Monday 28th April 2014

The Texan summer is definitely on its way the air con is now on in the house as well as the car, the sun cream has come out of the cupboard and the pool is in use even without being heated and a shopping trip was quickly organised to buy some more summer clothes! The average daytime temperature is now 92f/34c.

This Saturday the children were invited to another birthday party this time held at Rolly Pollies and it is just the place I've been looking for, a safe indoor activity play zone for the children to run off energy without the sun beating down.

Saturday night as we still had our live-in babysitters here so my husband and I decided to try a new Italian restaurant called Siena situated in a beautiful Tuscan villa nestled in the hills of the Austin “lake district.” A great choice on all levels, the setting, food, wine, decor and company of course and a couple even got engaged there that night!  

On Sunday we decided to visit a beauty spot called Mount Bonnell it's a prominent point alongside the Lake Austin portion on the Colorado river, the mount provides stunning viewing of Austin, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills all I can say it if you ever visit be more prepared than I was for the 100f+ dry heat that literally swallowed up my energy in a nano second, its a great location for photographers though!         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Bonnell

Sadly the time has now come for us to start our short trip to the airport, after peeling the children off my parents we say our goodbyes to our very first visitors, a sad affair with tears from the females in the group especially :(

It's slightly bad timing this is the morning we wake up to see on the news tornado warnings over half of America including Texas, I have downloaded an app called 'Flightstats' which delivers real-time global flight tracking and airport data services and actually tracks the plane on route my parents plane left on time so all is well!


Six Weeks In

Well it's six weeks today since we stepped off that plane with no return booked, what a crazy, surreal, eye opening, amazing, overwhelming, bonkers experience and we have only just begun...

Some days I feel life is very similar to our life in England then when someone hears my accent and I give an overview of why we are here and watching their reactions really brings home what a huge change we've made and how new everything still is.

When I see updates and new photos on social media sites and have online and video conversations with friends and family back home I feel there will always be a tug on the heart strings and I hope there isn't anyone out there who thinks we've forgotten about them or England not for a second 💖

Today our youngest daughter, myself and my parents visit Zilker Park which is a recreational area in the heart of South Austin, it has over 350 acres of land including Barton Springs Pool, the Botanical Gardens, a miniature railway, a hillside theatre, soccer and volleyball fields, a polo field, a nature centre, plus numerous historical markers, concession stands and picnic areas.

That evening we went for dinner at Maudies a Tex-Mex restaurant around the corner from our house it has a great casual laid back vibe with an interesting mix of food choices and a licensed bar.


Saturday 19th April 2014

Everyone is up early as we are off to downtown Austin again for our very first tourist outing - the Austin Duck Adventure, 75 minutes of sightseeing that includes Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, Bob Bullock State History Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, and Lake Austin. 

The tour was such fun and totally worth the money, we all loved learning about the quirky history of Austin and the experience of going from road to water in an amphibious vehicle was unnerving but hilarious....http://austinducks.com

We knew downtown would be busy but we couldn't work out why we were struggling to find a parking space down South Congress, we later found out it Austin's annual Easter Pet Parade and Costume Contest, obviously Austinites love their pets very much!

We decide to head out of town to the Hula Hut for lunch, it really feels like you are on holiday in a Caribbean water front restaurant, you need to remember Austin is inland by a minimum three hour drive.

Hula Hut is also heaving with people but full of energy and colour but we get a table and check out the menu, another great thing for me was mum and dad trying foods they admitted they would have usually have not ordered in UK and again more clean plates! 

Friday 18th April 2014

After a busy couple of days helping me with the unpacking and sorting out our shipping contents it really is time to get the parents out of the house and neighbourhood and see a bit more of American life. 

So we all drive E into school and show my parents to assembly, after ten minutes of wide eyed silence from them I wonder what these retired traditional English grandparents think of it all, turns out they loved it! The accents, the pledge of allegiance, the Texas song that gets sung just on Friday assemblies, the classroom, the list went on.

Afterwards we decided to get a taxi to downtown Austin and have a walk up South Congress avenue, which leads directly into downtown ending at the State Capitol building...

"This hip strip features an array of eclectic shops, restaurants, boutiques, antiques, music venues and galleries" 
source: austintexas.org/listings/south-congress-ave-soco-/4359/

The sun is coming out, my husband has finished work early and has done his research on a new steakhouse for us to try out, so for the first time we use our new Audi Q7 for the main reason it was purchased for all six of us go out in one car - perfect! 

We arrive at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse WOW such a beautiful location, an interesting history and probably the most informative, helpful server aka waiter I have ever come across. My parents are initially not keen on ordering steak as their experiences in England have not been the best however after another award winning sales pitch by our server four steaks are finally ordered and guess whose plates are clean and finished first?...

We then head to the upstairs balcony to take in the views of Lake Travis, a few selfies later and we head to the downstairs bar and dance floor where a live band had just begun their set....an addictive mix of modern and old classics.....


Our first visitors and the shipping arrives!

This weekend is my husbands birthday and that evening we decided to go downtown for the first time since we moved here. We went with some work colleagues their partners and friends, seeing the buzz and lights of downtown again for the first time since our visit in November 2013 has given us the drive to get out again soon just need to get some babysitters!. We started with dinner at Sullivan's steakhouse which sadly has now closed down and enjoyed some great steak then it was off to a bar where we danced until closing - standard night for us Brits! 

Two exciting things happened next, my parents arrived for a visit and our shipping arrived from England. 
Our shipping was booked to arrive at 10am I was expecting it to be a little late as these things tend to be, just as I was starting to get worried the container finally arrives almost four hours late. 

After traveling 4847 miles from England unscathed then just a few miles down the road the container was stopped on the highway by State Stroopers thankfully there was nothing to report just a routine search. The guys start unloading the container, I am given an inventory form and pen and asked to tick off every box and item as it is unloaded into the house...92 items and eight sheets of paper later the shipment guys are satisfied their job is complete and head of looking a little tired ;)


Then it's a quick turn around getting the children fed, bathed and ready in their PJ's for my mum and dad's arrival...it was such a buzz to see them again we all hug, the children squeal and we show mum and dad to their room.

Even though we've only been in Austin almost five weeks it feels like we have loads of new things to show mum and dad, but really we have not been out and about as much as we would have liked so this weekend is a good excuse to organise this...😬


Week 3

After ALOT of discussion with other mum's from E class I felt the time was right to let her go to school on the bus, the majority of school kids use the free bus, the whole system is very well organised plus E was desperate to try it. I was of course 15 minutes early waiting for the bus to arrive back after school and E loved every second, looks like we'll be sticking with it then.

Finally it's Friday night! Life is now slowly settling into a familiar pattern i.e. school runs, cooking dinner, house work, food shopping etc so after a few crazy weeks this Friday feels like how a Friday should, the week has finished and it's time to relax, party, whatever we fancy really. Plus a takeaway and wine is usually on the cards for us...

Two more of husbands work colleagues have moved to Austin this week so we all met at The Park for drinks and dinner we discussed our travels to Austin, moving house stories, our feelings for the future and so on, it still all feels very surreal at the moment....

Week 2

In England children start school at 4 years old therefore our youngest had been at school in England about 7 months before we moved to Austin, she is the youngest of the year so she was delighted to be going back to pre-school for a few months!

I did some research and found there was a pre-school opposite the elementary school and after a quick meeting I discovered there was one space left for her 3 mornings a week I said I'll take it! L was excited to be getting back into a learning and fun environment and her first day went amazingly well, the teachers said the kids were crowding round her and making a real fuss which she loved!

E has been invited to a birthday party so we all head to The Candy Jar I noticed on the walls of The Candy Jar there are photos from the original film Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory that were signed by the actors, I was tempted to put one in my bag as I loved that film as a child!

We were then invited by the parents over the road to the outdoor amphitheater and the Iron Cactus, we stayed for drinks, dinner and the kids all ran around dancing for hours...

By Sunday we were shattered and decided a lazy day was just what we needed so we went for dinner at the County Line on the lakeside, next to the outdoor seating area you could put your feet in the water and there were lots of turtles swimming around, some coming up close to have a good look at us...

Day 6 - Moving to America!

Tuesday 18th March 2014

We still just have the hire car at the moment and I don't feel I have much confidence in driving yet so my husband sat with me again whilst I drove to school, I then had to drop him off at his office which is a few miles down the highway from the school. I knew what was coming next I then had to drive home on the highway for the first time on my own it was terrifying but I felt elated to have done it and got myself and youngest daughter home in one piece. 

With still a million things to sort out here I felt very overwhelmed this morning, I questioned whether it was because I felt we'd done the wrong thing, not for a second. This has been a massive change for us all and I think I underestimated how I would feel once here, we got so caught up in the move, talking about it, getting prepared, saying goodbyes there seemed to be no room to think about what life would actually be like when we got here.

There are definitely more differences from the UK than I was anticipating, and I would never have guessed I would be asked if I was Australian before the first week was over!

I collected E from school, she said she had a great time, met lots of lovely friends and really enjoyed herself this absolutely makes my day, I am a stay at home mum and my children are my world, their happiness and achievements make my life wonderful. For me no paid job has ever been able to match up to the wonders of motherhood.


Day 5 - Moving to America!

Monday 17th March 2014

Today was our eldest daughter's first day at school I was up at 6am yet still we were all rushing out of the door at 7.15am this is actually a bit early but it was her first day, on the way we drove past some children sitting on the side of the road I learned later that week they were waiting for the school bus. 

We arrive at the school, park up and walk to the school office the staff were all aware this was E's first day, we then had a quick chat with the school nurse who I had communicated with plenty of times before arrival due to the regulations on vaccinations being slightly different to the UK, next was the principle he knew E's name, that it was her first day and wished her well it was then into assembly.

The first big difference we encounter from an English school came next the pledge of allegiance to the American flag and then the Texas flag, we hear the principle say "please face the American flag put your right hand on your heart and begin" I must say we found this to be very surreal. It was also St Patricks day, an Irish dad had organized for some local children who practice Irish dancing to perform a show at the school assembly they were amazing and our youngest was copying the dance all day!

After assembly we all walk to the classroom with E's new teacher, her desk, peg and work book were already named and ready and after a few last cuddles E had an 'I'm ok' smile on her so we left her to it. 

Next stop today was the social security office to get our social security numbers my husband got his ok however I needed my marriage certificate 'to prove' we were married before my husband arrived in America four days ago. Rules are rules!

The weather is warming up this afternoon, I can feel we are getting very close to being able to get in our pool!

Day 4 - Moving to America!

Sunday 16th March 2014

Today is the first day I haven't felt jet lagged...we decided to attempt more shopping this time to HEB - similar to Tesco's -  for food I felt a mixture of excitement looking at all the new foods and labels to a small level of frustration when I couldn't find any tea bags....a great friend of mine ended up posting some PG tips to me- will love her forever obv xx I have since found PG tips along the bottom shelf in HEB right in the very far corner....I searched for quite a while!

Oh god the time has come for me to finally drive......amongst the planning, the talking, the excitement, the guilt and sadness of leaving loved ones behind, the wonder of what will become of us in America a small but scary voice along the whole journey that I just could not silence was eating away at my sanity, the irrational voice that says you will crash the minute you get out of the driveway....

As you can imagine I insisted on driving to and from the school in practice for the week ahead....THREE times we went back and forth, yes I cried out of panic and frustration...

I cooked a Spaghetti Bolognese, all the plates were cleared including the children phew! No one asked whether it was Dolmio or not....it wasn't of course nor home made....I will get back into the swing of that later!

Day 3 - Moving to America!

So we have made it to the weekend and time for some home furnishing shopping at Ikea, we are tired, have two excitable children with us and its a busy Saturday it was a long and hideous trip but we survived, just, and arrive home to find two gardeners mowing the lawn a very pleasant surprise!

I had a couple of Skype conversations with my sister and best friend, it was amazing to see their faces and hear their voices it really feels for that moment in time they could actually be stood right in front of me, thank god for modern technology otherwise I'm not sure I could have made this big move.

My husband went to bed early and I attempted to find Saturday night Takeaway on ITV player, it blocked me because it 'knew' I wasn't in the UK I found this to be fascinating but annoying at the same time I eventually found the previous weeks episode on youtube! Ha!

At this stage my head is still literally spinning from all the experiences of the last few months, weeks and days, it is all immensely exciting, frightening, surreal but real all at once, I think early to bed for me too its going to be a long week!