Benema in the City

As soon as I knew Ben and Emma were coming to visit, I decided we would have one day where we would split up. The kids would be in daycare, which would leave Ben and Kei to play golf and me and Emma to have a girly day of pedicures, lunch and window shopping (and maybe a little real shopping).

Of course we got the pedicures.

And then I introduced Emma to the joy that is the Peete’s Dark Chocolate Mocha Freddo. Oh, Emma, I am so sorry that I teased you with the delicious chocolate goodness and then you had to say goodbye. (of course I’m sure you more than made up for it over the next FOUR weeks of your round the world vacation. Can you hear the sympathy?).

Next up was a little shopping where we checked out some funky t-shirts and I drooled over a lot of over-priced children’s clothing. If you saw what my children manage to do to their clothes on a daily basis, you’d understand why I didn’t invest in a $40 t-shirt.

I also drooled over these dresses that, I know deep down, I am just not funky enough to actually wear.

And finally a trip to the mall where we walked away disappointed that Macy’s clinique gift time was over, but then rejoiced when Nordstrom came through with the gift. It’s the small things in life.

Then I tried on a funky little top that was just way too cute on the hanger. Sadly though, when I went into the dressing room to try it on, it turned out to be a jumpsuit. A jumpsuit! Not sure why, but I could not stop laughing enough to even tell Emma about my wardrobe malfunction. Maybe it was the image of myself in the mirror trying to work out why I couldn’t get the leg hole over my head.

A good laugh at the end of a great day.

Random Monday

A few things that are interesting/insipiring me today:


Thankful for sunny days and short holiday weeks.

Happy Monday.


The long and winding road: Benema at the beach pt2

You can read about the first half of our day at the beach here.

When you’re traveling with two small children you need to think carefully about planning your trip around nap times. This is especially difficult when one of the children is still taking two naps. Before Samuel was born, I had forgotten about the inconvenience of the late morning nap.

But sometimes you have a day when you just get the timing right and our trip to the beach was just that type of day. Both boys slept in the car on the way to the coast int he morning and woke as soon as we arrived. We played on the beach and had lunch and, by the time we were ready to continue our drive down the coast to catch the alternate route, they were both ready to pass out again for an hour or so. Not only did this ensure we were avoiding two cranky children, but the adults were able to stop the car a few times on the way to take in the sights without having to worry about getting the kids in and out of carseats.

We had one primary reason for driving the long way home – the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We have driven by the factory a number of times but have never ventured in – once arriving 5 minutes after it closed (one of the more frustrating moments of my life).

This time, however, we arrived many hours before closing and we had two freshly napped children – nothing was going to stop us.

The first thing that hits you in Tillamook is the smell of cows and cow manure. It’s not pleasant, but I suppose it’s necessary and a good reminder that some animals work hard so I can eat that delicious sharp Tillamook Cheddar. Still – makes me grateful that I live some distance from the source.

The visit begins with a view of the factory. It was mesmerizing watching them cut the cheese (yes, we heard the jokes).

And then the walking tour leads to the store and…samples!

(My brother teased me for taking this photo at the time but I bet his mouth is watering now. You’re welcome, Ben.)

The finale – ice cream all round. I think Thomas would have had a meltdown if we didn’t get ice cream. He chose chocolate (of course) and ate the entire thing.

And of course we couldn’t leave without the goofy photograph.

Then we got in the car and drove back to Portland. The end? Not quite…

There’s a story that members of my family like to tell over and over again. It involves a windy car ride from Sydney to Melbourne, a stop at the cheese factory where we ate ice cream and cheese samples and a little girl who didn’t have time to tell her father to stop the car before throwing up all over the back seat and her two brothers. My mum and my brother Ben are particularly fond of telling this story at every family gathering.

Well, I have some good news. Now Ben has a new story to tell. We were just miles from home and Thomas had been quiet for a little while – he didn’t seem quite himself. In hindsight the signs were there, but at the time we really had no warning. Poor Curious George was collateral damage and had to be washed three times and sprayed with febreeze before I was finally able to get the smell of vomit out of his fur. Thankfully we had a few days to air out the rental car before returning it.

Thank you Thomas for changing the subject, although I apologise in advance for the fact that your uncle and grandmother (and possibly your aunt) will still be talking about this incident when you’re 30.

Broken Hearted

He’s still tiny, can only say a few words (well, we think they’re words) and is not even walking (although has been teasing us for months), but this child has so much power over me.

For a few months now, he has been a Daddy’s boy. That’s not a bad thing – it gives me a bit of a break – but still, as a mother you secretly want you child to prefer you. In fact, it seems wrong if they don’t. I carried him in my belly, nursed him and spent every waking moment with him for the first few months of his life. Don’t I deserve to be the favourite for just a little while longer – at least until he is three when his strong personality and stubborness will make him the perfect daddy’s boy.

It hit an all time low the other night when Samuel would NOT come to me. He gripped onto Kei’s shirt so tight that I had to peel his fingers away just to put him to bed. He bent his back and squirmed in an effort to get out of my arms.

In the safety of his bedroom, between stories, we had a talk. I told him how much it hurt me and how much I loved him and he responded by pointing to a picture of a rooster and babbling something. (The kid makes no sense). Then the next morning as soon as we reached daycare he couldn’t wait to get out of my arms again and reach for his teacher.

Everyone tells me it’s a phase but a large part of me feels guilty – for giving up on breastfeeding at 7 months, for no longer having Wednesdays off which means he spends more time in daycare than with me, for being busy whenever we are together – getting ready for daycare, cooking dinner, getting ready for bed.

… But one more possibility crossed my mind tonight. My eyes were hurting yesterday so I wore my glasses for the first time since I had Samuel (I usually wear contact lenses). Maybe Samuel didn’t like mummy in glasses.

Still, I made sure I spent more time with Samuel tonight. I put the laundry on after he had gone to bed, and we had frozen pizza for dinner so I didn’t have to cook and had more time to play. I think it worked a little bit. He was not afraid to come near me and we had a few moments of bonding over play food and wooden blocks.

Just to be safe, though, I’ll be putting my contact lenses back in tomorrow.

Benema at the Beach

It has been so long since we’ve been out to the Oregon Coast. It’s only a couple of hours away, but usually the only time we can go is on the weekend. A sunny weekend means half of Portland is trying to get to the beach and with only a couple of two-way highways to choose from, traffic can add a couple more hours to the trip. Add in a couple of kids, diapers that need to be changed and constant requests for snacks and it can be hell on wheels.

So we waited until the time was right – an unusually sunny May week in Portland and some extra entertainment for the kids in the form of Uncle Ben and Auntie Emma.

The weather was incredible – sunny, warm and a very small breeze. Of course it was the Oregon Coast so not exactly swimming weather (it never is, thanks to the frigidly cold water courtesy of Alaska), but it WAS beach weather. And of course I took photographs…a lot of photographs. Here are just a few.

We bought a Kite.

Thomas, it appears, is quite the kite flyer.

I promise, it only looks like they’re destroying their nephew’s sand castle.

And what’s a beach without sand? I’m still finding it weeks later. I wish I’d managed to take photos of this child rolling around in it. His goal in life is to create more laundry.

And this was only the first half of the day. More to come…including a long-awaited visit to the cheese factory with a familiar outcome.

So Unfortunately “Nicole” Has a Reputation

I was reading  a blog where it was suggested that you can use Google to generate funny little anecdotes about yourself. Type in “Unfortunately [your name]” and then see what comes up in the list of searches. Of course her’s were all very artistic and civilized (she has a literary name). Mine on the other hand…

  • Unfortunately, Nicole never considered the fact that she could get pregnant while doing alcohol and drugs while having unprotected sex. [this really was the first thing to come up]
  • Unfortunately, Nicole was having a wardrobe malfunction.
  • Unfortunately Nicole is a typical white Australian [this one was in reference to Kidman]
  • Unfortunately, Nicole seems to have an incredible memory, or maybe because she’s just hungry for gossip.

So to help overcome the stereotype, I am going to go ahead and post a few photos from my girls weekend in Seattle. We were drinking soda, of course. 🙂

And to prove I was really there – the only photo of me. The only that will be posted anyway…

And to answer your question… yes, we really are that funny. I did not stop laughing the entire weekend.

Pure Joy… well, I’m working on it.

Heading to Seattle for a girls’ weekend tomorrow. I’m sure Samuel won’t look like this while I’m gone, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have a smile on my face after a few cocktails and a night on the town.

I’ll miss my boys…but every mama needs some girl time. And it’s well timed after the week I’ve had. While I don’t expect to return refreshed (it takes much more than one night away to do that), I do hope to come back with a renewed appreciation for the fun parts of life. Sometimes work takes control of my emotions. This weekend is about getting them back to where they need to be.

Oh and Thomas knows just how to cheer me up. I was telling Kei a story in the car on our way to dinner about something that happened at work today – something that was not my fault, but that really upset me. Thomas kept trying to interrupt to tell me something, but I kept telling him to wait and be patient. He interrupted about 3 or 4 times and each time I told him to wait – each time a little more forcefully.

Finally I had a break in the conversation and I turned to Thomas and told him he could tell me his story now. Without a beat he replied “I want to get some roller skates”.

I have no idea where it came from – I didn’t even know Thomas knew what roller skates were – but the comment was so random and unexpected that it made me laugh and completely lifted me out of the funk.

Talk about bringing me back to the true priorities in life…


We haven’t always had the best relationship. In fact I recall hating him when we were teenagers. I think it was combination of being too close in age (17 months) and the competitive spirit that we both possess.

High school was tough for me. I was on the outskirts of about three different cool groups – which meant I wasn’t popular at all. Ben came up behind me and was voted Prefect (= popular). I was in the chorus in the school musicals. Ben was lead. I got straight A’s (OK a few B’s). Ben got straight A+’s with a few A’s.

But over the years our lives drifted in separate directions. I took the straight path – University straight after High School, travel, marriage, job. Ben was more interested in an artistic life with less responsibility (and less money – sometimes supplemented by my parents which was another source of frustration for the always-responsible oldest child). He didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand him.

But now that I am 34 years old and Ben is 32 we find our lives merging again and suddenly there is a renewed respect for each others’ life choices. Granted, he has drifted more toward the standard path over the past few years (regular job, car, looking for a house), but there seems to be a level of appreciation and understanding that wasn’t there before. We’re not in competition anymore (well, not all the time) and we can have adult conversations about the paths we both took to get where we are.

I still don’t understand his obsession with junk food – specifically missing out on a visit to Burgerville (ok, maybe I understand it a little. Burgerville is FANTASTIC!).

But I am grateful that we can now talk like adults without the adolescent crap that somehow made it’s way into our 20s.

Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that he chose to marry someone who is eerily like his sister in many ways.

Come on…I had to say it. 🙂