[10 weeks]

It’s not a pregnancy, but the first trimester of a relocation holds the same elements: danger, excitement, apprehension, panic, curiosity and plenty of have-we-done-the-right-thing? moments. And the tiredness hits. The other day I was watering plastic pot plants because I thought they were withering.

Our furniture finally arrived after our container was subject to a slight delay as customs officials held it back to examine the contents. Once it was here, unpacking the boxes was a frenzy of paper and cardboard. One broken platter, one broken lamp and one sliced surfboard cover. The collateral damage was not bad for a half-globe move. We even experienced a bit of magic! Somehow, across the seas and over many days, my tupperware population multiplied; box after box explodTupperware (2)ed with plasticware – tubs, lids, drink bottles.

Well, that took care of about 15 boxes and one cupboard. Now for the other 89 boxes. Unpacking is like playing jenga trying to fit everything into a new house, strategically working out what needs to go where without everything collapsing on you. Our already nervous dog’s blood pressure increased with every “Move Lana!” or “Get out of the way Lana!” All she wanted to do is go for a walk…through the paper and boxes. *sigh*

Eventually cupboards are filled (can’t believe I packed that roll of cling film from Australia?!) and Pinterest is consulted heavily for ideas of how to arrange cupboards and the spaces beneath sinks. Our friends, Amazon Prime, are called in to do some heavy work and for days there is a parade of UPS trucks outside our house.

We are fortunate enough to have a small group of friends in Brookfield. Largely, they come from the juvenile diabetes connection at #JDRF. There are a few disarming moments when we turn up at events or at friend’s houses and people come up to us and say “So YOU’RE the Australians! I’ve heard all about you.” I can only say that this is the closest we will ever get to experience what worldly famous people do each day they step out their front door. We are Brookfield Rock Stars! Even Callum had his own fan club at school where the girls two years ahead of him at school would sidle up and ask him to say something and he’d respond with an inane “Something” at which the girls screamed and ran away giggling. I asked Callum how he felt and he merely rolled his eyes. Just you wait young man, there’ll be a day when you will LOVE that attention.

We slowly build up an everyday presence in the US. It has been non-stop for 10 weeks while we navigate (literally) the roads, road rules, and the medical and insurance maze, without trying to gorge on everything that’s on offer. There is so much on offer – concerts, sports, new terrains and topographies, food. It’s a #smorgasbordoflife.

If you follow my blog I have talked about our pooch a bit as she is as integral to our family. Lana is now on Prozac because even our lovely holistic vet Dr Lisa felt that Lana needed a little help. I have often looked at Lana’s little blue tube of pills and wondered what if….

Oh how life has changed in the few months of this year. We’ve booked a trip to Costa Rica for some desperately needed sun and R&R before we come back to cruise through the second (easy) trimester.

Before this post ends, if you are feeling philanthropic, please consider donating to the #JDRFOneWalk. It is the flagship fundraising event for juvenile diabetes in the US and walks are happening all over the country in this next trimester. Donations are tax-deductible. Your donation goes towards changing the lives of millions of people who are diagnosed with diabetes including my awesome kid Callum. Here is a link to the donation page. Thank you!

Adjusting to Fahrenheit

Temperature4 weeks (!) have flown by since we touched down in the US. Life has settled into as much of a rhythm as you can get when half your life is still somewhere close to the Panama Canal aboard a cargo boat.

The expat life, as I emailed a friend recently, is a huge challenge when starting out. I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to be anything other when you uproot to a new country in which you have absolutely no base – financially, medically, friend-ly or even foe-ly. Being the citizen of a country should never be taken for granted. Yes, we have legal status (our visa says that we do), but for nearly all companies here we are huge liability without any “everyday status”. No credit history means we can’t get a credit card, we can’t get a loan, can’t get a mobile phone or utilities. Of course there are ways around all this, but these things in life, that we consider everyday necessities, aren’t easy to come by at all. There are hoops (some of them on fire!) that you need to jump through.

To give it further context, our neighbour wanted to get a rescue dog. Great! So he went online, found the one he fell in love with, proceeded with several interviews with the dog refuge, a police check, a background check, and two home visits before he was allowed to apply to get the dog. As he put it, “It’s easier to get a woman online than it is to get a rescue dog.”

kitchen-conversion-cutting-board (2)I almost feel that there should be a Welcome to America pack handed out to newcomers in the Arrivals Hall which contains (at the very least) the following:

  • a social security application form
  • a wallet guide for conversions eg Celsius to Fahrenheit, weights, distances, measures
  • a chopping board like the one to the right (utter genius available at Crate & Barrel)
  • three free driving lessons and/or if you live in a city where public transport exists, a travel pass
  • a glossary for US medical and insurance systems

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We speak the same language but the vernacular is different. It got to a point where I You Tubed how to say “water” after going to a Bucks game and it took about 5 minutes for the cashier to work out I wanted a bottle of water. [For those linguistically-minded, the ‘a’ is like in ‘father’ and the ‘t’ is like a soft ‘d’.] So I think this ICONSPEAK World Edition traveller t-shirt should also be in the Welcome Pack. It may also come in handy for non-Spanish speakers when travelling to nearby South America.

After 4 weeks, lessons learnt so far:

  • A day that is 70+ degrees is a no-socks-needed-might-need-sunscreen-day.
  • When your sat nav says “1000 feet” get ready to turn very soon.
  • A gallon of milk is heavy and cannot be carried in a single plastic bag.

America does good

Image result for US flag

There is a lot of bad press about the US and its policy-makers at the moment. The populus and the media wait eagerly for any Trumphap (you know, like a mishap) so that it can be shared on the digital global stage.

What would I know though? I’ve only lived in the US for the past two weeks. What I DO know, hand on heart, is that America does GREAT at these:

  • Drive through Starbucks. OK, it’s Starbucks, but the pure concept of a drive through coffee shop is just awesome. (Incidentally, I actually don’t mind Starbucks. They do a great almond latte at Brookfield Square.)
  • Online shopping! Anything.You.Want. 24/7. Delivered the next day or sometimes even within 2 hours! Amazon, you already had me. And then you introduced me to Amazon Prime. You’re a keeper.
  • The choice and variety of products are mindblowing. Grocery shopping is nuts. Not just nuts, it’s 50 brands of cereal, 30 types of bread, 10 different types of almond milk (as a lactose-intolerant person this is pretty much like striking the lottery, gallons of water for $1.67/gallon, sugar-free Belgian chocolate that tastes like the real deal (striking the lottery for my diabetic son), 20 types of coffee that you can grind yourself to whatever size grounds you want.
  • Affordable organic food. Yay for Whole Foods and Trader Joes!
  • Right turns on a red light (the most common-sensical road rule ever)
  • School buses that pick your kids up and drop them off at the end of the driveway
  • Organised sport for kids and summer camps to get them (and parents through 3 months of summer break!)
  • Did I mention online shopping?
  • Barnes & Noble. I am a book lover. To be able to get my hands on books without wiping out my annual salary in the process – wow – I am a book glutton.
  • Double glazing and heating in every house
  • Friday night Fish Fry!

#goamerica #Trumphap #WholeFoodsMarket @wholefoods #Barnes&Noble @BNBuzz