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05 September 2015

The Blog is Back!

After a lengthy hiatus I have decided to resume my relationship with this blog. We are at a very different place in our expat journey and I think it would be a good idea to document it here and share it with the world.

It was strange reading my last post: I was getting ready for the birth of our daughter. At this moment we are getting ready for Baby Girl to turn two years old! Our lives have really changed over the past two years: I am a stay-at-home-mom and Hubs has really transformed into a family man. This all took time and considerable growing pains, but we have arrived at a comfortable place. Child rearing is hard work but we have found our groove. I have learned to not be so stressed out by my child and just go with the flow. I've had to do a lot of surrendering in my life by being a wife and a mother, which has at times been very uncomfortable. But I feel like the path that my life has taken has been more interesting and fulfilling than the life that I would have had if I had full control over everything. I've left my career behind (for now) and I am unsure what type of work will be waiting for me (if any) when I choose to re-enter the workforce. I'm not sure what kind of life awaits us back in the USA. It will all be very different.

As far as the expat experience goes, we are at a place where all the weirdness and novelty of Australia has faded away. We are pretty much used to things around here, although we do still struggle with developing close relationships with other people (either American friends move away, or the barriers to entry into a close Aussie relationship are just too high for us for whatever reason). 'Expat life' has transitioned to 'plain, old life.' We have been here for nearly five years at this point. The Big Deal now is that we are at a crossroads: become 'Aussie' (in spirit if not in fact) or go. Leaving this country behind scares me out of my whits. (Can you believe that? After all the homesickness and emotional pain I felt when I first got here?!?) But we do miss our friends and family back home. We miss being able to go to backyard bar-b-ques and seeing family on the holidays. We miss friends. As much as this country has made an indelible mark on my soul, I cannot deny that both Hubs and I have holes in our hearts where our loved ones are missing. If I was some sort of wizard and could make magic happen I would take all those people we love and transport them here! Then we could have both!

Over the past two years, our trips and explorations have slowed since we have a little one to care for. We did take a trip down to Tasmania last November, and we visited the Gold Coast in June. Not sure where we will head on our next trip but I suspect we will head to New Zealand for a third time. Can't get enough of that place.

I'm not entirely sure what I will document here on the blog. As we find out our fate in the months to come I'm sure I will have a lot of thoughts and feelings. And then the dreaded repatriation process! (I've heard it's worse than the initial homesickness of moving overseas - ugh!). Whatever it is that comes up I'll document it here. It's (probably) the last time I go through this whole process so keeping a record of all the things is appealing to me. If any Internet Citizen happens upon this blog and gains some wisdom from it as well, that is an added bonus!

Until next time...cheers, mates!

22 August 2013

(Paid) Work is Over

Friday was my last day at work. It is a bit bittersweet for this girl. As annoying as work can be at times, I enjoy the people I work with and I enjoy accounting. I will be back at it in time...but it will still be a transition into being a full time mom for a while. I now have less than a month before my due date. Based on statistics and the other women in my family, I'm tipping our little girl will be late. It's just as well - there's much to be done before she arrives. I am at once both in full nesting mode (time to clean the apartment from top to bottom!), and also so lethargic an entire day can pass without me giving much notice. (This is stange for me - I rejected being a housewife outright because I had no satisfactory outlets for all my energy and constant need to be productive). I imagine there is am extensive cocktail of hormones flooding my system right now that are taking my mind of my need to "do something" to being at home and getting the home ready. Being pregnant has been a challenge on many levels, but I am in constant aw of how nature has been slowly getting us ready to be parents - physically and mentally. Before I got pregnant, I wasn't really sure how I was going to be ready to handle the every beck and call of an infant. But it has happened. Nine months: not just for infact development - it also grows two fledgling parents (and I say "we" because apparently I give off pregnant lady pheremones that make my husband's testosterone levels drop and kick start his nurturing abilities. Truly amazing) This week I start my weekly visits to the ob/gyn. It's getting so real! Still have a lot of items on the list to purchase including a rocking chair (I'm insisting!). Tomorrow I will start some browsing for that. It's been a long time since I've gone to Ikea. I love that place! I'll have to stop by the cafe and contemplate a forbidden plate of Swedish meatballs... I'll probably be updating more often with shorter posts now that work is over. I'll have to dust off that expensive camera I bought last year for my photography course and take some photos. Until next time, Laurie p.s. sorry this post did not have paragraphs. Blogger is behaving badly and made me type all of this in HTML which I don't really know/remember.

23 July 2013

Spills & Thrills

Hello all!

I am making good on my promise to be at least a semi-regular blogger...so here it is!

To recap, my whirlwind Mexico-Chicago-Houston trip was great. I was so wonderful to be home and to see family and lots of great friends. It was just the re-charge I needed after having been away for so long. I especially loved showing up to see friends with my baby belly and seeing their surprised looks. It was great!

We returned home in time to get ready for the Back-to-Work Blues. I THOUGHT the return from my trip would usher in the next phase of Baby Ready-ing: the shopping! All that stuff we need: clothes, crib, stroller, etc. We didn't really buy anything in the States...I have no idea what I needed (still don't, really). And honestly, we don't have room to fully deck out this kid with everything she will need for all of childhood.

Anyway, I was getting back into my usual routine until the Thursday after I returned. There was no warning...I was walking down a step and twisted my foot. The pain was a bit more intense than other times I've twisted my foot...but I think being pregnant and desperately not wanting to be injured prevented me from accepting the seriousness of the injury right away (even as my foot began to swell).

Long story short, I hobbled around the city from one doctor to an x-ray place and on to another doctor where I got the final diagnosis: broken fifth metatarsal. And it was displaced...meaning it was not where it was supposed to be. I listened in shock as the doctor told me I would require surgery to correct the break. Surgery! I broke my ankle a few years back and all it required was for me to walk around in a boot for about six weeks. This was taking the whole broken bone experience to a new level. And to be pregnant on top of it was just too much. I pretty much cried from the time he told me that until my husband took me home.

The surgery went well. In spite of my initial concerns, the general anaesthetic required for the surgery was not bad for the baby. In fact, she was back to kicking me soon after I came out of it. She is a very active baby and pretty resilient!

And to all those who say (said) that I shouldn't have had surgery while pregnant, my response is: how the heck can I take care of an infant if I can't walk??? The doctors all pretty much said I had no other options in the matter so I went ahead with it. I think Mom being disabled would be worse for the kiddo long term than the 45 minutes it took to stick a couple pins in my foot. This was my first experience with being a mom: people are very free with their opinions when it comes to your unborn child! But I have a hunch most of the people offering their opinions have never been in such a situation. [shakes head disapprovingly]

I have been off my foot for over five weeks now. The healing has been the hardest part. The pain was minimal all things considered but my mobility has been significantly impaired. I have a really DORKY scooter that I use around the house and at work (trust me, the embarrassment is totally worth it to not have to use crutches), but it's not great for going long distances. When you build your life around not having a car and using public transport, not being able to walk is a major obstacle to living a normal life. I have pretty much been at home most of the time when I am not at work. (That's right: no BABY shopping!)

I go in on Tuesday for my final x-ray (don't worry, they cover me with heaps of lead to protect Bubs). They will check to make sure everything has healed okay and, God willing, I can ditch the stupid scooter and walk around again. I am losing my patience with the whole situation. It could be worse, and I'm glad I was the one who got injured and not Baby Girl...but I HAVE to get out of this apartment!!! I'll probably need physical therapy and I'll also probably have to wear my boot for a while, but as long as I can be up and around again I will be so happy!! I really want to get ready for the baby's big debut.

My goal is to be back to normal in time for the birth. It's time to get on with life, and in spite of it all, I am getting so excited about our new arrival!

That's my story...it's a bit of a sookfest (i.e. complaining), but it has been kind of a big deal in my life. It's good to have a forum to express oneself!

Thanks for reading! Fingers crossed that it will be smooth sailing for the remaining two months of pregnancy!

Cheers mates!
Laurie

23 May 2013

Welcome Back, Kotter!

Well, hello there, strangers!

I know, I know - I have been the stranger to my own blog! Many apologies, readers. Life has been...interesting for the past few months. Work, life changes...it seems that somewhere along the way our lives morphed from the "Expat Experience" to just being the human experience. I can't speak for Mr. TexStralian, but I feel like the adventurous, exploration phase of our life in Melbourne has come to an end and we are now in a period of settling and getting back to a normal/pre-move life. How long this 'normal' will last is anyone's guess, but it is temporary as we will be moving back to the US at some point (or moving somewhere else to begin the whole process again - this has not been revealed to me and if it is to be revealed, probably wouldn't be until a month before the expected move date. Such is the way of things!)

Right now I am in Mexico visiting my parents (and my North American tour also includes a stop in Chicago to visit the in-laws, and a stop in Houston to see my big sister get married). It is good to have a break from Australia and to re-connect with my family. It has been 18 months since my last trip home and that is way too long. I would say at least a yearly trip back to the Motherland is necessary to maintain sanity and to have a break from being an "outsider". Living away from America has given me a great perspective and I am so thankful for the experience, but I do get to the point of having expat fatigue. I just need to be in familiar surroundings for a bit of a recharge.

Anyway, since the end of November, things have been pretty busy/stressful. I haven't had many urges to write on the blog (even though we did take another trip to New Zealand, and have a few visitors that we had some great times with). I want to return to the blog, though. I'm not sure that this blog will focus on the all the weird, new things we find in Australia and vacations etc., as we have been in Oz for nearly 2 and a half years now. The blog will have to evolve as our experience here evolves.

We have some big things coming up. Well, one big thing that will change everything. I haven't really announced it on the Internets yet, but maybe you can guess? (look at the new wallpaper!) Matt and I are both a little slow to adapt to change so we are still getting used to the idea of being parents. We both wanted this to happen... but the speed with which our wish for a child was granted was a little surprising ;-)

I'll be leaving work mid-August and I will not be returning for the foreseeable future. No doubt this blog will be a creative outlet for me. I really want to also start taking photos again so expect to see some practice shots on here again.

I'll try and post some shots from our last trip to New Zealand (that are over seven months old by now). I'll try to also do some more regular posting on what's happening in our lives because I know I have at least one faithful reader who deserves some new content (Hi, Kimberly!)

Until then, I bid you good day!

Cheers,
Laurie




15 November 2012

Photography

Life has been very busy lately! One of the reasons is that I had my final photo portfolio due. The final product contains close to 70 images! It was a lot of work but I am quite happy with the progress I have made over the course of the class. I still have plenty more to learn, but considering I was afraid of my camera before the class started, I'd say I have come a long way.

Here are some of my favorites from the place, object, and concept categories.

I. Object


II. Place



III. Concept
My concept was called "Tracks". I took photos of the train and tram tracks in town. I decided I'd better keep things simple while I was just starting out ;-)




That's just a sample of the heaps of photos. I'd say the critique of my photos by the professor was mixed: my 'place' objects are strong while my objects are 'a bit dry' (yes, he actually said that!). When I look at my portfolio, I see all the effort I put into it. It's hard to separate myself from them and judge them objectively. It was an anxiety provoking experience having to present these to the photography class (especially since everyone seemed to be so much better at it than me!) and the creative process was challenging...very challenging. It was harder than the hardest classes I took in uni!

The jury is still out on whether I will continue with the next class. One part of me says I have a full time job and I need to be practical, but another part of me says that this is a beautiful art that enriches my life more than a paycheck ever could. What to do!?! I'll have a think on it.

Meanwhile, I can start taking photos purely for the love of it...maybe I'll even put some on this here blog! ;-)

I'll try to blog more often now. The weather is turning to summer and I couldn't be happier about that fact!!

Until next time,
Laurie

06 September 2012

Uluru

Man, life has gotten some kind of crazy lately. Between vacation, turning another year older, changing roles at work, and my photography work, sometimes I just want to call a time out and enjoy some couch time with a cup of Moccona coffee and skim milk.

My blog has not received the attention it deserves lately, but hopefully these periodic updates will diminish your thirst for TexStralians' tales just a little (cause I know you can't get enough!) :-p

Anyway...VACATION! It was much needed for my overworked husband and me, the Current Reigning Champion of Multitasking.

We took a short trip to the center of Australia to visit Uluru (also know as Ayer's Rock). We also visited The Olgas, a neighboring rock formation, and King's Canyon.

I'll do three separate posts on each of these as I don't want to overload you with photos. With all the beauty of the desert landscape and its wonderful colors, it's hard NOT to take great photos (so I took heaps!)

Uluru

As soon as I got off the plane at the tiny airport, I knew it was the right place for us to be: WARM, sunny, and not a cloud in the sky! The warmth and the sunshine in and of themselves would have made this trip ("You had me at 'hello'!")

Uluru is a pretty big rock formation. It took us about three hours to walk around the base and stopping to see some interesting features.

View from the Cultural Center


Here's a shot detailing the texture of Uluru
Here's a shot detailing my charming husband. So difficult to photograph. Seriously, why won't he just play along and pose already?!?
Here I am showing Matt how to pose and smile in a photograph. Also: some desert flowers.
The desert becomes really colorful at dusk.

Sounds of Silence dinner: we had a lovely dinner under the stars in the desert. It was pricey but it was worth it!
Other Interesting Points:
  • You CAN climb the Uluru but the Indigenous people believe the rock to be sacred and really don't like people climbing it. So we didn't climb it (although I think both of us really wanted to)
  • As you can see from the photo above, the dirt in the desert is really RED! In fact, this part of Australia is called "The Red Center".
  • We had some challenges finding some affordable food options on this trip. The resort is in the middle of the damn desert with the nearest major city a three hour drive away. No fast food or anything - just overpriced resort restaurants! We actually ended up eating a few meals at a place where you buy raw meat and cooked it yourself on barbecues. It seems a little off that I have to pay restaurant prices to cook my own food!
Apparently chicken takes longer to cook than steak.
I'll be doing more posts discussing The Olgas and our King's Canyon experience in the not-too-distant future so stay tuned, folks!

Thanks for visiting!

Cheers,
Laurie

23 August 2012

Weekend Photography Workshop

I realize that most of my blog posts of late have been focused on photography, but I promise a few new surprises in the near future.

Until then, I would like to talk about the Photo Workshop I participated in this past weekend.

Firstly, let me admit that I took over 1,200 images over the course of two days! It was incredibly tiring taking this workshop but I feel like my skill level improved...practice works!

The overall purpose of the workshop was to learn to work with light. Unfortunately, it was either raining or overcast the entire weekend so we really only got to practice with the diffused light that overcast days deliver.

Our first stop was a market about 45 minutes north of Melbourne called The St. Andrew's Market. It was my first time approaching strangers to ask them for their photo. The first lady I asked rejected me (sniff!) but I did manage to snap a few strangers' mugs.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning was landscape photography. I really enjoyed exploring nature with my camera. There are some interesting things to be found when you look closely!



St. Andrew's Market in Panton Hill, Victoria


A "detail" shot of some yummy baklava at a market stall



After the market, we shot images in an old cemetery. I wasn't really feeling it but I found this pretty wild flower vine growing.

Also found this dead tree with these weird orange fungi - I found it to be pretty photo worthy!

This is in The Botanical Gardens in Melbourne (that's the governor's mansion hiding behind that tree).

Red Succulents in the Botanical Gardens

In the Fern Gully in The Botanical Gardens

A busy bee collecting pollen in The Botanical Gardens.
 These are just a few of the many, many shots I took. Some were nice...many were out of focus. It was a great practice and I had a great time getting to know my classmates better.

Matt and I will be re-charging our batteries with a trip this coming weekend to a Super Secret location! (not really, but I like to create a sense of mystery that keeps you coming back for more!)

Tee-hee!

Until then, take care.

-Laurie