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!

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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

Choices

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?

Possibly.

Sunset in Manly

Sunset in Manly

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

Spiders….?

Here and there throughout the years, I heard whispers of Australia and its spiders. I paid it no mind right up until we got here. A few days after we arrived, friends asked us if we had seen any spiders. Um, excuse me? I honestly thought spiders weren’t anything I had to be concerned about. Aren’t those just tall tales? No? Well, surely they don’t exist in the city…

FALSE.

 

You GUYS.

Huntsman Spider

The Huntsman Spider

 

Uuuuughhh, makes me shudder. Excuse my language, but I don’t give a &#*$ if they are poisonous or not (they’re not). I will freak the FREAK out when I do cross paths with one of these creatures. I’m mentally preparing myself for the first encounter. Which means I’m jumping at every shadow and triple checking each room as I enter. Stay tuned, y’all. I hope to never ever have a post titled, “Today I Freaked the FREAK Out.”