Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day which Jack totally freaks out

We started off the day by going out for breakfast. I don't remember the name, but Jack says it was near our hotel and near the City Convenience store. He thinks maybe it was called Sapphro Cafe.

In a rare moment, I kind of had a taste for Vegemite. So, I ordered that. They gave me two slices of toast with a little packet of butter to split between the two. And then there were two packets of Vegemite. Two packets! What happened to the whole just use a little bit. You know, because if I used both of these packets of Vegemite, it would NOT be a little bit. Or maybe the Aussie idea of little bit is different than my version.

I used about 1/6 of ONE of the packets. I felt so damn inadequate. I sneaked a peak at a woman sitting in a table next to us. She used much more Vegemite than I did. Oh well. What can I say?

Sometime after breakfast we went to The Australia Museum. It's one of those taxidermy places; lots of dead animals. Our favorite part of the museum is The Search and Discovery Room. It's a large room where they have the dead animals out for you to actually touch. Jack loves that! Okay, I'll admit it. I love it too. They also have computers to play on; and a large selection of books about Australian animals and other stuff.

Before going to this room though, we looked at other rooms in the museum. Jack and I were both fascinated by the large ancient marsupials. It's fun to imagine what Australia would be like if these mega marsupials still existed today!

We looked at birds, insects, dangerous animals, and dinosaurs.

Jack wants me to mention the "scary thing". This is one of those interactive screens that have become popular lately. It's a flat screen on a table. You touch the pictures and if you're unlucky a shark or crocodile might jump out at you.

We went to the Indigenous Australia exhibit. But I think we spent more time at it last year than this year.

Tim spent some time looking at gemstones with Jack. I guess I was somewhere else. He took a photograph that I really love.

A few years ago, I got really into gemstones. I lost interest after awhile, but his picture kind of sparked my interest again.

After the museum, we went to this restaurant that Tim had discovered. It appealed to us because it has free internet. Jaipur Sweets. I think it might be the best Indian food I've ever had. Or it could just be that Fort Worth Indian food is so mediocre that Jaipur is amazing in comparison.

We were impressed with how the restaurant did water. You get your own whole big glass decanter for the table. Later, we'd find out that this is how most Australian restaurants do the whole water thing. So, the Indian restaurant wasn't so special and unique on that account.

I don't know why we didn't remember that from last year.

We ate and took turns using the Internet. I was overwhelmed by the amount of junk mail that had already accumulated on my account. I had promised myself that I'd avoid wasting time on Internet drama and controversy. But I was bad! Temptation got the best of me. I'm subscribed to a post on Hoyden About Town regarding Salma Hayak breastfeeding. The post had been quiet for several weeks and then suddenly I check my email and there's numerous responses to that post. I told myself not to read any of them. Myself didn't listen. BUT I will say that I had some restraint. I didn't bother responding or getting involved. I handed the computer over to Jack or Tim so they could have their turn.

After we ate our lunch, we ordered a few Indian Sweets. I love Indian Pastries. The problem is I never know what I'm ordering. It's all a matter of luck. I either end up with something I absolutely love, or I end up with something I merely like. This time I ended up getting lucky. I loved whatever it was I got. I really wish I could tell you what that was.

The restaurant wasn't perfect though. The staff has some challenges with understanding English. So, there's a bit of a communication barrier. But also, I didn't find them to be the friendliest people. Oh well. The food was worth it. And the free Internet!

Since I had hogged the computer reading about Salma Hayak's boobs, Tim really hadn't had enough time doing his computer stuff. And he actually has REAL work. So, Jack and I left him there and headed towards the Jewish Museum. We figured Tim would meet us there.

I don't think we got lost which is good. We really didn't have all that much time. In a few hours, we had to leave for the airport.

The museum has pretty strong security. Like many museums, you can't take in a backpack. But there you also have to turn off your phone. This was a bit of a problem because then Tim wouldn't be able to reach us. How would we meet at the museum if we couldn't talk to each other?

Well, I politely followed the instructions. Although the really sweet security guard had to help me because I actually had no idea how to turn off my mobile. That was a little embarrassing.

I thought the museum was okay. It was a bit hard to give it adequate attention with Jack there. He rushes through museums. I can get him to slow down a little bit sometimes, but mostly it's a matter of me chasing after him. I also worried a bit about the content of the museum. I didn't know how graphic the Holocaust stuff would be. And I still don't know if it's too graphic because we didn't spend much time looking at it.

In some ways, I felt like the museum was not that much different from a website. You look at pictures, watch videos, and read information. I could do that at home. I'm personally not a big fan of this type of museum. They do have artifacts on display, but I don't really get that excited about artifacts.

My mom raves about the museum. I think what she loved about it was the people, who worked there, were so nice and welcoming. They spent a lot of time talking to my parents and showing them around. I actually hoped that wouldn't happen to us. Jack has no patience for lectures in museums. He just wants to move, move, and move. I stand there all awkward, trying to listen while at the same time trying to keep my eye on Jack who has already darted to the other side of the room.

Fortunately at this museum that didn't happen.

It might be because we left fast. I kind of rushed. Without my phone, not only could I not contact Tim but I also had no idea what time it was. I couldn't quite relax.

I was a little embarrassed collecting my backpack from the security guard. He made some kind of comment. Well, that was fast!
I apologetically told him we had a plane to catch. He told us to have a nice flight home. I felt weird letting him think we were going home because that would be a lie. So, I told him we weren't heading home...just going to Tasmania. I got the sense he thought I was giving him way too much info. He probably worried I'd sit there telling him my whole life story.

We found Tim once we were out of the museum. We walked back to the hotel and hung out waiting for the airport shuttle to come. The hotel had recommended it to Tim.

The shuttle ended up being late and Tim and I got a bit anxious.

But it finally came.

We rode to the airport. The driver was pretty quiet.

On the way, we passed Redfern. It didn't look all that exciting to me. I wondered if driving through it would count as visiting. I wondered if I was obligated to visit all the places I mentioned I'd visit on my blog. Would I get demerits if I missed a few places?

At the airport, we were shocked at the lack of security! It was such a nice change of pace compared to domestic flights in America. I guess if you're worried about terrorists, it might not be so nice. But I'm not sure about the whole American-airport security thing. Does it really protect us, or is it a dog and pony show that gives us a false sense of safety?

I don't know.

But I liked that we didn't have to take off our shoes.

No one checked our passports or ID. That was a bit surprising. Maybe that was a fluke thing though.

We got on the plane. That experience was incredibly surreal. Going on a two hour flight after a 9 hour one is hilarious. We felt like we got on the plane, sat for a minute, and then were told it was time to land. It went by SO fast.

The view from the airplane of Tasmania was incredible. It's such a beautiful place. I managed to enjoy the sights even though I was so nervous about meeting Tracey.

Jack was excited because for the first time he got to climb down steps instead of walking through the little airport tunnel.

By this time, I was pretty much absolutely terrified of Tracey. I think I actually hoped she wouldn't show up. Yeah. I'm a bit avoidant when it comes to social stuff.

She wasn't there with the other waiting people. I felt a little relief about that, but not much. I knew eventually she was likely to appear.

So, I went and hid in the bathroom (toilets). Okay, I did actually have to pee. But I probably could have waited. There was a bee in the bathroom which is kind of funny because I don't often see bees in Australia. And I don't think I've had many experiences of seeing bees in public toilets. But here it was flying around. I thought of leaving, but then I'd have to face Tracey. And I'd have to face her on a full bladder. What if I got so nervous that I peed in my pants? Not that this happens to me a lot, but you never know. There's always a first time.

So, I peed and went out to face my fears.

She was already there talking to Tim and Jack.

I have no idea why but for some reason that made me feel more comfortable about things. Maybe I felt better that they met her first? Or maybe I liked that she had the initiative to approach them without me being there?

I came over and I have no real memory of what happened. I guess we talked a bit.

I remember that Tracey said she was going to do something that involved parking. I think Tim and I thought she had to actually get her car or something. I don't know...something complicated. But she returned within seconds. I think it turned out that she just needed to get a ticket. Maybe get it validated?

Then Tracey, Jack, and I waited as Tim went to get our luggage.

We talked and it went very well. I realized quickly that I liked Tracey a lot.

I think the moment that totally broke the ice is when I told her that I was surprised at how she pronounced her daughter's name.

Then Tracey asked me how to pronounce my name. For the past three years, she didn't know if my name was said as Die-na or Deena. It's the latter. But learning that poor Tracey had been struggling with that issue made me feel much better about my own nervousness.

We drove to Tracey's house. We had nice conversations in the car.

Their house was lovely.

We met Tracey's husband Tyrone and their daughter Tara. They were all incredibly sweet.

All was going well.

A weekend there seemed not only survivable but it seemed we might actually have fun.

Then all hell broke loose.

Jack suddenly started crying hysterically. I hate this house! I want to leave. Do we have to stay here? Can't we go to a hotel?
Oh shit!

I don't know what the hell my reaction was at that point. I think I was in shock. Now I don't usually have much patience for my child's rudeness, but I don't remember being angry with Jack.

In his short seven year history, he's never been a house critic. I knew he wasn't offended by their decor or anything. Sometimes Jack gets scared of certain things and I figured this is what happened.

He has certain specific fears and I figured he saw one of these things in their house.

I did worry that Tracey and her family would be offended or disgusted with us. They weren't. They were incredibly sweet and patient. We are so lucky about that. I know some people wouldn't be so understanding. But Tracey and Tyrone are parents too. So, I think that's why they had so much patience.

I took Jack into the bedroom we'd be sleeping in and tried to figure out what was wrong. Tracey meanwhile made us all dinner. Jack wouldn't tell me what was wrong. He just kept asking if we could go to a hotel. I didn't know what to do. I did say we couldn't go to one tonight, but MAYBE we could find one tomorrow. I hoped things wouldn't come to that. I hoped we could figure out his fear and either conquer it, or temporarily hide/remove it.

He still wouldn't tell me.

I think at this point, Tim and I took turns talking to our hosts and comforting Jack.

Finally, the truth came out.

We were sleeping in Molly's (the teenager) room. Very cute room. Pokemon stuff on the wall. Lovely and inviting. The only problem is Jack thought we actually had to sleep WITH Molly. The idea of sleeping with a stranger did not appeal to him.

We explained to him that this was not the case. Molly would be sleeping in another room. Tim and I confessed that we too would be a bit freaked out if had to sleep with Molly. That might be a bit awkward.

Jack calmed down a little bit, but was still a bit weary. He stayed in the room while Tim and I ate dinner with Tracey and her family.

Tara was absolutely sweet and adorable. I heard her go into Molly's room to see how Jack was doing. I heard Jack telling her he had probably just been tired. She then offered him juice and everything was solved.

Jack loves juice. That's the best way to win him over.

And I think this began one of the best weekend's of my family's life.

We ate together. We talked.

Jack had smiles instead of tears.

Molly showed up and she was absolutely beautiful and charming.

I think we were already falling in love with Tracey and her family.

But I was tired so I said goodnight. Jack and I went to sleep. I think Tim stayed up a little longer to talk to Molly and Tyrone. Maybe Tracey stayed awake too. I don't know.

Jack is sitting here asking me if Tara was still awake. I really don't know.

Oh! Important! Before we went to sleep, Tracey showed us where the towels were and helped us get the bed ready. She explained the whole Duvet thing which I hadn't encountered before. The information she gave us would come in handy lately.


Andrew said...

In spite of your explanation, I reckon Jack picked up big time on your nervousness about the Tasmania visit. (I have always thought of you as Dina, kind of like Dino the dinosaur in Fred Flintstone)

magikquilter said...

About Jack going bonkers at Traey's is funny how kids can get the completely wrong idea isn't it? On the one hand it is good to have information but on the other hand too much information can frighten is a delicate balance. It is easy for children to misunderstand though and it can be a minefield for parents. It was great that it worked out for you.

We once had a disastrous few days with house guests whose little girl was quite abusive and manipulative with our son was awful and we wowed not to put ourselves through that again. We realised we need to know people really well before we stay with them or vice versa. I am not sure I could do what you guys did but am pleased it worked out have some really great memories now of the time you shared together.

I love the crystal room at the is fantastic and when I worked as a childcare nurse lots of my charges adored the stuffed animals..they do have some amazing ones there. We also like the Search and Discovery that the one with the microscopes as well?

Stephen Moore said...

Despite the broad similarities between US and Oz culture, it sure is the little things that sometimes mark the biggest differences. Like the water thing. For me, that's just normal and rather unremarkable. Unremakable, that is, until you mention it, Dina. And then I pause for a second, recognising that it is something of a difference.

And yes, I think the Australian idea of a little bit of Vegemite is a wee bit different to your idea of a little bit. One-sixth of one little packet? I didn't know they made knives that small! :^Þ

But at least you willingly ordered and ate it!

Duvet!? That be the wrong d-word. Aint no duvets in Australia. :^Þ

Dina said...

Andrew: My sister used to call me Dino when we were young!

You could be right about Jack. But I don't remember him showing any nervousness before we got to Tasmania. I think he was fine with it. He had been excited to meet Tara (the child close to his age) And he never protested before we left. There was no "Do we have to go?" "Do we have to stay at their house?" It wasn't until we were at their house that he complained. That must have been where he got idea that Molly (the teen) was sleeping with us.

Magikquilter: I don't think kids are the only ones who get the wrong idea! I think adults do it just as much!

It's interesting how experiences can shape our future decisions. Because we had such an amazingly wonderful time at Tracey's house, we'd probably take the risk again. But if it had turned out bad (like your experience) we'd probably make new rules.

Stephen: Sometimes it's the little differences that I end up missing the the dual flush toilets. In Hawaii, I kept looking for the flush at the top of the toilet.

lol about the Vegemite.

I just looked up Duvet. Wikipedia says in Australia, it's often called "Doona". I THINK Tracey used the word Duvet. Maybe? The first time I heard the term though was from my friend Suzanne. She was born a Kiwi though so maybe they use Duvet in NZ?

MsJamie said...

I'm glad things worked out so well with Tracey. I would be nervous about that too. I've met a lot of people from online, but I haven't stayed at their houses. I have had a few stay with me though, now that I think about it. That was a long time ago.

Poor Jack! I can see why he would be so anxious LOL

Jayne said...

Yep, I've always thought of you as Deena ;)
Poor Jack, he may have picked up on your nervousness, the flight, the rush through the Jewish Museum might have been his way of hoping to get the worst over with sort of thing.
I'm waiting for my son to be a little older, maturity-wise, before we hit the Melb Jewish Museum. He knows what happened in general (his great-grandparents survived Siberia and Bergen-Belen POW camp) but not the details and I want him to be ready to handle those details before we visit.

Dina said...

Jamie: How did it go when the people stayed with you???

Jayne: Jack ALWAYS rushes through museums...even the ones he loves. It's hard for me to get any education in because as soon as I open my mouth, he's jumped to the next thing. Every so often, he'll find something that keeps his attention for awhile.

As for the Holocaust, I think Jack is like your son. He knows the basics, but not the details. I have had to explain very difficult things to him before...such as September 11. That's hard. It wasn't something I wanted or planned to do, but he came across some photographs.

Jack's very interesting. He can maturely handle some very grown-up things. But then there are some things that most children love and he's terrified of them.

Well, never mind. I just asked Jack if he knew what the Holocaust was. He had no idea. I thought he did know.

I just asked him what Nazis were and he did know they were people who tried to kill Jewish people.

Anja said...

Poor Jack. Gosh, the poor little guy must have been in a heck of a state. I'm glad juice cures all.

Domestic flights, the security is reasonably low. International gets a lot tighter.

traceyleigh said...

I think I would have liked to see that Australia musuem. Where abouts is it in Sydney? There is always next time when you are back again.

I can't remember now if I ate vegemite toast every morning when you were here? Perhaps I did. I think I did. It's pretty rare for me to eat anything else unless it's eggs. know I feel I should give my perspective of your arrival to us in the comments for your other readers...haahaaa. Maybe they don't care much but I feel it is a good addition to your entries.

I was so nervous and I was there when you arrived but because that airport is going through a major upgrade, I thought all flights arrived at the other end so I was up there waiting. When I saw lots of activity down the hall I realised I was wrong. Launceston Airport only has two terminals and is very old but they are currently upgrading it now. It's changed again even since Dina, Tim and Jack used it to leave for Sydney from here and two weeks later when we left for Sydney it was completely different. So I have digressed. I saw Tim and Jack and recognised them straight away. Came up and introduced myself. Tim seemed impressed that I would recognise them both from photos. But I'd seen so many over the years it was as though I had met them anyway. I felt like I was babbling so much when we were waiting for the luggage. Still so very nervous but starting to relax. The whole pronounciation thing of your name was funny. Tyrone and I had a little competition going as to who would be right. He won of course!!

I was paying for the parking had to pay at the machines before you leave and it validates your ticket.

I just felt so much for you when Jack freaked out. Like you, I just wanted to know what was wrong and how could we all fix it to make him happy. I also knew he would be very tired and very overwhelmed. Tyrone thought he had scared him in some way. I was so relieved when you finally found out. I struggled a bit understanding you and Jack that night. Especially because of my poor hearing. It's just quiet tones I have problems with and I think we had the television going on in the background too.

The duvet thing.. nah.. I said Doona. You must have been so squished in Mollys bed all together!! Even minus Molly :-D


Fe said...

Oh I can empathise with poor Jack. We had a couple of times of not knowing where we would be sleeping when we were staying with friends on our big trip last year... and the only time my boys EVER had a meltdown was when they thought they would be separated from me at night.

New country, new city, new people... it's exhausting for grownups. Letalone littlies.

Well done for being so kind and patient and finding out what was troubling him.

Oh, and DH and I were married at the Australian Museum. They have a function room above which has magnificent views, which is where we had the actual ceremony and reception, but the guests had drinks in the dinosaur room between wedding and reception too. It was stunning.


Dina said...


I love hearing your side of the story.

I think Jack being tired was a big part of it.

I remember Tyrone asking if Jack was scared of him.

I don't remember being that squished.

I was squished in the Sydney apartment though. Tim claims it was the same size as Molly's bed. I don't know why I was squished in Sydney, but not at your house. Maybe we gained weight!!!! That's probably it.

I feel so bad that you couldn't understand us!!! I talk awfully fast.

The other thing though is I had just read that Australians talk quieter than Americans. Americans are known for being REALLY loud. I think I became very self-conscious after reading that so I think I tried talking quietly on purpose. Then I think it was the next day you mentioned having problems with your hearing. I was thinking...oops!

Okay. I have to confess this story here. I don't know why I haven't mentioned it yet to you.

But Tim and I had so much trouble with Tyrone's name. We really struggled to pronounce it. But not only that, I hard a hard time distinguishing his name from Tara's. Usually I could figure things out by the context of what you were saying.

BUT one time my brain wasn't in my head right. You said "Tara likes to play cat." But I thought you said Tyrone likes to play cat. I was thinking...WHAT???? I couldn't figure out if it was some kind of sport or a sex thing. I was thinking it might be a little TMI. Then finally I realized you meant Tara. And that would make sense since she does love cats.

abefrellman said...

I would freak out if I had to spend a night in Tasmania too!

Looking forward to reading of your visit to our nation's capital!

Dina said...

Anja: Juice can be quite the miracle-worker in our house. I just wished it cheered him up when he got his shots!

Fe: The Australia museum would be a cool place for a wedding! I think you're right. Foreign travel can be stressful! I can definitely agree with that. We also haven't stayed at many people's houses before. It's usually us who has the guests. We did stay at my cousin's last year. Jack loved that. And whenever I ask him what his favorite part of Australia was, he says "Tasmania".

Dina said...


lol. Tasmania is actually VERY beautiful. We loved it.

The Canberra section is coming up....

Stephen Moore said...

Yeah, the toilet thing. Whenever I'm in the States I feel a slight tinge of guilt whenever I only need to use a half-flush but only have the option of a full flush. I can't help thinking what a terrible waste of water it is.

Another difference is the water level in the toilet bowl itself. The first few times I used the loo in the US I was a litle worried about getting myself wet. Took a bit to get used to. I do wonder sometimes if Americans are horrified at how little water there is in an Australian toilet bowl the first time they see it.

Andrew said...

I am very pleased I came back and read the subsequent comments. Dina, we Australians hear lots of American accents. Why would yours be hard? Just because you talk very fast?

Dina said...

Stephen: I remember noticing the water difference last year, but didn't really think about it, or notice it, this year.

In our house (from what my mom has told me...used to be her house) our toilets are all half flushes. There's no full flush. So if you go #2 you often have to flush twice. If you don't, there's often big problems.

I prefer Aussie toilets. I also like how there doesn't seem to be automatic toilets. I hate those. I think they waste so much water. They usually end up flushing while I'm sitting and then they don't work after there's actually something in the damn toilet.

Andrew: I talk fast and quietly sometimes. Maybe? Also, Tracey has trouble hearing. I think all those factors added up. I also think I mumble a bit.

MsJamie said...

When I had people stay with me, both times it was when I was going on a trip to meet other internet people, and one of my internet friends (a different one each time) came and stayed with me the night before and we drove on to the get together together. I had actually met both of previous trips before they came and stayed with me. Since it was just the two of us and just one night, we didn't have any issues that I recall.

Dina said...


I'm glad it went okay. You really never know in these situations. You can have a perfect stranger over your house that turns out to be wonderful.

Our horrible guests from Thanksgiving were people we've known for eight years! I had been losing my faith in the goodness of them, but after that week I really learned how awful they are.

Ariane said...

Hey Dina, I've been insanely busy, so I am just working my way through your posts. Expect lots of out of date comments from me!

The vegemite thing? Massive differences between people and over time. I use more now than when I was kid. In those days I would never have used a whole sachet for 2 pieces of toast. Nothing weird about that.

And I have a child who swears he isn't going to his carer's house every time he goes, and then enjoys it every time. Kids don't always get it right!

Dina said...


I LOVE comments--whether they're out-date or not!

I can't imagine using a whole sachet on two pieces of toasts--much less one sachet per toast.

We still do eat Vegemite...but just a tiny drop. I like that LITTLE hint of flavor. And I have to be in a certain mood.

I agree about kids!! Jack often ends up loving whatever he was once afraid of.

Retarius said...

Glad you like out-of-date comments!! Here's another:

I think I spent a couple of afternoons prowling that very Museum way back in 1979. A mate was with me and said, "Look, X is here!" I looked in vain for X until he pointed out a giant sloth in a display case. X was a schoolmate who was renowned for his sluggishness.

Dina said...


lol about your sloth friend.

I think my family used to make jokes at the zoo...point to the apes and make comments about them being our relatives. I mean not in a scientific Darwin type way--more of an insult.

And I love out of date comments. I love almost all comments!