Monthly Archives: October 2011

Showers, champagne, and flame trees: Celebrating and commemorating birth

It is 7:45 on Monday morning. I have been up for two hours already. Dominic’s “secondhand milk” score this morning is my hair, two of my tee shirts, two of his outfits, his play mat, and our bedspread. When he’s not fussing at the moment, he is lying around looking like a tiny, grumpy, Dr. Evil (Austin Powers, for those of you not familiar with that reference). Given what I wrote last week about how actions determine attitude, this seems like the perfect morning for me to write about celebrating Dominic’s birth.

So, celebrations. The first thing I did to celebrate Dominic’s birth was take a shower. Trust me, after you’ve gone through labour and delivery you experience (and remember) that post-birth shower as a celebratory event indeed.

But moving right along to communal activities where everyone was fully clothed and no one was hemorrhaging…

The first thing Mike and I did together to celebrate was drink champagne. Yes, we took champagne and glasses in a cooler to the hospital. In fact, we managed to remember to pack the chilled champagne when we left for the hospital at 5AM but not the apple juice I was planning on drinking during labour. Maybe I should have tried drinking the champagne during labour, come to think of it. If there’s ever a next time (which is still very much in doubt) maybe I will.

Three days later, my first evening home from the hospital, we had a welcome home “wine-o-clock” and baby’s first tasting. It was a gorgeous evening out on the deck. I had my first brie in nine months and Dominic had his first taste of anything but me. Yes, we did feed our three-day-old baby wine (if you can call a drop or two on the end of Mike’s finger “feeding”). The wine was a Bowen Estates Shiraz – one of the few bottles that was left over from the rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding. As you can see, Dominic loved it.

The next day we planted Dominic’s commemorative tree.

The story behind the tree started during the last trimester of pregnancy, when Mike was in Laos and I was attending childbirth classes in Australia by myself.

The woman running the childbirth classes was not only a fan of natural childbirth, she was a fan of burying the placenta.

“She said that women need to honour the placenta,” I told Mike one night via skype. “She says you should respect this organ that’s nourished your baby for nine months by taking it home from the hospital and having a burial ceremony, maybe burying it under a tree. Honour it? I don’t even want to see it. As far as I’m concerned the hospital can totally keep it.”

I waited for Mike to agree with me that this practice of honouring the placenta was weird and sort of icky.

“I don’t know,” Mike said. “I think it’s sort of cool. The Hmong here in Laos consider the placenta the baby’s first and finest clothing. They bury it close to home, or under the house, and believe that when a person dies their soul must retrace it’s journey to the placenta’s resting place. I want to bury Dominic’s placenta under a tree – a new tree that can grow as he grows.”

“OK,” I said, sighing and resigning myself to entering into the spirit of things for the sake of my spouse. “Dad’s going to love this. Now he will not only get to worry about protecting the tree commemorating our wedding from any wandering goats and the ride-on mower, but the tree commemorating his first grandson.”

In the end Dominic got two trees. We picked a Blood Tree the first time we went to the nursery, and then decided we didn’t like it as much as an Illawarra Flame Tree. We planted them both anyway. Mike symbolically shed a drop of his blood over the roots of the Blood Tree using the diaper pin they’d given us at the hospital and we planted the flame tree over the placenta (don’t worry, I’m so not going to show you any photos of placenta). Then we prayed together for Dominic and for this journey we were embarking upon – this journey of parenthood.

Over to you: How did you celebrate and commemorate the birth of your children? Have you heard any cool stories of how other people did? Share them in the comments section below (or just say hello, that’s fine too). 

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Ants in my pants: Life unmasked

One of the bloggers I read, Joy in the Journey, has a project she calls Life Unmasked. “Social media makes it easy to create fake portrayals of ourselves,” she says. “While it’s possible to share too much, I grow weary of all the “I have it all together” super-people posts.”

I’m not sure I could be accused of writing too many “I have it all together” posts. If anything, Mike sometimes intimates that I do the opposite too often.

But I like Joy’s project and how she encourages people to “share slices of real life from the previous week… the real, un-photoshopped, deal.” Plus, to be honest, I’ve had a crappy 24 hours and I feel like venting and this framework allows me to believe that maybe, just maybe, that venting is not completely self-indulgent.

So.

Where to start?

Maybe with the short conversation I had yesterday with Mike. He’s been gone since Monday morning, two days drive away down near the Cambodian border. Between his work commitments and my baby commitments we haven’t managed more than a 15-minute conversation all week.

“I’ve got to run in a couple of minutes,” he said, “but how’s your day been?”

“I’m stuck,” I said. “I’m totally spinning my wheels in a big mud puddle over these writing decisions I need to make and I’m getting nowhere.”

“So the genie didn’t show up today,” Mike asked.

“The genie’s dead,” I said.

“But the baby’s alive,” Mike said, mustering the forced cheerfulness of someone who’s having a crappy day themselves but is trying to be there for someone else.

“Yes,” I said grimly. “The baby is alive and the genie is dead. Do not ask me this afternoon if that is a fair trade.”

I knew I didn’t (totally) mean this even as I said it. Mike knew it too, which is why he laughed.

So writing sucked yesterday. Writing is sucking a lot at the moment. I try to remind myself that I have a healthy 11-week old baby, that I only get time to myself in a couple of 45 minute chunks every day, and anything writing-wise that I manage to accomplish is icing on a chubby, smiling cake. This doesn’t always make me feel better.

Then.

Then came yesterday evening after I’d been in the house alone all day. Yesterday evening at 7pm when I desperately wanted to just sit down in front of the television with a drink in hand and try to find an English speaking station. Any station. But I had a tired, grumpy baby on my hands. A grumpy baby that I was trying to bathe alone for the first time…

Which was going OK until I turned the water pressure up too high on the hose as I was filling the baby tub on the bathroom floor. The hose reared out of the tub and started to dance, spraying cold water all over everything, including me and a naked Dominic who was lying on a towel a the entrance to the bathroom. Dominic was not impressed.

When he finally went down for the night at 9:30 I knew I should go to bed myself, but I couldn’t sleep. Which is why I was still awake at 11 when Zulu started up with a flurry of angry barking downstairs. That little dog has the bark of a fully-grown Rottweiler. Most of the time that’s a good thing. Not right after you’ve settled the baby.

I definitely wasn’t awake at 3:30AM when Zulu began doing exactly the same thing all over again (except this time right outside our bedroom door). I was certainly awake afterwards though. And so was Dominic.

"This milk SUCKS"

Dominic never really went back to sleep and finally started to demand food at 4AM. It was not a peaceful nursing session. He attacked my nipples the same way a trout goes after flies. He lunged forward, latched on with a fierce intensity, sucked for a while, and then pulled off and made a face that let me know he wasn’t a fan of the beverage on tap at present. Sometimes this grimace was accompanied by a shriek of protest. (To be fair to him, this is probably because I ate chili yesterday in a meal someone cooked for me – a mistake I will not repeat anytime soon.)

I finally managed to get a full feed into him, then he threw up what seemed like most of it into my hair.

He was leaking out the bottom, too, so I pulled a pair of pajama shorts out of the dirty clothes basket to add to my tee shirt so that I’d be semi-decent if any of the neighbors happened to be up and peering through our un-curtained windows across the hall.

I noticed the first burning sting right as I was undoing Dominic’s diaper. I should have stopped right then and there, moved him back to the bed, and disrobed with all haste. I didn’t. If you cull any life lesson from this post, let it be this: When there are ants in your pants in the tropics, don’t put off taking action in the optimistic hope that there’s just one wandering around down there. That is a reckless optimism indeed.

And that’s life unmasked, folks, bought to you by seven ant bites, a needy baby, a barking dog, and an absent husband. Oh, and a dead genie. Yeah.

What about you? Got any life unmasked stories to share from the last week?

The Most Versatile Word in the English Language

In these bodies we will live
In these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
(Mumford and Sons)

Love: What wells up when Dominic flashes a wide, gummy grin of delight when I bend down and speak to him.

Love: How I feel about the chocolate ice cream that AB Bakery has just started making. Yes, folks, we may not have incredibly reliable electricity, but there’s now some good ice cream in town.

Love: The fact that Mike, despite feeling completely exhausted, dragged himself out of bed at 5:15 this morning, took our flapping, squawking child and our whimpering dog away, and let me sleep until 9.

Is there any word in the English language as versatile as the word love?

After I started to get the hang of breastfeeding (read: after I no longer wanted to cry every time the baby started to open and close his mouth like a clam and I could actually concentrate on something other than pain and technique), I started to read during daytime feedings. This is probably why Dominic went from average to above-average weight within three weeks. More than once I picked up the kindle after he was attached and then completely stopped paying attention – leaving my son to gulp until he was absolutely stuffed and then fall off and lie there, happily somnolent and dribbling milk down my stomach.

The first book I read during this time was a young adult novel called Delirium. The premise is fascinating – the 17-year-old narrator, Lena, lives in a society where love is considered a disease, something to be surgically cured when you turn 18. As the booklist review puts it, “[The author’s] masterstroke is making a strong case for love as disease: the anxiety, depression, insomnia, and impulsive behavior of the smitten do smack of infirmity.”

Lena views love as a feeling – a transformative feeling, impossible to resist. “Love,” she says, “is a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge, a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.” It is that most dangerous of diseases, “the one that can kill you when you have it and kill you when you don’t.”

There is some beautiful writing in this book, but ultimately it didn’t wow me. Love is too narrowly defined as passion, desire, eros. There is little exploration of agape love.

Agape love is a selfless orientation that seeks the best for another without expecting anything in return. This type of love doesn’t transform us in a moment; it transforms us slowly, as hundreds upon thousands of moments pile on top of one another to make up our days, our weeks, our months. This love is not the work of a razor but of sandpaper. Sandpaper that grinds, smooths, and ultimately fashions the very core of us into something more beautiful. It is a love powered by will rather than only by emotion, a love of choice rather than just a love of chance.

A love of choice.

I was reminded recently of the popular misconception that you do nice things for people you like and bad things to people you don’t. But the paradoxical truth of the matter appears to be that you grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate people you harm.

David McRaney in an article on the Benjamin Franklin effect put it this way:

“It is well known in psychology the cart of behavior often gets before the horse of attitude. Your actions tend to chisel away at the raw marble of your persona, carving into being the self you experience day-to-day. It doesn’t feel that way though. To conscious experience, it feels like you are the one holding the chisel, motivated by existing thoughts and beliefs. It feels as though the person wearing your pants is performing actions consistent with your established character, yet there is plenty of research suggesting otherwise. The things you do often create the things you believe.”

The things you do often create the things you believe.

Mike leaves Monday morning for a week of meetings down near the Cambodian border. He won’t be home until next Saturday night. So Mike has spent this Saturday riding around town on his bicycle stocking up on groceries and cash for me for next week, setting up a mosquito net for Dominic’s cot, finding and filing medical documents.

When I came downstairs ten minutes ago after finally managing to settle Dominic for an afternoon nap, Mike was programming the emergency number for our international health insurance company into my phone.

“What’s next on the list?” I asked.

“Washing the dog,” he said. “I’ll do it. Why don’t you lie down and put your feet up?”

This I know, I am well loved.

This post is part of a series on the fruits of the spirit. The current theme is love.

30 great gifts for pregnant women and new parents

I get more referrals to my blog at present on the topic of gifts for pregnant women than anything else, so in the spirit of giving readers what they want I thought I’d do a follow up post on presents for new parents.

(Sidenote: This whole giving readers what they want will not extend to addressing certain other search terms that have recently led people to my blog, including “humans breastfeeding monkeys”, “sexy massage near bumrungrad hospital”, and “koalas drinking beer”. I will also not be answering the question, “If I’m 21 weeks pregnant is it safe to swim with dolphins?”, although if I had to venture a guess I’d say yes. I haven’t heard many stories lately of dolphins ramming divers.)

So, without further ado, here are 30 great gifts for pregnant women or new parents. I’ll start with baby-focused gifts and move onto gifts for Mum, because the sometimes depressing and sometimes wonderful fact of the matter is that once that baby is born they tend to come first:

  1. Lullaby/baby music: My favorite so far is Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs. Great melodies, and because the songs are not in English the lyrics don’t get stuck in my head.
  2. An iTunes gift card so that parents can buy lullaby music or music to listen to while feeding.
  3.  A small set of I-pod speakers for the baby’s room so that parents can slip in an iPod rather than messing around with CD’s.
  4. A play gym: The one I got at Target only cost $30 and it’s some of the best money we spent since Baby Fabulous (he’s sleeping right now, so he’s earned that nickname for the time being) arrived. The play gym is also light enough to carry internationally in a suitcase. I can’t believe we almost came back to Laos without one.
  5. Toys to hang off the play gym.
  6. Soft cuddly toys for the crib.
  7. Baby books: I don’t think you can ever have too many of these. The word on the street is that the best baby books are the ones that adults really like to read aloud – ones that rhyme and/or have clever storylines. Check out this post for some great options: What do writers read to their own kids? Five authors share their favorite children’s books.
  8. Colourful mobiles to hang over crib or change table. Be wary of picking ones that are too heavy in case they happen to fall or get tugged down onto the baby.
  9. A My Baby’s First Year book or calendar. Someone gave us this cool blank calendar that you decorate with the accompanying stickers that celebrate things like “baby’s first smile” and “baby rolls over”. I think this calendar would be even cooler if there was a sheet of stickers for events like “baby’s first projectile poo” and “baby first vomits in freshly washed hair” and “parents first dinner date post-birth” (not to mention some other less PG-rated stickers). Alas, I couldn’t find those sorts of stickers anywhere. If you wanted to jazz this gift up, you could make some.
  10. A diaper bag for traveling that includes a roll-out change mat and cold storage for at least one bottle. You could also stock it with travel wipes, diaper disposal bags, and diapers.
  11. Baby clothes in sizes of 6-9 months or bigger: New parents tend to receive lots of newborn clothing that the baby outgrows very fast.
  12. A nightlight to plug into the bathroom or the baby’s room. This is invaluable for those middle of the night feedings when you want to keep the ambience dim but don’t want to trip over the dog.
  13. A U-shaped pillow: These are good for breastfeeding but also versatile enough to be excellent for when you’re travel on a plane, etc. It was a lifesaver on our recent flights from Australia to Asia.
  14. A baby carrier: These can be expensive, so you might want to liase with the parents about which brand they’d like. We settled on the Ergo.
  15. A baby monitor: A baby monitor with audio and video is enormously useful, especially if you live in a split-level house. These are not as expensive as you might think – we got ours on sale for $100.
  16. A bed sleeper: These little cots can be placed in the bed between the parent’s pillows, allowing you to sleep your baby close to you without worrying you’ll squish or smother them on those nights when you have to put the dummy in 132 times or pat them to sleep .
  17. A travel cot: These are little cots that pack up small and light. The Samsonite one that friends gave us packs up into something the size of a large book that weighs only 600g. When unfolded it can sleep a baby up to a year old and is mosquito netted.
  18. Then there are always purely practical presents such as… a pack of cloth diaper squares to be used as “spew rags”.
  19. Diapers. If parents are planning on using cloth diapers like BumGenius etc, those things are expensive and you need about 20 of them. If they’re not using cloth diapers they’ll need literally thousands of disposables. This is one gift sure to be used.
  20. Baby wipes. Another gift guaranteed to be used.
  21. A good quality fluffy towel for the baby.
  22. Lanolin cream for Mum. Breastfeeding can be very painful, particularly at first. Get high quality lanolin cream like Marcalan that she doesn’t have to wipe off before feeding – this can be a sanity saver during the first couple of weeks.
  23. Nappy rash cream like Desitan or Amolin.
  24. Books for Mum: Don’t go for pregnancy books – most women facing labour and delivery for the first time have researched it thoroughly already. Think about getting her a novel or a book relevant to the period after the baby is born instead. A personal favorite of the moment is Vicki Iovine’s very funny Surving the First Year of Motherhood.
  25. A Kindle: If Mum doesn’t already have a kindle and she likes to read, this will allow her to read while breastfeeding. You can easily hold it and turn the pages with just one hand.
  26. Gift certificate to Amazon to help Mum buy books she wants to read while feeding.
  27. A voucher for a massage, manicure, or facial: The first massage I had post birth was one of the most pleasurable physical experiences of my life. This gift is even better if it comes with an offer to mind the baby while you use it.
  28. Babysitting: Offer to mind the baby while Mum and Dad go out to dinner or lunch together.
  29. Housekeeping: Whether it’s just one or two visits, or several months worth, this gift will be greatly appreciated by a new parent who doesn’t have to spend precious “baby is asleep” time scrubbing a bathtub.
  30. Meals: Make them and drop them off or provide gift vouchers for take out. This takes one thing off Mum (or Dad’s) to-do list for the day.

Any other ideas for useful or fun presents? Add them below to help give others inspiration.

If you enjoyed this post, stick around! Check out this post for more gift ideas: What do writers read to their own kids? Five authors share their favorite children’s books

Subscribe to my blog by RSS or by email (enter your email address top right) to receive updates about our adventures in parenthood and in Laos, and check out some of the following pregnancy and parenthood-related posts:

  1. Koi Maan Luuk: Or, I Am Pregnant
  2. Finding Out You Are Pregnant, In Slow Motion
  3. Life Lessons on Pregnancy and Breastfeeding from Cows
  4. Ten Good Things About Boys: Attaining Synthetic Happiness One Gender Stereotype at a Time
  5. Lessons in breastfeeding from cows, take two
  6. Tough Love Take One

Things to love about coming home

We’ve been back 48 hours, and I’m way too tired to write anything deep on the current theme of love, so I thought I’d just offer a look at things I’ve loved about being back so far…

The power went out before 9am the first morning we were back, so instead of unpacking and organizing necessities like change tables and diapers we spent three hours mostly trying to stay cool. Well, Mike and I tried to stay cool. Crazy baby didn’t want to lie on the tiles for some reason so he lay on Mike and sweated his way into a bad mood. A really bad mood.

Oh, wait. I was supposed to be talking about things I’ve loved. My bad.

OK, lets talk about the stroller. I love this stroller. Seriously. I spent more time researching this stroller than I spent researching the first and only car I ever bought. Way more time. The car decision (a silver jetta) was based on two qualities – shape and colour. The fact that VW’s are pretty safe was an incidental bonus. The stroller decision, on the other hand, was made after hours of online research, the waylaying of total strangers to check out the model they were pushing and solicit their input, and much cruising of e-bay.

The stroller I finally chose and bought second hand (a City Urban Baby Jogger) is a BMW of baby prams. It has suspension and sturdy rubber wheels to deal with Laos streets, mesh panels to keep things cooler, and a swivel front wheel you can lock straight when needed. The thing slides as if greased with astroglide when you give it the merest nudge. Not for the first time, I find myself jealous of my own baby. I wish someone would put me in this stroller and push me around while I did this…

Luckily for us, Dominic seems to love the stroller almost as much as I do. We’ve taken him out and about a couple of times now as we’re reacquainting ourselves with our favourite restaurants, and he hasn’t cried once. Well, not while the stroller’s actually moving. We’ve managed one meal out of three with him asleep in the thing. The other two meals have been eaten in shifts – one of us gobbling while the other walks the grumpy munchkin.

I’m not sure Dominic likes the heat. When he hasn’t been fussing he’s spent an awful lot of time looking something like this since we arrived home:

"Gosh, life is exhausting. I could really do with a big ice cream right now"

But he hasn’t been grumpy the entire time we’ve been back. Sometimes he does this.

"Did you SEE that??? It's a red and green COW!!!"

Awwww, isn’t that cute? I love that too. I haven’t got to see that face too much in the last 48 hours, but lets not dwell on that, it’s awesome when it comes to visit. Or when he snuggles down in my arms at 4am and spits out his dummy for the sole purpose of smiling up at me. Yeah, that’s almost as good as sleep. Almost.

So what else have I loved about being back? Cinnamon buns and a mint lemon freeze at Joma. Walking the familiar streets here with Mike and not coming home absolutely dripping – the cool season’s not here quite yet, but it’s on its way. Seeing trees near the house that were knee-high when I left which are now taller than I am. Feeling our little dog lick my hand, searching for affection. Sorting and stacking baby clothes – a weird one, I know, but even though I’m absolutely exhausted there’s something fun about organizing our own space to make it baby friendly. I think they call this nesting. I think most people do it before they have a baby, but hey, I’m not always the fastest player in the game.

Have you been away lately? What’s one of your favorite things about coming home?

Exhausted child goes to Laos

We’ve been back in Laos now for all of four hours. They’ve gone something like this…

  1. As I look out the window while we’re coming in to land, I think that if I couldn’t see any colour but green, this would be the place to come. The darkly forested mountains are stripped with lime because of the rice fields. The coconut trees burst up from the ground like emerald meringues. There’s every shade of green you can imagine on display here at the moment.
  2. We disembark into the humid heat with exhausted child. Child is generally exhausted because we have basically spent the last 26 hours in transit. Child is specifically exhausted because he spent much of his awake-time on both flights stiffening his spine and flinging his head back while we were holding him upright so that he could gaze, wide-eyed, at the ceiling of the plane. I have no idea what was so fascinating up there, but he looked exactly like a bald, chubby, blue-eyed meercat on high alert.
  3. We line up at immigration to get one-month tourist visas so that we can enter the country that we are legal residents of. Don’t ask.
  4. They grant us tourist visas. Hooray.
  5. We load eighty kilos of luggage and five pieces of carry on into a taxi. Exhausted child is sleeping, strapped to my chest. We are both sweating.
  6. At home after my five months absence, the plants have grown, we have new furniture, and Zulu the dog is beside himself to see us. Zulu runs in circles, licking everything he can reach, and then decides he’s far more interested in the peanut butter on toast we have for lunch than the brand new baby who is laughing and cooing as he lies in the pram that we have just unpacked.
  7. Exhausted child stops laughing at the ceiling fan and starts to wail without any warning of impending transition at all. Wailing rapidly progresses to red-faced screaming of the type I have only heard from him a handful of times.
  8. Dummies do not calm him, walking does not calm him, lying down on the bed with mama doesn’t calm him. The only thing that eventually works is boob. Despite the fact that I fed him less than an hour earlier, I feed exhausted child to sleep while Zulu the high-needs dog whines at the door because I have locked him out. I hold my breath as I ease exhausted child down into the bed.
  9. I sit beside exhausted child. Five minutes later exhausted child wakes up with a sudden scream. I pat him back to sleep. Ten minutes later, exhausted child wakes up and vomits a truly astounding quantity of milk all over himself. Do I get him up and clean him off? No. I wipe his face and tuck a towel under his cheek so he’s not lying directly in the puddles and pat him back to sleep.
  10. Forty minutes later exhausted child wakes up crying. I put the dummy in and rest my hand on him. He looks wide-awake and aggrieved that there are no fans or interesting things to look at on the ceiling in here. I tell him to listen to the roosters that are crowing at the ridiculous hour of 3pm, that they’re fun too (I don’t want to poison him so young with my own rooster hate, so I try for a cheery tone as I deliver this line). I debate whether to pick him up or leave him alone. I continue to lie here beside him and leave him alone. Then I debate whether this is maternal wisdom or maternal laziness. While I’m thinking this over exhausted child eventually drifts back to sleep.

Score one for wisdom or laziness. Now to wake him up in 15 minutes to walk down to the Khan River and introduce him (indirectly, of course) to lemongrass chicken grilled in bamboo and barbeque pork and tamarind sauce. It’s good to be back.

 

 

 

Horse or donkey?

We’re in Melbourne for a couple of days so that we can show baby bear to the officials at the US consulate and apply for his passport. It’s been a lovely couple of days packed full of last minute life admin tasks and meeting up with good friends. One of our biggest problems when we come to Melbourne is always lack of time. There are so many people here that we know and love that we never have as much time as we want to visit with them all and have long and leisurely catch ups.

Another big problem for me – a more serious one – is the traffic. City driving has never been something I love, and after a year of living without a car in a small town and then the last five months of hardly driving at all, Melbourne driving freaks me out. There are so many cars, and people, and trams, and lights flashing, and signs that are hard to read, and narrow lanes…

I have done my best not to be that white-knuckled passenger in the front seat of the car who gasps ever time the driver comes within 10 feet of any obstacle. I have failed more than once.

(As a side-note, you’d think that all this car-related anxiety would at least be good for helping me remember before we are five minutes into our drive to strap the baby into the car capsule. Not so. You would also think that after making this mistake once two nights ago I wouldn’t repeat it today. Not so. After Dominic has fallen asleep in that capsule inside the house and we’ve carried the whole lot out to the car to go somewhere, it’s turned out to be surprisingly hard to remember that there are seatbelts buried underneath the blankets that need to be done up before embarking.)

Anyway, we made it to the consulate today – no thanks to me in terms of navigation or driving – and while we were waiting Mike reminded me that driving related hypervigilance is not a new thing, though I think it’s gotten worse since baby bear’s birth. He referenced a conversation we had more than two and a half years ago now. It could just as easily have taken place today. So, in honour of Melbourne traffic, here’s that dialogue:

Mike and Lisa are driving back from a book reading at Hollywood. Lisa has done quite well, she only gets a little tightly wound when they are in heavy traffic, or looking for a park on sunset blvd, or turning corners (so, approximately 82% of the commute). She flinches when Mike turns into their own driveway at the end of the evening and points out a bicyclist.

The following exchange ensues:

Lisa: “Sorry I’m so jumpy, I don’t know why.”

Mike: “Yes, you are a bit … skittish… in the car”

Lisa: “Yes, like an Arabian thoroughbred racing horse. A finely-tuned miracle of breeding and class.”

Mike – silent

Lisa: “Or like a donkey. A traumatized donkey who’s been frequently beaten, and exposed to too many loud tractor noises.”

Mike – silent

Lisa: “Horse or donkey?”

Mike – silent

Lisa: “Horse or donkey? HORSE or DONKEY? HORSE OR DONKEY?????”

Mike: “You see me? This is me keeping my mouth shut. This is a husband who knows a lose lose situation when he sees one.”

Want more dialogues? Here are a couple of my favorites from our early marriage discussions:

Hanging out in Melbourne with our friend's awesome dog, Jasper