Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The belated-everything edition

This is the murky post where I remember that - oops - November was the 3rd anniversary of this blog, and I was fully intending to write about that. A month ago.

It's also the murky post where I share pretty photos of a festive nature from the lead up to Christmas.

It's the post where I briefly mention how crazy these last few weeks have especially been - starting a new job, having my wisdom teeth extracted (timing, right?), playing host to family members that visited, and officially breaking in my new role as (co-) Girl Scouts Brownie troop leader. Who knows, I may even touch more on this another day. God only knows, I've been meaning to write about several of these things for some time now.

It's the post where I quickly rave about the wonderful little trip downtown that we made on Christmas Eve, in the hope of wearing out the girls nicely for the night. It's where I share a pic or two from Christmas Day, and wax lyrical about the beautiful outing we had the next day to Gas Works Park. Okay, 'wax lyical' might be a tad exaggerated... but you get the idea.

It's also the post where I throw in the fact that we have visits in January from more family, and close friends from L.A... and I wonder about how the hell people work, live life, entertain, host, and find the time to blog? Regularly? It may be my way of excusing the upcoming lack of posts - unless I have an insomniac episode, in which case, blogging will be perfectly easy to fit in. I'll see what I can do.

In mean time, here are some photos... see you in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The boy who cried snow

Over the last month, there have been three separate occasions where the weather app on my phone predicted snow. Each time, we all got our hopes up, only to be disappointed the next day when the snow never eventuated, or the little snow icon changed to a boring old cloud or rain icon. Boo.

The last time that little snow icon popped up, we tried not to get too excited. It was probably just another false alarm, right? Still, when I woke up in the early hours of the morning for a loo visit, I couldn't help but peek through my bedroom window's blinds... and when I saw a soft white glow covering the trees and road below, I had to wake up J to show him. We couldn't tell if the snow was still falling or not, so we tiptoed into the girls' room for a better look out their window, where the street lamp would answer our question.

It was still falling, and we stood watching for a minute, hushed whispers as we discussed how we'd spend the day (I was pretty sure that school would be cancelled). As we whispered, our voices must have woken the Faery because she stirred, saw us looking out of her window, and then sprang out of bed to see the snow.

It was still early, so in attempt to keep Miss Pie from waking, we offered a space in our bed to the Faery. She eagerly accepted, but spent the next hour tossing and turning - too excited about her first proper snow day to let sleep pull her back in.

After a while, I accepted that I, too, was a little too revved up to fall asleep again, so I switched my phone on and found two recorded messages from the school district. The first one had been left at 6am, and notified that school would be starting two hours later than usual. I almost deleted the next message without listening, thinking it would be the same, but then saw it had been left at 7.20am, so I listened. Due to 'worsening weather', school was cancelled. It was supposed to have been the last day of school before the Christmas break, and the Faery was a little bummed not to give her card and gift to her teacher, but the lure of snow play outweighed any bad feelings there (and her teacher emailed all the parents with the loveliest thoughts and sentiments for the students to read about their hard work so far).

For part of their Christmas presents, J and I had bought some snow/cold weather boots and mittens/gloves for the girls. We decided that they may as well receive them early, so as they ate their breakfast, I hurriedly wrapped the gifts in our closet, and then presented them.

Then, thermal underwear on and new snow accessories in check, we headed outside. I only had rain boots for myself, which I discovered do not keep feet warm enough, but it was worth it. We had snow ball fights, I took photos, the girls built a snowman with J, I took more photos, then we shovelled snow from our sloped driveway and found a bag of chunky salt to spread, worried about slush freezing to ice later. Then we piled on more layers of coats and walked to our local park and embarked on more snowball fights and snowman-building... along with dozens of other kids. It turns out that baseball fields are an excellent source of endless snowball-rolling, and snow-forts.

Eventually we decided to head home again, and passing the last cul-de-sac before our street, found a number of the Faery's classmates on their sleds, so home was delayed a little longer while the Faery and Miss Pie joined in and took turns on various sleds. As we walked home, the Faery chatted about how the weather app had wrongly forecast snow a few times, so she hadn't really believed that it would snow on this day: Mum, it's like the boy who cried wolf, but instead, it was the boy who cried snow!

By midday, the swirls of snow had given way to soft rain. By the end of the day, much of the snow had melted, and by the following day, the only evidence of snow were the occasional piles left where the biggest shovel-fuls and snowmen had been scattered around town. Just grey skies and drizzle, business as usual. We were all a little sad, but it was a fabulous start to our Christmas break and I'm crossing my fingers that we get more snow, locally, this winter.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Yesterday, I looked out my bathroom window and noticed a very long icicle suspended from one of the down pipes. That is how cold it is now. Nonetheless, I got a small thrill from seeing this - I hadn't seen any icicles in real life since our trip to Sweden more than ten years ago.

Seattle's weather has been a truly mixed bag in recent weeks. The standard grey wet days have been outnumbered by crystal clear skies. There's also been some amazing fog to behold, and now I understand why people liken it to some kind of shapeshifting entity. One morning I drove J to work, and the fog had lifted from when we first got up. After dropping him off in sunshine, I got onto a freeway and headed off to get some errands done. As I merged lanes and checked my rear view mirror, I saw Mt Rainier behind me - clearer and brighter than I'd seen in a month or so. Less than a minute later, I entered such heavy fog that I couldn't see immediately in front of me, and the exit signs couldn't be read. Deep breaths and headlights flicked on, I had to rely on my memory of the route to know when to exit. Then - once I exited - I was fog-free and in sunshine again. Given my dislike of driving on freeways, I was hi-fiving myself when I arrived at my destination.

In other news, I'm now part of the employed world. After four years out, it's time to start feeling useful again. The more I looked into it, the less of an option teaching is at this point in time. Unlike in Sydney, part-time EFL teaching positions seem to be non-existent - not to mention working hours that fit in with school and preschool. Factor in the costs of after-school care/babysitting, and childcare for Miss Pie and, well, I may as well just be working a minimum wage job on the side instead...

...which is what is what I'm doing. I'll be working several evenings a week, maybe some Saturday shifts too, and not have to worry about childcare for two kids on different schedules, because J will be home. The hourly rate is less than what I've earned in many, many years, so that's taken a little time to get my head around. Then there's the fact that part of me worries a little about encounters with the school parents in my area - so many of who seem to have high-flying careers, or present the image of the perfect stay-at-home, gym-honed, soccer moms - and may judge me to be less educated than I actually am.

I was worried at first, but then I thought, fuck it. In this economic climate, plenty of people accept jobs that they may be overqualified for. If there's something wrong with getting out and meeting people a few evenings a week, bringing in some extra dollars, and feeling useful, then so be it. I've been doing training stints over the past week, and surprisingly, enjoying the social side of it - seeing co-workers banter, and realising how I've missed that.

For legal reasons, I won't be able to identify where I work, or talk shop, so apart from this post it's likely to be a part of my life I'll keep separate from the blog. It's nothing exciting anyway (although who knows where it may lead to), so let's just leave it at that. I just had to mention it because, you know, the first job in four years is kind of a big deal, regardless of what it is. At any rate, it's going to be interesting to compare my work experiences in a third country now.

So. Here's to winter, trying to keep warm, and employment.