On June 4, we welcomed our daughter June Ariane into the world.

Her name isn’t June because she was born in June (which everyone asks, understandably I guess), we just liked the name. Ariane is after her great grandmother on Stan’s side. Hopefully our June will inherit some of her independence and spunk!
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After a long labor (wherein the epidural decided to wear off between about 5 and 8 centimetres, at which point my doctor said that was looking like as far as my body would take me) I had to go in for a C section. Definitely not what I had planned on, but I’m just grateful it was an option.

We sure love our little girl, and she’s growing by leaps and bounds! Here are a few pictures:

Mom and June at the hospital:

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My heart melts:

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Little baby package

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Tummy time with dad

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Milk drunk:

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Not so sure about the bath:

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Hiking with dad:

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I think she’s getting enough to eat!

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My mom has just been for a visit, and we had an amazing time. I miss that woman, and June misses her Nana!

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My daughter is going to be a strong, independent woman. But she can still wear an adorable pink headband, right?

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Starting to smile…

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Smile maybe:

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There it is!

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And if you are curious, the spot on her forehead is a hemangioma. It’s a type of birthmark that can show up after the baby is born, then can grow for six months or so, then slowly disappears. Apparently 10% of babies have them, and they are harmless unless they start obstructing vision or air passages or something. So now you know!

I have learned a couple of things in the past seven weeks. 1. Taking care of a baby is every bit as hard as everyone says it is. Sleep deprivation and crazy hormones are no joke. 2. Living this far from family is HARD. Since Junebug decided to come a little early, and also since I am kind of an idiot, my mom didn’t come until June was a month old. Those first two weeks were absolutely the hardest of my life. Fortunately we have some great friends that have made it bearable, and things have gotten easier. A word to the wise: if someone offers to help you, even if you are embarrassed that you need it, say yes! Embarrassment be damned; you will feel amazing after someone washes your dishes or takes your baby for a walk so you can catch a nap. Then you can concentrate more on loving and enjoying your little bundle. 3. It is so, so worth it. I fall in love with this girl (and her dad) in new ways all the time.

One more picture for good measure: June the bear braves the Australian winter.

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It’s been over a year since I blogged last?? <hangs head in shame>

If anyone is still out there, I’ll just give you a quick update on some happenings around these parts.

I guess I’ll start with The Big One: we’re having a baby! Pretty soon! Sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. Don’t be mad, ok?

Here I am waddling, probably in pursuit of something sweet and fried.

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I’m due June 11, which puts me at 33w 4d right now. Needless to say, we’re super excited and grateful and happy, and a little nervous. But mostly happy and grateful. Last year I miscarried, which was really hard, and I’ll probably write more about that at some point. It’s an experience that has heightened my gratitude for our current situation, but has also contributed to my worrying about every little thing. Kudos to Stan and my friends and family for helping me through my worst worry-wort days (I’m 21 weeks and haven’t felt the baby move in 4 hours – aaaahhh! I ate some potato salad at that barbecue – aaaaaahhhH!!!) My favorite has been my co-worker calling me a silly sausage. She was right.

The nursery will be a pretty simple affair, but I’ll show you some pics in due time.

On to other goings-on, we recently had a most amazing visit from my sister, her husband, and their four kids (and one on the way!!)!

BUT THERE’S MORE.

These jokesters also surprised me by bringing my brother and my 89 year-old grandpa!

It was all too much, and you can see the tears that just would not stop.

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It’s not often you get a surprise like that in your life. (My co-worker said, “It’s a good thing you didn’t have the baby then and there!”) Also, whose 89 year-old grandpa is willing to travel for 26 hours straight to see them?? MINE. He’s incredible. And it was super cool to get to hang out with my bro, too. I miss doof-laughing with him.

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The trip flew by way too fast, and I put on a real show at the airport watching them leave. Just ask Stan and his tear/snot soaked shirt.

Here are some highlights:

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The kids looking super impressed at seeing a koala

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Getting up close with kangaroos

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And “koala-bees” (wallabies)

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Pure joy at the beach

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Tween modelling

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Picking strawberries

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And turning them into a marvellous creation

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Looking cool in Aussie hats

 

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Boogie boarding epically

Taking lots of pics

Taking lots of pics

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Baby shower

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Finding what the Easter bunny left

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Cuddles with Grandpa

More beach time

More beach time

 

Sister time

Sister time

Sister time

Sister time

And lots of eating and hanging out!

An early morning at the airport

An early morning at the airport. Those faces sum up how I felt about them leaving.

Miss these guys already.

What have YOU been up to?

Yesterday marked one year since we stepped off the plane.

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What is this strange place??

It has been an amazing experience so far. In many ways, it was just as easy as I thought it would be. In many other ways, it’s been harder than I think I could have prepared for.

I obviously neglected the blog, which makes me sad. I think for the first few months, it was painful to continue to read and comment on your lovely blogs (the ones I link to on my sidebar, and many more) because they reminded me of home, including the house that I could no longer work on. It had become such a huge part of me. No matter how many cool experiences I had down here, my homesickness and depression were dark clouds hanging over everything. (Not to mention that we had two back-to-back winters, which I think seriously messed with me!) Here are some dark Adelaide clouds to demonstrate.

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Pretty, soul-sucking clouds

As the months went by, I gradually settled in and started to find my place here. I finally got a job, and started volunteering. I joined a few expat groups. I found an awesome gym buddy, and became closer to the wonderful group of people from Stan’s work who so generously welcomed us from the very beginning. Family visited us. I got a little more used to the culture. I stopped pressuring myself to have the “best experience ever!” and let myself be sad about moving here. Finally, the anxiety knots started to loosen (probably along with my bowels, heh heh!) and life started to get back to normal.

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Keep ya head up, ya flamin’ galah!

Just today, I was hit by another wave of missing home, which prompted a few tears. But overall, I still felt happy and at peace. There is a very important difference between depression and everyday sadness. Depression is like when you’re trying to run away from something in a dream, and you know you have the strength, but you just can’t do it. It does not mess around! Sadness is a normal emotion that in some ways actually feels kind of good. (Come on, I know I’m not the only one who enjoys a good cry sometimes.) I can deal with sadness, and let’s be honest, I just wouldn’t be me without it!

Moving on from that bit of General Business, we really have seen and done (and eaten) some cool things, which I plan to tell you about shortly.

But for now, it’s dinnertime.

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Can I start out on the negatives today? Is that okay? Alright. You know what sucks about moving really, really far away? You can’t call your mom when you feel like it. Because when you feel like it, she’s asleep. Because it’s nighttime there. Forget getting off work and calling one of your friends or siblings to vent about the day. Because they’re all asleep!

It’s really hard moving. Yes, it’s an adventure, and every day is filled with new experiences that I don’t regret having. And we have met some really awesome people here. But I can’t seem to shake missing everything about home. I just miss it. It’s a bit of a shock realizing that life goes on when you move away: people get married, they get engaged, kids get bigger, your siblings visit your parents without you… I want to put a ban on anyone having any fun until we get back!

I called my parents the other day. It was my lunch break, so I knew it was approaching bedtime for them, but I also knew that in reality, they’d probably be up watching Hoarders or Toddlers and Tiaras. (They were up, although I’m not sure what they were watching.)

“So do you think you’ll live there forever?” asked my dad, a little too nonchalantly.

I replied, “No way! This isn’t home.”

“Well I’ve always kinda thought that… home is where you are.”

Oh, dad, with your wise words. He’s always been so adaptable and up for anything. Those words have been following me for the past week, and they’re comforting.

Home is where you are.

I guess I can live with that.

 

 

After my gripping post about our new couches, I figured you would all enjoy an update on our entryway! Here’s an artsy pic of it.

And here is a boring shot.

We broke down and spent $100 on that little table. After trolling Gumtree for months, I realized that teeny, thin entryway tables are pretty hard to come by, so we bought this little guy new. I quite like him, though.

You can see that we have our pet paintings (sniffle), our wedding photo, a mirror, some pictures I bought from a lady who was selling a bunch of crap, a napkin holder that works as an outbox, a bowl for keys, and a flower. You know, the essentials.

And now to the fun part, here are some fun sayings I’ve noticed from people at work:

  • “Have a chin-wag” (have a chat)
  • “Spit the dummy/chewie” (throw a fit)
  • “Don’t get precious” (basically don’t be a princess)
  • “Dear” (expensive)
  • “Cheers” (thanks/bye)
  • “Good on ya” (way to go)
  • “Too easy” (no problem)
  • “Ta” (thanks)
  • “phone hookup” (conference call)
  • “Flick an email” (Send an email)
  • “trackie dacks” (track pants)
  • “to dack someone” (to pants someone)
  • “shivers” (expletive)
  • “far out” (exclamation of wonder or annoyance)

Also, the other day my co-worker asked me what I’d brought for lunch, and when I told her peanut butter and jelly, she seemed confused. Not that she’d never heard of a PB&J – more that she’d never seen one. She asked me, “So… do you mix the peanut butter and jelly together? Or do you spread peanut butter on one side and jelly on the other and then stick them together??” The concept of someone not knowing how to make a PB&J cracked me up. This, coming from someone who loves Vegemite!

Also, this, and variations thereof, are common conversations in my office.

“Amanda, will you please post this to Greg Palmer (pronounced “Palmah”)?

“Sure. Greg Palmer. Got it.”

“Yes. Greg Palmerrrrrrr.”

They get a kick out of my hard Rs. It hasn’t seemed to have gotten old yet!

When we first moved here, we set a bit of a budget for our house furnishings. The idea is that we won’t be here long enough to invest in really nice stuff, so I set my sights high on a Craigslist/Gumtree steal (which worked for me last time, back home) in the form of a $100 couch.

Well, that ended up being kind of a disaster. As you may remember, the couch turned out to be pretty grody but we bought it anyway (ugh, just… ugh). Dumbest move ever.

After realizing that no matter how cheap we were trying to be, I couldn’t fathom sitting on that thing for the next three years, I googled and searched high and low for a decent but reasonable deal. Eventually  I found a couch/loveseat combo for $695 at a place called Le Cornu furniture. And the best part is that tax is already included in advertised prices down here. We kicked our old grody bodily-fluid-ridden couch to the curb guest room and were left with this:

And then, blissfully, this:

Sure, $700 for two couches won’t buy you the highest quality out there (as was evidenced by our poor friend fearing that she broke one of the arms due to some mysterious creaking noises!). But if they at least last for half of their 5-year structural warranty, we should be okay.

TL;DR: We bought new couches.

A lot has happened since I graced you all with my presence in blogland!

We celebrated our first anniversary by re-creating our favorite wedding photo:

(Yes, I am holding a flower that Stan picked for me.)

If this city has anything, it’s beautiful sunsets. So we thought we’d get an awesome one for our anniversary, but nope! Sandwiched between many days of gorgeous sunsets was our anniversary, foggy as can be.

Here is the viewpoint where we’d hoped to take in some gorgeous orange and gold sky!

We could only laugh.

I  wrote in our leather journal that also served as our guest book.

A friend joined us for the event:

Here I am getting ready for our shot. I wore jeans and tennis shoes for the hike up, then swapped my shoes (same yellow ones I got married in!) and ditched the jeans.

In other news, I’m more homesick than I had anticipated, but I’m settling in here more and more every day. Lately I’ve taken to asking myself, “Now why did we have to move so far away?” I could really use a weekend visit home, but those don’t happen when the round-trip journey eats up 42 hours.

I other other news, I got a job! You guys, unemployment was really really hard. It’s some of the most dejected I’d felt in my life. I started temping, which was really good. I think it made me more relaxed (read: less desperate) for my interviews for permanent jobs. So if you’re currently unemployed against your will, I would suggest signing up with a temp agency!

People seem generally pretty surprised that I managed to land a full-time, permanent job here. A lot of jobs are on a contract basis, which means in 6 or 12 months you get to look for a job all over again (yuck). The job is as a receptionist and marketing assistant at a small financial planning company. So far I really like the people I work with. Nailing the accent is proving to be pretty important, otherwise when I answer the phone all I hear is “G’day heewaahh yeeouui? This is <thickly drawled and impossibly quickly spoken name> ” No disrespect to the accent, it’s just a little hard to understand for a yank!

While I’m at it, here are a few differences I’ve observed between Oz and home:

  • They work fewer hours (my work week is 37.5 hours: 9-5 with a half-hour lunch) and they don’t generally go home and check work emails
  • They drink at work! My office apparently shuts down for “Beer o’clock” at 4:30 sharp on Fridays – for beers in the office
  • “Hours” are called “Trading hours”
  • “Ta” = “thank you”
  • Sprinkles on donuts are sometimes called “hundreds and thousands”
  • They don’t call it 1% and 2% milk. You have to read the label if you want to know how much fat is in there; they’ll name it anything from Skimmer (which is actually 1%) to Lite (which is actually 2%)
  • Stuff is in Kilojoules here, instead of calories. And at McDonald’s (Macca’s) all the KJ info is posted right on the menu
  • Yes, we Stan eats Vegemite

I can’t think of any more at the moment, but I’ll keep you posted.

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