A few weeks ago Andy and I were lucky enough to have an extra long weekend. Not only did we have Monday off for the Queen’s Birthday bank holiday, we also both had Friday off work to do our Australian Citizenship test.
We applied for citizenship back in January, as we met the criteria at that time: Four years living in Australia, with a minimum of one year as a permanent resident. In April the government changed the criteria to a minimum of four years as a permanent resident, which would have meant delaying citizenship for an extra year. Fortunately (for us) that only applied to applications made after the announcement of the changes on 20th April.
The online application was pretty straightforward, except for a section which asks for a list of every country travelled to (including the dates of those trips) since the age of 18. Both Andy and I have been pretty lucky in that we've done a lot of travelling in our lives, so this list was pretty long. I ended up calling the Department of Immigration to get some elaboration on this requirement as I was not convinced I'd be able to produce an accurate list. They advised me to just list the past 10 years and be as accurate as possible, which took the pressure off a little. I spent a good few hours trawling through photos, Facebook, and passport stamps to put together the most accurate list I could. Once we submitted our application online we had about an 8 week wait before being given our citizenship appointment in June. The appointment consists of two parts - and interview, and a test. We were sent a link to information to read to prepare for the test. There was information on Australian culture, important flags, laws and the government. Australia, Canada and the UK are all have pretty similar systems of government and basic laws, so overall I found studying for the test pretty painless.
On the morning of the test we dropped Ella off at daycare and then headed into the city for brunch at Cumulus Inc. with my mom. The great thing about eating out with my mom is that she is always willing to order something different to me and then share. We both seem to have trouble deciding on just one dish to eat! This never happens with Andy, he hates sharing with me and just wants his own meal. We ordered the marinated mushrooms with zucchini, black barley and egg, and the Shakshouka, which were probably the best baked eggs I’ve had in Melbourne.
Both Andy and I passed the citizenship test with flying colours, 100% for me, and Andy got just one question wrong. So now all we have to do is wait for our ceremony, which will probably be in about six months.
After we had both finished our appointments we did a bit of shopping in the city, and then took my mom to the Lui Bar for a drink. The Lui Bar is a sleek cocktail bar located on the 55th bar of the Rialto Towers, with panoramic views over Melbourne. It was a beautiful afternoon, so the balcony was open and we could see the entire city spread out below. We were a bit hungry so decided to order the Lui Bar Counter Meal: $39 for a glass of wine/beer, a main, coffee and petit fours. We thought this was an amazing deal until we received our “main” which was the teensiest portion of fish (lamb for Andy) I've ever seen. It was excellent, but in no way was it a "meal". We should have known better considering a glass of wine was nearly $20 on it's own! We all had a good laugh at ourselves when the food came out, and despite our social faux pas, had a lovely, relaxing afternoon.
Saturday morning we started the day with Ella’s swimming lesson. She is getting a lot more confident in the water - jumping in and being able to pull herself along the wall without any assistance at all. We then made an impromptu visit to the Melbourne Museum, which is one of our favourite places to take her at the moment. The Children’s Gallery is fabulous for her, although can be very busy at times. We’ve discovered she is equally happy exploring the other galleries, which tend to a be a lot quieter.
That night we stayed in and drank wine while cooking up a random dinner, which I made up based on a suggestion from my neighbour. She calls it “Random Sh*t Dahl” which is basically whatever veg and spice you happen have on hand cooked with red lentils… voila, dinner. She says it is best eaten in front of the TV. Here’s the recipe I came up with, which actually ended up turning out pretty well:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 carrots chopped
1 large sweet potato chopped into 1cm pieces
750 ml veg stock
1 cup red lentils
1 tin tomatoes
1 can kidney or mixed beans
1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat oil on medium. Put in onion, garlic, ginger in with curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and bay leaves. Cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add in carrots and sweet potato, cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add in beans, veg stock, lentils and tomatoes. Bring to boil, simmer for 15 mins. Add in green beans and spinach for the last few minutes. Take off heat, add in coriander and lemon juice, season. Serve with rice and/or naan bread.
After dinner and putting Ella to bed Andy, mom and I played a competitive game of Monopoly, which my mom won, much to Andy’s dismay!
On Sunday morning I made it to my favourite 8am yoga class, which is always the best way to start my day (after coffee, of course). My mom and I took Ella to the Brunswick Bike Festival at the nearby velodrome. They had some pretty cool Penny Farthing bike races which were cool to watch. Andy was coaching soccer nearby that afternoon, so we walked to his game to watch for a bit. Ella loved seeing Andy, but was quickly annoyed with the fact that Andy was busy coaching and couldn’t play with her! She was starting to get cranky so we didn’t end up staying very long. Andy's team ended up winning 8-0 so we missed out on seeing all of those goals!
We had a pretty chilled out evening at home, ordering take away and playing the longest game of Monopoly ever. I also baked a chocolate cake as we planned to have a birthday celebration for Ella the next day. (Her real birthday is not until next week, but we wanted to celebrate it while my mom was still visiting. I’m not sure whether I should have another celebration on her actual birthday… she remembers everything these days and I don’t want her thinking she has a birthday every few weeks!)
Monday was the Queen’s Birthday so we all had the day off - including Ella, who normally goes to daycare on a Monday. We drove into the city and headed for the Play Pod at the State Library. On the way there we stopped at Argyle Park in Carlton to run through the beautiful autumn leaves. Ella loved trying to catch the leaves as they were falling from the tall trees.
As we were about to leave, a university student arrived in the park with his three pet quails. Obviously Ella though this was just about the best thing ever, and we ended up spending a good half an hour there playing with the baby quails. There was one particularly hairy moment when one of the birds had scampered off and a magpie swooped down to snatch it up! Luckily the magpie didn’t actually fly off with the quail, though the poor thing was shaking after it's narrow escape. The student decided then that it was time to take his quails home, so we said goodbye and headed off for some lunch.
After filling up at a nearby fish & chip shop we finally made it to the state library and Ella had a good play at the Play Pod. This is another one of my favourite indoor places to take her to lately. It’s such a calm atmosphere and never very busy, and it keeps Ella entertained for ages. When she was ready for a nap we headed back home for the rest of the afternoon.
That evening we had a little birthday celebration for her. She was very excited about the candles, birthday cake and song, and to my surprise she wanted to wear a party hat (she usually hates wearing hats). She had a great time opening her presents, some bunny slippers from us and a tea set, sweater and very cute Country Road boots from my mom. (I think her new boots are nicer than any pair I own!) She looooves her tea set and I am looking forward to all the tea parties in my future. We let her have a tiny bit of chocolate cake for the first time, which made her super hyper and crazy for the rest of the evening. Funny as a one time thing, but definitely a confirmed my desire to keep her away from large amounts of sugar!
And that was our lovely long weekend. This post is coming to you two weeks later as it was followed by three crazy days at work, and then a work trip to England that I just got back from a few days ago. I am super jet lagged and finishing this off at 4am, so hopefully it all makes sense! My mom left to go back to Canada while I was in England and I miss her so much. The house seems a lot emptier without her here. I think she had a pretty emotional goodbye with Ella, which I am kind of glad I missed! They had so much fun together and have developed such a special relationship over the ten weeks my mom was living with us here in Melbourne. It’s times like these I have to remind myself of the Dr. Seuss quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened”.