Stateside

Our time in Darwin ended sooner than we expected, thanks to a great opportunity that presented itself for my wife Julie. As it happens, the State of Wisconsin was looking for a forest economist – and the post would be back in Madison near family.

Of course, since I last posted here we have had a son, Emmett and travelled around Australia and Asia a bit. I have been working with the newly created Innovative Media Production studio at Charles Darwin University. Julie and I were working just a few buildings apart. Our son, who was now attending daily childcare was also on campus so we could all commute together, and often eat lunch together.

While our work and daily life was going great, it was hard to be so far from family with a toddler. Skype just isn’t enough for grandparents and we were beginning to outgrow the apartment unit we were in. We longed for the family-friendly Midwestern lifestyle that we grew up with.

In April Julie interviewed for the job. They asked for a second interview, which would have to be done via Skype, late at night due to distance and time zones. In May we found out that she was indeed selected for the role. We were thrilled, but also more than a little torn. Would this be the end of our adventures? As it happened, we got the email while on holiday in Hong Kong. We certainly wouldn’t be a stone’s throw from South-East Asia for some time again. And having done international moves in the past, we knew we were up for a huge amount of effort just to make it happen.

Now that the travel is over, and the boat with all of our stuff is on it’s way, we’re thrilled. Madison has so much to offer for a new family, and we feel like it’s a new place. When we left we were a young couple, more concerned about the best new restaurants than the best schools, so it has so far proven to be a new experience for us.

Thanks be to Butterball

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of joining my family for Thanksgiving, you know that we’re a family of noisy, rowdy people. Each year we host the aunts, uncles and all the kids from both sides of my parent’s families, and as a world-wise family hosting a distinctly American holiday, we toss in a half dozen teenage exchange students. Together we represented Denmark, Saudi Arabia, America, (real and otherwise) plus China and Japan. In all we had 25 (or 26) people for Thanksgiving dinner at the house, including something like 9 teenagers, five of them dudes. Mom cooked a gigantic 24 pound turkey, and there were so many different dishes I had to doublestack a few just to get them on the plate. Our diverse group provided the experience of a few dishes that I hadn’t ever tried (or heard of) before. Of course we had the cranberries, potatoes, turkey, ham – and grandma’s famous get-it-now-or-get-none cabbage salad, but we also had some Dolmas (?) which was rice wrapped in grape leaves in olive oil. It was all great, and anyone would say that it was far more than even a family of our size could possibly consume in a single day. Of course, your mistake would be that there were something like 6 teenage guys in the house, and by the time they left there wasn’t a tiny piece of turkey left, and I was regretting feeding a few bits to the dog.

Overall it was a great thanksgiving. We had a giant snowball fight, talked a little politics, played pool, drank wine, ate pumpkin pie and did a lot of what my dad calls “visiting.”  Tomorrow I go to Melrose to see if Julie’s family saved me anything good, but for now I think I’ll let the tryptophan take hold.