Our House Guest

Image from Getty ImagesThis past week, we’ve been having a friend stay with us. She just returned from a 18 month hitchhiking trip around the world, and she’s crashing with us till she sorts out a place to rent.

Most people I’ve mentioned this to, reeled back in horror at the thought of having a non-relative live with them for an unspecified length of time. But we *LOVE* having house guests. And she is simply fantastic!

She’s an awesome cook, keen to wash the dishes, great to talk to, full of cool stories, really easy going, she’ll sit through my [tragically appalling] choice of DVD, make + share freshly brewed chai soy lattes in the mornings, eat chocolate with me at night, she’ll even take the kids for a walk while I prep dinner. She’s fabulous with the kids. It’s been soooo great.

She also pointed out some rather amusing couple-habits we have. And bless her for being so polite about it, because if I had to live with people like us, I’d go insane.

Apparently while watching tv, we have this habit of suddenly turning off the volume, so we can talk and rant about whatever random thing we want – the size of Angelina Jolie’s breasts, whether the Dockers will stay in the final 8, video footage from Lebanon, sky rocketing house prices, stupid plot devices and inferior casting choices. We would be lost without our mute button.

We snack a LOT. We eat so much bread. I bake a new loaf twice a week. And tea. All kinds of different teas. We drink so much tea.

Also. I sweep a lot. I hate dirty floors. Dirt. Sand. Grass. Hair. Crumbs. Ugh. I can’t stand it. I must clean.

But in the same breath, I don’t mind dirty dishes. We have a tendancy to pile the dishes into a futuristic city of towering crockery next to the sink. I swear you have to be some kind of Chinese circus juggling artist to disassemble it all. Ah, it’s funny what you look past when you have young kids.

Living

The rainy days have brought a gorgeous warmth to our house. The spaces seem smaller. The rooms feel cosier. The corners glow with intimacy.

However, after being stuck indoors for 2 days, everyone starts to get a little stir crazy. And with every crack of sunshine in the clouds, we slap on the gumboots and throw the kids outside.

This afternoon, we all walked to the park. The creek was filled to the brim. Water rushing noisily over rocks and reeds. Spilling out over the banks. It was twinkling. We made leaf boats. And we sailed them till they tangled over and sunk. We threw gum nuts and watched them bob dizzily in the water until they crashed spectacularly over the waterfall. We got wet. We got muddied. And we got rained on.

Best. Afternoon. Ever. Even though we all smelt like algae.

Zooed

Despite the threat of rain, we went to the Perth Zoo today. Ordinarily, the zoo is not my first choice of family winter entertainment, but a friend of ours gave us free tickets. Which was very cool. Because it gave us a really low “dollar value = expectation of fun” outlook on the day. Resulting in an absolutely fantastic afternoon.

We loved the crocodile! It was HUGE. Callum was completely mesmerised. He stood and stared with his mouth hanging open. Asking the typical kid questions, Why isn’t it moving? What is it doing? A Zoo Guide plodded over and started to tell the crowd various crocodile facts, like they can sleep underwater for 2 hours and that they EAT LITTLE CHILDREN!! (I kid you not. He actually said that!)

We had a good run with the animals. They were all out and about and showing their faces. We saw all the big attractions. The tiger said hi. The elephants were eating. And painting! The lions were roaring. The kangaroos were grazing. The giraffes were galloping about. And the orang-utans were playing peekaboo with people.

We had a lovely (but over priced) lunch. Next time I’ll pack my own lunch, and take more snacks. Sean sat quietly in his stroller and nibbled on biscuits for most of the day. He was definitely too young to enjoy the animals. At one point, I lifted him up to see the painting elephants. He stopped wriggling and sat still in my arms. I thought he was utterly enthralled, until I realised he was staring at moss growing on the wooden fence. Anyway, like I said earlier, we had a great time. There were no crowds. No waiting. No queuing. No children running and screaming. And no obnoxious little kids banging on the glass and hogging the best viewing positions. I completely recommend going if you have bigger kids (3+), during non-school holidays and on a day with a forecast of rain!

Hello. I’m Not On Holiday.

Last Wednesday, I had a crazy day. My in-laws, who were staying with us, were leaving. I had a zillion errands to run and things to do before we left for our trip. And I had to tidy the house for our house-sitter.

Late in the afternoon, after all my errands, I stopped by the shops to pick up some food for dinner. My husband was working back late, so it was just me and the two boys tonight. I bought three yummy chicken kebabs from the oh-so popular local poultry shop.

Dinnertime. The kids didn’t touch them. They ate their rice. Their lettuce, tomatoes, snow peas and capsicums! But not the chicken! So I sat back and feasted on all three. Yummy tasty chicken.

That night as I went to bed, I felt… cold. So. Cold.

The next morning I felt fine. My husband went to work. I kept the kids entertained. I set about cleaning the house. I planned a list of things to pack for our holiday. I planned a shopping list of things the house-sitter might need. Food for the trip. Clothes to wash. Floors to mop. People to call. Etc etc. But as the afternoon approached, it all went down hill.

I was sick. I couldn’t think straight, act straight, or talk coherently.

And it was only until the boys were fighting and shouting so badly in the garden, some part of my brain thought it was a good idea to give the boys a new activity – full reign of the craft box – in the nice clean house, so I could crawl into my bed for a few moments of peace from the nuclear bombs going off in my head… and then I even found myself shouting (moaning, actually) warnings and instructions from under the blankets as I heard the crying and fighting again…

“Make sure you guys play nicely…”
“Callum share the pencils…”
“Hey… stop all that fighting and shouting…”
“Sean don’t eat the glue…”

“Callum can you climb up onto the kitchen counter and bring me the telephone handset?”

He did. I called my parents. Thank GOD for my parents. They were over in 15 minutes. I think. They must’ve arrived, assessed the situation, packed a few things and took the kids away. Because I kinda blacked out and awoke 3 hours later. Awake! Vomitting! Food poisoning! That damn chicken!

I stumbled into the lounge room. Mess everywhere! A tornado or paper, confetti, macaroni, matchsticks, glitter glues and pencils. Dishes unwashed. Clothes strewn everywhere. Chairs upturned. I don’t know why I even cared. I must’ve been really sick. But I cleaned. Oh I cleaned like my life depended on it. I even scrubbed 2 day old spaghetti stains off the tile grout in the kitchen.

Then I put clean sheets on the visitor’s bed, and sat on the couch.

At that moment my husband came home from work. Two minutes later, our friend the house-sitter arrived.

I exchanged a few pleasant words. Then I excused myself and crawled back into bed. Where I stayed for the next 3 days.

I was really sick.