I’m Nice Again

It has been a much better week and while I am still thoroughly homesick, I have a brighter outlook thanks mostly to the love, support and wise words of some beautiful friends.  I am truly blessed in that area.  I do have a few more things to add to my rant, however, and one is that I despise being called ‘doll’ and ‘love’ by random men.   This happens often when shopping.  Women say it too, which is odd but doesn’t make my blood boil quite as much as when men do it, especially the men in the butcher shop or at the car mechanic.  I know it’s harmless but I don’t like it.  I also don’t like how narrow the roads are, so much so that I have to stop regularly en route anywhere around town to pull over and let another driver pass.  Most roads can barely even fit a car going in either direction and then they allow parking along the road on each side so then there’s barely even room for one to get by.  That’s annoying.  It’s as if they designed Brisbane to be super tiny and never noticed, and now it has just exploded and taken everyone by such complete shock that now they have no idea how to deal with it.

And, this Centrelink organization has also decided to change the amount we owe for Zach’s childcare WEEKLY, with no notice or no explanation.  Every week I’m surprised and it makes planning our family budget quite ingratiating. 

Finally, some days I feel like I’m a middle-aged mother living like a college student.  Steve and I have never been big on lots of stuff; we’ve always chosen to spend our money in other ways and also never bought much of value in terms of home furnishings because we always thought we’d move here and just get rid of it all.  Also, once we had kids, it seemed unproductive to buy anything nice anyway.  But now, since we got rid of so much, it really does irritate me how little we have.  I feel like by age 35 and with two kids, I should have a decent place to sit down, and furniture to keep our stuff put away in.  Oh, well.  I know that’s silly.  But, ironically, to add to that feeling, this seemingly quiet suburban neighborhood is so often loud at night that it makes me feel like I’m in college as well.  I don’t understand it.  It must be because we’re up on a hill, so all the noises come to us.  Literally, every gathering of any size that any neighbor within sight has, sounds like it is taking place right inside my bedroom.

As one of my American friends who has lived here several years put it:  On most days it’s great and you realize this is a good place to be, but on some days you even get mad that the cement mixers are turning the wrong way!  SO TRUE!  I sometimes think—why can’t just one little thing be the same?  Why can’t I just look up and see or hear one thing that’s been familiar to me all my life?

Most days I do think we’ll be here forever.  It’s just where we are and it’s always easiest to stay where you are.  I know that one from experience!  Trying to do this all again in reverse just sounds way too hard.  Particularly, because jobs are more scarce in the U.S. and health care would be a large, up front expense.  It makes me sad that whenever I think I’d like to move back, it seems like it will likely never happen.  But then I know I shouldn’t think like that, because who knows what the future will bring.  In five years, I may never give moving back to the U.S. a second thought.  Or, in five years, we all may be back in the U.S.  No one really can tell so it’s not worth wasting time thinking about it.

In good news this week, I successfully made chocolate rice Krispy treat owls with the boys as a Halloween treat, which was lots of fun and they are very yummy.  I also found pumpkins in the grocery store!  They just put out Halloween decorations here later than they do Christmas ones….huh?

I also dealt with nicer people at the pool this week and got the boys’ swim lessons all figured out.  I drove the boys home from a wedding last Saturday night through the city, about an hour away from here on my own and made it with no issues. 

And, I found my way to two new places on my own with them.  The first was a huge park in the city and we did get lost both ways, but both times I was able to navigate my way out of it (with the help of my phone map), which made me feel empowered.  The other new place we found was the dentist—both boys had appointments.  For Zach it was his first time ever and he was very good and super cute.  I’m very impressed he let her into his mouth; he has never given a doctor the same privilege.  And for Drew, it was a regular checkup but quite important because he lost his first tooth last weekend.  I completely freaked when it happened!  I was driving both boys last Saturday and he tells me his front tooth hurts.  I told him we would look at it once we got home and 10 seconds later he tries to hand it to me saying “Mommy, this just came out of my mouth.  What is it?”  YIKES!  I thought he was too young and was caught completely unprepared for this stage of parenting.  Thankfully, it is normal, and the positive side to him being so young and going through this earlier than his peers is that he is about as much aware as I am as to what a good tooth fairy brings.  I will research it further as he gets older, but for now, he was just thrilled with his dollar. 

My first Australian wedding last week, and the boys first ever, was lots of fun.  They are at the age where they love dancing and are not embarrassed at all yet, so it was super fun to get out and get funky with them.  It was also nice, that weddings at least are basically the same in either culture.  The only thing uniquely Australian about this one was the food, which I am already used to—lots of meat and lots of starch.  It was a fun evening with great company and I was relieved the boys behaved so well. 

This week the boys and I have been sick all week, so that of course adds to any feelings already of being down.  But we have laid pretty low and done quite well.  I am frustrated mainly because I am not congested yet have this disgusting smokers-type cough and I just cannot get my energy back.  My back also will not give me any reprieve and I am getting very annoyed at it.  It is not fun when a cough makes your back hurt each time.  But Drew seems about 90% well now for our big Halloween weekend and Zach and I are much better, so all in all, it is nothing to really complain about. 

Steve has had some injuries too that won’t go away completely and he got frustrating news at work this week.  I don’t fully understand how it all works with teaching contracts and pay schedules, but basically they are ‘letting’ him finish school two weeks early and will finish paying him at that time as well.  He is still trying to figure it all out himself in addition to what pay he will receive during the six week holiday break.  But it is all related to some widespread state government budget cuts that people seem pretty upset about and don’t seem to be happening in the other few states in Australia.   Instances like this I think hit both of us, him even harder maybe that we are not local, or as local as he believes he should be.  We just seem to be more in the dark about things like this.

A few funny observations to end:

-I attended training at work recently on fire safety and the instructor talked about how exit signs in Australia are green and white.  He said that is true for most countries around the world and then said “Except, are there any Yanks in here?”  Yes, I was called a Yank during a professional training—several times!  He also referred to the English as the “Poms.”  I know these are funny slang words over here, but I was dumbfounded to hear them in a professional atmosphere!  Can you imagine if in the U.S. someone leading a training asked if any Pollacks or Wops were in the room?  Holy cow!  I told a couple Australians afterwards how I just couldn’t believe that and they honestly did not get what I found so funny or crazy about it! 

-The word ‘aluminum’ is spelled and pronounced ‘aluminium’ over here and I finally looked up which is right.  Of course, they both are, but science people think they sound more intelligent and fancy using the ‘-ium’ ending to match with magnesium, uranium, etc., so it is the spelling used most commonly, except in the U.S. 

-The Salvation Army is called Salvos, even on their trucks! 

-Tonight I may go for it and try this uniquely Australian treat that is served everywhere—pancakes with ice cream!  Who would have thought?!  If I try it, I’ll report on it next time. 

– I finally learned that ‘panel beaters’ are the mechanics that do body work on cars.  Not as scary as the term sounds! 

-College is used here to refer to high school, only private schools I think, and U.S. college/university referred to as uni.

-A couple funny signs I’ve seen recently:  ‘Dear Customer.  This checkout is closed.’  How polite!  It sounds so much nicer than ‘Closed.’

-On the back of a bus: ‘Drivers required for this vehicle.’  Well, thank goodness!  Oh, wait—they’re asking for applications!

-When items are on sale, it is advertised as Sale On Now.  I think that’s funny because it’s completely backwards to On Sale Now.  Isn’t it odd how everything seems like it may be the same, but it’s not?  You figure out the meaning ok, but it takes a while to realize why it just seems a bit odd.

And I did learn that I was wrong about all calendars going Monday to Sunday.  It does seem to be most often but they can be found going Sunday through Saturday.  And I was wrong about food ads on TV.  They’re there, just noticeably less of them.

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