Declan at 14 Months

It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since our last update. Since then we have traveled from Australia to Hawaii, to Austin, to Dallas, to Hong Kong, to Singapore, and two cities in New Zealand.We got married (again) and it was magical. Stella started Montessori school, we said hello to new beautiful cousins, baby Chas, baby Amelie and baby Grace. Declan had his first ER visit. And we celebrated his first birthday!

Birthday Boy!


Off to smile at his fellow patients

Off to smile at his fellow patients


Family selfie fail in New Zealand

Family selfie fail in New Zealand

But this post is dedicated to my newly minted 14 month old. I want to capture this time in his life in words because everything happens and passes so quickly. He learns multiple new things a day. Soon he’ll have mastered many of these skills and be on to the next phase. Slow down baby!


Here’s a glimpse into the life of 14 month old Declan:

Walks everywhere, starting to run. Most especially not in the direction you’d prefer.

Great eater but is definitely becoming picky. We’re working on not tossing the unwanted food onto the floor.

Obsessed with Stella’s scooter and climbs up on it with perfect balance. Suddenly Stella’s interested in her scooter again.

Loves dogs. Like, LOVES them. Becomes super animated and babbles nonstop when he sees one.  Too bad daddy is anti-pets (for now…).

Speaking of babbling, this kid is actually talking. Mama, Dada, Car, Cow, Hi, Again, Oma, Dog, Book, Bus, Peek-a-boo and go-go. The last phrase he says as he’s climbing into the stroller or walking to the door with his shoes in hand asking to “go-go?” And, my favourite, he throws his hands over his eyes and says, “kee-koo-ba” and breaks out in a full grin!

Climbing. It’s impressive to watch how he wriggles his little body up a seemingly impossible height.  Let’s hope he keeps the climbing sessions to places other than his crib.

Still takes two sleeps a day and sleeps all night. After months of being such a rotten sleeper he’s actually turned into quite the little sleep lover. By this age we were beginning to transition Stella to one nap but I don’t see that happening for him anytime soon.

9 teeth. We’re in the super fun molar phase right now. It lasts years.

Potty training, whaaaat? Just like big sis, Declan’s showing early signs of potty training. He actually brought me a clean diaper when he needed a change last week. It would be amazing if he was as easy to potty train as Stella. But I know boys are harder to train so I’m keeping my expectations in check.

Loves big sister. And she fits the big sister bill exactly. Bossy. Spends her days alternating between trying to hug him and push him down, getting a toy for him and then taking it away, and did I mention bossy? But, for the most part, Declan adores her. Right up until she wants her scooter back.

Charm. Always smiling, always laughing. But, I already see glimpses of the tantrums to come. Right now it’s cute but soon it won’t be. This ain’t my first rodeo, y’all.

For now and always, he’ll have this smile to get him in and out of trouble…

Happy 14 months gorgeous boy. photo (56)


It’s a Small World

So, I hired a babysitter today so I could go to yoga. I may be a little bit excited to have picked up my yoga practice again. I found a fab studio just a short 5 minute walk from home. When I practiced before, I never liked going any longer than one week between studio sessions. Since Phill is in Vietnam, I was at a  loss. So, I hired a fabulous babysitter (I mean, if she can handle triplet boys, she can handle my two crazies). I left the kids in Christian’s capable hands and set off for my heated vinyasa class. First thing I noticed was that my instructor was American. So cool! Then, I hear her drop a “y’all.” Are you kidding me?! After class I stalked her and asked where she was from. Colorado, officially, but was born in Texas and lived in Fort Worth until she was 6! She was just as excited as I was to find a fellow Texan. I know to you fellow Texans this may not seem like a big deal. But when you are halfway around the world and in the minority of accents and culture, this is SUPER MAJOR.
If that doesn’t impress you, this surely will.


Last week I was at the park in the Corso when I heard a mom call out to her son “Austin” to slow down and watch out for the little ones, like Declan. I immediately noticed her Scottish accent. So I went over and asked her where she was from (even though I knew it was Scotland, you always have to ask). I was right! So, she’s from Scotland and has a boy Stella’s age named Austin. I told her my husband is Scottish and I have a nephew named Austin AND I’m from Austin, Texas. We chit chat about local preshcools (it’s a massive subject here because it is impossible to find a place anywhere) and then said our goodbyes. On our way home we ran into our friends that had just returned from 6 weeks back home in England and had a chat with them. We turned the corner onto our street and saw our Scottish friends. I asked her if she lived around here and she said, yes, in this building up ahead. I said, “no way, that’s where we live!” We get in the elevator and I asked what floor she’s on she says “7.” Us, too! I noticed she’s carrying pizza and we talk about how hard it is for me and Stella to eat pizza because we’re gluten free. She say, “oh, I know, I’m celiac.” Seriously?! So, so far, she is Scottish with a son named Austin, lives in our building, on our floor and is gluten free? It’s too much. As we are saying our good-byes Stella says bye to Austin and says to his mom, “wait, what’s your name?” Can you guess what she said?




I kid you not. We were obviously meant to be friends.


In other news we are busy gearing up to head home! I can’t believe we are on a plane in just a few days. I will have my feet back on Texas soil in one week.


The kids have been insane and insanely cute, as always.

Here’s a cute video of them in the bath tonight.


Tuesday we went out for our morning run and beach play and came across our new friend Walter the water dragon.


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The wild life here is, as you can imagine, vastly different than in Texas. Instead of deer crossing signs, we have kangaroo crossing signs. And koalas, and wombats. I smile every time I see one of those signs. I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it?
We attempted a picnic on Manly Beach this week. The beach was actually closed to swimming and surfing because of dangerous winds. We found this out exactly after our picnic. It was wildly windy!


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Later that day I took this picture of Declan. He looks a bit pensive, but mostly he just looks like his daddy.


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And now for a Stella pic. Seriously, she couldn’t be more Aussie in this pic. Barefoot with her babycino. The girl leads a charmed life, that’s for sure.

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In the midst of the past month, we celebrated Thanksgiving. We were lucky enough to be invited by my American friend Katie to an adults only Thanksgiving dinner. It was gorgeous and lovely! We met some very nice folks and had a lovely evening drinking wine and eating delicious food. I had so much fun that I didn’t take any pictures! Here is one from Katie.




Then, two days later we were enjoying another Thanksgiving feast at the Buntings. Friendsgiving, or Yanksgiving, was fab and had all the kids. It was Stella’s official Thanksgiving dinner and Declan’s first ever! It an odd feeling being so far away from home for Thanksgiving but I’m ever so grateful to the Phillips and the Buntings for making us feel so welcome and “at home” here in Oz.


You may not hear from me for a bit as there are a lot of big things coming up! My birthday is Monday. I will be turning 34 which is nice since I’ve told everyone for the past 6 months that’s how old I am. Ha. We leave the next day for Hawaii. After two days in Honolulu, we are on a plane bound for Texas. Yeehaw! Once there we have heaps of things to do for the wedding and Christmas. I’m planning  a trip to Dallas to visit my friend and her two boys (DALLAS FRIENDS: I HOPE TO SEE YOU WHILE THERE). I’ll try to post again soon. Until then, cheers!

My Little Aussie Girl

Today the rain derailed our park plans and instead sent us all to the market. On the way Stella and I were discussing how the day before she had dropped her raisins in the car. Then, she interrupted and said, “Mommy, it’s SULTANAS. I’m so disappointed in you, mommy, it’s sultanas, not raisins. SULTANAS. That’s so cheeky, mom. Stop calling them raisins.” What?!

Don't dare call them "raisins"

Don’t dare call them “raisins”

Sadly, she corrects me all the time. The kid is full-on into Aussie-speak.

I say stroller, she says PRAM.

I say rain boots, she says GUMMIES.

I say diaper, she says NAPPY.

I say breakfast, she says BREKKIE.

I say pacifier, she says DUMMY.

I say buh-NAH-nuhs, she says buh-NON-nuhs.

I say flip-flops, she say THONGS. (Actually, it comes out more like “tongs” and is absolutely hilarious.)

She’s also fully embraced saying, “no worries.” No worries, mom, I’ve got it!

She’s even begun to dabble in the classic Aussie greeting of “How’re you going??”

In other Stella news, we are seeing a very special doctor to help with some of her food issues. That, if you don’t know, is a very, very, VERY long story. The doctor is super-crunchy,  as Phill says (with one eyebrow up) and I love her. Her name is Dr. Kate Swincer and she’s a chiropractor, but like a super duper chiropractor. Take a look at her practice areas here. After our first meeting, I feel really good about her and her ability to help Stella. She, after all the conventional and unconventional doctors we have seen, might finally have the answers we’ve been looking for. 

Also happening in the Simpson household, Phill is now the 3rd one to be taken down by the nasty gastro bug. He’s nowhere near has bad as I was, though, thank goodness. He has seemingly bounced  back after 24 hours. Declan, the only one of us to avoid the nastiness (yay breastfeeding!), has been busy being a maniac with the walker. And cruising along anything he can get his hands on. He’s also doing a ton of free-standing… working hard on that balance! Lastly, he might be terrified of being in the swing when Stella is in charge of the pushing. 

Really mom?!

Really mom?!

He never cries so we aren’t sure if that’s a look of terror or of delight disguised as terror?  Who knows!

Updates from Down Under

Wow, it’s been a while, huh?

Life has been, well, busy. It’s strange but my blogging stopped about the same time Declan became mobile. I completely missed a post when he turned 8 months. Probably because I was too busy tending to a black eye, or picking up the lamp he pulled down, or stopping him from biting Stella, or keeping him from trying to ride her scooter.


Or, more likely, we’ve just been settling into living life down under.

Quick updates on the kids.

Declan is now 9 (nine!) whole months old. I cannot believe it. As we have yet to find a doc, I don’t have any stats on his height or weight. From my step on and step off the scale approach, he’s about 9 kilos (almost 20 pounds). He’s starting to burst out of his 9 month PJ’s but still fits comfortably into 9 month tops and bottoms. He has 5 teeth (the 6th is gleaming through the gums). He is a mobile maniac! Started crawling at 7 months and started walking with his walker at 8.5 months and now, climbing at 9.


Boys. Yikes! You boy mamas tried to warn me… I believe you now!

Speaking of boys, this kid has quite the appetite! He starts shrieking at dinner time! He cannot get food into his mouth fast enough. It’s equal parts terrifying and hilarious. One of these days I will film it. For now I’m too harried trying to get food in front of him! His sensitive little tummy is getting better. We’ve been doing a hybrid of BLW and purees to fill him up but have recently started giving him bits of what we’re eating. He seems to be handling it well.

Sleep. Ah, precious sleep. After numerous visits to the naturopath and chiropractor, we reached the conclusion that the kid just needs to learn to sort himself out. We moved Declan’s cot (Aussie speak for crib) into Stella’s room and moved Stella into our room. Phill spent a few nights in with Declan before being driven to the couch. That Declan, he’s won the battle against us all and gotten his very own room. The first night or two he woke 2 or 3 times and cried for about 5 minutes. Now he’s down to waking just once, around 3, crying for a few minutes and then passing back out again. As soon as he stops doing that, we can finally, FINALLY, have Stella and Declan sharing a room. All in all, it’s a major leap and I think we can safely say, the kid is finally SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!

Stella, my gorgeous, sweet, sassy (really sassy) little girl. She’s been busy with swim lessons, which she takes very seriously.


We are still visiting the Manly Library twice a week for Story Time. She is obsessed with the songs and talks about the craft portion all week long. She is still an amazing big sister to Declan. She really and truly adores him. But she also loves getting 100% of my attention and that just can’t happen much anymore. When Declan is getting praised for something or getting all the attention, she turns into a little naughty tornado. It has gotten better but we’re a long way off from her dealing with it well.

Stella had a bout with the nasty Aussie gastro bug last week. Hers was quick (24 hours). A big vom in the evening, then ran fever in the morning. She has an amazing immune system and was all better after 24 hours.

I, however, was not as lucky. Two days after her bug, the pain woke me around midnight. You guys. I had no idea the stomach flu could even be that bad. I spent all night on the bathroom floor, alternating from sleep to throwing up. The only way I can describe the pain of the cramps was that they were like a contraction. This past weekend was spent in a blur for me. It took me 24 hours to run a fever and start to fight off the nastiness. I’m so thankful it hit on Friday night and that Phill wasn’t traveling. He kept the kids going and the house running all weekend. I’m serious, dishes washed, laundry washed, folded and put away, kids fed, bathed and entertained. He is the most amazing man!

To add to the weekend fun, my iPhone decided it was the perfect time to die. And died it did. Phill worked on it all Sunday night to no avail. So yesterday I had to make my way to the Apple store half an hour away in Chatswood, in the rain, with both kids, with NO navigation! Phill left for Perth today and left me his mobile hotspot thinga-something so I could use my iPad for directions. Whatever it is, it didn’t work. The maps app kept freezing. I ended up calling Phill on Skype (somehow that worked?) and had him talk me through the final directions. Insanity. The kids were, thankfully, so chill and cooperative. A little gift from God. We finally escaped the mall and headed home, refurbed iPhone in hand. WITH NAVI! On the way home, we ended up going a different route. It was actually quite scenic. Stella and I were chatting about the wind and how to know if it was windy if you weren’t outside to actually feel the wind. Declan started crying (poor mobile kid was DONE with being cooped up in a car seat and stroller all afternoon) so I rolled the windows down to distract him. It worked. Stella went quiet, too… After a minute, she started giggling and saying, “MOM! I’ve got my hand out the window!” I had to stifle the urge to tell her to keep her hands in the car. I’m glad I did because a quick glance in my mirror revealed she barely had her little fingers out the window. She giggled again and said, “MOM! I can feel the wind! Have you ever done this mom? It’s so cool! Mom! I can feeeeeeeeeeel the wind!” I was so blown away by the sweet childhood innocence of what she was exclaiming. I mean, of course I have. But it was so amazing to see her experience that sensation for the first time. She was so very excited… It filled me with such joy to see her having this moment! I love that I get to see the eyes of the world through a child. It’s such a gift.

In other news wedding planning is coming along! We still have a few decisions to make and I have a to-do list a mile (kilometer?) long. We are getting on a plane in 4 short weeks. We’ll fly to Hawaii for 2 days then hop back on a plane bound for Austin arriving on the 14th. I am getting so excited to come home!

Also, I picked up my camera again… And it felt so good.

3 years old

3 years

9 months

9 months

Blogging is one of my favorite things to do, kind of therapeutic actually, so I hope we chat again soon!

Actually, Some Things Don’t Change

So, I’ve been driving. On the left side of the road. It’s really not all that terrible.


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It’s just that everything is so… backwards. You know when you follow your GPS directions to someplace new, following the directions, turn after turn through a new neighborhood? Then, it’s time to leave and, rather than reversing your navigation, you decide to find your way our all on your own by just reversing the directions in your head? Well, that’s what it’s like every time I’m behind the wheel. It. Is. Exhausting. I’ve driven a dozen or more times now and it’s finally beginning to click. I don’t turn on the wipers instead of the turn signal anymore. But I still get a pang of stress waiting in the right turn lane watching cars turn in front of me. And I don’t think I’ll ever not be terrified navigating the double (or triple) round-a-bouts! But, who knows? A few months from now, I could be a left-side-of-the-road-driving PROFESSIONAL and all these thoughts I’m sharing with you will be SO SILLY.

So, I put my new driving skills to good use this week and ventured to the mall. Malls here are different than in the States. Here they comprise all the shops you can think of but also include grocery stores, florists, cafes, even a library. And… Target! We parked and I schlepped two kids into the stroller, through the mall, and after the 3rd tantrum in a row (Stella), I decided to call it a day. We headed for the car… until I couldn’t find the car. I went to 4 different car parks. And each of their 3 levels. Still couldn’t find our car. At this point both kids have skipped a semi-tolerable level of whining and have entered full blown done-ness. I’m on the phone with Phill, in tears because, you know, I’m me and some things do not actually change and we are horribly, horribly lost.

In the middle of all this, I miss a call from Jill. I call her back, and, low and behold she is parking here at the mall! (Still amazed by this.) She came to find us and talked me through what little I could recall and, after a speedy 10 minutes, I was loading up my car with bags and two very sleepy children.

Jill (and Nate) to the rescue!

With all this change happening around me, I guess it’s comforting to know that some things, actually, do not change. I’m still me no matter where in the world I reside!

Chin is Up

I am a lucky gal to have such kind, insightful and encouraging people in my life. Thank you all for the virtual hand holding!

This past weekend I had friends come to Sydney. They take an annual birthday trip in August and this year they chose Australia (lucky me). I joined my friends J, Letti, Nolan & Christine for dinner in the city at Rockpool Bar and Grill. The decor was art deco, the food was divine, the service was top-notch and the company couldn’t be beat. Sunday morning they joined me in Manly and we walked along the boardwalk before lunching at Pantry Manly. Another amazing meal (thank you, Jill)! And both restaurants were very gluten-free friendly!

Manly Beach with J on his BDay

Manly Beach with J on his BDay

Side note: Phill stayed with the kids while I was gallivanting around Sydney all weekend. Ladies, yes, he is amazing.

I really enjoyed the visit from my American friends. It was the first visit to Australia for all of them. So, as the only resident (of 2.5 weeks) of the bunch, I filled them in on everything I knew. The lingo, the history, places to eat, things to see, stuff to do… I explained as much as I could and did so with passion and gusto. With every story, every explanation, my happiness level crept up and up. I was playing tour guide, if only for a few hours, and got to explain how totally badass the town is where I now reside. It was a surge to my sagging spirits, a boost to my bummed out, homesick attitude. I live in an amazing part of the world, a place where people dream of visiting. Pity party is over, y’all!

I will leave you with several photos from our walk around the Cove on Sunday morning. Cheers!

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Picking out mommy, daddy, Stella & Declan shells

Picking out mommy, daddy, Stella & Declan shells


So Phill is away on his first business trip since we arrived in Australia. Exactly two weeks after we arrived. But, hey, who’s counting?

I’ll be honest and tell you all that I am struggling. Life in Oz is vastly different from our life in Austin. Phill’s working a lot more. I’m at a loss without the arsenal of a full kitchen so we are eating out a lot. Stella’s not in school anymore. I spend a good part of every day mentally preparing to drive on the (wrong) left side of the road. Boy, oh boy. That will be an adventure!

Need this said to me on repeat.

Need this said to me on repeat.

I could take solace in the fact that at least we moved to a country where they speak English and aren’t facing a language barrier like my friends in Switzerland. The Aussies do, however, have their own language and style of speaking. But that’s a post for another day.

Tonight, in a desperate attempt to elicit a third nap out of Declan, I popped the kids in the pram and headed out. We walked through the Corso and over to one of the play parks located on the boardwalk of Manly Beach. We left there and headed toward Shelly Beach. It was getting dark and Stella kept asking if it was past her bedtime. We turned back and headed home about halfway to Shelly Beach. We walked along in silence until Stella said, “Mommy, I like going places in the stroller instead of the car.”

Her statement has really stayed with me. I’ve spent all evening mulling over what she said. Our life in Austin was, as is all of Texas, rather sedentary. Need to pick up a prescription? Car. Want to go to Lincoln’s house? Car. Dinner out? Car. Groceries? Car (ok, that was walkable, when it wasn’t 100 degrees). Anyway, you get the picture.

I am still amazed that my (almost) three year old had that thought and was able to articulate it to me.

Since we’ve been here, Stella has flourished. She’s zooming all over the place. Skipping, jumping, running, running, running. She’s never been a very physical kid so this is new for her. And, apparently, it suits her well!

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy wallowing in my own misery and homesickness. To hear that she is pleased with this aspect of our new life here in Australia makes me deliriously happy. Maybe even enough to boost me out of my funk.

I think we will look back on our choice to move to Australia with fondness and appreciation. Living the ex-pat life will, and maybe already has, changed us forever. Best decision ever?


Sunset in Manly

Sunset in Manly

P.S. I never did get Declan to take that nap.