Tuesday, February 28, 2012


This morning Q and I went to visit a dear friend who lives on the other side of Sydney. As the crow flies, it’s not that far, but as the Pacific Highway flies it’s a good 45 minutes.

45 minutes that Q chose to use to develop her lung capacity by screaming the entire way.

No joke. By the time we turned up her eyes were so red they were just about swollen shut. And she was so beside herself she couldn’t decide if she hated my guts or wanted cuddles from me to calm her down.

I, however, (because I am a perfect mother) stayed perfectly calm, kept up my medley of songs which eventually did nothing more than clash with the pitch of her screams, and considered ditching the car, putting on the hazards and walking Q the rest of the way there.
I dreaded the car trip home, but thankfully, after 15 minutes she fell asleep. 
Blessed sweet relief…until we get home and she woke upon transfer, whereupon I spent the next 20 minutes convincing her she needs to sleep for longer because her mother needs her to sleep for longer.
So then I make my cup of tea, my day-saving, dreamt of cup of tea, get out the packet of M and M’s I’ve got hidden in the cupboard…and drop them all over the floor.
Again I kept my cool, (which I think relates more to my level of fatigue rather than my ability to mediate my emotions) and assessed the situation.
Here were the mitigating factors:
*  The kitchen floor was cleaned last Thursday, and swept a couple of times in between.
*  We are mostly barefoot in the apartment, so no trace of dog poo was possible.
*  If I picked them up one by one instead of sweeping them into one pile, they would have less contact with the not-so-dirty-dog-poo-free floor.

And so that’s exactly what I did.
I picked those m and m’s up one by one.
And now I am eating them one by one, accompanied by my steaming hot cup of tea.

Judge me if you will, but these are desperate times my friends, desperate times indeed.

So go forth in your day, knowing that whatever your misdemeanours, there is someone out there eating chocolate off a dirty floor.
Although mine are pink & red because they're
a special Valentine's pack from my sister-in-law in the US.
The yanks do novelty celebrations way better than we do.
Glad to be of service. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


Last night the latest family celebrity (my new nephew) was in town, so the family headed to the in-laws family home for an early dinner.
The plan was mum and dad (who had the divine Miss Q) would come from their place, G and I from ours, another brother and his lady from theirs, and the brother who manufactured said nephew would jump the train from the city. All other players were already in house.

What actually happened was dad came from an emergency meeting, 400m away from the house yet it took him 45 mins to get there. The brother on the train was fine – arguably the first time City Rail has been considered efficient, the other brother and his girl abandoned all efforts as she was working late on the other side of town, G and I managed the trip in 45 mins, and mum (who had Q, not known for her patience in the car) aborted her attempt after sitting in traffic for 55 minutes without moving an inch. Mum, widely recognised amongst the Hart community for having an appalling ear for music, resorted to singing to Q in an attempt to drown out her protests.

It was a real shame we couldn’t all get together, because it’s not often we’re all in the same town and my nephew – now 4 weeks old – is changing so much and I’m not getting a chance to document his every development.

But the real tragedy lies in why we couldn’t all get together.

The reason the traffic sabotaged our dinner plans, was due to an accident on the freeway that resulted in the death of a 60 year-old woman.
It so happened that Gregory and I drove past the site, the woman’s body hidden from view by heavy green tarps held up by respectful police.
How very, very sad.

Perhaps she was heading home from work. Maybe she was a nurse on her way to an evening shift. 
Or she could have been driving to her own family dinner.
And now she’ll never get there.
Ever, ever again.

In my mind she has a lovely family, loving and loveworthy and their pain right now would be great indeed.

It’s so easy to get frustrated when you’re stuck in traffic. To curse the moron whose poor driving resulted in your lost time.
But what if they weren’t driving like a moron.
What if it was just a horrible, dreadful accident?
And what if they were driving like a ninny?
It’s still a horrible, dreadful accident and they’ve paid for their errors with the very highest price.

It made me quite philosophical about this restaurant gig we’re delving into.
G is pretty jittery at the moment.
He’s worked 6 days a week since he was 15 years old. This planning time with idle cooking hands is really starting to get to him.
Last night, after we’d picked up Q and returned home, he went running at 10pm to try to sort out his busy brain.
I stayed home watching a sleeping Q, but we were both pondering the same thoughts.

Last night’s tragedy ended someone’s life.
Before they were ready, before they wanted it to, before they had any chance to argue against their hourglass that had suddenly run out of sand.

No one knows how much sand they’ve got left, or the pace at which it is hitting the bottom of their hourglass.
All we can do is consistently take care of the things on the top of our love list.
That woman probably had a partner, maybe a husband of 40 years or more. Children perhaps, grandkids, friends.
I bet they were all at the top of her love list.
That’s why G and I were heading to dinner in the first place. To be with the people on our love list.

And that’s the real reason we want this restaurant.
To care for the person at the very top of our love list. The divine, irreplaceable, unstoppable Miss Q.
My light, my life, my joy, my girl.

Who’s at the top of your love list people?
Go give ‘em a call.
They’re really the only thing in life that ever truly matters.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yesterday G, Q and I were driving home and G and I had a squabble about something. I can’t remember what, but I’m sure it went something like this;
G            ‘You’re picking again. Stop it.’
N            ‘And you’re missing the point again. If you didn’t miss the point I wouldn’t have to pick.’
Q            ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAGH’ (She doesn’t particularly care for car travel).
G            ‘It doesn’t matter though.’
N            ‘No, it does matter. It just doesn’t matter to you.’
G            ‘You need to learn to let things go.’
N            ‘And you need to learn to notice things that are important, even if you don’t think they are.’
This verbal volley continued along Victoria Road, (interspersed with Q’s sounds of indignation at having her freedom confined) until G came out with this;
‘I’m going to get a t-shirt printed that says ALL STOCK MUST GO with an arrow pointing to you.’

This is the good thing about our arguments. There’s a fair chance one of us will say something ridiculous, and even though I bite my cheeks, I usually can’t help but laugh.
It’s really hard to stay mad when you’re laughing. Plus you lose a fair amount of credibility with your opponent.

G and I are both stubborn.
And we’re both hot heads.
And we wonder why Q is the way she is.
So fights (or heated discussions as I like to label them) are not regular, but not unheard of either.
(Hopefully this just marks us as a normal couple and doesn’t make all you readers fat with smugness over your perfectly calm and perfectly perfect relationships).

He’s a chef and I’m a performer.
We were hardly going to sit quietly in our rocking chairs and share the crossword now were we?

So we developed a code word for when we’re getting a bit hot under the collar and no inappropriate joke is on the horizon.

So if, in a couple of months when the restaurant is open, neither of us has slept in 9 weeks, Q is giving me mother guilt for not being there at night to tuck her in and the bills are coming in faster than the income, and you hear us shout the word ‘san diego’ you’ll know why.
Welcome to Monday people.

Keep calm and carry on.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012


There is no blog today because yesterday nearly did me in and today I underestimated the walk from the bus stop to my parents place, and sweated for twenty-five minutes pushing Q uphill in her chariot in the blazing midday sun.
And all I can think of is brownie.
My world famous chocolate brownie.
So I whipped it up and am about to eat it all piece by piece by piece.
And you too can whip it up because I'm going to share the recipe with you below.
But I warn you, don't try this if you're breastfeeding.
Because one taste of this delicious lifesaver at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when your eyeballs are hurting with the effort to even stay in their sockets, and you'll be hooked.
It's like a defibrillator. It will bring you back to life in 4 minutes or less. Guaranteed.

1 cup sugar
120g butter
2 eggs
1dash of vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa

Melt butter, beat eggs, wack in a bowl with everything else.
Pour into a small-ish dish that you've lined with paper.
4 mins in the microwave
And there you have it.
Your life is saved.
But remember, don't blame me when you find yourself making it every single afternoon.
I did warn you.

These are not mine.
 Mine are way better but I don't have the
cord to connect to the computer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


It is 2.33pm and I am still sitting in the gym pants and a sports bra I put on for my walk at 8am this morning, faintly aware of my own body odour and minus the singlet I was wearing because Q managed a sneaky wee out the side of her nappy when she was lying on me while I was desperately trying to get her to sleep, which was an epic fail because she had managed a quick 15 minute Q-nap on her way back from the butchers with her father and decided that was all this 15 month old needed.

Punch me in the face. 

Neither of them are my favourite people right now. 
But mostly Gregory. I blame him. That would never have happened on my watch.

I live for her naps. I stage my whole day around them. I dream of the cup of tea I’m going to have hot and steaming, while I sit – for once – and nibble on some form of delicious carbohydrate. (Even peanut butter on Saos if that’s all I can find).
I’m always tired.
And it’s not always (or even entirely) Q’s fault.
Who wouldn’t be tired if they were a fulltime mum who’s also trying to open a restaurant?
I’m an idiot.
But since I didn’t put Q’s name down for childcare when she was in utero and we were still calling her ‘peanut’, this situation is unlikely to change.

It would help if Q didn’t have as much energy as she does, seriously, she’s made of kryptonite.
Nothing less than 2 park visits, an adventure and usually a swim all by 12 noon will guarantee a nap.
Problem is, I’m so exhausted I need one too.
But I can’t because there is laundry to do, weetbix to extricate from her highchair, a Tupperware drawer to organise (I just chucked a little tanty and pulled every single piece of plastic onto the floor and refused to let Q put them back until I had found their matching lid), and a bathroom to clean.
This ‘stay at home mum’ gig is for the birds.
Tomorrow I'll be back to my Stepford wife self.
Here endeth the whinge. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


So, I have begun the great quest for Q-care. Which is just as well, because every centre in a 25km radius of where we live has a 12-18 month wait list.
By the time she’s 3 I should be able to handle leaving her in the care of strangers.
I’m finding the whole thing far more overwhelming than I ever thought I would. I don’t profess to have a slew of parenting philosophies to bore you all with, but I do hold to the theory that ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’
And yet here I am, wildly resistant to letting anyone from any village anywhere near my daughter without first passing a test of impossible standards designed by her neurotic mother.
Last night I sent off one application form and wrote down 3 other places to visit.
(Not quite sure why as their lack of vacancies was printed in BOLD RED CAPITAL LETTERS on their website, but a girls’ gotta look like she’s trying right?)
Now, one would think that this distinct lack of options would make this mother less discriminatory, but no, I still managed to knock a good dozen off the list based entirely on their name alone.
Can you guess why?
Kidz Kollege – Ok, she can’t read yet, but I can and that’s wrong.
Star Academy Kids – Seriously? Will my 15 month old be trained in synchronised hoola-hooping? Is there a uniform? Is it a leotard?
Kidsville – It’s unimaginative and naff.
Little Bunnies Daycare – I’ll give my girl stupid nicknames thank you very much. You shall address her as Q.
Bright Stars – Get over yourself. What, you think you can turn any kid under your care into a child prodigy? Jeez, just let them pick their nose and play in the sandpit.
One Stop Child Care Service – This one is my favourite. It sounds like a car wash. Drop your kid off in the morning, pick them up 8 hours later and they’ll be proper little human robots, fed, read, well mannered and toilet trained. Costs extra if you want them to polish their Velcro sneakers.

Child care, day care, family care, occasional care, babysitting, nannying, making my mother quit work to take care of Q instead…now I’m onto something!
Excuse me please, I have a phone call to make.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Q and I are just back from a big adventure and I have now managed to convince her that we could have another adventure this afternoon, if she took a short break from life and allowed her mother to have a cup of tea without getting indigestion from chasing after her.
I am now sipping on tea and licking the coconut cherry cake I made yesterday off my fingers.

Today’s adventure involved a bus (or ‘buh’ in Q speak) into the city where we looked at jewellery to buy my mum, discussed with the lovely Optus sales person about how much cheaper TPG is, (to which she agreed but said there was nothing she could do to compete), bought some coffee refills for my brother and sister-in-law’s fancy coffee machine (the sales people were very nice and gave me a free cup and didn’t seem to mind that Q littered homemade spiced zucchini and carrot muffin all over their immaculate floor) and then we beat a path through all the people with real jobs to David Jones.
I love me a bit of DJ’s. It’s old-school grace and I would quite like to pop down to their food hall everyday to purchase items for that night’s gourmet dinner.
Instead, we headed over to the handbag section to listen to the pianist play standards on the Steinway.
I love the piano player. I’ve always loved it, and now Q does too. She sits, entranced if it’s a slow melody watching their fingers slide over the keys, or bops up and down if the tempo gets a little sprightly.
There are a few players under their employ, and today was an elegant, white haired gent who was as enamoured with Q as she was with him. (I think when she offered him a bit of her soggy muffin the attraction was sealed).

So the man and I got to chatting and before I quite knew how it happened (although this is often the case with me and strangers), I was telling him stories from B.Q. About my life in New York and the singing and dancing I did in different parts of America.
Soon enough we were talking about Sondheim and he accompanied us with faultless renditions of ‘Not While I’m Around’ and ‘Send In The Clowns.’
Which reminded me of what I consider to be a perfect piece of acting. Judi Dench singing ‘Send In The Clowns.’
If you’ve got a couple of minutes, here’s the link I found on youtube.
Truly, it’s a remarkable piece of theatre.
I first saw that clip in my favourite class, a subject called Film Lab that I attended once a week.  We’d all file into a dark studio and watch live recordings of the greatest theatre stars Broadway has ever seen. Chita Rivera, Dame Judi Dench, Nathan Lane, Ann Reinking, Bob Fosse, Julie Andrews, Glenn Close, Tommy Tune…I would sit there with tears running silently down my face and think; This is it.  This is what I want to do.  I want to be like Carol Channing and still performing the title role in ‘Hello Dolly’ at the tender age of 72.

Eventually we said goodbye to the piano man and headed to Hyde Park so Q could terrorise the Ibis and pigeons, try to climb into the fountain and master walking down the stairs by herself.
But while I was watching and encouraging my little girl’s efforts and determination, parts of my heart and mind were back on that life I had in NYC.
I loved that life. I loved my friends (all of whom are still in my life today), I loved the travel, the adventures, the nomadic lack of responsibility. I loved the rehearsal, I loved the costumes, I loved mastering a skill well enough to get applauded by a stranger who was watching you perform it in a darkened theatre.

And I miss that life. Surely I do.
I lived 8 years in a heightened sense of reality. Like all expats do I expect. There’s something not quite ‘real’ about what you’re doing, if you have in the back of your head that you’re not going to stay there forever. There’s a part of you that is always pretending almost, because you know in the end, that you’re coming back home.

And now I am back home and I’m a wife and a mother. And where once my day was filled with a couple of dance classes, a vocal coaching, a run in central park, an audition or two, and a glass of wine at a late night bar, my day is now filled with the monotony of a stay at home mum.
Except it’s not monotonous.
Sure, some of it is, but some of it was in New York too. The trudging through the snow at midnight in mid February, having left your gloves on the subway. The boring jobs I had so I could pay for dance classes in between gigs. The homesickness, the Ketchup soup dinners and the constant disappointments when the producers eventually picked the other girl.
It’s easy to forget the years I spent thinking I had food poisoning when really it was a bad case of anxiety.

While I was there I met an American, I married him in New York, I was in possession of a coveted green card. I could have stayed if I wanted to.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t want to.
I desperately wanted to be a mama. And I was determined to have those babies with my family by my side.
Sure, the feeling you get when a packed house is applauding you, is not a bad feeling at all, but it fades the second it stops and you don’t know any of those people, so how significant can that applause be anyway?

But watching my girl master those stairs today, or the grin she gives my brothers when she sees them, or the dance she does for my mum, or how still she sits when my dad reads her a book, that feeling doesn’t fade.
In fact, it just gets stronger. Because it’s real and tangible.

My acting teachers were always trying to get us to be ‘real in a set of imaginary circumstances’ and that was the life I was leading for my 20’s both on and off the stage.
Now I’m being real in a real set of circumstances and I wouldn’t trade it for all the Tonys in New York City.
This is the stuff of life. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


On Saturday night we were invited to a friend’s place for Singaporean Crab. (They’re our fancy friends. They also own two cars – both Volvos, and holiday in the penthouse suite of fancy resorts up north in Queensland. Fancy.)
We know these fancy friends because my friend and I both grew humans at the same time and were put in the same mother’s group, which I was scared of and ran away from, and now we have our own mother’s group, an exclusive club of 4 mothers, 4 bubbas and a lot of takeaway coffee.
The kids all kick around together, stealing each other’s food, failing at the concept of ‘sharing’ and weeing in public the second we take their nappies off. They’re all about a week apart, so tend to band together for activities like teething, tantrums and stage 5 clinging.
They’re just regular kids. Some have more teeth than others (Q has lapped her friends in that department, recording a whopping 16 chompers by 12 months of age), everyone has more hair than Q, they’re just about even in height and weight and it just so happens that W was also born with achondroplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism.
The only difference between W and his mates is the size of their heads. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same. 
I am pleased to report that just like Q, W whinges, yells at his mother and also manages the sneaky wee out the side of his nappy.

Crab night had been planned around the return of W and his parents from their first family holiday – the penthouse resort deal I referred to earlier.
Two weeks of sun, sand, surf and a salt-rimmed margarita.
I have envy.
Room service, fresh towels everyday, in-house movies…bliss.
But the absolute best thing about staying in a fancy hotel has got to be the breakfast buffet.
Don’t pretend you don’t like it.
What’s not to like? They offer everything.
19 different cereals, (although in my opinion that’s a pathetic choice as Weetbix is cheap and you can generally afford that in your real life). No, smart buffet eaters head for the boutique pastries, the freshly made organic poached eggs, the expensive, seasonal fruit artfully cut and arranged. You can get another cup of coffee if yours goes cold before it’s finished and try everyone of the juices.
Again I say, what’s not to love about a buffet?
So there they are in the buffet dining room, W in his mother’s lap while his dad finished off his stack of made-to-order pancakes and his mum sipped on her second skim latte.
Enjoying each other’s company, the weather and the ambience, until my friend became aware of the woman sitting behind her.

‘What’s wrong with that kid? His head is huge. Look at it. It’s massive. There’s something really wrong with him. Seriously, it’s making me sick just to look at him.’

On and on and on she went until my friend couldn’t even enjoy her coffee any longer, which is crime enough in itself if you ask me, as we all know how dear a coffee is to a young mum.
My friend sat there, uncomfortable and fuming, waiting till her husband (who couldn’t hear the nasty woman) had finished his pancakes so they could leave. When he had, he picked up W and headed out of the restaurant. My friend followed behind, but she paused at the table of the offending woman and said;
‘My son’s life will only be made difficult by people like you and your intolerance,’ and then she continued on her way.
And to her I say ‘bravo, my friend, bravo. You handled that situation with dignity, aplomb and far more respect than that woman showed your young family.
I’d like to think that if I’d heard that woman’s diatribe, I’d have handled things with as much finesse.

There are tough times ahead for all our kids, when they get picked on for the name their parents chose, the colour of their hair, or whether or not they’re any good at marbles. Remember those times you were acutely aware of not quite fitting in, of not quite getting it right, of having to take your turn to be the ‘hate sponge.’
And that’s without some ninny being deliberately cruel to you in public.

There’s a fantastic quote by Alvin Prince that my mum has always had stuck to the wall above her desk:
Parents need to fill a child's bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can't poke enough holes to drain it dry.

I reckon with a mum like my friend, W is going to be just fine.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Last year a family friend of ours had a very close run-in with a bullet.
As in, if the shock waves hadn’t moved the carotid artery out of the way, he wouldn’t be around to tell the story close run-in with a bullet.
He’d been OS in a dangerous place for several months by then, and it had been in my mind to send him a box of Anzac Biscuits made with my grandma’s recipe to remind him of home.
Except I never quite got around to it.
And before we knew it, he was being flown home first class with his own nurse, (who was hot and evidently thought he was too, and seemed to require he be treated without his shirt on at all times) and I was delivering Anzac Biscuits to his hospital room instead.
This gent became a family friend through our brother, whom he met because they have a special love and affinity for dangerous activities. They’re adrenalin junkies, generally a sarcastic bunch with rather a macabre wit.
Which explains why he could get away with saying ‘make sure you actually send some Anzac Biscuits to your brother. You don’t want to have the same regret twice.’
And so I bid you adieu people, I’ve got biscuits to make.
Have a great weekend folks, may next week be calmer than its predecessor!

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