Brookline Day

Last weekend I woke up to the sound of a major storm. Normally not an issue, but three boys had signed up for a fun run at 9am on Sunday. The event was being run at Larz Anderson Park, not easy to get to with public transport so I thought we’d catch a cab to get there, then the shuttle bus back home. We got ourselves organised, packing a change of clothes just in case. Our taxi driver ripped us off; turning back after a wrong turn and going quite a convoluted way. Annoying, but not the end of the world. We were dropped off at the wrong part of the park (our fault, not the driver’s) so had to walk quite quickly to get to the start line for the kids’ race.

I rushed to get the bib numbers but wasn’t quite fast enough and the starter’s gun went. Woo shot off, ready to race but Skets got stage fright and refused to run. Poor Hutch who was in the adults race after that, jogged with Meema, who was sure she should be competing too, and then raced off to catch up with Woo once I got to the start. Skets ran off into the trees, quite annoyed with himself I think, and by then Woo had disappeared around the bend. As soon as I saw them coming back I started cheering. A good friend of mine who competes in lots of fun runs has taught me how helpful a good cheer can be for the participants. I must say I was bursting with pride as Woo came down the hill, lots of yelling from me and Meema he came down with a big smile on his face. I gave him a big hug and told him how thrilled I was and how proud, and he went over to talk to Skets and ask why he didn’t join in. Skets was still grumpy so wanted to poke Woo with a stick, and Woo said, “Why didn’t you run? I came last and I don’t care I ran my best, even though I walked a little bit”. How cool can kids be?

We then got ready for Hutch’s race and got our ‘go daddy go’ cheer warmed up as he took off. The route was quite hilly but very picturesque apparently. While he’s was running, the kids got face painting and balloon hats – always fun.

IMG_4993

 

I set myself up near the finish line, I must say it seemed strange that no one was cheering on the other racers, so I cheered everyone! Hutch came 10th in his age group, happy with that.

We then went to spend the rest of the afternoon at Brookline day, the local festival. The rain had cleared to a gloriously sunny day so we wandered around checking out all the stalls. Two new yoga studios are opening up in the next month so I’ve picked up some brochures from them, the usual police officers, food trucks and six amazing jumping castles all free.

The return shuttle wasn’t great, over 45 minutes late, but it was on an all American yellow school bus 🙂

IMG_4994

Lovely day all round. And I only had to yell about 45 times.

Advertisements

High heels, red lipstick and a glass of sangria

A beep on my phone from one of my Irish friends suggesting drinks on a Saturday night made me smile for about an hour. You know life is good when you feel like you’re settling in, not just observing like a tourist. Hutch decided to stay home and finish some homework so I could have a girls night.

I got dressed up in high heels and bright red lipstick, jammed the earbuds in my ear, cranked up Scissor Sisters and strutted my way to the T station. I’d left plenty of time to get there so I could have a sneaky trip to Sephora on the way in and it was well worth it. I bought a few things and of those that are stocked in Australia, I paid nearly $30 less. It’s crazy how much more  expensive makeup is back home and Sephora doesn’t ship internationally.

A lovely stroll to the spanish bar where we were all meeting was really rejuvenating, time on my own, good tunes in my ear and generally feeling more than a mother who screeches at her kids to stop fighting or to leave her alone.

A dodgy photo of the walk I took – iphones aren’t great at night time shots. It was about 18 degrees at 9pm, perfect. It didn’t even occur to me to take a selfie all dressed up, clearly I’m too old!

Image

There ended up being about 15 people at the bar that I met, I was the only Australian in a crowd of Irish (what’s the collective noun for Irish I wonder?) and it was great fun. Drinks on a saturday night? I’ll do that again for sure.

Who gets the sleep in when you’re both hungover?

A couple of weeks ago we met a family with an Australian mum and a Spanish dad. She approached Hutch in the playground after seeing him kicking a footy with Skets. She’s lovely, and it turns out they live really close by, so we strolled to their place on Friday night for pizzas and wine. Three kids very similar in age to ours meant we only had to referee dramas a couple of times, other than that the grown ups happily chatted in the kitchen. I may have polished off the better part of a bottle of wine but in the new world of parenting, we were home by 9pm.

Unfortunately both Hutch and I woke up on Saturday feeling a little dusty and those are always the days when the kids are just a little annoying aren’t they?

We eventually left the house with the sole mission of getting a coffee from the only place that knows how to do a good latte, 4A coffee. Woo annoyingly has become fussier and fussier, food he would eat on arrival in the US are now off the list, he doesn’t like soft tacos, only hard, and he’s so determined he’d rather go without than even try something really plain. It’s quite frustrating as you know that within an hour he’ll be crying because he’s hungry, but he’s not to be negotiated with when he’s set his mind to something.

A bit of a wander further along the street took us to a TJ Maxx store, kind of a clearance place for last year’s fashion and some budget items. We spent about 20 minutes around the Halloween costume rack and finally decided on one and they had great fun trying it all out. I’ll post pics in October. School does a halloween dress up apparently and the neighbours have told me there are streets around here that people drive to because it’s so good. I still haven’t decided if I’ll dress up too, or just stay home and give out the lollies. Did you know toffee isn’t a word in the American vernacular? I made some for the school picnic a week ago and didn’t know what to call them, sticky candy? Taffy? Oh well they sold out 🙂

The song that lasts forever

A long long time ago before Hutch and I got together, one of the few things I wanted for my wedding was the song ‘Even when I’m sleeping’ by Leonardo’s Bride. It’s a beautiful song and one that I’ll never tire of. It didn’t make the final cut as we ended up having a flute trio so the song slipped off my radar for a good few years.

Before we came to the US, I used to have a day a week at home with Woo. With the childcare juggle it worked out that he and I would spend Fridays together and I really enjoyed his company. He’s very happy in his own space and we’d do the usual errands, he’d build some Lego and I’d get some work done.

Occasionally I’d throw the iPod on shuffle and one day this song came on. I asked Woo to dance with me, and for once he agreed. It was such a snapshot moment as I realised the love I had for this song and the potential it had to demonstrate that love for Hutch during our wedding, was even more applicable for the kids. Everyone knows that even after the hardest day, looking at sleeping babies makes it all worth while. Even though the lyrics refer to loving someone when I’m sleeping, they could easily apply to loving you when you’re asleep.

We played it tonight for Skets who was in a grump because Meema went to bed 2 minutes after him… It’s tough being 5, but for him a cuddle with someone he loves is enough to set him right.

First day of school

IMG_1246

This is a day we’ve been waiting for for a long time. I hadn’t anticipated how much Skets would miss having buddies to play with, and three weeks without anyone but his siblings around has meant he’s been quite bored and grumpy. We’ve been counting the sleeps for nearly two weeks and finally we got to start school. A good friend from home is staying with us for a little while and she’s got a very good camera, and I’m so glad such a big moment in the boys’ lives has been captured so beautifully, well apart from trying to get them to smile at the same time.

Woo was trying 'Blue Steel'. Didn't really pull it off.

Woo was trying ‘Blue Steel’. Didn’t really pull it off.

IMG_1287IMG_1273 IMG_1275 IMG_1279

 

IMG_1294 IMG_1295

We dropped them off this morning, a little nervous and excited and that was just Hutch! Woo wasn’t interested in the Lego surprisingly, but wandered around the room looking for something new to do. Skets was happy sitting down to the puzzle table and the colouring in. There were lots of other parents hovering around making sure their cherubs were ok. Liz is brilliant, she’s clearly taught this year level before and was great at helping the kids settle. They have short days (8-12.40) for the first couple of days then normal hours (8-2.30) after that.

IMG_1296 IMG_1300

Rookie mum error, I thought because it was a short day that they wouldn’t need lunch. Nup. Lucky we live so close I could drop off a sandwich and some cheese and crackers, most of which came home. Of course.

They had a great day, Skets didn’t want to go home and they’ve both made a new friend, and I’ve got the number of a Boston mom. Win.

 

Finding friends in the playground

I’ve read a few things online about the spectrum of ‘vert’ (I just invented a word – look out Oxford dictionary)! People used to be either an introvert or an extrovert and had personality types and expectations set on them accordingly. Now, you can be an introverted extrovert, or an extroverted introvert. It pretty much comes down to how you recharge your batteries, alone time or with other people. If I were to label myself I’d be an extroverted introvert. I love catching up with my friends, I talk a lot and I think that I’m fairly welcoming to new people to a group. I have a limit though. Too much socialising is hard for me, I need time out to read a book or spend time on my own to reset the balance.

You don’t get much time on your own when you’ve got three kids home all day and a husband studying. We spend a fair amount of the day at the playgrounds around here (pushing the swings is still tedious), the kids love to be outside and Meema is most definitely not shy and will play with anyone.

Knowing we need to meet people and actually putting yourself out there beyond just chatting feels a bit like dating. The asking for phone numbers, wondering if people want to see you again, making sure you’re polite, your breath doesn’t smell, all of that.

We’ve been really lucky so far to meet a couple of lovely friendly Irish mums who have similar aged kids, similar reasons for being here, and similar concerns about finding a tribe. So the baby step of making friends with other expats is going really well, the next challenge is to make friends with some local families too. The boys starting school today, so we’ve got a new families morning tomorrow so we’ll see who we meet then. I may have to have the afternoon in silence to be recharged enough to make the most of it.

Cultural changes

As expected there are quite a few differences living in Boston compared to Melbourne. As a bit of a foodie, I knew I’d have to adapt some of my recipes to suit, but there were some surprises; cordial doesn’t exist except for at bottle shops where it’s more expensive to buy Rose’s lime cordial than Angostura bitters. There goes our evening tipple of lemon lime and bitters 😦  Puff pastry is also considered a seasonal thing, only available around Thanksgiving and Christmas. So no making pinwheels and home made sausage rolls for the boys to take for school lunches. I guess it can become a christmas treat!

Rose's cordial - this was $6 for 355ml!

Rose’s cordial – this was $6 for 355ml!

Everything is sweeter, even toothpaste. The only age appropriate one I could find for the kids was bubblegum flavoured, they are more than happy to do their teeth now. My deodorant smells sweeter too.

I knew the coffee wouldn’t be the same as home so I’ve weaned myself off it. I must admit though, I’m still on the hunt for a good cappuccino. There are a couple of places that have espresso machines but a cappuccino comes out with bad 70s foam. I’ve been totally spoilt in Melbourne with good coffee. There’s an area of Boston we haven’t been to yet with lots of Italians so I’m hoping that will be the place to go.

The houses are also quite different. Most have been built as two or three family homes so are massive. Sometimes they have separate entrances, other times both letter boxes are at the front door and there must be another internal door to each apartment. It’s similar to the houses in London, but bigger.

This house is across the road from school and is a two family. It's on the corner, so has entrances on different streets.

This house is across the road from school and is a two family. It’s on the corner, so has entrances on different streets.

 

See the two front doors?

See the two front doors?

In quite a few of the parks the rubbish bins have solar panels on the top and have inbuilt compactors. Great idea, makes the place so much cleaner and no need to have someone emptying them so often.

Solar compacting bin - very clever

Solar compacting bin – very clever

Something else I hadn’t even considered was that perhaps we Aussify foreign words, ie cars. We pronounce Nissan at home as Nissun, here it’s pronounced Nee-sahn which is probably much closer to the Japanese.

I’m sure there will be lots more things that I notice, so far it’s been a fascinating adjustment.