Happy Ozziversary!

Well, almost. It’s just a few weeks until we reach our one year mark of being here and I know – most of that has gone un-blogged. It hasn’t been for a lack of desire or much less for a lack of things going on. Heaven knows that’s not true. I think it all started with a thoughtless and rather defensive remark tossed my way at church in response to an earlier post. In that moment it felt like my forum for processing and sharing all of the change and growing pains of moving a young family to the polar opposite side of the planet got blown wide open for criticism instead of simply being able to share what is in my head. I’m also kind of hyper-sensitive to negativity as it relates to my personal thoughts/feelings shared in writing (this all goes back to when the student teacher in Mrs. Burns 6th grade class laughed in my face about my personal essay titled “The Ten Minutes of Time.”) – so this incident at church really struck a nerve. Granted, it was a very emotional/non-logical nerve, but still. If you ever had a rock tumbler as a kid, you have some concept of my last year. The process of refinement and growth is deeply personal and deeply painful. It can be lonely, exhilarating and bizarre before you’ve even hit lunchtime. This year has been a growing and refining experience for me. That’s not to say that it’s been all rough seas and grit but there has been enough processing that I haven’t really felt like laying bare to all the Internet.

However, in going back and re-reading earlier posts, I realised a few things. 1) I want to journal this experience. I am amazed at how quickly memories fade and are forgotten and unless I keep a record in a place where it’s pretty safe, it could all be gone except for a few pictures. An example of this is how our garage flooded shortly after moving back to Houston from Beaumont. My mission journal was in one of the boxes that was drenched and unsalvageable. So, yeah. The Internet is good for that. 2) I should not give away my power because of other’s thoughtlessness. This is MY blog and MY process and that’s about it. Appeasing the masses is above my pay grade. 3) I think what I’ve been lacking is intent and who my audience really is. Now that I feel like I’ve figured that out, I’m pretty excited to reclaim my forum.

I’m back!![

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This is how we roll.

So sorry for the long break in posts. We’ve been without internet on the laptop for a while. It’s worked for just about everything else wireless but not the computer. But, thanks to some tech support, we’re back up and running. Lately we’ve just been trying to keep our days busy but it’s kind of a no win situation. If we go out and do things, Emelia doesn’t get a nap and is super sad by evening. If we stay in, the boys are ready to stage a mutiny. Fortunately, we have a car now and there are a lot of options that are fairly close by.

This is my car in the underground parking garage of our apartment. We’re getting the windows tinted this week so that it doesn’t turn into a greenhouse on wheels this summer. (It’s a 2010 Holden Captiva.)

There’s the city:

Perth architecture is such an interesting mix of old and new. This is just a bus stop or two down from the apartments where we were staying. (Thankfully!) we’re not there anymore and have moved into a house up in a suburb called Kingsley. It’s a lot more our speed up here and while I did love the vibe of living in the heart of the city, it was more trouble than it was worth with kids. I love the house we were able to get and in a lot of ways, it meets a whole wishlist of items I’ve hoped for over the years. Beadboard? Check! Large patio? Check! Convenient to school? Double check! I think at this point we’re just ready for our stuff to get here so that it can start to feel like home – but that’s a good two months away. Boo. So, when we don’t go in to the city, there’s always…

The beach!

This is city beach. It’s gorgeous. I’m not sure what else to say about it. There’s also the boat harbor and rock beaches up further north.

(Adventure is out there!)

When all else fails, we stay home and bake stuff. This time it was pumpkin chocolate chip cookies which turned out great!

And that’s pretty much what we’ve been up to lately!

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Hitch and pause

Ah, health. It only took about a full week for everyone to be back on top of their game but we made it. The carpet, I’m afraid, didn’t fare so well. I don’t think that whoever was responsible for making our reservation here had a fluish ten month old in mind, but unfortunately – that’s what we got. Now that we’re back on our feet, I’ve been trying to plan at least one excursion per day – mostly because leaving the apartment and walking the city with my entourage is hard. I’m pretty sure that every trip out by myself with the kids takes one year off my life. If I didn’t plan to make these things happen, they wouldn’t. I’m finding that it’s hard to educate our kids on scenarios until we’re actually in them – which highlights a) their complete lack of street smarts, bordering on what I like to think of as “common sense,” b) their breathtakingly poor manners at times or “impulse control,” and c) how silly my facial expressions are when I’m trying to keep my cool. I like to think that people around us smile inwardly as they watch my flailings and think, “Ah – I remember when that was me. Bless that mom. She’s trying.” I like to think that. Often, their looks move more into, “What’s wrong with your kid?” or better yet, “The pack of wolves your kids were raised by called and they want their hairless cubs back.” But, what do you do?

No seriously, what do you do? If it works, I want to know.

Fortunately, they’re learning to not go all “singin’ in the rain” on every. single. vertically inclined object in their path (sometimes people, even.) They’re learning not to shove their way on to elevators (or lifts, as they’re called here) and trains, and they’re learning ever so slowly to not speak at full volume no matter what situation they’re in. (Maybe it’s just that I like to think so.)

Logan ate a whole salad the other day, even! That by itself is proof that times are changing.

Speaking of trains, we took the train to Ikea the other day for practice so that we wouldn’t be totally clueless for the trip to church. I’m glad we practiced. It turned out to be a fun full-day trip that felt just a little like home. (We went and wandered around Ikea a lot in Houston too.)

(Yes that’s Dallin licking the stroller. *sigh*) We had the boys run the stairs for a while before getting on the train to get some energy out. I’m not sure that they were really that tired, but at least it gave them something to do besides pretending to fall onto the tracks below. *Again, sigh.*

I hope I’m not sounding too cynical in all of this. I’m not. My kids are just very exuberant types and I think that sometimes, amid the trying to figure out where we are and where we’re going, what things are and what they cost – exuberance can complicate things. However, we go out at least one time each day. It’s good to go out and it’s nice to come home. Especially when the view looks like this:

I’ll miss the view but I am looking forward to getting in to our house. We were able to sign a lease on a place up in Kingsley – a suburb about 20 minutes north of Perth. We’ll be living just behind the school that the kids will go to and about a 15 minute walk from the train station for Tom. I think it’ll be an ideal setup – especially since there are so many church friends in the area for the kids. We’ll move in on July 7th so I’ll post pictures after that – although there really won’t be much to look at for a while. We need to figure out (rent/buy/borrow) a fridge, a washer/dryer, a car, furniture, kitchen stuff, etc., etc, all in the space of about the next week. Fortunately, I will be able to take the driving safety class tomorrow which means that we’ll be able to rent a car. This is a HUGE relief because moving without a car, buying a car without a car, and purchasing major appliances without a car are all surprisingly difficult. One thing at a time, though. First a car, then a GPS. The last thing I need is to be trying to drive on the other side of the road while attempting to read a map. I’m definitely looking forward to being among the driving types again.

Church on Sunday was a lot of fun and felt like attending someone’s family reunion – but in a good way. I’m looking forward to getting integrated, settled, and being contributing members of society. Everyone has been so incredibly helpful and nice but I really value my self-sufficiency.

I went and registered the boys for school today. It was another big, long trip – bus, train, walk 20 minutes and then do it in reverse to get back – but it was something to do that felt productive. I’m excited for their school experience although I’m a little apprehensive about how the settling in will go. Dallin’s never been to school full-time and he’s being thrown into kindergarten (they call it pre-primary here) mid year. However, he’s right on track and a little ahead of the curve as far as what they’re learning right now goes. We’ll see. We got to meet both boys’ teachers and see their classrooms. It’s a very small school – especially by American standards. There are, at most, two classes in each grade. I’ll save all the details for another post but it seems like a small, friendly place where everyone knows everyone and the kids feel safe. It’ll be great.

Above all else, I’m so thankful to have this experience right now. I think about my mission and my time in Denmark a lot. I’m not sure how I’d be coping with everything if I didn’t have that experience to draw from. Today as we walked from the train station to the school dragging my children along, I thought a lot about walking through foreign looking neighborhoods, sometimes dragging a reluctant companion and just felt happy. My mission is one of the things I am most proud of accomplishing and it’s always been something that I have wished that I could share with my family. It’s always felt like there was a piece inside of me that they couldn’t fully know because they weren’t there when it happened. (Go figure and I’m sure everyone has experiences like this.) I’m just thankful to be here together – reinventing ourselves and having an experience that will always be ours, even if bus etiquette was a little rocky at the start.

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One for the record books.

Whatever bug we managed to pick up is a nasty one. One that shall hereafter be known as the Aussie-doozy because well, it’s a doozy. I don’t recall the last time I was so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed – and it’s slowly chewing its way through the family. Emelia and I came down with it first, then Dallin. Now it’s a toss up to see who will get it next. I really hope Tom and Logan are able to avoid it though. Anyway, here’s what I’m thankful for today.

  • Tom and I were not totally incapacitated by illness at the same time.
  • We have a very nice view and it helps us to not feel like shut in’s when we haven’t left the apartment for three days.
  • We have a dryer. Yes, it takes two hours to dry anything, but at least it’s warm and dry at the end of those two hours. Many people here have clotheslines. (Side note: the last few days have taught me that I need a dryer.)
  • We have more than one bathroom.
  • We seem to have found a place to live! It’s way under budget so we’ll be able to do things like replace the furniture we sold. Yay!
  • I’m thankful for kind strangers who are willing to take us in and treat us like old friends. I cannot overstate how overwhelmed with gratitude I am for this. Like, thinking about it makes me get teary. Moving on!
  • Every meal brings new surprises since I haven’t made it on a real grocery trip yet. It’s like Chopped, three times per day. Yesterday I made sauce to go over rice with boullion, milk and garlic bread chopped up really fine to try and give it some flavor. I still haven’t figured out what to do with the Vegemite but now really isn’t the time to try to educate our palettes. I’m also trying to figure out how to cook with kangaroo.
  • I’m thankful for a beautiful place to live. I guess I’d forgotten what it’s like to be somewhere the air is so incredibly clear! I asked someone today if it was normal or if it was because of the recent rain. She looked at me like I was strange. Clearly she’s never been to Houston.
  • I’m thankful to be getting to a place where I can start to do a better job of taking care of myself. Everyone here is so fit looking due, I think, to the outdoor lifestyle. It makes me feel all soggy around the edges and realize how addicted to our cars and air conditioning we are. It’s motivational.
  • Finally, I’m thankful for my sweet family. These last few days have been so. challenging. This morning, (5 am.) Logan climbed in bed with me and we were talking as Tom slept. We discussed the move and he expressed how much he misses our family back in the States and how he’s worried that we won’t go home for a long time. He stopped and thought for a minute and said, “But I guess when things are hard, it means you’re growing. Right Mom?” Too right, buddy. Too right.
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This thing was never going to go quietly.

I can’t tell you how many times we said that to each other over the course of the week that it’s taken to get here – and by here I mean to a place where we’re somewhat settled. Somewhat.

It all started Sunday night when I was up until 4:30 a.m. (again) trying to get everything sorted into piles of staying in storage and going international. It didn’t seem like too big of a deal until I considered that it meant that I needed to actively touch, think about, and do something with every. single. thing. in my entire house. I find in instances like that, when the job is just overwhelming, I have to pick a wall, start there, and move in a line. So, that’s what I did for the whole upstairs – tracing bedrooms and closets until I had gone through everything. There were several times that it felt like the handcart was pushing me, if you know what I mean, but I knew that it all had to happen before the moving company got to our house in the morning. We had been told that they’d arrive, “Sometime between eight and ten,” which with previous moves would mean around eleven thirty. I could feel my shoulder angels arguing about whether or not to call the game and finish the next morning. However, I knew that on the off chance that the movers were on time, I had to finish. (They don’t sort anything – they just pack. If something went internationally that was supposed to go to storage due to customs regulations, etc., it could delay our shipment further. Without any delays, our projected date for things to get here is September 14th. I would really like to avoid delaying that further.)

8 a.m., bright and early the packers arrive and get underway. (Whew!) I learned a while ago that me and 5 hour energy drinks don’t get along so I’m left to adrenaline and many many thoughts of, “Holy crow. We’re doing this,” to get through the day. The packers work all day and finish up somewhere around 7 p.m. If everything hadn’t been done, we wouldn’t have finished that day – and that would have been trouble. We were getting on the plane Tuesday and there was no time for overlap. Whew.

Tuesday morning I high tail it back down to the house from the hotel to meet up with the lady that was hired to do the final move out clean. She assures me that she’ll be done in an hour and a half. I rub my face, knowing there’s no chance on this planet that she will be – and that clearly she doesn’t either and therefore has no realistic time estimate. We’re on a bit of a time crunch. Five hours later, I head back toward the hotel. Time’s getting crunchy and we’ve got two taxis coming to pick up our twenty-five pieces of luggage at three. (I’m suddenly realizing that if I give a literal play-by-play of all of this, this post is going to take a week to write – and no one will ever read it.) Ok, so to sum up the Houston leg of this, epic rainstorms, hail and a flooded terminal, lost visa due to misspelled name and no boarding pass, dragging ten carry-on’s through the airport and finally making it to the gate just as they start general boarding and just as we realized that all but one diaper got packed into our checked baggage. But, we made it. This, friends, is why you should shoot to be at the airport two hours in advance when travelling internationally.

Sixteen hours later, we touched down in Dubai – which is an astoundingly huge airport. We had been hoping to have time to get out and see some things but after our experience in Houston, there was no way we were going to tempt fate again. We found some ramps to run the kids back and forth over and that was about it.

Finally(!), we got on the plane to Perth – a mere ten hour flight. The last four seemed impossibly long but on the whole, the kids did really well. We were greeted by two people from Bechtel’s Destination Services and a wonderful girl from the ward here who came all the way down to drive us to our apartment and even brought dinner with her. I was literally in tears with gratitude later as I ate my potatoes, although the sheer exhaustion probably added to that. People have been so kind and I have to say, Aussies really give Texans a run for their money when it comes to friendliness and emotional generosity.

I can’t wait for things to feel settled, normal or comfortable – although I think it’s going to take a while to get there. I’m so thankful for my experience on my mission which at least gives me hope that things will get easier. Right now, just leaving the apartment seems overwhelming with bus/train schedules to learn, city maps to read, currency to exchange and generally not knowing where/what anything is. (Although it is a pretty darn nice apartment.)

Right now, I am trying to worry less about that and more about getting better. Emelia and I have both come down with some sort of flu – likely from spending twenty-six hours in a  giant petri dish otherwise known as a plane. I’m just grateful it didn’t start while we were travelling. THAT would’ve been bad. See? There’s always a silver lining.

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Change is in the air.

Well, another phase of life – another blog. Honestly, I’ve felt like I needed to hit the reset button and start fresh without having to explain too much of where I’ve been for the last year and a half. It’s no secret that I’ve been a sporadic blogger – at best. It’s something I’ve wanted to be consistent with but I think the biggest problem has been that I didn’t know who or what I was writing for. Was I writing for family that is far away? If so, I should include certain types of things and information that would be different than what I would be writing if my blog was for myself and my children, etc. That and I think the pressure I put on myself to make it profound or good or just… something, was paralyzing. Granted, it helps that moving my family across the planet gives me some serious subject material to work with but with this blog, I want to explore the theme of “Bloom Where You’re Planted” and expand on that. I firmly believe that wherever we are, in whatever phase – there are things to love and things not to love but how we experience those times and the way we will remember them is founded in the attitudes we embrace. Right now I’m so bogged down in packing lists and customs guidelines that it’s hard to ‘love the moment,’ per se. However, every now and then, Tom and I will look at each other and just shake our heads. “Holy cow, babe. We’re moving to Australia. In a week.” After all the scary and the new, the overwhelmed and the unreal, is something to love. So, this blog. This is me recording my thoughts and experiences and inviting you to join me in some small way.

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The Countdown Begins!

This is my spot for sharing our experiences as we make the most of living in Australia.

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