give you a free bag of apple slices. I wonder if they think the apple cancels out the corn dog, or the corn dog cancels out the apples? Hmmm.

6. Drinks, drinks, and more drinks...oy the endless drinks! Bottomless this, Snapple that, 'lite' this and 'zero' that and my god, drinks are everywhere. Americans are obsessed by giant drinks with free refills and an obnoxious amount of ice in the cup thus garnering you no actual drink per se. On the plus side, iced tea is available everywhere you go and I for one was bloody grateful as I love that stuff (and I also love ice, except when it means by 415 oz drink only has 3 oz of actual liquid in it.)

7. BACON. It's a wonder the Ford company has not yet come out with a hybrid car which runs on bacon grease. Watch Food Network for a couple of hours and you'll realise that there is no food in the world which cannot be improved with some bacon. Or so say the chefs of America anyway. Bacon is like...the national foodstuff, or something.

8. Iron Chef America: It's total bullshit. A whole pastry kitchen, sous chefs, a required number of dishes, ingredients which are a) not that hard and b) kinda stupid (milk AND cream? what, milk wasn't a good enough ingredient?) They don't really seem to be trying all that hard, you know? It all is so very planned out before they even get to find out the ingredient. Alton Brown, I totally adore you - but this show isn't a patch on the original so I think it's time you stopped assaulting the American public with crap shows like this.

9. Paula Deen, in ONE show, cooked deep fried lasagna, and deep fried battered barbeque pork ribs. She had an entire audience split into two, cheering for either the 'BAHHHR-BEE-QUUU" or the "FRAAAAHHHHDD." They were shouting and waving banners and stuff. Either she's a total genius or has some sort of kick-back deal going with the makers of heart medication...and speaking of...

10. Is it just me? I don't really want to watch an ad for *ahem* women's business medication - which may cause itching, redness, infection, pus-filled pimples, discomfort, wind, irritable bowels and 34 other side effects ... in the middle of a cooking show. Food and pustules? No, no, and NO. You have to do something about all those drug ads. They're revolting, no matter how many happy looking people there are running through fields of yellow flowers. Also food and bodily functions do not belong on the same channel.

11. Bread and salad BEFORE a meal. This is a very American thing which I actually think is a good idea and a bad idea all rolled into one. Good idea: You eat some vegetables and grains before your meal. Bad idea: You eat so much butter and dressing on both of those, you negate the value of the vegetables and grains.

12. Have I mentioned the bacon?

13. There is just no substitute for Hebrew National hot dogs in a fluffy white bun with ridiculous amounts of Heinz ketchup. Simply the best food EVER. (As usual the chef-slash-hippie in me dies a little each time I eat one of these, but the lazy junkfood eating beeatch loves the damn things to death. My tastebuds are doing a happy dance just thinking about them.)

14. Crappy bagels. Los Angeles is awash with endless crappy bagels...and they're multiplying! You can buy crappy bagels everywhere from donut shops to pharmacies to car washes to bookstores. The crappy bagels are like Gremlins...pour a bit o' water on them and the damn things can't be stopped! (nor can they be swallowed.)

...and finally...

15. Did I mention the bacon? Enough with the bacon, people! Enough!

(and by the way, I did take the time to visit 3 cupcake bakeries...all sadly disappointing...and I did watch endless episodes of Ace of Cakes...Oh, to be able to charge what he charges!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Valentine's Tale

Ed's Note: DH and I don't do much for Valentine's Day and that's fine by me. This year he got me a really sweet card, a long stemmed red rose, and on our behalf made a donation to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. He couldn't have gotten it more right. I love you, DH! - as I remind you sixty thousand times a day - but that doesn't make it any less true.


So for today I thought I would tell you about my single worst Valentine's Day ever. I'm pretty sure my parents don't know I even HAD this boyfriend, so it'll be a revelation for them as well (Hi Mom). Let me preface this by saying that I am a closet hippie ... I've always had a vaguely alternative, free love, yay the trees and our forest friends sort of part of my personality. These days it doesn't come out quite as much but in college it was in full force. As a result I had a vaguely alternative boyfriend named M. M, among other things, wore a black leather jacket with the Chechnian (sp?) flag on it, wore 10-eyelet Doc Martens, wore blue plaid flannel pants all the time and shaved all his hair off except a 3 inch long fluffy stripe off to one side. He also had flame red hair, so it was in fact a bright red 3 inch long fluffy stripe. He also had the dubious honour of running away from home but on the way getting into a train wreck (really!). He escaped unscathed from the wreck so he just went back home and never said anything to anyone, nobody noticed, and then some months later tried again (and was sucessful.)

Anyway let's get onto the Valentine's biz, shall we? So M was perpetually broke because he spent his every last dollar (what few there were) on CD's and random music and/art stuff because he reckoned he was a bit of of ar-teest. He had a string of crazy jobs - wierd phone line things, selling schemes, whatever. On Valentine's Day he asked me to meet him at the bus depot so we could head into downtown Denver for a night nice out which he planned. Seeing as he was working (at the phone line thing) we had to start out night fairly late - he was going to call when his shift ended. In the meantime I got nicely dressed and I think I even (gasp!) put on lipstick. Neither of us owned a car at that point, hence the whole romance of public transport thing.

He called around 9 pm (!) several hours after I expected, and asked me to meet him at the light rail interchange - which required a bus ride for me anyway. I get there and he is waiting, leather jacket and all, and with a mysterious bag in his hand. There I am thinking he has bought me a V Day present! We get on the light rail (to head into town) and he says nothing about the bag. We're waiting for the train to start, sitting there, and I say, "So where are we headed?" and he says, "I don't know. I'm not sure what's open this time of night."

Wait a sec. Back up. Wasn't HE planning this night out?

"Wait a sec - back up...you don't know what's open? Didn't you make reservations or something? It's Valentine's Day!"

He just kinda sat there, looking abashed. Determined to set this night straight I asked, "So what's in the mystery bag?" and he says, "Ooh! Do you want to see? I got the COOLEST new CDs by [insert vague alternative ska band]." He then proceeds to give me a blow by blow account of his CD hunting in the city earlier that day. In other words, the shmuck did not spend one single red cent on me. Sure, sure, it's all about the thought that counts...but there WAS no thought, was there?

In emzee fashion, I was having none of this. So mid-sentence I just stood up, left the train (which thankfully had been delayed) and got back on the bus heading back to school. It took him a minute but he followed me onto the bus and was all, "Wha...?? Michelle? Are you okay?"

Now at this point I should have opened a can of whup ass on this guy, but I was all hippy and free love and whatever, so I didn't. I just told him there was no point (at now 10pm) going out with no reservations and that I was going home. He meekly asked if he could follow me back to the apartment, and I agreed. When we got back, he complained he was hungry (no SHIT, Sherlock) and wanted some dinner. Being in suburban Denver, there wasn't much but a Safeway down the road. So he decides he's going to go out and get us dinner at the supermarket.

I should have locked the door and shut the lights off and pretended to be asleep, but then hindsight is a beautiful thing.

About half an hour later he knocks at the door. I answer, and there he is with a supermarket bag in one hand, and a big ol' red heart balloon in the other. He holds it out with a puppy dog look on his face and says, "I'm sorry I kinda messed up." Me being me, I thought it was all sweet and thanked him.

"Do you like it?" he asked. "Yeah, it's totally sweet, thank you!" "Yeah the best part is that it was FREE! The night manager was taking down all the Valentine's decorations at the supermarket and he let me have it for nothing! How cool is that?"

Actually, DEAR, it's totally NOT cool. People who say it's the thought that counts LIE.

I grudgingly take it and walk back into my room. I hear loads of dishes rattling around and whatnot and some time later he asks if I want to eat dinner with him. What the hell, I was hungry, right?

Let me stop here just to say that I generally (and then not at all) eat meat and milk together, AND at that time I was a vegetarian.

I come out to find ONE plate of dinner, and on that ONE plate is a chicken shnitzel. With a slice of melted American cheese on top.

At this point words escape me, so I just turned on my heel and went back into my room and slammed the door. He followed, knocked and said, "Michelle? Hello? What's wrong? What happened?"

I didn't answer for a moment (probably trying to come up with something witty) and so he waits about 3 seconds and then says, "Okay, well do you mind if I watch the [hockey] game?" and then proceeds to go back to the living room, eat his animal product dinner, and watch hockey.

In the morning I found him asleep on my couch and I kicked his ass out....with him seemingly clueless as to how and why it had all suddenly gone so terribly, horribly wrong.

I'm not sure why (or how) but we did date for a while after that...although I have to say not exactly with full enthusiasm on my part. We eventually ended it (okay, I ended it) when I returned to SoCal and he got hit by a bus. Yes, in that order. No, not because of the bus, that was just incidental (and yet strangely both amusing and somewhat isn't-karma-a-bitch-esque.)

I did see him once after that (sadly, in Denver General Hospital) and we emailed maybe twice after that...but, really, the worst part about the whole thing is that he NEVER seemed to understand what went wrong that night. Part of me wonders what happened to him (although last I heard he was engaged to a girl from Idaho who he met on the Internet and had yet to meet in real life).

NONE of this story (including details of this guy's life) are made up....and freakier still, I still own a mix tape he made for me. Question is, who out there in Internet land can beat me for weird and terrible Valentine Day stories?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Say Tomah-Toe

One of the more amusing past times during our trip to the States was listening to my kids trying to pronounce American words. This time around, they can all read...and they all have strong opinions about what they want to eat or not eat - so they would look in stores and at menus and basically make their own decisions. The major problem was that most of the time, I had NO IDEA what they were saying, to whit:

C: Mom, can I have a snack? (Yes, she changed from Mum to Mom. When in Rome and all that.)
Me: Sure. What do you feel like?
C: Well, I'd really like a bag of Cheh-toss.
Me: A bag of what?!
C: Cheh-toss.
Me: What?
C: (getting increasingly frustrated) MOM! You know, the bag with those twisty orange things in them. CHEH-TOSS! CHEH-TOSS!
Me: OH! You mean CHEETOS? *insert hysterical laugher* Yeah, you can have some, but they are pronounced CHEE-TOES.
C: No, they're not. See? Right there on the pack. C-h-e-e- is "CHEH" and t-o-s is "TOSS" so they are CHEH-TOSS.

At this point I stopped arguing and decided that Chehtoss sounded cuter than Cheetos anyway.

However, we then had run ins with:

Dorie-toss (Doritos)
Ennerman's (Enteman's)
Hear-she's (Hershey's)
Roofles (Ruffles)

...and so on and so forth. Bloody hilarious, I tell you. I could spend HOURS with my kids wandering the junk food aisles of American supermarkets, just to hear them say funny stuff.

Funnier still? Listening to my Aussie-accented, super-lisp-afflicted son, trying to imitate Paula Deen. "Hawww-dee, Yooolll. We's goinna cuhk sumfin' FRAHH-D tonight!"

(and the post about American food will follow soon enough. Hold onto your hats, Yoll.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

There's overachieving, and then there's being a moron

The first week we arrived in the States, two remarkable things happened.

1) I discovered that Disneyland is a cheap entertainment option for a family of five,


2) Some dumb ass woman had 8 kids at once. That's not giving birth, that's having a litter.

I'll allow you to digest that comment for a moment.

Everyone we met who knew we were parents of higher order multiples asked us our opinion about the topic. Not that it really matters what I think, because she's had the damn kids already. I mean if she'd asked me way back when she was first contemplating this, I might've said, "Dude...seriously?" but now, I can't change what's already happened. That being said, it was interesting to see the debate over this family taking place both in the media and in the general public. The general public, of course, being the people I am related to.

My sound-byte opinion is as follows: this woman is insane.

My official, for the record opinion of this is as follows: children are a wonderful thing, but too many children are a burden. A burden on society, on the environment, on their parents and possibly even on each other. While I am part of a faith who says it is the greatest of good deeds to "go forth and multiply" I think there is a point in time when you need to consider the world at large before making these kinds of decisions. Did she CHOOSE to have 8 kids? No...but she did choose to pursue IVF again, and the fact of the matter is that some doctor thought it was a good idea to implant 6 embroys back into a woman who already had 6 live babies. She made a choice to try and bring another child into the world, and was blessed (or cursed depending on your view) with 8 more.

Here's where you might be saying, ummm, hellooo... pot/kettle/black. When we went through IVF, we made the choice to put back 3 embryos, knowing full well that those 3 might develop into actual human beings. Truth be told it's possible that all 3 of those might have split, giving me 3 sets of twins. Point is, I made a choice too. A risky choice. In all honesty, at the time I never thought I'd have triplets, but similarly I made damn sure I knew (as much as one can know without first hand experience) what I was getting myself into. By choosing to put back 3 embryos, I was ALSO choosing to potentially accept being a mother to triplets and all that entails. If I had my time over again, I can't say what choice I would make...but I would say that I don't think choosing the multiples option was necessarily the best for all concerned.

I think this woman also made a choice...a choice to potentially bring SIX more children into the world, when she already had six at home. From what I've read this woman is a single mother, who lives with her parents. What enormous burden is she putting on not only herself, but also her parents, and society? I find it impossible to believe she will be able to support all these kids - even if she is finishing a degree in order to get a higher paying job. At some point, some government agency will need to help her out. She made a choice, and that choice may very well take resources away from people who did NOT choose to bring all these kids into the world.

I do not truly believe she really considered the consequences of her actions. I think on some level she was thinking only about her selfish desire for more child(ren)...and nothing at all about what impact that choice might have in the long term. Babies are not just for Christmas.

Some people have been comparing her to the Duggars, who have 18 kids. Difference? They are financially stable people who own their own home, can support all their kids, and who are basically leaving their child-bearing up to God. Now whether you agree with their methods or not, the fact is that they can actually sustain all these kids. There is still the environmental angle to consider - at what environmental cost is such a population boom? That aside, they're basically just a large family by luck rather than design.

This, my friends, is where this whole story just sticks in my craw. This woman is completely, utterly, irresponsible.

There are so many different angles to this story, that I could probably keep talking about it for several pages. Instead I'm going to lighten the mood and leave you with this top ten list, which comes from the blog sweetened*taters:

Top ten reasons to LOVE the octuplet mom, Nadya Suleman

10. Tom Cruise now seems mentally well-adjusted.

9. She gives new meaning to the word Octopussy.

8. Bill O'Reilly finally has something to bitch about besides those crazy socialist lefties.

7. Angelina Jolie, in comparison, no longer looks like a blowfish.

6. Oprah will buy her story only to have to recant it six months later.

5. Because, let's face it, people are running out of things to talk about with moms of multiples as they juggle their children in the checkout lane.

4. The Duggars finally have some competition.

3. We'll now be seeing PSAs on "What NOT to do in case of infertility" every 30 minutes on TLC.

2. Rosie O'Donnell is no longer the person voted Last Person On Earth I'd Like to Have as a Mother.

And the #1 reason to love Nadya Suleman...

1. Jon and Kate who?

I am in desperate need of a staycation

After bagging the heck out of the old staycation, I now find myself in need of one. Long story short we had a fabulous holiday - filled to the brim with loads of planned adventures (Disneyland, Monterey, Mexico and more) and plenty of unplanned ones, too (breaking down on the I-5 in the middle of the night...with very little cell battery life left in the phone.)

We've been home since Saturday night, which means we've had exactly enough time to:

1) Do lots of laundry
2) Panic about getting my head around work related stuff
3) Panic about getting my head around house-related stuff
4) Panic some more, for good measure


5) Decorate a cupcake or ten.

However, I've also had time to update my facebook profile, which then proved that at least 3 people out there actually read my blog...so I had to at least let those people know I am alive, well, and back on Australian terra firma. I've got several hundred pictures (but won't bore you with the good ones, only the embarassing ones, natch!) and loads of stories to tell (because while my accent has changed, my personality hasn't.)

It'll take me another day or two to get settled (and stop panicking!) - so in the meantime, talk amongst yourselves and enjoy a virtual cupcake on moi.