Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Month 1

We're already more then one month into life in the USA - how?!?! It might be an English speaking country but it's still foreign to me - my random thoughts thus far...

The good
- Firstly - people here are SO friendly!!! Maybe it's the area, I don't know but I'm not complaining. I've randomly met some really lovely ladies over the past few weeks - it seems there are a lot of fellow stay at home Mums here. Oliver is loving having some playdates!

- BEN AND JERRY'S!!! So, so bad but so, so good at the same time. We have a massive freezer too - I could fit wayyyyyy too much B&J in there...

- Baking... You know when an American recipe calls for a 'stick' of butter... Well, when you buy a pack of butter, it really does come with 4 individually wrapped sticks! It's even marked out into tablespoon & cup measurements so you don't have to muck around with digging a spoon into hard butter or trying to guess how much 1/3 cup is. Love the lazy factor :-)

- SUNSHINE!!! Blue skies nearly every day & warmth (30+ last weekend!) makes for a very happy Lu.

The bad
- Panadol doesn't exist in the USA. Not just the brand name panadol, but paracetamol in general. I spent a good 15 mins trawling the drug aisle of the supermarket (it's massive - there are like 5 different types of over the counter medication for just about every ailment you can think of) only to have to go speak to the pharmacist (yes, there is also a pharmacy section in the supermarket - weird, huh) who couldn't understand what I was asking for. I asked for paracetamol in a variety of accents incase I was saying it wrong AND the brand Panadol and she had no clue. Finally another pharmacist appeared and told me that paracetamol isn't sold in the USA. They have Tylenol (acetiminophen) which I think is the exact same thing anyway.

- We both have to take our driving tests again :-( Not just the practical, but the theory too. We can drive here on our foreign licenses as long as we wish but without a CA licence, our insurance costs skyrocket.  

- Speaking of driving... There are NO roundabouts in our area!!! I am thinking it's a Californian thing. Instead of roundabouts, they have these 4 way stop signs at intersections. Whoever gets there first has right of way - not sure what happens though if 4 people all pull up at the exact same time...

- Everywhere seems to smell like food - there are cafes, restaurants and fast food everywhere you look. This makes me hungry all the time :-(

The hmmmmm moments
- I thought I was experiencing our first minor quake when living in the temporary accommodation. I didn't jump under the table thankfully because it turns out it was just the incredibly noisy insinkerator upstairs rumbling the apartment...

- People do detect my accent but I keep getting mistaken for being European of all things!!! The car salesman thought I was Icelandic (HUH?!?!) and the fridge guy - before we had even said anything about where we came from etc - was like, oh, europeans! We haven't had anyone from Europe in here for awhile. You speak very good English!

- When I was a kid, Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, smashed into a million pieces and couldn't be put back together again. End of story. Nowadays, Humpty falls off the wall, gets a 'minor boo boo' which is then 'fixed by Mommy' with a band aid. Yes - a band aid was stuck on Humpty's boo boo during the nursery rhyme/storytime session we've been attending. I almost laughed out loud (but realised I shouldn't when everyone else was clapping happily) - since when have nursery rhymes become politically correct???

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Language learning

Fahrenheit. Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Gallons. Ounces. Miles. Yards. Inches... Ugh.

My poor brain is a little overwhelmed - I'm learning an entirely new language here. When we found out we were moving to the USA, my immediate thought was along the lines of YAY ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY!!!! As I've discovered though, I haven't actually escaped having to learn a new 'language' - and I'm getting the mathematical side of my brain functioning again. I'm also learning lots of new words in general.  It's not bathroom, it's restroom. It's not nappy, it's diaper. Cot? No, it's a crib. And I could go on... 

The accent is also starting to rub off a little. Just a little - mostly in my head, I'm thinking with an accent already. I've also discovered that the Siri thingo on my phone won't work unless it's spoken to with a fake American accent so am getting in some practice much to my own amusement - and Mitch has also shamefully admitted he's now saying certain words in a more American manner at work. He can pull it off though - he can get Siri to work, I'm still getting the I don't understand you response. Modern technology hey - and boy, do we live in tech land right here!

I'm loving it though - the Californian life seems to be agreeing with us quite well so far. Mind you, I am saying G'day as much as possible to counteract any possible long term effects. When the novelty of this wears off, I might put on my best occa Aussie accent and resort to randomly mentioning some shrimps and barbies. I won't mention a thong though - seems it has quite a different meaning over here!!!

Ahhh... The joys of learning a new language huh :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Little trooper

I need to take a moment to say it - I am so proud of our little man :-) Over the past month, we have not only taken him away from his home and everything familiar to him, but we have also spent almost every single day since arriving out and about. Hopping in and out of the car and pram all day long is exhausting for a baby, but our little guy is such a trooper and has just taken it all in his stride. He has handled this change like a champ - he's always been a pretty flexible baby but I have to say, this move has gone so much smoother then I was expecting. It's not to say it's been smiles all the time (although he does get a lot of attention everywhere we go!) and as we've discovered, it takes longer to get things done with Oliver wanting all our attention, but he's just such a relaxed and easy going little guy. His sunny little personality is shining through more brightly each day - Mumma and Dadda are so proud of you Oliver John :-) You truly are our little globetrotter!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The city!!!

Finally - SAN FRANCISCO!!! This has been a long time coming - Mitch and I have been wanting to go to San Francisco & the west coast of the USA in general for years. Years and years and years but it has just never worked out. To have the opportunity to not only visit San Francisco, but live so close by in Silicon Valley is huge for us. We had been wanting to go into the city ever since arriving in March but the first chance we got wasn't until early this month - in fact, on my 27th birthday :-)

We caught the Caltrain into the city - hmmm, something that could be interesting if I'm going in on my own as it's not easy getting a pram up those stairs - and then spent the day just wandering around at a relaxed pace. 

There were pretty buildings...

Steep streets (a shock to the legs after Flatland!)...

Cable cars...

Historic streetcars - Oliver had the entire streetcar of passengers PLUS the driver laughing. Our boy is a social butterfly, that's for sure...


Noisy locals at Pier 39...

A happy baby... He is just loving the sunshine and being outside so much more!

Local specialties - clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, mmmmm...


The famous bridge... In the distance - we didn't have the energy to walk quite that far...

And it was topped off perfectly with a visit to a Ben & Jerry's stall and a ride on a cable car up the steep streets. The ride took place after an hour in the lines, but I'm glad we've done it - never again though!

I couldn't believe what a big city it was. We were out for 9 hours but it felt like we only caught a glimpse of the city. There are so many different districts that are still to be explored - I can't wait to go back again!

San Francisco, you have stolen my heart already :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vancouver: the result of the visa saga

Visa... A four letter word that makes me shudder every single time I hear it. I had thought that with our visa process being handled by attorneys it would be pain free but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Without harping on about it (we have told the story way too many times!) the easiest solution to our dilemma ended up being a brief visit to Canada and back in order to leave and then re-enter the country under our proper visas. Strangely enough, USA customs is actually IN Vancouver airport, so technically we entered the states before we had even boarded our plane!

Although a beach resort in Mexico would've been lovely, I chose to go to Vancouver as it was the shortest international flight from SFO and honestly, after all the flying we've done lately (Mr Oliver has already done more then 60 hours in his 7 1/2 months) I couldn't face another loooong flight. So - Vancouver it was!!!

We only had roughly 24 hours in the country and I have to say, it was the first time I have NOT wanted to go overseas. I know I shouldn't complain about an all expenses paid trip, but... We were just settling in to life in California and it felt frustrating to have to up and leave already, even if it was for a short time. For once I hadn't done my research on what there is to see and do and we just wandered leisurely around the city and parklands, which was kind of nice considering the gloomy weather.

Vancouver seems to be the city to fly into if you are looking to head to the major ski resorts. If we had more time (and our snow gear) it would've been great to see some of the Canadian countryside, but considering we are planning a trip to Canada one day, I'm not too worried - we'll get there, eventually! There are some lovely mountains that you can see from the city centre, unfortunately the only time the clouds cleared Mitch didn't have the camera with us! Despite our reluctance to go, it still ended up being a nice weekend away. We got to stay at a lovely hotel, catch up with a friend from Australia who just happened to be in the city that night, and well - we got to visit a new country.

I suppose a city break in Canada isn't toooooo bad of a result of the frustrating visa saga?!?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

And so it begins...

And so it begins - 'real' life, that is. It's hard to believe that we have already been here for more than three weeks. Our life in Holland is (sadly) rapidly fading in my memory - not that I'll ever forget it, but it already feels we left years, not weeks ago - we have been so hectic with getting everything set up, it feels like I haven't had a chance to just sit down and process everything. Which also explains the lack of blogging - I'm hoping that now I can get into more of a routine and find some blogging time!

We still have a way over sized to do list but it feels like things are rolling along nicely. I've joined a local library (oh my the excitement of ENGLISH books again!) which has a great sounding Mother Goose program AND I've joined a playgroup! The amount of 'mommy and me' activities on offer in the area is fantastic. It's almost a little overwhelming after the lack of choice in Holland but I'm excited to get out and meet some other Mums. Or Moms. No, Mums. I don't think I can quite get my head around the 'o' just yet!!! On a less positive note however, we STILL haven't moved into our house. It's getting a little frustrating as our belongings are now in the country but have been delayed at customs. So with Mitch starting work yesterday, 'real' life has finally begun but I don't think I will entirely feel free from limbo land until we are all moved into our house... Here's hoping we get some good news from the shipping company soon!!!

I think Mr Oliver is loving life in California - finally, we are somewhere that not only has baby friendly swings, but is also warm enough for him to get out of the cosy pram and enjoy the park!!!

More to come...


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