Monday, 8 September 2008

Country Home to City Home

So, back to the old story – moving over here.
I won’t pretend that we organized for a big move. I don’t know what we were doing really.
I had left work 5 weeks before moving. I was meant to go through every cupboard and throw stuff out, give away or get ready for a garage sale. Hubby was away 5 weeks straight right up to the last week before we moved so he was as useless as you know what.

I had decided that with my kids in full time daycare for 7 years (for C girl anyway), I was going to ‘enjoy’ having my kids at home as much as possible. I had my two kids home from daycare 4 days a week. C girl got to ride on the bus to and from school (yes, this was a first). We went and visited their (and my) friends a couple of times a week. Feeling like I was on top of my game, I went back to work 1 day a week (what was I thinking??). I had a schedule, each room, x amount of time. I was on a roll. I was on top of this. This isn’t so hard.

Then, 2 weeks before the big day. The phone call – your Mum is very sick….we aren’t operating…going to let it run it’s course. Okay, wonder what I should do….. Luckily my cousin rang a few hours later and told me more of the background behind what had been happening. Phone call from her, 9:30pm Saturday night. Time in car with 3 kids driving the 15 hours to my Mothers town……..7am Sunday morning. It took me 2 days….but that is just one of those things when you have 3 kids and you are driving alone. Number of stops at McDonalds Mc café for a cup of tea and the kids to play and run around – 7 stops.

We did what we had to in Victoria, I drove her the 4 hours to the hospital (with the kids) so she could have her operation. It was a success. I drove to Melbourne and caught up with Hubs stepsister for one final playdate (we had been to Vic in July to say goodbye to everyone already). Then in the car for a big drive to Yas (not sure how long, but long enough). The next morning – we picked up Hubby at the Sydney airport and went the 3 hours home. 9 days left in Australia. Number of rooms finished? None.

The following week was a blur. We had my inlaws staying in a winabago out the front. Grandma cooked every dinner….what a gem. We had a garage sale on the Saturday. Had some friends over to help finish off the wine on Sunday. The packers came on Monday morning. Monday night we had dinner at the pub with our dear friends and stayed in a motel. Tuesday, the movers came and took our stuff. We picked up C girl from school. Stayed in motel in Maitland that night and flew out the next day.

Thursday morning – Jakarta – Hotel Kristal – (popular expat hotel –where families come on their way into and out of the country).

We forgot to have money organized in rupiah (big mistake) and shops don’t open until 10am, but room service pulled us through for breakfast. Number of words of bahasa known – zero.
We had a near death experience with Bear while staying there. We are country folk, high rises, elevators, these are all new to us. When waiting for the lift, he climbed up on the window ledge to see the view (level 7). I was a bit distracted with the other two kids (who fight over pressing the elevator button (no kidding). But I just reached out and grabbed his t shirt by instinct. Just as he leaned against the window (that looked locked), it sprang open from the bottom and he started to fall out, but I had him, so it was okay. The lock didn’t work, if you pushed on it, it just let go. When I went to management (some people can understand English luckily) and suggested that they secure all their windows properly I was told that he shouldn’t have been there (correct). I then pointed out that if an expat family had a child die while staying there, that maybe expat families wouldn’t be so happy about staying there in future(correct also). They fixed the window on our level, they didn’t on any other level. Yes, he was banned from climbing on anything ever again and I learnt a valuable lesson. Do not trust an engineering solution while living in a third world country, short cuts are made, check the integrity of everything.

Anyway, back to the story……

The first thing we needed to do was to organize schooling, housing and my work in that order.
Hubby went to work the first day (after we had sorted out breakfast) – he got there at 10am – we all went with him so the kids could see where he was working and who he was working with.
We looked through the supposedly best school in Jakarta. But C girl was not impressed. We went to look at another school and before we could even finish the tour the kids were begging to go there. There were some downsides to going to that school, but they were convinced that the benefits outweighed the downsides, they promised to never nag about the downsides (and to their credit they never have). Luckily, they still love the school. When going in on the weekend for swimming, sport or social functions, they still say “I love this school”, to which I can only respond……so do I.

Unfortunately we had to wait to be admitted (3 kids is so much harder than 1 child). C girl did one week before Christmas holidays. The other two didn’t start until the beginning of 2007 (when Bear would have started school in Aus anyway).

The housing situation took a bit longer. I looked through about 30 houses. The bracket of housing I had looked at in my look see did not match the housing allowance we were eventually given (got to love people in HR). So, the houses I had seen were no longer applicable. But we tried a new real estate agent. She listened to what I wanted and eventually said – you are kidding yourself. That is not going to happen. I have a house that doesn’t have half of what you want, but by what you are saying is important, it has all of that. When we drove up to the house, I knew we had found our home. When the tenants moved out a few days later, I walked around the house with a colour chart and wrote the colour/number on each wall. It may not be fashionable. But the house has 12 colours in it now, and it is home.

We went away to Lombok for 10 days over Christmas/New year. When we got back I agreed to a job (there were 3 options). Our nanny and housekeeper started work the same day (don’t knock it until you try it). The kids started school a few days later. We moved into our new house. Then I officially started working full time again. Total time from leaving home in Aus to having furniture unpacked in our new home - 7 weeks.

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