Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Playing around with new options and an updated space to share more than just long posts. I think you’ll be able to find me here for a while, wanderingbly.com

Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's more than just a Costco

I can’t believe how long it has been since I have posted… Things here are plugging along. We are busy with all 3 kids in different schools, on different schedules, and each have their own activities. Life here is really similar to what we would be doing in Seattle, but not quite the same. At times I have thought about posting but while I like to give general updates on the kids I really never thought of this space as being a platform for the minutia of our lives but instead somewhere to share our adventures. As usual there are conversations happening and networking being done which may result in some changes for us, but nothing is for sure yet so it’s too early to start making announcements. One thing these conversations have done is forced me to stop and think about living somewhere really different. We have been so lucky to get the chance to live in the UK and now Australia. We have gotten the chance to experience different places and different lifestyles all while being in very safe locations. Both are English speaking, although there is still plenty of misunderstanding, both are obviously western and the traditions, foods, etc. are very similar to the US. This time we may be taking on a slightly bigger adventure and as we have agonized over locations and lifestyles it has forced me to consider what do we need to be happy somewhere? Turns out the answer to that question just might be Costco.

Everyone I know in Reading and Sydney just rolled their eyes and everyone in Seattle nodded in agreement.

A tour of Sydney wouldn't be complete without taking Grandma and Papa to our local Costco. We even got a little lunch.

So I love Costco, which is no secret. I think it is a great balance of value and quality, good customer service, and brands I trust. Plus who can beat a $1.50 hot dog and drink? But really that is not the real reason I love Costco so much. I have now been to Costco in 3 countries and I can tell you the warehouse is the same whether you go to the Woodinville location or Reading. The layout is all basically the same, there are some minor differences. In England the candy section is absurdly big and here in Sydney the seafood selection is extensive. As you walk through the brands are all pretty much the same and of course you have the Kirkland Signature options in almost any product. It is the only thing that has been consistent no matter where we live. Walking in those doors is the only place that I am instantly familiar with regardless of how long I have lived in the area. I don’t have to read every package to understand what I’m buying or try out multiple different brands until I find the one I like. It is the easiest part of what is at times a really overwhelming process of getting settled in a new place. It also provides little pieces of home even after we have been here for a while, being able to buy the salsa we like or the warm Carter’s PJs for the kids is really nice. When we get to a new city it is our first stop because we need everything from groceries to bath mats. Once we have done our Costco stock up I can start venturing out to the local stores to figure out where to do our regular shopping, what a good price on milk is, and which chemist is the best. All of that takes time, effort, and usually involves quite a few wrong purchases before I get it right.

They have learned that it is the one place mom is will to buy things like absurdly big ice cream cones.
When we started seriously thinking about another move that would put us in a non-English speaking city my initial thought was that if the school is a fit and our home is comfortable then I can manage the rest. For the kids it is really about them being happy in their school. The benefit of going to an international school is they would be going to school with kids who have the same experiences they do, of having lived different places. We would no longer be the one family with a different accent and no intention of settling down for the long term. We would be part of a larger community of expats who do move and the schools are set up to provide support for families like us. On the home side if we can fit our space I can make it a home. I find that I have become so dedicated to our little family routines. Every Friday night is pizza and a movie night, all 5 of us sit down together and watch a movie while eating our pizza. This seems like a silly little thing that doesn’t matter all that much. But if I can keep our pizza and a movie night no matter where we are it provides that consistency and stability. Those are the things that make different places home not just where we live. For Jamie the transition tends to be a bit faster because he is going to a Microsoft office no matter where we are so for better or worse his experience is really similar regardless of location. For me it is Costco. It really isn’t Costco but it is my job to figure out how we actually live in a new city. Having one place that looks and feels the same really helps.

That being said Seoul has multiple Costcos and Munich has none… so it isn’t our only criteria for moving.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Times They Are A-changin'

I turned around the other day and realized that things have changed around here. We are in our 2nd month of school and as I watch the kids each settle into their new school year, this year in particular feels like the beginning of a new phase. It’s not hard to figure out why this year feels like a bigger change than others. Patrick started Sr High School and now goes off in his senior uniform. The realization that after this there are only 2 more school years until he is off to university is a very hard thing to wrap my head around. I’m so excited for him but at the same time can’t imagine a day when he isn’t here with us all the time. Kellen started Kindergarten and has settled in so quickly. He is so pleased with himself to have homework like his big brother, he beams when he makes progress on his reading, and he now has a little group of boys he has fallen in with. Then there is little miss Ella, she started preschool two full days and week and as the preschool teacher says “she has blossomed”, in other words her personality and desire to be the centre of attention has exploded over the last 2 months. But it isn’t just the kids this time, I feel like I have changed and have entered into a new phase too. I’ve started doing some part time consulting work and it feels amazing!

I know our new phase isn’t very dramatic, we are going from babies and toddlers to young kids, but it is a big change. I’ve realized that I haven’t bought diapers or pull ups in a long time. I no longer feel the need to carry an overflowing bag everywhere I go, if I have wipes on me it’s a bonus not a necessity. Getting in the car everyone is using actual seatbelts no more 5 point harnesses which is a small victory in my book. It is also small things I don’t always recognize in the moment but then in retrospect realize how nice it is to have. I can now say everyone put on their shoes and everyone can go find appropriate shoes and put them on. All 3 kids can work together to pick up the playroom and it actually ends up clean. In so many little ways things are getting easier. The flip side is I’ve noticed the battles I do have seem to be getting more difficult. As Ella’s personality ‘blossoms’, as they like to say at preschool, her wilfulness just increases. The two of us go to battle all day every day and I’m scared to think that I have about 20 more years of this ahead of me. Today the battle was over fruit snacks and ended when she threw her glass of milk onto the floor and I marched her to her room… Kellen seems to be doing so well in school but when he does waiver my heart breaks for him. He has to do news every Thursday when he gets up in front of the class and tells them his news. Standing in front of the class and speaking is so far the hardest thing for him about school and watching how nervous he gets is terrible, but then seeing him so proud after school is comforting. The thought of Patrick driving now that he is 16 is so scary. I think back to when I was 16 and allowed to drive to and from school, to my activities, out with friends, and I think my parents must have been sick worried all the time. I want him to do these things but don’t want him to do them either. We are definitely entering a new phase of worries and frustrations.

With Kellen in school 5 day and Ella in 2 days I figured I would have all this free time I didn’t have before. I’ve learned that school 5 days means your time is taken up with drop offs and pickups and then trying to fit everything else into the space in between. We also have to move all of our regular activities to after school time so we are busier than ever. I also wanted to do something for myself with the 2 days I have kid free. Through networking with some of the moms I have met I was connected with a company that provides exit, stay, and on boarding interviews to their clients. They hire contractors as independent consultants so I had to get a business number and was hired on a consultant to do interviewing for them. So far it is great, I am able to schedule my work around my own availability and once I’ve filled my available time I don’t have to take on any more work, or if I have more time available for whatever reason I can schedule more interviews and bill more hours. I’ve enjoyed it so far, I’ve been assigned multiple law firms, a pharmaceutical company and two large mining companies. I am talking to different people who do different types of work and it has been really interesting. I’m enjoying having something to focus on outside of the stay at home mom realm I’ve been in for almost 4 years now. It gives me an outside focus and I will actually be earning some money. It’s already burning a hole in my pocket, I have a list of really exciting things I want to go out and indulge in. I think a trip to the new Williams-Sonoma that opened near us is on the agenda. I started going through the interview process with Apple for a recruiter position they are hiring here in Sydney and while there is something really exciting about the chance to go back full time, work in the city, and make a full salary. The thought of going form home full time to never home was just too much. In the end the role wasn’t a good fit and it helped me realize that I’m not ready to go back full time but working part time and getting to work while still being home full time is perfect for me right now.

So we are changing over here. Some things are getting easier and other things are getting harder. The kids are gaining their independence little by little and I am too.