Rhythm and melody

Apparently it’s the coldest Boston January on record. One of our school mum friends hates the cold, saying we get to experience this kind of weather as a novelty, they have to deal with it every year. A neighbour complains about the snow to her husband then thinks of the Aussies who live across the road, and how much fun we’re having, and that perhaps they should change their outlook.

We spent Australia Day with friends from Darwin and a heap of other internationals. We had fairy bread, sausage rolls with dead horse, cheese and vegemite on toast and I made my first pav. Of course I forgot to take a photo. It worked out well as all Stephanie Alexander recipes do, and I topped it with kiwifruit, tipping my hat to my NZ heritage. I relayed the story of Anna Pavlova and her trip down under a few times, just so everyone understood the heritage of the dessert is slightly contentious. One of the American guests thought Australian food was quite 1950s which perhaps it is, but to be honest, none of us are contestants on MasterChef, and if I had to list what I’d expect to be considered American cuisine it would be slow cooked meat, pizza and hot dogs. Not exactly 5 star dining. I don’t think she meant to offend and I wasn’t really, just surprised at what she may have been expecting.

Hutch has had a very relaxed January, he did one class for a couple of weeks that was very light on, so went to the gym every day, wore lots and lots of layers and ran outside whenever the temp got above zero. Classes are back in full swing this week and he’s quite excited about what is coming up. He tries to tell me about the content, but my eyes glaze over when I hear covariant and regression and matricies  – totally foreign language to me.

The boys have started some after school activities, Woo is doing Mad Science which is fantastic, he’s learnt about electricity, taste, and yesterday was heat. I didn’t realise that the US was the only country that uses Fahrenheit. He’s loved it. Skets missed out on his first preference of indoor soccer, but is with his best buddy doing Outdoor Explorers and is learning about hibernating animals and gets to run around outside.

My social life is getting quite busy. I was out for dinner last week with four other mums who are all American but newish to Brookline, and have plans tonight and Hutch and I have a Harvard dinner on Saturday.

Meema plays beautifully with some of our friends especially those her age, but is getting just a little bit bossy of the smaller kids. Trying to pick up toddlers who are quite capable of walking themselves, and hugs that squeeze so tight everyone falls over. I think she will definitely need to go back to day care when we get home, she’s spent far too much time with me and Hutch on her own.

Our weeks have a good rhythm to them now, and the push to get the kids ready in the morning has lessened.

Our flights home are now booked, and although it’s months away I find my mind wandering to things that we want to do when we get back. I also drift toward websites with bigger cars, and check out what the school uniform requirements are like for the boys when they get back. I need to remind myself that we’ve got quite a busy few months ahead with lots of visitors and there is still lots to do here. My sister arrives in a couple of weeks with a long list of things she wants to do and see so I’ll have to dust off my tourist hat and plan some adventures. I think because it’s been so cold and we have stayed fairly close to home we’re in a bit of hibernation mode. I’m sure once the weather gets warmer we’ll be out more.

I’ve done one of those photobooks for 2013 through iphoto and it’s done and ready to be printed, but do you think I can get the system to change my postal address? No of course not. That may just stay on the computer until we get back and I can do it then.

The only issue we have at the moment is that we have a little family of mickey and minnies living in the kitchen. We’ve caught a couple and tried all the humane ways to get rid of them, but I think it’s time to call in the experts. They’re a hell of a lot better than cockroaches though, yuck!

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.

Moving to the US – part 2 Legoland

We arrived at Legoland around 7 o’clock with three hungry and hot kids. They’d snoozed in the car, but it had been a long journey and they were over travelling. As were we! We’d been given token directions to the hotel, i.e. get off the Interstate 5 at the Palomar Airport exit, but nothing more than that and there weren’t any signposts. For anyone reading who might be going, you need to turn left off the interstate, not right like we did.

We pulled up at the hotel entrance and Woo was suitably excited, but Skets burst in to tears. Poor boy, he was so hot and hungry and not as much of a fan of Lego as his brother.  We’d kept it all as a surprise so I had to manage him a bit and talk up the water slides etc. Once we got to our room which was themed as ‘Kingdom‘ so had knights and castles and cool shields.

We headed straight to dinner, which is a full buffet, with kid specific bain maries. A reasonable range of food including the usual spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese. There was also a mexican stand, roast, pasta, salad and dessert bar. With the obligatory soft serve machine the kids were in heaven! Oddly you had to ask a waitress for a glass of cold water, but apart from that it was just what we needed. Kids under 3 go free so poor Meema had to cope with us saying she was nearly three everywhere we went. She wasn’t happy about that at all!

Everyone slept really well both nights we were there, I think being out all day in the sunshine helps with getting acclimatised, and the flight over was mostly night time so the jet lag wasn’t bad.

We spent the first day on the left side of the park, going through the junior driving school, up in the Sky Patrol (stationary) helicopters and the Splash Battle. It was hot and our kids aren’t great at walking so we rented a stroller for $11. Well worth it, definitely saved us carrying Miss M. A friend had warned me to wear our bathers as some of the rides you get very wet and I’m glad we took her advice.  At the back of the park is the Water Park. You have to pay extra to get in which we did as part of our accommodation package and do need to pay $3 for the under 3s and the queue was massive. Saying all that though, we spent a good three hours there, with the kids very happily playing in the pools and on the water slides. Hutch took the boys up onto a bigger water slide and they loved it. They were tall enough to go down the rest on their own; poor Hutch was hoping he’d be needed for a few more years on water slides, but it was great to see the boys wanting to spend time together and racing off to go down again. Hilariously, the pool was closed for floaties (of the stinky kind) twice.  Yuck!

IMG_0613

Back to the hotel pool for the end of the day for more swimming, and an early meal and bed.

On Sunday we tried to get up early and use the priority queue for hotel guests, but again were too slow off the mark. The boys were desperate to go on a roller coaster that we’d said no to the day before because the queues were too long and of course when we got there on day 2 the line was even longer. Luckily there was a sandpit next door for Meema and I to hang out in while the boys waited. I was a bit nervous for them, I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters, but they loved it! I see a trip to the Gold Coast in the future, well, the next 5 years.

IMG_0621

This time I hired a double stroller which took me back to the days when the boys were small, that was $17 dollars I think and they all squished on at various stages. We went right in the park after the roller coaster and saw the Star Wars X-Wing model which had 5 million pieces in it. Fairly impressive.

Star Wars X-Wing

The boys then spent some time in the construction zone, building cars to race against other down a short track. I think I could have left them all there for at least an hour, but M and I were ready to go. This side of the park was geared to older kids with some bigger roller coasters, so we wandered through and had some ribs and chicken for lunch. The food options weren’t great, everything came with fries and a soft drink, but I guess that’s fairly standard for theme parks. The kids had a great time in the massive Hideaways fort, it was huge and gave them a chance to run around in the shade and for Hutch and I to chill for a few minutes. We ended up at the Pirates Reef, a splashdown rollercoaster in which you were guaranteed to get soaked. Of course we all went on and realised afterwards that perhaps it was a bit much for a three year old. whoops. She’s ok though. The rides were all clearly marked with the height restrictions and did have fairly long queues but they moved quickly and the kids didn’t mind too much.

The kids had some birthday money we said they could spend in the shop on the way out. needless to say, Woo suffered from buyer’s remorse and ruined the family photo on our departure. You may see him as extra elbows by Skets’ head below. Oh well, a funny story for later.

IMG_0635

We left for our drive back to LAX giving ourselves plenty of time after the bad experience picking up the car, and had a relaxed arrival at the airport ready for our red eye flight to Boston.

They’re big boys now

Our gorgeous boys turned five today. It’s been a crazily busy weekend; parties, auskick, going to the footy yesterday along with the excitement every night counting down the sleeps until today. Turning five is fun.

I was lucky to have Friday with only one at home so got the cakes cooked, yesterday was for decorating and today was for the freshest of fairy bread. The prep has dragged out a bit but I think has meant less stress overall.

When I was growing up a big deal was made of birthday dinner. Mum would cook a delicious two course meal, anything we liked and we had a special red plate that the birthday person used. I built all this up with the boys and asked them what they wanted for their meal.

Jam sandwiches.

Oh and chocolate ice cream for W. I can’t complain that they’d given me extra work but was a little disappointed in their confidence of my cooking. E at least asked for chocolate mousse (of course Stephanie’s has the best recipe) so I did have to prepare something in advance.

The cakes turned out pretty well this year, W’s was easy, I hired a tin from cwcakes for $8 cos really how useful is it to buy a number 5 tin? E wanted the castle of darkness. Took ages but looked good and he was happy with it.

We outsourced the party for the first time this year and the hosts did a great job keeping 20 4-5 year olds entertained doing all sorts of sporty activities. Expensive, but the stress levels would have been way too high to have all those kids here.

I must say a huge benefit of twins is that it’s the effort of one party for two kids. A tired but happy Hutchie house tonight.

20130505-191417.jpg

20130505-191429.jpg

The Myth of Sisyphus and the relentlessness of housework

My excuse for poor housekeeping is having three small kids, but in reality I’ve never been very tidy. I’ve married a man with similar standards so neither of us get particularly concerned if the dishes aren’t done every night. Growing up my sister and I had similar standards, but her husband is very tidy so she’s stepped up and we’ve pretty much stood still.

I had been asked to do a TV interview for The Project to talk about twins and triplets and the camera crew were coming to my house. Cue the frantic tidying on the morning of the interview. I figured not a lot of point doing it the day before as the kids would simply make more mess. Anyway, after attempting to get my hair in decent shape, review the questions and clean up, the kids were bribed with icy poles to stay outside. Interview was done at the kitchen table, with me trying to look relaxed but all instructions from the producer went out the window, so who knows how much will actually end up on air. It’s a weird feeling having a camera on you that you are not supposed to look at. The team then decided to film the kids jumping on the trampoline and all I could see were all the weeds that needed pulling and the cuttings behind the trellis.

It’s due to screen on Wednesday 3 October, so if I don’t look too terrible I’ll put a link up.

I gave my self a little lie-in the day after the shoot and was punished. I got up to find a complex train track with a new ‘pond’ created out of milk and muesli Only a litre or so of milk was used and half a pack of museli. The scrubbing of the track and floor less than 24 hours after a spotless house confirmed to me how futile housework is and how often I feel a little like Sisyphus. If you don’t know his story, Sisyphus was condemned by the Gods to push a boulder up a mountain, and it would roll back down the other side. His punishment was to keep pushing the rock uphill with no hope of actually achieving anything. Sounds like house work to me.

Riding along

I rode to work today.

To save a bit of money, get some exercise and set an example for the kids. It’s lovely once I’m on the way, but getting out of the house without forgetting something is a challenge. Three kids, seven bags (yep the kids need two each for kinder) and a bike to push the 600 or so metres to kinder. It took about half an hour to walk to kinder and drop them off, with the dawdling and the whingeing from M to sit on the seat and hold onto me as we walked  – there’s a precedent I should never have set.

When I mentioned to Mum that I wanted to start riding she wasn’t happy; ‘ you have responsibilities’ was the response, but it’s a river trail 90% of the way so quite pleasant, so long as I stay out of the way of the professional riders who zoom so quickly past me. The 10k’s takes me about 45 minutes, I’m sure Hutch could actually run faster than that, but my bike is what I like to call an Amsterdam bike – build for comfort not speed.

Only thing I forgot was my lunch. Better than forgetting my undies.