Mad World

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Photo taken at Falling back to Earth (GOMA, Brisbane)

A couple of weekends ago, whilst driving to Bunnings (an Australian hardware superstore) on an emergency plumbing  mission, my iPod randomly started playing, Mad World* and I found myself on the side of the road gulping through heaving tears of overwhelmed exhaustion.

Enough!

The outburst, obviously necessary, lasted a short while and I soon pulled myself together enough to finish my journey and mission.  We now have a working washing machine, not to mention transformers for all our ‘asian plugs’, a high pressure hose, paint, glue and a compost bin for the back yard…my personal version of retail therapy!

Yes, finally, we have moved from our temporary accommodation into a place to call our own, at least for a little while.   Despite our best efforts and a close call, we didn’t find a home to buy. Then our ‘stuff’ arrived from Lao prompting the need for a quick decision so, for now, we are shacking up in a cheap and cheerful rental house with lots of bedrooms, creaky pipes and sloping floors and a possum living in the ceiling (though some nights I think perhaps it is an elephant or family of hippos hosting an all night rave up there).  

As it happens the place has a lovely energy about it, despite being old and full of ‘personality’.  We are on a quiet street with lots of lovely neighbours.  The kids now have scooters (even little Chilli) and spend hours cruising up and down the footpaths, to the park, shops, school… with me traipsing along behind carrying all the bags/ hats/ groceries… I am calling it ‘exercise’ rather than slavery!

It is five months since we found out our family was moving back to Australia.  Since then I have spent every waking moment, ‘in transition’, managing the practicalities as well as trying my best to guide my daughters through the emotional upheaval.  It has been tough and often very lonely. I have wondered more than once if this was the right thing to do (not that we really had a choice in the matter).

Well, I am done with all that now.  This is our new life. It is a very different life to the one we knew in Lao (Footpaths for goodness sake) but it is still interesting and privileged and full of opportunities for adventure.

It is time for me to get back to living… dreaming, growing and finding my fabulous!

I am going to start today with something completely frivolous and self indulgent… a long overdue visit to the hairdresser!

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Thanks for reading. Happy Fabulous.

Mad World by Tears for Fears

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So that’s that then!

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191 pieces of ‘stuff’

It is done. Our life as we knew it is over. Two weeks ago we flew out of Wattay International Airport for what may be the last time.

The sound of packing tape retching across cardboard punctuated at least a week of my last month in Laos. Despite my best efforts to cull, our ridiculous amount of belongings have been wrapped and sealed into a 40 foot container that, at this moment, is floating somewhere out there in the Ocean.

While our ‘stuff’ makes its way towards us, we scramble to find a domicile to house it, and our family of five. Rent or buy, it is distinctly unlikely that we will actually be able to fit most of our belongings into our new abode, I foresee another cull on the horizon!

Leaving Vientiane was actually a lot more traumatic than I expected. The town itself had long since lost my affections. I was ready for the next adventure, but leaving the people who had we had come to know and love was awful.

We left in style – a big boozy party, several small boozy dinner’s, a few special boozy lunches…are you detecting a theme! There were laughs and tears and expressions of love and friendship. Nonetheless, these were goodbyes. I hate goodbyes. It was miserable.

I have moved, uplifted, changed and started fresh more times than I can remember. Moving and change seem to have always been a part of my life, particularly since I hooked up with G seventeen years ago. Yet this transition has been, and continues to be, the hardest I have ever faced.

Much of it has to do with the girls. They are in mourning for the only life they have ever known. They are desperately missing the only friends they have ever known. As young women, relationships and social networks are EVERYTHING to them. Taking that away has made me feel very guilty.

Watching our magnificent, brave girls farewell their school friends on the the last day was horrid. I made a complete tit of myself at each of the three farewell parties and spent much of the day unable to speak for fear of wailing. They had, still have, such beautiful friends, many of whom are the children of our own dear friends. The outpouring of love was overwhelming and humbling. I am so proud of daughters.

Leaving Bau, our nanny, almost tipped me over the edge.  We love her.  Chilli LOVES her.  Bau LOVES Chilli. When I paid her and bid her a safe ride home for the last time we both wept openly.  She was my friend and my sanity.  She was Chilli’s other mother. Every single day since we left, Chilli asks about Bau at least 10 times. Yesterday she climbed onto my lap, took my head in her tiny hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “I have missed Bau for really long time. We go home now, OK?”. I wish I could, sweet Chilli. For your sake, I wish I could!

She, and I, also miss Nam and Lung and Kek and Uoi, all of whom worked for us and all of whom hold a place in our collective hearts.

I can hear you all scoffing, “Whatever Lady, I bet you miss them. I would find it hard to say goodbye to my nanny and housekeeper and ironing lady and gardener, that must really suck… Bitch!”

Yes, YES, YES, yes, doing my own laundry is not pleasant but that isn’t really the problem. I miss them because they were good people and all our families were, for a time, a big part of each other lives.

G and I had friends too. People who enriched our lives. People who we will miss terribly. But it is easier with those other adult expatriates.  We all understand. We all have Facebook and email and Skype and the chance to maintain our friendships over distance. Those friendships, forged in Vientiane will continue to grow no matter where we all end up in this world.

Yet tears are still shed and I miss having those wonderful supportive people in my daily life!

At the moment it is hard. I have the kids in tow constantly, G is coming to terms with the demands of a new job, there is lots of paperwork, lots of major decisions to make at once (schools, car, house etc) and we are all suffering from a touch of reverse culture shock (shoes in the house, I don’t think so!) 

But after all is said and done, we are here in Brisvegas with a chance to start a new chapter.  We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. I am not sure how, but my gut tells me this is all part of my journey to FABULOUS!

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Thanks for reading.

If you want to like my Facebook Page that would just be fabulous.

Never a dull moment…

We are moving back to Australia.  A reshuffle within the company has resulted in a rather sudden change of roles.  G has taken a position in the head office in Brisbane.  I am proud of him.

Brisbane is my home town.  We had always anticipated that, one day, when the time seemed right we would move back there.  I call it ‘home’… as much as anywhere.  Perhaps the move is a little sooner than I had anticipated but it is a chance to lay down roots and a chance for the girls to ‘call Australia home’ (at least for a little while… nothing needs to be forever… right?)

I am in the midst of yet another international uplift… what a fucking treat!

All our worldly goods must be inventoried – keep, sell, repair, gift, throw that shit away!

On the other side of the world, mostly using the magical power of the interweb, a new life must be created  – shelter, schools, transport, medical.  I have been stunned at the amount of paperwork required for…everything!  This chick has been in South East Asia for too long.

The news of the impending move has been hard on the girls.  Monkey is old enough to realise that we are leaving her friends, her community, the only home she has ever known.  She is sad, angry and confused.  Pigeon is trying to find the positives, she is so resilient.  Chilli is well Chilli is about to leave her precious Bau, our nanny, who has been a constant since Chilli was 8-weeks-old.  Chilli is not going to like that.  Bau is not going to like that.  I AM NOT GOING TO LIKE THAT.  There have been, and will continue to be, tears all round!

I have found a wonderful home for our beloved cats.

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Sanchez and Schlarper are 13-years-old.  They came here from Austalia with us and they love it here. We decided the stress of moving them back to Australia  (7 months, two quarantine stays and two different countries) was too much. They are getting lots of extra cuddles and some rather fancy treats as I enjoy my last month with them before saying goodbye. It is impossible to explain how difficult the decision to leave them behind has been.  They were our first children. When we adopted them, we made a commitment. This feels like a betrayal, even if I know it is for the best.

It is a little over a month until we actually leave.  A strange, emotional, exhausting and lonely time ahead.  But with change comes adventure and opportunity.  Who knows? Fabulous could be closer than I think!

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Two months since I have been here,
Two months, too much to say,
44 is coming but the fabulous seems far away!

Thanks for reading and I am sorry I have been away so long.

Ch-Ch Ch-Ch Changes

I like change. It keeps life interesting. But this month things are moving way too fast for me. Have you ever watched a pirated DVD where the sound and image have not quite synced? (of course you haven’t, pirated movies are illegal) I AM LIVING IN THAT MOVIE. My mind is about 3 seconds behind my physical reality… it just can’t process the changes quickly enough. Needless to say, where possible I am avoiding social interactions. I just come off like a total retard.

Firstly. My big princesses returned to school. Relief. Pride. A touch of sadness.

It is no secret (read this… or this… or this) that I find found the Summer Holidays challenging. I returned from drop off on their first day back, collapsed on the bed a cried. I had made it to the end. No-one was dead or seriously injured. Threads of my sanity remained intact. Despite my fears and doubts and moments of being the most ‘yellingest, horrible, most mean mummy in the world’, mostly it was good… dare I say fun… dare I say rewarding.

Seeing them return to a familiar environment made me realise how much they had grown over the break. They are rare and caring little people. Mostly, I am proud of my daughters.

Then, a few days later there was this change…

Why are there three people in this picture?
Three. Three? THREE!

My baby, my littlest heart, started part-time in the toddlers program at the school. MY BABY! She looked so small with her skirt length around her ankles and her backpack dwarfing her frame. She looked so big with her hair in pigtails, grinning from ear to ear as she showed off her uniform.

‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’, she exclaimed loudly… and repeatedly. ‘Same, same sista! MINE!’

But, of course, She didn’t let me off lightly. The were tears. Tears of indignation. Tears of anger, confusion, pleading, fear.

Week three and now there are sniffles. ‘No cry, no cry, no cry!’, she repeats to herself as she buries her head in my neck at drop off. ‘No cry. no cry, no cry!’, I repeat to myself as I walk back to the car each morning.

There was also this…

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…the much anticipated loss of her first baby tooth.

What an exciting milestone for this 6-year-old. Though I can hardly understand how it happened. It seems to me that only a few weeks ago we celebrated the arrival of the very same tooth.

Heartbreakingly, said tooth was washed down the drain by the overeager 6-year-old, who was trying to make it shiny for the tooth fairy. A handwritten note of apology slipped under the pillow seemed to placate the forgiving and generous tooth fairy. However, I was absolutely devastated, still am.

There have been changes on the domestic front too. Despite the myriad ongoing niggling maintainance issues, ‘The Big Wooden House’ has become home to our little family here in Laos, so after some consideration, we decided to renew our lease.

With the realisation that we would be staying here for a while longer my inner ‘Martha Stewart’ has been unleashed on our home. I have been in a frenzy. Each room has been examined with a forensic zeal. Clean, reorganise, reposition, keep, sell, gift, toss. New furniture and new beginnings. Exhausting but rewarding toil…and necessary as our family grows and changes.

There have been bittersweet partings with the no-longer-necessary equipment of babyhood. Another reminder that my baby ain’t such a baby anymore.

As a result of all this activity, Chilli has moved out of the nursery and she and her big sisters now sleep in one room. New beds are on order and soon even the cot will be a memory. They love sharing a bedroom, though each has a place for their own favourite treasures.

A place to call their own
A place to call their own.

Our bedroom has also been under scrutiny. We have a new bed, finally. A bed big enough to accommodate me, G and at least one.. two…or even three extra guests without relegating me to the couch.

But what of the former nursery?

This is what it looks like now…

A place to call my own

In an act of sefishness, or perhaps self preservation, I have claimed it. It is MY room. I am filling it with MY favourite treasures. This will be my nest. What am I nurturing in here? The part of me that has been neglected. The me that is longing to be inspired. The part of me that is fabulous!

To start, I am going to sit for a moment and catch up with my body.
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Thank you for reading. Stay Fabulous!