Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Picnic with a view

A few weeks ago, we found the most gorgeous little picnic spot - with a view...


With spectacular city views, winding coastal roads, beaches and hiking trails galore, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a spot we'll be heading back to again. It's only a stones throw from the city - driving there was the first time we had gone over the bridge and it was a gorgeous, fog free day.


There were plenty of spots from which to photograph this local beauty...




Places for a family photo... or two!



Nice views of the city centre...



A happy little picnic-er...


And beach!!! Beach, glorious beach. Despite being a reasonably warm day, it was freezing down by the water though!


Can you tell that a certain little boy loves being outdoors?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Friday!

World Market, you just made my day!!!


One of our neighbours is Australian and his wife had told me about this store that sells some Australian products. I went in to buy Milo but came out with a bag full of Dutch & Aussie goodies!

Not only did they sell all these yummy treats, there was also an abundance of Darrell Lea licorice, Dutch licorice, Swiss chocolate, Belgian beers, speculoos/laas and I could go on... The only thing missing was Milo! And a bottle of Stroop.... 

Although I normally try to limit the amount of salt in Oliver's and my diet, seeing as I just made this exciting buy I couldn't help but give him a sample of a smear of Vegemite on toast at lunch time. I think it was curiosity on my part mostly to see what he thought of this Aussie sandwich spread. It's something that I think you need to grow up on to love, it's not really an acquired taste. 

He started chowing down his bread as per usual...


Pulled a few interesting faces when he first tasted the Vegemite...


Then those Aussie genes kicked in and voila - he was a happy little Vegemite munching away!!!


Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nine

Nine months old today - we're officially 3/4 of the way to celebrating this little guys first birthday... Eeek!


With 8 little chompers, some bottom shuffling, sitting up confidently, a few attempts to pull himself up, unsteadily standing while holding onto something and a few 'words' (mama and dada being the most frequently heard) our baby boy doesn't seem like such a baby anymore. He 'crawls' when he has something to push off and goes backwards a little but honestly, I think he is gonna be a typical boy and be a late mover. Perhaps he'll just skip crawling altogether? 




Isn't he just the cutest? With only 3 months to go, I think it's time to start planning his first birthday party - looking forward to celebrating this milestone all the way over in Australia :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'twas a lovely day indeed...

It all started on Saturday with a surprise in the mail from one of my very best friends...


The arrival of some red roses after Mitch had to go visit the 'hardware store'...


Discovering my two boys getting crafty - hmmmm....


Sunday morning began with breakfast in bed and the result of the jolly jumper + paint experiment...


A lovely gift - the herb garden I have been wanting for years...


A scenic (although slightly overcast) drive...


A lunch stop in the mountains...


And lots of smiles, cuddles and sloppy baby kisses from my son!


'twas a lovely first mothers day indeed :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mum / Mère / Moeder / Mom

We've lived in a few countries now and I can proudly say the word mother in each language. It wasn't until the 16th of August 2011 however that I really began to understand this word. It's one thing to be a daughter, it's another to actually become a mother.

Prior to Oliver's arrival, I was never really the maternal type. I always wanted a family of my own eventually, but I've never been the type of person who gushes over a newborn baby although that has changed a bit nowadays. I often wondered if those maternal instincts would kick in when I had a child of my own. But from that cold, rainy morning in December of 2010, when we finally saw those 2 pink lines appear, I knew my worries were for nothing. I can honestly say that from that moment I felt such a fierce and protective love for my baby, long before we were honored with his arrival.

My first nine months of motherhood have been quite a journey. I never imagined myself having our first baby in a foreign country, but much to my surprise it just felt like the perfect timing to start a family. It's certainly not easy being so far from family and friends, especially as we really have no idea what we're doing as first time parents and just make it up as we go along - but it's worth every second of it to have this precious little boy.

Being a Mum truly is a full time job. It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no coffee breaks. There are no holidays. I have ongoing deadlines - feeding, nappies and new projects constantly surfacing - teething being a major one that crops up when we least expect it. But you know what... I wouldn't change it for the world. Career wise, I've floundered in the past. Yes, I enjoyed my job but did I find it fulfilling? Not really. I feel like since becoming a Mum, I've found my purpose. My passion. My place in this big world. Being a Mum is a job paid in sloppy baby kisses, gorgeous grins and babble. Every night, even after a challenging day, Mitch and I sit down together after Ollie is in bed and I can guarantee that one of us will smile and exclaim, ohhhhhhh... how did we get such a cute baby! Oliver John, you just melt your Mumma's heart and make me smile every day. I'm in no hurry to rush back for seconds because I want time to enjoy my baby boy but... He's just so awesome he makes us want to have a big family!

Mothers should be applauded everywhere - I find it disheartening to hear fellow Mums say 'I'm just a Mum' because being a Mum truly is the hardest job in the world... The hardest, but also the most rewarding. So - to my own precious mother and all the wonderful Mums I know... Happy Mothers Day for 2012 :-)

Friday, May 11, 2012

All's well...

All's well that ends well, right.... It's been a trying week. My big big boy has been sick and really busy with work and my little big boy has been teething and super grumpy. In between the constant nose blowing, cries of mamamamamamamaaaaaaa and lack of sleep, I'm glad that the week is slowly coming to a close. Oliver is normally such a happy little guy and it's really tough seeing him so upset. This time round panadol, bonjella and unlimited Mummy cuddles didn't seem to make a difference! But after almost a week of stringy drool being deposited on everything, those next two pearly whites have cut through and my boy seems to be back to normal, much to my relief.

It's nice to see his smiley face again...


Enjoy some of his sloppy baby kisses...


See his determined little face as he tries to grab my phone...


But settles for his toes instead...


And I really got a giggle out of his latest fascination - admiring himself in the tv cabinet...


Sometimes I think even Oliver is shocked at how cute he is...


He just wants to crawl towards that handsome baby in the reflection so badly...


But, as usual he ends up laying on the floor (banging his head for joy - it's a strange habit)...


I'm so happy to have my smiley boy back - here's to a longer break from teething next time!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trying to get the 'perfect' family photo

Usually when we want a family photo, our trusty friend Mr Tripod appears. Unfortunately though, the tripods have been making their way across the ocean recently so we've had to just make do with the good old hold-the-camera-out-and-hope-for-the-best photography method.

Back in the day of just being a couple, this wasn't so hard. Go to any major tourist spot in Europe and you'll see dozens of couples doing the exact same thing. With digital cameras it's so easy nowadays - click click click til you get the shot you are happy with. With a little boy that only smiles for the camera when his Dadda is behind it however... Trying to get this type of family photo has proven to be a little more challenging!!!

Fail...


Fail...


Fail...


At least he's smiling this time...


But still - we just don't seem to have any luck!!! What do they say - practice makes perfect. But I'm thinking a photo of smiling Mitch stuck on top of the camera might just work a treat when he wants to be in the shot too ;-)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

This feels strange

Excuse the look on my face but... This feels strange.


Don't get me wrong - I'm all for helmet wearing, but I feel like I've been a little spoilt in the past 2 years living in the land of the bicycle. No helmet hair. No fighting cars for space on the road. An abundance of bike parking. Always having right of way. A network of bike paths that link the entire country. No hills... I do miss bikeland!!!

Ever since our second shipment arrived, my bike has been taunting me. I miss riding - I rode daily until I was around 35 weeks pregnant and then after Oliver was born we'd hook up the fietskar a couple of times a week, even if it was just to ride to the grocery store. It had been months since our last ride and Oliver has grown a lot in that time so we tried out his new Dutch bike seat for size - success!!!


Poor little guy HATES his helmet, as soon as he sees it coming he loses the plot but he's a happy camper once again when he is on the back of Mitch's bike.


This area is definitely much more bike friendly then we had expected - I feel safer riding here then in Brisbane, that's for sure. There are bike lanes on the busier roads and even some scenic trails a little further north.



Most people seem to ride mountain bikes around here so I do feel a little odd on my big 4WDish city cruiser with it's limited gears - I certainly won't be trying it out on any of the mountain biking trails - but it's just sooooo nice to have my comfy bike back again. If only the helmet hair could be avoided...

Friday, May 4, 2012

New country = new medical system

When the opportunity arose to move to the USA, all the new and exciting things to explore were always in my mind. There was however always this niggling thought of the thing I had been dreading... The American health care system. I had heard horror stories all over the place of people ending up with significant debt from minor injuries and so making sure that Mitch's work provided good medical insurance was pretty important for us before making the decision to move here.

Now, I have to say - my experience so far hasn't been anywhere near as bad as I was expecting. It's definitely not like Holland where although you do pay a reasonable monthly premium, you have no out of pocket expenses (I never payed a cent for having a baby there, not even for the wonderful kraamzorg service!), I guess it's been a little more like the private system in Australia. 

I have been feeling a bit under the weather lately (I'm blaming the lovely jasmine bushes on our street - they smell gorgeous but they don't get on well with my sinuses) and the 'acetaminophen' just wasn't cutting it anymore. With a blinding headache and nasty ear pain, I suspected an ear infection and finally cracked it one day and called my insurance company to find out how to see a doctor. Although I had to be transferred a bunch of times to various departments to choose my physician and then set up an appointment, they had me booked in to see someone in ONE HOUR! I was amazed considering how hard it used to be to get in to see my doctor in Holland. 

They do have a small out of pocket expense for each visit, which I guess is much like Australia. Like every other country I've been in, the wait time was horrendous but once I finally got to see the doctor, I couldn't believe just how easy it is to get things prescribed here. The doctor tells me that although my ear is red (probably from a little boy with sharp fingernails whose latest obsession is trying to stick his fingers in Mummy's ears and nose, gah!), it's not infected - but hey, would you like some antibiotics anyway? I politely declined, explaining that as I'm still breastfeeding I would prefer to avoid antibiotics wherever possible. Despite this, she still added them to my account and I was informed that I could get them at a later date if I wished. I know a lot of doctors are a bit antibiotic-happy but considering that in Holland, I had to resort to breaking down in tears on not one, but two occasions in order to get antibiotics (both for legitimate causes, the doctor confirmed I was sick with something that elsewhere results in an antibiotic prescription), it came as a real shock to my system. Honestly, I kinda liked the Dutch approach because it seems that they are handed out a little too freely sometimes BUT I hated that it was such a fight to get them prescribed when I wasn't going to get better without them. It seems that it's the total opposite here! From my experience, Australia falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. 

The pharmacy system here actually reminds me a lot of Holland. After seeing the doctor, they send your prescription automatically to the pharmacy you've registered at. No pieces of paper like Australia (that I was prone to losing), it feels very streamlined. The only difference between here and Holland is that you have to pay for prescriptions here BUT I have to say they are quite low cost and if you order online and get it posted, you get a pretty decent discount and no postage costs. Obviously this only works for ongoing medications, nothing urgent but hey - who doesn't love the thought of avoiding the lines at the pharmacy!

The other thing that I found a little different here is that your general doctor seems quite limited to what they can handle. I decided to cross a few things off my to do list seeing as I was forced into a visit anyway, but upon asking my question to my female doctor was told that it was 'women's business' and she wasn't familiar with it and I'd have to see an ob-gyn for that. I'm not talking about anything complicated here either - just getting a new prescription. So now I've experienced the ob-gyn system too... It's all fun and games when moving to a new country!!! Honestly though, my experience of the healthcare here so far has probably exceeded my expectations. I love that I can now schedule appointments online and order my prescriptions online. You can even email your doctor with your symptoms and if they think they can prescribe you without a visit, you don't even have to go in.

I think though, if we didn't have medical insurance I wouldn't have such a positive spin on the healthcare system here. I can see why a lot of people don't have insurance - if your employer doesn't provide it (or pay the majority of your premium like in our situation), it really is unaffordable. It saddens me to think of all the people out there who either avoid necessary medical care due to cost or those who end up with debt they simply cannot afford to pay off. I guess though no country is perfect - Australia has its flaws, the Dutch system has its flaws (try getting an appointment after the receptionists all go home at 1pm - you have to CRY and beg) and the American system certainly has it's downsides too. Lately I've been thinking of things I am thankful for each week and today I have to say, I am so very thankful for insurance!

But that's me - this month we get to discover how the system works for children now that I've chosen Oliver's pediatrician... Time to see how much my big boy has grown, it's been quite a few months since his last check up!!!

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