Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tastes Just Like Chicken

Grandma has been volunteering at Jacob's school reading stories to kids the last couple of months. The last time she went, she brought a few eggs the chickens in the backyard had laid for the kids to see. She said many of the kids didn't know eggs came in different shapes, sizes and colors. At first I was surprised to hear that, because living in Gisborne which is almost an hour away from the city, many homes here have livestock in their yards. But turns out that's not the case. I guess no matter which "city" you live in, you don't really get to see where your food comes from.

This made me think about just how much Boy Wonder understands the fact that when he asks for chicken nuggets, he might very well be eating Whitey who lays all the white eggs in Grandma and Pop's backyard. And when the kids chants for more fish at the dinner table, that it just might be Nemo they're gobbling up.

I've never "neglected" to tell the kids what it is exactly are on their plates. The kids love their "ro ro", which means meat in Chinese. So whenever there's a kind of meat for dinner, I would tell them its fish "ro ro" or chicken "ro ro", etc. And whenever we see a certain animal like a cow or goat or even some fish swimming in tanks in a restaurant, we always point them out and say yummy! Its always come unconsciously. When we see an edible animal, we say yum. Is that messed up?

But just to even things out, I had a pretty embarrassing episode at the supermarket just last week. We discovered tofu in the supermarket down the street. And when the kids realized it was tofu, they started grabbing it from each other, screaming "I want it!". I was frozen with embarrassment watching them while other shoppers looked as they walked pass. I bet they have never seen 2 kids fighting for tofu before!

I guess in someway I wonder if I should worry whether telling the kids all these animals are yummy would take away their respect and care for animals in general. Has it actually registered in their minds yet so that when Boy Wonder sees a chicken running around, he actually sees a chicken nugget with chicken legs? And when they eat fish, which is one of their favorite dishes that he would ask whether its Nemo, Marlin or Dory he's eating?

Just a few days ago, Pop discovered a nest with 3 baby birds, only a few days old in his welding mask in his work shed. The kids were thrilled to see them! Boy Wonder kept asking if he could touch them, but we said no because if he did the mother bird won't want them anymore. If I was by myself watching these baby birds, I would be thrilled beyond belief. I've always dreamt of getting really close to a nest with baby birds since I was a kid. But when that moment came the other day, my main concern was making sure the kids don't touch the birds and that Pop doesn't move the mask too much in case the birds fall out of it! My concern for these darn birds over road the moment of awe I was in.

So anyways, in the end I just want my kids to grow up to love and respect animals in general. I don't want them to be afraid of them, but at the same time, I want them to know that we also live on the sustenance they provide us. I am happy that our kids will grow up to know where eggs come from and where their favorite "ro ro's" come from. And most of all at least I know Boy Wonder and Nachos will grow up saying food doesn't come from the supermarket only.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Ties

So in addition to our car, I've now acquired a few more items which bind me or us to Australia even more.

On Tuesday, I went and got my Australian driver's license. Thank goodness I had a California Driver's license, so I didn't have to take any tests. All I had to do was show up at the scheduled time, have Hubby sign a piece of paper stating I live here with him, pay, take a picture and PING! I had my license in less than 10 minutes. How's that for efficiency! I got one that is valid for 10 years. Gosh, 10 years! Just thinking Boy Wonder would be 14 by the time I need to renew it got me teary eyed.

There were only 2 things I found "inconvenient" about getting my license. I went to VicRoads (which is what they call their DMV, or where you go to get anything that has to do with your license or car done) last week to say I needed a driver's license. The place was pretty much empty. I already brought everything I thought I needed but I still had to make an appointment. And while the lady was going through my application the following week, she said she needed something that had my name with a local address. Hubby explained our situation and she didn't budge and kept saying she NEEDS something that has a local address with my name. So I just asked if they had something we could sign that affirms the fact. She said oh yes we do and got Hubby to sign one! Sheesh woman, if I didn't say anything, she would have kept going and we would have had to come back some other time. So anyways, as efficient as they are here, its still the same everywhere when it comes to people who can't think outside of the standard procedures.

I also got a local SIM card. All deals here give you a cell phone when you sign up to any plan, so now I have 2 phones. But it was a bit depressing because although I have a local number now, my phone hardly beeps or rings because I don't have any friends here... yet.

The only "bad" experience with getting the SIM was that it didn't work when I put it in my phone. I thought I had to activate it, but couldn't do it on line. So when Hubby called, turned out the guy who processed our purchase forgot to click a button on his computer to activate it for us when we bought it.

One last thing is an e-Tag. An e-Tag is what you need when you drive on the freeways here. Instead of toll gates, everything is computerized. You drive underneath this huge metal bridge-like thing, and at that moment your e-Tag beeps, indicating you've just paid the toll. Its kind of like an Octopus card in HK, but more convenient. I wonder why they can't be that sophisticated in terms of all their other transportation methods. I've taken the train twice into the city and didn't have to pay because no conductor came and the ticket office was closed! So anyways, with the e-Tag you just have it linked to your bank account so it automatically gets reloaded. Oh, and if you don't have an e-Tag and you need to drive on the freeway or find yourself on a freeway, all you need to do is call a number and give your license plate number.

So there you go, more ties to this country. We'll be getting more things when the house is done. Hubby has already asked me to look into broadband, land line, electricity, gas, water, etc. Oh! We already got cable, so that's one more thing. All these channels! I just pray they'll have American Idol when the season starts!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Day In The Life...

Its been 2 weeks since we arrived and we've settled into sort of a routine. Here's a glimpse into what our days are like...

We usually get up between 730-8am. It all depends on our 2 alarm clocks, mainly Boy Wonder and Nachos. On some weeks, like this one, cousin Jacob stays with us. Today was Pirate Day at school for Jacob and Grandma dressed up with him and went along. Grandma made most of their costume.

While Grandma brings Jacob to school, Boy Wonder and Nachos have their breakfast. Emma used to feed Nachos her breakfast or even chase her around before she would finish her food. But now that we're without her, Nachos has naturally realized she had to feed herself and go hungry until lunch if she didn't finish her food. Its another story with Boy Wonder. Its amazing how much day dreaming a kid can do with a plate of breakfast in front of him. If no one keeps reminding him to take a bite, he can sit there until lunch time and maybe have to eat 2 meals together!

After we've all had our breakfast, Hubby either works from home or would have hitche a ride with Grandma and get dropped off at the train station.

We used to lounge around in our pj's all morning in HK until we had to go out. But now that we're at Grandma and Pop's, we've had to get our lazy bums in shape and actually change out of our sleeping clothes into daytime clothes. Boy Wonder is still learning to change his own clothes, though I suspect he's just too lazy to do it. After he's forced to get out of his pj's, he stuffs them under his pillow and starts the day.

We usually watch some tv or go out into the vast backyard to play. Nachos is so used to doing this now that we can leave her outside on her own while she roams the land with the dog. We keep an eye for her of course through the window.

Both kids have also bonded well with the house dog Molly.

By around noon time, both kids are hungry enough to ask whether its lunch time. While I'm preparing the food, Nachos is already begging to be put up in her highchair and have her bib on. We rarely have left-overs from dinner the night before, so lunch is usually a sandwich, meat pie or pasta. After lunch, its nap time for Nachos while Boy Wonder gets quiet time to play on his own, watch YouTube or do some drawing.

In the afternoon, I either do some grocery shopping if its my turn to cook dinner or just hang out with the kids. By late afternoon, Hubby and Pop comes back from work, grandma has picked Jacob up from school and someone is prepping for dinner, or tea as we call it here.

Before and after dinner is just full of playtime for the kids. Grandma and Pop have set up their backyard as a huge playground. There are swing sets, a trampoline...

a huge club house, swings hanging from the tree...

chickens in the back backyard...

2 dogs (uncle Andrew's dog Bosley is here while their house is getting done), a sand pit, a mini pool to fill when its hot enough, a quad bike...

and 2 acres of front and backyard to roam. There's even some wild life to look at when we're lucky. Just yesterday morning we saw a cockatoo digging for worms in the front yard. And in the afternoon we saw this blue-tongued lizard in the backayard. The kids had fun trying to catch it. Good thing the dogs didn't!

After tea at around 630pm, the dishes are done while the kids go out to do more playing before the sun begins to set. Here's a picture of Hubby doing the dishes with a good view of the kids playing in the clubhouse outside.

Even Bosley has fun sliding down with the kids.

When it starts to get dark, the kids get some dessert and then its time to get ready for bed. Thank goodness all the kids are in bed by 815pm. We then watch our tv shows and so much unlike HK, everyone is in bed by 1030 or 11pm the latest.

Life sure is different here and we're all getting used to it. We'll have to figure out for ourselves what our daily routine will be like after we've moved into our own house. Too bad our backyard won't be as fun as Grandma and Pop's, but hopefully it'll be fun enough for the kids to stay entertained... before school starts!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Feeling Lost

Its been a week since we moved to Australia and somehow I feel like it's been more than that. My mother in law asked me this evening why I don't seem to be excited and just seem to be blah about everything. I know I'm not totally myself since we got here, but just haven't bothered to figure out what's wrong.

We've been to look at our house a few times now. It was really exciting when I saw it for the first time since our last trip. Its a monster of a house standing there in front of it. But the excitement quickly faded away when I stepped in and saw just how much work still needed to be done. I do get excited about things, but I'm a last minute kind of person. Just like when I go on a trip. I get excited when we're on the way to the airport and not before that. I think I'll be bursting with anticipation the day we're driving off to officially move into our new house. Right now I'm just handling the disappointment as the builders find more reasons for delays.

Another thing I've been dealing with in silence is the fear of driving here. I'm really happy about buying our new car. But that also means I finally have to face the reality of driving here. I've never been a driving kind of person. Even back in the US, whenever I would go on trips with friends, if someone offered to drive my car I would happily hand it over. I hated driving in San Francisco, because I would get all stressed out and nervous. And when I first started driving myself to work in Manila, I felt like I developed an ulcer with the stress of offensive driving. I was glad we didn't have a car in HK, because I now I would never be able to handle the confusing roads and highways there. Once we got lost while Pam was driving and all I could think of was how glad I was I wasn't at the wheel or I would have freaked out. And now I'm here, and have to drive on the other side of the road with a larger than usual sized car. Even on our way to Boy Wonder's school Open Day, all I could think of was how difficult it would be to drive the 10 minutes to his school from our house. I really need to start dealing with my driving anxiety.

I think another reason why I feel lost is due to the uncertainty of things at the moment. Although I'm extremely grateful my in-laws have welcomed us to stay with them until our house is done, its not knowing just how long we will have to impose on their kindness that gets to me. I want to be able to have control of having a set date or schedule. It sucks that we are at the mercy of them bloody builders and the weather.

And one last thing. I miss being able to just lift the phone and call one of my friends to have a chat with or go out and have lunch with. I wish I could just email them tonight and invite them over for lunch next week.

Anyways, I'll give myself more time. We'll be meeting up with some of Hubby's friends soon and maybe that'll help. I'll force myself to go for a drive with the kids tomorrow morning while Hubby is running at the Melbourne Marathon. Just need to figure out where to go!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

We've Got Wheels

I think in addition to a house, nothing says you've arrived and will be settling down in a specific place more than buying a car.

After looking at all sorts of cars online, we finally decided on the Mazda CX-9. We were supposed to get a second hard car we saw online, but after checking out a new one at the dealer, we realized a new one wasn't much more than the used one. We also decided to get a car that sits 7 in anticipation for when my parents come.

I wasn't expecting much at all when we went to the Mazda dealer. All I wanted was a car that drove, felt safe and didn't feel cramped. My dream was a Lexus, but since it was over our budget, Hubby felt the CX-9 might be a good alternative. I was really impressed when I saw it. I'm glad we were able to find a good compromise in terms of what I dreamed of and what was practical.

Hubby picked up the car yesterday and it was like Christmas in October! That new car smell was intoxicating. After he drove it home we all sat in it, the kids crawled all over it and then we took it for a drive after dinner. I drove it! I was really nervous since I wasn't used to driving on the other side of the road and because the car was wider than a sedan, but it felt good and powerful.

Sigh, we've really arrived and we're here to stay. I need to stop being such a nervous wreck, get my Australian license and drive Bandit drive!

Monday, October 06, 2008

In Limbo

We arrived in Melbourne Saturday evening. We left San Francisco on an early Friday, 1:20 am flight, arrived in HK around 6:40am HK time, then left again on a 9:20am flight, arriving at Melbourne around 6:30pm. We traveled for over 25 hours to get from San Francisco to Melbourne. We are NEVER going to travel that route again. After loosing over a full day traveling, we lost one more hour due to daylight savings time since it kicked-in that evening. I was thankful the kids slept through the night and woke up at 7am. As Hubby kept saying, it could have been worse.

It was strange on the way to my in-laws that evening. I knew I was tired, but knowing this time we were here to stay, that this trip was the destination and not a holiday was a bit surreal. I wasn't sad or anything, but I got teary eyed riding in the car. Maybe I was missing my parents already, or maybe I wished the kids could grow up closer to my parents or a whole bunch of things. I wasn't emotional when I left the US to go back to Manila, I wasn't emotional when I left Manila to move to HK. But this time, I was. Maybe its just the finality of it all. Or at least for a long time to come. This is where our kids are going to grow up. This is where our family will call home. Its just so many definitive moments bundled into one day. Or maybe I was just really tired and time zone confused.

I definitely want to blog about everything we'll be going through as we settle into life in Melbourne. I need to change the name of my blog for one thing. Still have no idea what to change it into. And this time, I want to blog so that all my relatives in the States can really keep track of what we're up to.

It seems like each time I visit the States and spend time with my family, I realize how much I miss spending time with my parents, brothers, sister in law, cousins, uncles and aunts. Maybe its because we've "only" lost one close relative, my grandmother and we're so not used to it, that this loss has traumatized us enough to want to cling on to one another. Because before my grandmother passed away in early 2001, we were definitely all living our separate lives with not much interest in one another. We definitely value all the time we get to spend with each other now and I definitely feel that everytime I visit the US.

So anyways, I digress. I'll blog about our US trip and then start blogging about the start of life here in Melbourne soon. I need to download a million pictures first and get more organized. More to come!