Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 643

Welcome to another edition of Guest Star Monday!

Today I have a wonderful blogger visiting from the USA - Journey Beyond Survival.
Journey Beyond Survival

JBS and I have been bloggy pals for around 12-18 months now.  She is an amazing mother who describes herself as a train wreck.  Personally, I don't think she is a train wreck at all, but rather the police, fire brigade and ambulance for her family, as well as a personal assistant and cheerleader to her youngest daughter who requires constant ongoing specialist care.  I am so happy that JBS has walked the purple carpet to my lounge room today.  

Hello JBS!!  Wow, you’re in Australia!! How does that feel?  Are you all jet lagged and stuff?

It feels exotic.  Very exotic.  You know?  I’m imagining my writing coming out with an Australian accent and everything.

Ha ha!

 It’s cool.  I think I’ll pop over to New Zealand to see my family after we’re through.  I’ve never been there either.

I am pretty used to jetlag, but I’m travelling twice as far as I’m used to.  So yeah.  I’m trying to hold my eyes open.

It’s funny that you are here on my shores, and in a couple of days I am heading to the ol’ US of A.  Well, Hawaii, but still ….  

Well, we’re probably on the same flight.  We’ll be that obnoxious pair that talks the ENTIRE flight and everyone wishes would just go to sleep!  It’ll be fabulously fun.  I’m getting to be comfortable with my loud USA roots.

That would be fun!

But don’t mind me if I squirm a bit after we laugh loudly.  I still have a hard time really embracing it.

What can I offer you to drink? I have tea, coffee, green tea, chai, peppermint tea or green tea with rose petals …. Water perhaps?  Champagne? Beer?

If you don’t mind, we can just attach a hose to your water and I’ll guzzle it down.  Jetlag does that to you.  I really do love water though.

We have lovely water here in Canberra too.  Top quality stuff.

So in our virtual world you have left your kids at home.  Do you ever get away much without the kidlets?

Mr. Survival and I get a date about every week.  We have a lovely couple that we switch off with and we get a nice couple of hours.  Then we watch their two lovely girls another night.

When I’m driving to doctor’s appointments, I get a lot of time by myself to think.  Because the wee one is sleeping.

Tell me about your beautiful chickadee.  How did that journey begin, and where are things up to?

Well, we ARE going to be here a while aren’t we?

Chickadee was born and grew without raising any red flags until she was about ten months old.  She continued progressing-slower-for about five more months and could walk using a walker anywhere she wanted.  She could climb up and down our full flight of 17 stairs and feed herself normal toddler food.

Long story short, she has Rett Syndrome which is spontaneous, genetic and a mutation.  But, it is not hereditary.  At it’s worst Rett Syndrome left her unable to even roll over, crawl, sit-up or stand.  She lost all of her fifty words and all use of both her hands.

That’s a really tough journey you’ve all been handed.

At it’s best, Chickadee has fought back and won about 3 words and the awesome (and unusual for her age) ability to say yes and no with her eyes.  She can stand for about 20 minutes against a wall now, and is trying to fingerpaint.

To be honest I hadn’t heard much of Rett’s Syndrome before I started following you.  Your blog has opened a lot of eyes and hearts and wallets JBS.  How does that make you feel?

Don’t feel badly about not hearing of Rett’s.  I didn’t know what it was at ALL until I started searching for what was wrong with my darling on the internet.  Rett Syndrome was the one that I closed grimly thinking, “anything but that one.”

The wallets thing honestly makes me feel a bit guilty.  I wish that we could provide all that she needs on our own.  More than that though, it makes my heart burst.  I can’t believe how much people care and want to help. 

I hope to do everybody justice in the end, and we are forever grateful.

Did Chickadee get her therapy dog in the end?

Not yet.  We are anxiously awaiting word from the trainers.  It can take up to a year to train a dog, and usually it takes that long to fundraise.  We actually had all the money needed right before they first found the perfect dog for Chickadee.

That’s wonderful news.

She does have her own web page(s) though.




That’s cool

On that last website we will be sharing the journey as Mikala becomes a member of the family.  It promises to be a long wait with great rewards for the patient.  We will update the sites when we are able to make our first visit to see Mikala as she is trained.

I can’t wait to start following that journey.

What is your vision of Australia?  When you think of Aussies, what do you think?

I love the way that Aussies say “know” “new” and “go.”  I just started watching an Aussie sitcom called “McLeod’s Daughters” on Netflix.  (Our online entertainment destination of choice-cause it’s cheap)

My bestie over in Pennsylvania LOVES McLeod’s Daughters.  They took it off the air for a bit so she had to then go and buy the box sets. 

My daughter is also watching “Just Add H2O” about teen mermaids. 

Oh my goodness, that used to be Tahlia’s FAVOURITE show.  They even had a clothing range over here.  Ours was called “H2O Just Add Water” over here.

I have to admit that this changes my view of Australia a bit.  Takes it from one dimension and up to another.

So, what do you think of Australia?  Would you ever want to visit here for real?

Yes!  I would love to travel to Australia.  I love to travel period.  I’m a historian at heart.  Also, I’m from Utah so I tend to like ROCKS.  I get a little anxious with all this soft green stuff about me in the Midwest of the USA.  I love new cultures.

I guess you’d like Uluru (Ayre’s Rock) then. 

Since we’ve been hanging out on the blogosphere, have you noticed many cultural differences between Australian and America in the world of writing?

I do believe that you Aussies stay up ALL NIGHT, until I remember.  Then again, it is really nice during insomnia to wander over to twitter and see people still there chatting like that hour is perfectly normal to be awake.  Because it IS.

So, other than the novelty of the time change, there is the Link-up.  I think that I’ve only ever seen a link-up originate in Oz.

I have seen a lot of the USA.  My best friend is from Pennsylvania so whenever I go to the US to see her I try to see something new.  I’ve done up and down the entire east coast (twice), travelled across the USA at the bottom end, and done a bit of the west coast – NY, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisianna, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado, Hawaii – I’ve seen more of America than I have of Australia to be honest! If you were able to, what big adventure would you most like to go on – anywhere in the world? What country or point of interest would you most like to see?

I commend you!  I’ve been to only a few more states than that!  Never Hawaii or Alabama, but to all the rest plus Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Vermont, Maine, Idaho, Massachusets, New Hampshire, Connecticut.

Oh bother.  It’s a pain to list them all out.  I think that’s about it, I didn’t think it was that many.  I’ve also been to Europe and lived there for about nine months between Germany and Italy.  I’d love to go back.  I never got to the Louvre or the Tuileries.  I majored in Art History.  Not art.  Just the history of art.

Yes.  It is incredibly useful as a degree.  I use it every day though it never earned me a penny. 

So.  To go anywhere?  I have no idea.  ChinaIndiaFranceAustraliaNew Zealand.  I’m not entirely sure, they all speak to me of adventure.  Although I think the last two would accommodate my Chickadee best in her wheelchair.  That affects things.

Yes. I know that even a pram (stroller) complicates things with a baby, but a wheelchair would definitely limit your mobility in and around many buildings and with transport.

You’ve struggled a bit with your own health on top of everything else.  How are you doing at the moment? You look great by the way. I love your hair.

Right now I’m focusing on my compulsion to eat sweets when I feel overwhelmed or lonely or sad.  I’m doing all right with my eating, meaning that I’m actually maintaining while dealing with some pretty messy emotional stuff.

My exercise is going really well.  I’m doing C25K sometimes my oldest daughter has been joining me.  The best part of that is the conversations.  The hardest part is that suddenly my eight year old needs deodorant spray.  I hate puberty even more than I did twenty years ago!

I’m also working on some body weight lifting.  Such as pushups, situps, lunges, side bridges, etc.  I’m really SORE.

What if anything have all these challenges taught you?

They have absolutely taught me that I am worth the fight, like my friend Ryan told me.  Also, that it’s never too late to get up, dust myself off and try again.

Oh, I keep meaning to say a huge thank you for introducing me to my illustrator!!  She is so clever.  Can you believe that book still isn’t published but the good news is it is getting closer and closer every day.  You see, I had a vision that the text would be written on the water-colour background of the pictures to make for a more peaceful reading experience (instead of the starkness of black on white) but the publishers were having problems with that while keeping the font size big enough for little kids to read. Sigh.  What a carry on that has been?!  Anyway, it is going to work out and you made it possible – simply by reading my blog at the right time and passing on my details.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

You’re always welcome, I wish I were better able to keep up with my blogging buddies.

I hate the whole carry on.  What format are they using?  I hope that it gets worked out soon.  I know that my Traci loved doing it for you.  She is amazing, and is currently headed to Honduras to live for a couple of years.  Speaking of, that would be a fun place to visit.

She is?! Wow. I must get her new details so I know where to send her royalties!

Have you had any other experiences on the bloggosphere that have helped make the impossible seem possible?

The service dog fundraising is absolutely amazing.  That won the sphere a TON of points from my family.

The blogosphere is great like that.

I bought us some Lamingtons to share.  They’re very Australian so I figured you might like to try some.  They’re basically little sponge cake squares covered in chocolate stuff and sprinkled with coconut.  Would you like one?

Yes!  Delicious.

If you weren’t sitting back having a cuppa with me in Australia’s capital, what would you be doing right now?

It would be nearing the end of my blogging time at home.  Chickadee usually is making distress signals in smoke to alert any passers-by that she needs to pop in some way or another as I’m not usually listening.  I  would take her to the potty, let her do her business (or maybe it was a burp) Then we’d tidy up the house before the kids came home from summer camp. Pointless endeavour, but it keeps the mess to a dull roar.

What are the big TV shows in the US right now?  What’s getting everybody’s juices flowing?  I’m hopeless when it comes to TV. I don’t watch anything current.  I tend to be a few years behind.  For example, I am only just now watching 30 Rock as it is being replayed on pay TV.  So I am watching those episodes back to back.  I am not watching anything current. Oh, except for the Kardashians.  For some reason I really quite like that show (but I stay in the closet about that … I only ever watch it on my own).  And I LOVE Modern Family.  Derek and I agree that we are the Dunphies.

You know?  I’m not entirely sure this summer.  I think we watch our entertainment in the same way.

With all the fireworks lately (fourth of July-independence day) we’ve been staying up late.  Before that we were trying to get to bed early to catch up on sleep.  Now, we’ll be doing the same again.  So our usual time to watch grown-up TV is officially annihilated for now.

We do love “White Collar,” “Lie to Me” and “Castle” for comedies “Parks & Rec,” and especially “COMMUNITY”  woot woot.

I have heard of some of them.  I just heard about Parks and Recreation the other day. I think I would like that. It sounds like it has a Modern Family tone. I don’t think we have it here yet though.

What else can we chat about?  Oh, I know, if you could line up ANY 10 guys for a speed dating session, who would they be?  Which 10 guys would you want to spend a few minutes each with?  I can’t even answer that one myself.  I know that Simon Baker would be in there, and Hugh Jackman, and Robbie Williams, Owen Wilson and the teacher from Glee …. All for different reasons and I would ask all of them different questions. Like Hugh Jackman for example, I would ask “do you remember that 21st birthday party we both went to at that farm …. I did the 21st speech … do you remember how bad that was? The speech I mean. I was a bit drunk ….do you remember when I crash tackled the birthday girl and poured champagne down her throat? She threw up … ”
The rest I would have to think about.  Who would your top 10 be?

Good gravy.  I can’t even think of them.  Hang on.

“Good Gravy”?!  Is that like “holy shit”?

[JBS looks in the distance and fiddles with empty plate]

Hugh Jackman (he’s tops even after a load of gaggling)
Matt Damon
Pierce Brosnan
Matthew McConaughy

Sorry.  that’s it.

It’s a tough question I know.  I don’t suppose it’s something you think about every day.

Tell me about the view from your front steps.  Give me a picture of where you live. 

We have a big green quilt outside our window.  Lots of maples, pines, grass and the neighbor’s corn growing across the street.  I can’t see the cars going by on the street from my sofa, but I can see the corn until harvest.  We also have a quaint red barn across the street and catty-corner.  It’s very classically Midwestern, sort of like what you would see in Bridges of Madison County if you know that movie.  (I don’t, just the bridges hehe)

That sounds like heaven! So pretty.

As you can see I am thick in suburbia but from the second storey I have views over the roof tops across to the mountain range on the other side of Canberra.  It’s a very peaceful view, and luckily it is quite a peaceful street … now anyway. It wasn’t always this quiet.  We used to have the Mafia living next door and there were often full on police raids where they’d come in the middle of the night wearing night vision goggles, safety shields, guns and bang down their doors.  The funniest was when they did all that, had about 30 SWAT team police, guns, shields and then walked slowly and with stealth to the front door and politely knocked and no one was home! They didn’t even bang the doors down. Instead they called in a locksmith to open the place up.…. It was very entertaining.  I don’t miss it ….  Are you in a peaceful place or is there a bit of drama?

Night raids would make me batty. And entertained.  You should write about it and become famous.

I think this home we’re renting is a very healing place emotionally.  Something about the pine trees guarding the entire backyard, or the work we’ve put into our garden.  My kids just get lost on the two acres in the back, and I don’t have to worry because it’s all fenced and the creek is on the other side of the fence.

So, there’s a Mr JBS.  Tell me about him.  When you first met, what attracted you to him?

He actually rather repelled me at the first.

That happens so much! It’s funny …

What finally started to do me in was that he would chat with me, and listen so well to my prattling on about mundane things.  It was lovely and endearing. 

For me I was attracted to my Husband’s height.  That and his shiny suit.  I remember him walking up to me and it was in the days when it was “in” to wear green and mustard together (LOL).  So he had the green microfiber suit and mustard shirt.  Anyway, he walked up to me and I couldn’t find his eyes … they were too high! I could see right up his nose he was so tall.  It occurred to me that tall people would have to have very clean noses. 

This makes me laugh.  I’m six feet tall if I’m wearing socks.  The first time I ran into keeping my tall nose clean was a nasty little boy making fun of my allergied nose.  I probably squashed him without really meaning to.


Tell me about your other kids.  If they were here right now, what would they be doing?

Breaking everything
Not doing your dishes

It’s summer holidays at home and the kids are on my last nerve.  It is now officially against the rules to fight in our house, and if they are caught they automatically lose a privilege.  So, I’d probably look like I was having a seizure. 

Chatting away to you, and then giving them the stink eye as they did yet another naughty thing.

What time is your flight home?  I guess that means you need to go. 

yes, unfortunately it is so…

I don’t want you to go JBS!! 

Let’s get together again soon you lovely lady you!

Ok. Let’s. I might even see you on the plan.

Ciao Bella! 


  1. I told you those kids are exhausting! I'm just now dragging myself away from them and letting you know that I had the best cuppa with you. You are such a wonderful hostess!

  2. Yay! What a great post! I've had the distinct privilege of an in-person glass of water with JBS and am just in love. She's lovely and amazing, isn't she?

    And you, too! I'll be popping in to Deep Fried Fruit now too!

  3. Fun:) I'm hoping to actually get to Australia myself in the next few years since my niece will be there working on her PhD.

  4. Love eaves dropping in on these lunches. Must check out JBS blog now. Your daughter sounds adorable.

    My daughter used to dance with Cariba Heine (one of the mermaids) a few years before she headed to Queensland to shoot H2O Just Add Water. Small world.

    And yes Leanne, Parks & Rec was on channel Seven a few years ago. I think they show old episodes of that along with Community on the new digital free to air occasionally.


I love hearing your thoughts! Keep them rolling in :)

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