Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Port Fairy (Finally!)

Hello all!  We are now on the other side of the world and settled in Orlando.

The trip was a shocker in terms of time spent traveling - something like 35+ hours.  But Neve was a trooper.  And, given her sleep to eat to sleep habits she really has not noticed the jet lag (unlike her parents!).  United is most certainly not the airline of choice on the long haul from AUS to LA, for those considering this trip with a tiny baby.  No personal entertainment centers on United, so movies were shown on the large screens for the entire 14 hour flight.  So what, you say?  Well, babies, like large wingless moths, find the light from tv screens to be, well, mesmerizing - which makes sleeping a BIG challenge!   Anyway, we made it in one piece and that's what counts!!

Before leaving Australia, we spent a lovely long weekend with Hamish's family in Port Fairy.  I wanted to share the beautiful beach with you and some of the fun family photos.  I've been trying to balance hospital visits with Neve care and dinner prep, so my blogging has (as you may have noticed) taken a nose dive.  Will try to keep up at least periodically!

Happy trails --

Cousins in love!

The Berry family women.

The Berry cousins.

Port Fairy (look at that beach!!)

The Berry family out for a surf.

Hamish coming in from getting his butt kicked by the surf!

Neve staring intensely at her Uncle James.

Uncle James in heaven being starred at!
The Berry Family Easter Portrait.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Melbourne Days Are Numbered -

Hello all!  We are now on our way to Port Fairy - a little beach town about three hours south west of Melbourne.  Hamish's parents have a house in Port Fairy where the Berry boys spent holidays and weekends growing up.  The family has been going to Port Fairy for the last 40 years.  So safe to say that they have lots of friends and share wonderful memories from surfing on the beach (sharks and freezing water - why not?), eating fish & chips (fried delight!) and going to the local pub called "The Stump" (stick to beer by the pitcher and watch yourself cause the local boys are aggressive!).  Hamish lists Port Fairy as amongst his favorite places in the world so it's always a treat to be in Port Fairy with him.  All in all, we are going to spend Easter weekend with the Berry clan - eating, drinking, egg hunting, walking on the beach - your general Easter festivities!

Things in Florida are holding steady but after the Easter weekend we are pulling the plug on the world tour.  We are leaving Australia to head back to the US on Tuesday and will be in The Doe (ie, Orlando) on Wednesday.  It will be good to lend our support and to be close - but I know it will be a hard transition for all of us.  Neve has new relatives to meet and new cribs to sleep in.  It's hard to leave, of course, but we need to be Florida right now and we will be back in the land of Oz soon.

Some highlights of our last week in Melbourne:


Hamish's grandmother lived on a beautiful farm about 60 miles North of Melbourne in an area called Seymour.  It is an area of rolling hills and horse farms.  Two of Hamish's Uncles still own Talgai - one taking the old family home and the other building a super cool modern home down near the river (it's something right out of Dwell)!  Hamish's parents were married at Talgai - so needless to say, this place is a big part of the fabric of the family.  We went up to Talgai with Hamish's cousin Pete and his wife Wendy and there two little ones - Hamish (my H's god son) and Charlotte.  The place is really gorgeous - a rushing river, large rambling family homestead, tennis court, lovely gardens.  It's really special.  Pete and Wendy fed us delicious beef and we drank some very nice red wine (maybe a little too much my head was telling me at 3am that morning when Neve stirred!).  

We were trying to be good people and brought chocolate bunnies for little Hamish and Charlotte, which I now realize is a total newbie, bad parent move.  Sort of like giving large plastic loud noise making things as birthday presents to toddlers!  Anyway, Hamish and Charlotte dove right into the chocolate and Wendy was doing a good job of monitoring the amounts.  But little Hamish puked up most of his lunch and was sick the next day and, well, I'm afraid the bad bunny decision played a major role in the yaking outcome.  Little Hamish is totally charming - even sick - and after his puke session he announced that he was not really sick, but was just "kidding about being sick" and could certainly have more chocolate!  Hilarious!  You got to REALLY love something to want to eat it after losing your lunch!  Poor little guy!  Sorry Peter & Wendy and thanks so much for a truly enchanting time at Talgai!

Beautiful spot for lunch at Talgai!

Cousin Pete and H with Neve on our walk around the manor.

Little Hamish - he is the cutest thing!!

H and Neve by the river which is still swollen with all the rain.

On our walk we happened by Uncle Sandy's where we were offered some champers!  

Port Melbourne

We have dragged numerous friends and family down to Port Melbourne to spend time with us while we have been here.  On our first day I ran by this place called the Sand Bar - which is right on the beach -- that I thought looked very inviting.  Large tables opening on the beach, big deck - food, wine!  We enjoyed catching up with folks there a few times and at some of the other places in Port Melbourne.  

Matt and Nat with Jamie and Max.  They insisted on walking on the rock walls the whole way!!

Stuart and Sarah with little Neve -- they are the best EPs!!

Friends at the Sand Bar.

The Girls!

Another Hamish and his lovely daughter!

Myrniong Part II

On Thursday we packed ourselves up (no easy task given our luggage explosion and Hamish's constant conference calls) and headed back up to Jane & James farm in Myrniong to spend the night.  We went on a long hike, ate at the local pub and spent some time jumping on the trampoline and climbing in the haystacks with the kids.  All a total hoot!  

Jane & James gave us their bedroom which over looks several large paddocks and on down to the Lerdederg Park.  It's exactly the view you think of when someone says "big sky country".  The horses were out in the paddock and it's quite a big space but they like to stand right up against the fence closest to the bedroom window.  Throughout the night, we would wake with Neve and watch them walking around or sleeping - which was really comforting is some funny way. 

When Neve woke up for her 6am feed, the sky was just starting to get light and we could actually see kangaroos hoping around in the far paddock (as promised by Jane!)!!! AMAZING!!  There were about 10 of them - babies and larger ones - eating grass and drinking from the damn.  Just hanging around like it was totally normal that large bouncy creatures emerge at dawn from nowhere and escape back into the gum tree forest just after sunrise like an alarm has sounded.

The sky was a beautiful purple color with large misty grey clouds and where the sun was breaking through it was a dark reddish pink.  So much color! What a lovely morning!  Giving your sweet baby girl a bottle while looking out at kangaroos and horses and colorful birds crossing endless skies.  It was all JUST PERFECTION!! Then Neve and I  fell back into a coma like sleep!

James & Hamish at the pub with Neve looking like she's had one to many bottles!

The Berry Boys!

The Enchanted Forrest.

Hiking along the creek.

Such cute cows.  Look America - they are eating grass in fields!! Amazing!!

Haystacks are a blast to climb in.  Highly suggested if you ever get the chance!


So, spending the past few weeks in Melbourne was - as you can see - really great.  Other than, of course, the weak US dollar!  Australia is pretty painfully expensive so no shopping for us (not that we have the space anyway!!).  I had also been doing some work trying to find a perfect (and affordable) pinot noir since we've been in Melbourne, but sadly, I am giving up.  Everything I purchased was disappointing and when we left our apartment in Port Melbourne we poured out several bottles that had been abandoned after the first sad glass (or two for good measure).  I think I'm going to move on to another grape.  I know, I know -- pinot has always been my favorite but frankly I'm pretty discouraged.  H and I discussed it and I think we are going to try some blends.  Will let you all know how that goes!

Neve is thriving absolutely.  She can whip that bobble head around now showing off her new found neck muscles, makes so much eye contact that it's unnerving, has an occasional smile (especially at her Uncle James who she has a big crush on), has fat rolls on her thighs and many chins and is just generally being an adorable baby.  Her Australian cousins fight over holding her and feeding her and she loves to be amongst them -- kicking arms and legs around and chirping as she tries to be a part of it all.  Her cousin Eloise is particularly taken by Neve.  She was holding her while we were packing up today and I overheard a conversation where she was discussing how great it was that Neve is so much more adorable than most babies -- how adorable is that!  Eloise even helped me out with a couple nasty pesto diapers and that my friends, is true love!!  Neve is an Aussie and has loved being here and being doted on by her family!

My little peacock girl!!

So beautiful!!

So, Mr. Rattle Puppy, what do you say we bust out of this place!

More on Port Fairy and our trip back to the US later -

Love to all,

G, H & N

Monday, April 18, 2011

Some Stability

Just a quick one to say thank you to all of you who have been hoping and praying and thinking of us and our family.  We have been really overwhelmed by the love and it seems to be doing some real good - so please keep it up!  We've been monitoring the situation in Florida closely and although we can't report a miraculous recovery - we can report that the vitals are finally "stable".  And, in the real world, in situations like this, "stable" really should be considered miraculous!  With a bit more long term "stable" we may have an actual miracle on our hands! No high fives yet and it will be a long recovery, but we are starting to talk recovery which is well -- a relief and good.

We are in Melbourne and will (unless stable turns to unstable) be here through Easter.  Then, we will cut outNew Zealand and LA (maybe a quick stop over to relieve the traveling) and will head directly to the Doe (this is what Hamish calls Orlando) to be with my family.  

So not for nothing but we did manage to spend some time ourselves in the hospital today.  I think this is one new parents (IPs) might be interested in as you might face it as well.  In India they give a TB shot a couple days after birth.  They actually do not vaccinate for TB in Australia anymore  - so many of you may not even need to worry about this.  It is not uncommon for babies to have a reaction to the TB shot like 4 to 6 weeks after it is administered.  We, as newbies, did not know this and when a large pustule like boil appeared on Neve's arm a couple days ago -- well, we were concerned and went to higher sources.

People who saw photos said we should go to a pediatrician because it could be infected.  And, after tripping through a healthcare system that we are unfamiliar with, we ended up in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne in the immunization specialization unit (we really owe this stroke of genius to my sister in law Di who has friends in the right places).  So a super sweet pediatrician had a look at the Neve boil and pronounced that it was all "within the range of normal" for a TB reaction and that no puss removal or antibiotics would be necessary.  Awesome - as I was really not looking forward to explaining to Neve why I was helping to hold her down while a stranger dug the puss out of her painful Neve boil!

Anyway, lesson here is that you baby could have a negative reaction to a TB shot a month or so after it's given and you have to be careful that the reaction is not an infection that's a serious infection verses Neve's type.  If you are a Newbie, you will certainly seek outside help for that determination.  But, either way, it would have been nice to know to look out for it in the first place.  My first reaction was that one of those crazy Australian spiders had gotten a chunk out of the Neve Berry arm!

Hospitals are also such a reality check.  We saw little Neve sized creatures with prams (strollers) with extra holders for IV units and other tubes coming out.  And little ones covered in netting to prevent germs from getting in.  A little Neve boil is nothing in the scheme of things, so we left all happy.  But there are certainly many families in that hospital that need to see better days and all we can do it hope for them.

The trip did lead to Neve's first official weighing since birth.  She is now 4.045 kg, up from her birth weight of 2.6 kg.  This is great and the doctor listened to her heart and was happy when Neve socked her hard in stomach with those little weight lifter legs.  In India, Neve's birth weight was middle of the road.  In Australia, we learned today that Neve was under 5% on the charts for her birth weight.  She is gaining fast however, and in just 5 short weeks has worked her way up to the high 30% range!  I can personally attest to the amount of milk being consumed around here and to the fact that my back is literally in constant pain -- so I was not surprised by the good news on the weight gain!

Going to go to sleep now.  We have had another full weekend in Melbourne and will I send around photos tomorrowish.

Love to all -- and thank you for your support.

G, H & N

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Have you ever wished that you could be in two places at one time?  More than wishing really (not like you wish you could be in Hawaii for the day and Paris for dinner) - being really, really needed on a primal emotional level in two places at one time? Well, that is becoming my reality and I must say - PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP!!!  Now that we have Neve, my life is supposed to be all perfect and rose smelling (save for the diapers of course), but clearly someone upstairs did not get the memo.

About since Neve's birth, one of my closest family members has been dealing with a bad diagnosis and a bad surgical outcome back in Florida.  We have been monitoring the situation as best we can from across the globe and have been praying for good days.  But, we've mostly gotten small waves of worse days instead and two nights ago I had a bag packed ready to get on a 9:30am flight out of Melbourne to LA and then on to Orlando.  Me, by myself, no Hamish, no Neve.  The news at 4am that morning was as promising as it had been in days and although the bag remains packed, I remain on this side of the world for now.  For which I feel relieved.  For which I feel guilty.

When I was just 3 years old my family came to Australia for a holiday.  Pretty amazing stuff so long ago and to bring a child so young, so far - that was likely insanity.  That holiday was called up short when news reached us that my grandmother's cancer had progressed and she was very ill.  She passed away a short time after we got back to Florida from Australia.  History simply cannot repeat itself.

I must say that the build up to the almost decision to go back alone was heartbreaking (and unfortunately still remains at the forefront of possibilities).  If you had told me a year ago that leaving a 4 week old child (that keeps me up all night without so much as a thank you) would have caused me any difficulties in light of the current situation at home - I would not have believed it.  Well, sometimes you have to live something to really understand it.

Neve, just that day, started making serious eye contact.  When you feed her now, she locks on your eyes -- does not blink and does not look away.  Maybe she is still learning to focus and all, but it's a pretty intense thing.  And, I was going to leave her and know that with her baby sized brain, there was a pretty good chance that she would not recognize me when we were together again.  Would she think I had abandoned her?  I felt like she was begging me to stay each time she locked on my eyes that day and each time my eyes filled with tears and she looked at me with even bigger eyes.   Love is a funny thing.  You might know it's there, but when it's about to be taken away from you - the physical pain leaves no doubt.

But the situation in Florida is bad.  Poor Dr. Jen has gone from pediatrician to full time medical manager plus full time reporter to those of us not in the vicinity.  The stress on my Mom and sisters is unimaginable.  Words of ICU and atrial fibrullation and central lines and puss and infections and skin grafts and ventilators and lymph nodes - this is what we get each day in the reports.  But it's what's behind the words that has me more concerned.  There is a tiredness now.  An underpinning of acceptance that this new world of terrible possibilities is the new reality on the ground.  And ground, that we are far, far from at the moment.  I am helpless to help.

I want to be home in Florida to support my family.  I want to be here in Melbourne with my daughter and husband - spending more time in Australia than my husband has spent in the country of his birth since he left for what was supposed to be a couple years abroad almost 10 years ago.  Neve lights up the faces of her Australian Grandparents and relatives and I want to give them this gift of being together and relaxed at such an amazing time.  And, Neve can't leave Australia just yet.

When we applied for Neve's passport in Delhi, we knew that we would be coming to Australia and so opted for the quicker "emergency passport" instead of waiting for the full passport which we would get once here and settled.  In Australia, you don't have to go to the consular's office or some passport agency to get a passport - you just apply at the Post Office -- really!  So we did the forms, had a friend (non-family member) sign documents attesting to who Neve is, etc. (a requirement in AUS) and went into the Post Office in Port Melbourne to turn in our application.  The woman at the counter was more than ruffled by our application.  The child was born in Delhi?  Yes.  You don't have an Australian residence address?  No.  Your wife is not an Australia passport holder?  No.  After several phone calls to central authority, she finally rejected us because of a slight shadow on the left cheek of Neve's passport photos.  You remember it, the one we had taken on the first day of Neve's  birth?!

I tried to reason with the nice Post Office lady that people in the consulates office in Delhi (who seemed to me to trump postal workers) were more than happy to use this very photo for a permanent passport (and actually used it for an emergency passport) - to which she replied, "maybe in India, but not here."  I hope this is not a mantra we have to live with for the rest of our lives.  So, we went to the local Kodak store to have the photos retaken (she looks way better!) and got kind friends we were meeting for dinner that night to sign everything and reapplied the next day.  I let Hamish handle the Post Office lady and the application was accepted.  Turns out bureaucracies the world over have a great deal in common!

But the long and short of it is that Neve can't leave Australia until we get that permanent passport.  And if things get worse, I will have to leave without her because the gravitational pull of the possibility of such a loss is undeniable.  All we can do is pray, hope, beg, reason -- that things take a turn for the better in Florida.  Neve must have an opportunity to have a full family back in America and all of that family must have the opportunity to be locked in her stare and charmed into loving her.  After all that we have been through to get to this point -- it just can't turn out this way.

All our love,

G, H & N

Some photos to lighten this up a bit -

All I can say is WOW!  Jabba the Hut Jolie!

Hamish's parents put on a beautiful luncheon in honor of Neve this week.  
She was an angel and looked beautiful in her first non-pajama proper outfit - white tights and all!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Melbourne: Full On!

Hi!  Writing at the end of the day Monday from the snuggly bed of our apartment in Melbourne!  The weather in fact has "changed" and it's feeling a bit San Francisco-ish around here.  Neve is asleep next to me on the bed and I can hear Hamish tapping away on the keyboard of his computer in the living room - just starting his workday in New York.  Neve's arms are splayed up in the I surrender pose - her face turned in my direction, breathing with surprising ease (cause she usually makes more noise than a seven wheeler who mated with a raccoon)!  I'm just admiring how much better she looks than earlier today.

If you're ever feeling like your skin is a little bit of a mess (flaking rotten milk, lip blisters half falling off, blotchy red patches from sleeping on your cheeks, some light scratches on your face cause you've been pawing at yourself with knife like nails) - try this.  Have someone draw you a nice warm tub of water.  Lay in the tub of water with hot towels covering any parts escaping the water (replenish often to keep warm) and have someone use sensitive skin soap to give you a good, but gentle scrub - all over - the whole time whispering to you words of affection and encouragement. After the bath (and the pat down drying with hooded towel) - heat up some Mustela body lotion in the microwave (only about 10 seconds) -- then have that someone rub the lotion into your skin while you lay on a super plush blanket.  Have a bottle (of whatever relaxes you), then take a nap.  I guarantee you will look (and feel) a thousand times better after that (really, I've got the proof right here in front of me)!  Neve literally looks 10 years younger!

I know I again dropped off the face of the earth, but the weekend in Melbourne was a bit of an endurance test for those of us emerging from the social solitary confinement of "Delhi with a baby".  We have been running one of those breakfast, lunch, dinner type schedules and, well, to be honest, bathing Neve and blogging both got a bit lost in the shuffle!  Friday we had a lovely breakfast at a beach cafe called Sand Bar with Jo Campbell-Smith and her daughter Hannah and dinner with our favorite former New Yorkers, Tim and Fo (at their amazingly cool home in St. Kilda including orange glass backsplash in the kitchen made to exactly match the Veuve bottle!).

Saturday morning we drove up to Myrniong to visit my brother and sister in law James and Jane and their munchkins - Lachie, Eloise and Hughie.  Myrniong is a really special place about an hour west of Melbourne with large farms, rolling hills, forests of gum trees and properties backing up on the Lerderderg State Park - which has tons of wildlife.  In the evenings herds of kangaroos bounce around and we're betting a few koalas live in the park if you really look.  A truly magical place!! I could easily live there full time!  We petted chickens (Lachie raises wonderful show chickens who lay eggs that are a periwinkle blue color) and cats and dogs, looked at wombat pooh, ate well and got to experience the weather change first hand while out riding horses (yes, a first for me in year and my inner thighs are not letting me forget the injustice)!  Eloise was a wonderful riding host and opened gates for me and kept my mind off of the very real possibility of falling off in the rain - which would have been NOT GOOD at my advanced age!  Jane had coaxed me into wearing her "driza-bone" jacket that covers your legs which was absolutely the right call.  I really felt like we were riding around the Scottish moorlands and I kept looking behind me for large hounds!

We had to leave Myrniong a bit early to head back in town Saturday night because Hamish had plans to go to a Footy game (Australian rules football) that night with some mates (friends).  As we were leaving Myrniong, it was bucketing down with rain, Neve was beside herself (she had fallen in total love Jane and Eloise!) and, of course, we were late.  We managed to get down the road a bit before realizing that we had left ALL the bottles on the kitchen counter.  Awesome job Newbies! You left two of your bottles in Singapore and now you've left the remaining 5 in Myrniong - and your child is flipping out (thankfully, because that reminded me of the bottles before we got too far away)!

We got back to the apartment and Hamish left for the game and I settled in for what should have been a joyous evening in front of the TV.  But it was just ok.  I had a well, not so good as it turns out, pinot noir, and some well, not so good, as it turns out, Malaysian takeout.  Happy Feet was on the TV and I thought that could be really good, but again, not so good!

Next morning we were up again early to meet more friends at one of those cafe/children's play land places. We were working our way through this warehouse area looking for the address and I was like -- is this some enormous prior factory that people pump full of children on weekend mornings?  And, yes, that is in fact exactly what it is! The inside is two stories high full of slides and rope bridges and a car carousel - heaven for children and they can't escape.  Our friends PJ and Rata have two totally cute little boys and we had coffee and breakfast with them in the child warehouse and looked at what the future has in store for us!  And it was frightening.  I don't think Newbies should go to such places.  We are overwhelmed by a little blobs who sleep 20 hours of the day.  Imagine the fear that can be instilled in your heart watching creatures that walk and climb and speak -- well, walk and climb and speak?!  It's just too much too soon! We left a little worse for ware but turned up at the Grandparents house for the next event.

You got it, more Footy!  This time Pappa Mick was taking both of us (Neve staying home with Granny Sue and Aunt Jac) to the MCG to see his favorite team - the Melbourne Football Club.  Mick is a long time member of the MCG and a volunteer tour guide for the place.  He loves the place so much that he refers to things the club does in terms of "we" -- for example "we" commissioned a tapestry to commemorate our 150 year anniversary.  The MCG is a large sports complex where mainly cricket and footy are played.  There are about 100,000 members of the MCG and about 200,000 people on the waiting list -- so you can see that being a member is pretty important in these parts.  Anyway, the game was good fun and Melbourne won and at the end we got to stand and sing some song about the the Melbourne red and blue to the tune of "It's a Grand Old Flag".  I really like Footy and wish it were more popular in the US.  It's sort of a mix between soccer and rugby/football.  But mostly it's good because (a) the guys are really very good looking and they don't were padding so you can really get a good gander at them, (b) there is a lot of general violence sort of like hockey which is strangely entertaining to watch  (like what I imagine people felt in the gladiator days) and (c) although there is an alleged strategy of kicking the ball between two field posts to score points, the game often (really often) degenerates into the guys chasing after balls that have been dropped or kicked to someone who misses and like 15 of them jumping on each other struggling to get ahold of the ball (which seems to evade them like a slippery baby in a bath)!

After that, we went back to the Grandparents to check on Neve and to have dinner with Hamish's older brother Charlie and his wife Di and their kids Matthew and Cameron.  We had a very nice reunion all around and by about 8pm Neve was done and started the indiscriminate crying thing.  And I was done, and wanted to start the indiscriminate crying.  And I said to Hamish as I'm bouncing from one leg to the other to keep Neve from a breakdown that we should really go soon and he says yes and announces that we should all be seated for cake and ice cream! Not exactly "leaving" but ok, I do like cake!!

Love from the Melbourne society page!!

G, H & N

At Myrniong.

Riding on the moorlands!

At the MCG singing the red and blue song after the Melbourne Footy victory!

Neve with her cousin Cameron.

Neve waiting for her Mustela lotion massage.  Such a princess!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to Oz!!

We are in settled in Melbourne!! Neve was met at the airport by her grandparents, Mick and Sue, and her Uncle Charles and they helped to transport us (and our two car loads of stuff!) to our new apartment.  It was a joyous event with smiles and hugs overflowing!!  Mick & Sue graciously lent us their car and brought over a good supply of groceries to get us get started (including beautiful flowers).  Over the last few days Neve and has gotten to spend some quality time getting to know her grandparents.  They just adore her - can't stop staring at her - and find it very hard to believe that she ever fusses or pukes or refuses go to sleep at 3am (which trust me, she has been known to do).  She seems to have a sense of when others are around and totally turns on the placid goo goo baby routine.  It's shocking!  But they are IN LOVE!!

Neve has also now met her two uncles, James and Charles as well as the James Berry family.  Everyone is smitten and we are really looking forward to spending more time together this trip.  Neve has been appropriately doted upon and has been receiving lovely pink presents from all corners of Australia!  The social calendar is getting full and next week Mick & Sue are throwing a relatives luncheon for Neve.  She is very excited but had nothing to wear (mostly boy looking onesies in her wardrobe at this point).  But the James Berry family came to the rescue and gave her two lovely girly outfits which will be perfect for her big society debut!

Our new apartment is down in Port Melbourne.  In one direction we are a block from the beach and a running path that goes for miles and in the other direction we are a block from the main drag which is full of shops and cafes.  It's a fantastic location!  The first morning here we went for a wander and I knew we had landed in heaven (except that I was exhausted from Neve's travel insomnia the night before).  Within walking distance there are two amazing grocery stores (that make anything in NY look like total crap in comparison) and one large regular grocery store -- and, I kid you not, at least six wine shops.  This place is also crawling with hair salons (I partook yesterday!!) and skin care/massage centers (have not made it yet but will) plus cafes in abundance! 

We are coming into the fall season in Melbourne. And, since we've been here the weather has been divine.  Highs in the 70s, lows in the 60s -- crystal clear blue skies.  It's like San Diego!  We are expecting  a "change" on Saturday and seem to be meeting up with New York's spring weather so a bit colder (lows in the 50s) with some rain.  But I don't mind that a bit.  After all it would be a total waste to have dragged jeans and sweaters (jumpers for the Aussies) around the world and not have gotten to use them!  I've got blazers and boots that are calling out for some wearing people!!  In Australia, when someone says "a change is coming on Saturday" that does not mean revolutionary forces are taking over the government -- only that a cold front or some different weather pattern is going to move through and "change" the current weather pattern.  Just so you know.

I've been busy seeing as I am now playing the role of Dellip, Mr. Mohank, Jesse, myself and the social secretary.  Hamish continues to be swamped with work.  He's working on one deal with people based in Australia/New Zealand, so he gets to work days here and he's working on some New York deals so he also gets to start working at dinner time here when New York comes on line.  It's the perfect storm for 24/7 work!!  He's hoping (and I'm hoping) that some of these thing will close in the next couple weeks so that he can enjoy our little time in paradise.  

In the meantime I have been going to the gourmet shops and cooking dinner at home.  The first night I was at the cash register and there was a long line behind me of good looking 30 somethings in their workout clothes buying healthy looking items.  Single ladies in NY, you might consider a move - you literally can't cross the street without running into a fine looking fellow or tow.  Anyway, I run my AmEx card at the grocery store through the machine and hot check out guy says something like "ok mate, vegemite, [something] cash?".  I and have no clue what he's asking so he repeats it all again.  And again, I am staring in wonder (people behind me getting itchy).  So I think maybe he's asking if it's credit or debit.  But no.  Finally he spits out the word cash again and I finally get that he's asking if I want cash back (this took several minutes and we both speak English).  When we are done with the transaction he says to me "good luck" and hands me my packages. Good luck???  Wow, I thought I was back in the "western world"  all in control of my environment!!  Guess our adventure continues!

Love from Oz!

G, H & N  

Neve with Granny Sue and Pappa Mick!

Neve in the new tub getting the "hot towel treatment" suggested by EPs Pete & Wendy!  
She's a big fan!

Neve with her cousin Eloise!

Neve with her new puppy rattle!!  She thinks it might be a tasty treat!!

Neve at the grocery store.  Look at that magnificent leek!!

By the beach a block from our new digs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What a wonderful weekend in Singapore!  Hosted by James and Katherine Murray (and their 4 children!), they generously put us up (which is something when one of your party wakes up in crying fits every few hours!) and took us to all of their favorite spots to enjoy the restaurants and the outdoor lifestyle that is Singapore.  It was a real treat to spend some quality time together and to get to know the Murray kids (Sam, Alice, Pipp and Angus).  Thanks James & Kath for your wonderful hospitality - we just loved dropping in on your life for the weekend!

The minute we got off the plane in Singapore it was clear that we were a world away from Delhi.  The heat and humidity (think Florida in August instead of a dust bowl), the lushness of the tropical greenery (the airport has the nicest plants I've seen anywhere - orchards galore) and the order and cleanliness - only a 5 hour flight away but a place wholly different from India.  

Singapore has a planned feel about it.  The highway are landscaped immaculately - large groomed trees lining the main roads, flowering bushes adding just the right amount of color, ferns the size of trees reminding you that the equator is not far away.  There is a nice sized downtown with large glass tower office buildings, an impressively large port, nice residential neighborhoods and shopping complexes that remind me of Bethesda. This place seems to be really booming -- gobs of construction -- condos, new office buildings and big sports complexes popping up everywhere.  There's even a casino in the shape of a large ship built on top of a tall tower hotel with a 700 tree garden (sort of like a flood came and a casino/ship that was out for a sail got stuck on top of the hotel so they just left it there)! They allegedly fine you hundreds of dollars for littering or spitting and I did not see either (again, the polar opposite of Delhi where public spitting is all the rage).

For my friends who don't live on this side of the world, Singapore is a Southeast Asian city state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula.  The British took control in the 1820s and Singapore was occupied by the Japanese during World War II.  In the 1960s Singapore became part of Malaysia but separated to become its own country a few years later.  Singapore is one of the "Four Asian Tigers", is the world's fourth largest financial center and has the worlds fifth busiest port. It's a real happening place!  The population is Chinese, Malay and Indian with a large expat contingency.  It is a very interesting place to visit and the strange part to me was how unstrange the whole place was and . . . . how good the whole population looks in skinny jeans!!

Oh, now, there we are . . . .  not that you all are boring me, but I just nodded off to sleep - we are on a flight to Melbourne - and I woke with that neck whiplash you get on planes because you are sitting upright and each time you relax into sleep your neck muscles let go and your head goes flopping down to your chest and bam -- shoots of pain and you're awake again.  Gives me a little empathy for Princess Neve and her neck issues, but not too much.  The little Miss was not at her best last night so I am not at my best today!  The thing is, the volume of the communication is very clear but sometimes the source of the problem is a total puzzle!

Anyway - Singapore continued the adventure and we loved exploring a new city/country.  We are now on route to Melbourne where Neve will meet her first set of grandparents and many other family members and friends.  We have rented an apartment in Port Melbourne and it is supposed to be a few blocks from the beach and in a good area for walking to shops and restaurants.  Will report back once we get in and settled!!

Take care!

G, H & N

Neve & Angus -- it looks like love!!

Sorry James, I could not resist this one!!

Brunch with the Murray clan.

Neve's first polo match!

Friday, April 1, 2011

25 Days in India

Our time in India is up.  Yesterday we packed, settled bills and started saying our goodbyes (an all day affair - various people calling in on us).   

We take with us from India priceless memories - the anticipation of Neve's birth, the exhilaration of the first time we held her in our arms, the fear of the first night alone with her, running in our little park, frustrated shopping trips, more Indian meals than should be legal, terrible movies (does anyone know how Ultra Violet ends?), a first bath without tears and a first smile, traffic and pollution and throngs of men, beautiful women in saris - riding sidesaddle on motorbikes, carrying bricks on their heads - new smells (some good, some hideous!), stray dogs, Hamish's new BIG hair, being covered in colors and welcomed to the neighborhood, making new friends from strangers, the Indian head bobble, cricket mania (bleeding blue!), masala tea, winding through the maze of Indian bureaucracies, everywhere metal detectors but not a one that works, oppressive dust, swatting mosquitos, surromama, Dellip, Mr. Mohank, Mishra (our trusted driver), Jesse (who helped with Neve the last few nights) and eating across from my husband for a stunning 75 meals in a row (that's got to be a record)!  This is just a taste of our journey.  But most importantly, of course, we take with us from India an AMAZING BABY DAUGHTER!

We have gone from the outright joy of a new baby being born - the disbelief that this could actually be happening for us after so many years of wanting and waiting - to starting to understand what "it" all really "is".  Neve is no longer an abstract desire or a fuzzy dream or something I can mold and change in my head.  She is her own little being - exerting herself quite assuredly with definite ideas of what she wants (bottles on demand, to sleep on her side, to be held just so) and does not want (to be undressed, to wait at all, to be around her parents when there is "tension").  Capable of intense charm, capable of intense will - simply more capable than I had ever imagined something so small to be.  There is no fear left that this little person will parish by forgetting to breath.  She is a fighter.

We can already see signs of who Neve will be as a girl, a tween, a woman.  Our hands will guide, but I believe she will lead.  We have concluded that she is more of the "old soul" model than the "happy go lucky" type.  Skeptical and curious - content when attended to in the fashion she dictates.  She dislikes being laughed at and I am trying to be more empathetic but she's pretty funny sometimes (although she does not mean to be).  There are obviously many more twists and turns to come from our little bundle and worlds more to learn and be taught, but we are starting to get the swing of things.  Not EPs but maybe coming out of the newbie phase.  We are getting to know her and to like the person she is.  And she too is getting to know us and, we hope, to like the people we are.

25 days in India. So much is so different now.  

Last night we had our final meal cooked for us with care by Mr. Mohank and Dellip.  We had all of our favorites - chicken tiki, spinach paneer and pappas.  Dellip and Hamish had gotten into a discussion a week ago about the greatness of the Levis brand which Dellip thinks is the bomb.  So, that day when we were "bad parenting" round the super mall, we stopped in at the Levis store and bought Dellip and Mr. M shirts (logo prominently displayed).  After dinner we exchanged gifts (and tips!) and took photos (see below) and for the first time Dellip grabbed up Neve in his arms (I thought Jesse the baby nurse was going to lose it!).  After we leave the apartment a Pakistani family (one member of which is recovering from a liver transplant in Delhi) is coming to stay for a month.  We could tell that Dellip and Mr. M were less than psyched by the change in guests (the Pakistanis apparently don't talk to them at all) and I feel a twinge of pain at what a normal day in the life must be like with 6 plus guests in the apartment who don't care about the vegetable book, or Levis or want to celebrate Holi together or eat pizza and watch cricket.  Leaving them behind is strangely hard.  

Leaving all of India behind is strangely hard.

This morning we were up at 4am (Hamish never went to sleep -- conference calls till 3:30am - ouch!) to ready ourselves for the great departure.  We have a massive amount of luggage and it took two cars to get us to the airport.  The roads were quiet save for the stray dogs who seem to roam wildly at that hour (no wonder they sleep all day!).  The new airport was easy and we breezed through security and on to the plane armed with 7 bottles - just you try to finish that on a 6 hour flight Muncher (Hamish's new name for Neve)!!  We got the bassinet seat (although Neve has decided the bassinet is for those babies lacking the will power to make their mother's hold them).  And Neve just did her first massive poop at 10,000 feet - firsts all around!

If Singapore Airlines is any indication of what's to come, I am going to be a super fan of Singapore.  The plane is quite simply immaculate.  The air hosts (both male and female) are dressed beautifully and are by far the most service oriented I have encountered anywhere in any class of service.  For example: I did not eat all of my eggs so the hostess comes by after collecting the tray to ask if my meal was not acceptable and couldn't she get me something more, male host just stopped by and asked in a panic why Neve did not have any plush toys and raced off to get some (she's 3 weeks old and does not recognize toys from pillows!), hostess is walking around after the meal with a tray of beer (no, I did not take one!), hostess helping old woman out of the toilet, etc.

I will try to keep up the blogging as we continue our movement around the world (but don't expect too much until we are settled in Melbourne next week!).  And I will try to squeeze a guest blog out of Hamish as well.  I know I have fallen behind on the Neve photos but how many pictures can you take of someone sleeping in a boppy on the same couch or bed and keep it fresh?!  But I will do better.  Thank you all for encouraging me to keep a record of our time in India through this blog.  It has been my pleasure to have you all along and your support has been felt from continents away.
Farewell India . . . and thank you for sharing your great gifts with us.  We are quite truly forever in your debt.


G, H & N

Dellip and Mr. M modeling the new shirts!

Hamish at the Last Supper with Big Hair.

Dellip holding Neve with Mr. M and Jesse.  
Notice how Jesse is holding on to Neve's head as if to be there to catch her should Dellip let go!

Neve for the five minutes that she slept in the bassinet on the airplane.