Monday, January 31, 2011

Say it ain't so

First day of school today, and Nate's first day of kindergarten.

I'm about to go pick him up now, but I think we have achieved liftoff. Successful first day.

It's an interesting gig, this whole parenting thing. Such a mix of emotions. I'm excited for him, but wishing this day hadn't come just quite yet. I trust his teacher and know she's excellent, but I hope she realizes that he is in fact The Golden Child. I feel like we've done well preparing him, but I keep thinking of all the things we've forgotten to teach him. Case in point: how to tuck a shirt in. I realized this morning as I put his uniform on. Nate's wardrobe is pretty much exclusively non-tuckable clothing. He won't know how to tuck his shirt back in after he goes to the bathroom. (Which, by the way, "going potty at school" is a whole other source of angst that I didn't anticipate.) So we had a quick tucking tutorial this morning.

It's hot as blazes here today. Blazes, I tell you! So I'm off to pick up the kids and then we will hide in the pool until sundown.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

There and back again

Hi, friendly friends. We've just returned from a few days in the lovely beachside town of Wollongong. Or, The Gong, as the locals say--I was gonna say it but I felt too self conscious.

The little area we were in is actually called Fairy Meadow. How cute is that? No actual fairies were spotted, but still. It was a lovely, relaxing five days, with lots of swimming. I read a Robert Ludlum novel, which isn't my usual thing. I mean, I watched the Bourne movies cause Matt Damon is is them, duh! I don't normally read spy novels though.

It's called "The Sigma Protocol" and it's mostly about old Nazis. I think I could come up with lots of plausible sounding titles for spy books--they all sound the same. "The Delta Debacle." "The Byzantine Curse." "The Amsterdam Key." Ya know?

About halfway through this book (not a Bourne novel), I thought "Meh." I then read all 600+ pages cause I was on holiday and what else are you gonna do.

Now we are home, with one week to go before school starts. Lots to do! And also, I am having 3 couples over to dinner tonight and it is about 247 degrees in my house right now.

Send ice chips.

Thank you and good night. Xoxo

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not my best work

The other day I decided that Grace's bangs needed to be cut. You know how you let something go for awhile, like you notice that something ought to be done and you ignore it, and you ignore it some more, and then finally you're like, "Right! We are doing this right now." I just decided to cut them, after noticing and not doing anything about it for weeks. That seems to be my life--long periods of avoidance or inactivity punctuated by industrious busy-making.

I scooped Grace up and put her in the high chair. Then I gave her a cookie. I didn't really stop to strategize--another problem of mine--I just grabbed her bangs as evenly as I could and cut 'em. Of course, the minute I grabbed her hair and pulled it away from her forehead, she turned her head, which made the hair uneven. Yeah well, I cut it anyway.

And in that moment discovered another way that I am like my mother. She is famous in our family for always cutting our bangs herself when we were kids, and always making them crooked. Ma, this one's for you!

Look at her--she's like, "Really? You thought this would work out, did you?" Here's another look from a picture I took today:After I did it I told Jason, "Oh no! She looks like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber!"It's okay, you can say it. She totally does. And for the next 2-4 weeks, we will learn to accept it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Worst Surprise Ever

This afternoon, Ava and Nate wanted to go swimming. We got them all ready and greased up with sunblock. All that was left was to put Nate's swim shirt on. I'd washed it this morning, and it was still hanging on the line outside. So, we all trooped out there. I got it--actually, I'd draped it over the clothes basket to dry--and began the laborious process of getting it on him.

It's long sleeved, and stretchy of course. Putting a long sleeved, lycra top on a boy with sunblocked arms is never easy. But who said life would be easy?

As I'm slowly inching the sleeve down over his arm, there's this crinkly, plastic noise. "Nate, what are you holding in your hand?" I asked him. He's known to secretly clutch things in his fist for hours at a time, after all. This morning it was 3 small volcanic rocks that I discovered when we arrived at his speech appointment. So I wondered what it was this time--whatever it was, it was sure making it hard to get his shirt on. "I don't know," he replied. Hmmm.

Finally, his fist came through the opening of the sleeve and he opened it. And this was in his hand:

Ewwwwww!!! And it was alive!! (The bug, not the clothespin, of course.) He and I both screamed, and he flung it from his hand as hard as he could. Then he burst into tears. Obviously, this gimormous bug had found a home in Nate's shirt while I'd left it to dry. The wings are huge--that's what had made it sound like something wrapped in plastic.

He clung to me for a moment, all 5 year old boy bravado momentarily abandoned. "I'm sorry buddy," I said. He wailed through tears, "I thought it was a lolly! I thought it was a lollyyyyy!!"

And I thought, here is a child that is only used to the good kind of surprise. Who else would assume that a large, unseen object in your hand is a lolly, miraculously appearing in the sleeve of your swim shirt? Nate assumes that life is just this good to him. I found that sentiment funny and sweet, and a little heartbreaking--as I guess a mama would.

Needless to say, I think we'll all be a little more cautious from here on.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm not sure we could call this a policy. As such.

Yesterday I was looking at the US Consulate website, trying to get details on getting Ava and Nate new passports. You might remember last July, when we had to get Ava an emergency passport, due to my failure as a mother and general inability to be awesome. If you missed those posts the first time around, go check it out. That day was an adventure, if by "adventure" we mean swearing under one's breath and nearly wetting oneself.

(Also, I would like to add that because of that day, I have a huge crush on the US Consulate in Sydney--I write my name as "Amy US Consulate in Sydney" all the time and I have their foldout poster on my wall. I try to "accidentally" bump into them at our lockers before school. I also call them when I am lonely just to hear their voice on the answering machine.)

Well. Anyway, Ava needs a new "regular" passport and Nate's is about to expire. (I've learned my lesson.) So I was doing a little research, looking for the proper forms, etc. In the section on citizenship, I clicked on a link about dual nationality. Grace is the only one of us who is both an American and Australian citizen. She was born after Jason and I became Permanent Residents here, which means she's a true blue Aussie. The rest of us, not so much.

Jason and I have talked lately about possibly becoming Australian citizens. There are some advantages to doing so, I won't bore you with those details. But we keep hearing different answers regarding whether the US government would allow dual citizenship. Some folks we talked to told us that yes it was do-able, others said it was difficult, still others told us that it couldn't happen.

No one seemed to have a straight answer. This has been a low-grade frustration for a little while now. So yesterday I thought, I just need to look at what the actual policy is, once and for all. I clicked on "What is the US policy on dual nationality?"
And read this:
"The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy.Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.

That's Gracie.

A U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or a person naturalized as a U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of the country of birth.U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship."

Okay, so it basically says that you can have dual nationality, but ideally it should only be if you were born into it. That you won't lose your US citizenship if you are granted another citizenship automatically. But you could (maybe! life is mysterious! who knows for sure?) lose it if you apply for foreign citizenship. But wait! Cause it also says that US law doesn't mention dual nationality. So, that's helpful.

But here's my favorite part: "The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause."

What does that even mean? I feel like the US government is being all passive aggressive with me--check this: "Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad."

Hey, Citizen--it's a crazy world. Stuff may happen. Stuff may not happen. Either way, we have a policy of acknowledging that stuff but not encouraging that stuff. And that's our policy. And stuff.

It reminds me of when the kids ask to go somewhere or to do something, and I want to say no without saying no. You know? So I try to be all creative. "Well, we could go to the beach--we've done that before. Other people go to the beach. But sometimes it's crowded there--and you remember that time we got a flat tire on the way? Or when you got stung by a jellyfish? See, if we go to the beach that could happen again. So maybe it's better not to go. Maybe we should think about something else."

I'm just not sure that this counts as a "policy". It's more like a parent saying, "Go on and do it but you'll break my heart in a thousand pieces if you do! Just leave your old mother here to sit in the dark--don't worry about meeee!"

You know? Thoughts? Anyone?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Floodwaters rising

I can hardly keep my eyes open--it's past my bedtime--but I keep thinking about the residents of Brisbane and Queensland, who are in the midst of terrible and terrifying flooding right now. Many of y'all who read this blog aren't from Australia, so in case you don't know, Queensland is the state north of us (we live in New South Wales), and Brisbane is its capital. Different parts of the state have been having flooding since before Christmas, (that link will give you a timeline) but things seemed to peak yesterday. Floodwaters--the press is calling it an "inland tsunami" raged through a small town and literally wiped out the main street. We're talking an 8 meter high wall of water. The video footage of this is unbelievable. It looks like a movie scene.

Anyway, today, the river that runs through Brisbane began to rise to dangerous levels and the downtown area emptied completely--all the office workers, visitors, and others fleeing. Throughout the afternoon today, I read the Facebook status updates of a friend of mine. Her husband was trying to get home from his office in the city. He was hoping to catch a bus home, and every bus that came by was jam-packed with people doing the same thing. I watched her updates as the time ticked on, and finally he was able to get a spot on an express bus. They are all fine and safe at home, but I know that many others aren't. The last report I read said that nearly 70 people are missing and 10 have died.

If you live here in Australia, you know all this. And if you live elsewhere and watch lots of TV news, you might know all this, too. But if you didn't, I wanted to let you know what's going on. To pray for those that are missing loved ones or who have lost family members, and to pray for the many, many who have had to flee their homes. There's a verse in Isaiah that I keep thinking of: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you...". Lord, let it be so.

Thanks, y'all. xoxo

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Many impressive talents

(In the car on the way to church this morning, Nate lets out an impressive belch...)

Nate: Burping is actually just my *fourth* talent.

Me: Really? Cause that was pretty good. What are your other three talents?

Nate: Well. My first is being a good little brother. My second is snapping--

Me: That's true--you picked that up pretty quickly.

Nate: --and my third is bothering my sisters.

Me: Wow, Nate. I can't argue with any of those! You really are talented at all four of those things.

Nate: I have a few other talents, too. But they're SECRET ones. I can't tell you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Just pretty wrong.

I've been reading some inspiring blog posts lately about resolutions for 2011, and some nice retrospectives about 2010. But I gotta tell you, here in Sydney, we're still in holiday mode. Sure, most people are back at work by now, but January is still holiday time. It's summer, school is out, families go on vacation. So 'round these parts, we take awhile to ease into the new year and get all motivated. Get back to me in February about resolutions.

So instead of a deep thinking resolution, introspective kind of thing, I give you this:

Here is a young man enjoying his Subway sandwich with his underwear CLEARLY displayed above his jeans, which were firmly belted around his mid-thighs. I know. I KNOW. Jason and I were at the mall yesterday and we walked past him as we were leaving the food court. I was in awe. And lest you think his pants slipped down too far and he was unaware, may I offer Exhibit A? The belt, sir. The belt.

Now, I think we can all agree that this is just wrong. Yes? Okay. But here is what may possibly be more wrong. As Jase and I passed him, I whispered, "I really have to get a picture of this." And in what seemed to be a choreographed movement, Jason continued forward with the stroller and I curved off to the right. Casually--oh so casually!--I strolled along, as if I were choosing between the kebab place or the salad place. I eased into a seat behind that poor dude and pulled out my phone as if to check for a text message. I snapped a quick picture and contemplated moving in for a closer shot. I didn't want to blow my cover though, so I pocketed my phone and made for the Dollar Shop just beyond the food court.

So, wrong as this guy's fashion choices are, it is probably worse that my immediate reaction was to take his picture. These kind of covert ops seem to run in the family. I was only thinking of you. It's just that sometimes life throws something absolutely ridiculous in your path and it simply must be shared. And when that happens, far be it from me to let you down. Plus, whatever issues you might be having today, I bet you remembered to pull your pants up all the way. So this could also be encouraging.

And thus ends my first post of the New Year. Just me sneaking a photo of a dude I don't know. A dude, innocently eating Subway with his drawers hanging out. And I promise you this--in 2011, I will strive to maintain this high level of quality and reflection.

You deserve nothing less.