It is a beautiful sunny day here in Sydney. But I am sitting inside the apartment today. Last weekend I hurt my toe and now it hurts whenever I put on shoes. Eric has taken the kids and I am resting my foot so I'll be able to go to church tonight and walk to the doctor on Monday.
This isn't even my big toe, nor is it the tiny one on the end (Eric said that one was particularly important for balance). It's just one of the ones in the middle. And the fact that I have nine other perfectly healthy toes doesn't seem to matter. My entire life is affected by this one toe. To chase my kids down before they run into the street, and stand holding Elise for any length of time, and haul three bags of groceries and two kids the five blocks from the grocery store, this toe has to be restored to working order--
Or cut off. I definitely hope that it doesn't come to that. If that was the doctor's first suggestion I'd get another opinion. The rest of my body would prefer my toe remain. Even if the healing process is painful.
Sunday we drove around and looked at properties. We first went to the Sydney Olympic Park to wear out the kids on playground equipment for a little while. I've included the image (we didn't have our camara) because it really was a fun park for the kids. It was primarily composed of ropes that kids could climb, and the instability allowed for there to be an element of challenge that seems to be lacking in a lot of parks these days. They also had these pole bars with a platform at the bottom. You could hold onto the bars and allow the centripocal force to spin you around a bit. Caleb got really good at it. In fact he would hold onto the bar and the platform with his hands and allow his feet to swing out to the sides. For three or four spins he looked like something from Cirque d'Soleil (Okay, I'm not going to bother to look the spelling up.)
Then we drove around and looked at neighborhoods in the Southwestern part of Sydney. First, I love the ingenuity and creativity used to build a three or four bedroom home on a piece of property that * is the perfect size and slope for one half of a skateboarding ramp. Space and size constraints have forced architects and designers to be their most creative and it shows in many of the homes we have looked at. But on the South Side of Sydney they've pretty much paved everything unless it is a park. A tree in a yard--well, actually a yard is a rare find just west of the CBD. And so driving through those areas, I was beginning to feel a bit clausterphobic. That being said, we could very well live there. The commute for Eric would be great and there are some very nice homes with great views, plus, it is close to the universities and I think university towns are great places to live. But I do miss backyards and trees.
So then we journeyed over to Hunters Hill and Woolwich. This is actually a peninsula where the bay becomes the Parramatta river. It looks to be exclusive. We drove by a Tennis club with real grass courts, beautiful old churches, parks that looked over the harbor to the bridge and opera house, and lots of homes with treed backyards.
Most of which are out of our price range.
We continued to drive north and east and ended up in Balgowlah Heights. It is a beautiful area with a wonderful park that sits off the beach. From that park you can walk along a paved sidewalk to Manly Wharf. It is one of the most beautiful walks in harbor.
As we were doing all of this, my family was flying to Yellowstone. My mom, my dad, my sister, her husband, my brother and his wife. We were supposed to go with them, but then we realized that it would be quite a haul back to the states; our kids would essentially be vampires possessing the same sleep schedule and demeanor. The dangers of a grizzly mother and her cubs seen at a good distance might pale in comparison to the sleep deprived mom and her two children in the back of the rental van. But I realized as we drove around looking for a home that even if we could replicate the trappings of home we can't replace the people we so miss. It's an important point to recognize. We could spend a lot of time and effort and money trying to fill holes with things that only people can, or at least should, fill. And, in turn, we would miss what this place has to offer. Mostly, we would miss the opportunity God has given us to live among the people here.
*If you happened to have clicked on this link you might have been impressed with the reasonable rent for a 4/2/2. After all $950 is not much to pay per month. Take into account that we are talking Aussie dollars and the price drops to about $700. But the price is actually a per week rate. I've had a difficult time getting my mind around that.
Or so it seems. It has rained every day we've been here. They exceeded their rain total for June three days ago.
I found Paddy's Market that runs on the weekends and sells cheap produce. Apples are cheaper than in the US. So are avacados. Bananas are still $7 a kilo (The metric system is still pretty foreign to me) or about 3.50 a lb. But that is about half of what they are in the supermarket.
In other news:
Watched all that I could of Australian Rules Football. The amount of sports teams here is dizzying. I watched Rugby the night before. In the news there's about 10 min. local, 10 min. international, then the weatherman tells us it is raining and going to rain until sometime in the distant future. The rest is sports. Principally Soccer (the World Cup is happening as we speak--this would be news to me, but as we are in a country who is going for the first time in 32 years, this is a big deal. Also, Australia seems to care a bit more about Soccer than American in general), Rugby, Australian Rules football. Cricket is also big here. But I haven't heard that much about cricket lately. I don't think it is cricket season.
Also watched Australia's funniest home videos. Australians have a great sense of humor. But here the numbers just do not play out. In America we have 200 million people? I think. Australia only has 20. Yet both shows have to fill an hour of programming.
I am enjoying reading blogs this morning. Here is what I've found so far:
Yesterday my kids and I went to the park. This is the only image I could find, and I'm waiting on my computer to clear customs so I can download all of my photos. I think it is an old image because there is more to the park than this, but it does give you a general idea of the area.
Anyway, there were several moms and parents with children. One woman was from Germany. Her husband worked for an airline industry and they divided the year between Australia and Germany. Another family spoke a language I could not identify--perhaps French--which is usually what I label any language that sounds vaguely familiar but not readily identifiable. Then I heard a woman speaking Spanish.
It's funny how a foreign language can make you feel homesick. But hearing Spanish here is as rare as eating at a Mexican food restaurant. Hable Espanol? I asked. Her eyes lit up at hearing here native tongue. And I instantly felt as though I'd played a cruel trick on her having just about exhausted the extent of my Spanish. She had a boy about Caleb's age. Her husband was getting his MBA at Macquerie (sp?) University. They were from Peru.
I have it so easy here. I don't suffer the mental exhaustion experienced by those who constantly have to translate what they are hearing. She related that finding an apartment was difficult because the rental market for families is fairly tight and they had several strikes against them--no letters of recommendation from an employer, he's a student, they have a small child, they are immigrants. We had a company move us. they left most of their things behind, and are having to buy a refrigerator (one of those 15-20 year purchases) for the year or two they will be here in Sydney. We do have a resettlement allowance. Really, this is not hard.
Eric and I are currently living in the Central Business District of Sydney for the next three months. After that we will probably move to a more family friendly area, but right now Eric, for the first time in our marriage can sit down with the family on a regular basis and eat breakfast. The gym is downstairs. And he walks about eight blocks to work. The commute takes about 10 mins. This is very convenient for our family.
As I mentioned earlier the grocery store is not.
Today Caleb, Elise and I walked to the monorail (more for entertainment than need) and got off at the stop next to Woolworths. This, I was told, was a large grocery store. I was inside, but since the lift (elevator) was not working I could not go to the other four flours with my pram (stroller). So Caleb and I walked three blocks in the wrong direction with the intent to return to my old grocery store that is over the tram and under Wynyard park.
We did finally make it.
The walk down George street in Sydney is the most cosmpolitan event of my entire life. Except that I was in kahki's (Only to be worn in summer) and pushing a stroller and ordering my four year old to walk beside me! There seemed to be very few children in the CBD (central business district). Those that were had camara happy parents tagging along--obviously tourist. But I talked to more people with foreign accents than Australian. Asians very nearly outnumber Australians in the CBD, and all the dining information brouchures distinguishe between Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, etc. They don't lump them all together in an Asian cuisine section. The other big difference is that there is no Mexican, no Tex-Mex, no Southwestern cuisine.
And then there is one other difference. Watching Australian rules football is like watching a bunch of stranded sailors fight over the last dinner role. So Eric needs, NEEDS to use his computer to keep from suffering from sports withdrawals.
At the moment I am sitting at my husbands laptop at 5:00 a.m. in the morning.
I am awake.
I've been awake since 3:00.
And so have my children. If my son lives to see the morning (we had a rather tense moment where he spilled what was left of our dwindling milk supply all over his Spiderman pajamas) we will find a way to weather the five days of forcasted rain in Sydney. Sydney gets about 50 days of rain a year. A tenth of those are occurring upon our arrival.
One way we will wile away the time is by making a trip to the grocery store. This should take care of the morning. Of course the convenience store is just moments away, but I hate to continue shopping there because it is so expensive. I just spent $8.00 on rice and Pantene. So I we (Caleb and Elise and the stroller and the layers of clothes to protect us from the rain and pneumonia) will need to walk four blocks (uphill) to the real grocery store which rivals the size of a really big 7-11. So as Caleb was spilling milk all over his pajamas all I could think was, "Oh, great! And it's raining."
The grocery store, interestingly, is located underground in the Wynyard train station. I don't think there is any parking. I just mention that fact because it is just one detail of our lives that represent a myriad of changes that have taken place over the last several days.
Right now I am sitting at a desk in our two bedroom corporate apartment. The apartment is fan shaped with floor to ceiling windows along the living areas and bedrooms. Most of that view is spent on the office building that sits on Darling Harbour. If someone would just demolish this one tiny building in front of ours I'm sure this is the view we'd have--when it isn't raining Someone may be attempting this as we speak. Yesterday there were two fire alarms during the kids naps and both times the fire trucks came with sirens and lights blazing). Still, in between the offices we can see that big building in the picture(it is a casino) the water, the submarine from the Maritime museum and the monorail. We can also see ships and the characteristically red, yellow and green Sydney ferries passing on the water along with the balconies of hundreds of our neighbors, though we've seen relatively few actual neighbors and none with children.
Update:Okay, here is our water view. Actually, it is better than this, we can see the submarine from the Maritime Museum.
On Sunday before the rain set in and amid our more coherent moments during our bout with jet-lag (something we are evidently still battling) we walked along the promenade, past the aquarium, underneath the walking bridge, by the IMAX theatre and to the big children's park with a Mary Poppin's carousel. So all in all it looks to be a pretty cool place to live.
We fly out tomorrow. And leave family and all we know behind.
It almost literally was yesterday that Eric said he might have a job opportunity in Australia. And without the kind of grave conversations or contemplation or forty days of fasting we just decided to go.
I guess we thought if God didn't want us to go to Australia he'd let us know, but all doors have opened as we have arrived at them, though no sooner. We haven't been able to map out a five year plan. We don't know exactly when we will be back. We don't know where we will live when we get there (well, we do have corporate housing for a couple of months. We aren't out on the streets or anything.) The unknowns are many, but we have seen and felt God's hand in all of this and knowledge and fear of God engulfs our uncertainty.
We sold a lot of stuff. And if it were strictly up to me we'd sell more. But at each successive garage sale I could tell Caleb was beginning to get more and more uneasy. I think he though he might go next. On accident--I swear--I sold a shirt or two that Eric still wore. So Eric was glad to see the last of the garage sales. One thing I've learned--being a master of the obvious--is that it is easier to pick up and go when you don't have much baggage. The one thing I'm learning is that statement probably applies to a lot more than just a move to another continent. This has been a time to give passing thoughts (I haven't had time for, I guess, "parking" thoughts) to what really is and isn't important. Not being able to watch The Office or Aggie football--not important (Let it be noted that Eric vehemently disagrees with the latter and at nights wakes up in cold sweats--otherwise he's fine with it). Not being able to see family as often as I'd like--important. I have an antique desk my parents gave Eric and me. It is important. A large farm table from Crate and Barrel--not so important. There are things that represent people and times that are important.
And I have a few things I saved from the clutches of an eager garage sale buyer that when push came to shove I just could not part with. We had the last garage sale after all our stuff went to sea and, now I'm having to find a place in my carry on bag for absolutely useless items--a couple of books that I'll never read and a few pieces of clothes my children can no longer wear. Oh, and the blanket with the red reindeer on it that my mom swaddled me in as a baby.
The most comforting thought is that the things and people I will miss most are eternal. The desk my parents gave is beautiful, but it really isn't important in and of itself. It represents people and memories that are.
In fact as I write, Elise is playing with my cell phone. It becomes absolutely useless tomorrow. Except for the names and numbers in the address book. That is important. I'd better get that now.
Since the fam is moving, I decided to move the blog as well. Mainly for the sole reason of being able to do this. Yes that.
Okay there are other reasons as well, but the strikethrough was the clincher. I can also post books on the side bars and if you've read my other blog, then the two of you will know that I do like to read.
Since I will be half a world away, I'm hoping some people that lurk around my blog(isn't that cool) read my blog but do not post, will be more inclined to do so since I will be HALF A WORLD away. Can you be 3/4 of a world away? I don't think it can work that way on a sphere.
Anyway, I do have to put my house in order so to speak, so here is my first post.