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.

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Moving to the US – part 3, Boston!

After a great weekend in Legoland, we caught a red eye from LAX to Boston. Leaving at 930 at night wasn’t too bad and because we were really early to the airport we were allocated row 4.

The pilots were lovely and let the kids have a look around the cockpit and gave them a badge. Brought back memories of when I was a kid flying back to NZ, we loved going up to the cockpit and seeing all those buttons.

Unfortunately when we sat down there was a man on the row in front of us who shooshed the kids as soon as we got on. Not necessary. I had to comment – ‘don’t worry, they’ll be fine they’ll sleep on the plane.’ Of course this didn’t happen.

Having been used to the skycouches on the way over, it was a noticeable difference in the seat depth on a normal seat. Woo and Hutch can sleep sitting up fairly well, Skets tried his hardest with his sister lying all over him and wriggling constantly. Unfortunately for me and the man in front, every time Meema moved she grizzled. And that was every 15 minutes or so. I didn’t get a lot of sleep and neither did the man in front probably.

We arrived, scoffed blueberry muffins and caught a maxi taxi to our house. Our driver was lovely, gave us a running commentary of the areas we were going through and dropped us off around 7am.

The house is great, a three storey townhouse fully furnished. I mean fully, there is everything here we could ever need. We were told to eat what ever was in the pantry and to make ourselves at home. A trip to the supermarket was required, the fruit here is very cheap – $10 a kilo for blueberries! It’s been lovely to get summer fruits in August, and having berries on my cereal is very decadent. I haven’t been able to find any cordial anywhere so our usual Lemon Lime and Bitters has had to be adapted and yoghurt is 90% low or no fat. There does seem to be high sugar content in everything, even the garlic salt that was already here has sugar in it. I’m sticking to the as fresh as possible plan and hopefully we can keep the sugar intake low.

We’re sticking to a fairly tight budget while were here, $100 per day. I’ve downloaded an app to track our spending and I’m pleased to say at the end of week one we’re spot on where we should be.

We’ve spent the first week checking out the local area. Having chosen not to buy a car we walk everywhere and can navigate the T (subway) pretty easily now. Hutch commented today that we are living really healthily, lots of walking, green smoothies and spending time at the park. A dad today wandered over to see what exactly that ball was when he saw our footy lying in the playground 🙂

We have been over to Harvard in Cambridge for Hutch to register, a lovely man overheard us on the T saying we needed to buy the kids shoes and he told us where to go. We ended up at Sears and bought three pairs of kids shoes for $26! Phones are organised, bank accounts opened and the kids enrolled at school. The kids have to take their lunches so I am now getting my head around what they will be eating, the allergy rates seem a lot lower so I’m expecting the request of peanut butter sandwiches – seems bizarre to be allowed to take them to school as we’ve been so indoctrinated back home that nuts are banned.

When meeting with the principal I asked if the kids have to wear hats outside and he didn’t fully understand my question, then laughed when he realised I was talking about sun protection. The kids haven’t worn sunscreen since california and we’ve been outside for hours each day in mid 20s weather and there is no sign of sunburn. I think they have the opposite problem that the kids have vitamin D deficiency in the winter because there’s not enough time spent outside.

I’m really looking forward to getting school started, it will hopefully be a great chance to meet some other families and get our routine established.

It’s 30 degrees in LA and 28 in Boston!

As I sit in our study, right near the heater, listening to fighting children and surrounded by boxes, I’m holding on to today’s weather forecast for LA and Boston; 30 and 28 degrees. This time in two weeks we’ll be getting settled into our new adventure, we would have had our weekend at Legoland and will be checking out the school and parks. Still feels very strange that we’re going, and I don’t think it will feel real until most of the people we talk to have American accents.

Hutch has deferred his PhD, it’s not finished and it won’t be submitted before we go. I’m actually more relieved that disappointed, at least now it can be put to one side and his focus and energy can be helping get this house packed up and ready to go. My biggest concern was that I’d be doing it all myself while he was still staring at a computer screen trying to get the last bits completed so now that shouldn’t happen.

We had a lovely farewell over the weekend, I’ve finished up work and I packed 10 boxes yesterday but there still seems a long way to go. Our friends have been amazing, taking kids, offering to help pack and providing meals and I hope when we get home we’re able to return the favour.

This time next week I’ll be giving back the keys and saying good bye to this fantastic house. One door has nearly closed, and an amazing one is about to open.

Less than 20 days to go

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We’ve spent the weekend surrounded by boxes. A very slow process of trying to sort everything into keep, chuck or charity piles. I know it will pay off when we come back that we’ve done this work now and I also know when we’re down to the last couple of hours that everything will be thrown into boxes to be dealt with later. I guess that’s how it goes.

Apart from the packing we’re pretty much done, just one last bit of paperwork to go.

We’ve been extremely lucky with our landlord, he’s lovely and has let us out of our lease early. We’re also very excited that friends are moving in to this house so when we come back they’ll still be in the street.

Hutch’s PhD is progressing well, all fingers are crossed it’s finished in the next week or so. He’s getting emails about subject selection and orientation activities; I must say they’re very slick with their communication and networking, which is what you’re paying for though aren’t you?

This time in three weeks we’ll be in Legoland! Must start getting excited. My mum is already getting bonus cuddles from the kids, but it’s so much better than when I went os in 1999, this time she can Skype whenever she wants to see me, or more importantly, them.

So, where were we?

It’s been far too long since I wrote here, and so many things have happened. Here’s a quick recap.

Tough Mudder was amazing! Had such a great time, would happily do it again. Our team was the best you could hope for, eight committed people who wanted us all to finish regardless of how long it took. Unfortunately there was an injury around the 8k mark so we were slowed down to a walk, but we completed every obstacle and were very grateful for a soak in the spa that night at our accommodation. I love linking people up from our friendship group that don’t know each other, we had a lovely bbq last weekend with the team and with 5 little boys and 2 little girls running madly around the house, the adults actually got a chance to sit and converse.

Hutch is in to Harvard, Boston here we come! Very exciting and the kids are getting on board, though I don’t think they really understand much of what is going on. I must look into Tough Mudder in Boston, I haven’t been for a run since January…

March was hard. I knew it would be but it didn’t make things any easier. Finding a house in the US, settling on our new house and renting it out as well as adding the joy of getting a new mortgage and doing our taxes. Full on. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the end, but it all worked out quite quickly thankfully. We’ve got a house in Boston (well Brookline actually) sorted, it’s a block from the local school. Did you know school starts at 8am over there?? Not happy Jan! Subzero temperatures and cajoling three small people to school in the dark will not be fun. Hutch will be able to walk to Harvard and I think the shops etc aren’t too far. Our land lady and I skyped a few times and she took me on a tour of the house via her lap top.Makes it so much easier these days than it used to be. I was up at 6am putting on make up to make a good impression, then rolled out some cute kids that were just getting out of bed. Anything to help our cause. It clearly paid off 🙂

The to do list is still extensive, but it feels a bit like a wedding, you know when you’ve got the dress and the reception sorted that you can breathe a bit? Now the accom is done we can relax for a month before we have to get stuck into the visas, passports etc. I’ve told Hutch repeatedly that there will need to be a hefty shopping budget allocated to our trip, when I said the other day I’m not packing any clothes with holes or stains he looked at me like I had two heads. I know he’s going to be a student, but I truly hope his packing won’t be full of stained track pants and holey work shirts.

We haven’t looked into flights yet, am tossing up whether we go to Legoland in California on the way there to break up the trip. I think the kids will need something to look forward to, that Aus – LA flight is so long and it’s only 5 or so hours from the west to the east coast so for all our sanity it might be the way to go. Might leave that until May to really start investigating.

Four months to go!

It’s really happening

The whole purpose of setting up this blog was in the hope that we would be moving to Boston some time in 2013. Well over the weekend we got confirmation that it all actually happening! We’re very excited, well actually Hutch is just very relieved, and the proper planning can now start in earnest. The house hunting has begun, looking into elementary and nursery schools, visas, packing up our house, the whole lot. I’m a girl who likes a project so I’m happy with a long to do list especially when it’s as big as this.

We’ve told the kids we’re going to Boston, and are selling it as a great place with lots of snow. Having just come back from a holiday, the appeal of an aeroplane is still strong, but realistically they’re too little to understand what’s happening.

I can’t quite get my head around what we”ll need to take, especially if we get a furnished house. A suitcase each and bikes?

Living on tinned spaghetti

For those who know me know that I’m an equal opportunist. I tell our kids there’s nothing boys can do that girls can’t, and the only thing girls can do is have a baby. Saying all that, even though Hutch proposed to me, and he agreed to have kids, I probably started all of those conversations. Last year he finally got the chance to be the grown up. The house in our street that we’ve been watching for a while was up for auction. So we wandered down the road, plan in place and Hutch started the bidding. Not a huge amount of interest and he got to our budget reasonably quickly.  He stopped, it sold on the next bid and we shrugged our shoulders and walked home. Within 10 mins I had a message from the agent saying they’d hit a snag with the successful bidders and were we prepared to make a formal offer. Via text no less. So we raised our bid by a couple of grand and it was ours. We settle  after Easter and have spent numerous hours working out what we will do to it once we get it. That little piece of the world that we can call home. With a big fat mortgage.

To buy or not to buy

Our overseas plans are totally contingent on Hutch getting into Harvard. If we don’t go, he knows I’m very keen to buy a house next year. After selling the flat and having the money burning a slight hole in my pocket I’ve been looking around at what’s on offer. Realistically we can’t do both – buy a house and go away for two years without any income. I like to know what’s around and there are three houses in the street perpendicular to ours that are for auction in the next month or so. There’s only one I really like, it’s on a corner block, single storey, four bedrooms and is in need of a bit of love. The rough guide is $1.5million. Crazy money for a house with threadbare carpet and ancient kitchen, but unfortunately for us, the area we live in is popular. We can’t afford that one regardless of whether we go or not, but I’ll be at the auction nonetheless.

There is a house on our street that we think is going to be up for sale soon. That is one Hutch would be willing to buy. It has the right aspect, it’s just about the worst house in the street and a good-sized block. If we did buy it we could set it up for the time while we’re away and get stuck into renovations etc when we come back. Bad news is I don’t think we’re the only people interested in it. Will have to wait and see if anything happens soon, the longer they take, the better for us.

It’s on the market!

So the photos are done and the advertising campaign has started.  Last tiny little bit of work to be finished on Friday, then it’s over to the agent. I hope people are interested, I am so worried no one will bid at auction and we’ll be stuck with it. There’s talk that interest rates will come down next week so hopefully that will help us at least selling, not in the bank afterwards.

It’s out of our control now and I have to let it go.

Renovating

This is not me. Far too happy.

To fund the US trip, we are selling the one bedroom flat I bought in my 20s. A and I had only been going out for a couple of months when I bought it and he slowly moved in.

After a summer with no TV to help him concentrate on his exams, (there’s a story for another post) it was too small for us to live in for much longer so we moved out.

It hasn’t been a great investment over the years but at least when we were living there we poured lots on the mortgage so now we’re selling at least the proceeds will help us get to the US.

I was raised in a house that was in a perpetual state of renovation, Dad was always doing bits in the shed on the weekend, and undertaking fairly major projects. I’ve decided that I really don’t get that satisfaction from doing major things myself. It takes a long time, I’m not very good at it, and juggling small kids, work and everything else, on occasion it’s been a bit overwhelming.

An apartment across the road with two bedrooms went for over $520k the other day which seems excessive to me, but I’ll be happy to take it, or anything close.

Ours is fully renovated now, and I’m painting, painting painting. Yesterday was ceilings which isn’t fun. I’ve gone with white which at the moment feels a bit like a psych room, but with some artwork and room styling it should look ok. Eventually.

The photographers come through on Tuesday so we’ve got to be finished.