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?

 

EMMA.

 

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.

 

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Stella Turns 3!

A lot can happen in two weeks. Sorry for the dearth of blog posts. I’ve been a bit derailed by life. More on that later. First, the fun stuff.

My first baby turned 3 years old last week! She is such a big girl now. She is so tall and SO smart. We had our first visit with our homeopath, Debbie, last week. Miss Debbie is pretty amazing. She has practiced homeopathy for 15 years but is also a R.N., having studied at a top school in London and is even a certified Montessori teacher! I pretty much love her and Stella does, too (Phill, of course, still has one eyebrow raised, but he’s coming around). She told us Stella was very advanced for her age, especially with her language expression and comprehension, and that Stella should immediately be enrolled in a dance class as she has the charm and personality fit for the stage. My poppa saw this from the minute he met her because he nicknamed her, “Tilly the Entertainer.” Pop, you were spot on!!

The morning of Stella’s birthday, she was surprised with a massive pile of prezzies and cards from family and friends.

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Princess Stella

Princess Stella

She got some amazing gifts. She is very into princess things, as you can see. And Peppa Pig. And she got her first bike! A princess bike, naturally.

After prezzies, it was off to her birthday brekkie!

Sassafrass and Budga

Sassafrass and Budga

Just too cool.

Just too cool.

We went to one our favorite spots, Hemingways with our nanny Diana (she’s amazing) and our friends Jill, Natalie and Nate. Stella had her birthday babycino and gluten-free toast with jam. She spreads the jam on all by herself!

After brekkie, we happened upon some face painting in the Corso.

 

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Afterwards, Stella, Diana and Budga made beautiful mosaic princess crowns. If Budga were writing this part, she would want you to know Stella was of no help at all and that she and Diana were tasked with the job. Hired help! 🙂 Just kidding, Budg.

 

Thanks Jerretta for the awesome bday prezzie!

Thanks Jerretta for the awesome bday prezzie!

 

Meanwhile, this dude was busy pulling up on EVERYTHING.

 

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Anyway, back to the birthday girl.

 

The next day was Saturday and we had a low-key (versus years past) birthday party at our place.

 

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We had over Stella’s friends Nate, Natalie, Mila, Kaden & Scarlett. It was our first official party at our place! And, in keeping with true Aussie barbie style, we made sure to serve sausages (Aussie speak: snags) and grilled onions.

 

I’m so glad Stella had an amazing birthday. When we realized we would be here in Oz for Stella’s 3rd birthday, I worried it wouldn’t be any kind of affair. Not that it needed to be, but, you know… I wanted to have a celebration. Wanted her to feel the love and experience the joy in a gathering of people there to celebrate HER. Thank you, Maureen, Buntings, Coviches and Swilleys for making our girl feel like a real birthday princess.

Declan – 7 Months

Stella has plenty of her early life recorded on her blog. But I realized today I’ve never blogged about Declan.

This is my favorite of the baby stages. Sitting up and mobile just enough to make them happy, but not crawling, and so very smiley and happy. Gosh darn, it is the best and absolutely worth it’s own post!

 

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Declan is amazingly strong. I knew I was in trouble when, at 2 weeks old, he was raising his legs and his head up in some sort of yoga core pose. We’ve started finding him sitting upright in his bed the past couple of weeks. And he can cross the entire living room via rolling in the blink of an eye. He spends a lot of time (and tears) up on all fours, rocking back and forth. I even find him doing this in the middle of the night! He’s begun moving his knees forward but hasn’t figured out the hands need to move, too, so he ends up splat on his chest, bum in the air. Even though he’s frustrated, I can’t help but smile at his cuteness and little baby determination.

 

Another thing he’s begun doing, and I don’t recall Stella doing this, is grabbing my face and giving me a big open mouthed kiss. He does the same to Phill and Stella and we all pretty much melt at such a loving gesture. He’s probably just teething and really wants to shove our face into his mouth for some pain relief, but that would be ok, too.

 

He’s holding his own with big sister really well. She, on the other hand, grabbed one of my belts this morning and Phill caught her looping it around his neck and saying, “come on doggy, let’s go for a walk!” Time… just give it time and he’ll give as good as he gets.

 

Nighttime sleep is still AWFUL. He wakes 3-5 times a night. And, in order to get more sleep, I just feed him. However, now he wakes and won’t go back to sleep without nursing. We’ve entered quite the cycle. A very sleeeeeepy cycle.

 

As for food, we began Baby Led Weaning. He pretty much treats the food like toys and hasn’t actually ingested much. We are going to stay the course for a few more weeks and hope he gets the hang of it a bit more. You should see the look on Stella’s face seeing all the food he is wasting! Appalled.

 

Tonight we got the biggest belly laughs from Declan. Actually, not we… Stella did! He was so tickled he could barely stay sitting upright. Who knew bubble beards were so hilarious?!  It was a really lovely moment. Happy and full of love.

 

Declan is 7 months

Stella is 2 years 11.5 months (nearly 3!)

Stella the Nurturer

I loved seeing all the back to school pictures friends posted this week! I can’t even imagine the disaster I’ll certainly be on Stella’s first day of kindergarten. If her first day of preschool was any indication, medication, or copious amounts of tissue and chocolate, may be in order.

Since Stella is not in school anymore, I’m striving to find educational and socially engaging activities to keep her little brain moving. Her favorite activity thus far is storytime at the local library. She wakes up every morning and, after asking Declan’s whereabouts, says “what’s coming up today, mom?” Followed by, “is it the library?!”

Library lover

Library lover

She sat here and told me she wanted to be sure she could see the pictures. (Story time didn’t begin for another 10 minutes.)

At Tuesday’s visit to the library, we were seated towards the back when she spotted a little girl cradling her baby doll. Stella looked up at me, and with wide eyes said, “Mommy, where is my baby Coco?” Ummm, whoops. (Baby Coco is crammed in a box somewhere in our storage unit in Texas.) The next day I bought her a new baby doll that came with it’s own pram. It was dirt cheap (which is hard to find here in Australia) at just $20 but has made her so happy.

Stella and "Baby Sara"

Stella and “Baby Sara”

Baby Sara goes everywhere with her now. As I push Declan along (in the double pram she won’t ride in anymore) she pushes baby Sara alongside me. If I’m rocking the stroller back and forth at a cross walk to keep him asleep, she copies that. She even pretends to release the brake! And she copies this, too.

Nursing her baby

Nursing her baby

It is precious. Like, beyond.

She loves being a “little mommy.”

Nap time... at the play park

Nap time… at the play park

Other kids go to the park to run slide, swing, and generally run amok. Stella’s play is putting her baby to bed. She has an AMAZING imagination. And I just love her nurturing nature with Sara AND Declan. I can only dream that she always loves her brother as much as she does right now.

P.S. That pram? Yeah, the handle broke off 25 hours after purchase. POS. Good thing she has a birthday next month!

Stella is 2 years, 11 months

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.

Life in Manly

Life here in Manly is pretty sweet. We are surrounded by such beauty with all the perks of a city within walking distance. This beach is basically our front yard.

Manly Cove

Manly Cove

Beach babe

Beach babe

Manly Wharf is just across the street.

Atop the shell at the Wharf

Atop the shell at the Wharf

We live a block from the Corso, the center of Manly filled with restaurants and cafes, all kinds of shops, even a play park.

Kids at the Corso play park

Corso play park

And I take a daily walk along the boardwalk with sights like this.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

Stella will start school again (twice a week) in January. So, for now, I get to spend all day every day with my two amazing children. I’ve been given an amazing gift.

But, you guys, I am homesick! The feeling started creeping up a couple of days ago but has really come on strong today. I miss my car, Wheatsville, my family, my friends, Stella’s friends, my gym, my coffee machine (tear). I miss being able to call up friends for a last minute dinner (and knowing where to go). I miss my favorite gluten-free brands. I miss Stella’s school (or I miss Stella going to school… ?).

On top of all this, we are tired. Bone tired. Declan is super smiley and all around adorable during the day. But he turns into this awful crying, whining, giant fuss bomb at night. He is the WORST SLEEPER. I want to blame teething but I’m not sure I can anymore – it’s been almost 4 solid weeks of this.

Please do not think I am ungrateful. I do know this is an amazing opportunity and adventure my family is on. I just felt like having a good vent. So thank you, thank you very much for listening.

UPDATE: Just after I posted this, Daniel Tiger came on the TV. Thank you God, thank you Universe. We needed that little piece of home.

And it was a NEW EPISODE!

And it was a NEW EPISODE!

UGGA MUGGA! 🙂