All 3 of my boys have been sick for a week, so I have been pretty worn out. The little colds turned into horrible coughs that resulted in a string of sleepless nights for the poor dears. The biggest boy was the crabbiest, but also amazingly helpful while feeling so crummy. So, we had a pretty quiet, quarantined weekend. Steve had to take his students camping this week, and considering our family hardly ever spends time apart, the boys and I at least are surviving quite well.
I spent Saturday morning ‘volunteering’ at Drew’s school. They ask each family to take a turn to help with cleaning and maintenance issues in return for a refund of $100 on the fees. I got to do it with a friend so it was a decent morning and a way to escape the sick house for a bit.
Work has been a bit odd. It’s a weird feeling to often wonder what they pay me for when my previous employment positions used to be so vital. But things change—-my work at home is definitely vital and this schedule and situation are enough for me for now. I was teased the other day for saying ‘scone’ with the long ‘o’ sound, like phone, the way it’s spelled, rather than the short ‘o’ sound, as in non. Aussies are very into their scones. But they should be teasing themselves for that pronunciation, not me. 😉
Despite the crummy coverage, which, apparently, is not just a foreigner’s perception, I am really enjoying the Olympics. I am learning even more differences. They call the handstands in diving ‘armstands’, and they pronounce ‘debut’ like deboo. I just heard baton pronounced like batten. Good stuff.
We were talking about the Olympics recently with friends and the subject of national anthems came up. When we discussed origins of our anthems and how they came to be, I realized that the U.S.A.’s anthem really celebrates our identity and how we came to be. People really had to fight hard, more than once, to form our country and realize the way of life they dreamed of. Nothing was handed to us. We could have ‘America the Beautiful’, or any one of several songs that praise the topographical beauty of the country, as the national anthem, but instead we have one that truly relays the passion and drive and fight that went into the formation of the country. It made me so much more proud of the song! And it must feel amazing to be an Olympian and hear that ballad being played after an athletic competitive effort.
Here are more random observations since I have been here that I can never find a good time to include:
-Cars here, as with everywhere else in the world, are smaller than they are in the U.S. In fact, the cars here actually come closest of any other country I’ve seen to the size of American cars, because there are several SUVs, but not the giant types we have. It is also common for a family to have only one car. It is common to see a family of five driving a basic sedan. They call pickup trucks here ‘Utes’ and they all just have a basic flatbed behind a small cab, nothing like the giant vehicles in the U.S. What is funniest (and coolest) to me, is the small sedans towing trailers or boats. How great! I always thought you had to have an SUV to tow anything behind.
-It is known that the bugs here disgust me and creep me out. It’s been better in winter, but I dread their return and they already are returning. After a short family hike one day in our first few months, Drew came home with a tick on his head! All those years hiking and camping in the mountains and that was my first tick experience—eewww! Ants will just show up out of nowhere in some room in the house, by the thousands, and I am not kidding. I can’t even freak out about them anymore, but just sprinkle some cinnamon and move on, and they eventually move on as well. It’s such a mystery as to where they come from and how they mass like that so quickly, and in the house….yuck! In addition to spiders larger than my shoe, there are grasshoppers of that size as well. One of the most dangerous spiders is called a red back. The day we got back, we were out in our backyard and saw a giant spider in a web, and Drew said “There’s a redneck spider.” Our house is the only one in Australia with a redneck spider and it’s very fitting for us!
-The flowers in bloom on the different trees and bushes and plants vary by ‘season’ here. That is one of the main ways I can tell a change in season so far. Some of my favorites, in terms of smell have been when the jasmine blooms. Also, the smell of mock orange is so strong and gorgeous when it wafts through the house during the night. Something gorgeous and pink and tropical is blooming on a bush in our backyard right now and smells just heavenly—I need to find out what it is.
-I keep learning more words in slang with that ‘ie’ added or shortened and with an ‘o’ on the end. It truly is mind boggling and I can’t keep track of them all. Really, it seems like they can do it to any word. Sickie is a sick day from work.
-This one is crazy: A nickname for redheads here is ‘ranga’ coming from the word orangutan—can you believe it?!
-One other funny saying is ‘No flies on me mate.’ A new friend pointed it out to me on her kids’ t-shirts soon after I arrived and she really laughed when she showed me, because the back of the shirts were covered in pictures of flies. I laughed too, because I figured I should. I later found out that it means something like “I know what I’m doing. I’ve got this under control”, which is the reason the shirts were funny.
To end today, I have to record a bit of a sad realization. My boys’ voices are changing. They picked up on the different terms and names for things very easily and started using them right away. That does still sound weird to me but it makes sense and I understand why. However, now their pronunciations are actually starting to change a bit. Zach says ‘garage’ opposite to me. They are starting to drop their ‘r’s at the end of words and pronounce things the way other Australians do. It makes me sad! My boys sound different than I do! I don’t sound like my boys do! Is my whole family Australian but I am American? So many parents deal with this occurrence all over the world—do they feel sad, too or am I just being silly? It makes me feel a bit isolated from them. I did not see this one coming, in terms of a difficulty in moving and adjusting.