Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moving, Screaming and Other Adventures

It has been less than a week since I last posted but there has been a lot that has happened since then.  We moved, found out how scary this house can actually be, tried to make it home, had two birthdays, a few shopping trips, finished one school, started another one and visited a zoo. Hey, I just finished my blog post! Sweet. Time to go find chocolate.

No? Fine.

We had awesome friends that took a few trips of our stuff  to get us moved over to our new house. The last day we weren't quite as lucky because of timing and had to carry about 8 bags, a stroller and two kids to the train stop and then walk all of those up a hill to our house.  That was fun enough. The best part was that I had to literally drop all of my stuff on the front step, turn around and hop on the bus to get back and pick up the kids from school while Steve took everything in. Ethan was VERY unhappy that he didn't get to go into his "white house."

We picked up the kids and met Steve so we could go shopping for the house.  So our first night started later at night.  Steve and I were on an inflatable bed and Gavin and Ethan also got one. We took a mattress upstairs for Ashley and then Jakob and Andy got a futon bed that was here already.  Comfy, right? Sure, if you didn't already have a neck and back that didn't like you.

The next day we took the kids to school - 40 minutes away.  As I didn't want to sit there for 7 hours, we turned around and made the trip home. Another 40 minutes.  I did my best to get some of our stuff unpacked. I had things cleaned, Jakob and Andy's room was unpacked and I did a few other things. And then got back on the bus. Again. For 40 minutes.   We picked up the kids, turned around, and headed back home. Again.  Did you get that? 160 minutes on a bus with a 2 and 1 year old.  Was it pleasant? The first two trips weren't bad. The second two trips I wanted to cry, scream and throw fits along with them. And then nap.  My favorite part was the little old ladies that chose to chew out Ethan for yelling and shrieking. I admit, it was annoying but the poor kid had already been on the bus for two hours.  He fell asleep shortly after and made for a nice rest of the trip. For him. I still got to deal with Heidi.  The other kids were awesome. They were excited to get to their house.

Oh, I nearly forgot.  One of the reasons we stayed at that school for two more days was so that Jakob could play soccer. He begged and pleaded and I know how much he loves soccer so I let him play in a tournament.  Five games. They won four of the five and tied for the fifth.  I was thrilled because the poor kid had lost almost all of the games he'd played for the last two years in Utah!!  He scored a goal and when Steve asked how he felt about it, he said shrugged and said "I don't know."  Silly boy.

So the next day was Jakob's birthday.  I explained that in another blog.  We got on the bus (again) and headed to school. I wasn't about to put my kids through what they had to deal with the day before so we went shopping. Great therapy right?  It is, if you can handle the prices (so pricey here)!!  I had three people to shop for (Jakob, Ethan and Steve) so I went to Borders because it was going out of business. Ethan insisted on a blue book before we got to the shopping centre and guess what I found? A book called "My Little Blue Book." I was thrilled.

After there we went to find a Target for a movie for Jakob and got distracted by another bookstore. Seriously, not sure how I can pass up a good bookstore. Plus, the Guinness Book of World Records 2011 that Jakob was begging for was $12.99 marked down from $49.99. So there you go.  I might have a found another three books there too...

Anyway, then I REALLY went to Target and made myself stop buying birthday presents and it was time to find something to eat.  I was starving, it was lunchtime and I had forgotten to eat breakfast.  We went to Woolworths and grabbed some bacon and cheese topped rolls (Seriously AMAZING) and drinks.  We had a while to wait so we went and ate at a table. Ethan ate one of the huge rolls himself while I checked my facebook and texted Steve to tell him to be ready to get to the school.

We STILL got to the school early but not too early. We went and met up with the kids. Andy really really wanted me to play Monopoly with him and was sad that I had to go get the other kids too. We did play one round before realizing it was missing a bunch of stuff. So we left the classroom and went to find the rest of the family.

I found a guy who actually knew where Rupert, Idaho is and who has a cabin in Park City.  I wanted to cry when he said he knew all about Idaho spuds. Most of the time here I have people stare at me when I mention my dad is an Idaho potato farmer. Seriously?!?! Its like we're in a different country or something. Oh wait...   Actually the guy that's supposed to fix our broken window is Irish and he knew about Idaho spuds so that's good.

Anyway, we had fun at the school and then it was time to head home. Steve went to work for a bit and I went home to bake a cheesecake. Yummy yummy cheesecake. I'll just sit here and revel in the memory....


There, I'm done.  Anyway, Steve's training ended early so he didn't actually get to be trained before coming home and decided to get some grocery shopping done.  He came home and we watched Jakob open presents and then we had dinner.  We waited and waited and waited for the cheesecake to chill before everyone got impatient and we cut it anyway.  The middle was soft but it was still good. The next day was MUCH better.

The next morning we woke up and headed over to the new school to buy uniforms. Apparently part of uniform buying includes wrestling on the ground and running through the classroom while Mommy tries to talk to the teacher about what we will be needing.  I was embarrassed but could do nothing until we left.  We managed to catch a bus and went home for a long day at home.  Which I really liked actually. Not that we got much done...  Steve had training again and then we met up to go shopping. Again. We do that a lot. We tried to find Andy some blue sweats for his uniform but were reminded that its not a great idea to shop for uniforms in the same shopping center that everyone else would be shopping for the same uniforms....  No luck for us there!!

Saturday morning we got up and got ready to go. We were going to go to the Healesville Sanctuary but buses changed our mind.  It was fun to go to the end of the train in Lilydale. And I figured out that had we been to Lilydale before this weekend I wouldn't have lived anywhere else. Its gorgeous, wide open and green. Of course I also found out this weekend that there are nasty spiders and animals there that maybe I'm glad I'm not near.... Anyway, the bus wouldn't come for 2 hours so back on to the train we hopped and went to the Melbourne Zoo.

The zoo was awesome!!  The landscaping was just amazing and made you feel like you were there in the jungle.  I'm just glad there was a cage between us and the lions.  Jakob didn't want to leave where the monkeys were.  He was in love with them and wanted one to take home. :)  If we could, I'd do it but then I already have a few monkeys of my own!  The orangutans were my favorite.  We stayed near them for a while before moving on to the next exhibit.  We also got to see a kangaroo with a joey in her pouch!! It was so cute.  And a baby monkey in a monkey's arms.  And two baby elephants playing. And a baby baboon trying to get an adult baboon to play.

We pulled ourselves away from the zoo before heading home to our own zoo.  I was a super mom and got all the kids bathed and showered at once.  Four in the bath, two in the shower.  All in the same room.  I do like my huge bath!!

Sunday was Ethan's birthday. He got to go to a new ward on his birthday. He was happy with nursery and went running back in. Never looking back.  Which is how I like it!!  The other kids loved their classes too.  We have a very transient ward. Lots of move-in and move-outs.  There is a huge group of college students and several elderly people too.

We had our friends over for dinner and cake. It was a lot of fun. The kids had plenty of space to run around and they used it to the best of their ability.   We enjoyed talking and eating and more eating.  Ethan loved his new gifts but wasn't thrilled about sharing.  It was wonderful though.

And how do I like my house?  Well..... its pretty and big.   And has a nice table.  And I like the blue paint... its a good size for my family.  And an oven that's raised off the floor so that's nice.  And that great old house smell.  And the mildewy moldy smell every time you open the cupboard under the sink? Wonderful.  The broken stove that keeps getting delayed getting fixed? Awesome.  Spiders everywhere (ok so we're in Australia, that happens). Great.  Ants in the office.  GREAT.   Oh and the floor in the kitchen that if you jump just right, you'll go through? Classic.  My kids love my house. Steve loves my house (well, mostly). Me? I don't know.  I'm having a difficult time with that.   I clean it and cook and go through the motions but its not MY house.  Maybe it'll come.  Or maybe one day the non-working stove will explode while we're gone and I'll have to move somewhere else.  I'll be sad for my stuff in it.

Oh yeah! I forgot the best part of my house... The way we introduced ourself to the neighborhood. We have these sensors all over the house.  We knew we had an alarm system but we didn't know if it worked or how to turn it on. Steve decided to check on Wednesday night.  And accidentally turned it on. And then touched the doorknob.  Not good.  Screaming alarms, flashing lights, nasty loud sirens - inside and OUTSIDE the house!!! At 9:30 at night.  Yep, welcome us to the neighborhood, everyone!

We called the police. They told us that if anyone called with a noise complaint they'd take care of it.  We called the alarm system company.  They couldn't do anything so they would have the techs call us back. THEY couldn't do anything because of some agreement signed. So Steve ripped out part of it from the wall.  It will work again... but it stopped it for now.  And we got the access code so its all good. Until the kids turn it on when we don't know about it....

The kids are now in their new school, I'm avoiding making anything for dinner and the two boys are upstairs trying to break themselves by sliding on an air mattress down the stairs.  Or something. I did stop that one.  Hopefully they've moved onto something less destructive to themselves and the house.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Countdown to...

There are many countdowns in life.  Countdown to when school starts, countdown to when school ends, countdown to when baby is born, countdown to first day on the job, etc.

There are a few countdowns I haven't looked forward to in the last few months. Countdown to the day my store would close. Countdown to having to have everything packed.  Countdown of the amount of people I had to say goodbye to before leaving.  Countdown to leaving my home, town, state, and country for a new place - even if I have always wanted to go to Australia.

There are some countdowns in the last few months I was happy to see. The countdown to our first anniversary of the bookstore.  Countdown to Harry Potter 7. Countdown to a very long and enjoyable Christmas break. Countdown to Fiji.  Countdown to birthdays.  Countdown to the last day we'd have to search for houses. Countdown to the day we got to stop walking a long way to the bus and back home(only about 10 minutes but I was always pushing a stroller with two kids in it and at least one bag!). Countdown to no more broken elevators and NO MORE TEMPORARY HOUSING!!!

 There are a few more countdowns going on. One for the last day of the old school. One for the first day of the new school. One for us to finally get settled. And for me, one for the day I go home to my home, city, state and country. Because while I'm in love with being here, and while I've enjoyed getting to know the people, I miss home.  My kids agree. 1379 days, in case you were wondering. It was easy to look up because apparently that's Great Lent that year... Hmmm... maybe I'll go by months. 45 months. Or 3 years and 9 months. :)  I would do minutes but that would just be sad.

Where was I again?  Oh yes, countdowns.  My favorite one is the fact that in less than 12 hours I will check out of this apartment and move into a good sized house.  There are a few issues with it that will hopefully get ironed out as we go (like only one burner working on the stove) but my kids are thrilled, Steve is thrilled and I think I'm thrilled. I'm not sure yet. I'm happy to be out of this apartment. And I'm happy to be able to move on with life.  But I still feel stuck.  It could possibly that countdown I mentioned in the paragraph above.

Life has continuously been crazy.  Crazy weather, trees falling down in my grandma's yard (luckily it went away from the house), children getting hit by cars.  Yep, Ethan decided to throw that one into the mix.   And if I didn't believe in angels before, I certainly do now.  I KNOW someone protected my little boy because, by how fast the car was going (rather slow), and the time it took for my boy to get to the road, he should have been hit head on. But somehow he only got clipped by the back of the car and he was fine.  My little boy was fine.  It was hard to figure out how I was going to text Steve to tell him as I was sitting in the police car of the officer that actually hit him.   We went to the hospital where we waited in the ER (Or the ED here) for 4 hours before being told he was fine. I was still a little concerned until we got home and he ran all over the house.  And was jumping on couches by the next day.  One TINY bruise and there is no other evidence that anything happened.

Steve wanted me to put what I actually texted him in here. He didn't think it was very uh, sensitive or well-put. :)  "Change of plans. Ethan just got hit. He clipped his knee on the back of a cop car."  How is that not sensitive?!?!?

Anyway,  it has made our kids more cautious when we go outside.  That night I finally broke down in the middle of family prayer.   You can only 'stay strong' for so long as a mommy.  And seeing what I'd just seen was not fun.   When I told my kids how I could have lost Ethan today and that it would break my heart if I lost any of them, I had 3 others burst into tears. I was sad about that but it did help.  They each have a buddy as we walk and some of the time it works. We're still working on that part.

We have fully enjoyed getting ready for our house.  We've gotten a lot of the stuff we need to furnish the house. Well, except actual furnishings.  We have to get a few of those. But at least we have towels, pots and pans and dishes. Those count, right?  We also toured the kids' new school.  They are sooooo excited for the next school.  They're sad to leave the old one but after seeing the new one they have something to look forward to. What do I look forward to? The fact that the bus stop is right by my house and there's another one right outside the school. Yippee!!

And right now? Its a countdown to bedtime. Luckily that's only minutes away.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Now the Moment We've ALL Been Waiting For....

We FINALLY got a house!!  For privacy's sake I'm not posting where it is on here. And really, if you saw my status on Facebook you'd probably already know this little fact.  But I'm still excited.

In March of this year we moved here hoping to hop right into a house and explore this great country called Australia.  Unfortunately, we spent all of our free time searching for houses.  Up and down hills, in nice, scary, creepy, thrashed, and everything in between houses that we wanted or wanted to run from.  Our kids have endured so much and we've all grown in so many ways

They do, however, still get very antsy and overactive if we stay still for too long.  At bus stops, train stops, waiting for church to start, during church, at realtor's offices...  I'm amazed I have any nerves left after any of these named events.  Most, if not all, mom's probably agree with me to that extent. If not, how in the world do you make them quiet?!

The kids have enjoyed school.  They haven't gotten pushed at all during school since its all review for them, but they have enjoyed interaction with other kids. Even though Jakob's classmates said he was ugly without his glasses.  The ones he broke by stepping on them when he was changing his shirt. But that's a whole other story.

The end of me being completely in love with the school (besides the whole non-challenging part for the kids) came when I got a note home with my 7 year old. We were informed that there would be an auction and each class had a theme.  My 7 year old's class had the theme of Imported Beers.  I'm sorry but under no circumstances is it okay for a primary school to put any child in charge of taking BEER to school!!!  Jakob's class was in charge of bringing gourmet foods - such as tea and coffee to school. Now, I can understand this a little better. Its a big thing here.  I STILL have issues with them sending kids to school with it, but maybe its just my church upbringing.

This last weekend we celebrated Mother's Day.  I've decided I'm banning it. I'm okay with honoring MY moms and grandmothers.  But please, don't tell me its Mother's Day.  On Mother's Day Past I have had sick kids, sick husbands, sick everybody, gas leaks in the church (at the same time as the sick dad), and on and on.

So I went to bed the night before, wondering what is in store for my 'special day'.  Oh yeah, waking up to a headache at 5:30 in the morning.  When I woke up at 8:42 (which I admit was WONDERFUL), the headache was pounding harder.  I did get wonderful gifts from my kids. The school did a fundraiser where the kids could buy stuff for their moms. I got treats, a flashlight, bag, and a few other fun things.  They were SO excited to give them to me.

Then, the fights started. And kept going and going and going.  The headache pounded worse and I had battles with a hair straightener that I got from Steve.  I told him the one I wanted and I wish I'd asked him for another one. It pulled out hair and wouldn't straighten OR curl (it was supposed to do both) very well.  I got my hair to where I mostly wanted it and then headed off on the mile walk to church.

In the rain.

At first it was a small trickle - enough to have made little frizzies form at the top of my head. As we walked (and ran - I'm sure it looked GREAT watching a mom in a dress run with two kids in a stroller), it got harder.  There was a wonderful neighbor that saw us and stopped her car to help out.  We shoved the older kids in the car and I kept walking since there was not room for everyone, the stroller was huge and soaked, and we were almost there anyway. Steve caught up to me with an umbrella from our neighbor and tried to keep us dry.  How do you keep someone dry when they're already drenched?!  He actually did an okay job.  But by the time we got to the church, Heidi's tights were soaked, Ethan's pants were soaked, Steve's suit jacket was soaked and the blanket I used to cover Heidi's side of the stroller was a mop (Ethan had a cover on his side).

So glad I straightened my hair.  I used one of Heidi's pony tail holders from her pigtails to pull my hair up and pulled her tights off.  The good thing was that my headache was gone.

Church was wonderful and the kids sang nicely in Sacrament Meeting.   Then we got a ride home from two wonderful ladies. From then on I had one of the better Mother's Days I've had.  There was still plenty of fighting but dinner was yummy(Japanese that Steve made), home-made strawberry shortcakes(also made by Steve), and I got to be home.   I even went to bed early!

To add to the adventures of house hunting, school attending and bus catching we got to add one more dimension.  The elevator decided to break.  The poor thing was SLOOOOOOOW anyway but the other day I warned Andy that if he jumped in the elevator it would break (ok, really how often do people jump in elevators without them breaking?) and one floor down it stopped.  Luckily, the door opened and we got out but it wasn't about to go anywhere. I didn't really mean for the elevator to break when I warned Andy...  But alas, it has stayed broken on and off for the last two days.

So up and down the 6 flights of stairs I go. Three times a day. With a stroller and baby in my arms (and purse and whatever else we have to take with us) and a 2 year old and sometimes 4 year old following me.   Along with that, we've also added late and missed buses, stinky diapers at inopportune times (ok, really that happens to every parent),  and everything else that could go wrong seems to go wrong.  But I won't hold my breath because it could always get worse....

Oh yeah, did I mention the dryer that was getting black stains on all our clothes?  We figured that one out finally.  Now that we have black stains on half our whites. How many of you out there have to completely wipe down and wash out the filter before you dry your clothes? I don't mean clean the lint trap. I mean full out clean the filter?  If you ask me, its a belt. But whatever, at least we figured it out.

Back to the beginning of my post, I'm so so SO happy to be getting a house. It's partly furnished and has lots of space. No more cramped corners. No more Ashley's sleeping on the couch. No more broken elevators.  I'm not sure if I know what I'll do with myself... Oh that's right! EXPLORE.  I can't wait to get out and see what Australia is all about instead of wandering up and down hills trying to find that next house.  True, I know a lot of towns and their streets now...

Off I go to bed, so I can walk the six flights of stairs, catch at least nine buses for the day and enjoy that which we call life.

Friday, May 6, 2011

School Days!

Back in Utah, my kids would be nearing the end of their school year.  They'd be having end of school parties, getting ready for testing, themed days of dressing up and having field days.  Eagle Mountain Baseball would be underway and I'd have 4 kids playing (possibly 5 but I think Ethan missed the cut off this year) - possibly all at once.

This year?  We decided to move to Australia. And since school and seasons are all different, we get to start a whole new school year.  A day after I wrote that post I decided we'd all had enough of no school. We'd been looking in Glen Waverley at houses and we lived in Box Hill so I decided to look around.  On a whim I called a school and decided to give them a call. They were thrilled to have us check them out.

So I pulled the kids up off the couches and 4 very nervous kids followed me (I was pushing the other two in a stroller...) to the school. Jakob thought it would be a great idea to walk instead of riding the bus. We changed our mind after several blocks and caught a bus.   We made it to the school and were given a grand tour. The kids just stared at our kids as they were told we went on 5 airplanes to get here.  We were offered the chance to start the next day and my kids were THRILLED.

Its a hard thing though because of the cut off.  Here the cut off date for the next grade up is April 30th. So Ashley moved to Year 1 but Jakob, Andy and Gavin were not so lucky.  Jakob has been in A.L.L. which means he was doing some 5th grade classes in Utah.  He got stuck back at the beginning of Year 4.  Andy gets to retake Year 2 again and Gavin, who would have started school this year is in the equivalent of preschool. Its actually called Kindergarten but Prep is where I wanted him.  So I have a kinder, and Year 1, 2 and 4 students. I'm hoping to get Jakob into gifted and talented programs.

Growing up in a small town, any new people that came along were instantly the new celebrities. They were the guys that the girls had crushes on and the girls that the guys had crushes on. After being around for a while, some would fade into the background while others stuck out still.

When I went to BYU, I was just one of thousands that started so I didn't stick out. Plus, I was my sister's kid sister in the ward I went to so I was known that way - even though she'd been gone for a year or two!    Then, fast forward to my senior year, and I became the sister of my little sister... So I never had the chance to be the celebrity.

However, when you move to a new country... my children have been well-received and I am thankful.   There are have been rough spots getting to know other kids.  Gavin has had things said about him such as:

"I hate that kid"
"You talk stupid and I don't want to play with you"
And so on.

That was the first day of Kinder.  After that I had parents telling me that their children talked non-stop about him all weekend. Yay!  He still insists that he doesn't have 'friends' but I've been reassured that he does well playing with all of the different groups.

Ashley and Andy have spent a lot of time together. They have their friends but they still play together, which I'm glad about.  Ashley's teacher told her she wasn't allowed to play with Andy anymore. I'm not thrilled about that but I just told them they could play together all they want.

I have also heard that Andy was talked about nonstop and one little boy was excited to see Andy and Ashley on the bus. When his mom asked what Ashley's name was he said, "I don't know but she's tall and beautiful!"

Andy's got a girl in his class that has a major crush on him. He's not quite sure what to do about it. He does blush quite nicely when you ask him about her though. :)

They're all blending in and I'm thrilled to death. The moms of the students have really brought me in and made me feel welcome as well.  They're such sweet people.  Of course, its easy to figure out which person belongs to 'the new family'.  We just broke the record for the most kids in one family in the school - the previous record was 5.  Plus, everyone knows us because of our double umbrella stroller. I may grumble pushing it up the hill but I don't know what we'd do without it!

The kids had the opportunity to take swimming classes this last week and a half.  They loved it - except for the whole Ashley getting fluid in her ear, thanks to her tubes.  She stayed out of swimming one day and it was enough to make her want to swim the next day. She even passed 2 levels this week.  Andy and Jakob did awesome too. They loved it and can't wait until their next session.

And what have I done?  Relaxed. Well, in between the two buses and the walk to and from school... And the wandering around for the two hours between when Gavin is done and the other kids are done. Its a pain to come all the way home just to turn around and go back again.   But in between THOSE times, I've enjoyed a little quiet at home. Heidi and Ethan mostly entertain themselves (the first day was spent stealing and eating the majority of the grapes in the fridge) so I can clean the apartment, do the laundry, wash the dishes, change diapers and play on faceboo - I mean, look for houses.

I am still constantly amazed by these little ones.  They may complain here and there for the walking we've had to do but they bounce right back and keep on moving.  We have our moments of butting heads but I love my little ones!!! People count and ask "Are these all yours?!" to which I want to reply, "Why else would I have six kids trailing me?!"  Instead, I just smile and say "Yep!"  I love it when they see me with two or three during school hours and tell me that I have my arms full.  I just laugh and tell them that this is only half of them.

We're still looking at what's going on with houses. We have one we could probably take if we wanted to but its far away from school so we don't know if we want it. The kids are determined to stay at the school that they're at and I agree - but that means a 50 minute bus ride each way. Today we did that trip... And it made me never want to do it again. Heidi screamed, shrieked and sobbed the ENTIRE WAY HOME.  Also, the agent never called back today about the house, so we're going to look at a few tomorrow in the next town over from here and see if they will work.  We'll see!!