Melbourne May 5

Happy Cinco De Mayo! Well, not really, since it’s still May 4th in the US and they don’t really celebrate Cinco De Mayo here. So instead of Mexican food, we went back to our favorite Thai restaurant. They had reopened, so the trip was not wasted.

We headed over to Nola’s house at 3:00. She was taking a nap, as we have the wedding rehearsal and a family dinner this evening, so it’s going to be a long night. The relative peace and quiet lasted about 15 minutes. Once Nola was awake, her other Aunty made the mistake of offering her a brownie from a box of desserts. The brownie was huge, so the intent was to cut it up and give her a piece.

The second Nola saw the brownie, she snatched it up and would not let go. She didn’t end up eating it all, but she made sure to mark it as hers by taking bites out of every side. Meanwhile, her grandparents had arrived and her Nana had the dress she’d made for Nola to wear at the wedding. Nola’s hands and face were covered in chocolate, which had to be wiped off before she could put on the dress. She screamed as if being dipped in acid.

Once she had the dress on, she didn’t want to take it off again. Her Nana finally wrestled her out of it and then Nola proceeded to prance around naked in her “twinkly” shoes. We finally got her dressed again and headed off to the wedding venue. It was on the beach and as soon as Nola saw the sand, she stripped off her red cowboy boots and socks and went running.

At least the beach provided a distraction for her while her mom dealt with wedding details. Afterwards, we all walked to a nearby Greek restaurant for a big family dinner. My husband and I walked back to our apartment after dinner. The wind had died down and it was a beautiful fall evening. It was a welcome respite after a chaotic evening.

Melbourne May 4

My knee seems to be reasonably functional this morning.  I was hoping to get a play session in the park, but I’m guessing Nola’s being fussy. Her mom said she was exceptionally clingy yesterday and based on Facebook, my other sister and brother-in-law took the dog out by themselves. It looks like Nola will be going along to her mom’s hair appointment this afternoon, rather than letting her Aunty watch her at home. That makes me sad.

Toddlers are mercurial that way – one day they love you and the next they can’t stand you. I try not to take it personally. So my husband and I were on our own for lunch. We tried to go back to the Thai place, but they had a sign on the door stating they were closed due to an exhaust fan issue. Huge bummer. We went back to Lava, where I had the first disappointing meal of the trip so far – barramundi drowning in cream sauce on overcooked vegetables.

After lunch we went over to Nola’s mom’s house to retrieve my brother-in-law, who had been abandoned by the girls all heading out for the hair appointment. We walked around for awhile, showing him the neighborhood, before heading back to the house. It was just after 4:00 and we were expecting the girls to be back from their 1:30 appointment.

The hair appointment turned into a marathon and by 5:30 it was clear we were on our own for dinner, so we walked to a local pizza place for takeout. When we returned, Nola’s dad was home from work. We had devoured about half the pizza before the girls walked in. Nola was super amped up – a combination of spending 4 hours at the salon and coming home to a house full of people. We spent time playing upside down and hiding, so I guess I’m back on her good side.

Melbourne May 3

As I started walking back from my sister-in-law’s house yesterday, I felt a twinge in my knee. I’ve had these kinds of twinges before, so I didn’t think too much of it until it started to get progressively worse. At the halfway point I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it back. I kept walking more slowly, but it didn’t help. The 15 minute walk took me nearly half an hour.

When I woke up this morning it was still bothering me. Which scares me. I’m going to try walking as little as possible. It’s insanely windy out today and my other sister-in-law and her husband are flying in this morning, so it will be a little busy over at Nola’s house. It’s probably a good day to hole up.

We made one trip out to get lunch and make a grocery run. About an hour after we returned it started to rain. I spent most of the afternoon laying on the sofa and icing my knee. We made steaks for dinner. It made me a little sad not to see Nola all day, but I really wanted to give my knee a break and rest up for all of the family activities scheduled for our final week here. It’s going to fly by.

Melbourne May 2

I was feeling yesterday’s marathon birthday lunch when I woke up this morning. I polished off about a liter of water before I started to feel somewhat human. Then I made a run to the liquor store because we were out of vodka and down to about half a bottle of wine. Ironic, isn’t it?

Lunch today was takeaway from a nearby Chinese restaurant. I picked up an order of fried rice and a chicken satay appetizer. The rice was good but on my first bite of the second chicken skewer, I realized it was seriously undercooked. I threw it away but it left me seriously paranoid about the one I did eat. Was it also undercooked? I would have noticed if it was, right? Please let it have been cooked.

On the way to my sister-in-law’s house, I stopped at a pharmacy and picked up some probiotics. I took 10 as a precaution against any gastrointestinal issues. Then we took a tram to the Royal Botanic Gardens and went on monster hunt. Because Nola saw a monster. Unfortunately, she fell asleep in her stroller before we could locate the monster.

We walked around a little longer before taking the train home. Nola woke up soon after we left the train, so we decided to stop at the little shoe store we had passed last week because I wanted to get her some shoes as an early birthday present. She picked out a pair of beautiful blue boots that happened to be her size. Which was lucky, because the shop didn’t have any back stock. The owner was a little strange – when I told him I wanted the boots, his response was “very expensive , $105, cash only,” in a heavy Eastern European accent.

I handed him the cash and he handed me the box. The boots were already on Nola’s feet. No receipt, no ringing it up on a cash register. It made me think the whole place was a front for money laundering. I certainly didn’t get the impression that he made a lot of sales, given the lack of stock and irratic and unpublished hours. But Nola loves her new boots and that’s good enough for me.

Melbourne May 1

A big thunderstorm came through early this morning. When I went to bed, I left the patio door open a few inches to let in cool air, so I had to get up a few minutes after the rain started and shut it. Turned out I wasn’t quick enough. The carpet wasn’t soaked, but it was definitely wet. I crawled back into bed and was promptly blinded by a massive lightning flash. Sadly, the sky was too overcast to see any bolts.

By the time the sun came up it looked like a completely different day – blue skies with puffy white clouds. I can see why they say Melbourne goes through four seasons in a day. It cycled between imminent rain and beautiful blue skies a number of times before I left just before 1:00.

My destination was another birthday lunch for my sister-in-law. This one was girls only. The venue was a restaurant close to the beach. It was beautiful despite the stormy weather. The food was amazing and the company was even better. It was a lunch that extended well into dinner. By the time I got back to our apartment it was after 7:30 and I was really drunk.

I didn’t intend to be there so long or to drink so much, but I felt like I really needed to hang in as long as my sister-in-law wanted to stay. It was her last big outing before getting married. I’m sure my head will be regretting my commitment in the morning.

Melbourne April 30

Today is my sister-in-law’s birthday. It’s the start of a big week for her, with her wedding and Mother’s Day being next weekend. We have a family lunch today and we’re bringing gifts, champagne and flowers. We obviously don’t get to celebrate her birthday very often (first time ever for me), so we want to make it special.

This was my first time wearing my wedding shoes on this trip. While they’re relatively comfortable, the 15 minute walk left me with a small blister. So the first thing I did after handing over the gifts and the flowers was to ask for a band-aid. Nola brought me one of her special princess ones.

We had a lovely lunch at a local restaurant that is upscale but still caters to kids. They brought markers for Nola to color the kid’s menu, which turned out to be a bad idea as she colored the plates, napkins and her arm as well as the paper.

After lunch we went back to their house for cake and champagne. And presents, which Nola helped open and promptly tried to claim. When you’re a toddler, a birthday means you get gifts. The fact that it’s not your birthday is irrelevant. We enjoyed the champagne and a few precious minutes of adult conversation. Then my husband and I escaped back to the sanctuary of our apartment for the evening.

Melbourne April 29

One of my first tasks for today was to check on our return flight. I had checked it a few days ago and it was still showing the updated seat configuration. So I was extremely upset when I looked this morning and found that not only had our flight once again reverted to the old seating, but we were now seated in the center of the last row. This is the same bullshit that happened to us last year.

What’s more, every single window seat was taken but all of the adjacent aisle seats were open, which meant I couldn’t just change our seats back. So I called Virgin Australia and spent 30 minutes on the phone getting it fixed. It took escalation to a supervisor and a lot of waiting on hold, but I was finally able to get us back by a window. Now I’ll be checking the reservation every day to make sure it doesn’t get screwed up again.

At 11:00 we walked over to my sister-in-law’s house. Of course it started raining as soon as we walked outside. We met Nola’s dad for lunch downtown and then we visited the Melbourne Musuem. Because what else do you do with a toddler when it’s raining?

We spent a couple of hours there and then got dropped off back at our apartment. The sun decided to come out just prior to setting. Here’s hoping that’s a sign that we’ll get better weather for the big birthday lunch tomorrow.

Melbourne April 28

It looks like today will be our last opportunity to take a little road trip. Tomorrow is forecast to be rainy and the weekend is filled with birthday plans. Tuesday morning my other sister-in-law and her husband arrive for the wedding. Then I have to start sharing the baby and I’m not really good at sharing. Plus, there will be too many people to make car trips.

Most of the day trips I researched require driving 1-2 hours. Since Nola has a music class until 11:00, we needed something closer. So we settled on a local marine park that was only 20 minutes away. When we walked out of the apartment to wait for my husband’s sister, we discovered it was raining. Lovely.

We headed out anyway, stopping for lunch along the way and hoping it would clear up. When we finally arrived at the park, it was just drizzling, so we decided to get out of the car and take a look. We shouldn’t have bothered. It was beyond lame. We spent some time walking over the rocks, searching for any signs of life. Zip.

So we drove back to our apartment. Ironically the weather here had cleared up. We would have been better off just staying in the neighborhood. I ended up consoling myself with a little retail therapy, food and wine. Decisions I’m sure to be regretting tomorrow.


Melbourne April 27

We spent the morning by ourselves, as Nola’s mom described her as “cranky and whiny,” despite feeling much better. So we walked to a nearby historic property and wandered around the gardens. It was another unseasonably warm day, but there was a strong breeze that kept it from feeling uncomfortable. Give me a pitcher of sangria or margaritas and I would have happily sat in that garden all day.

We had lunch at a favorite cafe close to Nola’s house. I ordered a salmon salad in a feeble attempt to eat somewhat healthier, at least for a day. Then we stopped in for a visit, not sure which version of Nola we’d encounter. To my relief, the cheeky little monkey is back.

We headed to the park and spent a good 90 minutes there. I supervised Nola while her mom and my husband relaxed on a bench in the shade. She made friends with another little girl in the park, whose father was suitably impressed with Nola’s athletic ability. It was awesome to see her back to normal.

By the time we returned to our apartment it was almost 4:00 and I had less than 2 hours to relax and rest up before returning for babysitting duties. I got off easy because we spent most of the time watching a movie. Of course Nola wanted to watch another one as soon as it was over and I didn’t know how to operate the DVD player. No worries, Nola did. Then we got to a scary point and and I couldn’t figure out how to stop the movie, so she decided to shut off the TV. Bested by a toddler.

Melbourne April 26

Today is not starting out much better than yesterday, although I did get more sleep, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. We had to hang around the apartment until 10:00, waiting for the property manager to come and inspect the apartment. At least she was on time. Nola is still lethargic and untalkative, so it looks like we won’t be seeing much of her today.

We went out for a late breakfast and then took a 45 minute walk to a big discount liquor store. I’m not sure that it’s much cheaper than the local places, but they have a huge selection. We caught a tram to come back, since my husband was toting heavy bottles. Once again, it’s unseasonably warm today. We can’t catch a break with the weather.

After lunch I went to check up on Nola. She was actually starting to perk up a bit, so we all went out for frozen yogurt. She still wanted to be carried, but she did eat most of her yogurt and on the way home she wanted me to pick her up so she could look at shoes in a store window. I would have gladly gone in and bought her a pair, but the store wasn’t open.

We did end up making a quick trip to the park, although we drove instead of walking. It’s a little too far to carry her and she didn’t want to ride her trike. So the day ended up better than it started. I just hope she doesn’t have a relapse tomorrow. This virus is really kicking her tiny butt.