I Did It!

I Did It!

As of 2:30pm (Brisbane time) on the 29th of September, I am a stay at home mom. I advised my now-former employer of my decision not to return to my role as a student progression advisor, updated Centrelink of the change to our circumstances, and promptly experienced 15 or so minutes of subsequent doubt as to the wisdom of my choice. Questions of career progression, how we’ll ever afford to buy a second vehicle, and general money rubbish swarmed around my tired brain, halted only by my daughter’s blood-curdling “my teeth are trying to bust through” scream. I rubbed some homeopathic teething gel on her sore gums, kissed her fuzzy head, and the doubts that moments earlier seemed so, so important kind of just faded away.

Where else can I be but right here, in my little home, doing laundry at an alarming rate and singing to my diva of a blessing as she fights her nap? There are moments when I’d rather be at work, where I’m praised and productive, but that’s not where I’m called at this point in life.

Harli and I decided early in our marriage that, should we have children, I would stay home with them. I firmly believe that motherhood is a high calling, and that my child(ren) deserve to have me put as much of my energy into their early development as possible. That said, actually saying the words “I won’t be coming back” was near agony for me. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have the ability to be at home, and I don’t want to take a moment of that for granted.I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that it wasn’t really a choice for our family; I’m at home because it’s what we believe is best, and we will make any sacrifice necessary to ensure that it stays this way.

Because I have an anxiety issue, and don’t want to offend anyone, please know that I have the highest respect for parents who have to return to work for a myriad of reasons, and can truthfully say that there are some amazing child care providers out there who pour so much into the kids in their charge. I have fond memories of my day care friends, one of whom is sort of my benchmark for life (check out teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com – Paige is a peach!) so I obviously came out alright. Yea?

So, friends, I did it! Stay tuned for regular updates on our single income life, punctuated by informative posts related to immigration, media recommendations, and the gaggle of creations that pop out of my sewing machine each week. ๐Ÿ™‚

Harper’s celebrating! See how happy she is…?
Goals for 2013 (aka: “I’ll do better this year”)

Goals for 2013 (aka: “I’ll do better this year”)

I know, I know; I’m three days late, and about four dollars short, posting my little list. Shoot me later, love me now.

2012 was a year of laziness across the board. Finances, health, career progression- everything just sort of lulled for 12 months. I’m not really in the mood to repeat that this year, so I’m giving this “goal-setting-task-achieving-progress-making-forward-moving” thing another go. It is my solemn prayer that my resolve can be strengthened, and my efforts blessed.

While I usually speak for Harli and I, this list is mine alone. He’s much more disciplined than me, and therefore doesn’t need to make actual resolutions. Don’t worry, he knows just how special he is.

On with it!


– Pay off all of Harli’s credit card debt, my smallest student loan, and at least half of my second smallest student loan. If we stick to the budget, we should have this nailed.

– Visit my family for two weeks in either June or August, and pay for every aspect of the trip without going into debt.

– Move into a bigger place when our lease ends in June. If we have the credit cards paid off by then, there’s no reason we won’t be able to afford to move.

– Save up for a new sofa

Personal Growth:

– Be Jesus-y. Listen to people. Help in practical ways. Hit my knees in prayer. Give away what I can’t lose.

– Complete the “Bible in one year” plan from Bible Gateway.

– Find a church and settle into it. Community is important, people.

– Volunteer time to causes that ignite that holy passion within me. This will more than likely be faith-based, but I’m not convinced that the Lord won’t put me in a large group of non-believers and say something to the tune of, “be my hands and feet, go!”

– Reign in my tongue. This is the first step to not finding my worth in the opinions and adoration of others. Being a people pleaser with odd boundaries is becoming a bit of a burden, kids.

– Complete six sewing projects

– Learn to drive on the left side of the road

– Read 25 books. If successful, next year I’ll break it down with specific titles.


– Lose 40kg (roughly 88lbs) Yes, this is a huge number, and yes I *do* have that much weight, plus much more, to lose.

– Add cardio exercise to at least five of my days each week. By the end of the year, I’d like to be able to run a mile without stopping. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that I usually count my daily walks between work and whatever public transport I’m catching that day (bus if I’m in the Gold Coast office; train if I’m working out of Brisbane for the week) as “exercise.” It’s not, and won’t be counted as such any longer. ๐Ÿ˜‰


– Spend a weekend “away” for our Australian wedding anniversary in February.

– Start, and finish, three books together: one fiction, one practical, and one spiritual.


– Continue in my current position for the entire year. I love my job, the industry I’m a part of, and the company I work for.

– Cross-train in other areas of the company, in the interest of career progression and the challenge it presents.

I won’t bother with firm statements of “this year being different,” because I frankly have no clue what the year has in store. But, I know that God is good, and that it isn’t up to me to number my days. Whatever I do, or accomplish, is for His ultimate glory. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. xx

Christmas Down Under

Christmas Down Under

Christmas lunch 2011: Shrimp on the barbie.

No, I’m not joking. We’re really have grilled prawns as part of this year’s meal, and I’m really telling everyone I know that sometimes life really does fit a stereotype ๐Ÿ™‚

Joking aside, Christmas in Australia is almost as far from my Iowa roots as I can imagine experiencing in an English-speaking nation. This will be my second holiday season here, and I’m still having trouble remembering that it’s December, rather than the middle of June. When people ask, “is it hard to adjust to life in another country?” my first response is to bring up how different celebrating the holidays are. In case it’s every in question, please allow me to confirm that I really love living here. Australia loses points for it’s lack of my mother and sister, and the general ignorance to Judeo-Christian tradition, but makes up for it in every other way. So, as I’ve said many times in the last year: everyone should have a Christmas Down under.

Because Iย like making lists, and tend to blog between tasks at work and it’s easier to work through this one point at a time, please enjoy the following reasons why you should start saving rightnow to make your way to Oz. I promise, you can stay with me ๐Ÿ˜‰

1. The seasons are flipped. Before you let that detract you as you dream of the white Christmas that you love so much, think of this: no ice on the roads; no parking lot accidents due to snow drifts; more than eight hours daylight; surfing on Christmas Eve. Not enough? As someone who grew up in the middle of a snowbank, with black ice decorating most smooth surfaces for 12 weeks each year, I’ll admit that it seems so wrong to have Christmas in summer. But, it’s actually pretty amazing, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

As you’d imagine, there are some required adaptations. We’ll be barbecuing prawns, andย chicken instead of enjoying roast beef, ham, and mashed potatoes. Rather than gathering around the proverbial fireplace with hot apple cider and cocoa, we’ll arrange our lawn chairs around the patio table and guzzle lemonade like it’s our job. Running through sprinklers and diving in the pool replaces sledding and snowball fights, and no one you meet has seen snow in real life.

2. Santa doesn’t really visit much around here. Gifts just come from mum, dad, and other family members.ย Maybe it’s because there’s no snow for his sleigh to glide through, but there’s a noticeable lack of Mr. Claus around here. I’m not saying that’s good or bad- just different enough to notice, and embrace. I love the fact that nothing here is identical to the US.

3. This will sound very weird, especially if you know me well, but celebrating Christ’s birth in a place where very few people are Christian, and faith isn’t really expected, is an amazing opportunity. This year, I’ve come back to reminding myself, my husband, and some of our friends, the reason why we’re celebrating. Seeing what Christmas without Christ is an encouragement to be bolder in faith, and not shy from sharing the joy of Truth with the people around me. Moments of worship and fellowship are so much sweeter when they’re no longer expected.

4. The food is different. Stop laughing, and please don’t roll your eyes ๐Ÿ˜‰ No Christmas is complete without Pavlova- that delicious dessert which I was completely unaware of until I met my husband. Salads, avocado dip, and grilled food are standard holiday fare here, and it’s still enough of a novelty for me to get excited about it.ย 

5. Have I mentioned that it’s now summer, and there’s no battle with icy roads? That I’ll be resting on the beach on the 26th of December, rather than watching the snow fall and praying for school to be delayed, before remembering that two hour delays ended for me in 2004.

Convinced yet? Gonna come see me and have some shenanigans? An adventure, perhaps?

I’m Sew Cool

I’m Sew Cool

Just ask my husband, and my momma ๐Ÿ˜‰

For my 25th birthday, my darling husband gifted me with something my little heart wanted desperately: a sewing machine. This desire was two-fold. First, I have a mom who is a pretty decent seamstress, crafting diapers, curtains, doll clothes, and a number of our Halloween costumes. She was given her sewing machine by my grandmother when she was 25, so there’s a good history.

Second, as much as I am a product of my generation- university graduate, “good” job, plenty of stamps on my passport- I love everything to do with making, and keeping, my home and family.

My first project: gifts for the several babies whose birth our family is eagerly awaiting. Given that I haven’t touched a sewing machine since I made a gym bag in 8th grade, I figured a simple Rag Quilt would be a good place to start. In the last few days, I’ve made two of these blankets, and am reasonably pleased with the results. There are flaws, but a lot of love poured into both creations.

The first was for a friend’s daughter, back in the US. I might always refer to her as “Little Girl.” I know she’s going to be a bright light to those who know her. She has an amazing mom, dad, and older brother; they are a beautiful family, and I thank God every day for their selfless example.

Aren't the birdies adorable?

The second blanket belongs to our nephew, Mr. Adam. I feel especially blessed to have the opportunity to make it, as there is much to pray about when it comes to this little boy.

Blue and green tugboats for the "Little Prince," as his mummy calls him.

Not to sound like a dork, but I really enjoyed the hours spent making these simple blankets. It was a good opportunity to really pray for the children who they’ll be wrapped around, and celebrate their futures.ย I love giving gifts, and I thoroughly believe that homemade presents are finest. Best: it’s beyond time to break out of this “me, me, me, me, me” season, and start doing for others.

Next project: Felt food for our three year old nephew, Luca. Christmas is just six weeks away!

“Nothing is broken”

“Nothing is broken”

… but my foot still hurts.

Thursday- my second to last day at my old job- I took a tumble down some stairs. By “some,” I mean “two,” and by “tumble,” I mean “I looked over my shoulder and missed the last two steps and rolled my right foot under me as I flew forward.” It was a graceful moment, that I’m thankful was witnessed by almost every person in the building.

Within a minute or so, I realized I couldn’t stand up, and that the loud “crack” I heard as I fell might be to blame. Thus began a two hour process of begging not to go to the doctor, and assuring everyone that I was fine and that big blue lump across the top of my foot wasn’t anything to worry about. To make a long story shorter: I was promptly whisked away to the by my friend Julie, to have a doctor make me hop down the longest hallway in Queensland, and tell me that my foot isn’t broken and I’d need an x-ray if I wanted to file Worker’s Compensation paperwork. I hate x-rays, and I wasn’t in the mood for paperwork when my job would be ending the next day, so I just hobbled up the stairs to our Shoebox and popped some homeopathics.

High point: Julie mixes a delicious Slurpee, and I can wholeheartedly recommend a combination of lime and raspberry. Low: It hurt.

By Friday morning, I was doing pretty stinking good thanks to Traumeel’s dissolving tabs and lots of arnica cream. Since I could walk normally, I coerced Harli into taking me to a few shops, and out to lunch. Sunday afternoon, I was in agony. Turns out I overdid it.

Yesterday morning, 90 minutes into my first day of a new job, I was in tears and begging Harli to take me to a hospital. My foot was black and blue, and my toes were going numb. Fast forward to the end of the five hours we spent in the hospital, waiting to be seen, x-rayed, and seen again: nothing is broken, but I have ripped every ligament in my right foot and strained a tendon. I’m to stay home with my foot iced and elevated above my heart until Friday, at the earliest. It will take anywhere from two to eight weeks before I can exercise again. There’s nothing I can do to make it heal quicker, other than rest.

Problem: I can’t sit still while at home. I keep walking around to do housework, only to remember that I can’t really put any weight on my foot. This is very trying, and pretty painful. I can’t work out, or stand up long enough to make dinner, so we’ve had take out almost every night this week. It feels like my plans are shattered by my own stupidity, but I know that isn’t true. Please pray anyway, if you’re so inclined. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sleepy Thoughts

Sleepy Thoughts

The last few months have been a bit of a ride in this corner of the world. Extra mouths to feed, family dramas to navigate, and bills to pay have knocked us around a little, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve slipped back into some very shady habits. (As shady as a Caucasian, middle-class, Christian girl from Iowa can get.)

As I tossed and turned in my mildly uncomfortable bed last night, beating myself up for enjoying too much bad food and negative chatter, the thought to pray about it slammed its way into my thoughts. Why my prayer life is always the first thing to go when life gets hairy is beyond me, but I digress.

For the first time in memory, I prayed for the desire to stop. For food to become nourishment, rather than an experience. To feel “full,” even if I’m not. To not say more than I should in order to gain some favor at work. For the ability to feel valued without feeling “important.” To put on my big girl pants, and grow up a little.

Maybe it’s completely inappropriate to take such selfish concerns to the Lord, as I know He has bigger things going on than my self control issues. But, here I am, begging for the discipline to keep my hand from picking up another piece of pizza, and my mouth from running off.

Just when I think I’m making progress, God has reminded me that refinement is a dynamic process, and isn’t going to end until His return. I love that about Him- there’s always room to grow in the relationship.

So, on that cheery note:

I pray to be a better friend- encouraging, honest, and sacrificial.

I pray to be a good wife- helpful, supportive, and kind.

I pray for wisdom to deal with what the world tosses my way.

And, I pray to become “less.” To make Him the center of all, and His glory the credit due. I pray to get out of His way ๐Ÿ™‚

There is no “R” in “God”…

There is no “R” in “God”…

But there IS an “R” in “Tar.” This will be the title of my book about transitioning to life in Australia.

Have no fear; this isn’t really a post about faith. Well, that will undoubtedly pop in- shocking, I know- but this is all about language in my new homeland.

Before you remind me, let me issue a quick disclaimer: I know that I’ve moved to an English-speaking country, and do not have the difficulties that would come from moving to a nation where the language is different from mine. I haven’t faced that challenge, and commend those who have.

Now…I’ve said this a bit before, but it bears repeating: Australian English is very, very different from American English. I’ve been hear for over a year, and I still have no clue what people say, sometimes.

First, there’s the accent. Part of the iconic Aussie dialect is that the country is still technically part of the British Commonwealth. As such, the vowels are rounded a bit, as they are in the UK, and the terminology is strikingly “English.” For instance, I’m meant to have two 15 minute breaks at work each day. These are referred to as my “tea times.” There are also the more stereotypical examples of the elevator being the “lift,” the trunk of the car as the “boot,” tomatoes being “tomahtoes,” and Americans referred to as “Yanks.”

One of the great Australian pastimes seems to be the abbreviation of…everything. After a year, I think I’ve figured it out. Take a word, shave off all but the first syllable, and add “y.” Christmas is “Chrissy;” hospital becomes “hossy,” tantrum is “tanty,” and sunglasses are “sunnies.” This is often infuriating, as I want to run screaming, “just say the other freaking syllable!” But, of course, I don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

Incorporated into the accent is the addition and subtraction of various letters. Take the letter “R,” for example. Words with a flat “O” sound, like “odd,” have the letter added in. The word “God,” or “gosh,” is pronounced more like “gourd,” or “goursh,” depending on how extended the speaker makes it. (For the record, people don’t really refer to “God,” very often, as Aussies are notably indifferent to faith by default. Not a judgmental statement; just a fact. They’re too laid back for a higher power, it seems. The Lord has some work to do in this nation, and I can’t wait to see where He leads. I thank Him every day for sending me here!)

Contrary to the above example is the subtraction of the letter in words which are end in “ar.” This makes “tar” turn into “tah.” This wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that “ta” is the abbreviated way to say “thank you,” and I’ve been accused of saying “tar” when I actually say, “ta.” No, no, if I was saying “tar,” I would say “tar”…with an R on the end…

Second, some terms are just different. Plain and simple, not what they are in the US. (Side note: the longer I live here, the more I see how much Americans believe we’re the center of the world. The number of times I’ve thought, “he should be able to understand my accent; it’s American, and that’s normal” is embarrassing) Below is a list, which my momma finds quite entertaining. I hope you’ll feel the same.

  • tyre=tire (only the object, not the verb)
  • “zed”= Z
  • “haytch”= H
  • rubbish=trash
  • lift= elevator
  • uni=college
  • pay rise= raise
  • ta= thank you
  • jumper= sweater
  • pay out= make fun of
  • pommie= British person
  • kiwi= someone from New Zealand
  • cinema= movie theatre
  • queueing= waiting
  • skivvie= tank top
  • singlet= tank top
  • cami= tank top
  • boardies= shorts
  • sunnies= sunglasses
  • tanty= tantrum
  • hossy= hospital
  • mozzie= mosquito
  • swimmers= swim suit
  • bathers= swim suit
  • fair dinkum= ???? (still not sure, but it’s on t-shirts)
  • bush= the entire middle of the country
  • no worries= don’t worry about it
  • you’re welcome= very, very formal reply to “thank you”
  • that’s fine, or it’s ok= standard reply to “thank you” (I have issues with this one. “That’s fine” seems like a rude reply to me.)
  • take away= take out food
  • op shop= second hand store
  • butternut pumpkin= squash
  • GPO= post office
  • pay TV= cable, or satellite, channels

There are also plenty of brand name substitutions which are to be expected. If you ever hear me refer to “Woolies,” you now know that this is a grocery store.

Last is the fact that the US is the only nation on Earth that operates outside of the Metric system. While this makes us super special, it has also made this transition to life “Down Under” a little more…irritating. How so, you ask? Well, first, I *never* know what temperature it is. I’ve had to switch the Weather app on my iPhone to Fahrenheit, and back again to Celsius, each day just to try to get an idea. Second, purchasing anything with a weight or volume is now a bit of a guessing game. Is $9.90/kilo a good price for chicken? Should I pay $2.80 for 250 grams of cheese? Is $10/liter highway robbery when buying laundry detergent? Third, I’m forever asking how far away away we are from things, as I still can’t grasp how far a kilometer is, as opposed to a mile. (Just Googled it, and one kilometer is .62 mile. Sweet.) Again, I present a list.

  • kilogram (kg)=2.2lb
  • 30 degrees Celsius=hot
  • 20 degrees C =near ideal
  • 15 degrees C= “winter” (it’s about 50 degrees Farenheit… wimps)
  • 40 degrees C= I just cooked a steak on the top of the car
  • 1 liter= 1 quart (pretty much…)
  • 100 km/hr= speed limit
  • $16/kg for deli ham= BIG SALE
  • $2.50 for 2 cups of mozzarella chz at Aldi=normal

What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve made after moving? How did you deal with it?