Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Off to Hanoi for a week...


We leave tomorrow morning first thing (for us, last thing for y'all!) for Hanoi. Oddly enough, there is a perfectly good working US consulate here in HCMC, which ANY other American can use. Those of us annoying enough to have the NERVE to adopt from this country have to shlep up to Hanoi for our appointments (thanks to our US go'ment and esp. GW....%$#hole). As if our travels aren't arduous enough... Now we have to fly there, and wait wait wait for an appointment before we can come home.

We are ALL ready to go HOME. Even the Minute wasn't up for the city tonight. T wanted to go out for our first "family out" dinner here tonight. So he scouted a place that had a number of Vegetarian dishes on the menu, and they spoke pretty good english, so off we went. AS SOON AS WE GOT THERE, Minh had a Minhy-Meltdown. After ordering a TON of food, we decided that I would skip dinner and head back to the room with the critter. Tod stayed and ate it all by himself.

Oddly enough, when we got back to the room, my little frog turned back into a prince, and we had a great time hanging out playing on the bed. T came in an hour or so later annoyed, worn-out, and wet. He'd had some bad experiences today and this dinner (which was EXPENSIVE, even by US standards, and lousy by almost ANY standards) put him over the top. He and Minh crashed out about the same time - 8:00 pm. I'm supposed to be packing, but I can't seem to focus. I'm SOOOO worn out, myself, and while M is a trooper, he's teething so he does get fussy... mainly any time we leave the room... is that a Cancer thing? He loves his "home" and is really a joy (except those rare meltdowns with just me!!) almost all the time we are "in". He is shy when we go out, although he's warming up, but really isn't ready to be out much. He and I feel the same, frankly. We want to come home.

I have more pictures, of course. This kid sees the camera now and begins immediately hamming it up. It's crazy. I don't take pictures of him smiling; he smiles when the camera is pointed AT him.... Seriously. He was asleep earlier and I tried to snap a quick photo of him sleeping with T, but he actually woke up long enough to mug for the photo, and then POW - right back to sleep!! I kid you not!!

Ok, I'm off now to get some rest. I'm about a month behind on sleep...I guess I'll never catch up now, will I??

Are you tired of this look yet??




Tod and I had the best evening yet last night. We walked to a little French-style cafe where they serve crepes, ice cream, and coffee. Needless to say, they had my vote right away. The cafe has a covered patio, and we began the evening sitting there, with a cuppa and we totally ruined our dinner by ordering a 10 icecream sampler plater (for three!). The ice cream came as one small scoop of each ice cream on a large square plate, with 3 waffle cups with 3 kinds of drizzles - raspberry, chocolate, and strawberry - as well as fruit salad on the side. It was incredibly fun (we giggled about how silly we were being - eating ice cream for dinner!!), and as we sat there, the sky got darker and darker, the wind picked up, and a storm rolled in full force. The waitresses made us move inside, 'cause we had a baby, you see, and he might get damp in rain... so funny. So, in we moved. We watched the traffic get frantic as the rain began, and all hell broke loose. Wind, rain, lightning, and POW - the electricity in our ENTIRE block went out. It was awesome. The waitress all screamed and ran in circles (i kid you not!), and Minute took it all in like a champ. Didn't even blink. It was great fun. Then we had to leave, and the waitresses - who LOVE the little dude - made us take an umbrella - "for the baby". So, off we go, through the totally dark streets, trying to cross MAJOR traffic is bad during the day, but nearly insane at night with no lights!! But we did fine, and as we got closer to our hotel, we saw that the lights were out ALL the way UP to the hotel, but the hotel had power!! What luck!

Anyway, it was an easy night last night; the baby put himself to sleep about 9:30 and woke up briefly at 2:30, then slept all the way through to 8:00 this morning.

Also, yesterday he not only learned to crawl, but ALSO took his first steps! All in one day. Today he's walking with very little help...so in one full day, he learned to crawl, take steps, and walk. He also added a new sound to the vocabulary. So, today is brought to you by the letter M. MMMMMM. M for Minute. Mom, and MORE!

Quick kiddo!! Next he'll be saying "gimme da keys, and some cash, Dad".

And yes, the outfit with the green shirt and red pants is awful. That's what I get for letting Tod dress the baby.

Ooooh, and Miss Kathryn, see the onsie??!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For the TRULY dedicated

Ok, folks. Here's some video (amateur, to be sure!!) for those who are truly dedicated to the Minute!! Just click on it and it should run. Warning, there is sound (but it's G rated this time!!). If this goes over well, I've got a few more short ones I can post. Oh, this is seconds after they placed Minute in my arms....
video

stuff they dont tell you much....

So, TG I had read about how little ones, when first coming home to their A-parents will often be WONDERFUL to their dad, and everyone else they meet, but can be particularly hard on their moms.... well, we have DEFINITELY had a bit of that. Actually about once a day Minute will have what I call a Melt-down (no, not very creative), and it is ALWAYS when we are alone together. Tod never gets to see Melt-down Minh. It starts suddenly; crying, thrashing, hitting, hair pulling (until I got smart and started pulling it back everyday), kicking...

The first time it happened I was unprepared. He had been an absolute joy . It is so sudden and so horrible that it makes me cry out of frustration. Today I think I finally had a breakthrough. Normally, I try to hold him, console him, feed him (he NEVER takes a bottle like this, but I try!), BUT today, I let him sit an sob. I sat with him, and stroked his leg and talked to him, but I didn't get upset (ok, yes I did. I even cried a little, but WAY better than before!), and I just started singing to him (Nora Jones was playing). After a few minutes (which felt like HOURS) he calmed down and let me put him in the carrier and he zonked right out. I guess what I did differently was I just let him have his time to be pissed off, or home sick (god knows I know how he feels), but was still letting him know I wasn't going anywhere.

This would absolutely destroy me if I hadn't read that it is fairly common with a-kids...especially early on. So, anyway, a little "not-so-feel-good" story. We shall see if it happens tomorrow... and I expect it to. The difference will be that I know 1) it isn't personal 2) it will pass and 3) he likes my singing...or at least he likes Nora Jones.

More Pix - prepare for CUTE!

Ok, to get the FULL effect of the two bottom pictures (or as I like to call them, the "Minh does Johnny Rotten" pictures), you HAVE to click on them to get the full view. Check out the hair!!





Monday, July 28, 2008

Pictures, 'cause that's why you keep coming back!





As always for a bigger picture, click the picture.
More pictures. (BTW- the one of me in the grass is for the other turf lovers in my life...Minh wasn't sure how he felt about the grass, but I enjoyed it!)

Will post later when the baby is asleep. It is a real challenge to type when he LOVES the computer and hates me ON the computer.

I am working on one of those "they don't usually talk about this" posts, but I don't have time now to get into it. Other posts I have read by other a-moms have helped me immensely and I can FINALLY post one of my own... but later. Later.



Minh is teething, and while he is truly the charm and joy I have talked about, this morning was rough. He woke at 3:30 a.m. and wouldn't go back to sleep. T had to walk the baby around the city until 6. When T stopped walking/moving, Minute woke up. So, poor T is running on less sleep than I am, but he is as much a champ as the baby. T has been a real help and an honest pleasure to be parenting with.

Ok, back to my little bundle of new teeth...

G and R...and boy, is the new Mom TIRED









We were up EARLY today - 5 a.m. Early for me anyway. The Minute went to bed at 5 pm last night and slept ALL THE WAY THROUGH to 5 this a.m., so I guess I should be pleased. We did have a tiny tastes of demon Minh (so all you out there secretly jealous he's such an easy baby, don't worry. We are getting a feel for what he'll be like in full-tilt meltdown). I came back from breky w/ Minute b/c T was eating more and I wanted to get Minute ready for the day. We came back to the room and after the face-plant, got very cranky. I know, big surprise. But I'm not sure they were related. I think it was mainly that I made him stop playing with my computer (now when Minh comes near the computer, it whimpers and tries to hide. Poor little computer.). Anyway, he was pitching himself all around, throwing his toys on the floor, hitting me, and then he grabbed my nice long hair and yanked (which is why my hair is now pulled back in ALL photos from here on out).

Anyway, I put him forward facing in the mya-wrap and he zonked right out. TG. On to the G and R, which was not bad, but the room was HOT and smelled like someone took their smelly feet, walked through rotten fish, and then added some stale urine to the mix just for some variety. The ceremony was short and Minute was in full-on adorable mode (see picture above with his jaunty little hat). He is amazing in the sense that he is quite shy and calms down and gets quiet when in public. It's as tho' he's a different critter. When we get him in the room alone, his charm just ratchets up and the smiles, the talking, and the charm just come right out! You'll see what I mean when you first meet him. He'll be quiet, calm, no smiles, and wide eyes. Once he warms up, this little piggy will steal your heart. (He might even warm the heart of my MIL... but that remains to be seen).

We came back to the room after the G and R, and sadly, I am still feeling worn out and sort of not 100% healthy yet, so today has really worn me out...oh, and yesterday didn't hurt either. So I've seen almost nothing of the city, and spent almost all my time in our room. BUT, I plan to head out momentarily to visit the market or something to get a sense of the area we are in. And grab a few more photos, too!!

This little dude continues to be wonderful, with only the occasional little moment of petulance (see, he IS related to me!!); but he's learning us, testing us, and making sure he choose the right parents. So far so good!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Minh has something to say:


ZCBCHYNfv bbyi,ppppppppppjjh FFFFFFFF

Well, this message brought to you by the Minute. Lots of other things were done to the computer before we made it to this phase.... but well, the beeping and whirring my poor little computer did doesn't translate well.....

Ok, in interest of full disclosure, I just allowed my kid to do his first face plant. Right off the bed. He was trying one of his fancy olimpic style lunges and, plow. right off the bed, face first. Took it like a CHAMP. A few tears (hell, I would have screamed way more!!), then all done. Amazing. If only mom was ok, now....

Success! and more bragging on my kid



The pictures are from the orphanage. We were shepherded into a small conference room, and saw virtually nothing of the orphanage when we got there. The up side? They brought us Minh right away. We also were asked by a family back home to visit with their little person also here in Tam Binh. The director was very kind and allowed us to meet the baby and take some picture and send some good old fashioned love from NC. We do go back tomorrow for the official G & R ceremony. (more on this later in post)


Now, back in the hotel....Ok, so I KNOW NOTHING about taking care of a kid. Honestly, I figure, how hard can it be right? So, we've been doing really good so far. Minh, T, and I all hung out in the room just sort of letting him get used to us for about 3 hours. Then we decided that we would put on our uber cool Mya wrap (thanks again Britta!), and take a little walk. So, Minh was a CHAMP. He just hung out, looked at everything, and then crashed until we got back to our hotel room, at which point T and I were SOOO ready for a nap. It was not to be. Well, not for me anyway. We took Minh out of the wrap and he was instantly awake and ready to play. How do you say no to that?!

So, T thinks that the best way to bond is full-on no clothes and everyone hang out in bed (sorry, TMI?? It is pertinent to the rest of the story). I warned him that this was only bad news and at least a diaper would be a good idea.... (duh!). No, T was firm. We compromised; sweat pants, no diaper, no shirt. So, we are all in bed playing, I managed to feed Minute a bottle (yeah, that's right!! I did it!!!), and everything is going great until....well, he had a pee. On me. Not on Tod, of course who, BTW, is asleep by now. But right on me. So, I clean us both up and look for something else to put on the Minute. NOTHING I brought fits this child. EVERYTHING is too damn big. EVERYTHING. This kid has no hips or butt to speak of, and is so slim. He does have big hands and feet, so maybe he's like a puppy and will grow into them??!! Anyway, we have the G and R first thing to morrow a.m. and I have no clue what this child will be wearing. Oh, and yes, he has on a diaper now, BUT I can't be sure it's on right.... I don't know how these things work. Yes, it looks easy, but..... Well, I'll let you know when the next "surprise" happens and we shall see if the diaper is on right!!

Oh, and UP, you will be happy. This kid loves sports. I know b/c he keeps playing with the TV remote and turning on the sports channel. If CNN is on, he changes it. No kidding, it's uncanny.

Finally, I have said it already, and maybe you don't believe me, but this child is a dream. He is charming, he's soooo laid back, he is sweet, he chatters at/to us almost non-stop (he's already got da-da down. but not ma-ma yet...), he's got a sense of humor, and he is the smartest child I have ever met (sure sure. he's mine. of course he's smart... but seriously!! I've already taught him high 5!! He loves it. Phil, we'll be working on "touch down" next!). Anyway, he's standing up with the help of something to pull himself up on, but that's as far as it goes now. We haven't done much more than hang out in bed, so he may be doing back flips by this point, but I will have to wait to see them as he AND his pop are asleep now.

Picture from our first few hours






More pictures. Minh is already into reading. See, Pop? Minh likes Jack Reacher too!

Minh is a joy. I can not explain what an easy baby this child is. He shed a few tears when he first met us, but I think that's b/c the orphanage staff were fussing over his quite a bit. Once they left us to go, he calmed right down. He slept all the way to the Hotel, and woke up when we got to the room. We relaxed a bit just getting to know each other, and the first time I left his view he started to cry (such a faker!!), but I came back and he stopped right away. Now we are hanging out on our GIANT bed and playing with stuff. Minh loves the jacket to my new book (see photo!!) and he takes after all the men in my family - he LOVES the TV remote.

We just got our first smile. OMG - this kid is SO FREAKING ADORABLE. And just FYI - yes, he does still have that dimple!! Damn, he IS SOOO CUTE!!!

Oh, and we have 4 teeth, I think. 2 top and two bottom. And he was scooting around... I don't know if he crawls yet. We were told he has started to walk with help. We aren't pushing him; we are letting him sort of dictate how fast we do things. Right now, we are perfect. Just perfect.

I am a mom



Ok, he does look happier with Tod, but that's not fair b/c the picture with me was taken the second they placed him in my arms...and he started crying, although not for real. Just a little nervous and scared, but no real tears actually came out. He is a BEAUTIFUL and happy and PEACEFUL child. We have JUST returned to the hotel to be a family... maxing and relaxing for now.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

DISSPATCHES FROM VIETNAM Part I - Tod speaks

Just to tide you over: This is from Tod's first day/days here:

Greetings from HCM. The trip was long but not so bad, enjoyed the company of the people I was seated with, a 25 year old 2nd gen V nail tech from Houston on vacation visiting family, and a 14 year old 2nd gen V going back with fam for first time in 10 years. Had a nice Chinese astrology chat with girl from Houston, She and many of her friends are Pig babies and she had some nice insights. The flight was 15 1/2 hours from Chicago to Hong Kong, which looks pretty cool flying into. I was bummed cause the only in flight movie I was interested in the sound was screwed up.
When I got in everything was pretty smooth, the only hiccup was I missed the sign for me and wandered around the outside of the airport for a while trying to find Kevin and Peter. A fellow offered to call me a taxi then gave me his phone to call them and we finally hooked up after what seemed like a very long time but I am sure was only 10 minutes or so.
The hotel is very comfortable and nicely located, I had a hard time getting to sleep that night I was a little wired and slept a fair bit on the flight over. I enlisted the aid of kind old Johnny Walker and he finally knocked me out about 3:45am. I awoke to Pat and John calling me on my cell, which works here I guess, who knew?
I got up for the breakfast buffet, which is awesome, huge spread and plenty of tasty food to feed a vegetarian, thank God. I ate and ate and took my time, read the local paper, then went back to the room where I got the call that we will be picking Minh up Sunday AM. I had been Interested in visiting him before but that was not possible. The hospital director is at the beach on vacation. I called Peter and he said they had a busy day so he would come by Friday to show me around the city; Nesh arrives from Sydney 7:45 pm Saturday so I had some time to peruse the city on my own. I got my gear and decided to go for a walk. I, not a seasoned or savvy traveler, and naturally a nice guy, from a culture that does not haggle, quickly parted with more money than I had any intention of spending.
4 steps out the door a fellow on a motorbike, which by the way is the national vehicle, all under 175 cc by law offered me a ride. I politely declined Which served as no deterrent to the charming entrepreneur. He wore me down, and I hoped on the back and we went. There are Few traffic laws and there are some lights but mostly traffic is free flow with a fair amount of horn use. I think it is beautiful and effective but then I like anarchy and love scooters so I would wouldn't I. There are a wide array of vehicles but the scooter or small motorcycle esp the Honda Wave is dominant on the streets. They are everywhere and bleed onto the sidewalks. They recently enacted helmet laws but they are token helmets, and you see people carrying all kinds of things, palm trees, produce, petrol, rice, pipe, my favorite was the guy on the back of one carrying a full length mirror.
Our first stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral with the old post office. At the post office I spent far too much on postcards, and albums of old money. I was not mentally prepared for the intensity of the haggling. After the first one got me, more swarmed sensing dumbness. I said no thank you 45 times to the second gal, but she finally wore me down. Saying no that much did get the price dropped 75% though. The selling process was interesting, like with the first, when she quoted me the price I said I wanted less stuff and she responded by offering free stuff instead. Then after refusing they essentially switch to begging for the sale, talking about needing to feed their children, please help me being the refrain, the second gal even had a pout with every please help me and she probably used that line for 35 of the 45 no thank yous. The third girl. She got 5 firm nos, no eye contact and we rode away.
By the way did I mention that I got on the bike without discussing price with my ferryman? FYI, that is a good idea. He was a good fellow and we chatted, he had a fair command of English. We zipped around town and stopped at a small Buddhist temple, a couple markets, and then took a trek about 30km out of town to see the Me Kong river. We stopped and he ate lunch at a Pho place, which are everywhere. I wasn't hungry and you can't find Veggi Pho anyway. We stopped for petrol and headed back to the hotel. It was a nice 4 hour tour and he was a good guy, enjoyed his company and talking to him, but he asked for and I paid him $200 US which I should have haggled down. O well, did my part for the local economy.
So after recovering from the hot, dusty 4 hours of travel on the back of a motor bike for a spell, I set back out for a walk, a little wiser and a little poorer. I decided to strike out sans cash or credit, and spent the next 4 hours thoroughly perusing the block. There is an indoor mall with a supermarket on the corner which is cool and I found a few things of interest in the shops. The coolest thing was the Hindu temple around the corner. I hung out there for a while and plan to chill there every now and again. Found a cool stuffed pig at a north Vietnamese ethnic goods shop that I will definitely go back for.
That was all I had steam for Day 1, I walked back to the hotel and relaxed, vegged out and passed out about 9pm. I woke back up at 1:30 and stayed up for a couple hours and woke up for good 5:30 AM drew myself a bath, and had a nice leisurely breakfast from 6:30-8:30, a nice chat with John and Pat and then Peter called and we struck out to tour again on the back of his bike.. for free. Yay.
We went to a great Buddhist pagoda with active monastery that I loved and will probably go back to just hang out for a good long time to soak it in. A little oasis of calm in this bustling metropolis. Nothing else of great note. Looking forward to Nesh's arrival tomorrow and Minh's pick up Sunday.

om shanti
Tod

Australia fades away














I do not have time to blog much...BECAUSE WE MEET MINH IN LESS THAN 1 HOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!

I LOVED LOVED LOVED my last 2 days in Australia. I can not tell you how great it was. I was taken in by a family and instead of staying at another hotel, the family let me stay with them. They lived in the country and I got to poke around the forest, hunt for MARSUPIALS!!!! and generally had an overwhelmingly wonderful last 2 days. TG! My connection is slow, so pictures are difficult to upload but I did want to get a few up!! So, I saw a real live kangaroo, then some wallabees (see photo - the kangaroo was too fast for me to photograph!), as well as, my personal fav a LIVE wombat. I'll try to get that photo up too. HOWEVER, you will soon loose interest as SURPRISE, we on our way to pick up our son in a matter of minutes.

I will post more after we get back from the orphanage. Little Minute, here I come!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

THATS RIGHT - a KANGAROO!

I saw one!!! Real Live, WILD kangaroo!!! Will post more later. I am on my way to Vietnam TOMORROW!!!!!! I'm staying with a family on their farm tonight. Great time. Best yet. More later!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Aussie to English

OMG - Someone actually said "ooroo" to me today as I was leaving a meeting with them!! They really do talk like this. And UP, remind me, I've learned some good "naughty" words that I will refrain from putting on this site, but you WANT TO KNOW!!

  • Fred Nerk - your "generic" imaginary person, "oh, right. I suppose Fred Nerk did it." - hey don't ask me, I just listen and put them down. I don't actually make this up!
  • galah - silly person (I catually got called this last night by AH and had to ask what he was calling me!)
  • get a wiggle on - hurry up
  • gob - mouth (as in "shut yer gob!")
  • knackered - tired, exhausted (this actually has 2 meanings, I'll leave the 2nd one off)
  • nuddy, in the - naked
  • ooroo - goodbye
  • pack of poo tickets - toilet paper
  • pisser - very funny (this is a fav around here - "Oi, Mate, that story's a pisser".)
  • pong - bad smell
  • settle petal - relax
  • she'll be right - every thing will be ok (funny story about this. This is one of the quintessential Aussie phrases here, and the blokes were teaching me some of these the other night at the bar, so I used this at the end of my talk the other day and had everyone laughing so hard!! I guess it was funny to hear me with my slight Southern accent say "She'll be riiight, Mate." The boys loved it!)

Bob's yer uncle

And indeed, things ARE fine. I'm amazingly multi-personalitied; one would think after the night I had last night I would be a mess, but I am doing well. I went to bed early last night with a migraine (ALWAYS pleasant), didn't sleep but in 5 minute increments and badly when I DID sleep...tossed, turned, and had bad dreams. HOWEVER, when I go out of bed I told myself I was going to have to adjust my attitude, and I was somehow able to do so. I dressed in my second nicest outfit (I wore my suit yesterday; today was another one, minus the jacket, but plus heels), and stood up and gave my second and final talk at 8:00 a.m. It went better than I had hoped, which is strange since I knew yesterday's material better and was nervous as hell yesterday, but today was a breeze. The only real downside is I was feeling better yesterday (from my cold), but today, probably due to lack of quality sleep, I feel worse. But, again, emotionally I am doing very well. I have my last date with my AH tonight (oh, the saga!!! I keep forgetting to go into this, but suffice to say we've actually seen very little of one another, and when I do see him, he ALWAYS brings a friend or TWO! His cheese & kisses is SERIOUS about him staying away from li'l ol' me!). And then I leave Melbourne tomorrow for Sydney, then on to Vietnam on Saturday (Friday for y'all). We meet Minh on Monday here, Sunday on your side of the world!!

I've still not seen a single marsupial, and am not liekly to. but I did go to the MCG yesterday. Vary famous cricket ground and learned a little about cricket. So very confusing!! More on this another time!! I'm off again!!

Tired but doing well

I am SOOOOOO tired. I've been going non-stop today. I never had the chance to even eat lunch, and here it is dinner time already. I did my talk today; it went OK. Not as well as I would have liked, but everyone said it was good, so maybe I actually pulled it off. One more tomorrow, and then I'm checking out (at least my brain is!!) I barely made it through today knowing DH is already on his way to HCMC (he gets there Thursday, I think which confuses me since he left yesterday MY TIME and today is Wednesday...with tomorrow being Thursday here....). Anyway, poor DH sent me a few text messages from one of his stops yesterday to let me know he was doing well, but it was 12:30 a.m. here and I had JUST gotten to sleep knowing I'd have to get up early today, so I basically sent him a note back saying "stop texting me. I need my sleep". Not very nice, but WOW did I need the sleep. I'm ready to eat dinner and crash again.

Soon I leave for Vietnam. It's all I can think about now. I was doing fine for the first week...then I had my second melt-down...and yesterday and today have been OK. Now I can't even think about being here any more and am SOOO ready to meet my Minute. I've told a few people here about the adoption and everyone is so happy for me and keeps asking "are you ready to go yet? I can't believe you are here. Doesn't it just kill you?" I used to say no. But no, I'm changing my tune.

Not much energy for my dictionary now. HEre are a few just to tide you over:

frog & toad - road
furphy - a lie
googie - egg
hooroo - good bye

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Australian to English Dictonary:



[For the record, I've been out, lunched, and am on my way to my dinner party on a boat. Here's a picture of the River Yarra that we'll be cruising along tonight. Also, a picture of the money in my wallet (well, clearly it isn't IN my wallet at this exact moment or I couldn't have take this picture, could I?). Yeah. That's right.]

Ok, now for something a bit more fun than listening me grizzel (that means complain).
The Australian to English Dictionary. (Also know as - things I have since learned being here that would make my BFF U.P. laugh)

WARNING - these can be tasteless!!

  • A sparrow's fart - at dawn (as in "I was woken up by a phone call at a sparrow's fart")
  • Aggro - aggressive
  • Arsey - lucky (as in more arsey than brains)
  • Awning over the toy shop - beer belly (on a man)
  • bag o' fruit - a suit (as in clothes)
  • barbie - barbeque
  • barney - a fight
  • barrack - to support a sports team (My host barracks for the Swans - a local football team)
  • bee's dick - very small amount
  • bizzo - business (as in - ay, Mate. What's the bizzo?)
  • Bob's yer uncle - every thing is fine
  • boss cocky - employer
  • bum nuts - eggs
  • carpet grubs - children (I'm not even kidding, people talk like this!)
  • carry on like a pork chop - to be very busy
  • cheese & kisses - the wife
  • chuck a wobbly - throw a fit
  • crook - sick (I feel a bit crook)
  • dacks - pants
  • drongo - stupid person
  • dunny - toilet

Ok, I have to stop there. I'll add to my list as I walk around a bit. I have learned more than this, but let's just say MOST of the slang I have learned I can't in good conscience put down in writing!!

Britta - butt kicker

You are right. You are right. I need to shower (and wow do i!!), and get out there and kick butt. Ok, I'll do it. Watch me go.

5 hours later.....

Ya'll don't know it but it's now 5 hours later. You are asleep in your beds, and I am clean, happy, and ready to take on the world. Or at least, take on Australia. I am feeling better, have stopped wallowing (although I did need to wallow a bit, to be fair). I'm fixin to eat some lunch, then go on a fancy-ass dinner cruise on their cute little river here. Ok, thank you for aLL your support. I'm me again!!

Down-Under, here I come. (now, where did I put the Kleenex?)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jill, I do have skype, but I left my head set at home...I need one right? I would love to chat. But I might just cry the whole time and you'd think I was a total Fruit Loop!! ;->

And y'all, thanks for the kind words. I really needed them today. I started crying at breakfast... so lame. Being sick just makes EVERYTHING worse. But I did get to talk to my Mom and I felt better. Of course, then I talked to DH and he (under duress) told me I lost another bird (the red one this time)... so now I'm sad again.... But, I think my spirits are lifting ever so slightly. I'm going to try to have fun and enjoy my self, even though all I can think of is Vietnam, and how close it is. Now, I f I can just get through this damn conference....

Ok, off I go. I'm storming the gates today. Wish me luck.

BTW - Every one is Australia is wonderful. Really, just everyone. How awful of me to be so sad and lonely with 2.5 million cute potty-mouthed boys at my disposal??!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

confessions

I have changed my mind. I want to go home. Or rather, to Vietnam, THEN home. I cna't WAIT to get out of here and go to meet The Minute. That's all I can think about. Well, that and how crappy I feel. I think I've picked up something...maybe just a sinus infection. Needless to say, I feel like hammered dog poo. Now everyone is here for the conference and EVERY WHERE I GO people want to talk to me. Charming when all you want to do is crawl under the covers, pull them over your head, and cry. I'm lonely. I'm home sick, and I want my Mommy. The absolute worst part is that I can not just pick up the phone ans call her, or anyone when ever I want. It costs too much and I feel like I'm supposed to be having the time of my life, so I don't want to TELL anyone I'm miserable... but of course, y'all now know.

I do have a slightly funny story from yesterday. AH has promised to chaperon me (we have a mutual friend from the States with whom we both work, and that's how we first met), so he promised this friend he'd take care of me while I'm here. And he has, for the most part. YEsterday anyway. However, he's been told by his wife (whom I met on Friday, you will recall) that he is not allowed to be alone with me. Seriously. She calls like 4 times every hour wanting to know where he is and who he's with. So every where we go, we have like at least 2 other people. I guess AH is not only under the command of his wife, but scared of me. hee hee hee. I like to tease him about it. It's fun. Esp. since I've always known this is how it would be. I am after all at a professional conference and everything has to be very up and up. Plus all the other good reasons to behave!! ;-> Still, it's nice to have a friend here, and he is cute, and has a great accent. So I'll put up with him for the time being anyway.

Last night I went to a mixer. The first of like 6 I have to attend. I didn't make it past the entrance for the entire hour of the party. No joke. I met person after person after person. They were all just wonderful. REally. They were all so nice to me. BUT, it's incredibly hard to be charming and witty when you feel so lousy. There is also nothing for me to eat at these functions, so I drink wine to be doing something, and wow does that sneak up if I'm not careful!! I don't even like to drink this much in a single week, but I had 4 or 5 glasses last night then had to switch to water for fear I'd pass out! The kicker is that I spoke to so many people, and it was loud in the room, so I had to really speak up, that I nearly lost my voice. That's ALL I NEED!! But it was a good excuse to leave at the end of the night.

Today I was invited to High Tea, but chose to skip it. I really should have gone, I I really don't feel well, and was also invited to lunch with the guy who paid for me to come over here, so I thought Id save my strength so I could be charming and witty with him. Then I'll come back to my room, get in bed and cry before going out to this damn cocktail party where I am one of the featured guests. Maybe I can put in an appearance and then sneak out. Tomorrow is my talk, and I alternate between being ok with it and wanting to vomit.

Sorry this post is uber lame. I'm pretty down today. I have to keep telling myself that this is an incredible chance of a life time (it is!!) and I'm making all kinds of really good contacts; some have already talked to me about coming back in 2 years... but I haven't been gone this long ALONE ever and I really really miss home. I also had no idea how difficult this would be. It never entered my mind that I'd be around so many people and yet feel so isolated. And furthermore, I have NEVER in my life, heard so much potty humor. I'm impressed by the audacity of this place!! It's alright, and certainly not stuffy, but I'm not used to this kind of talk in a professional setting. I never know if I'm supposed to laugh at the obscene jokes, or pretend I didn't hear them! anyway, I need to shower and try to become human again. Cheers, mates.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not one SINGLE comment??

Seriously, folks!! I had 60 hits on this thing today, and not one single comment??!!! What are y'all asleep out there??!!!

I wish I were asleep. I've been up since 5 this morning. Got a text message from my boss. I was like, you know what time it is here??!! But, I had found out that my loyal lab monkey (aka - technician) was suddenly no longer employed. I had sent a number of messages to Taz about this and he hadn't responded... so I guess it was good he finally got back to me, but 5 IS SO DARN EARLY!!

It's also hard to make sure my research program is running well and smooth via text messages. As I mentioned, my internet is costing a fortune and so email for me is very sporadic.

Ok, now on to the good stuff. Got stood up last night. AH called me at 9:00 this morning and said he had problems with the plane. I was all like "oh, I'm sorry to hear it crashed and your fingers all got broken". He was all "No, nothing like that. I didn't break any fingers either". Oh, I said. Then why the #$%!! didn't you call to tell me you weren't going to show up for dinner?? So, I've gone out with this guy (and his wife) once, and he's ALREADY in the dog house.... heh.

So, today we're going to tour the city a bit, and I hope to get some interesting pictures for you. At the very least, I hope to have some good stories. So far I've been pretty lame. To tell the truth, I'm lonely and depressed. It's hard being so far away, and not being able to just pick up the phone and call my Mom, or friends, and what-not.

Anyway, I'll be back to the computer while y'all are sleeping. Unless you are up late!! So, more to come, but later!!!

Poking around Melbourne



Today I had the best intentions of producing promised photos of animals here. Didn't happen. It was good, though, the way it worked. I found myself just sort of wandering around the city, and I eventually ran into a line of people getting on a free city bus. I just hopped aboard and rode around sort of getting a feel for things. I eventually got off at this major covered market (see photo), and spent about an hour walking in what felt like circles in this market. There was crap of all kinds at this place, and I thought I was going in circles, but really, it was just line after line after line of the same crap. None-the-less it was good fun. I made my way to the botanical gardens, then at the last minute didn't get off the bus. By then I was tired and hungry so I was heading back to home-base for some food and a nap. I found this Asian cafe place called The Monkey Bar (see picture - esp. for Uncle Phil!!). That's where I got a rather boring but healthy bowl of noodles, potatoes, and beansprouts in coconut milk with curry leaves for lunch. My inclination was to head to a place I had already been, but where is the bloody adventure there, right? So, I did the "right thing" and ate at a new place... while the food was dull, I am still glad I tried something new.

Then I came back to my hotel, took a nap, and did some reading. I'm still really tired, and other than talking to my parents early this morning, and DH for 4 minutes this afternoon, I've spoken to not a soul today...so I'm also lonely and bored. AH and I are supposed to have dinner, but we didn't actually set a time, and I am not sure when that's going to happen. He was just flying in from Sydney this evening, so he's probably still en route... either that or he's standing me up. Bugger.

Well, that's all for now. Just wanted to give y'all a brief update on my day, add a few quick photos, and maybe even shower before going back out. I hope to make it somewhere more interesting tomorrow... certainly the gardens. MAYBE even the zoo. I wasn't ready to tackle the tram system here today to make it to the zoo... hopefully I can con AH into taking me tomorrow. Then I'll have an excuse to snap some photos of the wild-life!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Down Under Randomness



So, I was up before the sun AGAIN today. I got out of bed about 6:15 a.m. I had been awake since about 15 til 6. My schedule for sleeping has been fairly messed up; not because the time change, that took me very little time to adjust to, actually, but b/c I've been up and out early by 7:00 or 7:30 every day, going non-stop until evening and then I crash! So I've been going to bed pretty early. Today is my first free day since I got here, and I had hoped to sleep in.... oh well. Maybe I'll try to catch a nap before date-night.

I haven't talked much about the country here, or the people. In fact, everyone is wonderful. People are nice, friendly, and the gents have a constant "frat-boy" mentality that actually suits me most of the time. I haven't once paid for a drink, a meal, or anything for that matter. It's all taken care of for me. My wine glass never has the chance to get low, which can be a problem, frankly!! There is a LOT of drinking at these functions I go to, and even at the fancy awards dinner I went to on sunday, the beer was flowing like the mighty mississip. I couldn't believe how much was consumed. I'm not a big drinker by nature, and find it increasingly difficult to have to "keep up"... however, since I don't have to wrry about driving or even finding my way home (if I'm out someone else takes me home, or I grab a taxi, so as long as I know my hotel, I'm in good shape), but still, I have a professional attitude I try to maintain!! So far I've been doing ok. I suspect it'll get harder now that I have evening social evens (including a cocktail party in my honor!! ) every night but Wednesday until I leave for Vietnam!! Well, suffice to say, I'll keep blogging away and I'll either be inebriated or hung-over, I suppose!

Ah, Vietnam. I had a dream last night about going to Vietnam. DH and I were there picking up The Minute. Minute looked just like his last picture and was still only 12 months old in the dream, but in true dream fashion, was a little different. In fact, Dream-Minute could walk and talk just fine. So, what I remember most was him crying when I picked him up, and held him to me, I said, "Minute, I am adopting you. That means I'm going to be your Mother". He stopped crying, grasped my hand in his little one and looked me in the face and said "Oh. Ok. I've always thought I wanted a Mom. I think you'll do just fine" And that was that. I awoke feeling that indeed all would be fine.

So, flight plans.... amazing the timing of all this, and b/c I had to leave immediately after finding out about our TA, DH agreed to finalize our plans. It appears that I will be flying out of Hanoi on the same flight (not the EXACT flight, obviously, but the same airline, same basic ticket) that I would have before. Meaning that I will still be flying executive class (that's first class to all you non-fancy-pants folks. ;}). By my self.... DH and Minute will catch another flight, with a different airline to go home. We still get home with in 30 minutes of each other, but I'll be flying separate from them. I think it's a mistake, and would have gladly traded my first-class seat in for a chance to fly home with the boys, but this is how DH set things up. I hope he knows what a challenge it is going to be flying home alone with a 13 month old in tow...But, I trust him, and if this is how he wants to do it, this is how he's going to do it! Should make for interesting stories when we get home, that's for sure!! I haven't really spoken to DH about this, we have talked very little since I've been here, but I've not talked to my parents but twice either. It's 6:30 p.m. your time as I post, and it's 8:30 a.m. here, so you see how the time change makes it difficult to call home and stuff!

Now, the pictures above: me looking dorky in a Melaluca (sp??) forest, and some pretty birdies I snapped a picture of at the park. I'll post more later, but the pictures are REALLY big (you can always click on them for a bigger view!!), so they take FOREVER to post, which is why you only get a few at a time. I HOPE to get to the zoo today for some marsupial hunting (I only shoot with the camera, of course!), so there should be more to look at when you get out of bed tomorrow!! Oh, and Jill, I'll make Aussie Hottie stand still for a photo today, sound good? If I can, I'll post tha tone too!!!

another day, another city Down Under


Melbourne today, mates. Up at the ass-crack of dawn (seriously, I actually saw the full moon rise above my hotel room 'cause it was still full dark when I got out of bed. On a plane, off the plane. Into another meeting... a few quips about today:

Is it BAd when a) your taxi driver has a copy of the holy bible in the seat pocket of your taxi seat? and b) when you notice that in a bathroom stall there is a sharps container?? (you know, like for NEEDLES). My guess? Yes on both counts!!!

My host today was a petite, beautiful, chesty blonde. I'll call her Bambi. Bambi, while I am SURE is a WONDERUL person, CAN.NOT.DRIVE.TO.SAVE.OUR.LIFE. We got in her car about 10:30 a.m. today, and we drove around for 2 hours looking for our next meeting. She lives in this city, but does NOT know her way around, is UBER clueless about driving (much like my MIL), and had to call 3 different people for directions to the SAME PLACE..... poor girl. On the way back to my hotel, I was was telling her where to turn to get back - pretty sad, eh? Oh, and I was sea-sick/car-sick the ENTIRE ride 'cause she's one of those ladies who wears fancy paris perfume so that you can smell her coming 10,000 miles away. Y'all can smell her right now, I bet. If you give the air a sniff. I still smell like her, and I've been in the hotel and showered for an hour!!! oooh, I sound mean. Bambi is actually very nice and having a bit of a rough time as her Dad just passed away last month, so I was helping her out today in the meeting a lot. I eat guys like we had today for breky, and she was pretty nervous 'cause she's real new to the job. I promised her I'd take care of their questions and I did. Piece of cake.

I'm too damn tired to anything else today other than kick back, eat a bit of dinner, and then read a new (my fourth) book. I'm STARTING to get SUPER excited about VN now*, but alternate between waves of panic/nausea/ and fear. I'm also pleased that I get to see AH tomorrow. Our second date, in fact. And yes, ladies, this one is WITH OUT the wife!! Pretty steamy! We are having dinner together tomorrow. Then, he's asked me to a party for a friend on Sunday. We'll see how tomorrow goes. I only have 3 outfits for "fancy/nice" occasions, so I'll be SOL if things go well past Sunday!! What ever will I do?? Perhaps a bit of shopping will be in order tomorrow.

Oh, one last thing. This is the only place I have ever been where they drink more (and better) coffee than I do/we do in the States. I'm SOOOOO in love. I may just stay.... ok, no. But I do drink as much and as often as I can. Ok, ok. I'm fried. I need a glass of wine, some food, and BED!!

Tune back in tomorrow for the next installment.

PS - the picture above is the sun setting outside my hotel room... awfully nice!

* - more on VN tomorrow. Travel plans are made and laid. You aren't going to beleive the way things have turned out on the back end!! You'll have to wait to find out. my battery is low and I can't find my plug!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday* updated-ish



Ok, TODAY was long. But today was the first day that I had some real fun. Don't get me wrong, I'm having a good time, but I've been working so much and am so exhausted at the end of my day I have little energy for anything but a quick run, shower, meal, BED!! Today I went to visit a research farm, and met a fellow ner-do-well and spent a good deal of time in the back of the group making jokes, cracking wise, and basically waiting to get yelled at for being a pain in the ass...but being an international "superstar" has it's bennies!! We didn't get yelled at once. It was a lot of fun. My companion in this cutting up (couldn't upload picture today. sorry! enjoy the others) finally told me that he was really enjoying my being part of the group b/c he gets damn tired of hanging out with men all day!! He'd been at a conference for the last week, and was glad to talk to someone who wasn't afraid to cut-up a little, but was also not a guy. He reminded me of my BFF U.P., and took to him like a duck to water. It was WAY more fun than behaving and talking science the ENTIRE time. ;-> Don't get me wrong, we weren't being disruptive, or anything, and I still had to keep it professional - for the most part - but it was good to sort of be myself and not the "fancy pants scientist" that I've had to be for the last few days. It's not easy being worshiped constantly, you know. ;}

The only wild life I've seen include the pups' ugly mug above (a big chunky bulldog mix who roamed the research farm), a HUGE bat - a fruit bat the size of my little terrier/chow mix -, and big dead wombat. I would have taken a picture of the wombat, but sadly it was along the road (hence it's non-alive state!), and my host thought I was nuts when I got excited by a big fat dead wombat!!!

Tomorrow I leave for Melborne. I have yet ANOTHER talk to give, but I should be done pretty early, so then I'll have the rest of the weekend free. Well, free from work. I already have two dates set up...Aussie Hottie called me tonight (yummy accent!!) and we;ve got dinner on Saturday and then, if he doesn't come down with something (you know, "ah, sorry, I can 't take you to dinner b/c I've suddenly come down with a rare case of dengue fever" or whatever, again on Sunday. We'll see how it goes. He's been checking up on me via friends I've spoken with this week, so he has an unfair advantage.... but, It'll be nice to have a friend along, and after eating alone all week (except that one work dinner) it'll be nice to have a dinner companion. Esp. if he's cute!

OMG - never mind. AH just invited me out for dinner tonight. I'm off to change!!! (oh, and Just FYI - it's AH AND his wife taking me to dinner!! Very on the up and up! I'll let you know how it goes!!).

Cheers, mates.

*no, i didn't forget the pix. was having trouble posting them (read: too much wine with AH and fell asleep in the middle of post...)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the talk indeed went well

Ok, the talk went great. No one fell asleep, and they asked a few good questions. I've made some new friends, and I managed to do the talk (an hour long!!!) and not screw up. In fact, everyone told me it was great. Thank god it's over. I have another one at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, but this one will be a little more challenging as it is for the TOP golf course supers in the entire country (all except my Aussie Hottie. He won't be there as he's on vaca, but I meet up with him next week). So, we'll see how they like the talk. Get this, they are throwing a BBQ in my honor (a "barbi"). Sadly, I won't get to eat a damn thing they have to offer me. So far, I've had about 50 success with the meals I've been served. I'm not starving, but living carefully on what I can get (mostly white rice, fresh veggies and fruit, and as much coffee as I can get). There are always sweets to eat, but so far I haven't had any. I'm afraid of blowing up like a fat balloon!! I did take a run yesterday (yay for me!) and hope to get another one in today.

My hotel is quite nice, and I'm staying right down on the harbor along with 140,000 singing, dancing, praying youth groupers, so navigating the groups is always tricky. I haven't been out in the city yet today, but have a plan to go to the zoo tomorrow with one of my new admirers. If I do manage to get there, I'll take lots of pictures and have some fun stuff to show you then.

I've also been having trouble getting online, so sorry if the posts are all over the place. I have to type FAST before my connection goes out!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm here









































So, I'm here. Aside from a minor melt-down this morning- I'll get back to this -, I'm doing OK. It's been one of those trips where everything LITTLE that could go wrong has seemed to, and by this morning, after VERY little sleep and very little food, I was so tired of it I sat down and had a little self-pity session. I walked off the airplane yesterday morning, into 10 bazillion singing and screaming "pilgrims" and took FOREVER to find my ride. I went directly to breky (with excellent coffee, TG) with my host here, and then spent about 1 hour at a bowling club learning how to "bowl". This is not the same as we have in the states, mind you. It's on greens, outside, with little black balls. The reason I spent so much time was this old OLD guy (see picture!) feel in love with me and wanted to show me around the club, and teach me how to bowl!! Paul (my host) kept trying to get us to leave, but the old guy ("Chief") wouldn't let us go. He insisted on showing off the club,

INCLUDING the mens' locker rooms!! Then, when we finally extracted ourselves, we headed to my hotel, where I was supposed to relax, but instead I worked on re-vamping my presentation for this week. Then, with no nap, I went to a work dinner, which was exhausting and I was the only female there, so I was popular AND very tired. (This is going somewhere I promise). So, Paul finally put me in a cab to come back to the hotel, and I got a really good cabbie who took me on a night tour of historic Sydney, including the famous opera house all lit up for the evening.... Finally got back to the hotel and crashed out. I woke up at a reasonable time this morning, and had a total breakdown. I was POSITIVE I was going to make a TOTAL fool of myself at these meetings, and that they would hate me. I started crying and freaking out. I was SOOOO ready to go home ON THE SPOT.

It did get better. I spent all morning on a cruise of Sydney Harbor. (You'll see a few shots in the above photos). I also had a few cuppas of good coffee (which actually REALLY improved the day!!). I got back to the hotel around 2 pm. Since then, I've firmed up my return flight plans (that's right. Until this afternoon, I had no idea how or when I was getting home!!), worked some, took a 3 mile run, and relaxed with a good book. Tomorrow I begin singing for my supper, so to speak. I have my first talk at 10:30 a.m. I AM STILL UBER FREAKED about this talk. Although not as stressed as I am about the one on Wednesday. That's not only at 7:30 in the morning, but it's also for the most exclusive golf club in Australia. Plus these guys really know their stuff. I hope to hell I know mine!!

So, I'll be back blogging soon. It's costing me a small fortune to get on here, so I'm trying to make it really count when I do!!

Oh, the pictures up above: In no real order, but I thought you'd enjoy them. So far, I've seen LOTS of buildings and not a single marsupial. Perhaps Wednesday I'll have time to go marsupial hunting.... stay tuned!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ok, so 7 hours into the trip and....

You wouldn't believe all the crap I've already had to deal with. It's all been little stuff, but seriously, folks. Can't a girl (and new mom-to-be) catch a break? I'm sitting in Vancouver (after a 5 hour flight from toronto) on a very hard floor surrounded by no less than 10,000 teenage children and their zeal for some old white dude. That's right. The Pope will be in Sidney the same time I will be and there's some youth day going on to celebrate the old white dude (I mean this in the most respectful way....mostly). ANYWAY, TG I'm in first class. And BTW, first class is not yo' mama's first class. We all have our own pods. Like, I have this little seat unit thingy that actually moves back flat so I can sleep, and we are all separate from one-another by big partitions. And movies/tv/music/games all on demand the entire flight. Also all the alcohol I can stand... although I only had one glass of wine with dinner, and am trying to stay away from the booze. Jet lag will be bad enough w/out the booze-over!

I have already finished one book. Ha, and you laughed when I said I brought 6! At 5 hours for one book, I'm looking at roughly 3 more just before I get to Kangarooville! I might take some time off reading and day dream a little....And sleep!!! I wanted to stay awake for the first leg so I'd be ready to sleep on this last LONG leg.

Ok, well, I guess I'll jump off here. I'll be back sometime in the near future! (I don't even know what day it is, so I can't tell you WHEN I'll be back!!).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

T minus 12 hours and counting


G'day, mates - I leave at 1:30 tomorrow for parts unknown. Or at least, unknown to me. I can NOT wrap my brain around being gone from my home (and my dog, and my bed, and my chickens, friends, MY JOB, etc) for a full month. And when I get back, I will BE A MOM!!!!! OMG. I am SOOOO freaked out/happy/nervous/stressed/joyful.... I think I am feeling EVERY possible feeling ALL AT ONCE!

I think I am packed. I sure hope so, b/c my suitcase (for Australia) weighs 46 pounds. At the last second I unpacked the CUTEST pair of heels, but they were SOOOO impracticable. I think I am down to 5 pairs of shoes.... A difficult choice packing ONLY 5, but hey, I can always buy shoes there, right?!!!

Ok, so, I have a 22 hour flight; the longest leg is 15 hours. WTF am I going to do for that amount of time? Seriously. I had to UNpack two books (I have 6 packed, is that even enough??!!) due to weight, and I have one sudoku book and my ipod. Beyond that, seriously, I'm going to be counting the threads on the seat in front of me for something to do! Although, it's first class, so I should have movies (I guess everyone gets movies on these long flights), but more importantly, I'll have ALCOHOL. What more could a girl want? I guess I can day-dream about Aussie Hottie, and more importantly The Minute!!! Ah, well, when I get there, I'll check in with y'all and I'll let you KNOW what I did, how does THAT sound?

So, see y'all on the flip side!!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

I couldn't resist


Just another picture to keep y'all interested. I know you were getting bored (heh).