Thursday, November 22, 2012

Six Months

Six months ago today, we moved to Australia. On the morning of May 22, Paul, the boys, and I arrived at Sydney Airport with eight huge suitcases, several carry-ons, and two car seats. We moved into a quirky house, generously furnished for us by our family and friends, and settled into our new life here.

In many ways, it feels like we have been here much longer than six months. The boys are now Australian citizens and they have settled in very well - they love spending time with their cousins, Auntie Barbara and Uncle Nick and Granny and Granddad.  We found a great daycare for them, and Vincent has been thriving. It has been so wonderful to see our friends and their kids (and we are looking forward to having everybody - 14 adults and 20 kids - over at our house on Saturday for an American Thanksgiving celebration!) We have taken advantage of Medicare (the universal healthcare system) - it is such a relief to be able to take boys to the doctor and not have to pay anything to get excellent medical attention (yes, we do pay for through payroll taxes, but it nothing like the premiums and deductibles and office visit costs that we had to pay in the States).

And, no, the boys don't have Australian accents yet. Desmond really isn't talking and Vincent still sounds like an American three-year-old (although several Australianisms have crept into his vocabulary).

The house isn't any less quirky, and we will be moving when our lease is up in May. But we have put in a veggie garden (tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and heaps and heaps of butternut squash) and have adopted a family of lizards (skinks) that live under our front steps and in our back patio - their names are Steve, Betty, and Mike (we think Steve and Betty are siblings and Betty is married to Mike). And we don't have any cockroaches yet (knock on wood) but we do have a sugar ant problem. Still, it is an ok house in a good location with a nice backyard.

And thanks to Skype, we video chat with my parents and sister quite frequently. In fact, the boys often eat their lunch and talk to Grandma and Grandpa at the same time. Both Vincent and Desmond love chatting with their American grandparents and "playing" with them (this happens when I put the laptop on the floor - Desmond loves to crawl up to the computer and Vincent likes to show Grandma and Grandpa his trains).

I've had several people ask me how it was adjusting to living in Australia again after being gone for nearly ten years. It wasn't as difficult as I expected - perhaps because I was so focused on getting the boys settled and because I lived here before and knew what to expect. It also helps that I was able to get a driver's license and that Paul's family lives close by. The hardest part was suddenly becoming a full-time stay-at-home-mom after working three jobs (one full-time and two part-time) before we left Burnsville.

But there are days when I really miss the States. It's not a feeling of homesickness because my home is with my husband and boys - where ever that might be. This is more a feeling of missing my parents and sister and extended family in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And I often get a strong feeling of longing for the oddest things at the oddest times - like the leaves changing or the crisp feeling in the fall air or my mom's chocolate chip cookies or her apple crisp.

But all-in-all, I am glad we made the move. Paul is really enjoying his job - he has really grown into it and has made it his own. I had the wonderful opportunity to teach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music this past term, but I am still looking for full-time work (anybody in Sydney need a musicologist??). Nonetheless, know that I am fortunate to have this time with my boys (even if they seriously try my patience every day).

Today also marks four weeks until my parents arrive in Sydney to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays with us. We are all looking forward to it - we are going to chop down a tree, have Christmas on the beach, and spend lots of time just being together.

Here's to the next six months.


  1. We miss you but are so happy that you are happy!! So glad that Paul's job has turned out so well, so glad you are close to his family and all your friends, so glad there are so many positives. But I just can't imagine Christmas in summer on the beach!

  2. Kathi - the thing about Christmas that I am having trouble getting my head around is going to cut down a Christmas tree in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals!!

  3. Clare I can hardly believe that it's been six months! And of course over a year since I last saw you. I miss you, and really love reading your blog and keeping up with your activities on facebook.
    It's always funny to me the things that trigger longing for my other country. Christmas is always a big one for me, because while I really enjoy the way that New York gets dressed up for Christmas, it still doesn't feel quite right. And once Christmas is over the winter quickly starts to feel never-ending. I miss my South African family like crazy, and that doesn't change, no matter how much time passes. And I don't think I'll feel entirely at ease or protected until I have a different immigration status here.
    But now, when I go back to South Africa, I find myself missing all sorts of things from my New York life. Most of all I miss the access to public space that I have in New York. It really doesn't feel right to have to drive everywhere, and to not have access to the inner-city, the way I do here. I think that being an immigrant will always bring a little sadness with it, but it also brings a very special perspective that is valuable in the same way that any diversity is valuable.
    Lots of love to you and your sweet family.