AN EXPAT AUSSIE CHRISTMAS

‘Twas the night before Christmas, it was 28 degrees and the sky was light and blue.

I have experienced a total of 6 Christmases in Australia. Two from my travelling days (2001 and 2006), and four since we made the move here in 2011. No matter how hard I try, I still find it strange Christmas shopping in the sunshine and donning a bikini and Santa hat on Christmas day.

This year we deviated from a bbq and opted for turkey with all the trimmings (even sourcing bread sauce from the UK). Our children are now two and three so are beginning to get into the Christmas spirit (well they liked the fact they got a chocolate for 24 days and that some man was bringing them presents). I, like many parents, have exploited the fact that Father Christmas was coming using it daily as a form of bribery on the lead up. Sadly, as with last year, they totally freaked when I took them to meet the big fella in person at the David Jones Santa’s grotto – #nofilter #nophoto.

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They were a little happier waving to him from afar as he flew by our house in a helicopter two days before – something I have yet to witness in the 30 UK Christmases I’ve experienced.

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What Happens When Daddy Goes Away?

When my husband asked if it was ok if he flew to the UK for a couple of weeks with work a few months ago, I swallowed hard and said “of course it is, we’ll be fine”. We have a three-year-old and a 2-year-old. I can count on one hand how many times the two- year-old has slept through, my husband is very much aware of this plus the fact all of our family are in the UK, hence his concern at leaving me to cope on my own.  

As the time for his departure drew closer I tried to maintain my positive mind-set, I wanted him to go away guilt free. Whenever the self-doubt began to creep in I reminded myself of some of my friends who cope amazingly with husbands who work long hours or are away a lot and aren’t often available to help out with the kids. I have one friend whose husband was away in the army for 6 months when she was looking after two very young children without any family close-by. I also have friends who have separated from their partners and therefore frequently have to manage alone.

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Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

Yesterday evening my husband, myself and our eldest daughter officially became Citizens of Australia. The younger of our 2 girls already qualified as an Australian Citizen at birth due to the fact my husband and I were permanent residents when she was born. The eldest, despite also being born here in Australia and being here for 18 months longer than her younger sibling did not qualify automatically as we were on a 457 visa at the time of her birth. Sound complicated? Trust me, it was. I was the one who completed all the applications for all the visa’s leading up to our final citizenship application. I definitely earnt the bottle of bubbles we drank last night!
Lots of people have asked me if I feel any different. I guess it’s a bit like after you get married and people ask the same question… nothing has actually changed in our day to day lives. The ceremony  (which if I’m honest I was dreading) was actually rather touching and sincere, it even brought a tear to my eye when the Mayor congratulated us for what we had accomplished. After we said our pledge, we each individually received our citizenship certificate from the Mayor and at the end were offered a supper of…you guessed it…vegemite sarnies. We were also all given a plant each which I believe symbolises establishing roots.

I  feel proud of what my husband and I have achieved and am excited about the future for our family. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to offer our girls – the choice to live in two amazing countries (England and Australia). I don’t think I’ll ever feel truly Australian as I spent such a large part of my life growing up in England. Perhaps if we stay here forever the girls will feel more Aussie than English as they were both born here. I will certainly leave that decision up to them.

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Food For Thought

imageYesterday, whilst at the playground I had to admire my 3 year old for her persistence.

It was New Year’s Eve. We took the girl’s and their dinner as well as some snacks and wine for us, to the playground at the back of the beach. I rarely leave the house without food for them as it appears to be the main bribery tool that works when trying to get them to complete the simplest of tasks.

The girls opened up their Peppa Pig lunch box, as they do every day, in excited anticipation to see what goodies lay within the pink canvas casing. Sometimes I can sense (and understand) their disappointment- it’s usually some variation of the same 3 ingredients: yoghurt, pasta and eggs. However today (as it was NYE) I’d tried to make it more interesting. I’d go so far as to say I’d possibly gone a little overboard with the amount and variety; chicken, avocado, crisps, yoghurt, nuts, grapes, cherries, dips and crackers – no egg or pasta in sight for once! Initially most of the contents seemed to meet their approval- this was evident by the way they were busily tucking in. Obviously not all of it was a winner, every now and again an item of half nibbled, sucked, licked or untouched food landed on or near me as they discarded it.

After a few minutes my 3 year old hot footed it to the other side of the playground where she promptly stood and stared intently at a family who were sitting down to enjoy their own picnic. They gave her a couple of token/awkward smiles as they tried to carry on enjoying their dinner in spite of her watchful eye.

After a good ten minutes of some hard core staring and probably making them feel immensely guilty with each bite they took, they caved in and passed her a strawberry. Without hesitation she took it from them and ran back to us, grinning with pride and satisfaction at her achievement/steal.

When I was a child it was drummed into me daily not to take food from strangers. I can’t remember what age I was when I started to understand this. As you can see, I haven’t started teaching this to my girls yet but I guess it may be time to start.

I remember the first few times my daughter got ‘food envy’ when we were out in public. I’d desperately try to explain and show my friend or the stranger she had approached, how much food I had brought so they didn’t think I was a terrible or unprepared mother. The shoe has now been on the other foot as it’s happened to me many times with other children. I have to say I find it a little awkward. I have no issue giving the child some food but it’s often tricky to know what is the right thing to do, especially if the parent is nowhere in sight.

It made me wonder why it is that children get food envy? My youngest will vigorously shake her head from side to side and throw food off her high chair in disgust, 5 minutes later if I’m eating the exact same thing she stares at me longingly and opens her mouth wide waiting for me to shovel some in. Once I do as she requests, she has a look of immense satisfaction on her face and opens her mouth even wider in readiness for the next deposit.

Is it because other people’s food actually tastes better or is it the satisfaction they feel when they get something that isn’t actually theirs? I’m inclined to think it’s the latter however I’m no child psychologist so unfortunately I don’t have the answers. Just food for thought!