Mel's Musings

21 July 2001

Have our lives come to a complete standstill requiring over two months to pass before I have enough to provide another musing? Well not quite. Actually, if anything, we feel as if we are now settled and beginning to make the most of our tour in the USA. So get yourself a coffee and let's catch up.

We moved to our new house in the middle of May and love it. We believe we will be very comfortable here for the next couple of years. It is also very nice to be away from all the building going on at the old house. The back garden is just the right size for all the girls bits and bobs, including the illegal trampoline, and we have a nice patio which gets used for lots of BBQs. The only drawback is that we cannot get satellite television, despite trying two different providers, as there are too many trees. This means Nick cannot watch any of his much loved sports live. Mind you, I cannot understand why any non-Australians would want to watch England or the Lions being beaten by Australia!

Nick has now spent the longest time away from us since we got married. He spent a month in California with work. However, we all went over to visit him and had a wonderful holiday in San Diego and surrounds. We did many family orientated things such as visits to Sea World, the "world famous San Diego Zoo" (although I think Tarronga Park is a better location), a wildlife park (fantastic) and lots of visits to the beach. We made a trip to Yosemite National Park, which was superb and took us through some amazing countryside. We also ventured to across the border to Tijuana in Mexico. The contrast once we crossed the border was incredible even though we had only sat on a trolley (tram/train) for half an hour from our hotel in San Diego. The entire holiday was fantastic and the girls seem to really enjoy it. It is one of the only true "family" holidays we have had where we weren't with other people. I think the only downside was the two seven hour plane journeys at either end that I had to endure with the girls - well worth it though.

While we were away, Beth celebrated her third birthday. Time has flown since our little bundle arrived and now she is a real little girl. According to Beth, being three means she can jump really high (although Nick and I haven't really noticed any difference). She is fascinated by older girls, particularly some Australian girls we know here, prefers wearing dresses to shorts and has taken a less than welcome interest in makeup. The lipgloss all around the mouth, from nose to chin, was a pretty good warning. We had a birthday party at the hotel in San Diego and got dressed up and went to the Wildlife Park in San Diego. Nick and I probably enjoyed the park more than the girls did, but that's the parents' prerogative at this age! When we returned home, Beth had loads of wonderful gifts and cards from so many people, she thought it was her birthday every day. Thanks to everyone who sent her birthday wishes - it made all the miles between Australia and the UK melt away.

The summer here is wonderful. I feel as if my bones have defrosted! We are doing lots of outdoor living. The girls love swimming and we have access to a lake with several nice "beaches" in our neighbourhood and to the swimming pools on base. Beth has been very cautious with her swimming although she is getting a lot more confident now and voluntarily puts her head under water. Jess is fearless and spends a lot of time drinking the water. She prefers floating around on her back (with a floaties ring on) to being able to stand. It makes for a challenging time for me as I am too huge to be able to get up from a sunbathing type of position to rescue a child at any sort of speed so I spend my whole time in the water with them. It is a huge bonus when someone else is available to run in one direction after one child while I lumber in the other after the other. Both have stayed under water for a bit longer than desired but were fine after a splutter and a cuddle! Swimming lessons in Australia look like a necessity!

Jess is now an expert on the trampoline. This is a big change from the child who used to scream when put on it. The two girls bounce for ages on the trampoline together and do ring a ring a roses sometimes. They also do impersonations of the WWF with Beth leaping on Jess and Jess getting Beth in a headlock. Most of the time they are good friends!

Jess is talking quite a lot. She has quite a large vocabulary although doesn't link many words together yet. She is very good at saying no and awright in some weird accent that we don't recognise. I am regularly asking Beth what Jess is saying, although it is often a mystery to all of us! Jess also climbs - oh boy does she climb! Nothing is too high for her and everything is just too interesting if it is high up. I have collected her from the tops of tables several times. Slides are great as she can climb the ladder. We are constantly being challenged by Jess. Fortunately Beth is old enough to be vaguely aware of danger and tells us what Jess is up to.

Although we still feel like newcomers here, we have already been welcoming new Brits and Australians. I suppose we have been here for almost six months now and have worked out how some things work, although we will never be experts! Thank goodness we still have lots of "old hands" around to help us out!

Nick has started training for the USMC marathon in October. This means doing ridiculously long runs at work or at home. Although I can sort of understand the desire to do it, I cannot understand the need to put oneself through all that pain! And as for running - blah! Still, good luck to him and the girls and I will be happy to stand by the side and cheer him on. He has very generously offered to help me become a runner, but he obviously doesn't understand the fundamental conflict I have with running.

As implied earlier, my bump is huge. I feel as though I am close to term yet I have still another four months to go. It must be something to do with this being the third. I dread to think how everything will look when the baby is born. Will my belly button reach my knees? The baby is now moving quite a lot and sleeping is always a challenge. However, I am much healthier than I was with Jess which I am sure is to do with the warm weather and dry house. Delivering here is going to be interesting as I have heard that they don't have gas and air. It goes from paracetemol straight to the heavy stuff. Also, they do several procedures on the newborn without the mother present. Still, they do deliver an awful lot of babies here, so I am sure all will be OK.

Upon our return home from San Diego we had our next lot of visitors - Martyn, Melanie and Toby Whitehead from Devon. Toby is between Beth and Jess in age and the three children got on famously most of the time, particularly on the trampoline! Melanie and Martyn based themselves with us and ventured out to tour Virginia. They managed to cover a lot more than we have, although I am not convinced of the importance of seeing the Waltons museum! It was fantastic to have them here, not just because they are good company, but also because it helped the time pass until Nick returned.

We didn't get a chance to miss the Whiteheads as the day after they left my friend Anne arrived from the UK en route to Australia. She is moving home after living in the UK for ages and has been having a wonderful time touring Africa, Egypt, Mexico (I am green with envy). Although a very brief visit, it was great to see Anne and for her to meet the girls.

Shortly after, we had more visitors - Nick's nephew Thomas and two of his friends came to visit en route to Mexico. They spent a few days with us then went to New York, then back to Washington DC. After making their way to Chicago, they will head to Mexico for a couple of weeks with no fixed plan. I remember being young with no dependants!

After all these visitors, we can confirm that Chez Cusacks is fully functioning and ready to receive guests!

We are planning our next trip away to Michigan. When I was sixteen, my parents hosted a Rotary Exchange student called Lora. A few years back, Lora made email contact with us all again and she now lives in Michigan with her husband Craig and children Nate and Meg. We are going to drive up there to stay a few days and try and catch up on the last twenty years! It is very exciting although yet again I don't relish the journey as my bump is getting so big. Still, this is a big country and we are going to do our best to see it! Want to join us?

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