What time are you going to the dentist? Tooth hurty.

So this week it was my turn to bring the entertainment in the form of irrational behaviour, an unfortunately timed meltdown and a complete over reaction, which, incidentally occurred simultaneously.

This week I went to the dentist for the first time in a long time.  I’ve had a toothache for the better part of a month (which is shocking, I know) but I was dealing with it by living on Panadol and denial.  But I did make some progress – I went from only having either chewable Disprin, which is my pain reliever of choice, or soluble Panadol, because I am absolutely terrible at swallowing tablets, to actually downing about four Panadol Rapid caplets like no one’s business.  Then I would count to twenty and take a few deep breaths and wait for the pain to ease – and I can confirm that it is pretty rapid but I’m not sure that it was ‘best practice’.

During this month of pain and denial, I managed to convince myself that it would go away, it didn’t or that it was just sensitive teeth and nothing some Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief couldn’t fix; it wasn’t and finally, that it was just stress related jaw pain which occasionally extended to my ear and down my arm when I was two minutes overdue for my beloved Panadol but this was not true either.  So finally, when I realised that I was relying on the old green and white box a bit too much and the pain was only getting worse, I decided that I just needed to suck it up and get myself to a dentist.  Except by the time I came to this conclusion, I’d lost my voice so I had to message Shane to ring up and make me an appointment like a controlling husband.  On the voice thing, I just woke up one morning and it was gone but I didn’t actually feel that sick.  A lady at the hairdressers asked me if I had laryngitis which I didn’t think I did but apparently that is the technical term and so I’m definitely going with that because it sounds so much better, as in worse – like there is something really wrong.  Right, appointment booked, time to sort this out.

I’m not grouse when it comes to medical procedures hence why I’d put off this appointment for so long.  Mum was pretty happy to find out that I could only have one person in the theatre when the boys were born and that person was Shane, because she’d had enough after being with me when I had a mole cut out.  I never used to be this bad – I had terrific dentists when I was a kid – Dr Guthrie would let us choose a toy out of the drawer after our appointment and then we visited a dentist in Albury for years and years and he was awesome and lovely and it was never intimidating or scary – even when I had root canal super young because the nerves and the roots were all tangled up. But a few years later, I needed an emergency repair to that root canal and it was horrendous.  Maybe because I was in my 20s and should have been old enough to deal with the reality of getting some dental work one, this particular fella, who I’m led to believe was actually a qualified dentist, didn’t warn me about putting needles in, was pretty rough and his bedside manner was non existent.  So I pretty much haven’t been game to set foot in a dentist since, let alone take my open mouth to one.  But the time had come.

So off I trotted and tried to convince myself that it would be fine and people do this all the time blah blah blah.  Filled out the form, read a few lines of a book (which I’d bought myself as a treat for being such grown up) and sat in the chair.  Sunnies on, let’s go.  Then he had to do the ‘cold test’ to determine which tooth was sore and hooley dooley, I nearly shot through the roof.  And then I cried.  I managed to hold it together just long enough for an x-ray and then a brief discussion about the fact that I would need to get the tooth out because root canal was not going to save it before really losing my mind.  And asking, like a toddler, do I have to have a needle?  Of course I bloody did!  I stopped just short of hyperventilating, but I was a bit of a mess and the poor dentist and dental nurse were terrific when confronted with this hysterical woman losing her mind for no really logical reason.  So we decided that it would better if I came back in the morning and we tried again.  How bloody embarrassing.  What a mess.

So how did I go today? So good.  Unbelievably good.  I went totally prepared – two stress balls and about two hours worth of podcasts to listen to. For those who live in the Wimmera and need a dentist, and for those who don’t but want a really ace dentist, I cannot recommend or speak highly enough of Dr Jiang at the Horsham Plaza Dental Centre and the nurses there.  So bloody good.  He was calm and kind and explained everything and reassured me and did a bloody good job.  And I can’t believe how much pain I am no longer in. So the moral of the story is…find yourself a good dentist and go!

The week that was…

Lately (like for the last three years) they boys have really been fighting sleep, especially during the day.  On Tuesday day, Paddy fell asleep on the couch but snoozing was definitely not on Bede’s agenda and before I knew it, he was waking Paddy up.

Me: “oh Bede, please don’t wake him up”.

Bede: “Oh sorry mum, Paddy said to wake him up”.

Paddy: “Thanks for waking me up Bede.  Can I please have a cheese sandwich?”

Me: Oh well, I guess we don’t even try to do this day time sleep thing anymore.

The other thing they’ve started doing is saying, more like screaming ‘I want Nanny.  I want to go to Nanny’s’ as soon as they get upset, tired or something doesn’t go their way.  Which, as threeangers, is fairly often.  But I quite like that they have this association with Nanny, because at least they’ll always have someone in their corner when the chips are down, like when they can’t have chocolate milk at 10pm.

The other interesting things that happened at our place this week are related to our ever expanding menagerie.  On Wednesday, I’d planned to maybe clean the house but definitely catch up on the latest season of ‘House of Cards’ whilst the boys were at daycare but we all know what happens to the best laid plans…I ended up driving to Edenhope to see a man about a lamb.  And then bringing him home.  The lamb, that is.


I had grand plans of calling the little bloke Paul Keating – to match my other sheep named Barry Jones and Philip Adams, mostly because I love the idea of those great minds out in the paddock chewing the fat and solving the problems of the world.  So, for a blissful few hours, he was named Paul Keating.  But then, the little masters came home, saw him, fell in love and immediately declared him Darth Vader.  I tried in vain to say ‘no, his name is Paul Keating.  Don’t you think that’s a good name?  You can just call him Paul or Keating.’  However, they were adamant that his name was Darth Vader.  So I now find myself calling out, ‘hey Darth Vader, come and have your milk’ and ‘oh good boy Darth Vader’ – I’m not sure what the real Darth Vader would think about this situation.  Even though he’s a merino, I got him a weatherproof jacket to keep him warm in the absence of other sheep and I thought he’d be chuffed.  He wasn’t.  And the next morning I found the state of the art jacket on the ground covered in frost and Darth happily sitting at the back door, apparently warm enough.

After a day or so, I thought that maybe he would be happy being with his own kind and so I planned a move into the big paddock which didn’t quite go to plan.  Whilst Buttercup the lovely lady goat was quite friendly to him, Barry and Philip didn’t come anywhere near him, Aly -paca was having a conniption about the fact that she may now be expected to care for not only a lamb but two excited toddlers and Jimmy was really not keen on his new roomie.  Now, Jimmy is a desexed, dehorned mini goat so on paper, he should be a pretty placid sort of a bloke.  But he’s not.  He’s a one woman kind of goat and luckily for me, I’m that woman.  He takes exception to everything and everyone else by head butting them.  Darth Vader included.  Then he head butted Paddy for trying to climb onto his (that is, Jimmy’s) trampoline.  Cue Paddy getting really upset, telling me to be cross at Jimmy and then stating loudly and repeatedly that he would really like to go to Nanny’s.  Shane claimed that the animals would sort it out, that Darth would be fine and since it was dark and cold, we should go inside and reassess in the morning.  I reluctantly agreed because I needed to lock the chooks up and cook dinner.


Of course the chooks chose this night to decide to roost on top of their house instead of in it.  So I had to pick them up, put them in and then quickly shut the gate.  Phew.  Now to make broccoli and blue cheese soup that no one will eat.  And then, horror of horror, I saw a bloody mouse.

Friday morning and before I could hit the road back again to Yarrawonga I had a few loose ends to tie up.  Poor Darth Vader was at the gate crying and the rest of the gang were at the other end of the paddock – what bullies.  So I brought him back to the house where he was much happier.  I let the chooks out and discovered that a rogue pigeon had stowed away in their coop for the night which is probably why they were hesitant to get in there, but I eventually liberated them all.  And as I was packing, the boys were crawling along the floor saying ‘hey mum, mum, I’m a mouse stuck in a trap.  Do you like mice mum?’  Finally on the road and I forgot to restock the cds so it’s pretty safe to say that I am beyond sick of Peter Coombe and bloody Mr Clickety Cane.  But, here we are at Nanny’s and Shane has a few pages of lists of things to do to keep the menagerie ticking over until we’re back.  I wonder what the next week will bring?

Gotta love this city

And the winner is…Sydney.  The prize?  Having us come and stay for the best part of a week.  We just had to get there first and who doesn’t love a good road trip?  We’re lucky that the boys are so used to travelling long distances, they can amuse themselves quite well with some Justine Clark and Alex Papps cds and giving a running commentary on absolutely everything that they can see out their windows.  We struck trouble just outside of Albury/Wodonga which was only one hour into our trip on the second day.  Bede was so taken with the mountains (Little Desert boy!) that when we went past them, he chucked a massive wobbly and no other mountain or promise of an undulating landscape would placate him.  We stopped for a coffee, a quick walk and reset.


When we eventually made it to the outskirts of Sydney, Shane said ‘oh can you just put the address in your phone for directions?’  Nothing grinds my gears more.  He knows that directions and numbers aren’t my strong points and he knows that we inevitably end up in some kind of passive aggressive stand off yet insists on winging it every time we go somewhere new.  Add to this, me being absolutely busting to go to the toilet and Shane missing the turn TWICE.  When we pulled into reception I flew out the door faster than I’ve ever moved but not before calling him Kel Knight – (for any “Kath and Kim” fans playing along at home).

The reason we were in the city with the bridge was because Shane had to go to a conference for work and so the boys and I would be exploring the city on our own by day.  Which sounds fine, even lovely, in theory.  I’d only been to Sydney twice before once for the Olympics in 2000 which was bloody amazing but I took no notice of my surroundings or geography and had tunnel vision for people wearing track suits who may have been famous athletes.  So it’s safe to say that this was definitely not my natural environment.  Add to this two freshly minted three year olds with a penchant for running in opposite directions and the challenges were beginning to dawn on me.  I’d foolishly packed the double stroller as opposed to the pram – subtle but important difference – and I was definitely up against it.  In the first instance, the boys are way too tall for it.  Their brand new boots now have a nice angle carved into the front of them from scraping along the ground in protest at being fenced in.  The handles are really low.  They were really heavy.  And Sydney is a little bit more up hill and down dale than I’m used to.  But we made it to everywhere we planned to go and then some and had a really ace time, mostly at the museums which we visited twice.  When we got to the Powerhouse Museum, the staff suggested that the boys would love The Wiggles exhibition and I’ve got to admit I didn’t even know it was on but thought ‘oh yeah, that will be great’.  A sentiment not shared by the boys.  They screamed, threw themselves on the floor and said ‘I don’t like The Wiggles, it makes me feel sick, take me to the rockets’.  In an attempt at idle conversation and to distract myself from the hill I was pushing them up, I started telling them things that we might see at the museum, so it was possibly my fault a little bit but gee whiz it was so embarrassing as all these other parents had their Wiggles loving kids happily sitting in the Big Red Car.

Spiders were a far more popular activity. 


But it wasn’t all tricky. Just outside our apartment was Lord of the Fries and I really love that place and now even Shane is converted to their Halal snack pack.  And then on the way home, when Shane had asked me to ‘just put Yarrawonga in so it gets us out of the city’ and we took a wrong turn, (because I’m also not very good at estimating distance so I thought we were supposed to turn but clearly, we weren’t) we ended up driving past the Annandale Hotel which has hosted the likes of The Whitlams, Custard and Pinky Beecroft and The White Russians.  Probably as iconic as the bloody bridge.  And eventually we worked out how to get home and here we are, awaiting the next adventure.

Reading between the lines

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting” – Edmund Burke

I don’t remember learning how to read, but I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have at least one book ‘on the go’.  I decided that we needed to buy our house on the spot based purely on the wall to wall book case in the dining room. I’ve spent the best part of the last ten years encouraging countless teenagers to discuss the ‘themes and issues’ of various texts and ask them what they think the author ‘really’ meant or what comment he/she is trying to make about society. So it’s no surprise to learn that I’ve spent a great deal of time reading to my own babes and we have children’s books stashed in every room of the house, just in case a sudden urge to read overcomes them, they don’t have far to go. And now that I’ve read these books at least 4162 times each, I feel almost qualified to write a little bit about what the author might have meant.

The Very Hungry Bear – Nick Bland

IMG_3828.jpgWe’d read through this catchy, rhymy (technical term) story a few times before I started to let my mind wander about some of the broader issues Bland might be getting at. The basic story is that the brown bear was hungry, wanted some fish but the polar bear had caught them all. They came up with a deal whereby the brown bear would find the polar bear somewhere to live in exchange for some food. And the brilliance of this book, is in its apparent simplicity – it’s cool to be kind. Here are some of the big issues I’ve discussed with the boys after a reading: global warming, equal rights and refugees. Here’s how we got there – the polar bear (an asylum seeker if you will) is forced into the habitat of the brown bear as a result of global warming and melting polar ice caps. The brown bear is kind of like Canada – welcoming and helpful and going out of his way to find somewhere appropriate for the polar bear to live. Even though the bears are different – colour, climate, habitat – they are essentially the same in that they just want to live a peaceful life. And look, the bears might well just be mates but I’ve taken the opportunity to talk with the boys about equal rights and marriage equality and we’ve even lamented the current state of play in Australia.


The Tiger Who Came To Tea – Judith Kerr

IMG_3829.jpgI remember this book very vividly from my childhood – and the illustrations are still some of my favourite so I was keen to get it for my boys and it was even better when it came with a ‘bonus!’ little teacup (I’m all for the marketing). When I read it again as an adult, I couldn’t just leave it at the fact it was a fanciful story about a tiger coming to tea (as the title would suggest) and eating the mother and daughter out of house and home. I was certain there must be more to it. I started to think of the tiger as being something like anxiety or a free loading ‘friend’ or ‘thing’ that just takes and doesn’t give anything back–arriving, unannounced and milking you dry before leaving just as suddenly as it came and you’re left to pick up the pieces and rebuild your metaphorical life and go out for sausages, chips and ice cream – which I still think sounds like an excellent little supper, provided the sausages are vegetarian.

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson

IMG_3831.jpgThis is where my foray into the secret messages of children’s books first began and I distinctly remember finishing this book one day and after reading ‘the mouse found a nut and the nut was good’ and saying “ and that boys, is why we don’t eat meat” (although in the spirit of full disclosure, they do sometimes eat meat much to my chagrin). The story follows a little mouse on a walk through the ‘deep dark woods’ as he outwits each of the predators who seek to eat him by inventing a creature known as the Gruffalo with whom he is going to eat lunch. No one is more surprised than him to actually run into the terrible creature and then the little mouse must use his wit to preserve his life and outsmart the Gruffalo. A win for the little guys and a good lesson on the power of brains over brawn.

I’ve got to admit that whilst the boys are still a captive audience, Shane thinks I’m reaching a few bridges too far with some or most (ok all!) of my insights into these texts. But I really hope that I can teach my babes that even in these turbulent times, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

A mouse, a mouse. So not grouse.

Today a “friend” (this may or may not be me) told me that she had seen a mouse in her lounge room.  I recoiled in horror on her behalf.  She said she then decamped to another room and lo and behold, another mouse.  Or maybe the same one, given that they are pretty homogenous in looks.  So her mother (who bears a striking resemblance to my own mother)  was despatched to the shops post haste to get some traps while she stood on the verandah hoping that the only wildlife she encountered was her dogs.  Ok.  It’s me.  And today I had at least one, but maybe two mice in my house and for all I know they’re still there.  And I hate mice.  So much.  I’m generally in support of all creatures great and small but I draw the line at rodents.  I’m happy to share the house with spiders and I’ve currently got  a pretty spectacular golden orb on the outside tap.  Flies – frustrating but fine.  We have the odd stumpy tailed lizard and I’ve often seen snake tracks in the driveway and none of these things worry me as much as a mouse.  And for the record, mum has said that I probably shouldn’t tell people there’s a mouse in my house but according to the lady at the supermarket, they’re doing a roaring trade in traps due to some kind of plague – or at least a rise in numbers so I don’t think I’m the only one with an uninvited four legged guest.  I’m not sure what constitutes a plague but I think two should do it.

This furry little fella has brought back so many unpleasant memories about mice – my first experience involving me in the bath, a mouse’s tail and dad trying to prove there was nothing to be scared of.  Plan backfired.  When I was in my twenties and probably should have been more resilient I found a half dead mouse on the floor at mum and dads and I was home alone.  I phoned dad from the safety of the verandah (there’s a theme here – a verandah is essential to escape mouse attacks) and although he couldn’t come home and sort it out, he did send one of his work mates over.

And then – the nightmare to end all nightmares; our honeymoon.  Driving a kombi through central Australia in the middle of a mouse plague.  We didn’t know there was a plague until we got there and there wasn’t really any way to escape in a vehicle with a top speed of about 75kmp/h.  There were mice everywhere – scurrying along the top of the shower stalls in the caravan parks, dead in traps, dying slowly from poisoning or running freely with gay abandon in every supermarket, service station and shop we visited.  I remember lying in bed one night and saying to Shane ‘i’m pretty sure there’s a mouse in the cupboard’.  He told me there’s no way a mouse could get in.  I now believe that he actually thought it was a mouse too but did not want to be doing battle with a rodent in the middle of the night.  So I went to sleep and awoke the next morning to find that a mouse had chewed through everything.  As if living in such close quarters 24/7 for the first six weeks of wedded bliss wasn’t challenging enough, now Shane had an irrational mouse hater on his hands.   At night, the ground was moving with mice running hither and thither and I was that scared that one would run up my leg, I had to sit with my feet on the table and/or my pants rolled up so they couldn’t.  It was terrifying.

And now, there’s a mouse in my house.  It or they are either still here and waiting to scare me again or they’ve tripped off back to whence they came.  These are the times I abandon my feminist principles and am more than happy to defer to a man to fix the problem and I’m relieved that Shane will be home to wage war over the weekend.  Of course the bleeding heart in me doesn’t actually want to kill them, I just want them to leave.  And if I should see a mouse next week, when neither mum nor Shane is home to save me, I’ll take my goods and chattels and hit the road until such time as it’s safe to return.