Author Archives: melvan

Pre-emptive strike

I am 26 weeks pregnant. Those of you who can do basic counting can probably work out roughly what week I’m ‘due.’

However, I don’t believe in due dates. I believe babies come when they’re ready, regardless of what we’d like them to do. It’s only in very extreme cases that we need to actually DO anything about making a baby be born at a certain time (things like severe pre-eclampsia and heavy bleeding come to mind). I have a friend who gave birth, at home, at 33 weeks, and her baby is perfectly healthy. I know of another woman who had a baby at around 45 weeks, also at home, and again, her baby is perfectly healthy too.

So far I’ve been ‘lucky’ in that my babies have been born before their ‘due’ dates, so I haven’t gotten too much harassment about being ‘overdue.’ But I thought I’d write this all out in advance anyway, so that I can shove this in the face of anyone who starts harassing me when I get close to birthing. Because harassment is exactly what a soon-to-birth woman DOESN’T need, and I’m sick to death of hearing about other women going ‘over’ and getting phone calls, emails, texts, and whatever else asking them when that baby’s coming, and all it causes is stress for the poor pregnant woman who should just be allowed to relax!

If the only thing you have to say to me is something along the lines of ‘Hasn’t that baby been born yet?’ then DON’T bother contacting me. Yeah, because we’re really going to forget to tell all our friends and family that we’ve had a baby. Get real.

If you’re going to suggest that I should get induced because the stillbirth rate increases after whatever gestation, DON’T bother contacting me. Besides, you’d be wrong – the stats I’ve seen (which unfortunately I can’t find at the moment! if you have that link please comment) clearly show that the highest risk of stillbirth is BEFORE 40 weeks. So suck on that.

If you’re going to tell me horror story after horror story about big babies, long labours, dead babies, etc. – save it. I don’t think you can compare anything with the horror story I’ve already lived. And how dare you try to scare a pregnant woman anyway.

And if you even THINK of mentioning that I should go to hospital this time because of what happened last time – GET LOST. You clearly don’t understand the situation and I don’t need people like you in my life.

End of rant. For now.

That post about being an American in Australia, conveniently written on the 4th of July.

Sorry, it’s not really going to have anything of substance. But it might make you hungry.

So I was thinking tonight about polenta, also known as corn meal. Polenta is, from what I gather, a fairly common ingredient in Italian cooking. I, however, don’t know much about Italian cooking, other than pasta, garlic bread, and parmigiana. And I especially have no idea how people cook polenta around here. So I have some polenta in my pantry, which I mistakenly thought would be suitable for making corn taco shells (it was kind of a disaster), and was wondering what else I could do with it. Corn bread was the first thing that came to mind, of course, because I’m a Yank. And then I thought about corn dogs. Mmmm. It’s been ages since I had a good corn dog – hot dog on a stick, dipped in corn batter and deep fried. Not exactly the healthiest thing on the planet, but they are pretty tasty, especially when dipped in real mayonnaise.

And that’s when I had the idea for this blog post: foods from here and there that I like, don’t like, miss, never had before, never had since…all those kinds of categories. So I’m just going to start listing them in no particular order, just the way I think of them.

And this is a much different list than it would have been seven years ago, because you know what? I’ve adapted to my new culture, not completely, but enough to be pretty comfortable. Plus, there are enough shops around that carry some of my favourite American foods/snacks that I don’t have to pine for them – I just need to go to the right shop when I’m having one of those cravings, and I’m good for another few weeks. Because I know it’s not a ‘forbidden fruit’ or anything, and I can have it whenever I want.

Foods I miss from the States

This one is actually going to be a pretty short list, because of the aforementioned shops that carry American imports. Corn dogs are something I wouldn’t mind having now and then, but since I don’t remember having one in the 7 years I’ve been here, I obviously don’t miss them that much. If I did, I would have worked out how to make them at home by now. However, I still haven’t found anywhere that sells packs of Jolly Rancher candies with ONLY the watermelon flavoured ones. And I don’t suppose I’m likely to.

Little Debbies fit in this category too. I don’t believe I’ve seen them anywhere, and I don’t think USA Foods in Melbourne is allowed to import them, otherwise I’m sure they’d have them by now.

And how can I forget Rocky Road ice cream. I might have to try doing it myself one day.

As for restaurants, there’s Arby’s and A & W. Those are really the only ones that I miss that I’d go back to. And a good buffet restaurant (but not Old Country Buffet because they think breastfeeding is perverted or something. I won’t be spending my money with them anymore).

Foods I never had before moving to Australia that I can’t imagine living without now

I can’t count Tim Tams here, because Darrin once filled an entire suitcase with Tim Tams, Milo, and Cherry Ripes when he came over for Christmas. But you know what does? Fresh mandarins. Prior to moving here, I only ever saw them in a can, never fresh. My brother and I, since we were first learning to read, called them ‘Maynard oranges’ because it sounded funny, and there was a guy at our church named Maynard. Now I have a mandarin tree in my back yard. Hopefully it’ll start fruiting next year.

Chips (fries) from Chicken Chef in Gilles Plains. You have not lived till you’ve had these.

Australian foods that I’m still not game to try

Vegemite. I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. Since Darrin doesn’t like it, and Caleb’s never had it either (to my knowledge), it’s not really that crucial that I deal with it.

Imported American stuff I buy now and then

Dr Pepper
Welch’s Strawberry soda
A&W root beer
A&W cream soda
Reese’s Pieces
Reese’s peanut butter cups
Jelly Belly jelly beans

Typical American foods that I make at home

PBJ (only I use, and have always used, strawberry jam instead of grape jelly)
‘Ants on a toilet seat’ – aka an apple cut in half, core removed, spread with peanut butter and raisins (sultanas) placed on top. Only I usually cut up the apple into wedges and put peanut butter on each one, and don’t bother with sultanas.
Pumpkin pie (especially now that I’ve finally successfully grown pumpkins in my back yard)

Things I’ve found suitable substitutes for

Hershey’s Almond chocolate bars: Cadbury Roast Almond, of course. And Cadbury tastes better anyway.
Cheddarwurst: the mild cheese kranskys from the Pacific Big Butcher in John Street, Salisbury.

It’s a small world, after all

Know what? The dine-in Pizza Hut outside Westfield Marion smells EXACTLY like the Pizza Hut I used to work at in Hudson, Wisconsin, over 10 years ago. Some things never change.

What was I doing here again? Oh yeah.

Actually, all of these lists are smaller than I thought they’d be, because I seem to have forgotten a lot of the things I used to miss. Funny what 7 years does.

So just how hard is it to get your lawn mowed?

It’s been ages since I blogged.  I had to take it up again just so I could tell this long, twisted tale.  And it ain’t even finished yet!

So a friend of mine started a gardening co-op group on Facebook a few weeks ago. Basically we all go around to each other’s houses and do some gardening work together and get heaps more done in one day than one person could get done over a longer period of time. And I volunteered to have the first one here, because of so many reasons. I’m pregnant again (did I mention that?) so I haven’t been able to do much. And Darrin’s driving a bus all the way at the other end of the city, and away from home for up to 15 hours a day sometimes, for 5 days a week, so he can’t do much either. Things are seriously falling behind here. The grass is up to 40 cm high in some places, and the dandelions – you don’t even want to know. And now the sour sobs are starting up for the winter too. So something seriously needs to be done.

I didn’t think it was fair to have everyone come over and make them mow my jungle of a lawn, so I started looking for lawnmowing services to come do it. On Friday the 8th, I contacted one that slashed the lawn about a year and a half ago and was told that someone would contact me. And several days went past. So I emailed them again on Thursday the 14th, and the guy said that someone would contact me soon, and he did. He left a message on my phone to ring him back. Rang back immediately and got voicemail. Sent an SMS. Next morning I still hadn’t heard anything more from him so I rang again. He said he could come over Saturday just after lunch.

Now here’s the problem. My gardening day was supposed to be Saturday at 11 am. The mowing has to be done before anything else can be. So I postponed the gardening day till Sunday. So far, so good. Sunday actually worked better for some of the people who were planning to come.

Saturday came. I went out in the morning to do some shopping, came home, and we had lunch. And we waited. And waited. And waited.

The guy never turned up. Never even rang or texted to say he couldn’t/wouldn’t be here. I’ve heard NOTHING from him at all. That company has lost my business (and if you’re in Adelaide and ask me nicely, I’ll tell you who they are so you can avoid them too, but I don’t want to post their name here in case they decide to sue me for libel or something).

Anyway. So that evening I looked up a few other local businesses. I contacted three of them and heard from two almost right away. One said he could come to do a quote Sunday afternoon, and I told the other one Monday morning. The Sunday guy texted me early in the afternoon to ask if he could come Monday instead, so I said that was fine, but it would need to be afternoon. No problem – at least he bothered to contact me.

And now it’s Monday morning. About half an hour ago, I was sitting here at my computer, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone walk past the window. WHAT THE?! My first thought was that the morning guy forgot/neglected to text me before he came over, because he hadn’t rung the doorbell or knocked or anything first. I went to get my keys and watched him write something on a piece of paper, just outside the lounge room window, then walk down the driveway and stick something in the letterbox before crossing the street back to his vehicle. I waited a couple minutes, then walked out to check what it was.

It was NOT the Monday morning mower guy. It was the third one of the three I’d contacted Saturday evening, the one I never heard anything from. He thought he could just turn up at my house, look at my lawn, leave a note, and it would all be okay. Yeah, because I like random strangers walking past my window and freaking me out.

Not that I’m going to hire him after the lack of contact, but his hourly rate is lower than others I’ve hired in the past. But only by five dollars. And he said to ring him after Wednesday NEXT WEEK. Okay, so he wants his Easter break, fair enough. Doesn’t help me now though.

Now the original Monday morning guy turned up, and sent me a text beforehand! and came to the door! and told me a really low price! and said he could do it this week! Very tempting indeed. I think it’s because he’s just starting up and trying to get known – a general handyman business. I had to tell him I’m waiting for one more quote so I’ll let him know later today. But just between you and me – I think he’s going to get the job.

Not completely random, but close enough.

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The Commode is dead. Long live the Commode! *

Yep, you read that right. The car we bought four and a half years ago has finally bitten the dust. Or near enough. Darrin was driving back from orienteering yesterday afternoon and the radiator sprung a leak. (Hmm, our last car died coming back from orienteering too. Coincidence? Anyway….) So he crawled back to Riverton after adding more water (we were staying with his mum for the weekend) and he & John looked at it this morning. Yep, there’s a leak. And now comes an interesting little tip for a leaky radiator: pepper. Pour it into the radiator and apparently it plugs the hole long enough for you to get it home/to a repairer/somewhere you can deal with it. So they poured pepper in (and I could really smell it when I was out there!) and with that, or the cooler day, or both, we were able to get it home in one piece without anything exploding.

It’s 20 years old, so really not worth fixing. So now begins the process of talking to the bank to see how much of a loan they’ll give us for a new(er) one. That or refinance the house, because the land value at least has gone up since we bought the property. We’ve currently got our eye on a 2007 Suzuki SX4 AWD. Caleb said we should get a red car, so, you know, we’re not ones to disappoint our son. 😉

Of course, if we get that one, I’ll finally have to learn how to drive a manual properly….

* Intentional typo. Because it’s, well, crap.

Our next big home improvement project

Ripping out the carpet in the lounge and the linoleum? in the dining room, sanding down the boards underneath, then painting them.

Approximate cost:

24 hour hire of a floor sander: $95
24 hour hire of a 2 cubic metre skip (dumpster): $130
10 litre can of floor paint: $60 (may need 2)

But I’m afraid I don’t know when exactly we’ll be doing it, because it depends on a) when we have the money, b) when we can get the equipment, c) when we can be bothered.