Perth is the farthest I've ever been from home. Friends and family in Europe are 6 hours behind us, time-wise. Friends and family in the States are 12-13 hours behind. I have got a dear friend only 6 hours ahead of me in Hawaii...if you subtract a day (she's actually 18 hours behind). This makes communication a little challenging, which makes me realize this blog is more important than ever to loved ones trying to keep track of us. It's time for a status report.
We arrived safe and sound on Friday late afternoon, as you know. The flights were great. The girls were great! We are so blessed that they are good travelers. We managed to kill off the worst of the jetlag in Singapore, so all is well (the worst of the jetlag with kids is them falling asleep during the evening and waking in the middle of the night, ready to party for hours before they fall asleep again...right around the time locals are starting to wake up). Now, when the girls sleep, they sleep. When they sleep. Unfortunately, both of them seem to have picked up a cold on the plane (incubation time suggests as much anyway). Stephanie has never had a cold before, so on top of the myriad other changes she's been through, she is super-clingy and unsettled. She's still a happy baby, but she definitely will not sleep on her own. Combine this with the fact that she doesn't sleep when she's not lying flat (i.e., wants to be held but wants to be flat too) and we have big trouble getting her down at night. Ellie is no stranger to colds, but the winter dryness here is unfamiliar after Holland's damp. She has chapped lips and hard boogies, something she never tires of shouting about; as you can imagine, it's hard for her to sleep too. So although my computer is still functional (hallelujah!), I haven't had my normal posting time each day. Don't worry, though! We're all doing fine. Colds happen. Today was really the worst day of Ellie's cold, and we think it will be mostly gone by tomorrow (we hope!). If I'm honest, I don't mind Stephanie's clinginess. She is our koala, and I love it. She is my baby, and she's growing too quickly for me...so I enjoy the closeness while I've got it.
The local news...
We are currently staying in temporary accommodation, a hotel/apartment the company arranged for us. It is walking distance to Markus's office and it is fully decent. Actually, it's fairly large. Two bedrooms, two full baths. A washer and dryer. A minimally fitted out kitchen. We spent Saturday and Sunday exploring a little. On Sunday, we drove up to the view from King's Park, which was incredible. It's wildflower season, so I'm hoping to take and post some beautiful pictures of the local flora soon. The weather is incredibly gorgeous! The skies are a blue that goes on forever without a cloud to be seen, and the temperatures in the sun are heavenly. In the shade and after dark, you quickly remember that it is winter here. Brrr. The sunshine itself is rather intense already, so in that respect, I am not looking forward to summer and worrying about my family's skin.
On Monday morning, our "relocation agent" met us and took us in her car to see a few properties. The rental market is insane here at the moment. She said she believes prices have gone up 100% in the past 2-3 years. Yow. There is such a demand that any good house that goes on the market is usually gone within a week, and usually then to someone with connections to the agent. Combine that with the fact that we've arrived after school has resumed, and there just isn't much out there right now. Markus has been monitoring the market online from Holland (there's a really good real estate site), so we checked it out again before we met with our agent and found two properties in recommended areas we wanted to see. The first house we requested was one she was able to show us (the first one we saw, actually), and it's great! Nearly everything we wanted. I know no house is perfect, but this was close. Lovely home with wrap-around porch. Nice fenced yard (even the front is fenced). Gorgeous hardwood floors and high ceilings. There is a small pool in the back (something we didn't want with small kids), but it is fenced off with a security fence and separate from the rest of the yard. The only real downside for us is no bathtub (two showers). The girls are big fans of bathtime, and I hate to give that up. But it seems silly to give up an otherwise great house (especially since bathtubs aren't common in the older houses/nicer areas), so we put in an application. Ellie likes showers, and there is a huge sink in the laundry room that will be a great baby tub for Stephanie. Now we have to wait and see. The other two homes we saw were "no"s. One was gorgeous inside, but had a useless yard. The other just felt wrong, instinctively, to both of us. Nothing else that seems suitable is on the market now. Yikes. I don't like making decisions quickly. I like to look around, learn, and weigh my options. But if the homeowner accepts our application, house #1 it is, no more looking after only one day of looking and one house in each suburb. I don't really like that, but that's how it is here.
This morning, we went to look at cars. One side of moving internationally is frequent car changes. Markus joked that we should pick a totally different car each time so we can try them all before we finally settle somewhere and make a longer-term purchase. We narrowed our choices down to two vehicles and I test drove them both. When it boils down, they are very similar. Too similar to choose easily, especially since price is also identical. Hmm. One vehicle is on a manufacturer's special right now valid only for the month of August, which means we have until Friday to buy it and get a really good deal. Actually, we need to put down a deposit as quickly as possible (i.e., tomorrow morning) because there is only one in stock that has the options we want. But again, I don't like time pressure. I want to weigh my options. Yet, like the house, if I take the time I like to take, the deal will be gone. If I decide that's what I want after all, too bad for us. A more decisive person might enjoy this. Another person might see the missed opportunity as a "sign" that it wasn't meant to be. I, however, sit and waffle. This time-pressure on big decisions is not fun for a Libra.
The silver lining, however, is pretty easy to see. If we get the house and the car (both of which will be tomorrow or bust!), our two biggest decisions will be taken care of in the very first week. That's pretty darn impressive. We'll keep you posted.