Category Archives: culture & trends

Culture shock. Again.

Just when I think that maybe twelve years is enough to give me an exemption from culture shock, another layer of it comes.

And really, I know better.

Every few months I hear a phrase I’ve never heard, understand a pop culture reference that previously went over my head, or am baffled by something I see on an Aussie TV program and I’m struck with a tiny little bout of culture shock, which fades as quickly as it landed.

This morning it happened while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

You guys, the motions are different here. *gasp*

What?? Seriously?

Yup, for real.

Instead of flicking their entire hands from clinched fists to fingers extended like blinking lights, they extend all ten fingers wide and make them wiggle tiny little wiggles. (Like I would make to demonstrate rain.) The movements are small and delicate… kind of like twinkling stars. 

Imagine that.

And maybe this is a little thing, but it kind of spun me out.

I realized that the songs I’ve been singing to my littles at home will be taught differently at kindy or preschool or when they’re watching Playschool on the telly. Sometimes it’s the motions that are a bit different, and sometimes the tune actually varies!

I’ve seen this before but kind-of brushed it off, thinking that the person I saw or heard must not know the song properly. But now it’s starting to sink in that they do know the song properly… just differently to me.

As silly as it sounds it’s sent me into culture shock all over again.

Different is not wrong, it’s just different” is my motto when it comes to all things culture-shock-ish, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like it my way better. (Just keepin’ it real here, friends.)

Anyway, I will continue to teach my kids the American version of things (it’s called the “trunk” of the car, not the “boot”) and their dad and everyone else around them can go all Australian on them I guess. Cuz even if my littles are Aussie, and end up doing everything the Aussie way, at least maybe they can understand a tiny bit of their American heritage too. Even if it is just the way we sing I’m a Little Teapot.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you experience culture shock in your own family? Maybe you and your partner aren’t from different nations but you might have very different family backgrounds or life experiences. How do you meld two worlds into one?

 

Love,
A

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Indecision, and how much I loathe it.

One of the great plagues of my generation is indecision.

So many young people are trapped in their inability to just say yes or no.

Over and over again I’m frustrated by my peers, as well as those younger than I, who can’t (or won’t?) commit.

I understand that decision-making is easier for some than others. (Yes, I am decisive by nature. Not everyone is – I get that.) But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about this epidemic of young people being afraid to step out and choose something.

Oh, we love to take a stance on “issues” and fight for “causes”, but that’s much easier when it’s not too personal.

Often, I think our indecision is because of a fear of missing out on something better.

We’re so bombarded with information all the time, that we subconsciously get the message that surely the “next big thing” is right around the corner.

We just have to somehow get ourselves in the right place at the right time.

I see this over and over with events – parties, celebrations, etc. People don’t RSVP – they leave it open-ended, thinking they will come if there’s nothing better to do, or if they feel like it.

And you know what? That just makes me cranky.

For one, it’s rude.

But beyond that, it robbing people of peace.

When you waffle in indecision (not just about inconsequential things like RSVPing for a party – but big things like vocation and relationships and geography), you leave yourself open and exposed to being tossed around by circumstances.

Or–perhaps worse–stagnating right where you’re at.

You run the risk of missing out on a lot of life while waiting for something that doesn’t yet exist. (And might never exist.)

And you know what? Sometimes the best option is right in front of your face.

STOP.

 

Q for you: How has indecision affected your life?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Sometimes I forget I’m American. But not during the olympics.

Sometimes I forget I’m American.

I’ve lived here for twelve years now and so–with a few exceptions–it’s all fairly “normal” to me. I’m always caught off guard when checkout chicks ask me how my holidays are going.

Huh?

And then I remember that I have an accent.

Oh yeah, I’m a foreigner.

There are, however, a few times that I’m keenly aware of being American.

One is during voting season. I can’t not be interested in American politics. Sometimes I wish I didn’t care… but that’s never really going to happen so I just try and keep up from a distance the best I can.

The other time is during the Olympics.

I’m not a very athletic person. I’m not super patriotic either.

But I do find it easy to get swept up in the romance and excitement and competition and pageantry of it all.

Living in Australia, of course they are televising all of the events that include Australians. This means we’ve seen a lot of rowing and swimming and dressage. (yawn)

Side note: How is a horsie dog show even in the Olympics anyway? Isn’t the Olympics for human competitions? *sigh* Crazy. 

Anyway, I’ve gotten really frustrated with the lack of coverage for Olympic events that I want to see. You know, the ones with Americans in them. (Hello women’s gymnastics with the US taking out the gold. Totally missed that. Arg!)

But there is one that I’ve gotten to see over and over – Michael Phelps. What a freak that guy is. Love or hate America, how can you not love a superhuman guy like that?

When you see an athlete perform like he does, it’s hard not to be amazed. Nationality goes out the door and it becomes about appreciation for what they guy can do. (Well, unless you’re Australian and insanely jealous – heh heh! or American and insanely proud – ha!)

Mr. Bolt, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Woods, Mr. Ruth, Mr, Federer, Ms. Komenechi (who the heck knows how to spell Nadia’s name, anyway?). These are a few athletes that belong in a league of their own.

Team USA or not, I applaud Phelps for retiring on top of the world.

Awesome.

(And don’t tell the Aussies, but shhhhhhhh, yup, I’m kinda glad he’s American.)

STOP.

Q for you: Do you get into the Olympics much? 

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Celebrate, we will

We spent $8 and one hour decorating a wagon in red, white, and blue for tomorrow’s old fashioned pet parade.

Although the kids are still pretty little we know they’ll love it. And since we have no idea when we’ll get to celebrate another 4th of July we’re doing it, well, biggish.

It feels like an eternity ago that I was a kid riding my bike in the parade. Dressing in silly outfits and having my own children in the parade was a million miles from my mind.

But here I am, so excited about some old fashioned small town parade and festivities.

We’ll hit up the free pancake breakfast, enjoy the parade, and roam around the park filled with three-legged races, hoola hooping, and other “old fashioned” games.

And though the boys are far too young to understand what it is to be American, they will understand that it’s something worth celebrating.

Celebrate, we will.

Happy 4th my friends.

STOP.

 

Q for you: If you are American, what are you doing for the 4th?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Along party lines. Again.

It’s hard for me to be in America and not think about politics.

I love watching the news and hearing from the analysts.

This last week has been interesting – watching my facebook feed with Americans weighing in on the health care reforms that have just passed.

I’m certainly no expert, but I have read up a little. And although finding a perfect health care plan is impossible, my belief is that the reforms coming through “Obamacare” are moving us in the right direction.

As a Christian my primary concern is that we’re looking after those who are marginalized – those who have disease and disability, children, the elderly, the poor.

This imperfect plan (even by Obama’s admission) addresses all those those and more.

It’s a huge step in the right direction, starting from where we are right now.

Sincerely I try, but I just can’t understand the Republican/Democratic divide on this one. I really can’t.

I’m no Republican-hater, but my goodness, what’s the deal here folks? Are we disagreeing just because we’re “supposed” to be opposing? (Sometimes that’s what the debate feels like.)

From what I can tell the only ones who will really “suffer” from the impending changes are the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals. (But I make it no secret that I’m in favor of a more socialized health care system.)

And doesn’t the concept of helping “the least of these” seem like it will help build a better future for all of us?

And doesn’t it just seem like the right thing to do?

Just sayin.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Obamacare – what do you think? Do you get as annoyed that issues are always split down party lines as I do?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited

 


An inconvenient errand

The streets were fairly quiet as I was driving to the grocery store at 10:45pm tonight.

It was the first time I’d had a chance all day to get to the store. We needed milk for the morning.

As I drove there I thought about what a novelty it was to be able to grocery shop at that hour.

The supermarket I go to at home closes as 9pm, or 5pm on the weekends.

All of a sudden I was excited for my little errand.

I’m. in. America. I thought to myself.

It’s the little things I miss about home. (Well, the little things and a few big things like my family and church.)

But I miss being able to grocery shop late at night when I’m free to roam the isles slow and steady and feel like the place is there just for me.

So tonight, even an inconvenient errand didn’t seem so inconvenient.

In fact, it seemed kinda fun.

Fancy that.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Before I moved to Australia I used to do my grocery shopping most Sunday nights around 10pm. I enjoyed my late-evening weekly ritual. Do you ever do your grocery shopping at night? Or is that only when you need to run in and grab a one-off for some special reason?

 

Love,
A

p.s. This is yesterday’s post. My internet wasn’t working when I tried to post it last night.

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Save the whales and what if’s

I just watched The Big Miracle – a nice, family-friendly movie about three whales trapped in the ice in northern Alaska.

It was based on a true story that took place in the late 80’s.

I don’t remember it on the news (I must have been about 11 years old when it broke), but if the movie was an accurate depiction then it looks like people all across America (and the world) were watching.

Ultimately a massive Russian ship broke through the ice barrier to help free them, combined with a huge local effort of concerned people working hard to see the mother, father, and baby whale brought to safety.

Of the three, only the mother and father survived. But a happy ending it was.

Now, I am all about stewarding creation and all that God’s given us.

There’s no question that animal cruelty is wrong.

I also believe we should do all that we can to make sure we’re not ruining irreplaceable habitat.

But as I watched this (entertaining) movie I couldn’t help but think that it was a huge effort and a lot of resources spent on those whales.

What if we spent that same amount of money and resources to see a young woman receive the cancer treatment that might save her life? What if we poured our resources into seeing that the autistic child receives the therapy he needs? What if we went out of our way to make sure the homeless man had a warm place to stay? What if we moved heaven and earth to make sure every child had a chance to learn to read?

I’m not opposed to movements like Green Peace at all. In fact, I think there’s a valuable place for them and we need them (and other organizations) to help bring light to serious environmental issues. And this story was not “just” about three whales – it represented so much more politically and environmentally – at the time. (And it really is a beautiful story.)

But what if…? What if…?

What if we took that same passion and harnessed it elsewhere?

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you “save the whales?”

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Americans are nice

Living in Australia, one of the things I miss is the level of customer service that’s offered in America.

You just can’t compare the two, and it’s too difficult to explain without experiencing it first hand.

Australians aren’t rude, they’re just different.

Americans have “customer service” ingrained in them. Yes, I know there are exceptions, and you’ll sometimes run into a rude phone rep or server or whatever, but by and large American customer service is amazing.

Today I was in Costo and had to go to the membership desk.

“May I have a coupon book please?” I asked.

“Why yes of course you can!” said the customer service rep. But it wasn’t just her words, it was her tone, her expression, her gesture, her massive smile, and the twinkle in her eye. It was as if she had been waiting all day for someone to ask her that question so she could give them a coupon book.

She was so nice! SO nice.

I half expected her to hand me some cotton candy too.

Yes, it was just a few little words, but it made a huge impression on me. Totally made me grin all the way back to the checkout and then out the door.

Hours later I’m still thinking about it.

Maybe she was a shining example, but to me she was not just a good Costco employee, she was a really nice American.

As much as Americans are known for being loud and large and demanding and confident, they should also be known for being warm and friendly and positive and encouraging.

I love America. And Americans.

It’s good to be home.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you think Americans are nice? Or is it just Oregonian Americans that are so nice?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


What if your kid becomes instantly famous?

I can’t watch talent shows anymore without thinking, “what if that was Levi?” (Or Judah.)

It’s crazy to think that in fifteen or twenty years time, one of them could find themselves on a show like The Voice (our current favorite).

When I was a kid I would have watched wondering, “what if that was me one day?” but now my mind automatically leaps to the next generation.

All parents want to raise their kids to have good character and be able to handle themselves well under pressure. But what about the pressure of fame?

What if I was to raise my kids now as if they might someday be instantly famous? What if I was to pour as much into seeing them develop in integrity, self control, kindness, generosity, and humility that they could perhaps one day handle that kind of pressure – the weight of the spotlight?

The thought of that scares me a little. (Okay, a lot.)

Ultimately, I’ll do the best I can. But I’m so glad it doesn’t solely depend on me.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What character traits do you think are most important for a person who ends up becoming famous?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Stupid smart phone

I love technology.

Except when I don’t.

I have my husband’s old iPhone. (Lucky me.) And unless I’m comparing the camera quality on mine compared to his (4S), I absolutely love it.

But things keep going wrong with it.

A month ago we had to get the home button replaced. $70.

And now the touch screen is going wonky.

For the last several days parts of the screen have stopped working meaning I can’t type certain letters in texts, emails, or anything else.

Just this morning the phone made three phone calls on it’s own while I was already on the phone to the doctors office. (Not good.)

I tried to send a text message. My converter was opened.

I tried to open Notes. The Pinterest ap opened.

I tried to use the timer. The phone started barking and ringing and chiming at me (as it scrolled through and chose different notification sounds for itself).

This is not good.

Really, really not good.

I could go back to using a regular old phone, but do you have any idea how prehistoric that would feel after being accustomed to my camera/phone/diary/note-keeper/emailer/googler/meal-planner/entertainer/calculator/converter/timer/weather-checker/Bible/GPS/calendar all-in-one hand-held device that has changed my life? *gaspforair*

It would kinda be torture.

The other options are forking out for yet another fix. (Blah.)

Or forking out for a new phone. (BLAH.)

Or maybe just remembering the days where I didn’t have immediate answers and solutions at a tap and a swipe.

What to do?

Technology is driving me mad. A love-hate relationship for sure.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you have a smart phone? Have you become highly reliant on it like I am?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited