The Moment I Finally Felt Like A Grown-Up

I’m almost 30. I’ve got a tertiary qualification and used to worked full-time. I’ve moved out of home, bought and sold a house, and bought another. I’ve fallen in love and gotten married. I’ve written a will. I own a car and a few shares. But I never felt like a grown-up. Not really. I think because I’ve always been the youngest child in my family, and one of the youngest grandchildren, I’d fallen into the “They all think I’m young so I must be young,” mentality. I’m not sure.

But I can pinpoint the exact moment I felt like an adult. A grown-up. Someone mature and responsible and capable.

It was when one of my Husband’s grandparents died. About a year after we were married, Grandpa became quite ill. Cancer. Inoperable. Months to live.

We spent as much time as we could with Grandpa. But the inevitable came. His health went downhill rapidly. He was admitted to Palliative Care at the local hospital.

Husband and I visited as often as we could – at least three or four times a week. But one day we walked in and he was asleep. Grandma was weeping in the corner.

“He’s just so confused today,” she told us. The nurses had increased his morphine. Again. We sat. We watched him breathing in and out with so much effort I was frightened he’d die right then and there. But he struggled on. He woke up briefly and said a few words to us, then fell asleep again. Grandma started crying again and Husband took her out of the room for a bit of fresh air. For the first time, I was alone with Grandpa. Alone with a man who was clearly days, if not hours, from death.

I sat at a chair by his bedside. Every time he’d exhale, there would be agonizing seconds of nothing and I would pray that he took another breath in. He eventually would with this huge horrible gasp. I never knew how much effort went into breathing before then. I was alone with him for about 15 minutes, listening to his death rattle. I wish I’d have chatted to him, about something or nothing. I had a feeling he could still hear. We’d left his hearing aids in. But instead, I just stared at his chest and thought, “Is this what makes me a grown-up? Sitting here watching someone die?”

That afternoon, we rang the whole family. They all joined us at the hospital. Grandpa died that night, with his wife and children in the room. The grandchildren and partners, including me, were down the hall, in a sitting room where we could make tea, sit on sofas and stare at walls. Husband’s mum and dad came into the room a few minutes later and told us. Everyone cried except me. Maybe that makes me a cold unfeeling person. But I was too busy trying to comfort Husband, holding him close to me and saying nothing. There’s really nothing to say in situations like this, is there?

It was late, we were all told to go home. We’d convene again in the morning. Mother-in-law put her arms around my still crying Husband and began to walk him out to our car. My darling father-in-law who I adore held my hand tightly and said to me, “I know Husband will be okay because you’re there to look after him. And we couldn’t have picked a better person ourselves. He’s very lucky to have you.” That’s when I started crying. Thankfully Husband didn’t see. I wanted to be strong for him. I did not want him to feel he had to comfort me.

Among all the family and friends, two of the bartenders at Grandpa’s local RSL came to his funeral. As did two of the palliative care nurses from the hospital, the regular Silver Chain nurse, Grandpa’s GP and the lady at the local newsagent to whom Grandpa always announced “I have the winning lotto ticket!” every Monday morning. None of these people knew Grandpa well, but he’d clearly wormed his way into their hearts, like he did mine. I only knew him a little while – a few years out of the 76 he’d lived – but he was an incredible man. He built dollhouses out of scrap wood and furnished them with tiny intricate wooden furniture he made from off-cuts. He sold 17 fully-furnished houses on e-bay and made quite a lot of money. His 18th house remains unfinished and unfurnished, shut away in a bedroom of the house he and Grandma shared for nearly 40 years. It was a replica of the tiny two-up, two-down house he’d grown up in near the village of  Twyford, Berkshire.

It’s his birthday today. He’d have been 80. So happy birthday Grandpa. I’m baking a cake for you today – it’s your favourite. We miss you. xxxx


Comfort Food

It’s been mentioned (somewhat brutally in one instance!) that I’ve been a bit of a misery guts lately. So let’s move past that.

Since I’ve not been feeling the best lately thanks to last weeks hospital admission (and the subsequent antibiotics which have made my insides feel a tad unpleasant), I’ve taken advantage of feeling crap and that, along with the sudden cold snap here in Perth, have made me think about lovely warm comfort food. Mostly, it’s things that Mum would make me when I was a kid and feeling a bit under the weather.

Top 10 Comfort Foods:

1. Tea and toast – yes, they must be together. And the toast must have the tiniest scraping of butter and nothing else on it.

2. Lamb stew – fairly basic – just onion, lamb, a few diced veg and lots of meaty broth!

3. Chocolate biscuits.

4. Chocolate in general. (It cheers me up, okay!)

5. Pasta with a tiny bit of paremsan, butter and black pepper stirred through it.

6. Chicken soup. Need I say more?

7. Ice-cream with honey on it – this is something Mum always gave me to eat as a child whenever I had a sore throat.

8. Stone fruit. I don’t know why I always love stone fruit when I’m sick but it has to be really cold and if it’s slightly over-ripe then that’s a bonus.

9. Lime cordial. Again, thanks to Mum – as a kid if I had an upset tummy she’d make up half a glass of weak lime cordial and then top it up with lemonade. According to her the bubbles help to settle the tummy and the sugar helps give energy.

10. Last but not least, Pringles. I don’t know why I always feel like eating them when I’m sick. But I do.

What are your favourite comfort foods when you’re sick or upset? 

It’s Been One Of THOSE Weeks…

And I’m fucking glad it’s almost over! It started with me and my hormones getting upset over this and the whole baby/Switzerland thing. Then I found out my sister had told my mother-in-law via the wonders of FaceBook that I’d been thinking about cheating on Husband. I went into full crisis mode (tears, wine, phonecalls, more tears and lots of expletives) and thankfully mother-in-law believes me, but thinks a whole lot less of me. Wonderful.

Then yesterday morning I woke up with a pain in my side. It came and went. It hurt to take a deep breath in. The pain wasn’t crippling, but enough to be disconcerting given my medical history. I asked for advice on what to do via Twitter and the wonderful Tamsin Howse recommended I call Health Direct who I hadn’t heard of before. I did and the lady was lovely. She asked me a bunch of questions. Me and my stoic Englishness downplayed the pain until it was almost non-existent. But still, Health Direct lady told me I should see a doctor. Within 4 hours. My GP couldn’t fit me in and the local clinic is useless (they diagnosed Husband’s cancer as a UTI a few years back – so needless to say I wouldn’t trust them under any circumstances). So it was off to hospital. Husband came home and whisked me off to the nearest emergency department.

I’ve not been to hospital before so I didn’t really know what to expect. I also felt like a fraud. I wasn’t bleeding uncontrollably, I didn’t have a broken or dislocated limb and I definitely wasn’t unconscious. I felt like a fool walking in there. But the doctor and one of the nurses were really nice. (The other nurse tried to force me to take a medication that tends to make me vomit – when I refused and just took some Panadol and a little green painkiller instead, she was quite cross with me!) They did the usual exams – BP (high), pulse (high), temperate (normal) oxygen saturation levels (normal), ECG (normal), blood sugar level (normal) ; then I had to wee in a cup and have a blood test. Fun.

Then the painkiller started kicking in and made me feel a bit sleepy whilst we waited for my test results to come back. Husband was lovely and kept chatting away to me to keep me distracted from what was happening in the next cubicle (quite dramatic and very upsetting – but I won’t share, it doesn’t feel right to share in this instance.)

My test results came back an hour or so later and were normal and my pain was under control so they sent me home about 8pm with instructions to see my GP this morning.

My lovely GP who I saw a couple of hours ago thinks I may have a very early and very mild case of appendicitis. He’s whacked me onto some antibiotics which I get to take for ten days. So thankfully it’s nothing serious. GP is 95% certain that the antibiotics will do their thing and surgery is extremely unlikely which is good – I don’t fancy being in hospital again. So for the next few days I get to take it easy, read a bit, sit in front of the heater (Perth is having a lovely cold snap!) and drink warm Milo. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?!   😉

We Are Not Rich

Dear family and friends, just to make things clear:

We do not earn over $150,000 a year like you think we do. Nowhere near it.

We do not live pay-cheque to pay-cheque. We prefer to build our savings.

No, we do not go out for fancy expensive dinners EVERY weekend like you think we do.

We can’t afford to fly to overseas (or even inter-state) on a whim – and no, we will not dip into our savings account so we can go with you.

Please remember, we are a one-income household.

Yes, we budget and we stick to it.

Our savings are for if the worst happens – Husband’s work contract is not renewed or he gets sick and cannot work.

Don’t forget that Husband’s previous illness (cancer) has made him ineligible for most insurance schemes. He has minimal insurance which will not even cover mortgage repayments if he ever has to give up work.

I’m sorry – I know you want a $3000 watch for your birthday, but we can’t afford to buy it for you. Please stop dropping hints.

We will not pay a tradesman to do all our renovations around the house because it is cheaper to do it ourselves.

Husband takes a sandwich to work most days – he rarely buys lunch.

I do not own designer clothes/handbags/jewellery/shoes.

Husband’s car was $14,000 brand new six years ago. Mine is fourth-hand and 18 years old.

I grow our own vegetables and fruit, I bake our own bread, I bake all our snacks and cook all our meals from scratch to save money.

So which part of WE ARE NOT RICH do you not understand?

PS: Yes, these are all real questions, comments and insinuations we have faced recently. 


Me and My Selfish Misery

I took a valium 15 minutes ago so excuse what could be a rambling post filled with whinging and lots of spelling errors and the occasional sentence which makes no sense whatsoever.

I’ve having a really hard time today, and I feel like an idiot admitting that.

I feel like a failure for needing to take a drug designed to stop my anxiety escalating. The prescription is old but thankfully in date. My lovely doctor gave it to me years ago when we found out that Husband had cancer and I emotionally crumbled way more than he did. The little yellow pills helped then and they’re helping again today.

That foggy drunken feeling is taking over now and I’m grateful for it. It hasn’t stopped me from having a good cry, but it has stopped the panic I could feel gripping my lungs and forcing all the air out of them.

I’m still waiting for Husband to make a decision on whether to go to the wedding of the century (which you can read about here, here and here) and the waiting is killing me. I feel desperate for an answer. Desperate in a way I never thought possible.

I know that soon an invitation will be in our letterbox with an RSVP date. I know that will force him to make a decision but for me, it’s not soon enough. I need his decision now – I need to know whether I can go into Operation Baby-Making or if I have to put this dream on hold for at least another year.

I feel so selfish and guilty and full of self-loathing for putting Husband in this situation. But there’s this part of my brain I can’t shut up – it’s telling me the maths. If I want at least three kids (with an approximate gap of two years between them) then I need to start trying to get pregnant a year ago in order to have them all by the time I turn 35 when chances of things like downs syndrome increase. I already know I will have a high-risk pregnancy and birth – after 35 the risks to me and any unborn baby will rise exponentially. I don’t want that – I want to minimize the risks and pray for a good outcome.

If I have to put Operation Baby-Making on hold, then I may only get to have one or two children – especially if it takes quite a while to fall pregnant and I have a couple of miscarriages (which is common with certain conditions I unfortunately have).

I talk to Husband about everything, but I feel like I can’t talk to him about this. I’m trying not to put pressure on him to make a decision about whether to go to the wedding or not. I’m trying not to talk about having babies even though it seems to come up in conversation a couple of times a week – usually just a throw-away comment by one of us about what we’d do in certain situations if we had kids.

I wish I could shut up my biological clock (which I never knew I had until a year or so ago). I wish I could be a better person and tell Husband to go to the wedding with my blessing. But I’m not a selfless person. I don’t want him to go – I want him to stay here and I want us to start trying to get pregnant. I know I’m being selfish. But I’m also downright fucking miserable here in limbo.

The Most Ridiculous Wedding Photo

Share your opinion – is this the most ridiculous wedding photo ever?

I think it’s stupid – the “princess” dress full of sequins and crystals (and probably diamonds), the full tulle skirt, the horse, the backdrop, Clarkey (who’s almost as much of a princess as the bride in my opinion). It’s just so contrived – give me a candid shot of two people in love over a staged fairytale picture any day.

What do you think?

The Perfect Friend

Do you have a friend who’s perfect? I’m not talking about “perfect” in the relationship sense (as in you get on like a house on fire with him/her.) But someone who is perfect by the dictionary sense: completely free from faults, defects and bad luck.

I do.

This friend came from a normal family in a normal suburb. She excelled at high school so went to uni and did a double degree (in something complicated). Then she did a post-graduate course whilst working full time. Then she fell in love with the perfect man, had the perfect wedding on a perfect sunny day in June.

She left her full-time job to be a housewife, but then decided it wasn’t enough for her so she now does university tutoring, runs an online craft store (with in-person AND online tutorials) and is an active member of her church charity committee. She has an active social life with many friends and is close with her family.

Did I mention that she has two kids too? She had two perfect pregnancies, labour was short both times (7 hours for the first, 5 hours for the second) and has no problems breast-feeding. Her first child, now three, is an absolute angel. Toilet trained and sleeping in a big kids bed and eating by himself. The younger (a girl, of course – the perfect pair of kids!) sleeps 6 hours straight a night, despite being only 9 weeks old.

This perfect friend lives in the perfect house – it’s brand new in an upper-middle class suburb. She can keep her white clothes white (something I have not yet perfected), her floors free of crumbs (again, something I haven’t mastered with a Husband, two dogs and a cat) and her list of daily chores is always complete by 9am. AND before 9am she’s also managed to shower and blow-dry her perfectly highlighted blonde hair, have breakfast and drink two cups of herbal tea whilst they were still hot, and without needing to turn on the TV to keep her toddler amused.

She makes me a little bit sick. How on earth can one person be so perfect?! It’s after 11am, I’m behind on the weekly washing thanks to this drizzly Perth weather (and the lack of a dryer), am wearing old clothes with no bra, haven’t cleaned up the breakfast dishes and am still trying to work out how to clean dried cat sick off the suede sofa. And I don’t even have kids!

I am as far from perfect as it’s possible to be. And I hate to admit it, but I’m insanely jealous of my friend and her perfection which she achieves without stress and without messing up her beautiful white clothes and perfect blow-dry.

Now excuse me whilst I go wave some damp clothes in front of the heater.

PS: Any advice on the cat-sick situation is most welcome.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Husband and I had a rather heated discussion this morning. It wasn’t really an argument – there were no sides, no one did anything wrong, but it was an emotionally charged morning to say the least.

I’ve decided not to go to bro-in-law’s wedding in Switzerland this Christmas. Husband knew I was leaning towards that decision. The problem is, he doesn’t know what he wants to do.

He told me he feels obliged to go because he’d be the only family member there. But that doesn’t really want to go. He doesn’t want to spend that much money on a solo trip. He wants to travel, but not by himself to Europe and not at Christmas when prices are insane.

And then, with a tinge of hostility in his voice, he said this: “If it weren’t for the wedding and the cost involved, we’d already be trying to get pregnant.”

And there it is. He voiced exactly what I’ve been thinking for months. Pregnancy.

It’s been a topic of conversation all year and we’re already taking steps towards it because to be honest, I think we both want a baby already. But I’ve been putting off the blood tests I need to get done because I know that if we get the go-ahead from a medical point-of-view, it won’t really be a go-ahead. Because we’re waiting. Waiting for someone else to get married. Waiting to increase our savings again once we’ve (or Husband at least has) spent a large chunk flying to one of the most expensive places to spend Christmas to take part in a wedding we have had so much trouble being enthusiastic about.

To be honest, I’m hating this. I hate the fact that our future is being delayed. And as horrible as it sounds, I hate that we can’t be selfish and do what we want.

Poor Husband is caught in the middle. Torn between me and his brother. He wants to travel, but doesn’t want to spend upwards of $6000 to spend Christmas away from me and his parents in order to attend his brothers wedding. Yet he feels obliged to attend the wedding because his parents can’t afford to go.

We also know that we may be asked to help pay for the bloody wedding of the century. I know we can say no, but if we say no then the family members who can least afford it (parents and grandparents) will pay and we just can’t let them do that. That is not an option.

My gut feeling says that Husband will go to the wedding. Which means we won’t start trying to get pregnant for probably another year because (a) Husband won’t leave me for weeks on end whilst pregnant and (b) we won’t have a nice big chunk of cash sitting in our savings account for if the worst happens (Husband’s work contract gets terminated). We’ll need to re-save all our pennies and we think that will take at least six months post Swiss wedding.

This whole situation feels like one giant mess. And so came the discussion this morning. The one where Husband got frustrated with everyone including himself and where I cried out of sheer guilt for making Husband choose between me (and our future) and his brother.

And although I’ve made up my mind, Husband still has no idea what to do.

Inappropriate Celebrity Crushes

We all have a crush on at least one celebrity. There are the usual’s – Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, David Beckham (until he opens his mouth), Patrick Dempsey, Ryan Reynolds. More recently (thanks to The Voice) the Madden brothers, Seal and Keith Urban have all seen an increase in interest. These are the men we talk about to our friends, our family (even my Mum thinks Keith Urban is scrumptious!) and to fellow social networkers. These are the men we are happy to say, “I’d bang him harder than a screen door in a tornado” to other people.

But what about those crushes we DON’T talk about? The ones we’re too embarrassed or ashamed to admit because they’re old/overweight/have grey hair/a shocking personality/no sense of humour/the wrong gender/have a criminal record – circle one or many! I’m sure there are a number of people who lust after Simon Cowell despite the fact that he’s a complete egotistical wanker.

And what about the straight girls who have crushes on straight girls? Admittedly these crushes aren’t of the sexual persuasion, but surely I can’t be the only person whose tummy does a flip-flop when I see Taylor Swift looking utterly ravishing (again!) on a red carpet or stage. Although I think this kind of inappropriate crush is more to do with “I want to be her” rather than “I want to shag her”. If only I had curly blonder hair, a slender body, gorgeous feline eyes, stunning dresses and a truckload of talent my life would surely be perfect?

So anyway, I want us (that’s you and me, my darling readers) to feel safe here. Imagine this blog as a big, giant squashy bed making you feel warm and comfortable. It’s time to fess up. There will be no judgement, no sniggers, no “REALLY?!” comments with the big capital letters and the unbelieving question mark at the end.

Who are your inappropriate celebrity crushes? 

I’ll kick start proceedings. Sadly, I’ve had many inappropriate celebrity crushes over the years – to be honest, a frightening amount considering I’m not quite thirty-years-old yet. Here goes: Nick Stokes (yes, the character from CSI, not the actual actor whose name is George Eads), Richard Hammond (from Top Gear), Brett Lee (okay, maybe that one is appropriate and my love of cricket isn’t?), Ewan McGregor’s character from the film “Eye of the Beholder” (and if you’ve ever seen the film, you’ll know why it’s inappropriate!), Gary Mehigan (from MasterChef), Anthony Warlow, Sean Connery and Paul McDermott, fur and all.

Now it’s your turn – whose your inappropriate crush? And remember, no judging – this is a safe place. Any judgmental comments will be deleted immediately. And if dutch courage is needed, I have a bottle of vodka on standby….

Things I Don’t Understand

– Passive/aggressive FaceBook status updates.

– Why Instagram is so popular.

– How the medicare levy works.

– People who buy over $1000 worth of designer baby gear (in size 0000) that the baby grows out of before they have a chance to schedule an appointment with a top-notch baby photographer.

– Baby photographers charging $800 for ONE PHOTO of your baby.

– Beauty pageants.

– Spelling bees.

– Turnips.

– Fake tans (ala Ross on Friends).

– G-strings.

– Girls who consistently wear the wrong shade of foundation.

– People who lie about having a terminal illness then miraculously get better when people question why they haven’t died.

– Green tea.

– People who live on credit.

– People who debt finance everything.

– Men who wear eyeliner.

– Why comfy bra’s always look like granny-bra’s and pretty bra’s are always so damn uncomfortable!

– Marmite. *vomit*

– Why people lay concrete over their entire front and back yards. (Because at the moment, I’m jack-hammering that shit up and it’s NOT fun!)

– The allure of Bali as a holiday destination.

– “Suburban” 4WD’s.

– Baby boys given a girly name – such as Jayne.

– Why people hate Taylor Swift. (She’s just so NICE!)

Is there anything you don’t understand?