Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Christmas 2016

It feels like Christmas was an eternity ago. Where did the past month go? Honestly though, I was NOT excited about this last Christmas. Normally I love the holiday season but having just moved house, it felt like a nuisance. I would've been quite happy to delay it for a couple more months. Despite my grinch-ish mood, we did try to get into the spirit - we took the kids into the city one night to meet Santa (best photo to date ;-) although I do miss Stanford mall Santa, that guy was legit!), go to Myers Santaland, see the Myers Christmas windows, the DJs parade and the lights show on city hall. We headed back to the Gympie house to join the rest of the family for Christmas, a few days filled with lots of delicious food (as always - the perks of coming from a foodie family), gifts and family time.

The dreary weather cleared on Boxing Day and so we headed to the river at Noosa before coming home. What a glorious day! I tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time, the kids swam and played with their cousins and we all enjoyed a fish & chip lunch. I'm loving getting back to all our favourite spots that we've missed these past few years!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The countdown is on.

I knew this day would come, but still - I'm not ready. My baby; my big boy; my little buddy - he's starting school in a weeks time. Real school. Had we moved any later than what we did, he would have started kindergarten (prep) in the USA last August. I was even less ready to send him then than I am right now, so when we booked our flights for October I breathed a huge sigh of relief and joyfully un-enrolled him from kinder.

This has meant that I've had three children - aged 5, 2 and a new baby underfoot 24/7 since May and honestly? It's been exhausting. When school went back in August, all of Ollie's little friends started kindergarten and it was hard for him having no-one to play with during school hours. However, I'm SO glad I had the extra time with him at home as it's been really beneficial for he & I both during this drawn out period of change.

Part of me is excited about the prospect of only having the two littlest between 9-3. We can do playgroups, storytime, Mummy & me classes - all the things that I used to love doing with my big boy when he was a toddler. But mostly, I'm nervous. I love an adventure but the older I get, I don't like change. And this move, well, it's been harder on my nerves than I like to admit. I miss familiar places and spaces, and now we're venturing into even more of an unknown. The school life.

It's going to be a transition, for both of us. My big boy is a mixture of excitement - other kids his age! Playgrounds! Art! His mind is eager to learn; a little sponge ready to absorb everything school has to offer. But he also expresses concern - he misses his old friends, he wants to go to his old (pre)school in California.

And while I'm excited for a new routine, I'm already mourning the loss of the freedom we've had together these past 5.5 years. Being able to have lazy mornings in our PJs just because. Going to the shops together. Just having my little sidekick for company and crazy faces. I'm going to miss him! We're venturing into new territory now - strict timetables and homework and packed lunches. Not to mention now holidaying during school holidays... Going to have to start planning our trips in advance!

It's an exciting time nonetheless. Just like with any change, I know with time we'll find our rhythm and this new stage of life will feel old hat. Still, I'm still not sure how we got to this point already. Wasn't it just yesterday we were welcoming this squishy little bubba into the world?

Bring on Monday. We've still got to get uniforms and a bag and cover books, but I've at least got a packet of Kleenex ready and waiting in my handbag!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Life lately {the early weeks of life down under}

For so many reasons, moving "home" to Australia has felt like moving to an entirely new country. 6.5 years (and 3 children) is a LONG time to be away. Cities change; familiar places disappear or develop into something different; roads seem foreign. Friends move. However, the one really familiar thing we had coming to Australia was family. I honestly can't imagine what it would be like moving to a new country, alone, with kids. We needed the support of family those early days and weeks, constantly. Practical help with the kids for one as we had a lot to do, but just company after such a hectic time preparing and packing and culling and selling and - mopping up vomit. That last week in California was a nightmare. I would say I don't know how I kept it together but the fact was, I didn't keep it together. I lost it. And without the support of the wonderful community we built during our time there, we would not have made it home to Australia, believe me.

Our game plan for moving back was to stay with my parents who live in the country, 2 hours north of the city in which we (now) reside. We didn't know if we'd be living with them for a week or a month, and it ended up being 6 weeks - thanks Mum and Dad!!!! Although I was initially really anxious to just get set up in our own house, those weeks were a real blessing. Family time is so precious, especially after such a lack of it these past years and it was great for the boys to finally get to know their Grandparents. It also gave us time to do all the legal bits n pieces, get our accounts sorted, buy a car and research all the things we needed to buy for our house. Given the difference in voltage, we couldn't send our appliances and because of the high cost of shipping, we chose to Craigslist the majority of our furniture and start afresh down under. This sounded so fun in theory! My mind was all - woo hoo!!!! SHOPPING!!! But (sorry, total first world problem) the reality wasn't that fun. Having one, maybe two rooms to do would've been a great project, but we essentially had to furnish an entire house including whitegoods in the weeks leading up to Christmas when so many stores had nothing in stock because of the silly season. Ugh.

The time flew by. We made an awful lot of day trips between Gympie and Brisbane (looking at houses, furniture etc etc), but also enjoyed just relaxing at the Gympie house...

Family time...

We watched a lot of sunsets...

Made use of the pool...

We also did a little kayaking...

Spotted many, many kangaroos in the yard - dawn and dusk, they're out there grazing...

Enjoyed variations in weather once again (sunshine day in and day out for years gets a little old) including some summer storms...

Visited one of my favourite beaches...

Freaked out at the local wildlife...

And boy oh boy, we sampled a lot of coffee! Jetlagged kiddos make for some extremely tired parents.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Life lately {The final Cali days}

So, looking back at these pics is bringing on alllllllll the feels. Too many feels to put into words right now; I guess there's a reason I've been avoiding going through all these pics. I don't do tears well. One thing I will say though, life in California already feels like it was an eternity ago. We'd been living in limbo since our belongings were packed up into the shipping container in September, and those final weeks in the states were bittersweet. Excited for things to come, but dealing with so many goodbyes; some extremely hard to say. Brutal, in fact.

We made the most of our final days there though - getting out and about to all our favourite parks & restaurants (and food trucks), going on walks in the neighborhood to our fav coffee shop (with my fav neighbor - I miss you Marlene!), putting that white rug to good use with a million Anneke photoshoots, playdates and MNO, and even getting into some fall activities - apple picking and the pumpkin patch.

Our final week in Sunnyvale however, did NOT go according to plan. Only a few nights before we flew out, Ollie came down with the dreaded "vomit bug" that had been making the rounds in the bay area. To say I freaked out is an understatement. I'm so thankful though for all our friends who went above and beyond during that period and stepped in to help us out. From dropping lysol and towels on my doorstep at 8pm to bringing meals, watching my kids, dropping all my leftover junk to Goodwill (a minivan full!), packing and re-packing my bags and weighing my bags, cleaning my shoes for customs, and just providing so much emotional support.... Well, our move was a team effort. Girls, I miss you. I couldn't have done it without you. I hate that my last week in Cali was such a stressful one, but we made it through - AND the flight was vomit free, although Austin succumbed on day 2 down under....  More to come :-)

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