Friday, March 20, 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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Thursday, March 19, 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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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life lately {Viva Las Vegas!}

Life lately: a last minute girls weekend in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada to celebrate the end of my twenties a couple of weeks early.

With lots of yummy food (hello, amazing bottomless mimosa brunch buffet at Wicked Spoon), cocktails, poolside lounging, people watching, riding the insane rollercoaster at New York New York, ending up ON STAGE WITH DAVID COPPERFIELD and seeing the crazy water acrobatics of La Reve, I couldn't have had a more FUN girls weekend!

Best. Idea. Ever.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's the eve of his first birthday.

It's the eve of his first birthday and I can't help but reminisce. Tomorrow, our sweet baby Austin turns a year old. At 6.48pm on Tuesday March 11th, 2014 a chubby little bubba weighing 8lbs 9oz entered our lives and made it that much sweeter. Overdue, with rising blood pressure & protein levels, I was induced on the 10th, but then it was almost 24 hours before he finally entered this world. The hardest, most intense and exhausting hours of my life but also the most rewarding. After all the complications of my first labor with Oliver, a drug free birth was my goal this time around and with the support of my Mitch and our wonderful doula Michelle, that goal was achieved. I remember being on such a high for days, weeks even after his birth. I felt like superwoman. In fact, I still do when I think back on that day.

You think time flies with your first, but it goes even faster with your second. The days can be long but the years truly are short, and what a year it's been. We love you, our sweet baby Austin. You're an absolute delight and such a perfect addition to our little family :-)

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Monday, March 9, 2015

His big day

Yesterday we celebrated (a few days early) our sweet baby Austin turning ONE!

Both boys were a little tired and under the weather (which translated into Austin giving out lots of cosy snuggles) but it was a lovely day at the park celebrating our smiley little man.

A big thank you to everyone for coming and celebrating with us, and to everyone thinking of our baby boy on his big day from afar!

Oh, how we love him so!

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