Over ten years ago, a dear friend of mine got married. She was one of my first friends to get married, and of course, I was at the wedding. I think I helped with the punch table, or something of the sort. Unable to access my pictures from that time, I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember what I was wearing. In the intervening ten years, I still have that skirt and I’ve lost the jewelry. It was also right before I chopped off my waist-length hair, if I remember right. I’ve managed that length, twice in my life, and now I’m attempting to reach it again.
According to her kids, now, I not only have the honor of being considered the “Super Nanny from Australia”, but I was present when their parents met. Mind you, I only met him about five minutes before she did! But it doesn’t matter… the girls are enthralled to hear from someone else how I watched the two of them fall for each other, all in one weekend. I watched her having heart palpitations (but no, I couldn’t HEAR your heart beating!), and unable to believe that this was finally happening.
Over the next year or two, I think I visited two or three times. Once or twice before the baby arrived, and once afterwards. Since I always figured it would be “my turn”, sometime soon, then I was interested in learning anything I could about married life and what it’s really like when your first child arrives. She was a darling, that little E, of course. I don’t think I’d ever seen a baby born with a full head of hair, at that point, or one that seemed to be so alert! But maybe that was because I didn’t remember my brothers as babies… who knows?
Then, I moved to Pennsylvania for almost five years, followed by a year in Australia. Whenever I managed to get home for longer than a weekend, I had very little time or interest in straying very far afield. Family time was meant to be soaked up, and driving four hours anywhere (after the 10 hours it took to get home) was not in my game plan.
But though some people like to diss FB, whenever possible, it’s been a wonderful tool for me to keep in touch with my friends, over the years. Even when I couldn’t see a friend in person, I could see pictures of their children, as they arrived and grew up.
The Fourth of July weekend was approaching, when I realized that if I took that Friday off, I could get a long weekend to finally go visit my friend in Georgia. It had been almost 8 years since we’d seen each other, but we still longed to catch up in person. The time and money issue always seemed to get in the way, but finally, I scraped the wherewithal to decide to go, and then actually get there.
As you already know, it rained for most of the trip to Georgia, most of my time there, and most of the trip back. So, I waded through puddles to the house, and was immediately hugged by a 5 year old that I had never met. But they already knew who I was, because they’d read about me on my blog, when I was in Australia. I think reading about real Aussie kids was fascinating for them.
Without going into a huge amount of detail, I will say that my friends and I have both changed, over the years, but that doesn’t pull us apart, it just makes life more interesting when we get together. When I last saw them, they had a newborn daughter, and were facing life as almost-newlyweds and as new parents. I was single then, as I am now, but I still didn’t know what to do with my life. I was probably running my own cleaning business, at the time, and trying to figure out how to make a profit.
Since then, they’ve been married over ten years, have three beautiful children, and their house is a little bigger than last time. The baby E is now the eldest, with a flair for style and matching clothes. She was my mainstay, when I helped make barbecue sauce for a chicken dinner, or put together a pavlova for dessert, because I didn’t know where to find anything, in the kitchen. I’m still single, as I said, but instead of being a nanny, housekeeping manager, or business owner, I’m about to go back to college. What will be in store for me, next time I visit them?
While I’m including some photos from my visit, I should tell you that it took me about 2-3 days for me to even get my camera out. Some of you think that I travel with it attached to my arm, but that really isn’t true. I really have to be “in the mode” to get started, and even with several kids running around, I was just enjoying the ability to relax and not do anything important. I had started a book on the morning of July 4th, got hooked, and HAD to finish it while I was in Georgia, so that’s what I spent my spare time doing.
I found myself talking about Australia more than I have anywhere, since arriving home. They had read my blog, some, but not all of it, and had plenty of questions to ask me. It was very strange, after a year of spending time with people that never asked me about it, aside from “So, how was Australia?”. That general of a question will shut me down, completely. If all you want to hear is “Great!”, then I’ll give you what you want. You have to try harder, if you want to get more out of me.
Of course, the girls had to show off their crafting skills, and before two days were out, I had two door hangers to take home with me. Luckily, my new bedroom has two doors in it, so I can hang one on each side of the room, to enjoy my memories of E and the middle M.
After quite a few discussions about Aussie food and favorite things about Australia (that is a very hard thing to answer, find a favorite thing or experience from there), M decided to make an Aussie-style meal on Saturday. We went to the grocery store, and searched for patty pans to make meat pies, and eventually found them in the freezer section, with the dough already in the pans. For some reason, Publix didn’t have aluminum patty pans to buy, by themselves. M figured she would just make the top crusts, herself.
As we prepared for dinner, E helped me work on dessert. We had to start first, because we needed the pavlova to be out of the oven before the meat pies could go in. It was interesting to work off of the laptop, one page set to MY blog page with my pav recipe, and another page set to a recipe for Aussie meat pies. I now know that I can make them at home, too, so my Aussie friends will have to send me their favorite meat pie recipes. : )
I still haven’t achieved that crispy outer crust on the pavlova, but the marshmallow-y inside is still perfect. Don’t worry, I’ll get it eventually. After the whipped topping was done, the little A got into the fun, licking the beater. He’s a charmer, that’s for sure. I unashamedly licked the spatula, after scraping the bowl to put some of it in my friend’s coffee. She had a Keurig, so I admit to drinking LOTS of coffee while I was there, experimenting with all the Kahlua, Macadamia Nut, and other delicious flavors.
The meat pies came out, smelling wonderful, and to my surprise, the asparagus was delicious, as well. I’ve always thought it was rather bland. The whole meal tasted amazing, and the dessert was a hit, except for the middle M, because she wasn’t a fan of the texture. There were enough meat pies left over that they could have them for lunch, or even breakfast, if they wanted.
On Sunday morning, I got up and went to church with my friends, and before we went out to lunch, we had a photo shoot in the front yard. The girls really enjoyed making faces for the camera, and then we brought the little guy out to join in. What child doesn’t enjoy making faces, even if they can only stick their tongue out at you? He’d figured out how to do “fishy lips”, so he wasn’t being totally left behind.
We went to a local Mexican place to eat, and I wished a certain cousin of mine could be there to enjoy the queso cheese, as she loves it so much. But meanwhile, it was fun to watch the kids eat it, and get it all over their faces. And we finished out with a dessert that I’ve forgotten the name of, but which is mostly whipped cream. Just think, if you have the right “chips” at home, some whipped cream and sprinkles could turn this into an easy, but fun dessert for the kids! I suppose you could do it with graham crackers, or something of the sort?
I had driven my car to the restaurant, so after hugs all around, I hit the road. It was wonderful to get to know the children, in person, and see how they were like and yet not like their parents. What fun to discover their personalities, and wonder what genes they inherited, and how many generations back?
You’ve already heard about my trip back from Georgia, so I won’t go into it. I can happily say that my car has been completely bug-free for well over a week, and I hope none of you ever experience what I did. But I hope that I will be able to visit my friends more often, now that I’m permanently in the South. Perhaps next summer, as I’ll be very busy during the school year.