Thursday, August 30, 2012

Celebrating a Year...

Yes, we have lived in Sydney for exactly 1 year. Hard to believe, as it seems just like yesterday we were landing in this crazy city! A new adventure for the Wiltshire's- a decision that was prayed over, but nonetheless quick and quite a whirlwind.

Basically Jason got his full offer for this new job/position in June, signed the contract the end of June (in Hong Kong). We were home two weeks later to the States. Spent about 5 weeks there, then back to Shanghai. We were only there for 3 1/2 weeks before we packed everything up and moved to Sydney.

I still remember Jason's co-workers picking us up from the airport. Then driving over the famous bridge- and thinking, wow! This is our new home.

I didn't really know what to expect or what to do. We arrived on a Sunday morning and got settled into our serviced apartment. Had a nice breakfast around the corner and walked around for a bit. Then back to the apartment for showers and sleep (we were all jet lagged).

That night we took our rental car out- Jason's first time to drive on the left side of the road! Ah- it was hilarious. I have it on video and it was hysterical. Don't knock it til you've tried it- it's not that easy!

Then let me just tell you that my husband promised me that he would have at least a few days at home with us- you know, helping us settle in, working on finding a home, etc., Did that happen? Of course not. He was straight to work that next morning (Monday morning).

So, try being in a foreign country without knowing anyone, no internet, no phone and no car- well, we had a car, but I wasn't ready to drive yet. I think Jason did come back at lunch to give me a cellphone and a wireless port so I could access the internet. Good for him that he did!

It was an interesting first week to say the least. A few good moments, but mostly not. :) It was actually like a scene out of some crazy comedy. I was tortured with having to go to open house after open house with the boys. Mind you I was just learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road (and the opposite side of the car), with two boys and a HUGE city to try and navigate through.

On top of that, the open houses for rentals are only open for 15 minutes. SOOO, in my state of driving, let's just say I didn't make many of the showings. And, one day (while driving around looking at houses), Jack threw up all over himself in the back of the car. That was about breaking point #5 for me...for the week. Then, two days later- same thing, different child. Driving around like a nut, trying not to kill all of us, and trying to find us a home...and Henry throws up all over himself in the back. Really???? It feels so ridiculous now that it's almost funny. How does that happen to someone in one week- while they're in their first week in a new city!

Needless to say, Jason knew that I needed a break and a nice night out. So, I drove ourselves down to Manly Beach where I was FINALLY able to see what this beautiful city was all about. Walking around on the beach and seeing the amazing sunset was all worth the crazy week that we had been having.

We then went and had a wonderful dinner on the beach at "Manly Grill". It was perfect! It was that night when I knew that no matter what difficulties we had been through that this was a beautiful city and I had my wonderful family here to enjoy it with me. God was showing me that night how blessed we really were- here in Australia to once again enjoy and treasure a great adventure.

Of course, there have been ups and downs this year, but overall this has been another great experience. This truly is one of the most beautiful cities!

Looking forward to whatever amount of time we may have here- !

A few pictures from our first week in Sydney- followed by some we took last night!

Tunks Park- right down the street from our first apartment here

First trip out to Manly Beach!

Henry's 3rd country to visit! 2nd to call home!

Beautiful sunset!

And here we are- a year later!

How he's grown in just a year!

My beautiful funny boys!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Club!

So I finally joined my first Book Club! Woo!'s an American Book all Americans. I found it through a friend here and am so happy that I decided to go.

It's funny really, the first time I went (in July), was thee first time in a LONG time that I've been around more than 1 or 2 Americans. I had a TON of American friends in Shanghai, but only had a few here. Seems silly, because there are a TON of Americans in Sydney but they are scattered everywhere. In Shanghai, I felt like we were concentrated to two areas.

Anyway- here is the book we did for July. It was Michael Polan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma". I actually only heard about book club a few weeks before so didn't get a chance to ready it, but did kinda read some notes on it.

Very interesting read- I know there are lots of discussions/books/articles on what we are putting into our body. Grain fed vs. Grass fed, cage free chickens, etc., It covers all of that. As I mentioned, I didn't read all of it but it was a good discussion while at book club. Can't say that I want to totally change our eating/buying habits, but I am definitely more aware of what we buy. I think I was awhile ago though just from living in Shanghai.

August was Hope Edelman's "The Possibility of Everything". Hmmm, wondering who picked out this book. It was a bit odd, a slow read and rather boring.

It was basically a memoir of a woman who is dealing with her child's "imaginary friend". They go on a vacation of sorts to Belize and use a "shaman" or "bush doctor". It definitely had some weird moments and just wasn't that easy to get into. I skipped through alot of it. Wouldn't really recommend it.

However, as most "book clubs" (or so I've heard), I think there is more socializing and eating or drinking wine than an actual discussion. Which, is fine for me, because I've loved meeting some of these new gals.

Last month was quite big- I think there was about 15 of us. Women from all ages and all over the US. It's just nice to go chat with women that are from your own country, are living expat lives and you can talk about some of your frustrations, the differences you face here or just life in general.

I'm hosting next month- well, in a few weeks! GONE GIRL is the book. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Catch up on Two Growing Boys

Well, I said I was going to do it monthly, but I think my last entry on the boys was in April. Whoops! :)

I swear, sometimes it takes all of my energy in just feeding them. It's absurd sometimes how much they eat. Jack gets in the car after school and IMMEDIATELY tells me that he's hungry. Not just hungry. Starving!...and he can't wait til we get home. (It's a 5 minute drive!).

Anyway, we've had alot of growing in the last few months. Both physically, emotionally and intellectually. Especially makes me sad with Henry because he's really not much of a baby anymore. :( I would think about another child, but our impending move to Hong Kong is more so on my mind than adding another child- and I also can't think of moving to ANOTHER country being pregnant. A woman can only handle so much. :)

Here are their stats:

Jack- he is now 28kg or 61.6 lbs and 4.019 feet.
Henry- he is now 16kg or 35.2 lbs and 3.13 feet.

Another trip to the pool downstairs! How they love it! :) 

Jack has started his 3rd term of kindergarten, well actually, he has about 4 weeks left until it's over. Then he'll only have 1 term left of kindy. He has made more tremendous strides in school.

He did start out in a smaller literacy group (outside of his class), because he was a little big behind, but has caught up and doing great. I think most of it was because he was in a Chinese school in Shanghai. Now this term they have started Math. Ooh- he's getting the hang of it though. This is where Daddy comes in hand, because Mommy is not so great in the Math department.

A page we did for his class book. Every weekend someone gets to take home
the class pet, "Pug". It's a big thing. Big weekend! 

An example of one of his readers from school- he has 3-4 every week that he has to read every night

He's really getting good at spelling though- usually gets 7, 8 or 9 out of 9 correct.

He's also finishing up the last of soccer. He has the next two Saturdays that are "Gala Days"- basically tournament days. Then he's finished and we'll be starting baseball. He had trials last weekend. Really laid back but fun. I think he's going to like it.

Jack is also starting to figure out more about relationships. What friends-or classmates- are good kids. How to deal with different issues, etc., We are having lots of conversations about how God wants us to act, how to treat people and how to be a good friend. In fact, at school, Jack was given an award for "being a supportive and caring friend with all his classmates". Way to make a Mama proud! :)

Of course, Jack is also talking ALOT about his upcoming birthday. His 6th Birthday! Just under 2 months away. How is this possible? Just doesn't seem so. He wants a Ninjago birthday- nothing else would suffice!- so it'll be fun. And Jason's Mom will be here.

At baseball trials this last weekend. 

Jack is still into nothing but legos, coloring, having playdates and being a boy. I just love him so. :)

Now for little Henry. Our lil' tiger. Oh how he is a funny little thing. 2 1/2 going on 6. Just wants to be like his big brother- do and play everything he does. But we still enjoy playing with his toys, puzzles and games when were just by ourselves.

He's still going two days a week to preschool and loves it. Very happy to see all of his friends and go to "school", but still happy when I pick him up. He's not totally independent yet.

The child does have an amazing memory. We have a few books that we love and he remembers each and every thing from them. He even has this one book, here below, that he knows what it's going to say the next page. Word for word. Cracks us up.

He knows what animal comes on the next page and what they are doing- so funny! 

He loves this book! All the fun animals and shapes. 

He also is getting quite excellent with numbers- knowing them when he sees them, instead of just counting. He also knows most of his shapes.

We are also trying to work on the potty training bit. Hmmm...a bit like Jack was- difficult. He is really good about "weeing" (as the Aussies say) in the potty, but won't "poo". I put him on there and he just sits. In due time I suppose. Why are boys so much more difficult to potty train- or so I've heard!?!? :)

And he is totally into SPIDERMAN! Obsessed! He thinks every green shirt is something "Green Goblin", and everything red is spiderman. He even asked me one day if my hair on my shoulder was a "web" and has flung spaghetti around saying it's his "web". He is so funny! This is actually a new poster I got for him- and he loves it! :)

We are trying to spend more time outside now that it's nicer- spring is almost here! Jack is a pro at his scooter/razor now. We are getting him a new bike for his Birthday. We bought him one in Shanghai with training wheels, but didn't bring it. So he doesn't know how to ride yet without the training wheels, and we don't really have a neighborhood to ride around in. BUT I'm determined he'll pick it up fast.

Lots of park time, playdates for both and outdoor activities. What else do you do with them to expend some of their energy!?!?

Boys are too much fun though! :)

My too cool Dude! 

Jack and his friend, Daniel, one night when we had a sleepover. :) 

Monday, August 13, 2012

City to Surf Run

What a fun Sunday! Way to start out the upcoming spring- well it's on it's way I think!

I did my first City 2 Surf Run here in Sydney- it's one of the biggest and most popular. Um, I guess so- there were 85,000 people that RAN it. That doesn't include all of the spectators, and cheering family and friends around. It was manic but so fun!

I got up early on Sunday morning- well Henry woke me up (he's my lil' alarm clock) and got ready. Had a little bit of coffee then made sure I was all packed. AND that the boys were all packed. They were going to meet me down at Bondi.

I took the train into the city- the start of the race was at Hyde Park (right in the city center), then ended at the famous Bondi Beach. Now I knew this was a big race but had no idea just how crazy it really was.

I started in the yellow group (2nd to last group) and we started at 9:05. But I don't think that I really started running until about 9:25 because the crowd was so massive. It was interesting though- lots of people dressed up- I saw gorillas, Shrek family, pirates, wonder Women (some with outfits a little too short) and this and that and everything else.

In fact, about 5km in, there was a big group of guys Smurfs- yes, all painted blue and dressed up. They were standing on the side of road cheering people along- (tons of people did this along the way). However, one of them, as I was running by, swatted me on the bum with some sort of yard stick. Um, and it stung! So much in fact, that the next Police officer I saw, I stopped and told him. His response (that Jason and the guys thought was so funny) was, "Are those smurfs causing trouble again?". I have no idea if he did anything but it definitely added a bit of drama to my run.

The run was nice- including "Heartbreak Hill". The deadly hill (literally two people have died running it) that just kept going and going and going and going. The only nice thing about it was the incredible view of houses and the bay that you saw to the side. :)

Great run- 14km (9 miles) and ended on beautiful Bondi Beach. I even saw the boys and Jason near the finish line looking and cheering for Mommy!

The start of our race! The people just keep going and going! 

One of the views of our run! Gorgeous! 

The que coming up the beach after we wrapped around the finish line! 

Afterwards we went to some friend's house, Brett and Simone, for an Aussie barbeque. The boys had a blast- we ate, drank and loved visiting with them and new friends that we met. Great Sunday and a great run! Now I just have to add 4 miles for my 1/2 marathon that's coming up in 4 weeks! :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

On the brain...yet another move...

So we all knew this was coming- a new move. Last year when Jason signed his contract with EP&T Global (his current company) we knew that Sydney was only temporary. His position for hire was to start up the new Hong Kong office and manage, but they weren't ready quite yet so we came to Sydney. It'll actually be a year the end of this month! Crazy to think about it.

But, of course, we are now in serious talks of our move to Hong Kong. I'm so torn! I knew that Sydney was short term (we were in Shanghai for 3 1/2 years), but were just feeling settled. So now thinking about another move is a little stressful.
Okay, stressful is not really the word to use. There are many- exciting, anxious, nervous, hard, fun, new, adventurous- I mean, I could go on and on forever.

The thing about it is, no one really knows how many emotions go into such a daunting and life-changing move. I remember last summer when I went to my OBGYN and my cycle still wasn't normal (this is almost a year after I stopped breast feeding Henry). When I told him what was going on in our life- we were preparing for a move to Sydney, he told me that "moving" was one of the top 5 stressful things that a person can go through- and this doesn't even include moving to a new country.

It's funny to think about though- both our moves to Shanghai and Sydney were totally different. I think Shanghai was easier in a way because we had our apartment picked out before we moved (Jason and I took a "looksie" and picked it out two months before we moved). So we had a "home" to go too. Jason had co-workers (with wives!) that were from Tulsa. AND Jack was only 18 months old.

When we moved to Sydney it was all so fast- we signed the contract in June, went home to Tulsa 2 weeks later, spent 5 weeks there, then back to Shanghai for 3 1/2 weeks, then moved! IT was a whirlwind. AND we had a serviced apartment while we searched for our new "home". Also, because Jack is older, I immediately had to start researching schools for him to attend.

SO, to make our move to Hong Kong easier (I mean, I should know how to do it by now- this will be our 3rd international move!!!!), I'm starting now with my researching.

First, I have to decide where we want Jack to go to school because we will want to find housing close by. That's the most important. Then everything goes around that. But finding a school- LORD! There are a hundred choices- I mean, I know it's only kindy/1st grade, but all the expat forums online are so ridiculously confusing.

The best thing to do when moving to a new place (whether it be across States or internationally) is to somehow get in touch with someone that has lived there  or lives there now. AND talk with them via email/phone so you have a good idea about all the conditions on moving, areas, etc.,

I have alot of work to do- and while it is somewhat stressful (makes Mama want a glass of wine now!), it is really exciting. I've loved our "homes" overseas- we've met so many amazing people and had, really the experiences of a lifetime- memories we'll never forget. However, I think this may be our last move. As much as I've loved our "expat" life, I miss the good ole' USA. :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Open Day at Northbridge

We had the wonderful chance to go view Jack's school on Thursday! And...Daddy got to go! What a treat for Jack- he was so excited to show off his classroom, his artwork, his writing, etc., Love the joy and pride that he has for his work!

Trying to get a picture of Jack...this is what I got! 

Now, of course, Henry had to come in! 

A little bit of his artwork.

The first bit of the morning (30 minutes) was spent walking around his classroom. He had his Literacy book and Numeracy book. All loved seeing the progress that he's made since he started kindy in February. His handwriting is really wonderful. This coming from a child that in November of last year (3 months before he started) would whine and fall to the floor when I told him we were going to work on writing letters. And it was COMPLETE torture to get him to write three lines of the letter "A". Now he LOVES doing his "homework". Thank goodness too because I couldn't take those dramatic fits- 15 minutes of it and I was ready to down a bottle of wine! :)

This was my favorite though....a "What I want to be when I grow up" that all the kids did in class. Jack, of course, wants to be a Ninja. (He's obsessed with the lego ninjagos.)

But he wrote that he wants to be a "Ninjago because it was fun and it's awesome. I want to fight evil and look after good people so they are safe."

Tell me how cute that is- I love that he wants to "look after people so they are safe". He's such a sweet boy. I laughed when I saw it though and then looked around the room on the desks of all the other kids- lots of "princesses" and sports guys, space guys, ballerinas, etc., Guess they aren't into "doctors", "teachers", and all that just quite yet. :) 

And a last pic of Jack and his Daddy at school. Jason can barely hold him up- and of course, neither of them wanted to take a picture so they both look goofy. Typical... :) We went to watch Jack in his "lines" where they listen to the morning announcements and sing the school song. All so cute- in their uniforms and in straight lines. I love it.

They had an assembly afterwards but Jason had to get to a meeting and I didn't stay. It was an hour long assembly and there is no way Henry would have stayed still through it all.

Great seeing Jack in all of his glory at school- he is a Shining Star! :)

Keeping Time for Yourselves! A perfect night out in Sydney!

I have always been a firm believer in making sure we have plenty of "date" nights and alone time. It is absolutely essential in a marriage - especially when you have kids. However, just as life does, it's hard to carve out that special time. Especially hard living here in Sydney where we have no family to babysit and the sitters here cost anywhere from $15-25 an hour! What? Yes- it's true.
So it's been a bit crazy here and I don't think we've gone out alone (we do try and do lunches on Friday when Henry's at school) since May. We used to do date nights at least once or twice a month.
Anyway, I mentioned casually (well, maybe I might have demanded) that I needed a little romance and for Jason to plan something. Usually I do most of the planning. So Jason told me about a week ago that he had arranged for a whole night out to be spent at the Shangri-La Hotel (right near the Opera House)! I almost fell over! Of course, I immediately asked "well, what about the boys?". All taken care of, he said! Alright...sounds good to me!
His good friend and co-worker, Brett, and his girlfriend, Simone, came over Saturday afternoon and after a run down of the boys and their schedule we walked out the door. Can I tell you how weird it was? Weird and wonderful all at the same time!
Jason even had the whole evening planned. We went to the hotel and checked in- the Shangri-La is one of the nicer ones here in town and has amazing views of the Harbour. If you're traveling through, this is a great place to stay as it is centered around alot of the hot spots-

We then went up to the Blu Bar on floor 36- great view up there and great drinks! I had a drink called "The Paradise"...a few types of liquor topped with Prosecco. It was divine! :) 
Next, we went to an underground bar called Palmers & Co. It was a parking lot transformed into a 1940's pub- so cute and so neat. Here's a website describing it:

The coasters at the pub- hilarious!

I just had a glass of wine, and Jason had some scotch concoction. Then we shared a charcuterie board- yummy salami, proscuitto, goats cheese and bread! It was perfect after my stiff drink earlier. :) It was such a neat bar- even the waitresses had on the proper 40's attire. 

Then we went from there to Woolloomooloo- an area in Sydney- about a 5 minute taxi ride from our hotel. We ate at a restaurant called Kingsley's. Deemed the "Best steak and crabhouse in Sydney". Here's their site:

I haven't had a whole lot of steaks in Sydney, but this one was the best that I've ever had. DELICIOUS! So juicy and tender- I would go back there again and again. Jason had a "man's salad" with his steak- this is the Aussie term for french fries (what they call "chips") dipped in mashed potatoes. Seriously funny! :) 

Not only was it a great night, but we got to sleep in (what?!?! unheard of!), lounge around, then took a stroll along "The Rocks" area. We got our coffees, muffins and croissants and strolled around the area. It was wonderful! 

A big thanks of course to our babysitters, to the boys that did so well and to my hubby for knowing how very much I needed that. Granted I don't think you have to do that every time, but getting time for yourselves as a couple - as parents- is so very important! Keep the love alive! :) 

A few pics of our night to end with....
The bar- Palmers & Co. that we went to- so cool! 

Jason's scotch drink and my wine. Loved the glasses! 


One of the stores at "The Rocks"

Lil' bit of Aussie clothing.

And this is what you get EVERYWHERE in Sydney- rows and rows of bakeries and pastry shops!
It's a killer because they are all so delicious! 

Sunday morning stroll along The Rocks

The beautiful Opera House!

We walked around during this festival- tons of tents set up.

Again- love the old buildings- this is the oldest "pub" in Sydney