Australia, Australia, Australia, WE LOVE YA!

A slightly small(ish) post today as I am busier than a one-legged man at an ass- kicking contest….one of the pearl of wisdom phrases my father shared with me as a child. It just sticks in my mind.

Digressing, sorry.  Let me now share with all of you that as of yesterday, my family is now Australian. Australia recognizes Dual Citizenship so we did not need to renounce our American citizenship…which is something I would not do. However my inherent mistrust of all governments made me too afraid to continue raising our children in a country that they did not enjoy 100 percent protection of. Therefore Ted and I studied and passed the exams.  Yes….Ted managed to get all twenty questions correct and I barely scraped by with nineteen out of twenty.  I would like to state for the record that the question I missed was the one that said Queen Elizabeth II’s official Aussie title is The Queen of Australia.  I am proud to have missed that.  PROUD, I say.

Yet another digression.  Sorry.

The ceremony in and of itself describes Australia to perfection in my mind. It was official, important and the most irreverent display I’ve ever seen. The mayor and two council members cracked jokes the entire time.  One poor woman lost her newly acquired certificate for messing up how she walked back to her seat.  The mayor returned it but he did actually yank it out of her hand.  There was a comment about, “Yeah, that’s something usually just the Poms do” Poms – for my American friends, is the derogatory name for Brits. I grew up calling them Limeys but now I have to learn Poms. It’s a learning process.  At least I can use arvo in a sentence correctly now.

When the mayor was handing out our certificates he stopped in front of Teddy and Connor (Tessi was by me because she was very afraid every one would laugh at her…another story) and refused to give them their citizenship papers until they gave the correct response to “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” Which my cherubs dutifully provided. “Oi! Oi! Oi!” “Too right!” responded the mayor and “I wanted to hear that!” piped up one of the more irreverent council members. After the ceremony the mayor bullied Connor and me into eating vegemite (almost got on the boat to leave the country) and Tessi hugged the mayor as we got a picture with him. Then she walked out shrieking, “I HUGGED THE MAYOR!!!!”

I once worked for the City Clerk’s Office in Austin, Texas and I NEVER would have addressed the mayor as anything but Your Honor or Mr. Mayor. A few years ago I attended a P&C (like the PTA) meeting where the mayor attended so we could discuss parking problems. It being my first time seeing the mayor in person, I asked my friends next to me how he should be addressed. Would His Honor suffice? “Eh, I just usually call him Nick” was the response. When I asked if he was friends with the mayor I got the usual “Crazy Yank Look” I’ve become accustomed to and heard, “No, why?” Ahhhhh, nevermind.

In all honesty, Christ…I love this mentality. Too often we as a society are so bogged down by rules, regulations and what is proper that we miss the humanity of it all. Respect is important. Yet here, respect is only entitled once it’s been earned.  Even after it’s been earned…well, that doesn’t give a person the right to be an uptight git.  “A Tall Poppy” is the phrase here.

Thank you Australia for being everything we were looking for. I won’t lie, I wish to God you’d allow normal-sized dryers and region-encoded games are an affront to humanity. Yet even I admit those are small prices to pay for the privilege of living Down Under.

For the rest of my life I will always call Australia home.

In honor of my new homeland let me leave you with a You Tube clip to a funny and clearly offensive Monty Python clip. I have seen it several times while I lived in the US but only after moving to Australia have I learned how utterly gut-wrentchingly and side-splittingly humorous it is.

Enjoy and G’Day!

Don’t Want to Play Today

I had an adorable story to tell you today about Teddy having a rough time watching his sister the other day. It was funny and rather insightful I must say.

Then I woke up and read that 298 people were murdered. Why? Because someone wanted to make a statement. Prove a point. Show that they could.

Does it matter why? Someone came up with the idea to do it and people around him or her didn’t punch his or lights out. Instead they helped them carry it out.

All human beings have terrible ideas that quickly pass through their brains now and again. Vicious, disgusting and repugnant ideas that flit across the synapses like burrs from a weed. Decent people shake their head, chastise themselves and move on. Insane or evil people act on them.

Insane and evil won today. You miserable bastards.

No funny story today because a world that has someone plan 298 deaths doesn’t have room for funny in it.

Tomorrow though, tomorrow we take our world back and work to make sure that you get yours. Maybe that isn’t the most mature response, but then again I’ve seldom been called mature. If being immature means I will rejoice when the bastards who did this are punished, then I am thrilled to be immature.

For the non-bastards of the planet, let’s all try to be kind to each other today. I think we could all use it.

Love to you all.

Not Waiting for the Lightening Strike

No one puts their thoughts and ideas on a public website without wondering who is reading it. At least I hope not. If you do that you really have some issues. For the rest of us, words and ideas go online and there is at least a brief thought about who will read the missive. I’ve seen enough internet writing “stars” to know that talent has very little to do with success. You are either struck by lightening or you are not.

Every now and then I get a bee in my bonnet about branching out and “doing something” with my work. Mainly when I want to plan an expensive holiday or an unexpected bill comes in and I furiously try to figure out how to quickly score some cash. I’ve joined a few blogging groups and I do my best to pay attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization for my non-techie friends….also known as how to make people see your website on Google) I’ve looked back at some of my writing and I think some of it works. Some of it is an embarrassment to my late English teacher mother and every writing class I ever took….but some of it is funny and I think is worthy of the lightening strike of fame.

Sooo, where’s the flash?

Every blogging group mentions the same key element to success: post regularly. Pick a day and keep to the schedule. Regularity is building block to a successful blog. Be in people’s thoughts constantly and momentum will spread. Daily or weekly columns in newspapers follow the same principle. It works.

Clearly for me, in order to have any chance at getting to that elusive success level I need to buckle down, dig deep and keep to a schedule.

Now I have an answer to why lightening hasn’t struck me. There’s no way I can write regularly and on schedule. I write what I write because of the unusual and unexpected things that hit me. Granted, most of these things are unexpected because I live in a delusional world that insists that this time….the worst thing won’t happen, but my point is that I don’t control it.

I can’t ever decide it’s time to write and then sit down and type away. I think that shocks my friends the most when they ask me how I write something. I sit down at the keyboard or iPad and the words just pour out of my fingers. Verbal vomit for those with strong stomachs.

I see or hear an event and the story is just there. If I can get to keyboard and get it out great but if I can’t; it’s gone.

I’m sure this is proof that I am not a genuine writer. I can only imagine that the truly gifted can write what they need and when they need to create. However I can’t. I haven’t written anything for two weeks not because I’ve been home with the kids on school holidays…well, maybe a little. It’s hard to write when you are mediating fights over who gets to tell the other one what to do in a Mario Kart game. Don’t ask. It still hurts my head to think about it.

I haven’t written because there was no story to tell. Funny and sad things have occurred but the story didn’t appear.

I’m not sad about never achieving glory though. I think this little blogging industry is overwhelmed with people WHO MUST WRITE SOMETHING NOW!! Sure, there is some bonafide talent out there but there is also a large amount of people only writing in hopes of getting other people to notice. If that makes them happy, more power to them.

For me though, I keep writing when I need to and not writing when I don’t. Whether I get 70, 700 or even zero hits on my page, it’s all good.

Not the zero part…I do have some pride.

Crossing the Line

As a family we have drawn lines in the sand (metaphorically speaking)  to establish rules and guidelines of behavior.  It’s these boundaries that ensure that we understand each other and respect one another as individuals and human beings.

Lines have been crossed at the Tencza house this fine day. Some of us broke some rules of engagement and handled themselves in a less than adult like manner.  For some of us, this is no surprise.

The boy took it upon himself to add extra nails in Tessi’s voodoo doll. Nailed right through the eyes, which brought the image of a Mad Max terrifying character wearing sunglasses.

Remember when I posted about the fury of a nine-year old the other day? The story about the sweet little girl who was too shy to confront her tormentor? I can now attest to in a court of law that in this case, that particular limitation does not apply to confronting her brother. Or as he is now known “The Rottenist Jerk Face E.V.E.R. Who Will Someday be Really Really Sorry” personally I don’t think this title flows that smoothly, but I wasn’t getting in the middle of that fight for all the tea in China.

I did what any reasonable well-seasoned veteran mother would do. I hid in the kitchen behind my iPad and drank my tea. I figured I’d just wait until the blood splatter hardened and have Connor hose it off the walls. Always have a plan, I say.

Teddy behaved as any annoyed teen would. He said something highly offensive and as Missy ran to my secret hiding place in order to rat him out, he quickly grabbed his stuff and hauled tush out the other way to head out the door. Normally I frown on any minor using bad language in my house (that’s MY job) but in this case I must concede that sometimes a brother has to do what a brother has to do.

Sadly, this left Tessi in the kitchen with me in order to deal with her rage. Nope, no I am not. Not gracefully at least. I retreated back to the stove and turned the kettle on. Sure I already had tea but the sound of the water heating up should temper the sound of her fury.

It was at that moment that Connor started talking about chocolate. I don’t know if she was trying to distract Tessi or was merely daydreaming about a happier time. Regardless, we stopped and all three of us started dreaming about chocolaty goodness. As you do.

Because Mother Nature, Fate, or Vishnu seemingly like to mess with my cosmic equilibrium, somehow Connor saying the word chocolate embedded the Dora the Explorer Chocolate song in my brain. Before you could say, “What the Hell happened?” I was singing the preschool tune “Chocolate, Chocolate, Bate, Bate, Chocolate!”

Since no one is more vengeful than I am, I retaliated by singing it out loud with a “Let it Go” type of frenzied fervor and now we are all cursed with it. Both girls walked away shrieking that they HATE Dora and WHY do they have that song stuck in their brains.  Why, they ask?  Because if I was going down, so were they.  Thems the breaks.

I broke the cardinal rule of motherhood, “Thou shalt not share thy Hell with your blessed children and thy must shield them at all costs” but in doing so I saved a bit of my soul.  In my book that means I didn’t as much cross the line of decency but just toed it.  Maybe danced over it and quickly returned.

If it gets that damn song out of my mind quicker I will sleep just fine knowing that I am a less than awesome mother.  Just fine indeed.

Simple Problem Solving

My youngest Tessi, is having a some boy trouble at the moment.  By boy trouble I mean there is one boy at school that she hates with all the passion a nine-year old girl can muster…which is a helluva lot.

Unfortunately this is not the normal school bully scenario.  He isn’t a bad kid.  He just views the world as his personal rugby pitch and he is the prop.  For non-rugby plays that means he’s like a bull in a china shop.  Half the people this kid passes by end up on their rear ends.  Not because he’s bullying them, he just has no idea that it’s wrong I think to send kids sprawling. That and I don’t think he notices that people end up air born around him.

Tessi could live with that, Lord knows she isn’t the most graceful person, if he would simply say he was sorry when it happens.  In her mind there is no greater sin than to hurt someone and not beg their forgiveness.  The other day during some dance practice he knocked her for a loop and then kept going.  Her rage was palpable.

This has been going on for a while and I keep telling her to either yell at him or hit him back.  She won’t do that because she’s terrified of making her teacher angry with her.  I try to explain that defending yourself is not the same as bullying someone, but she won’t listen. She refuses to do anything that she might get yelled at about. Sure, her TEACHER she’s scared to annoy but ME, eh not so much.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Friday afternoon as school she rucked up to me sobbing that he had done it yet again.  Apparently he walked by,  knocked her down and not only did he not say sorry, none of her friends helped her up.  This was the worst day of her life.  Ever.  In real life.  The tears drenched us both.  Once more, I counseled her to yell at him, tell him to stop and yes…. hit him back or just do ANYTHING.  No, she refused.

Then it hit me, as most of my crazier ideas do. Alrighty then.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  It’s time to bring a non-traditional solution to a traditional problem.

“No, you’re right.  You can’t punch him.  But we can make a voodoo doll of him.”  Tears stop instantly.  “Voodoo doll?  What’s that?” her timid voice croaked out.

I explained that in the Voodoo religion people believe they can make a doll in the image of someone who has wronged them.  Then they can inflict damage on the doll and they believe that the person in question feels the pain.

Eyes larger and brighter than the biggest stars gazed reverently up at me.  “Feel the pain? Is it true?  Can I make him hurt?”  “No Baby,” I had to deflate this idea quickly. “It’s not real, but it will feel so good to pretend that it is”

Off to the shops we went and tried to find a doll.  We had a few misfires shopping wise and found out that there really aren’t that many male dolls.  We tried using the little army figurines but that plastic is amazingly hard.  Just a quick public service announcement: don’t try boiling the figurines, complete waste of time.  Can’t get enough heat to melt.  Sigh.

Finally I found a Ken doll at the local K-Mart.  Good old Ken, taking one for the team.  I didn’t want to take any chances and this time didn’t bother with pins or needles and went straight to hammer and nails.  We spent a good thirty minutes lining up the shots and hammering away.  I counselled her away from stigmata wounds but Tessi’s foot was hurting from a recent injury and she insisted that he needed to feel that pain too.  I did steadfastly refused to allow any genital stabbings.  I felt we were already dancing too close to the edge of socially acceptable behavior. If we crossed into that domain I knew  I definitely would get some phone calls.  Tessi agreed.  Besides….that’s icky. Wise beyond her years, that one.

Below are some images of Madam pounding away her rage.

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Not the best picture I know.  However this is the happiest she has been while mentioning the dreaded boy’s name in MONTHS.

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We discovered that while the entire body was made of a very sturdy plastic – KUDOS Science – the head was actually quite flexible and rubbery.  This was perfect for nailing in earrings and a rather impressive number of nails in a small area.

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Not just content with nails, Tessi broke out the markers (textas) and drew black eyes and blood.  Her doll complete she felt vindicated and properly avenged.  After she was done she took the doll, grabbed one of her non-mutilated Barbies and played for while.  She had the Ken doll explain to the Barbie doll exactly what he had done to deserve his wounds and then apologize.  The Barbie was most forgiving.

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I’ve told her that she can tell people that we made the doll but to NEVER say the name of the boy she made it for.  She adamantly agreed that it would be wrong to name him publicly besides he must never, ever know.  What if he makes a doll of her?  Yes, THAT’S the reason not to tell.  Good Girl.

Problem solving, Motherhood 101.