Life at Home

Life at Home

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My Sweet Petite is six months old! She’s halfway to ONE. She sits up, tries to crawl, has a big personality known as “Sunshine and Storms,” and is a fun little buddy. We spend most of our days reading every book she owns, playing with whatever sensory game Pinterest tells me about this week, Skyping my family in Iowa, and practicing “waiting just a minute while Momma finishes cleaning up this mess.” Stat-wise, she’s just under 20lbs (9kg) and measures 28.7inches (73cm), so she’s a tiny thing. I love her to the moon and back, and see new ways that the Lord is using her to refine me, and my marriage, every day. She is my one and only baby, and so freakin’ delicious.

Life in Queensland is hot. Literally, my house is roasting thanks to the lack of air conditioning or ceiling fans in the bedrooms. We have three pedestal fans running when Harper sleeps, and the temperature in our bedroom still hovers somewhere around 83 Fahrenheit/28 Celsius. She rocks a cloth nappy and pink singlet 80% of the time, with brief interludes of full clothing when we take our daily, long-ass walk. The cat is molting at an alarming rate, despite our grooming efforts. I pray for cooler weather, really.

So…I’m crazy blessed by this life I’m allowed to live. We’re well provided for by Harli’s job, and I want for little. But, there are days when I’m bored, impatient, sick of hearing Harper squeal and fight sleepiness, miss earning a paycheck, etc etc etc, and on those days, I feel like a wretched failure. When I snap at my logic-less baby for being just that, I’ll admit that I feel like the world’s worst mother. But, grace abounds.

I promise to pop in more often, seeing as I suddenly have a host of dreams and aspirations to share. Weekly updates, how-to’s, you know the drill. Also, the literary quality of things should go up. Just saying.

Maybe I’ll even start a Youtube channel! Yea? That’s what mummies do, right? Right?

 

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. 🙂

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Harper’s celebrating! See how happy she is…?
Pregnancy and Postpartum Preferences

Pregnancy and Postpartum Preferences

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful. With the exception of killer heartburn that left me in tears some nights, and a very sore back, I can’t complain about much. It was far from magical, and I didn’t feel like a goddess or in touch with my ancestors via the life inside of me, but there are worse ways to spend 40 weeks and three days.

Recovery from Harper’s birth, on the other hand, was less than thrilling. My plans for a drug-free birth were thwarted by a strongly encouraged induction, which led to a caesarean section. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of a c-section, I’ll summarise: I wasn’t able to walk up stairs or lift anything heavier than my daughter for six weeks, spent three weeks unable to sit down or stand up without assistance, became very familiar with a plethora of pain relief tablets, have semi-permanent nerve damage in my bottom, and am have yet to regain total feeling between my bellybutton and pubic bone. Without the grace of God, assistance from my husband, and a two week stay from my mother and aunt, I would have been a hot mess. Thankfully, we all lived.

So! In the vein of my “baby must have” list, I thought I’d share some of my favourite products and tips for surviving pregnancy, and a postpartum/c-section recovery. As before, I’ve included links where possible.

PREGNANCY:

  • SLEEP
    • Get lots of it. During the last trimester, sleep is especially precious due to the physical discomfort (ex: sore back, round ligament pain, insomnia,) that can accompany the process of gestating a human being. If you have the thought that you’ll sleep better once your baby arrives, because you’ll be able to sleep on your stomach and your husband will do some of the nighttime wake-ups, toss it out like a grocery store bag. I’m not saying that life with a newborn has to be horrible, sleep-wise, but bear in mind that labor, delivery, and recovery take a ton of energy, and you’ll likely be shocked at just how knackered you are once bub arrives. It took me roughly eight weeks to start feeling like myself, and at 12 weeks postpartum I still need a nap some days.
  • MIESSENCE BELLY AND BREAST BALM (cost varies depending on membership)
    • Be sure to moisturize your bump, and the rest of your pregnant self. The Belly and Breast Balm from Miessence is a guilt-free option, and is still my full body moisturizer of choice. It’s thick, nourishing, absorbs nicely, and is made from certified organic ingredients. I’m a big fan of Miessence products, and can vouch for the sustainability, ethos, and quality of the company’s leadership and practices.
  • ZANTAC
    • I was 36 weeks pregnant before I discovered that Zantac is not only available in Australia (US brands of medication are rare here- there be no Tylenol,) it’s safe to use while pregnant. In an effort to avoid hyperbole, I’ll say this: it made a world of difference for me, especially in those last few weeks when sleep was elusive (see above). I’m allergic to mint, therefore wasn’t able to take any of the chewable or liquid antacids found in supermarkets, so the only relief I’d had prior to being prescribed Zantac were gulps of almond milk. You’ll obviously need to confer with your midwife, OB, or whomever is overseeing your pregnancy, prior to taking it, but don’t hesitate to ask for something stronger than Gaviscon if needed.

 

POSTPARTUM/C-SECTION RECOVERY

  • REST
    • By “rest,” I mean more than sleep. Following a c-section, you’ll be swept up with all the things that come with a new baby, and may forget that you’ve just had major surgery. The midwives will tell you to get as much rest as you can, to sleep when your child sleeps, and to not do a long list of things that you’ll want/need to do (ex: walking up and down stairs, vacuuming, mopping, lifting anything heavier than your child, bending down to do laundry). Try to take their advice. Lay down, take a nap, read a book, watch a BBC period drama, just relax. The dishes can wait, and you won’t die of shame if your mother in-law sees your dirty floors.
  • LEGGINGS
    • The softer, the better. Mine were from Target. No matter the type of delivery you’ve had, be kind to your belly, and don’t try to fasten jeans around it. If you can’t bear the idea of being seen in leggings, then buy a couple of long tops, and suck it up, Buttercup. Kidding aside, don’t put too much pressure on yourself (figuratively and literally) to “bounce back” to pre-pregnancy shape. If you’re dealing with a c-section scar, be especially attentive to fabrics that rub or feel tight around your lower belly.
  • HUGE UNDERWEAR
    • Inside your soft leggings are your Granny panties. Don’t be ashamed- they’re stupidly comfortable, and are the only real option for housing those gigantic maternity pads that you’ll use for weeks after your little darling arrives. Yay! Again, buy the Target brand to avoid feeling guilty if you need to toss them later. There will be plenty of time for pretty underwear, later.
  • BATISTE DRY SHAMPOO (cost varies, usually cheapest at Priceline)
    • There will come a moment, probably at 2pm on a Thursday, when you realise that you haven’t showered since Tuesday, and you’ve already walked up and down the stairs more than the doctor said you could, so you can’t take one until tomorrow morning. What’s more, the topknot you’re rocking suddenly feels like a greasy mess, which makes you feel like a greasy mess, and wonder if you’ll ever feel like “you” again. Fear not, dry shampoo is here to get you through. A couple of sprays, a quick brush, and you’ll feel just human enough to fold the laundry, wipe down the kitchen benches before they begin sprouting, or just make it until bedtime. Batiste has the nicest scents, and comes in a few sizes, so it gets my vote. I use the “Wild” fragrance, because I do. Quick note: I’ve used the tinted “Brunette” formula in the past, and ended up with colour all over my hands, scalp, and neck. I might just be incredibly inept, but I’d recommend sticking with the non-tinted versions of the product.
  • NUROMOL
    • Following a c-section, you’ll likely leave the hospital with a prescription for Endone (oxycodone,) and the advice to alternate taking Panadol (paracetamol) and Nurofen (ibuprofen) as needed. If at all possible, don’t fill the script, and instead grab a box of Nuromol, which combines Panadol and Nurofen and is a decent pain reliever, even in the early days when your incision is most tender. Once I began to regain sensation below my bellybutton, there were moments when I was certain that my scar had burst. Thankfully, I was just being dramatic. BUT! I unashamedly took Nuromol as often as I was allowed, even setting reminders for the next dose for roughly three weeks.
  • HIGH FIBER DIET
    • This one is simple: don’t eat junk after giving birth, and you won’t feel like death. Avoid simple carbs, or anything that gives you a massive sugar rush, and load up on beans and fresh veggies. Need a snack? Have some air-popped popcorn. Fiber fills you up, sustains healthy blood sugar levels, and helps relieve constipation. Don’t be ashamed- everyone poops, and you’ll need to following surgery.
  • ALL THE SUPPLEMENTS
    • Iron, and Vitamin C, and Magnesium- oh my! In addition to a healthier diet, I took an iron supplement for several weeks following Harper’s birth to help with some moderate anemia. I added vitamin C because it increases iron absorption, and most people are magnesium deficient and could use an extra dose each day. I can’t offer specific brand recommendations, just the general advice to pay attention to what your body is lacking and take whatever steps you feel necessary to make it right.

So, there you have it: my novice recommendations. I hope they’re helpful!

 

Australian Baby “Must Haves” (First 12 Weeks)

Australian Baby “Must Haves” (First 12 Weeks)

Yes, yes, long time, no post. I’ve been busy. Busy working 60 hours a week, busy with a semi-surprise pregnancy, busy making sure my cat adjusts to my daughter, and of course, busy being Mummy to my little bumblebee girl.

So, yes, moving on with business. From the moment I saw that faint second line on a cheap pregnancy test one Saturday afternoon, I began compiling a list of all the ‘stuff’ I’d need to acquire to accommodate the new addition to our family. Ok, I may have started making the list a few months before that day. What? Pinterest is a dangerous place.

While attempting to put together my master list, I quickly came up to the roadblock of not living in North America. In case you didn’t know, the majority of the internet is geared toward residents of the US or Canada. This shouldn’t matter, except for the fact that when you live in Australia, many (read: MOST) of the products aren’t available. Similarly, money-saving tips aren’t applicable due to the lack of coupons, and generally higher cost of living here. The number of times I’ve added “Australia” to search criteria, only to find that a book or toy that is $12 in the US retails for $57 here, is high enough to make me grumble like a curmudgeonly panda. From Youtube to Pinterest, finding Australia-specific baby gear, pregnancy products, and postpartum advice proved too difficult a task, hard as I tried.

In the hope of easing this tremendous burden, I’ve pulled together a list of the products I’ve loved the most during Harper’s first three months of life. Obviously, this might change as she gets older, and not everything will be available throughout the country. I’m located on the Gold Coast, and have easy access to several “baby” shops, along with the usual haunts, like Kmart, Target, Big W, and major supermarkets and department stores. Where possible, I’ve included links for your use, as I currently lack all semblance of photography skills. On with it!

  • ALDI NEWBORN NAPPIES! ($4.29 per pack of 28)
    • This is my #1. Seriously, they’re amazing. Trust me; my daughter wears cloth nappies part-time, so I’m pretty diligent about what goes on her bum.Not only are these nappies cheapest, they’re soft, super absorbent, have an easy to read wetness indicator, and fit perfectly. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t rave about the performance and quality of Aldi nappies. The package says that they’re meant to fit babies up to 5kg (11 lbs), but Harper successfully wore them until she was seven weeks old, and she weighted in at 6.02 kg at her checkup that week. We received some Huggies as a gift prior to her birth, and she was never able to wear them. We shoved one Huggies newborn nappy on her, watched the poo shoot out the side, and gave the rest of the package to my sister.
  • DYMPLES SCENTED NAPPY SACKS ($6 for 400 at Big W)
    • As Harper’s bum is clad in cloth nappies part-time, I didn’t want to invest in a nappy bin that required refills. Instead, I use an inexpensive lidded trash can, and nappy sacks. Big W has the cheapest prices, and given what they’re used for, I don’t see the point in paying more than I need to.
  • Waterwipes ($7.50 per pack of 60 wipes at Woolworths or Coles)
    • No soap, fragrance, or other chemicals are present in these wipes. Just water. I’m all for having the least impact possible on my baby’s skin, and shy of using  a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, this is it. The first six weeks are especially important in this regard, but we’ll be using the Waterwipes indefinitely. (EDITED 30/09/2016: My post originally promoted the Curash Simply Water wipes, which are touted as being 99% water. I’ve since learned that part of the other 1% is Methylisothiazolinone, which is linked to a host of nerve and skin-related reactions, and is banned from being in baby wipes in the EU. We promptly swapped to Waterwipes.)
  • GAIA BATH PRODUCTS (cost varies, found cheapest at Chemist’s Warehouse)
    • Organic, sweet smelling, gentle, and effective. Ok, and a little expensive. But, do you know how much product a baby goes through? Not much. It will take my daughter ages to go through the big bottle of Hair and Body Wash. In fact, I’ll probably have to help her use it up before it expires. I believe in spending my money where it matters most, and this is one of those cases. Harper loves “getting some Gaia” each day, and I can feel content with what I’m putting on her sensitive skin. Plus, the Moisturiser smells like Fruit Loops. Win!
  • TARGET ESSENTIALS WHITE BIBS ($12 for a pack of 10 from Target)
    • Boring, but invaluable. My mom picked up a pack for us when she came to visit several weeks ago, and I’ve used them every day since. They’re sooo soft, wash well, and fasten on the side instead of behind the head. When your child is screaming, flipping them around to velcro a super cute bib is low on your list. When Harper’s tongue tie broke a few weeks ago, one of these bibs was sacrificed in the name of having something soft to shove in her mouth to avert the trauma that was taking place. Take my advice, and buy these bibs.
  • ADEN & ANAIS BAMBOO SWADDLES (cheapest online at http://www.babybabyonline.com.au)
    • There’s a reason these muslin blankets are mentioned in most “baby must have” lists. The internet can’t be wrong, folks! 😉 These muslins get softer with each wash, serve approximately 1388 purposes (swaddling, tummy time support, light blanket, extra sun protection in the pram, etc.), and come in beautiful patterns and themes. We still swaddle Harper at night, and have tried just about every “swaddle” blanket, sack, or suit, only to find that the Aden & Anais muslins work best.
  • BONDS ZIPPY WONDERSUITS ($20-$25 each at Big W, Target, Best & Less, etc)
    • Ah, the Bonds Wondersuit. An Aussie favourite. Yes, they’re expensive. And, yes, they’re worth every cent. Miss Harper has outgrown all of her size 000 Zip Wondersuits, so I’ll be picking up at least one in size 00 in the next week or so. I’m so impressed by the quality of Bonds clothing, and loved the two way zipper, and fold over feet and hands for the moderately chilly days that Queensland calls “winter.” Plus, they come in adorable patterns, and who doesn’t love an adorably-clad baby?
  • BONDS LEGGINGS ($12-$15 per pack of two at Target)
    • Again, Bonds. I bought two packs of size 0-6 month leggings, and they’ve become staples of her daily wardrobe. They’re super soft and stretchy, and again, certainly worth the money. I’ve found that Bonds clothes are pretty generously sized, so I’m certain that the leggings will last another few months, despite Harper’s rapid growth pattern.
  • BOPPY (Approx. $100 new online at chicco.com.au, or less if buying used)
    • I didn’t actually buy my Boppy. A lovely friend gifted me with several boxes of clothes that her daughter had outgrown, as well as a Boppy and an extra cover. While it wasn’t on my list, I figured I’d at least use it as I figured out a nursing routine. More on that below, but in short: I’ve never used the Boppy as a feeding pillow. Instead, it lived on our couch, and served as a safe and comfy place to lay Harper in the first few weeks of her life as I was recovering from a c-section, and had to minimize strain. She used it for naps, and lounged in it most evenings. Now that she’s moving more, and loves to wriggle herself away from any constraint, however minor, the Boppy is seeing less action. Still, I couldn’t have done without it, and can foresee using it more as she begins sitting up.
  • LEKA BABY GYM ($45 from Ikea)
    • I can’t stand garish baby stuff, and gravitate toward natural materials, so this wooden gym was really the only one I looked at. I love that it encourages midline play, and doesn’t attract fur the way fabric toys do. Harper began using it almost immediately, and it has been so much fun to see her find new ways to play. This super sweet toy comes out most mornings while I’m sterilising bottles and loading the dishwasher, and can usually entertain Harper for 20-ish minutes. The dangling toys can be switched around or removed to encourage her to look from side to side at the spinning dials (her favourite part- she’s been spinning them like mad since she was about 10 days old), and its free standing structure means it can be used with any soft surface.
  • BRIGHT STARTS SAFARI FLOOR MIRROR ($15 from Kmart)
    • Harper is insanely strong, and has been a tummy time champ from the start, but was growing irritated by her current inability to actually crawl, making her a very grumpy girl at times. Enter this cheap and cheerful, baby safe mirror. My daughter has clearly inherited my vanity, because as soon as she caught a glimpse of “that pretty baby,” she became all too eager to resume her tummy time routine. I love that the mirror folds flat and doesn’t pose any danger to her, should she decide to head-butt it, and she loves looking at herself and whoever is playing with her.
  • BRIGHT STARTS BOUNCER ($17 from Kmart)
    • We have an Ingenuity automatic bouncer that has an adorable toy bar, and plays music and white noise. It barely gets used due to the fact that the bounce isn’t strong enough for Harper’s liking. The cheap manual bouncer, on the other hand, sees plenty of action. I lug it from room to room when I’m cleaning or taking a shower, and Little Miss has occasionally taken short naps in it. Truth be told, I’ve bounced her with my foot while baking cookies, folding laundry, and using the toilet. Seriously, buy the cheap bouncer- your baby likely won’t care about the snazzy features of more expensive options, and I kid you not when I say that our inexpensive bouncer works the same as the sleeker $199 Baby Bjorn version.
  • AVENT NATURALS BOTTLES ($11-$12 each at Baby Buntings or Target)
    • I planned on breastfeeding. Thanks to Harper’s severe tongue tie and high arch, and some minor complications related to my c-section, which necessitated medical treatment that left me unable to pump, that didn’t happen. I’m so glad that I bought these bottles prior to her birth, and recommend them to everyone. She’s never had a moment of reflux or colic, and the bottle design is recommended for mixed feeding, so I would have been comfortable using them had I been able to breastfeed and pump. We’ve also used Avent Classic bottles, which are a bit cheaper at $10ish each, but prefer the Naturals shape.
  • BELLAMY’S ORGANIC INFANT FORMULA ($25-$28 for 900g at Woolworths)
    • Accompanying the Avent Naturals bottles is our formula of choice. It’s comprised of 97% organic ingredients, and was a lifesaver when we were transitioning Harper from the formula provided by the hospital, which wrought havoc on her little tummy. Bellamy’s is the only organic formula that is readily available in supermarkets, and is roughly half the cost of other organic brands available online. To be honest, I’m not super thrilled with the ingredient list, particularly the inclusion of organic palm oil, but it’s the best option I’ve found. I toyed with the idea of homemade formula, but wasn’t able to source raw milk or cream, so Bellamy’s Organic it is.
  • BOON GRASS & ACCESSORIES ($40 for the mat, $8 for accessories at Baby Bunting or Target)
    • Oh my word, do I love Boon Grass. This drying mat is a cute addition to our counter top, and provides some much-needed organization when prepping bottles each day. We have two separate mats for the bottles- a small one purchased when I planned on bottle feeding on an occasional basis, and a larger one added later- along with two Twigs, a Stem, and a Fly for hanging the bits and pieces to dry. Bonus: it’s fantastic for drying glassware, as all liquid drains into a reservoir under the mat.
  • BOBA SLEEPY WRAP ($75 at http://www.babycarriersaustralia.net.au)
    • This was a hand-me-down from my sister in-law, and it’s been invaluable. My c-section incision was very tender for the first two months or so, and this soft stretchy wrap allowed me to wear Harper without discomfort. I’ve tried a few other wrap carriers, and the Boba is far and away my favourite. I still use it on a daily basis, especially when she’s fussy or I need to get off the couch and move a bit. I love having her nestled close to me, and she’s been known to nap in the Boba for three hours at a time when she’s feeling particularly sooky. The one downside of the wrap is the heavy fabric, which sometimes leads to a very sweaty baby, and will make using it in summer less than appealing. I’m hoping to find a cooler alternative for the warmer months, but for now, the Sleepy Wrap is still king.
  • ERGOBABY CARRIER ($169ish at David Jones or Baby Bunting)
    • Harli uses the Ergo whenever we go out with Harper. He prefers the structure it provides over the stretchy carrier, and we both appreciate how simple it is to use. It’s so sweet to see the bond that he and Harper have thanks to baby-wearing; she cuddles into him, and he talks to her about all the noises and sights around her. Again, she likes to sleep in the carrier. Without the Ergo, errands would be a much more difficult task. It’s really handy to not have to worry about loading and unloading the pram, or making room for it in shops. There are several versions of the Ergo, and I’ve yet to hear a bad report on any of them. We have the X-tra model because we’re both tall, big, people, and prefer the longer shoulder and waist straps.

Not listed, but required just the same when your baby begins their invasion: a freezer full of meals that you’ve pulled together ahead of time (things like burritos, casseroles, pasta bakes, and shredded chicken for salads and tacos are all super helpful when you’re too tired to make dinner), a simple meal plan when you do feel like cooking, at least two pairs of comfy leggings, and a good book to read while your bub is eating.

In a few days, I’ll post my pregnancy and postpartum recovery favourites. Stay tuned 😉

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

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 I 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 😉

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, and 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. 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 😉 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. 

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?

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. 🙂

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.
Ahem…

  • 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?

Because no one really says “G’day”

Because no one really says “G’day”

Allow me to introduce you to my little corner of the world. It happens to be the most beautiful corner imagineable- the gorgeous Gold Coast in far-away Australia– and you are always most welcome. And, it’s true: no one here says “g’day.” Well, not intentionally. They say lots of other amazingly Australian stuff. More later 🙂

Like many women in their mid-twenties, I’m full of dreams, goals, and a boatload of ideas. Most of them are far-fetched and simply hopeful; many I will never see fully realized. However, they are all part of this amazing journey the LORD has put in front of this Iowa girl-turned-Queenslander.

My mission in life: live boldly for the Father who gave me life, the Son who loves me more than I can fathom, and the Spirit who fights daily to keep me in line. It’s never easy, but it’s an adventure I wouldn’t trade.

I look at faith like I look at working out. (No, this doesn’t mean I only consider God when I realize I haven’t eaten a vegetable in 48 hours.) Faith is hard. It’s work, and it often seems like others are born exactly where you want to be. But, the more you put into it, the stronger and healthier you become. In short: it can really suck, but the reward will forever outweigh the pain- the sore muscles, awkward conversations when someone asks how it’s going, and plaguing feeling that there’s no point in trying.

Welcome to the world of Faith in Oz.