#869 Late night soccer

Just as well I brought the hat home last Friday.

It had been in my old room, at my parents house. Just as I have been purging and sorting through my own stuff, so too have my parents been trying to purge – themselves of my stuff. LOL.

I always said I would tend to the big pile of childhood and teenage accumulation and mementos that I had left at their place when I first moved out. That promise turned into a faraway and not very concrete date, and so my parents took it upon themselves to take everything out of hiding and line it up accessible and for me to see in my old room.

Every time I am there, I go through a little more. I came across some carnival hats that baby girl was enamoured with… I thought ‘fine.’ There’s many things I am bringing home, simply because I am not sure of what to do with it, but I feel that I should really be throwing it away.

The hat, is not the case.

Because the hat, is from the homeland. It holds my parents roots, and is an emblem of where I hail from.

The discovery of the hat was so timely, because I was able to hold it near and dear to me, during the viewing of the Soccer, very very late (or very very early, whichever way you roll) last night/this morning.

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Croatia has progressed into the second round of finals in the FIFA world cup. I always said if they did get this far, then I would stay up/get up early, and watch. I knew baby girl having school holidays would make it easier – no early start and subsequent running around after a 3-hour sleep due to Soccer match… so very very early this morning, that’s what I did.

I had a preorganised massive blanket on the couch to wrap myself in. Little did I know it was the coldest night of the year, but I was all tucked up and cosy, the only light coming from the guys on the green field and the soft glow of our hallway.

In those 2 and a half hours, I learnt a bit. I didn’t think I would. I picked up strategies and things about the game which I had never noticed before. I got emotional, my head lifting from the pillow in anticipation when a goal was near; I whispered “damn!” at missed opportunities; and I also nearly fell asleep several times.

I am more sleep ambassador than a soccer one.

But it was the memories and the times I had spent watching the World Cup before, that led me to this night. I remember my Dad staying up late, and me sitting with him, trying to work out the game. Asking him questions. Things about the goalie, and how hard his job was. All of this came flooding back to me, the time I spent with my Dad watching this sport, excited about the rare late nights, and the bonding that I didn’t realise I was partaking in, ’til just last night.

And there was more. I remembered World Cup soccer parties at my sister’s place. The excitement of driving across town at midnight to watch the tournament take place. I remember sleeping in my bed at 3am, and the phone ring because Croatia had just progressed into another round, and my sister across town was calling to talk to my Dad, who was watching on our side of town.

“Sorry SmikG,” she said. “I’m calling for Dad.”

So casual, yet so novel. It was fascinating, how this event turned all our lives upside down.

And then when Croatia did make 3rd place in that same year, the happiness the people experienced and devoted themselves to, awoke something in me.

A deep curiosity for World Cup Soccer. Now, it was going to become a ritual.

Years later when Australia made the World Cup, remarkably it was Croatia they faced in one-play off. Although I couldn’t really lose in this scenario – ‘homeland’ team, playing ‘home’ team – I nonetheless went for the regional underdog, while Hubbie, then BF, was happily cheering for the land down under.

Our rules were: take a shot when your team makes goal. And run around the house with the national flag wrapped around you.

We did it.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, my parents were in Croatia, their native home, watching the very same game. They would wince when Australia faltered, silently cheering and smiling with glee when they moved ahead, noticed by my uncle who said to them

“Why, you’re cheering for Australia, not Croatia!”

That’s because Australia was their real home now.

Or maybe it had to do with going for the underdog in their current location, just as I was doing, cheering for Croatia to win as I sat in my Australian house.

I never remember who won. I don’t even care. All I remember are the memories.

I am not a soccer devotee. I will not claim I know all the players’ names. I will not pretend to watch soccer at any other time for the next 4 years after this event.

But I am a fan of where I come from. And as long as Croatia will feature in this 4-yearly event, so too will I haul my ass out of bed in freezing cold Winter temperatures, and remember, the memories from before.

For those keeping score… my ass-hauling last night DID pay off. Croatia won. In an epic extra-time plus penalty shoot-out setting. They won on the last kick!

Incredible. And if all I remember from this World Cup is…

coldest night

reminiscing on the past

cuddled up on the couch

Hubbie joining me post 6am before heading off to work

and then cheering happily because they had won (and I was going back to bed!)

then that would be enough.

#618 The classic Theme song

I have said on many occasions here, that one of the important things with gratitude, is appreciating all the little things, as well as the clear and obvious and staring-you-in-the-face BIG things.

Well, I’m well acquainted with that notion. And you will probably LOL at my gratitude for today.

I have been really enjoying my Bold and the Beautiful catch-up episodes of late (I say catch-up because I have approximately 70+ episodes on my Foxtel Planner, and as it is Australia is about 3 months behind, soooo…..).

It is the 30th year of their being on our screens, broadcast around the world in too many countries to even begin to count, and in lead up to their ‘anniversary date,’ they were showing small clips of significant moments throughout the years, at the end of some of their episodes. These significant recaps were fantastic: huge fights, people coming back from the dead revelations (at least two), declarations of love, meltdowns, affairs… you name it. I have thoroughly enjoyed these little snippets at the end of each ep, some I even vaguely remember – I have been watching it since I was 11!

That’s 23 years of my life! Sheesh, I need to get me another hobby.

Anyway, these end of ep recaps ceased once a select group of the cast headed on over to Australia NO LESS, to film and celebrate the wedding of two of their most popular characters, and my most favourite couple, Steffy and Liam… yay they got hitched!

But no, there is MORE.

Because as this most fantastic 30th anniversary wedding episode happened in front of the Sydney Opera House, hell I will even call it in my backyard, something else incredible, ingenious happened.

They went back to basics, in the BEST, FREAKING, WAY.

It is the original theme song! I LOVE IT! A throwback, updated yes, but a brilliant homage to the original theme song that quite frankly knocks the ball out of the park when it is compared to the ‘runway theme song’ they had before this, which was new, but lacked any thing really…

Bold. Or Beautiful. Yes I went there.

So gratitude. Yes, basic things. But it reminds me of my childhood, and things that should remain as they are when they are working.

I ♥ this show.

#617 The stage she is at, 4.2

It occurred to me today as baby girl and I walked hand in hand into the local shopping centre to do some grocery shopping, that I am really enjoying the stage baby girl is at.

It comes to reason that parents should always be enjoying ALL the stages their kids go through. True, true. However each stage comes with it its own unique successes as it does its own circumstantial tribulations, and though the younger years are dominated by innocence and naivety of the world, the older ones are shadowed with development, awareness and coming-of-age real world issues.

Each stage is beautiful, though at the time as parents, we probably wanna bang our heads against the wall, more often than not. But, I think I have found a pretty cool age with baby girl at the moment…

She listens. Most of the time. She’s at the age where she listens when I say “hold my hand” as we are heading through a car park, and if she stamps her foot down and says “no,” because she is holding a mini Lego piece, a Shopkin toy or a kinder surprise, I tell her to stick ‘right next to me,’ and she happily complies. I know she will be good, and I know I can trust her.

She listens when I bargain with her too. “We can’t do that now, but I promise you, sometime next week we will come back for a babycino and I’ll let you play there for 20 minutes!”

“YAY! Thank you so much Mama!”

And that leads me to the next thing. She is very easily made happy. Everything amuses her, everything is fun, everything is exciting. The sight of her old fave stuffed toy makes her squeal with delight before holding it close to her chest in a bear-hug, I tell her her Dad is coming home for lunch and she starts sprinting around the house in anticipation… and then, there is PASTA.

The fireworks that begin when the girl realises she is having her fave carb for dinner, I can’t even begin to explain. “Yippees!” “Woo hoos!” jumping up and down and saying things like “best in the whole world” are just some of the catch phrases when she sits down to this. It’s the adult equivalent of winning the lottery, I kid you not.

The phrases too. I say “Dad is at work today,” and she responds with “Oh, come home now. Best friend Dad.” (Awww).

She got further brownie points by saying “Mummy Daddy in my heart.” Girl you want a Ferrari for your next birthday or something? Damn, the heart strings!

And then I close/open the car window as she wishes and she says “yeah, good job Mama.” Big LOLS when she congratulates me on a job well done.

And then there are her food requests. “Mama do banana, no blueberry, no strawberry – ” making sure I get her morning weetbix order right. She’ll be hassling waiters with her food requirements in no time.

She thrives on responsibility. She helps me wipe the water from her trampoline after it rains, she insists on putting items into the shopping trolley, and if I just mention the word ‘help,’ she is immediately at beck and call, on duty, set to impress, and more than ready for all the accolades that follow.

There’s a lot of innocence, a lot of fun, and a lot of laughter at a stage like this one. She is young and carefree enough to not be worried about the ‘real world,’ yet still old enough to be able to go to the toilet on her own, brush her teeth, and even put toilet paper rolls in the toilet when I ask her to.

All of the above happened today, and though I scratch my head at times thinking ‘where did the day go?’ when I look back like I did today, to see the memorable moments making it up, it all comes flooding back to me.

The day went with my lovely 4 year old girl.

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#605 Head of the house and Heater

It happened a few nights ago, and today again, the same thing.

We were feeling bad, for wanting to put the heater on.

Why, you ask? Because it’s Spring. We should have the doors open ’til 5pm until the seasonal fresh air wafts on through at which point we close up the house. The sunnier weather should seep through the windows and comfort our home. The increased daylight savings should also add to the overall light-filled and jovial nature of our household.

But it’s Melbourne weather we’re talking about peeps. Spring just ain’t Spring, and we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.

On average October is a wet month, and so in amongst our starting-sunny days, the rain also comes WITH the cold.

You know those memories you have growing up, when you were just a child living with your parents, and there were days where you were cold, but your parents were like

“It’s not cold, put on a jacket.”

“I’m cleaning the house, we need some fresh air.”

“Here’s the vacuum cleaner.”

That from your Mum, and then your Dad didn’t help you much either, as he had been out in the gardening sun, tending to his vegetable patch, and had no need for a heater either.

“Here, I’ll give you a heater,” he would say as he handed you a garden rake.

Sigh.

Hubbie and I remembered this all in amusement as we were feeling bad for wanting to put the heater on in mid-October. And then he was like “hey, we’re in charge here.”

“We make the rules.”

“Yeah,” I started encouragingly. “We do!”

And just as he put the heater on we high-fived each other.

Damn straight we make the rules.

And just like that, a simple act of gratitude for the day was born.

The ability to put the heater on when we damn well liked.

And as much as people whinge and bitch and moan about the bills, responsibilities, chores and routine of adulthood, can we just stop for a minute and remember that as adults, we get to make rules?

WE GET TO MAKE THE RULES.

High-five.

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Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

#566 Messages from the Coffee cup

I have a LONG history with it.

When I was 10, the day after my sister’s wedding my parents threw a huge, informal backyard party at their place for our closest family and friends. There were a lot of people on that sunny January day, and being the excited kid (and flower girl, thank you very much) that I was, I went ape-shit.

Come the fading hours of sunlight, and my tummy was aching. It was a phase of life where if I jumped or ran about too much after eating, it all came up.

And so it all came up.

While everyone was singing and dancing into the night, the sounds of a folk accordion echoing out to me from the garage, I lay in my room feeling like absolute shit. Not only did I actually feel horrible, but I felt even worse to be missing out on ALL THE FUN.

Oh the agony.

My parents brought me a cup of black coffee. No sugar. The plan?

“Drink it. It’ll make you better, one way or another…”

Yep, it was the other. I threw up some more.

My first taste of real coffee. Coming up.

I grew acquainted with it in another way when I was 13, and on my first overseas trip with my parents. Coming from a fairly superstitious European background (and at that age being absolutely obsessed with what the future would hold) I was delighted to no end to find out that my new most favourite aunty over there, could read coffee cups.

Basically an espresso-sized coffee would be prepared for you, using really fine freshly ground coffee beans, and then it was combined with water and brought to a boiling heat before serving.

This was more pleasant. It had sugar. Sure it was bitter and very strong, but I mean, I had to know if that guy I had just met I was going to EVER SEE AGAIN, so I would have drank a sample of someone else’s saliva if necessary for that information.

My aunty would peer into the base and sides of the coffee cup once it had been turned upside down. You see, the thick syrupy part of the coffee that remained on the bottom once it had all been drank, well that was the bit you worked with. Because you would grab your all-important saucer (they have a use, yes), place it on top of your coffee cup, and then with a swift 180 degree turn flip it over and rest, allowing the thick coffee syrup to gently drip its way down the walls of your inverted coffee cup.

I loved the information I got. It was mostly what I always wanted to hear. Some favourable ‘love’ news. Oooooh! Did it come true? I’m not sure, probably not. But it made me happy, made me believe, and I never stopped asking for coffee readings.

Fast forward to today. I actually drink coffee for enjoyment, not just for the sake of knowing my future. I think it’s better that we don’t know some things… that I’ve learnt the scary way. But tonight while at my parents place, Mum made me, Hubbie and my Dad a coffee, and as I drank it, I just couldn’t help myself…

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Flip!

It’s not that I necessarily know what every sign or symbol means in coffee reading. I try to decipher them based on my own knowledge of dream symbols… I figure they might be the same. You scan the walls and base of the cup once the grounds dry, and try to make out any figures…

I immediately found a person on a motorbike. Leaning forward as if trying to get away. And closely next to it is a sweet dog’s face.

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Can you see what I’m looking at? That cluster of black near the top, that is a person leaning forward in a motorbike. And beside it near the bottom of the bike, are some dots: two perfect eyes, a nose and a mouth, and the nose is even within a darker area, representing the muzzle of the dog. The dog is smiling, which is good.

I looked it up in my parents old-school dream journal (of course they have an old-school dream journal) and I couldn’t find any mention of a motorbike or bike for that matter, but it was noted that a dog was good, and if it was at the base of the cup, it suggested a good friend in your home.

There was also a tiny heart which I was unsure of… look again to the left side of the cup, tilt the photo 90 degrees to the right, and there it is… tiny love heart.

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Also a good sign.

I like good signs.

(Can you see anything else? Let me know!)

Anyway I love it. I love what this little tradition reminds me of. Wonderful events, memorable people, and particularly, one of the best times of my life…

Why wouldn’t I want to keep returning to it?

Yes, it is all a bit of fun, but I do strongly believe that there is some truth to it too…

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See that photo? This was taken a month before I found out I was pregnant with baby girl.

A BIG HEART.

Take that as you will 🙂

#488 The tree in Their yard

Still on nature.

There are many things we take for granted in life, and many that we act as if it will be there forever.

For me today, that forever thing is my parents’ home.

It was the place I was brought home to when a newborn, days after coming into the world. I grew up in that house, and only left years and years and years later, when I got married. It may seem confined and claustrophobic to some, but the years I spent there were some of the most memorable and happiest years of my life. I love that house.

Likewise, their yard. I’ve never really taken much refuge, notice of, or practiced much gratitude towards it, only because well, ‘taking things for granted’ note as above. Assuming it will always be there. Thinking that I will be able to visit it FOREVER.

Things don’t always turn out the way we envision them to be in our little fantasy-lands. Often our fantasy-lands are just that, images in our head.

So today while over there visiting on yet another Friday, drinking a coffee my Dad made me out in their yard, from a coffee pod machine I bought them one Christmas (of course I would buy them something coffee-related) I came upon, and noticed for the second time that day, the spectacular nature of a tree.

It’s the only one in their yard that still has part of its leaves on, and visually striking is the fact that it is prime-centre in the middle of the yard, surrounded by all the other leaf-less, stark grey branches around it from neighbouring trees. I looked at this stunning hybrid Pear tree (my Dad is a supreme Gardener and Handy-Man, so don’t ask) and observed to myself, that it was beautiful. Stunning even.

‘Pear, hold on.’

#471 The Box of Barbie Memories

“Why don’t you take home that box of dolls you have?” Mum had asked me. “You said when she was younger that you wanted to wait a bit more, but now she might enjoy it.”

I could see where she was going. When she had asked me about a year ago if I wanted to take home with me an old box of Barbies I had packed away at my parents house when I was a pre-teen, I had said that I’d rather wait until baby girl was older, and ‘into’ dolls more. Also, I didn’t want to be adding another box of stuff to our household, when we already had so much ‘stuff.’

But I realised today, that baby girl was not only older, but she was definitely into dolls: she had two of her own Barbies, given to her as pressies over the last 6 months, and she loved the whole figurine, dress-up, pretend-play games she did with them. It was actually, perfect timing.

When at my parents place, they started looking for them in a wardrobe, and it almost looked like they wouldn’t be found for a little while. When they almost gave up, Dad stumbled across the box.

Just looking at the box, brought back memories: both the box, and the packing of it. With the latter, I actually had the faintest memory of packing it – in that room where it was found, my old ‘first’ room (before my sister moved out and then I moved into her room because it was front-facing and bigger), I remembered placing the barbies neatly against one another and on top of each other, before gently packing it all away… for good.

For another day, another time. I didn’t know then what I would be doing with it in 20 years time. That I would be giving it a new lease on life.

Secondly, the box.

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The Kraft box. My Dad worked there for a good couple of decades, and each year for their annual Christmas party, each employee was invited to the party for a lunch, bringing home a festive box full of Krafty goodies – cheeses, spreads, biscuits, and any other new product that wasn’t even on the shelves yet. I was always so excited when Dad came home from these Christmas parties – I’d come home from school, looking around the kitchen and dining room table, hoping to see a Christmas-y coloured box, with tinsel bursting from the sides. And Dad knew I’d get so excited about it, smiling just as much as me when I finally saw the box. Going through the contents of the box, was a happy, pre-Christmas tradition for me.

Even after he stopped working there, he was still invited, along with other long-standing employees of the company, to a former employees Christmas Party… that sadly, soon stopped fairly soon after, after new management came along. I remember the sadness and disappointment I felt in discovering the goodie box, was good, no more. So this box that I was staring at today, was quite possibly, one of, if not the, last boxes he ever received.

And I’d put my Barbies into it. Memories upon memories.

The only way I got baby girl into the car today was the promise of playing with Barbie dolls at home. So once there, I complied.

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Finding all my dolls, some just that, plain dolls, ‘wannabe Barbies’ and others the very real deal, was seriously like stepping into a time capsule that I myself had buried 2 decades ago. I found dolls I had forgotten about, costumes and shoes I didn’t know I had, and also the barbies that I faintly remembered – and then of course Ken. Who could forget when one got a Ken doll? That was a special thing back in the day.

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(Some funky outfits they had)

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(Check out the blonde ‘fro – yeah yeah!)

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(I won this Ariel doll in a kids mag comp, and I was STOKED… but one of her legs broke as soon as we lifted her out, maybe she should have stayed in mermaid form…)

I told baby girl that she must take extra care with these dolls, and pack them away gently as they were found. I think she knows what to do, but still, I have to make sure these Barbies are under supervision by me or Hubbie when she is playing with them. Even he agrees, saying “they’re old enough to go on club reg.”

Too right.

But even though I’m happy for baby girl to play with my cherished old Barbies, there is one thing I think I’m going to have to change – the box. Old and flimsy as it is, and with the addition of a piece of paper that was on the bottom of the box, where my Mum scrawled Dad’s last day of work at Kraft… I don’t know, but I think I need to put away this box, this special box of so much history and memories, and use it for my own good, and get a new box for baby girl to put all her old/new barbies in.

I know it’s just a box, but it’s what it represents that is priceless.