Friday, August 20, 2010

Zoom Zoom Zoom!

Last weekend, Lauren had her first ever proper birthday party at Zoom.  I think it was a huge success because she had an amazing time and loved it!  I was a little afraid at first that she might be shy seeing her friends out of context but she took it all in her stride and had lots of fun running, bouncing and zooming around the climbing frames with all her classmates.

We also had lots of opportunity to get to know the other parents a bit better – almost impossible when you are a working mum, especially as I rarely do drop off now. Besides, everyone is always in a rush to get to work, so it’s often impossible to have a chat.

I think a lot of the parents hadn’t realised that we’d just moved from the UK.  However, we are fast making friends!

On the day, the children arrived, gave their presents to Lauren and promptly disappeared into the vast network of climbing frames.  We had to round them up again after half an hour to feed them lunch and cake – an interesting experience!  In this photo, you can see Lauren sitting in the birthday girl seat surrounded by her friends.

Party 001

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cake Marathon

Tomorrow, we are having Lauren’s first big birthday party.  She’s going to be 5 and has invited all her friends from her class in prep; we are taking 26 children to the local indoor soft play centre called Zoom.  Being a winter birthday and not being sure how the weather would be, I didn’t take any chances.  Perhaps if we are in a bigger house next year, we’ll consider something outdoors.

Lauren’s never had a party like this before; this was partly our reluctance to host one for toddlers in a small house with almost no garden and partly because Lauren never asked for one before now.  Lauren has always been a shy child and didn’t really enjoy parties when she was younger.  She ended up clinging to me and not playing with any of the other children at most of the parties we ever went to – if not for all of it then at least for the first 30 minutes.

Since coming to Australia, she has really gained in confidence and is so much more at ease with herself.  I remember taking the girls to the park in the first week we were here – I noticed that the girls were too shy to approach the other children to play with them.  I was really sad to see it.  However, within a short time of starting school and nursery here, they were different children.  I think it’s partly to do with the relaxed and friendly way of life here – their school friends were quick to befriend them and make them feel welcome, and the fact that they are happy and settled, and thus more confident.

So she asked me for a birthday party, and I agreed that she could have one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wollongong, Sound of the Sea

We call this city home now and have done for almost exactly 5 months.  We love it here and in many ways it found us as much as we discovered it.  When we first talked about coming back to Australia, we had no idea we’d be coming here.  We’d never travelled to the Illawarra back in 2002, and had never heard of the place until my agent first mentioned that there was a job going there that I ought to consider.

This is an aerial view of the city; what a beautiful place!  We live right on the harbour at the moment.  The name Wollongong is unusual – one theory is that it comes from an Aboriginal word meaning “sound of the sea”.

image 

Winters

When we left the UK, it was winter.  Travelling to the Southern Hemisphere, we found ourselves facing another winter.  It’s been a strange year.

It’s almost exactly five months since we came to Australia.  I can’t believe how quickly that time has flown, nor how quickly we’ve settled into life here.  Although we’ve had to adapt to new things, mostly things have felt oddly right somehow.

It’s almost Lauren’s fifth birthday – and her very first winter birthday.  I’m baking a chocolate birthday cake for her – she’s invited 25 of her school friends to a party this weekend, so I’ll be busy getting everything ready for that later.

Back in our last UK winter, we celebrated another birthday - Granddad’s 70th birthday with him in York.  This is Granddad opening his birthday cards and presents in the morning (girls helping of course).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our last winter in the UK

When I wrote the post about the Tooth Fairies, we were just heading into our last winter in the UK.  What a winter it turned out to be – bitterly cold with more persistent snow on the ground than I could remember for decades.

We were all trapped indoors for long periods of time.  Jocey decided that our flat needed some redecoration; I found this on our tumble drier one evening!

home 002

Leaving our old lives behind

In late 2008 (yes, seems like an age ago now) Jase and I had a conversation about London.  For a long time, we hadn’t been particularly happy with our lives there.  We had moved to London after our year in Sydney because work had taken us there but neither of us were comfortable living in the big city.

I think, to be fair, that initially it was bearable because we were just the two of us.  However, we were already beyond the age where going out all the time was attractive so I guess didn’t make the most of the potential nightlife in London.  We occasionally went to the theatre, the opera and to restaurants, but because the cost of living was so high and travelling was such a pain, we didn’t do this on a regular basis.

After the children were born, we quickly realised how difficult life in London with young children was, especially where both parents have to work.  I couldn’t afford to go part-time and we ended up putting both children into nursery.  We both worked long hours and felt exhausted all the time.  Not much of a life at all.

Pause for breath

I cannot believe it.

I am actually having a slow weekend.

I can’t actually remember the last time I had one of these rare beasts.  My recent life seems to have been taken over with either childcare commitments or packing / unpacking boxes.  We have lived in a state of impermanence for some time.

We’ve had a week of really changeable weather, with a major storm on Wednesday which threatened one of the local suburbs with flooding.  I was taking part in a disaster exercise at work, only to be notified at the end of it that we might have to do it all for real.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Beginning

I'm sitting in our hotel room in Hong Kong tonight on our last night before completing the final leg of our journey in emigrating to Australia. It has been quite a stressful process which has taken up about 15 months of our lives. However, we are hopeful that it will bring some really positive changes to our lives.

Once we find an internet connection in Australia, I am looking to resume the writing of this blog; so much has happened which has been important to document, even if it is difficult to put into words. However others have seen the events of the last year, it will be a record of our past for the family's future.

The meals have been eaten, the photos have been taken and almost all of our goodbyes have been said. Now it's about finding the time to write about the transition and looking forward to our new beginning in Australia.