Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bought a house!

My mind has been everywhere since the last post. It has been much harder than I anticipated. I think if I had been on my own I would have gone home, but BB wanted to stay. I miss people, I have a rosy picture of life in the UK based on our last few month there. Our living conditions here have been unstable. Having paid rent on the house we are in currently for 5 weeks prior to our arrival I thought I had secured us a place to live for a while, but as soon as we arrived I was told we needed to buy by the end of November or they would sell to someone else. The pressure of that was huge. I wasn't even convinced that we were going to stay here, had uncomfortable feeling about the local school, didn't know which suburb we wanted to live in if we did stay, and the house is beautiful but old, and will require a labour of love, a handy man and some deep pockets to maintain it. I did my best to persuade them to rent it to us for longer, but they wanted rid of the place as soon as possible, so in the end they put it on the market.

It sold in 4 days, which surprised everyone including the agent selling it, though it is a great space to live. So we were to be homeless by January.

This was unsettling too. I didn't know wether I should just give in and leave, go on the road trip and then go home, or persist in the face of adversity. I was a sad Mummy for a while but BB was great. He does miss my Mum too, but every time I asked if he wanted to go back to the UK he was very sure he didn't want to. He likes it here, he likes the beach, his friend Grace, the play group, swimming lessons... When I tried to persuade him by saying how nice it would be to see the folks at home his response was just that we can Skype them and then we can visit them when we can't remember what its like in England!

The school thing was really getting to me too. I'm not sure why but I just had a bad feeling about this school BB was enrolled in right from the start. On paper it's great. But all the parents i met were talking about the family day for kindy orientation, sausage sizzles, family bbq's etc. Ours was a talk  from the principal with no kids allowed. That can't be right surely, not being able to attend your own kindy orientation! I began to look for alternatives. Finally I called a Community Kindergarten which is very popular and has just 20 spaces which I knew were filled, just in case... It turned out that someone has moved and everyone on the waiting list is happy with their alternative plans, so by a stroke of luck we were in. That was great. I started to feel better. Also being a Community Kindy we were not tied to a suburb, we still have a year to work out where we are going to live before we have to be settled for school.

I continued to be up and down for a while. I started to look for a new place for us to live, but nothing that was for sale seemed to grab me. Sure there were places that were OK, and when we looked at places that were more than I can afford there were places I liked. But finding a place I could afford, that was a house we'd like to live in, in a suburb that I thought we could stay for the long haul, seemed impossible. I looked at sold prices and could see it was possible, but nothing was around right now.

I considered all options, including building from scratch and some severe renovation projects. I got to know my suburbs, and my school catchments. I met someone who's husband is a glazier and so has good knowledge of places that you might not want to live. We looked at so many houses. We didn't find anything we liked but we did at least narrow it down to two suburbs, which are next to each other, one of which is home to the kindy BB is going to. We looked at every option within our price range in these two suburbs but there was nothing. So I decided we should give up on finding a place to buy, and start looking for a place to rent instead.

Renting is something I was avoiding as it will erode my capitol for buying. But here the costs of selling are around AUD$40,000, so it would be an expensive mistake to buy the wrong house, and for that amount of money we could rent for some years before we were worse off. Also, with the uncertainty about whether or not we will stay, renting was a good temporary option.

So renting it was.

At the same time, in my uncertainty, I turned to the Dharma. I started listening to some old podcasts of wisdom that have been on my phone for a while. Up until this point my only feedback on my feelings was from my fiends here, who really have no understanding at all of what it is like to move halfway across the planet. They live here, with their family all close by. They mocked my mind changing, told me that I think I too much and that I should just do it. They had no time for my sadness and uncertainty. But when I listened to a talk that included the line in it "without darkness nothing is born" it made me realise that darkness in such a period of change is inevitable, and that it was OK for me to feel sad, and to acknowledge that sense of loss that I am feeling, and to know that this moment too shall pass and that this choice was mine, carefully considered, and that it will be ok.

Another thing I have learned from moving around so much, is that viewing a place where you are living as temporary is not helpful. I did this in Kalgoorlie. The whole time I was there I viewed it as a temporary place. This impacted on the way I lived there. So much so that when I moved to Alice I made the conscious decision to commit to the place as my home. It made so much difference to my experience there, I threw myself in, became a part of the community, I still love that place today more than anywhere else I have lived, and I accept that at least part of the reason for that is my attitude and approach toward it. I wanted to do the same here. I don't want to be here thinking we might leave soon. I want to BE here. I want to find a place for us to live and to build our life here.

And so I set up appointments to view three rental places...

...and then on Wednesday we happened to drive by a house for sale.

A house I hadn't seen before, with an agent I had never heard of. And it was everything we wanted, with ocean views and solar panels and a rainwater system, and a huge yard, in a perfect location, in one of the two suburbs on our short list, and just about within our reach financially.

Within 36 hours I'd made an offer, done some negotiating, agreed a price and it will be ours - on 11th December

And so far it feels good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I'm back

Hello blog, it's good to be back.

Finally we have our own space and internet connection once again. 

And I have so much to write about.

Perhaps I should explain too that this post has been in the making for a few days, and my mind has changed a few times since i started writing it, which you will probably notice. But its all a process. A process I have missed by not writing. Most of it is me deciding what we'll do next, with a little bit of background on what has happened since I last wrote. I may do a few more posts on that. Theres's been some big stuff. BB's birthday for example, the embryos and a very special person has died, but for now...

...About a week after my last blog post we moved out of our house. We got to the point where it was hard to get any further with the packing without going, so we moved into a spare room at my parents place. All our stuff was collected by the removalists on the 20th July. It was all very carefully engineered as we were due to arrive at our new place on 5th October and the shipping company said it would take 10-12 weeks to get here, so it left 11 weeks before us - perfect I thought. It still hasn't left the UK - but that's a whole other story.

We had a fabulous summer in the UK. I was winding down all my work commitments and so had more time enjoy life instead of slogging away all hours and still going backwards.  The weather was good. We went lots of places and visited lots of people. It was summer. It was great. By the time we got to it being time to leave I was wondering if we were doing the right thing. 

The sale of our house dragged on and on and on. I'm not sure why. We went from the buyers wanting to move in mid July to it still not being completed a week before we were due to leave. In that time the AU$ had started to go down and my house had gone up so it was worth more than the value I had agreed to sell it at. I began to panic. When I was in Australia last time my Dad got really sick but I couldn't afford to move back. UK house prices had gone up and combing that with the low value of the dollar I just couldn't afford to go back. It was a situation I wanted to avoid happening again, which you may remember I was hoping to do by getting an investment mortgage on the UK house and then renting it, but I couldn't get a mortgage. 

Anyway - a week before we left I mentioned this to my Dad. Interest rates on savings are low in the UK at the moment. I decided to offer him a better rate than he could get in the bank and see if he would loan me the cash. And he agreed! Awesome. I felt so much better then. Our house is great, we have made it perfect for us. It's small and has neighbours attached by a very thin wall, but that is life in the UK. At the very least it is a place for us to go to if we need to, and close to my parents. And if we do decide to go back to live, at least we're still in the property market.  At the moment the rent gives us a little income each month and when we buy a new place the rent will cover my payments to my dad.

So 2015 is now the year I sold my house twice but kept it.

And then we left.

Leaving was hard. Leaving my Mum was the worst part for both BB and I. I could never imagine that I would live away from my Mum. When I came to Australia last time it was just for a visit which unexpectedly turned into 10 years and citizenship. Leaving with the intent to establish a life overseas was so much harder. In fact I am amazed that I was able to do it. 

The journey was not so bad. BB quite likes planes it turns out and the in flight entertainment kept him amused. We arrived at my friends place on the Sunshine Coast and it was so good to see her. We headed to the beach on our second day and BB was so happy. As I sat and watched him I really felt like I had made the right choice and was really pleased that I'd had the guts to do it. The feeling was like we had set ourselves free.

BB did have some mild culture shock though. I hadn't really factored this in to my plan. Naively I had thought a week in the sub tropics, followed by a week in the desert and then down to the south west would be a great plan. I think we could have done it but a few things made me decide to try and take it a bit easier. Firstly we were loving where we were. It was one of two places on my short list for where we would live initially, perhaps we should stay and check it out a bit more. Then there was BB adjusting to a whole new county. He was just getting into the groove on about day 4. It seemed crazy to move him again on day 7. I was in the shower on the Wednesday morning thinking that I don't really want to leave yet, and then the first thing BB said when I got out was that he wanted to stay. Then half an hour later an old friend called and asked if we would house and horse sit for them the next week. It seemed like the universe was aligning to make us stay... and so we did. For an extra week. 

This means the Alice Springs trip will have to wait for another time. Probably a good thing as I would have likely wanted to stay there too! The extra week was good too for helping us decide. I love the sunshine coast, I love my friends there very much, but already in September and October we had days where it was too hot to enjoy the outdoors during the day. For those people who get up to surf at 4 am its great, and for holidays its brilliant. But I don't enjoy hot and humid when you actually need to get stuff done. I would retreat to the air con and get lazy. Its also very busy, and there was a lot of driving from place to place for different services, rather than it all being in your home town, which is something I have loved about all the regional towns in Australia I have lived in.

We arrived in WA and it felt great. I loved the 4 hour drive from the airport down to Albany. As I looked out of the windows I felt as though we were in the right place. The bush had that familiar homely feel. BB and his friend G were getting on so well in the back seat. It was awesome to see another old friend again. We went to the beach and the town, checked out some cafes. Getting things done here is so much easier than on the Sunshine Coast too. 

We spent a week with our friends and then moved into our house (which belongs to them, we are renting with a view to buy). I fell a bit flat on those first days here. We have had company everyday since July. It has been fun. Now its just us. What are we doing? Our loved ones are so far away.  I wanted to go home. BB on the other hand was fine. He is loving being close to his friend G. Loving checking out a new place. We've joined a play group, been to gymnastics, signed up for swimming lessons, been to some new parks. He is really missing my Mum, but when I ask if he wants to go home to England is answer is not yet. "not until we can't remember when we came here, and we want to remember what England is like again"

I have debated on and off for the last couple of weeks whether we should just go home. Then I remember why we left. One of the main reasons is because I don't want BB in the outcomes and assessment obsessed UK education system at such a young age. And though I'd love to home school, the reality is that we couldn't afford to eat if I did. And I know we haven't given it long enough. When I came last time it wasn't until I lived and worked here that I discovered that Australia is a better place to live and work and that the UK is a better place to visit. I know that I have a rosy picture of the UK in my mind as I wasn't working so much and we were doing lots of visiting and going lots of places and it was summer...  Truth is, England is a great place to visit, and a great place to live if you are well off. The UK government is anti single mums, and the situation for us gets worse and worse. I feel like I have exhausted all possible ways we could survive without BB going to full time school and to before and after school care and me getting a teaching job in the system that I hate.  

So I think now that we have got this far we should perhaps give it a go and stay here for two years. Our UK house is rented out on a two year lease. Two years is how much longer we have here before BB would start his formal education, so by staying we could buy him two more years of childhood. It is a great place to be a kid. I can afford to spend some time sorting myself out so that I can change to another career perhaps. Its nice having an old friend nearby. The space we have to live in is amazing, a cute little house on a nice block with great views over the town. We are walking distance from most things we need too, and the school has a great reputation and all new facilities. But I do wish my mum would pop in on her way home from the supermarket.

Two years isn't long. We can visit the UK in that time too. Two years is long enough for us to really assess if we want to be here. If we go back now I don't think we will have really tested it out properly for me to be able to make a certain judgement and I will always wonder.


So I thought I had it all sorted - that two year thing. But then I was A & E (just something in my eye which resulted in a slightly torn cornea - all good now) when a lady younger than my mum came in while I was there, and she had just fallen and broken her hip... what if that were my mum? I really don't want to be so far from my family, but they live in the wrong side of the planet! But does that mean we should go home? And if we stay for two years won't that just make it harder to go home?

Some things are disappointing me too. The education system is not as good as it was. They too are moving away from play based learning to formal teaching in the early years. At the school BB is signed up for we were told they don't do a transition into the year 1 class anymore as the pre primary work and teaching approach is no different from year 1. The orientation for the kindy which he will start in Feb doesn't actual allow the kids to attend. At an event at the weekend someone from a childcare centre was giving us a speil about how they have changed their name as they are not just care any more and we shouldn't undervalue them. They follow the curriculum and deliver educational outcomes to all children however young they are to make them "school ready"...


I think I have now come to the conclusion that I don't have to decide right now. I have been thinking that as a responsible parent I should find a place for us to stay long term, and my concern is that this doesn't feel long term.  I thought that knowing where we are going to be long term would matter, but I don't think it does.  I thought it would be an important thing for BB but actually he is thriving, and he's far happier with uncertainty of it all than me.  And I do really want him to know his Australia home too.  If we are not going to stay forever maybe getting to know more about that is bigger priority right now.

So I am starting to think that perhaps we should go back to that original plan of a big Australian road trip. We are going to his Aussie grandparents place for xmas anyway. Perhaps we should carry on from there, visit our friends in Victoria and Alice so that BB gets to see all the important people and places. We would spend a bit of money, but until we buy a new house and get a loan we do have the rental income from the UK house which will cover some of our expenses at least.

The more I think about it the more I think its a great idea.

So what's stopping me from doing that? Just driving over to SA at the start of December and then onto VIC in the new year and then on up to NT?

1. Stuff. Ever since I packed up my house in the UK the first time when I came to Australia in 1999, I have held the philosophy that you don't own stuff, stuff owns you. I guess I am quite minimalist compared to many folk but still, I have lots of stuff. And in the process of setting up in our rental home here I have got more. A bed, a couch, a fridge, a washing machine... But its just stuff. And getting it has actually been good in a way. It was when I bought the washing machine that I first got the feeling I was committing too much too soon here, so it served as an indicator of that. It's a new one, having bought a second hand one that didn't work I went out and got a good one. Ah well - I sold my machine in the UK, and I have shipped a washing machine to the UK before...and we do have other stuff to send if we go. And we can put it in storage here while we work out what we're doing. Its not the end of the world and I won't let stuff stop me. But I won't buy more stuff either.

2. Money. We will be eating into our savings which we should use to buy a house. Though we could get a cheaper house. Or just go back to our old house once the tenancy agreement is up. It feels wrong though, to just spend money travelling around when you are a responsible parent.

3. Being a responsible parent. I think this is the biggest one. Should I not be providing a stable home for my child? I just left the UK when he should have started school there and now I am considering going on a road trip when he should be starting kindy here. Is that an issue. Is my belief that experiences and family and friends and no formal education whatsoever when you are 4 valid, or am I totally bonkers. Am I really providing diverse, rich and authentic early learning experiences for my child as I like to believe, or am I deluded? How is my indecision impacting upon him?

4. Friends My friends here have been amazing. I don't think they could have done anything more to make us feel welcome, provide us with a home, look after us, entertain us. J is an old friend of mine and it is so fabulous to be around such a long standing friend that you have a history with. And she is so much fun. BB really loves her kids, her partner has been awesome to us too. So have their parents. They kept their house for us so that we could rent it and possibly buy it. It is an amazing house.  I did pay half rent from the time they moved out until the time we moved in, and we are paying our way now, and they have had the advantage of moving slowly (lots of there stuff in the shed still), but I feel bad that they could be selling it or renting it long term instead of having indecisive me occupying the premises.  Although the time since it has been our house has not been a particularly good time of year to put your house on the market, we are now coming into the best time of year sell in the next couple of months. I have suggested they try and sell their house while we are living here, that way of someone makes an offer they can sell, or I can make an offer if it makes me feel jealous (probably what I need to give me a nudge). If we leave we will miss them heaps.

So anyway - thats where I'm at! Indecisive as always. Navigating our way through life as it happens is fun though.

I'll do a photo post later...

Updated a few hours later... they are going to put it on the market. We are both sad. BB actually cried. Maybe this is a sign. I hope it doesn't sell and that we get to rent if for longer while i decide.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I've had better days

It's 3.30am. I am sitting on a cushion on the lounge floor next to a puking child, and actually feeling a bit sick myself too. We are on cushions on the floor because the sofa went to the dump last week. Our house is almost packed up in boxes. I haven't slept a wink yet tonight and I doubt its going to happen now. So I may as well write.

I had a phone call from the clinic on Tuesday saying that they had retrieved 7 eggs and that transfer would therefor either be Friday or Sunday. Friday if less than 7 eggs fertilized, but the possibility of doing a 5 day transfer if they all did. On Wednesday they called again - only 3 embryos, so a 3 day transfer on Friday. I booked flights and a hotel. BB was going to stay with his dad. Thursday morning, we were all packed and ready to go and I get a call saying that there is only one embryo left and it isn't looking good. The embryologist recommends waiting until Sunday to see what happens, but the clinic offer to do a 3 day transfer if I want. I don't want! I don't think I want a 5 day one either. They are telling me that I could still get pregnant even though it hasn't developed properly. Not very reassuring. I don't want to transfer a sick embryo and miscarry again.

They did originally tell me that if I didn't have 1 or 2 good embryos by Friday I could do the whole cycle again with new donors free of charge. But now it has come to it they don't seem so keen. They are saying if it makes it to day 5 I have to do the transfer. I don't think I do have to, and I am actually hoping it wont come to that.

Maybe I have now had enough indicators that I am destined to be the mum of just one. At the moment I just want to get off the drugs and get back to normal. I guess I should try another cycle if I get the chance though.

Having spent a lot of energy persuading a sobbing BB that spending a night at Daddy's house without Mummy would be fun, it seems I finally convinced him. He was disappointed that he wasn't going to see his daddy and that he wasn't going to stay there alone. Our bags were packed and so I thought we could go anyway. We could have a day in London and then I would be ready if I do need to go on Saturday for a Sunday transfer. It would be the same weekend as planned, but in reverse.

So we texted DD to say we were coming and set off. We were about 2/3 of the way there when he sent a message to say they weren't really prepared for adult guests... Hmm... what to do? BB was very disappointed again. It was hard to know what to say to him so in the end I said that Daddy wasn't expecting Mummy just BB so I thought we should go home. His idea was that i should just drop him off at Daddy's house and then go home. Hmm - so my powers of persuasion must have worked. I thought about it, but decided it wasn't really worth the disruption to DD's work and that we might need him another day, so we turned around and came home.  4 1/2 hours and 150 miles to go nowhere!

On the way home I decided to treat myself to a bottle of wine. I got home only to remember that I gave all the wine glasses to the charity shop. Then I discovered I had bought one of those rare bottles with a cork, and remembered that there was a little space in a box the other day that I dropped things like a corkscrew into (on that note I am fed up already with our stuff being in boxes, and so is BB. I want to be in our new house with everything sorted). So, anyway, no wine for me.

Lucky really as now I have a puking child. At least he's learnt to use the sick bowl.

I definitely feel a bit sick myself too. I wonder if its all in my head or real...

Ah well... lets see what the next few days brings.

One would hope things are going get better!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Family Photo Shoot

just because its been a while since I posted any photos of us, here's a few we took last weekend. The ones of me by myself were taken by BB.

I'm getting used to my blonde hair now too. I like that it matches BB's.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

New House

Its been a month since I wrote a personal update so I thought it was about time. Heaps has happened but there has been so little time to blog.

Regarding the move things are coming along well. We actually have a place to move to now which is awesome. Some friends of ours just bought a new house and will be moving out of their old place just a few weeks before we arrive. They have very generously offered to rent it to us, so that we have place to stay for the first few weeks whilst we look around and decide where we want to live. We can even buy that same house if we wish to, so it's a try before you buy situation really. Their house isn't where I thought I wanted to live, and has one bedroom less than I thought I wanted, but actually when you look at it, it is quite well located, and there is a huge extra room that we could use as an office / playroom/ work room and also use a spare bedroom with the simple addition of a sofa bed. It has views over parkland to the town, is close to a really good (but large) primary school, close to a great grocery store, close to sports facilities... It looks lovely from the photos they have sent. They have renovated quite a lot, but there are still a few things to do, like the bathroom, so I still get to make my mark on the place. They have created some great outdoor spaces with kids in mind, and there is space for a veggie patch, chickens, fruit trees...

Some days when I think about it, I think we will probably just stay there. It is nice and close to everything. But then other days I think of the little school and community that I did have in mind. I did have doubts about that area too though, as there's no grocery store, and a drive of 10km or so to all facilities. Not so bad now perhaps, though I do like to be able to just 'nip to the shop' on foot rather than having to drive. In the long term it could be annoying for BB when he wants to go and do stuff himself. So there's pros and cons to both. I guess we just have to wait and see how it is once we arrive, but I get the feeling that once we are settled in the new space we might not want to move again.

Quite a lot of our stuff is packed already. We seem to be taking a lot. More than I anticipated. But when you work out what I paid for things, what I could sell them for here and what it would cost me to buy them back there, it is actually cheaper to ship what we already have. I am also taking a lot of BB's toys. It's great now that we have a place to live already as if we get our things shipped from here in the next couple of weeks, they will arrive around the same time we do. I figure it will help BB to settle into our new space if his toys and other familiar items are there - it will feel more like home.

He seems to be coping with the whole moving issue really well too. He has the occasional moment when he says he wants to stay here because he will miss various things and people, but mostly he seems excited to be going. He's looking forward to seeing his friend G, to living by the sea, to having a bigger garden and more sunshine.  So am I.

On the IVF front, part of the rush to get stuff packed up here is because I want to get all the heavy lifting done before that, so that I can relax and give little emby the best chance possible of sticking around. I think it's all coming together nicely. We are just waiting on egg retrieval from the donor at the moment. It could have been at the end of last week or the beginning of tis coming one. I heard nothing on Friday so I am guessing it will be the start of this week. That gives me a couple more days when BB is at nursery to get things finished off here, so the timing is perfect really.

I haven't blogged much about the whole process. I think I am doing that deliberately. I find it incredible that a woman who I can never meet or know is currently going through the process of donating eggs for me. What a truly amazing and selfless act. Something I would never have even thought of doing when I was younger. When I really think about that her generosity overwhelms me.

As far as I am going physically, I had an injection to halt my own natural functions and for the last 3 weeks or so I've been on 4 mg oestrogen daily.  It has its side effects - I am not enjoying it. My legs ache and I am retaining fluid. I had a scan almost two weeks ago that confirmed I am ready - now we are just waiting on the eggs. I think I am more tired than usual, but then its hard to tell really - I am spending my days packing and lifting and moving heavy boxes around - that will be having an impact on my energy levels and aches and pains too.

Psychologically I am pleased to have the packing and sorting to focus on rather than dwelling on the what ifs about the IVF. I just do what needs doing each day, with the goal of getting all the heavy work done before transfer and this is doing a great job of keeping me sane. I have found myself wondering what I will do if it doesn't work, can I ship my frozen embryo's to Oz and carry on? I don't know, I think I would look into it though. But fingers crossed I wont have to ponder that.