Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Life lately (hip hip hooray!)

April began with my 30th birthday. I  already had my big celebration a few weeks early & my actual birthday was pretty non eventful - my Mums group in the morning (complete with FAIRY BREAD! That made this Aussie mama happy), lunch with friends and dinner with my boys. A good friend of mine was super thoughtful and threw a lovely outdoor party to celebrate this past weekend. Good food, great wine, the best company, 90's music and a to-die-for chocolate mousse birthday cake - it was perfect!

Life lately has been busy, but quiet at the same time. We've been dealing with some pretty all consuming, stressful visa issues (until a week ago, there was a high chance we were going to have to leave the USA this month indefinitely until we could get our legal residency issues sorted out) and although (long story) now we are stuck here unless we go interview in Sydney, all has ended well: we got our approval just in the nick of time. After dealing with that, and sickness, poor sleep, a grumpy grumpy baby.... I am ready for a holiday. Thank goodness it's only 1 MORE SLEEP UNTIL HAWAII!!!

See you on the other side :-)

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Beauty in the ordinary

It's really been on my heart these past months to simply our lifestyle. We live in Silicon Valley; a unique, extremely fast paced and high pressure area. I know we made the right decision for our family moving here three years ago, but this area gets to you after awhile. It's exhausting. Since having Austin, I keep finding myself craving a more laid back, plain way of life. I'm determined to stop glorifying busy and just take a step back and focus on the truly important things in my life. My faith. My boys. My family. My friends.

It's a journey, not an overnight fix that is naturally fraught with obstacles. Life as a stay at home Mum is anything but glamourous. The puddles of toddler vomit I've been mopping up for the past 2 nights can certainly attest to that. But we only get one chance at life, and when my boys are grown, I want them to look back and remember these seemingly ordinary moments with fondness. So, step by step, I can feel myself becoming more relaxed. My head feels less clouded and as I result, I feel like I've been able to enjoy the little things more...

... the beauty in the mundane, ordinary moments of life.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Weekend goodness - le camp

One of the things on our to do list for this year is to get outdoors more often. We live in the most beautiful state but to be honest, after three years I still feel like we haven't taken full advantage of what California has to offer. The last time we went camping was to Texel Island when I was pregnant with Oliver, so a family camping trip has been on the wish list for some time. After searching around and finding a spot available at the beach this past weekend, we made it happen (on that note: last minute camping does not seem to exist here. Spots book up six MONTHS in advance!!!).

Given it was less than an hour from home, we were considering this our trial run before attempting a camping trip a little further away. I guess I'd call it a success. The boys both went down without a peep but we did have some middle of the night antics with (a) a crying baby (b) a half asleep toddler demanding we go to Target NOW at 2.30am to buy a red transformer (c) a then wide awake toddler and baby out of their beds, crawling over their mama, giggling and tickling each other... So yeah, sleep was a little lacking but I guess that's not out of the ordinary when sleeping in a tent with tiny humans!

Bring on summer. I'm ready to get out and about in the great outdoors!

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter (and a flashback)

It was a quiet Easter Sunday - a little family egg hunt in the backyard, church and a few (failed) attempts at Easter photos of the boys. Neither were feeling particularly photogenic, but boy oh boy - did they ever look handsome...

Happy Easter!

... and because holidays always make me nostalgic, here's a little flashback to our first Easter as a family of four :-)

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The expat life: 5 years on

This month marks five years since we packed our lives into two backpacks and made the move back to Europe. It's also been three years since we said our farewells to the Netherlands and moved to California. Five years of expat life. Believe me when I say we NEVER intended on living away from the motherland this long. Five years of living in foreign countries feels like a milestone - I'm undecided whether it's a good one or not, and I've been reflecting a lot lately on the paths that led us here. When Mitch and I got married in 2004, we both thought we'd just settle down, buy a house, get a puppy, have some kids. Little did we know that our life wasn't going to go down this path and we'd instead find ourselves trotting all over the globe, having babies in two different countries and now raising our family in the states.

When the opportunity arose in 2007 for Mitch to do an internship in the south of France, we jumped on it. It was a short stint - living there for only 6 months (but believe me, it had its challenges in even such a short time) but it kicked off my love affair with Europe and our desire to experience day to day life in different cultures.

When Mitch finished his PhD in 2009, he started looking for work. I had been offered a job in Canberra, and he had been offered two year post-doc contracts in both Switzerland and the Netherlands. We prayed hard and took a leap and after not quite two years living back in Australia, we packed up and moved to the Netherlands with nothing but what we could carry: clothes, shoes and my knitting needles (I kid you not. I don't know what I was thinking. They do sell knitting needles in Europe).

Our time in the Netherlands was pretty amazing. We lived in a beautiful old city; the oldest in the country, I got to meet family members and learn more about my heritage, we met wonderful people, Mitch loved his job, we started a family and we spent all our spare time traveling Europe.

But, all good things must come to an end and our life there had an expiration date. We had every intention of moving back to Australia, but as we were starting to price shipping options for our things back to the land down under (it's amazing how much you can acquire in only a couple of years, especially in a country that has the vrijmarkt), a position came up in California at a company Mitch had been wanting to work at for some time. Things started happening, Mitch flew out for an interview and after a whirlwind couple of months, we found ourselves in the bay area and were starting life in a new country all over again.

Now, somehow we've been here for three years. We've lived in our current house for two of those years and it's the longest we've stayed anywhere since our pre-France days in 2007. We've added another sweet boy to our globetrotting clan and traveled the USA. We've made yearly trips back to Australia to visit family & friends but we've also really made a life here for ourselves. The people we've met, our community, our village - well, I've never had such a connected group of friends before. It has it's downsides, but it's also the most amazing support system I could have ever imagined. To be honest, it's our community (and Mitch's job) that have kept us here this long. When we moved here, I thought we'd be back in Australia before we had a second child. Now it's been three years and we're having to attempt to renew visas - don't get me started on that ongoing debacle - and think about the future. I don't know what the future holds. We have our wishes and desires, but I'm slowly learning to just pray and let go. Live in the moment.

Five years on. I know I've certainly learned a lot and grown in that time. As frustrating as it can be to not know what our future holds, I'm excited. Here's to the next five years, I hope they are just as adventure filled and rewarding!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Twelve months {Austin Mitchell}

The day has come for our final monthly update - last Wednesday, our sweet little Californian bear turned ONE!

At 12 months old, Austin Mitchell...

Stats... Austin weighs 19 lbs 6.5 oz (8.8 kg) and is 30.75 inches (78.1 cm) long. He's in 12-18 month (size 1) clothing and size 3 nappies. At his checkup today, the doctor said he's very tall for his age.

Milestones... One of his 12 month molars came through already, so we are at 9 teeth and counting. More are definitely on the way as his little hands are in his mouth constantly and he's been a little fussy. No new words in the last month, but a lot of babbling. He loves to wave and give hi fives. He's a super speedy crawler and is just starting to be able to stand without holding onto anything. He's cruising anything he can grab a hold of but I feel like walking is a little way off yet. He loves to walk when holding both hands (and zooms with his little walker) but just sits down on his bottom if you try to walk with him while just holding one hand. I don't mind if he delays walking til after Hawaii to be honest, as it'll make life a little easier if he's not on the run!

Sleeping... Sleep. Is. Wonderful. After such a rough patch around 6 months old, he's now consistently sleeping 12 hours every night. It's life changing, seriously. He will still take a morning nap if given the opportunity, but skips it on days like MT and church. Afternoon naps usually go from 1.30-3.30/4pm.

Eating... This boy eats almost as much as me some days, he LOVES his food. He's really not fussy and really enjoys mealtimes. His favourite foods would have to be corn on the cob - he practically starts hyperventilating when he sees it, and will gnaw all the corn off an entire corn cob - and blueberries.

We are still breastfeeding, although it's gone from our sweet snuggle time to breastfeeding what feels like a circus animal. Kid is crazy. He won't lay down on me, he sticks his bottom up in the air, he launches himself at me with an open mouth, he bites, he takes a mouthful, dances all over my lap and the couch, comes back for more. I'm DETERMINED to keep going though; he still feels too little to stop... I'm hoping this feeding craziness is just a phase.

Best moment... Ollie has started a new tradition where the first thing he does is go into Austin's room when he wakes up. He gives Austin toys and gets books out and sits there reading to him. It's so lovely to hear them 'talking' to each other, and just enjoying each others company peacefully (because as mothers of boys know, peaceful moments are a rarity).

Worst moment... Ollie went to the toilet: (1) He forgot to flush (2) He left the lid up. Austin immediately took advantage and was happily elbow deep in a dirty toilet.... It was a vomit worthy moment.

Loves... His family. Blowing raspberries. Throwing cheerios around. Chasing balls. His dummy. Bathtime. Crawling around with a sippy cup in his mouth. Pushing cars/trains along. Watching the fish in the big tank at swim lessons.

Dislikes... Being told no. Getting in the car.

Happy 12 months, our sweet baby Austin! It really has been a fast year, and you've been an absolute delight. You truly are a bundle of joy and just light up the room wherever you go. We love seeing your personality shine through more each day and can't wait to see the little toddler you are becoming. Oh, how we love you, our sweet little Aus!

Austin at 1 month2 months3 months4 months5 months6 months7 months8 months9 months, 10 months & 11 months...

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