Operation Out of House


I would like to introduce you to my daughter, India, who we have recently renamed Fang .  She is missing one of her front top teeth, and the other is attached by only a few threads, as it has been for the past few weeks.   The fang hangs lower than her other teeth, is twisted sideways, and juts out to the front, which gives her an air of scurvy victim / trailer trash child.  It makes eating so difficult that she has to chew with her mouth open, to avoid biting down on the fang.  But will she part with it?  NO!  I think she enjoys the reaction, when people peer into her mouth to see what all the fuss is about, and then shrink away, revolted, at the sight of it.


We have at least one episode daily, where she accidentally bites down on the fang, it jabs into her gum the wrong way, and her mouth fills with blood.  Distraught wailing, blood dripping from her open, panicked mouth and fang jutting out in the middle.  Really?  REALLY? I find myself saying, through clenched teeth, whilst mustering up my fake Zen, nothing-phases-me voice.  ‘Just let me pull it out’ I say.  ‘It’s not helping you eat, and it’s making you upset’. ‘Nooooooooo!!!! I don’t want tooooooo!!!’ she wails, desperately guarding her precious fang, and scuttling off to the bathroom to examine her bloody mouth in the mirror.

God help me.  What kind of torturous ride am I in for when Fang grows into a teenager?!

She already exhibits the wild mood swings and kick-ass attitude of an angsty teen.  She has recently mastered the foot-stomping, squinty-eyed tantrum of utter contempt (these are actually quite funny when I am able to mentally extract myself from the situation and watch from a distance).  And she will definitely be amongst the nominees for Best Dramatic Actress this year, with her ‘nobody understands me, I never get what I want and you all suck’ tantrums.

The first sign of these tantrums is when the tears start to well, then the face crumples and morphs grotesquely into that open-mouthed grimace which is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking.   Only children can pull this one off.  There is a brief window where you can get away with such wailing and hysterics, and sometimes I don’t blame her for bunging it on and giving it her best shot.  After all, every now and then it actually works, when we’re simply too exhausted to put up a fight.

But all this angst, in a six and a half year old body?  I just don’t know if I have the ticker for it.  Hence, the inception of Operation Out of House.

It’s a strategy which has been taking shape in my conscious over the past few weeks, back in frosty Melbourne.  I’m not generally one for profound realisations or grand resolutions, but being catapulted over to New York City and back in the space of two weeks will do that to you – it’s somewhat destabilising.  That amazing land of fun and frivolity, contrasted with reality in freezing suburban Melbourne.  Work, housework, supermarketing, cooking, nagging, disciplining, humouring, cajoling…

Allow me to compare and contrast:

a)  Wake up whenever, shower at own leisure and ponder over suitable outfit, followed by tasty omelette and potatoes in little Parisian inspired cafe.

b)  Peel eyes open at sound of incessantly beeping alarm clock and drag self out of bed.  Eat toast in polar fleece dressing gown at kitchen bench, whilst simultaneously making lunches, washing dishes and barking commands: ‘India get dressed – NO you CANNOT wear your summer dress it is 2 degrees outside’.. ‘Arlo stop poking the fruit and eat your toast’… ‘Look in the drawer… the bottom one’…. ‘Arlo for the last time would you PLEASE GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF YOUR PANTS?!!’

And so you see, why I require a plan of action to help preserve my sanity.

Operation Out Of House is about just that: getting out and doing more stuff (stuff being a pretty broad term).  Planning things to look forward to, and orchestrating reasons to get a bit tarted up and hit the town.  Calling the uncles in to babysit, even if it is just to venture down the road for the kinder fund-raiser trivia night.  It doesn’t have to be glamorous, just out, and preferably with people.

Winter brings out the hibernation instinct in all of us, and there are not many among us who can resist the allure of Ugg boots and the forgiving waistband of trackies in this weather (in Camberwell, they are referred to as yoga pants).  In fact, more than one of my friends have recently admitted to changing into their jamies and dressing gown the moment they arrive home from school pickup!  For the uninitiated among you, this would generally be any time from 4pm onward, depending on the schedule of after school activities.  Well I salute you ladies (you know who you are).  I see your dressing gown and I raise you a blankie and a glass of wine.

My signature winter item is a pilled old cardigan which I refer to as my house jacket.  It looks a bit like a doormat, but keeps out the drafts and doesn’t show up tea stains.  It is strictly an inside, non-entertaining garment, not even allowable for supermarket outings.  

So if my operation is a success, I’ll be spending a little less time ensconced in my daggy house jacket, and a litte more time taking in the company of friends in the worlds most liveable city.

I stepped out with my little Fanged one at the Australian Ballet last week, and it was fantastic!  Despite the expected amount of fidgeting and a few grumpy looks some older patrons, it was a declared a success.  An ice cream at the first interval, followed by a packet of crisps at the second.  Alright!  Dressing up, getting out of the house and introducing my daughter to The Arts – surely that’s worth triple points?

tien datLunch in Box Hill with a bestie and our two hungry, manic four year old boys was another experiment I undertook this week.   It was somewhat less cosmopolitan than the ballet, but we did manage to keep them both seated and fit in a Tsingtao and a chat over our noodles.  Cheers to us.

At the same restaurant a few days later, I enjoyed an adult date with Sally, where we fitted in a spot of reminiscing of that fabulous week together in NYC.   After years of SMSing each other agenda items (one has to make the most of uninterupted conversations and cover all current issues), I finally went all out and printed a meeting agenda.  It worked a treat, and were wrapping up the last few items as the staff stacked chairs on the tables around us.

My next evil plan, under the auspice of Operation Out Of House is to finalise a date for a girls weekend at my in-laws’ beach house.  The email has gone out, the scene has been set for two glorious nights to ourselves.  Now we just have to hope the calendar gods smile on us, and allow four frazzled women to do what they do best:  Cook, eat, drink, sleep and talk until we’re blue in the face.

Tien Dat


New York State of Mind

Well you didn’t think I could leave it there did you?

It turns out that blogging is quite addictive, and I’ve been feeling rather lost without it.  Of course, there’s not been that much to blog about since I’ve been home. Unless you care to hear about my household austerity measures, such as our week-long TV ban, and the resumption of our alcohol free weeknight policy?  I must say, I didn’t quite think through the combined effect of these two measures on my delicate, post holiday psyche.

toothless grinEverything went swimmingly on the home front while we were away wining, dining, shopping and exploring, which is testament to our fabulous parents.  The only obvious difference on our return was a much tidier, more orderly house than I have ever kept, and a few extra gaps in India’s mouth. Too easy.  When can we do it again?!

Yup, the magic of New York is fast disappearing in the rear vision mirror, and comedown was pretty rough at the one week mark. Long lunches and shopping in the West Village were but a fond memory, as I donned my apron for canteen duty at 9am Friday morning.

I’m serious –  I really am now a fully-fledged tuck-shop lady!  And when you add to the equation a long weekend spent looking after a very unwell and clingy little man, it’s been harsh on my buzz, to say the least.

crazy glasses

On the upside, of course, catching up on all the squeezes and snuggles was delightful.  Also, having several new wardrobe additions, including a lovely winter coat and new bag, are a great way to help buffer the reentry into a bleak Melbourne winter.  And when people ask me where they are from, I get to say ‘oh, um, I got this in New York last week’.  That’s pretty cool too.

So now, in a desperate bid to relive those magic few weeks, I thought I’d catalogue some of my packing hints, shopping highlights and favourite ‘investments’.  Humour me here, please – it’s my form of therapy.


Shoes just about deserve an entry of their own (and did require an additional suitcase of their own, for the trip home).

Firstly, at least one pair of supportive, comfy, pre-broken-in shoes are essential.  My tan coloured Kumfs (don’t laugh!) lived up to their name as we walked our way from one side of Manhattan to another.

A few great purchases from Macy’s (above) were these Ecco gladiator style sandles, and a pair of platform wedged black sandles in a generic Macy’s brand.  Quality, comfortable and infinitely more affordable than in Australia.

Camper storeAgain on the quality front, one day we happened upon the Camper store (you can almost see the twinkle in Cam’s eyes here).  Just one example of our opportunistic shopping technique:

Me:  Oh, I don’t need any more shoes, but I did want to just check out the price of Campers over here {gravitates sheepishly toward door}

Cam:  I love this shop.  I’m getting at least two pairs.  I actually could do with three.  When was the last time I bought shoes at home?

Me:  Okay then we’re allowed two each.

Awesome.  I love it when Cam embraces his inner shopper!!

Hunter Original red pairSpring turned out to be rather psychotic on the weather front, meaning some very cold, wet days.  And as soon as the heavens opened, women all over town appeared wearing dressy gumboots – I was so tempted to join the locals and invest in a pair!  They looked super cute, parked outside their apartment doors.

In the end I think it was lucky I didn’t have the luggage space, as now that I’m back in Glen Iris, I just don’t think I could pull off wearing $100+ gumboots to school pickup.  Except maybe these red ones though…  Are they hot or not?


Now I would love to report that I cruised 5th Ave and bought a pair of Jimmy Choos, or at least peered into the Prada windows.  But alas!  It just wasn’t within my budget or time constraints in the end.  My last few purchases included these fantastic, slightly granny-esque heels, and some cute platform sandles.  Pity I’ll have to wait out winter before I can actually wear all my new sandles.


Cam's new hat!How fetching is Cam in this flat cap from somewhere in Soho?  A great holiday hat!  And we have discussed the idea that he needs to slowly incorporate it into his Melbourne life, so as to not appear too ‘I’ve been to New York and now I wear this hat everywhere’.

My little crochet’d beret came in handy on bad hair days – an excellent way to hide the fuzz factor in the drizzly, humid weather.  Another fave is this great – I think 1920’s-style – sunhat.  I was compelled to purchase it when Cam was selecting his, as I just couldn’t hang out in a hat-shop for that long and not buy something (you can also spy here the mustard-yellow Campers that have become a wardrobe staple back home).

hat on the highline


Dresses made up the majority of my half-full suitcase on the way over.  I needed to look the part whilst exploring – I needed to integrate!  There was no room for Lululemon trackie dacks and flurescent trainers in my suitcase. Truth be told, I even purchased a few of these in the months leading up to our trip, for the reason that they would be perfect for New York. Dedicated, hey?

CosmopolitanI have Modcloth to thank for these two lovely frocks:  I don’t have a full shot of the green peacock number above, but it was a great suitcase dress, needing no ironing, being soft and fully lined.  It went very well with my cosmopolitan, as you can see.

The blue check and chambray number below saw me walk the Brooklyn Bridge in style (except when I had to stop twice, to re-band-aid my poor feet).

Modcloth frock #2

My cheap, comfy, age-old LBD got quite a few work-outs.  Worn here with tied checked shirt in a faint nod to rockabilly (minus the fabulous, coiffed hair – who has time for that?).Union Square

And last but not least, my lovely green dress by Trashy Diva.  I shan’t bang on about it any further, except to say I was pretty happy to have an occasion to bust it out last weekend.

Green Dress

The bag and coat

I took two light jackets with me and had a good winter coat on my shopping list.

6CIt was a few days into the trip when we stumbled upon Century 21 in downtown Manhattan: A kind of cut-price department store / jumble sale with labels as far as the eye can see.   In the matter of thirty minutes, I snapped up my red riding hood coat (DKNY) and coordinating Cole Haan handbag.  My tip – go early, get in and get out!

Here I am pretending to open the door and be the owner of apartment 6C, in my jacket. Aren’t I lucky that I have a husband who likes to play along and be the paparazzi?The bag

Above is my new bag – actually an early birthday present from my lovely brother and partner.  An envelope of dead presidents with a ‘here – choose yourself something nice for your birthday in NYC’ note.  Love your work boys!

So there you have it, I think that’s just about a wrap.  

The final thought I’ll leave you with is the indulgent joy of picking up your freshly laundered clothes – all securely shrink-wrapped into a dense little bundle, when you’ve been out all day exploring.  I miss that, as I sit on my couch and stare at the heavily laden clothes horse in front of the heater…