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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Date

4 January 2013

Highlights from Melbourne Trip

We’re back! And yeah, that explains the radio silence after Christmas. We took our first long-distance road trip to Melbourne in our brand new car and had a lovely time. Here’s a bunch of highlights from our trip – mostly without pictures, because I’ve been rather slack with the photo finger.

1. Catching up with Saz and family

I have missed Sarah and E-gene lots since we last stayed with them (in 2009, from the last count!) Aidan was about Arddun’s age, maybe slightly older, and Arddun was only a pipedream then. It was just so good to finally meet up with old friends again, and to share in their splendid news!

I especially loved how Arddun just hopped out of the car, walked into their house and made herself at home within the first minute. Clearly understood that she was in good company. She also had little difficulties adjusting to a new house and sleeping in her portacot. Phew!

Sarah and Arddun
Sarah (who hasn’t aged a day!) and Arddun enjoying some last-minute cuddles and TV watching before we hit the road.

2. Cupcakes from the Buttercup Queen

I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures of that gorgeous birthday cake Sarah had put together for a customer. Witnessed its construction from flour to finish, and was even party to the Friday Night Drama with fiendishly tricky fondant. My humble contribution to the evening’s proceedings was cutting out tiny blue fondant dots to line the trim on the cake. For that, Sarah rewarded us with to-die-for cupcakes for our long journey home. Check out the full extent of her culinary talent.

Cupcakes from Sarah
Our going away present from Sarah before we hit the road. Took them to our picnic in Albury on our way home.

3. Fancy food

Melbourne is the mecca for food done fancy. For instance, a nonchalant trip to a humble cafe at a nearby Uni turned up this melt-in-the-mouth pork belly concoction with Super Crackling and Masterchefesque presentation. Yes. For lunch.

Pork belly dish at Victoria Uni
La-di-da pig

Also had very yummy and authentic Nasi Briyani at PappaRich at QV. Tony had their Roti Canai and didn’t care for it because they added sugar, which wasn’t what he expected. But he said the Tandoori Chicken was good.

4. Good games

Even though I understand cerebrally that Aidan is 5 going on 6 and therefore much more capable of walking and talking than when I last saw him, I was nevertheless rather awestruck that this little tyke can now calmly play – and beat me squarely in – 10 games of UNO. At least I beat him at 3D Snakes and Ladders. My one very small consolation. :)

Tony ended up getting roped in some RPG board game with monsters which involved rolling dice, getting spared several times by said 5-going on-6-year-old, and then unexpectedly winning. To this day, the man cannot explain how he did it because he still doesn’t get the rules.

5. Visiting Belmore Road

Went to worship with the church at Belmore Road and was very pleasantly surprised by the number of changes – great expansion of numbers due to work with the new Chinese congregation, an expanded main hall, and a handful of International students from Singapore I actually know and probably taught in bible class at some point in time.

6. Melbourne Zoo

Arddun is still a little too young to fully appreciate an outing at the zoo, but we took her anyway. The most precious moment was when she fully recognised the gorillas and with eyes shining, turned to me and squawked, “Mama! See! Mama, See! Monkey! OOOOOH OOOOHH AAH AAH AAH! MONKEY!”

She liked the zebras (“Horse!”) and ran into the enclosure to pet the emu. (True story.) She also chased after someone’s pet dog, but I don’t think she understood that it wasn’t technically part of zoo life.

Arddun in Ergo on Tony's back
Father and daughter watching the big bird. Don’t ask me which type of bird. I really didn’t care in that searing heat.
Tony and Arddun watching zebras
Horse! (Wearing pajamas!)
Emu Enclosure
Emu “enclosure”. Now you see why I had to run after Arddun once she decided to pat the emu like it were a big brown dog?

8. Safe travels

7 hours on the road is a big ask for a toddler. Arddun’s not old enough to read a book, play computer games or zone out on a DVD, and there’s only so many ways you can play with your tea set or do baby puzzles and sing funny songs before it becomes a huge bore.

The journey to Sarah’s, owing to a terrible accident on the Hume Highway that resulted in a fatality, ended up an hour longer. Which meant Arddun cracked it at 4pm and we had to stop at MacDonald’s and let her stretch her legs for a good 2 hours. Which meant we arrived in Melbourne 12 hours after we shut our back door in Canberra.

All things considered, however, we had a lovely time. Uneventful and comfortable car ride, courteous traffic, and a working satnav. We stopped at Albury’s botanical gardens on the way down, and picnicked at a park and playground on our way back. Highly recommend both places as stopovers if you have children who need to run around and explore.

Arddun at Albury Botanical Gardens
Cooling off under a shady tree with a chilled yoghurt at the botanical gardens
Tony and Arddun at Albury playground
Lunch before play at Hovell Tree Park

So yes – we survived! Next stop, perhaps Brisbane. We’ll see.

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Taking the pee

So this one’s about potty training. If you’ve been there, done that, or aren’t fazed by words such as “poo”, “pee” and location thereof, proceed. Otherwise, you might want to stop right here and run away some place where you can have a mindscrape from the images I’ve just conjured. I’m just sayin’.

The main character in all this, of course, is our daughter Arddun. I haven’t written much about what she’s like lately, so here’s a quick summary.

She’s talking now. Sometimes, she even speaks English. Her “thank-yous” are now automatic, though not so much her “pleases”, and she greets you with Good Morning even after her 1 o’clock nap. When you ask her a question she understands, she says “Yes” or “No” with the biggest grin on her face – because you asked her a question she understands.

Her hair has grown even lighter in colour, and has gone past her shoulders. Sometimes, I catch her stopping in mid stride to flick her hair back with both hands. She loves cars, trains, and pretend tea parties. She puts on her own shoes now, but still can’t tell left from right. She tosses them off as soon as we get into the car, like a bogan. She tries to wear her own shirts, so sometimes she flaps around the house with two singlets up one arm.

We’ve given up on hair clips, so her fringe is now tied in a pony tail to the side and looks like a wonky whale spout. She’s teething at the moment, so her chatter and laughs are punctuated by screams of pain. Her latest thing is to laugh like Ernie. I have no idea if that’s a Sesame Street influence but in case you need a revision on your Sesame Street characters, his laugh sounds like this:

Now, it wasn’t too long ago that I had bragged about Arddun depositing correctly and voluntarily into her potty. Big mistake. HUGE. Because it was the start of the end. I don’t think Arddun had ever quite understood what it was we were trying to get her to accomplish in her special white plastic reading chair until that day. I also don’t think she ever quite understood what her pee and poo actually looked like.

She’s not having any of that anymore.

The biggest giveaway was straight after she had made those deposits, and when she turned around to regard what had transpired. “Oh nooo…” she breathed. “Oh dear. Oh no…” she kept saying, and then reached for toilet paper and started wanting to wipe it all up. All this, despite me ecstatically praising her to the skies. The same thing happened the next day. And then on day 3…

Nothing. Refused to even go near the potty. She would peer into it once or twice and go, “Oh dear!” and then scurry out the room. I went out and bought a new potty to start afresh. Nothing. Got her the toddler toilet seat to place on the full-sized toilet. Wouldn’t go near it. Each attempt to get her to sit on it – even fully clothed – would result in her arching her back, with lips tightly pressed into a determined line.

It was messy. She didn’t like the entire process. It was distasteful.

I’d decided to give this a break and start afresh when we got back from Melbourne. Two weeks ought to do it, I thought.

We started again today. Got her kit off, asked her to sit on the potty to read her books. She peered into it, remembered what it was for, and started arching her back.

“Come on,” I urged her. “Just sit and read a book. Look! Spot! Where’s Spot?”

She makes a break for it, and dashes out of the toilet as fast as her chubby-but-athletic toddler legs can carry her. (Read: About 9.5km/h, I’m convinced.) I sigh in resignation, start to restack the books, stand up, leave the cubicle… only to find she had tinkled on the floor beside her new table and chairs.

Five seconds. That was all it took.

So here I am grumbling and wiping up while pointing to her mess and going, “See this? THIS was supposed to go into the potty! Not out here! POT-TY!” and Arddun starts stroking my head.

“Sowwy!” she says. Pat-pat. “Sowwy!” And then she throws her arms around my neck and gives me two firm kisses, before swinging my face around to look into my eyes.

I school my face to look every bit as annoyed as I’d been, but the act is starting to fray at the edges.

She laughs like Ernie and runs off.

Arddun 1, Mummy wiping pee.

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