Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It was a perfect day in Canberra today. I hung out the washing which I am still finding a novelty (as we didn't hang washing in Virginia) and then Jack and I spent our last day together having lunch for 2 at the Tulip Cafe in Pialligo. Jack climbed the slide on his own and chased the magpies and peacocks while I sipped my cappuccino and read the Canberra Times in the sun. On our way home we washed and vacuumed the car and paid $1.65 per litre for petrol. This afternoon after I enjoy my last afternoon nap we are taking the jogger stroller for a walk around our golf course with coats and beanies of course.

It made me reflect on my second chance to stay at home with my boy and I have loved every minute (minus the odd tantrum) . I especially loved today.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Is that a tear in my eye? Probably just hay fever.

Oh dear...

Virginia is such a beautiful place and Ashburn has been such a friendly community that we are actually sad to go in 2 days. In 48 hours we will be on a plane to LA and it is unlikely that we will set foot in Ashburn again.

I am so excited about going to Disneyland and Vegas that I can't stop thinking about it and I am just so excited about the adventure and once again, sleeping in my own bed. That bed and that kettle are only 2 weeks away.

Goodbye Ashburn, we will miss you.


The Duncans

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nappy Changes

Jack took this photo while he was getting his nappy changed today. We are looking forward to potty training.

Virginia Tech

I've been driving past Virginia Tech University every day for the past 3 months and was only reminded recently of the massacre that occurred there only last year. 33 people were shot across that campus on April 19th, 2007.

As a teacher and a temporary resident of Ashburn VA, this memory has affected the way I see this town. I can't ever imagine this happening in Canberra or the effects that this would have on a community.

I have tried to think of the differences in our two cities to understand why I feel so much safer that this would not happen at home but I have only come up with one thing.


I'm not going to go on - that is all I can come up with so far.

Sorry for the anti-climax.

Pack Your Bags

Life in Virginia has been lovely but we are all ready to come home. We will miss a lot of things here but there is still so much we miss about home.

I will miss

1. Wegmans
2. Adventures
3. Ice Makers
4. Fuddruckers
5. Not having to hang out the washing
6. Having a maid and a weekly babysitter
7. Warm weather
8. Spending everyday with my boy

What we are looking forward to when we get home

1. Space at home and Jack's stuff
2. Our Friends
3. Dinner at John & Jules
4. Meeting our niece
5. Less bills and credit expenses
6. White, sliced bread
7. Feeling safe (a lot less murders and hold ups in Kippax!)
8. Our stuff
9. Going to work
10. Having my computer back

We are all really looking forward to touring California and Vegas and that is what Stu has been waiting for the while time we have been here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Niagara Falls

I have never been anywhere so beautiful and romantic sitting in the ER. It doesn't help that ever since Jack had a seizure I now rush him to the doctor as soon as his temp gets over 37C. I must have sounded like a nut case because the last fever was just a 24hour flu. ($300) But this time, 'the boy who cried wolf' was actually in serious danger of getting pneumonia. ($700)

So I have seriously been scared to death by the xrays/ blood tests/ heart rate monitors and IV's. I will take him to the doctor for every sneeze until we leave this country. (Priceless)

So the drama unfolded over 12 hours until we saw a real doctor* and were finally sent home. It took another 12 hours before we were back on track and another 36hours before Jack would speak to us.

I refuse to take this part of Niagara home with me. I will mostly remember standing on top of the Maid of the Mist and showering under the falls. I will remember the butterflies that landed on my shoulder in the conservatory and the way my husband and I drank cocktails and watched fireworks over Niagara from our lounge room.

*real doctor - a doctor who sees his patient for more than 5 mins consecutively before making a diagnosis

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day

This time last year...

and now he is all grown up (well bigger anyway) . Mother's day isn't officially until tomorrow but Jack has thoughtfully decided to send me some flower's on Mother's day - Australian time. Tomorrow will be very different from last year but still very nice. Stu says that him and Jack are planning on making crepes for breakfast and then Stu has to go to work. Jack and I are going to Lynda's for a hot roast lunch which will be fun and Stu and I are going to the movies after Jack goes to bed. Jack & I are in charge of the mother's day cake at Lynda's place.

*updated - here are the crepes. They were delicious!

Love being his mum.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thank God for Lynda and her boys

Here is Lynda with the boys.

Lynda is an angel sent from Australia to stop me from going completely nutty. She is a great mum and her boys are lovely and very well behaved so good role models for Jack. We took the boys out to the animal park and the weather was perfect. I got a little tan even through the sun cream. Mostly we have just been hanging out at Lynda's place as our boys have alternate sleeping routines. Jack is still on 2 sleeps a day which is very unusual for a boy his age. It's just wonderful to have someone to enjoy a hot, white cuppa tea with and share the stories of our adventures. It's funny how we think that culturally American's are basically the same but it's the little things that count (like fresh bread) that really make you feel at home.

So it's Lynda's birthday the day after Stuart's and we are going out for a celebration dinner. Really looking forward to the chaos that involves taking 3 young boys out to a restaurant! All is fun when you don't have to do the dishes!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Keys locked in the boot

So I think the title clearly outlines today's adventure. Jack just woke up so of course I am not going to finish this post but here is a pic from our weekend. It was the nicest weekend since we got here.

Also Avis rental cars saved us. It didn't cost anything and we only had to wait in the car park for an hour so only an hour of our lives for a minor drama. The weather is perfect at the moment so Jack and I sat under a tree and ate some Maccas. Lovely!

The theme park on the weekend was a bit scary (as you can see) but Jack slept in the car all the way there and back so we hold some hope for the big (8hr) drive to Niagara Falls next week. The hope is that we won't all go crazy having to drive that far. I can just imagine the water fall. I reckon it will be great. It's a great thing that jack has really started to enjoy watching the portable dvd player or the journey would not be so easy. Tip for parents - buy the portable dvd player even if your not sure if they'll watch it.

The week is set to be a good one even though Jack was diagnosed with the flu (for $300) yesterday. I'm sure he'll be over it by the end of the week. Niagara here we come!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A walk down memory lane

Rachael's baby shower was yesterday and I was a bit disappointed that I missed it, mostly because there were homemade sausage rolls and cup cakes in Royalla. I was able to enjoy most of the fun over the web cam but it's really just not the same.

It got me thinking about my own baby shower and mostly about that time in my life...

Life was easy and free.

I did what ever I wanted whenever I felt like it. I stayed up late and slept in.

But I was ready for my life to change, things were starting to get boring. And I love this boy more than anything, ever.

Many RUDE people commented that I would probably come back from America pregnant. Some people even suggested that I might like it so much that we would stay. But even though I think my sister and my friends, Jules and Justine are just glowing with their pregnancies now - there is no chance that I would be ready for another baby. Jack is looking more and more like a big boy every day and I am excited about his growing Independence. I am enjoying my freedoms again, he sleeps from 8.30-8.30 every night. We have a weekly babysitter and I don't have to worry constantly about feeds/changes and crying. If this is the 'honeymoon' before the 'terrible twos' then I'm going to enjoy every minute of it! And let me tell you - I haven't forgotten about the morning sickness that I endured for 5 MONTHS either!

Also I just thought I'd let you know - IT WOULD BE A COLD DAY IN HELL before this family moved to America permanently :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Anzac Day

While in America to remember the soliders we make Anzac Biscuits and we listen to the Dixie Chick's 'Travelin' Soldier. Jack and I take a moment over a hot cup of Lipton Black Tea to be thankful for the wonderful country that we live in today (or will do soon) and those who made that all possible. Proud to be Australian - right here!

It was a mission as usual to find things in the supermarket to make Anzac Biscuits. It is always a mission to find anything that resembles 'normal' stuff at the enormous supermarket down the street. I have been telling mum that they don't have the same brands as we do at home and here is just an example of what I mean...

Over all the quality of the products was good and I managed to find things with the least amount of additives. So we didn't get to watch the march and we didn't get a day off work but we all enjoyed some fresh cooking....

... and the Dixie Chick's.

Lest We Forget

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Two weeks since I have done my own blog post!

Hopefully today I will make that up by doing two. I wonder if it works like that?

Here I am living my dream.

I had the most fantastic time in New York. I loved the city but 3 days was definitely enough time spent there. The city was very dirty and the people were all in a rush. Even the tourists on the 2 hour cruise didn't seem to relax. They were pushing people out of the way to get the perfect Liberty shot.

I had a jaw dropping moment when we got to the top of the Empire State Building. I could hardly keep my mouth closed I was just amazed and in awe of the beauty. It was a real shock because the lifts are so fast it hardly feels like you are climbing so high.

Stu enjoyed staying in the hotel with Jack for naps and this gave me the opportunity to explore or post on Jack's blog. The boys had a great time and indulged me by tagging along to all of the high lights that I needed to see.

It hardly feels like we are half way through our journey though our bank balance does show it. I am especially excited about going to LA and Vegas in 6 weeks time. The last thing we have to do before we leave here is visit Niagara and then we will have done it all.

Everyday life is very settled - when Stu took the day off yesterday I asked him if he enjoyed a day in my life as he stayed home for Jack's nap and played the computer. Stupid question! It is wonderful - I am finally feeling relaxed and enjoying another 3 months staying at home with Jack. I love this job - wish I could keep it when we got home!

Maybe I should tie a knot around my finger?

Sometimes we need a little reminder...

This photo will be mine.

This is why I love this man so much, because he took the day off work to watch Jack at The Little Gym and because when all of the other dads come to visit they sit in the viewing area but Jack loves him so much that he couldn't do the lesson with dad behind the glass. So Stu came in and took over my role as Jack's helper. He clapped hands to the songs and joined in circle time. I couldn't have chosen a better father for my boy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Great to have Skype

It was great to chat with Jules on Skype tonight. The boys played WOW and we had a good time all round :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Outlet shopping with Ellen

Apparently the sun does shine in Ashburn!

Notice the first day with shorts and t-shirt! It's 26 degrees and sunny here today. Hooray!

Jack refused to have his nap this morning so Ellen and I decided that he was better and well enough to go shopping. Eventually he fell asleep in the pram and we found some real bargains at the outlet mall in Leesburg. The brand names here are half the price that they are at home. Jack bought some new gumboots (very Bemboka) because it rains here a lot and Ellen and I found some perfume for 50% less than it would cost at home. Jack enjoyed playing at the park which was in the middle of the mall. The malls here are mostly not undercover like at home and they don't have parent rooms like home but they all have these cute little parks for the kids to hang out. Ellen and I were also a bit confused as there was a food court which only had two checkouts so you get your food and then go to the checkout - hmm... how does that work?

Another cool thing here is bread in a can and these disposable bibs that kids wear around here. What a good idea - they are also very cheap and no more soaking in the napi san for two days after a spaghetti meal!

Jack's favourite meal - spaghetti of course!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

$1 bus to New York

That's right - I just booked a bus for $1 per adult to New York! You think I'm crazy dont you - but I just couldn't let the bargain past me!


Life has settled into a new sort of normal. The days seem to go by faster and the homesickness has gone. Jack has had two major disasters in the last week but I am sort of glad that they happened while I was able to care for him at home and not worry about work/childcare. Also our travel insurance means that these accidents were actually cheaper to have here than at home.

We have just figured out how to make calls to home for 2 cents per minute so we find comfort in that. It really saved us last week! Stuart is happier now that work finishes at 6pm and he has spent enough time with the boys so he doesn't mind if we don't go out for dinner every night. Ellen arrived from Australia yesterday and it was wonderful to have an Aussie girl to chat with after Jack went to bed. I predict many hours of hanging out in Ashburn with Ellen and Jack. She has already made a date for Thursday.

Every Wednesday Jack and I have been invited to Lynda's place for a cuppa and morning tea. Lynda has just moved here from Sydney with her husband and their 2 boys (3yrs & 14mths.) They are setting up a new life in America which is very exciting but also very stressful. In 3 weeks they have bought a house, a car, mobile phones and necessary items to live in their home until their furniture arrives in two months. This all makes my dramas seem so simple.

The price of living in America is much cheaper than back in Canberra, petrol is half the price to start. Fresh food is about the same but toys/clothes/electrical/cars/houses etc. are all at least 30% cheaper. Colin & Lynda reckon they've hit a goldmine but we know better ;)

We are going to New York on Monday for 2 nights so I am SUPER excited about that. I hope I get to do a 'Meg Ryan' on the Empire State Building and also go for a horse ride in central park. I've been waiting for this moment all my life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Living in Ashburn

We moved into a cute little apartment late last week. The walls are white and the carpet is creme. A mother's worst nightmare! So far we are doing alright at keeping it all clean - apart from on burned pan due to a toddler distraction.

Jack and I got into 'the little gym' this week where they have little treadmills and a gym for kids. Needless to say, Jack had a good time but I also enjoyed meeting the people there. The 'mommies' were actually very nice and very interested in our little journey. It costs $30 per visit but I explained to Stu that it's either $30 there or $30 at the shrink later.

Today we started playgroup. I joined a group 'Discovering Northern Virginia with Tots' as I though the title deemed most appropriate to what I want from a group. It is very different from the mother's group back home. There doesn't seem to be the same sort of connection that I had with the mums back home. The 'mommies' were already in their little posies and I found it a bit like starting a new school. I will continue to go because it is good for Jack and I to get out and meet people but hopefully people will be more welcoming as they get to know us.

Easter was also very different over here - NO CHOCOLATE EGGS! We certainly suffered without Cadbury eggs this year. The children of Ashburn all ran around with special baskets 'Spider Man' and 'Dora' were a couple, having an egg hunt for plastic easter eggs that were filled with lollies. They don't know what they're missing out on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The GPS has saved our marriage

I'm not going to double up on information already in Jack's blog but rather tell you the more nitty-gritty of what's gone down so far.

Of course I haven't had much time for my own blogging. A mother always puts herself last.

Well the best thing we have found so far is buying a GPS. I am wondering what people did before it was around. We haven't had one screaming, "YOU DIDNT TURN - I TOLD YOU TO TURN" argument and of course I'm sure that it is a good thing that Jack hasn't been subjected to that. (and me too - I'm just the driver)

I'm very glad that we didn't have to use the Vallergan on the journey here for Jack but I was glad to have it - just in case. I was AMAZED at how well he behaved on the flight and how happy he was the entire time. He was also easy to settle and didn't cry once. I was thinking 'OMG OMG' when they put us right next to a 6 month old but amazingly they both did really well.

Stu was also very helpful but he was just as nervous as me about making the 2 hour connection in LAX and we were both waiting for Jack to FLIP out. Stu has also been a bit stressy about work - getting there on time - wearing nice shirts and study when he gets back home.

We have had a maid and a chef all week so all that leaves for me is picking up after Jack and keeping him entertained - I feel like 'the nanny.'

Will try to blog some more for myself - at least weekly (am blogging for Jack daily) but I'm not......incomplete due to toddler tantrum.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Population Rise in Virginia

Next week the population in Ashburn Virginia will rise by 3 for a whole 3 months. There is, however a lot to be done before then.

Today I had the second trip to the chemist to buy sedatives for Jack for the 27 hour journey to Virginia. I'm glad to report that this trip was successful. I had to call my husband and let him know, 'the eagle has landed -repeat- eagle has landed.'

Tomorrow's mission will be buying Easter gifts for the family before we go and we should add Tim Tams and Vegemite to the shopping list because I intend to stuff our suitcases with them.