Big Deals and Little Deals

I am finally taking the time to sit down and put my thoughts on the screen (so much for putting pen to paper!).  Our little core of four has successfully come through a few crazy weeks and things are good here.  Drew’s little ear surgery was on the 11th and could not have gone better.  Again, it was weird, dealing with it all over here.  A few things I found interesting were that they don’t have the pre-surgery prep rooms that I have become used to; instead we were just put in a regular hospital room, as if we were being admitted overnight.  They call it being on ‘the ward’, which makes me feel like I am in a 1900s mental institution.  But it was a room we had to share!  I was mortified by that, especially with private insurance, and it’s actually a private hospital here—it’s all separated.  They kept talking about that darn theater so much, too-SO weird!  Drew was asked what he wanted to eat after his procedure, but they didn’t give us any choices.  The lady kept mentioning sandwiches, but didn’t say what kind, and he’d had to fast and skip breakfast, so my little precious asked for pancakes.  The lady laughed!  We then decided on cereal which she still seemed to find very odd, so finally Steve took over and asked for a PBJ.  She said, “Peanut butter and jam, on the same sandwich?”  Well, yeah!  It came on white bread, too—very health conscious hospital. 

Seriously, though, all of the staff were so nice and helpful and understanding, just like our Colorado experiences and quite a cut above our Alabama experience, other than the shared room.  When they finally brought Drew and me down to a pre-surgery waiting area, a lady said to him, “Have you ever been to theater?”  Poor guy looked so confused.  I had to watch him breathe the gas in and fall asleep, and it was much harder than before.  He jerked quite a bit as he went under and had a freaky rigor mortis-type grip on my hand, so we had to pry it off, which was quite upsetting.  His breathing started to sound scary, but they were all very nice and assured me everything was normal.  I honestly don’t understand why they even let parents back there to see that, as much of a mess as I was.  Maybe the others handle it better…????  They used the word anesthetic too, which I found interesting—made it sound like a topical ointment to me rather than an IV drug.

It hit me as I left Drew in the OR that I have now watched him go under anesthesia three times and he is not yet 5 years old, and that I have never gone under myself once!  With each time he’s become more aware of what is going on, and yet not once has he complained, cried, been scared, refused treatment, etc.  I can learn a lot from the grace with which that little boy handles tough situations.  I am proud to be his mother.  I hope the little one can avoid anesthesia now for a good long while!  Zach was dropped off a daycare quite early in the morning and we had to bring his breakfast there for him to eat, so Steve could be at the hospital.  He also never complained, never fussed, and just accepted what he needed to do to support the situation.  I know I’m biased, but these are pretty amazing little boys!  😉

Apparently, the worry beforehand and the ordeal itself stressed me out more than I realized because my body went through some issues the rest of that week.  I seem to get hit with intestinal distress and some sleep issues and headaches when I am dealing with stress.  But it was nothing major.   And we learned at the follow-up appointment this week that his hearing is now at the high end of normal, rather than moderately impaired, so we are thrilled!  The doctor wants to see us every six months until the tubes fall out, which I am impressed with.  We never saw his Colorado surgeon again after the follow-up.

After this was over, we continued to prepare for our move, and of course, our little man turning three.  We are actually having a little party for him on March 9th.  Steve said to me—why don’t you have it the weekend before we move?  Or the one after?  Haha!  Dads are too funny.  Even with a delayed party, we still had to make a fuss of him on the actual day, right?  We had to go and sign our lease that evening and actually moved our first car load into the house.  We then returned for French toast and cupcakes for dinner.  3 is such a fun age, and it has been wonderful to witness how proud Zach has been of turning 3 and having his birthday.  He has typically been much quieter and shy (although that seems to be changing) than his gregarious older brother, and it was just precious to see people make a fuss over him and hear him tell people about his birthday and age with his shy little smile.  Funny with him being the quiet one:  he is big man on campus somehow at Drew’s school.  He runs around like he owns the place and Drew’s classmates and their older siblings pass him and yell, “Hi Zach!”  He looks at them, then looks at me and a proud, cheeky grin spreads across his face—it’s hilarious, to me anyway.  😉

So, we started moving in on the 19th, on Zach’s birthday, and continued bringing car loads over every chance we got all that week.  Saturday the 23rd was our big moving day!  I was so touched by the amount of helpers we had.  When we went to order pizza for everyone after finishing unloading at our new place, I counted 9 adults beyond our family.  Incredible!  I am well aware that when a man spends the morning helping us move, his whole family also helped.  It does not escape me that each of their wives had to miss them again on a Saturday morning after dealing with the kids all week, and that the kids lost a bit of time with their fathers that weekend.  So, yes, we are very grateful and moved, literally and figuratively, by all the help we had.  One friend even sent her husband over with dinner for us that night, and another family sent the husband to help on Saturday and then watched our kids for us for SEVEN hours on Sunday so Steve and I could clean our old place.  We are truly blessed to know such wonderful people. 

We are truly thankful as well to be out of that dump and in a normal house.  We were lucky to get that house at this time last year—no one would rent to us former homeowners because they couldn’t care less what we did overseas; we didn’t have anything to show for it here.  But this is a normal house.  I cannot emphasize enough how great it is to wake up in the morning and not have to clean gecko poop off the kitchen table, or be startled when I open the bathroom door and one scurries across the wall.  I even had one in the shower with me in our final weeks there!  It was a baby, and I told Steve he should be proud of me for not screaming, but then I felt mortified because I am pretty sure I killed it.  It jumped onto my leg and I instinctively kicked, and I am pretty darn sure it went down the drain.  L  Ooops!  I wonder if gecko mommies keep track of their babies…???  It is also wonderful not to have our food carried off by flies at every meal.  These are just a few of the wonders of window screens—-aaahh! 

We are still having a few issues with the previous rental—we broke a window when cleaning and they are trying to make us pay for it.  I am impressed by the rental system over here in one aspect at least.  I have learned that our security deposit (it’s known as ‘bond’ here) is held by the Rental Tenancy Association (or something like that, RTA anyway), not the actual property management company, and that the company and owners of the house have to submit an official form detailing the amount of the bond they want to withhold from us and why.  I am glad there are at least checks and balances in place, so we can’t get screwed over by one landlord’s whim, as I have in the past.  They told us the window is a tough issue because it’s our word against theirs—we say it happened because it’s a poorly maintained house with old, crappy windows, and they say we handled the window carelessly.  We can at least dispute it and know that someone objective is making the decision.  I like that.

I have a few random interesting stories to throw in today:

-Zach and I attended Parade at Drew’s school a couple weeks ago.  All the kids sang the Australian anthem, which made me teary:  one because it was precious to hear all the kids in the school singing their country’s song together, and two because I realized that my kids will likely never recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school or sing the U.S. anthem in a group.  I know I could offend Australians with this thought, so I will never verbalize it out loud, but I am not impressed by the anthem.  I have always found ours so moving, really hitting home how we had such a fight for the freedom and the lifestyle we now cherish.  And knowing that the guy who wrote it really was watching rockets explode around his beloved flag and how he realized all that that flag stood for is an incredible story to me.  But I don’t feel (yet, maybe that will change as I learn the words better and spend more time here) that this anthem really says much.  It talks about them being proud to be young and free, which I think is ignoring the contributions of elders and forefathers to the country and also odd because the country won’t always be young in years, so will people write a new anthem then?  It’s very short and it mainly describes how it’s pretty and an island, more like America, the Beautiful I guess.  Ah, well.  It does sound pretty when people sing it, and it should be easy to learn!

-I have been a bit irritated here by people that seem to seek me out to tell me about other Americans they encountered that were idiots.  Why would you tell me that?!  That’s just plain stupid.  Tell your fellow countrymen that, make fun of us all you want behind closed doors, but don’t come and find me to tell me how annoying you found some Americans.  What do you hope to accomplish?  Do you think I might agree with you?!  Do you want me to tell you about all the Australians I encounter that are idiots?!  Because I don’t—I try to be respectful in your presence and save those stories for when I am with other Americans or other foreigners in general, that can identify.  This, incidentally, is much harder for me to do, because, in case you haven’t noticed, there are fewer foreigners around than there are Australians.  So you are putting much more effort into seeking ME out to make fun of my country, than I would have to put out to make fun of yours.  Argh!  There, that’s off my chest now…..

-I have made great strides in cooking lately, the way I cooked in the past—fun!  I now have a steady supplier of green chilies (thanks, Mom!), and a friend told me that Asian stores sell dried black beans.  I have found fresh jalapenos on occasion in grocery stores, and once I learned coriander is cilantro, I started using that regularly.  Just today I saw that there is specific Mexican chili powder in the grocery store, which I hope will taste much more similar to the one I regularly used than the one I have been using since we got here.  So, I still can’t cook rellenos or my special fresh green enchilada sauce, but things are really coming along! 

-One final thought related to food.  While I have complained a lot about the diet over here and the lack of healthy options, in some ways food is healthier over here, and by focusing on it, my family now eats even healthier than we did.  Apparently, white chicken eggs are not natural, and they are not found here, so we always have brown.  Also, cheese over here is never dyed orange (sorry, Americans, that’s not natural either—ever seen orange milk?!).  Because of the expense of food, I now grate my own cheese, cook dried beans instead of using canned (as mentioned with the black beans anyway), chop my own carrots (they don’t sell baby ones here and the larger ones really do taste better), and because we buy all our produce from a produce-specific shop (you don’t have to—the grocery stores sell it all, but that’s a fairly new idea here and Steve has always bought from a produce shop, so we do now, and I like the idea because I believe it’s fresher and more local), I tend to buy a lot more of it!  We buy our meat from the butcher, too, and while, I find much less here in the way of meat and produce that’s labeled organic, I have heard than when it comes from these types of shops, it is still better for us and the planet.  The butcher shop actually specifies what the animals are fed, etc., so that makes me feel better since I can’t buy organic. 

-Funny story on that—poor Steve catches a lot of flak from coworkers and students for the way we eat.  It is SO weird to eat vegetarian a few nights a week!  The other day, they were all talking about what they’d had for dinner the night before and the poor guy had to tell everyone he ate quinoa and black bean stuffed peppers.  One of the kids said, “Why do you eat like that?”  His coworker jumped in and said, “Because his wife is really health conscious and while she’s not a vegetarian, she tries to eat vegetarian quite a bit of the time.”  When he got home and told me, I was touched and said that’s the nicest way I’ve ever heard someone here describe it!  So much better than, as I’m eating a piece of chicken, saying to me, “So, you’re a vegetarian?!  What do you eat?!”  So, all good things!  I’ll end with that.  I’m hoping for calmer seas ahead and some time to book some flights!

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