We have just finished up our long awaited week of school holidays. It was just too short. The poor kids are exhausted after so many changes and they haven’t had a break from school since the June/July holidays back in Australia and that ‘holiday’ involved packing up and moving into an unfinished house. Behaviour hasn’t been great but everyone seems a little happier now after a week of no homework.
Matilda and Essie are working overtime with jumping up a grade and the school work here is so intense compared to Australia. The curriculum for the younger children in particular is advanced and the use of language is different to what we are accustomed to. My friend Leiza, who also just recently moved with her family to America, is going through a similar experience of adjusting to a more intense school life with her kids. It is a daily struggle to achieve balance between work, play and sleep.
With us all thrown into this new environment together I do feel closer to Joel and the kids. I’m so proud of how well the kids are adjusting. Levi seems to be thriving here and I love hearing about his new friends, all he is learning at school about American politics, native American history, chemistry and how to make stop motion movies. He has so many questions about maths and science and I have to just direct him to his father. Levi nods his head and asks intelligent questions to fully grasp Joel’s answers and walks away happy that he has learnt something new. Shamefully, I’m left scratching my head still not understanding what they are talking about. Maths and science are not my thing but it makes me so happy to see that Levi is indeed his father’s son.
My friend Mandy has been visiting from Brisbane and it has been fun to be a tourist and go and see some sights. California is stunningly beautiful and I hope I never get complacent being surrounded by such natural beauty. Californians certainly pay for it in all the extra taxes but it is worth every penny. Just gorgeous trees, mountains, valleys and coastal drives but I do feel Australia is the place for beaches.
Mandy stayed with the kids one night so Joel and I could get up to Napa for some wine tasting and a little fine dining. Boy oh boy was I impressed. Yountville was gorgeous – cosy restaurants, bustling wine bars, fireplaces roaring and all the Christmas lights were up. We dined at Bouchon and hit the line for a Bouchon Bakery breakfast the next morning, we wine tasted and sipped hot chocolate listening to the Christmas carolers. I was surprised to learn that I can enjoy a glass or two of chardonnay. Not my usual tipple but Napa does it well. Napa is close enough for a day trip so we will be back for the odd picnic when the weather warms up.
Yesterday I spent the day wandering the streets of San Francisco with Mandy. We explored the Ferry Building Marketplace and China Town. I picked up a decent sized granite mortar and pestle and carted it home on the CalTrain. My arms are still recovering. I left my mortar and pestle in our house back in Australia and I’ve missed it so much so it was worth lugging this one home.
With Christmas just around the corner we do have some more holidays coming up so some rest and relaxation to look forward to and maybe a trip to Tahoe and further north into Oregon (I’m reading ‘Children Of The Oregon Trail’ to the older kids so a trip through Oregon just sounds perfect). We plan to go and choose our Christmas tree on the weekend and open up our bags of Christmas decorations. Joel has already started cranking out the Christmas carols and I’m getting exciting about getting into the kitchen with the kids to start baking festive goodies. I will be sure to share some Christmas recipes soon.