Winter thoughts

The time is slowly approaching and we will have been six months since we have been back home in Australia. Whoa the time has flown by and we finally feel like we have a handle on things. The only variable up in the air in the starting date of our house build and all I can say is that it is going to happen real soon! There have been many learning experiences which we have experienced over the last few months and because it is winter and time to ruminate, here they are:

Eat ramen as much as you can in winter though make sure to blend the shitake mushrooms through for a depth of flavour – oh and I gotta find that Kombu!
  • When moving back to your home country have a bit of a plan about where you will live – lucky we our friend offered their place for house sitting until we decided to move back into our vacant house.
  • When looking for rental properties make sure you check the glass and if it is not double pane, forget it! I know it is hard when looking for places to rent as it has to be the perfect fit but we are freezing here in our place as there are lots of windows in this house built in 1990. It is part of a bunch of cheaply built row houses and man we enjoy the location and get this – the electricity bill for 3 months was $1379!! We blame the electric wall heaters which suck up the power and we have been leaving them on overnight ๐Ÿ˜ฆ which is a bit silly.
  • Again this rental has had its issues with replacing the range hood, the oven is bad, the dishwasher is loud, the water heater had to be replaced and we were without hot water for two days, the water pressure is terrible when you have a shower and are doing the washing at the same time, the curtains need an extra layer to keep the cold out and the doors and windows are not sealed properly, so the wind blows in (I have made door snakes!). Still it is a house with space which is what we were looking for and we will make the most of it. This is an experience and we are noting all these problems so when our house is built we will make sure that these problems do not exist!
  • Watch for stupid laws like no animals at rentals, apparently the laws in Victoria have changed and a landlord cannot deny you without a great excuse but still we had it good in California at the fancy rental haven of Central Park with our pets.
  • Make sure everything you need is in walking/PT distance – I still do not have a car but I borrow them or catch an Uber which works but I am sure that the money is adding up for each trip. The problem I find with that is that it all takes time and that time cannot be reimbursed, therefore I lose valuable study/work time.
  • My study zone is now in the dining room right by a massive window which leads to the courtyard and it is freezing so I have had to add another curtain to the existing to keep the cold out – the landlord refuses to listen to our complaints of the broken curtain mechanism? When we were landlords we happily helped out our tenants with any problem but it seems that this guy is a tight arse, at over $600 a week he should be laughing to the bank.
  • I am grateful that we are close to school and the kids can walk, I can walk to the gym and I have found some cool classes to go to – I love my weights workout and running 5kms on the cross trainer (who knew I could run!!), the library is close, Office works has 8 cent copies for Uni printouts – which is a walk or $10 Uber ride away, we have the best felafel down the road, I love our new community, Aussies are so friendly and helpful, there is a super cool bike path by the creek or the railway line that goes for kilometres, I have some amazing local nurseries just a walk away, I found a happy place to volunteer at the community nursery, we get to look after chickens and a beautiful pig named Gigi, chickens are at school and the community garden and in general life is good and we are happy back in Melbourne.
  • Oh and patience is everything and if Plan A does not work out – be ready with Plan B.

I enjoy walking around the streets to explore because that is how I experience a city that I visit or live. And yesterday I got stuck on one side of the tracks because the train was coming so I decided rather than wait I will go up the path. So what did I find? Some street art, a community garden by the railway tracks and a cute little book library. I was on a mission to Office works so I stopped at the local cafe Eighth Nerve and enjoyed an amazing coffee – that is one thing to appreciate about being back here, the coffee is amazing and made with local almond milk!

I also know that living in Melbourne in winter it is damn cold but thank goodness for my knitting skills I am snug as a bug – when going outside I always wear a knitted hat, have my gloves on standby and wear a coat and you will be comfortable (just watch out for that wind!!) Overall I reckon the move back has been a struggle for all of us as we miss our friends in California and the amazing weather over there but that was a wonderful growth experience and now we are ready for our next phase in life. I promise we will really appreciate our new house when it is built ๐Ÿ˜€

Thoughts for the future

IMG_7492

Slowly I am getting used to life back here after our fantastic time back in Australia – one step at a time…

IMG_7491

My plan is to go back next year once our house in Oz is complete and a little big bigger, and we have a place to live in Melbourne. Many people have been asking me what the difference between Australia and the USA is?

IMG_7395

My answer is always that Australians are very relaxed, friendly human beings. Americans take a little while to feel acquainted and are always on the go – an energy that to resonate through the community even on the freeways. Gotta go here, there and everywhere all at once.

IMG_4393

So I have done a little bit of reflecting about why I cannot feel settled here and why I want to go back home (my birth home).

IMG_7375

Culturally the differences are vast where here in our little bubble of Silicon Valley ego seems rather significant. Understandably people are working hard, and they define themselves by what college they went to – this always perplexed me, but college does cost a lot of money here, so why not talk about it. Australians do not really talk about themselves so much but as my friend pointed out Aussies do like to speak about other people ๐Ÿ˜€

IMG_4622

Whereas back down under people will say hello to you on the street and smile, just because. The friendliness of conversations even with shop owners really makes me happy. When we were visiting the main drag where our house is in Oz, I spoke to a book shop owner about living in the area, and she mentioned her kids go the schools I was interested in going to. It was such a serendipitous moment as it confirmed my decision on wanting to return to Melbourne because she spoke so highly of the school communities and had been a resident there for 27 years!

IMG_4600

So fundamentally it is ego (in the Valley) vs. authenticity (down under), and for me, I know where I would rather be. It has taken me a while to feel comfortable here in California these last 10 years so having a connection to an amazing school community really helped me with a feeling I was amongst “my people”. Our elementary school is an incredible community – multi cultural, open minded, supportive and loving, so it has been just perfect.

IMG_4548

I want my children to grow up in a school that embraces the arts, music and humanities as I feel it is important to have a whole education that develops the whole child. I feel that once my son hit middle school here, the education is just OK – he is missing out on art at school, but he has had some great sporting opportunities like cross country and robotics/engineering. Hey, he can create his art (graphic novels) at home!

IMG_4508

Touring the schools in Australia made me realise that I want my children in Melbourne to complete their education as I feel it will be well rounded including a true appreciation for the arts – which is what that city is about! The arts, friends and family are what my heart aches for when I am in California having the beauty of art around me in the form of gorgeous architecture and the accessibility to amazing galleries embracing arts everywhere.

IMG_4485

Here in California, there is art in San Francisco at the SFMOMA and museums around the city that I am yet to explore but time is slim in my life, and it’s tricky to get out and about just for fun these days with study and now work. I am excited to be starting a job as a Teacher Assistant at a local school in August, this is an incredible opportunity for me as it aligns with my Education degree, to be completed way in the future…

IMG_4439

So weighing up the positives whichย are the perfect weather and nature in California and the negatives, where I really miss my time with my family. I feel the decision to move back will be beneficial for myself as I can do my Education placements and the kids will have access to well rounded 21st-century education. A 21st-century education you might ask? It is teaching for the future, and the children learn skills that prepare them for a life of uncertainty in their careers where jobs that exist may be something else in the future.

IMG_4411

It will be a bittersweet farewell to California though I know now after visiting Australia two years in a row that I feel more grounded to Australia and that is where I want to be. California has been a great experience, and I have really enjoyed my time here growing up with my family but the time has come to decide on the future and where I see our family. I had a glimpse into the future when we were in Melbourne, and I like the fact we can:

  • walk/bike to school
  • walk to the shops
  • walk to the train
  • public transit into the city
  • a gym is on the way to school
  • a fruit and veg market is down the road
  • my sister in law and her family is a drive away
  • there are bike tracks close by
  • a beautiful park is a walk away complete with a flying fox.

We just need our house to have a couple of extra rooms! That plan is coming along with my friend who is an architect who can help us with our project, so the ball is rolling along.

IMG_4406

I really miss my family, and because they do not travel we have to go to Oz, it will be much better to be 2 hours away by plane from my family rather than a whole day travel time. Time is ticking away, and I have investigated our options and feel that the opportunity for the children to enjoy their tween/teen years back in Australia will be a good thing for them, having them appreciate the arts and the academics hand in hand.

IMG_4397

As for now, I have a job for the next few months that I have to juggle with part time study, my family and volunteer duties. It will be busy but the time will fly by, and before we know it, the time will come to go back to Australia for good.