It has been a good couple of weeks for us. I so appreciate the support of friends and family who reached out after my last entry and apologize for causing any worry or concern. I believe life goes in waves; there are always low points and high points and most points are somewhere in between. I am trying to learn to embrace them all and this is my medium for expressing my thoughts related to our life in Australia. I waver between expressing my private thoughts here, as a true diary, or acknowledging that people read this and trying to write for an audience. While I do censor some of my thoughts, feelings and viewpoints because of said audience, I feel that the purpose for me is really to have a record of how our initial years here went for me (and I hope something the boys may be interested in reading someday….), so I do try to be as honest as possible and not write to any sort of audience. That said, again, I so appreciate when people reach out or make comments expressing concern and/or happiness or even annoyance with what I write. It makes for great dialogue and development of relationships.
I am not unhappy being in Australia. I do not wish I was back in Colorado, that we’d never left. There are things I adore and people I love in both places and I relish my time with all of them. I am proud to be a part of each country and honored to be considered a friend by anyone who does consider me one, regardless of location. So, for anyone who reads this, please don’t interpret my thoughts and views to be that I don’t like it here and everyone and everything was better before. I had struggles before, too, as well as highs and mostly normal, blessed days, just like I do here. Of course it’s hard—it’s a huge change, but I don’t regret it and I’m not unhappy about it. Of course I’m homesick—I came from a wonderful place to live and am blessed to have close family and friends there that I miss daily. But if I left here, I’d be ‘homesick’ for a lot of what I’ve grown accustomed to here and friends I’ve made. It’s just me expressing my feelings and recording my experiences moving to the other side of the world, with my family, to a new culture. Remember, I’d never moved anywhere before! Ever!
Anyway, the same day that I vented about a frustrating couple of weeks, particularly socially, we ended up with our new neighbors on both sides over here for drinks that afternoon, completely spontaneously. It was wonderful! I really do believe someone, a higher power, whatever people want to call it, is looking out for me in this life, because I never stay down for long. Something always comes along; just when I need it……I find it truly incredible.
I also really did end my pity party with the verbal expression of my frustrations to the screen and the next day, went back to work at trying to get more social interaction. I do get frustrated with the work sometimes of continually calling, texting, asking for plans….but, honestly, nothing good ever comes without hard work, so I did get right back to it, and ended up with a play date that week, afternoon tea with a dear friend that weekend, and a dinner out with another treasured new friend this weekend.
In addition, Steve and I had a great date night last weekend (I think part of my frustration was that I was REALLY ready for a break from my kids. I am used to regular ones and my work life has previously been much more social than it is currently, so I was starting to get very frayed in that regard—God bless my little munchkins, but they can be annoying!). We went out to dinner and to my first rugby game—to watch the Queensland Reds play a South African team.
Now I imagine that most Americans would be similar to me in the belief that rugby is a super rough, almost savage game, so I was ready for a pretty raucous environment. Well, guess what? It’s a ‘gentlemen’s game.’ Seriously! The stadium is slightly bigger than the Colorado Buffaloes stadium, but was about half full of very calm, dressed up, well behaved fans. I was shocked! It was unbelievable! No fights, no swearing, no drunk people spilling on each other. Unlike any professional sporting event I’d ever been to! Seriously, we Americans are just heathens! We don’t drink tea; we don’t say ‘whilst’, and we go gonzo at sporting events! That whole laid back Aussie perception we have is almost a complete misnomer—these people are proper, in almost every way I’ve seen them. I guess they’re laid back in terms of using slang in the media and the workplace…that’s about all I’ve got so far.
But AFTER the game, they all packed into a bar (same one for every game apparently, for every sport played in that stadium, of which there are quite a few—another difference to American stadiums), and THEN they got pissed and rowdy! 😉
A couple other big differences I noticed were that they did not sing their national anthem before the game started and there was no announcer, which unfortunately left me lost during much of the game. I need someone regularly announcing what’s happening. All in all it was super fun.
Also, last weekend I did my Mother’s Day race. I got to carpool in with my super-fit, fast friend and her cousin, hung out with them until they blitzed me a couple minutes in to the race and then afterwards met up with my dear Colorado/Australian friend’s little sister. I felt like I was with family being with her, even though I don’t know her that well. It was lots of fun. The boys missed it, but met me afterwards to play and go out for a café-breakfast and it was lots of fun. To cap off the fun, I ran in my best time, faster than I ever thought I could go! 8k in 44 minutes, 48 seconds—huge deal for this slow, lumbering lady! That rush is such a high that of course I did commit to and am registered for that 14k race I mentioned that will be next month. Wish me luck! I’ve never run a race over 10k—running a 10k was my goal to accomplish last year and I successfully ran two of them.
I find that setting and attaining goals really helps me. I think that has helped me a lot through the whole loss of identity that surprised me by accompanying this move.
Additionally these past couple weeks, I have continued to research and I did find out more encouraging, reasonable information on the yoga classes and hope to register for one that starts in September. We also found out that our car insurance premiums will NOT increase, once we pay for the repairs, which is not what we’d originally heard. And, Steve and I both got small pay raises at work—not bad for blessings within a span of two weeks! We have heard that the school Steve teaches at is in danger of closing. Because he is still a contracted teacher, this means he would lose his job, which was disheartening considering a lot of the reason we made this move when we did was for more job security. He has been told he should be safe and keep a job within the system no matter what happens, but we just have to hope and wait and see.
The best news of all is that we found out last Friday that Steve does NOT have celiac disease! We are just so grateful that he can lead a healthier lifestyle now, able to eat a well-balanced diet, free from the worry of a chronic disease. We are so relieved and thrilled that I am trying very hard not to be angry that he was led to believe for nearly 20 years that he did have it. Sigh…
Now to some kid stories: Drew’s class hosted a Mother’s Day pampering session last Friday. (Oh, that worked out better too—when our neighbors came over that afternoon, they offered to watch Zach while I went to the school, along with that Mum and the Dad was able to stay home until we got back—perfect! Zach got to play with his little friend and loved it. Then they asked me to take their daughter to school once this past week. It was wonderful to be able to reciprocate. Before this move, I used to feel like we asked everyone we knew to watch our kids, but no one ever let us return the favor. It used to worry me that people thought we were bad parents! It makes me feel like I’m part of a community when we help each other out with our kids—that whole “It takes a village” mentality is so true in my belief)
I have to say that the morning was too adorable for words. The teachers really went all out; this was so much work for them. They’d prepared for it and made gifts for us that doubled as decorations for weeks. It really was too much, although it was so fun. One room was made into a café and they taught the kids how to serve us first and then get their own. The kids made cupcakes for us and served us tea and coffee (Funny side note—Drew had been trying to keep it all a secret in the weeks leading up, but the day before his excitement got the best of him. He told me there’d be wine for us and he was so happy because he knows how much I like wine—his words! Ooops! 😉 Since I’d just had a preschool information night for Zach a few days before where they had actually served wine, I believed him and was shocked! Thankfully, at 9:00 a.m., this was pretend wine—haha).
They turned the other room into a ‘spa’ and had the kids give us the full treatment. Drew had me sit in a chair and take my shoes off and he covered his hands in gloopy pink lotion and smeared it all over my feet. He was very serious, looking around and muttering to himself, and when I leaned down to ask if he was ok, I discovered he was repeating foot massage instructions to himself! Bless his heart! They’d actually taught the kids how to give foot and hand massages and paint our nails! He didn’t rub the copious amount of lotion in at all and told me to put my shoes on and move on. We went to a station with unplugged hair appliances and he asked me what a curling iron was and then started stabbing it into my hair before covering my head in spray glitter and asking me to do the same for his. At the next station, he dug a q-tip into some eye shadow as roughly as he could, told me to close my eyes and then smeared that all over the lids. At the final station, he took great pride in his newly learned abilities to paint my fingernails in rainbow colors and even add a dot to the center of one in a different color. He was so precious and proud and happy and I enjoyed that time with him immensely.
Separately, they had a little Mother’s Day shop and we were supposed to send the kids to school one day with money to buy us gifts. The gift he gave me was packaged up so he didn’t even know what it was. It turned out to be an apron that says Yummy Mummy on it! Too, too funny. I do hope as he gets older in school, he’ll start to write the cards they send home for us as Mommy, not Mummy, but of course he’s too young to know that now. I do wish that the teachers would ask kids what they call their mothers and address things accordingly, because I know that there are other cultures in his class that do not use Mum either. But that is something that is just not done in this area—it’s the Australian way and that’s all there is to it. Plus, I imagine it’s more work for the teachers to try and individualize the cards for each kid.
I’ll end with a switch in gears to relate a couple of the experiences I endure living in a house surrounded by gross boys:
-The other night after dinner, Drew was walking around with his pants pulled down just below his butt. I asked why and he said, “When my penis is on, having my pants pulled up annoys me. But it’s off now, so I’ll pull them back up.” OMG!!
-After coming into the kitchen for breakfast after his usual morning pee, Zach announced, “My toots keep stopping my pee from coming out.”
I learn more and more every day…..