Friday, December 18, 2009

Early Christmas

I received a great Christmas gift early December. My permanent residency was already approved! Time flew so fast that I did not notice I’ve already been staying in the regional area for almost 3 years now.

Getting a state-sponsored temporary visa to migrate was not as bad as others might think. The state and the local council are supportive to get you started and established. In Geelong, there are state-funded programs to assist you in adjusting to the Australian labour market from re-writing your curriculum vitae the Australian way, to understanding the work environment, to equipping you with new skills highly in demand in Australia if needed. In addition to that, the program officers of Diversitat and the City of Greater Geelong are really lovely ladies. Special thanks goes to Anita and Manon!

Most people I meet are warm and nice, always ready to give you a smile and ask how your day was. Workmates are great and will go out of their way to help. I have a few workmates who gave us a few furniture and assisted us in picking up bulky items. When I need a lift, my workmates are more than happy to pick me up and drop me off. The local Filipino community in Geelong is also a big plus. They made us feel welcome and assisted us substantially in settling down. They became our family here. And of course, Filipino gatherings bring us back a bit to the Philippines.

Landing the first job is the hardest first hurdle . But once I had the local experience under my belt, everything else fell into place. Yes, there are bigger challenges along the way. But, life wouldn't be as sweet without them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Flight

After 4 months of staying and living in Geelong, Kimi would visit Sydney to take part in celebrating Enzo’s 1st birthday. Enzo is hubby’s first cousin and, in fact, Kimi’s uncle. Yes, blood relations can be confusing at times.

I booked our flight early and chose the early flights as usual to maximise our stay. I was excited for Kimi. I know he would be delighted to see a big version of Jayjay the jet plane. However, I saw too many crying babies that the thought of Kimi having difficulty with air pressure also worried me. I shoved the thought away and packed our bags early than usual as this is the first flight I’ll be travelling with a toddler in tow. I packed Kimi’s stuff in my carry on bag to make sure that I got everything he would need – including banana, apple, nuts, raisins, biscuits, and milk to make him eat and chew and release the pressure on his ears and books to pre-occupy him during the waiting time and the 1.5 hour-flight.

On the day, I woke him a little before 4 am just enough time to dress up before the Avalon airport shuttle picked us up. Good enough he woke up in a good mood. He rarely wakes up in a bad mood anyway so it was not really a problem. He stayed awake during the entire wait for boarding, amusing other passengers beside us especially the elder couple a few seats away.

As expected, he was ecstatic to see the Jetstar plane. He was repetitively saying “Jayjay” and “airplane” until we reached our seat. After all the passengers were seated, Kimi started to wind down. Tatay (dad) was preparing the nuts when Kimi positioned himself comfortably on my lap hugging me to sleep. In no less than 2 minutes, he was already in wonderland and woke up 20 minutes before touch down. Upon waking up, he looked at the window and pointed to the beach below saying "water" and "beach" alternately, non-stop, until he got the attention of the passenger next to us. He also marvelled at some of the clouds and mountains. How wonderful it was to see a curious and excited toddler -- both eyes beaming.

Overall, it was a hassle free flight apart from the difficulty of carrying Kimi and some luggages. Kimi was a cooperative travel companion. I guess he sensed it’s not the best place and time to throw a tantrum.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Christmas Train Express

We were surprised to see a package sitting outside our door. It was for Kimi from Nonno and Nonna!

When we opened it, Kimi was so happy to see a train. It was a Christmas train express big enough to occupy our entire living room. We quickly bought a nice Christmas tree and colourful decors to complement the Christmas train.

Within a week, Che, Kimi and I were able to buy everything we need. We stayed up late to finish decorating and see the lights and train at work. If you notice, there was no ornament at the bottom. It was part of child-proofing the house. The glittery things can easily be swallowed by a very mobile toddler. We still need more Christmas tree ornaments though. I plan to add a couple of really beautiful ones each year as a Christmas tradition. And note, buy extra ornaments nearer to Christmas as the prices are heavily discounted as what I have observed.

Word Spurt

I was really worried with Kimi's speech development when he was 18 months old. He can only say 3 clear words then - Nanay, Tatay, and dede (milk). I even had him checked by his GP so we can get a referral to have a hearing test or to see a paediatrician if needed. She assured me that he is okay and didn't seem to have any hearing problem. But since I insisted, she sent a request for a hearing test appointment at the audiology department of the public hospital.

I made some research and found out that babies who are exposed to more than 1 language tend to speak a bit late. But it was still advised that best time to teach a kid another language is through exposure to the language since they are born. We continued with what we do to improve his language acquisition. We spoke to him slowly and emphasised the letter sounds and the words. We read to him his books especially the shape book which is his favourite at that time. We put him in family day care once a week since he was 20 months for social interaction. We still speak to him at home in 2 languages: Filipino (primarily) and English (as translation). His family day carer speaks to him in English together with the other kids in care.

And, at 21 months, his words increased dramatically that I got lost in counting the number of words he could speak both in Filipino and in English.

NB: This was long overdue.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Walktober Challenge

I was walking to and from work for more than a year until hubby got his licence a month ago. For a month now, I have the luxury of staying a bit more cuddling and playing with Kimi in the morning. I must say it is very difficult getting up when your little one is hugging you dearly for you to stay in bed. That’s the problem with co-sleeping with your bub. But, on a brighter side, that is also the benefit since you get extra bonding moments - a big plus for a full-time working mom like me who only gets to spend a few hours with the little one each day.

This week is different though since I had to get up earlier again to walk to work. Yes, you read it right – walk to work. I signed up for the Walktober Workplace Challenge. The Walktober Workplace Challenge, which run from 26 to 30 October 2009, encourages participants to substitute car or public transport journeys with their feet. The participant may walk all or part of the journey to and from work or meetings during the day. Points are given for each trip made depending on the time spent walking regardless of the length. A 10 to 20 minute-walking trip earns 1 point and any walking trip over 20 minutes earns 2 points. The key is to reduce the number of car trips made to, from and in the workplace.

It was a struggle. It could have been easier if I were still religiously walking to work and I were not suffering from hay fever. However, despite the regular errands and commitments too, which is now easier with the car, I managed to make 8 points for our team and win myself a basic pedometer for use in my plans to regularly walk again. I wish I could do that soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beat the Price

Smallville Season 7 was advertised at $25 in Big W so we went there on the first day of the sale. Unfortunately, there is no stock left. I asked the sales assistant if it was only a printing mistake since there are heaps of the other seasons still on the shelves but not even a small room to display Season 7. He confirmed that the sales brochure was correct but there was nothing left. He suggested that we go back few days after to check.

I was really disappointed as I was really waiting for it to go on sale. I suddenly remembered that K-Mart might be able to match the price like what they did for a friend's Corelle set. We head over to K-Mart armed with the Big W brochure. I thought even if we didn't get the DVD at the sale price, I would still be happy as I would be able to get a few things I'm eyeing in K-Mart's brochure like the Pyrex set and 3 pillow pack that were on sale.

I got a copy of the Season 7 from the shelves and when I was paying for the other things I'm buying, I politely asked if they can match the price offered at Big W for the Smallville Season 7. I handed the brochure to the cashier and after a couple of minutes of talking to her supervisor, she happily replied that they would match the price. I was one happy shopper as I really did not expect it.

It's true. K-Mart will beat competitor's price.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Office Surprise

During morning tea, which I usually take at my desk, my manager asked me if I was busy as the other section of our business unit invited us for their group meeting's morning tea. I enthusiastically replied, "Not really. I can continue this report in a while."

There were fish and chicken fingers, meat pie, fried dumplings and other finger foods plus cakes. I was enjoying the fish and chicken fingers and a little chit-chat when our business unit’s manager came back from somewhere and started his spiel. I initially thought he is going to announce something related with the business unit’s recent restructure. My mind turned 360 degrees from enjoying the fish and chicken fingers when I heard the word “driving.” I just felt it was about me so I started laughing especially when he said that in the past few weeks there’s drama (a favourite Aussie word) happening in a little corner of the office over getting a driver’s licence. To make me laugh even more, he even enumerated the different instances I failed the exam. It was hilarious.

To congratulate me and acknowledge my perseverance, he picked up the contents of a small bag and explained each of them before handing to me: card (not just an ordinary congratulations card, but specifically for passing the driving test) for their messages, a little horn to honk, a first aid kit when I ran into something, and a box of chocolate to appease me when I get speeding tickets. How funny and thoughtful was that?

Something like this is what make employees happy and in effect stay. I find it really sweet and thoughtful as the flexible schedule we have at work to attend to the driving exam is more than enough incentive. The effort and gesture of coming up with this despite of my supervisor and manager’s busy schedule both at work and at home really touched me.

Who would not like to work for such a supportive company with lovely managers?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I listened to Eraserhead's Overdrive song all morning to celebrate my passing the P plate driving test (well, apart from celebrating with pizza overload from La Porchetta last night). Yes, finally, I nailed the exam. It was not the best drive I've had as I was still frantically nervous. But, I did not have a major boo boo. After failed exams, it was a relief - one goal out of the very long list. In fact, I can smell freedom.

My journey to getting the licence was no big joke. There was no easy route or shortcut I could have done. I have no relatives to teach me and driving lessons with an instructor was very costly. Fast-tracking my learning was a juggle of budget and time. Thus, if you are intending to migrate and have no driving experience, it might be worthwhile to learn to drive prior to coming over as knowing the basics will save you time and money.

Getting your driving licence

Each state has different processes, policies and parameters in implementing traffic management and issuing licences and registrations. In the state of Victoria, Vicroads is the authorised institution for these.. I listed below the steps from being a learner to getting Probationary driver’s licence based on my experience and circumstances:

  1. Book the exam for learner’s permit with Vicroads. You may book online, by phone or by visiting their nearest branch. The fees payable may be found here.
  2. Read the “Road to Solo Driving” handbook.
  3. Do the Practice Learner Permit test. The more practice tests you do the better.
  4. Take the Learner Permit Test and make sure you have the identity documents required as discussed in Vicroads website.
  5. Start learning to drive with full licence drivers (relatives or friends), with a driving instructor, or a combination of both. Note that recorded driving experience of at least 120 hours is required in the log book if the learner is under 21 years old.
  6. Book and take the Hazard Perception Test when you have completed the 120 hours of driving if you are under 21 years old or when you are confident enough to drive if you are over 21 years old.
  7. Book and take the actual driving test for your P plate. The Probationary licence is to be held for 3 years before a full licence can be issued. If you are under 21, a red P plate or P1 licence is issued to you to be held for 1 year before you graduate to the green P plate or the P2 licence to be held for 2 years. If you are over 21, you will be issued a green P plate or P2 licence to be held for 3 years. If you are a holder of an overseas licence for at least 3 years, you may be issued a full licence. It is best to ask Vicroads about this.
  8. Drive safely.

Since I failed the driving exam a few times, I repeated step 7 a few times too. It was frustrating and heart-breaking. It felt like our life was put on hold. But, it did not stop me from attempting again. Eventually, persistence paid off.

Lesson: Never quit especially if you can see a hint of success.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Interest Rates on the Rise

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced a cash rate increase of 25 basis points to 3.25% effective 7th October 2009. This is the first rate increase since the global financial crisis in 2008, when interest rates gradually plummeted from 7.25% in March 2008 to 3.00% in April 2009.

The RBA believes: “…With growth likely to be close to trend over the year ahead, inflation close to target and the risk of serious economic contraction in Australia now having passed, the Board’s view is that it is now prudent to begin gradually lessening the stimulus provided by monetary policy. This will work to increase the sustainability of growth in economic activity and keep inflation consistent with the target over the years ahead.”

The interest rate is still at a manageable level compared to where it was in early 2008 -- still a good time to pay off as much in your loan and mortgage to help decrease the principal. Good times are coming for the savers and the retirees who depend on their interest earnings.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Say "Puno"

Tatay and Kimi picked me up from work. About 200 metres from my work place, Kimi blurted “puno” (Tagalog for trees) out of the blue while pointing to the trees on the road. Again, I was the surprised mom. Apparently, Tatay was casually telling Kimi about the trees on their way back after giving me a lift in the last couple of mornings.

I guess this is the tipping point of more words to come. He will learn them in time as my sister said. I am just too excited and a bit impatient. I know that boys speak later than girls and kids in bilingual/multilingual households tend to speak later too even if they can understand both languages. This, however, did not stop us from speaking to Kimi in both Tagalog and English as it is the best time for him to learn with no difficulty. We speak to him more in Tagalog though as he will easily learn English when he goes to school.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saturday breakfast 2

This is one of our lazy Saturdays again. We preferred to stay home and Che (for a change) prepared our breakfast. French toast and omelette! Yummy! This is Kimi's plate by the way.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fishy, fishy

During nappy change, I give Kimi a little book to pre-occupy him and minimise his wiggly movements. I also talk to him, asking questions, telling stories, to pre-occupy him even more. I used to sing nursery rhymes but it no longer works to keep him still. If I don’t pre-occupy him with other things, nappy change can be very difficult and messy especially if there’s poo involved – imagine him reaching his bottom, getting his soiled nappy, and walking on top of the bed as quickly as he could.

The past few days I’ve been using the same book, “My Very First Book of Words” by Eric Carle, which I’ve read it to him a few times with matching actions and associations a few weeks ago. I focused on the sun and the star as I can easily act them out and describe while I change the nappy. After 3-4 of days of looking at the sun and star, he probably got bored and flipped the pages. He suddenly put down the book, joined his hands together and wiggled it while saying “fishy, fishy.” I was surprised, stopped what I was doing with the nappy and looked at the book. Yes, he saw the illustration of the fish and he remembered what I acted out a few weeks back. I called on his Tatay to see it himself. We were both excited.

One realisation: kids are really like a sponge. They may not show or manifest that they’ve picked up what you said or did straightaway. But, it is surely there to be seen later. The more you stimulate them, the better.

A Walk to Work (Remember?)

Walking is a usual thing downunder especially if you rely on public transport. I have my fair share. I started walking to and from work since I started with my current employer 15 months ago. Remember I shared with you in a previous post that I liked the office location when I first saw the job ad?

The office is only 2 kilometres of residential and industrial roads from home. There is no bus heading that way though so I need to walk for about 25 minutes, one way, except when someone gives me a lift home or when the weather is so bad that I had to take a cab. I must admit there are times that I hate I'm walking especially during the winter season when it's so cold and frosty. But, there are more instances that I love it as it gives me time to think and reflect especially when the sun is up and the breeze is nice. The regular walk was also an efficient way to exercise and loose the baby weight I gained during pregnancy.

However after having 2 broken umbrellas to wind storm and losing 10 kilograms of weight, the routine changed this morning when hubby drove me to work (he got his license the other day and already secured the car insurance). I know I should think about the benefits of walking but I also want to enjoy having a cutie chauffer in the meantime. Who would not like one?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bye bye Formula!

In mid-August, a very close friend, Carla, made an entry about her experience in finding the perfect growing up milk for her daughter Simone (my goddaughter) who is barely 3 weeks younger than my son Kimi. It was a very good read especially for new mums who have no idea what milk to give their babies when either their breast milk supply is already dried up or when it’s not enough and they need to top up. Of course, I can't help not to comment and share my experience as below.

Finding the right formula is indeed a nightmare for some moms who can’t fully breastfeed due to insufficient milk (like my case) or another reason. I was decided to give Kimi 100% breastmilk during the first three months that he is staying in Geelong, I did not buy any formula prior his arrival. But he was not sleeping very well during his first three days and he seemed to be very hungry so I decided to top up with formula. Choosing the right formula was tricky.

Doctors and maternal child health nurse down under do not recommend any formula milk as much as possible. When asked they usually say that formula milk is just the same for any brand. So, I limited my choices with the brands that I also saw in Manila – it’s either S26 or NAN. My niece and nephew were on NAN HA before so it was easier to decide. I just opted though for the regular NAN 1. Good enough that Kimi doesn’t have allergies. He gulped his first bottle like there was no tomorrow and his tummy liked it too straightaway. Breastmilk and formula took turns in fattening Kimi for the first month. When supply dried up eventhough how much hot soup and hot compress I had, NAN 1 was still reliable to keep Kimi happy.

We moved him to NAN 2 at 6 months and to Neslac Toddler Gold at 13 months as NAN 3 was only being introduced in the market at that time, a bit difficult to find NAN 3. At 16 months, we introduced him to drinking fresh milk from a sippy cup with Neslac in between. He is alright with the fresh milk but he still loves his formula in a bottle. I plan to reduce his bottlefeed to 2 when he turns 18 months — one when he wakes up and one before he sleeps. Ultimately, I want him to love his fresh milk more than his bottle. No flavoured milk though. Not even my favourite strawberry milk.

Yes, it was my intention to put Kimi on cow's milk as advised by the Maternal and Child Health Nurse but not 100% this soon. He just turned 18 months. However, when we went to buy another batch (I usually buy 4 cans at a time) of Neslac Toddler Gold, there was nothing on the shelves at My Chemist, where I usually buy it. I immediately called the attention of the sales assistant to check if they got something in their stock room. There was none. I requested him to phone their other store. Again, nada. In fact, it's no longer in their computer system. It was hopeless as it was already difficult getting a can a few weeks back. A friend even checked in Melbourne. It's indeed already phased out to fully introduce NAN 3.

The battle of choosing the right milk again started and it caught me off-guard. There were very few choices and the brands I'm familiar with are both in vanilla flavour -- NAN 3 and S-26 -- which is not an option. Hubby and I compromised to put Kimi back to NAN 2. Hubby was not keen to moving to another brand as Kimi's tummy may react differently. I bought 1 can of NAN 2 and 1 small pack (good for 4 servings) of Karicare to try. He instantly liked Karicare but he was passing wind throughout the day so hubby was not happy with it. I gave Kimi NAN 2 but he rejected it straightaway - maybe not sweet enough like Neslac and Karicare. Because of that, we decided on giving him cow's milk. I cleaned and packed the bottles, steriliser, and the glass pan exlusively used in boiling water for safekeeping.

The story did not end there. Almost 2 weeks after, I observed that Kimi was losing weight or I just thought so. Out of the blue, I grabbed his bottle from the top of the cupboard and prepared him 60 ml of NAN 2 to try again. He was ecstatic to see the bottle of milk. But when he had a taste, he gave me back the bottle. I tried to offer it to him again and this time he just blurted out "nah." I was still worried he was not getting enough so I decided to buy a can of Karicare 3. I was almost sure he would like it again until I offered it to him. To my surprise he rejected it.

This time instinct tells me that Kimi is alright with the cow's milk. There are just days that he will look thinner when he has not slept much during the day. To other mothers out there, don't be a worry wart like me. Just compliment your kid's cow's milk with healthy food and your child will also be alright. Kids need only 3 servings of dairy food anyway to meet the calcium requirement.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday breakfast

I asked Che to walk along Pakington and have breakfast in one of the cafes as well. He was hesitant. He must be feeling a tad lazy that day so we ended up staying at home. My enthusiasm for a nice, quiet weekend was still high so I proudly announced that I would prepare a cafe-style breakfast for the 3 of us. Nothing really special -- just bacon, sunny-side up, bread and strawberries -- apart from a little bit of presentation, which I don't normally do during our regular meals as I am usually strapped for time. It may not look as mouth watering but the little presentation made a difference to our meal, psychologically.
Kimi was giggling while he ate from his own plate. I am not sure though if it’s because of the presentation, the taste of the bacon or because of the new plate as he has his little bowl during regular meals. Che was contented with the photo opportunity and the sunny side up for his bread. I was happy with what I’ve come up even if it is nothing compared to those in cafes and restaurants. It’s enough that I was able to reminisce the home economics class in high school with Mrs. Maralit and Mrs. Valdez. I remembered I used to bring some of my mom’s cutlery and tableware to class for the food presentation. Once we have set-up our veggie garden for a steady supply of herbs, I plan to garnish and "decorate" our food a bit from time to time to release my usually dormant artistic side and make meals something different again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

All Day Sneezing!

Yeah, hay fever hit me. I was sneezing at work most of last week including the weekend. My eyes were itchy like there were little grains inside. I can't even control myself from rubbing my eyes, which a colleague from my AIM days strongly discourage. She says it can bring in the wrinkles. Sorry Mia I really can't help it. My head felt really heavy too and my nose was really stuffed.

This is my 3rd Spring season and I still had not figured it out myself that I could get hit by hay fever, which is rarely experienced in Manila, until my driving instructor pointed out that my symptoms were hay fever and not something else. He was right. One tablet of Telfast 120 did the work. Straightaway, I felt relieved without feeling drowsy.

For new migrants and tourists coming over during Spring, hay fever is one that you need to be prepared for especially if you have allergy history. Stay away from areas with high pollen count as this triggers the allergens. Bring with you an anti-hay fever tablet or anti-histamine so you will always be ready if you have an attack. It can save you from ruining your day and vacation.

How I wish I am not prone to allergies but I am already thankful that my son does not have it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It Takes Patience

Finding work in Australia is more difficult nowadays especially in regional areas and even in city centres compared to the time I arrived in 2007. The global financial crisis caused unemployment rate to increase by 1.6 points from 4.2% in Aug 2008 to 5.8% in Aug 2009. It is comparably lower than the earlier forecast of 8.5% to 10% but the underlying underemployment is a concern. The reduction of hours worked instead of outright lay off best explains the case. More and more companies are shifting their employees from full-time work to part-time or even casual work just to be able to make ends meet without losing the talent they've developed for many years.

This is a better set-up than what happened to a few friends who lost their job with just an hour or two notice. I know it was devastating and frustrating as I had a fair share of the same fate when my previous company, where I worked as an analyst, closed down the very same day I went back to work from maternity leave in 2008. No notice, no redundancy offer. The only saving grace is that I could stay with my son a bit more. But, I have a visa condition to fulfill, bills to pay, and formula milk to buy. So, I had to hit the road straightaway and look for job. There was no time to cry over spilled milk so to speak.

With the support of my husband and in laws and the contagious giggles of Kimi who was barely 8 weeks old then, my spirit was high and my outlook was optimistic. I did not waste any time. When Kimi was asleep I was scouring and for jobs and tips to hurdle the job hunt. I practically applied for any job that I believe I can do or I can learn to do from waiting and cleaning jobs to research and analyst work. I prepared several CVs to fit the job description, customised application letters addressing the selection criteria, and answered online essays required for the application. I also kept all files I sent out with file names for each job to easily see which CV, application letter and selection criteria I used for which job. Before interviews, I read through the files to make sure I do not mix up the information especially the essay part.

I made sure friends and acquaintances know that I was looking for work. I also emailed the recruitment agent who hired me with my previous (first in Australia) job to share what happened and to seek her assistance in considering me for job vacancies with their clients. She was kind enough to forward my CV to her colleague who interviewed me for a full-time casual work in a customer service and logistics capacity. All throughout I kept an optimistic view. I took action and prayed keeping in mind to ASK, BELIEVE, and RECEIVE. My strategy worked -- I got the job and started working again when Kimi was barely 10 weeks old. Since it was only a casual work, I did not stop looking for other more permanent opportunities.

I prayed more. Then, an answer came when I got a call for an interview for the job that I was really wanting when I was just starting the job hunt (Yes, it took them more than a month to shortlist applicants). Actually, it was the location (2 kilometres walk from home) and the company that I liked from the moment I read through their website -- I got the feeling that they look after their people and welcome multicultural diversity. An important consideration for a migrant in the long-run. I dressed up well for the interview to exude the right impression and confidence as well as feel good about myself. That inside feeling matters as it is quickly sensed by the interviewers. Again, the strategy worked and I am already working with them for more than a year. Being new to the industry, I still have so much to learn, jargons to comprehend, and processes and policies to understand. As long as I continue to pray and believe, there will be opportunities for career growth to be received.

Lesson: It takes patience and strategy for new migrants to get a job these days. It's better for your health to be optimistic than stress yourself and worry.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Handling Nerves After Child Birth

All my life I believed I am good at handling my nervousness until I did my driving exam recently at the age of 30. (Yes, I was late to realise that I need to drive as it was not necessary for me before migrating to Australia as I could easily catch a public transport anytime of the day in Manila.) However, the loudness of my heartbeat during the test feels defeaning. My blood is pumping so fast. I can't control it as good and smooth as I controlled my nerves during exams, oral presentations, and job interviews in my life before being a mother. I tried singing softly to myself to control it but it did not work as I expected. The

After 3 attempts at it with silly mistakes I have never done while I do regular driving practice, I am thinking giving birth might have an effect on how I handle my nerves now like how child birth affected my memory -- I have no scientific basis for this though just a gut feel. Having realised this, I have to take double efforts to conquer my nerves and put my memory and reaction back to what they were before.

But, in the meantime, I will not stop until I get that licence as I know I can safely drive without the nerves. It's good learning from my instructor the other day that I can actually talk during the exam as long as I don't engage him and the testing officer in a regular conversation. Hopefully talking works next time. We'll see.

How about you? How do you cope with nerves? I might learn a few things from you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Testicle issues

Kimi was 13 month old when the Child Health Nurse in Sydney noticed his testicles were not in the scrotum or somehow difficult to locate. It was not a problem when he was born or even during his previous required check-up at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months so we were really surprised. I remembered we took effort in "heating" Kimi's testicles when he was a newborn until he reached 3 months. I did that during the regular morning massage by rubbing my palms with baby oil and placing my palms on Kimi's testicles to transfer the heat that helps develop the testicles.

Upon learning about the possibility of undescended testicles, the worried mom in me researched about it in the internet. Undescended testicle occurs when the testicle or both testicle are absent in the scrotum and are lodged instead in the groin or in the lower abdomen. The testicles may be undescended at birth especially for premature babies or those with low birth weight. But, they may eventually descend at 6 months. If that doesn't happen, a surgical procedure may be needed to correct it to allow full development of the testicles and prevent associated health problems like hernia, testicular cancer, trauma, infertility, and poor self-image. Reading about that made me more fidgety.

On the other end, hubby and MIL (mother-in-law) requested a referral from the GP and booked an appointment with a Paediatrician. I couldn't believe it takes 3 weeks wait to see a Paedia in Australia even with a private doctor. I reckon this doesn't happen in Manila under the same circumstances. And mind you the doctor's fee was really at the roof. We paid $160 for a less than 10 minute check and only recovered about $66 from Medicare. The good thing, though, is that Kimi doesn't have an undescended testicles but retractile testicles. In this case, the testicles are in the scrotum but they are hiding somewhere especially when it's cold. It doesn't require corrective surgery but should be regularly checked and monitored. What a relief!

Since then hubby checks them on a regular basis especially after a bath. However, few weeks ago, he was a bit concerned as he can only locate one of the testicles. So even without the need to have an 18 month check with the GP, I booked one with the GP who checked him at 6 weeks to appease us once again. I would have sent him to a Paediatrician again if it was not expensive.

During the appointment, GP emphasised that she doesn't do 18 month check. I told her I knew about it and I've booked with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse (MCHN) for next month. I expressed our concern with Kimi's testicles and two other things (that need a separate article). She checked them and in less than 30 seconds, showed us both testicles at the same time. She advised there is nothing to worry about and she thinks Kimi is progressing well.

Parents always want to be assured that their baby is doing great and developing well. If you come across with the same dilemma, don't hesitate to have your baby checked by the doctor. Afterall, it is best to know from the expert.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Laughing Tigger

While I was reading a Winnie the Pooh and Tigger book (from Ninang Tiff) to Kimi the other night, I thought out of the blue to dress him up in his Tigger costume. It was his Trick or Treat attire last year so we might as well use it to entertain ourselves...

His excitement and smile were priceless, jumping and giggling in elation. He even kissed his image on the mirror. Loved it! Is it a sign of narcism? I don't think so. I reckon it is just a stage that he appreciates himself as he discovers more.

Watch out our for more dress up days. Or, should I say nights?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fishy, fishy where are you?

How we spend our free time has really changed over the past two years. The environment including my migration from Manila to Australia has a big factor on that change. We are now into having picnics, strolling at the park and waterfront, and just a few days ago hubby tried his hand in fishing. We were invited by family friends to go to Rippleside Park, which is a further walk from the Western beach and still part of the whole stretch of the Corio Bay. While the boys had gone fishing, the ladies and the kids played and cooked sausages and rissole. It was lots of fun. Kimi loved running on the grass and raising his hands at the same time as if trying to reach the blue sky. He also loved the sand pit in the nearby playground, reminding me to bring a small bucket and a shovel next time.

When the sun started to set, we followed the dads at the jetty. Hubby proudly showed me his first catch ever (and only catch for the day). The fish, a whiting I think, was bigger than I had imagined. Took some photos and went home to feast on his catch. Not bad for hubby's first fishing experience, you think so? Well, let's consider the fact that there were lots of ducks and pelicans at that time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spending Weekend

Our house is only a 7 minute-walk from the Geelong waterfront. The walking and biking trail from the Western beach to the Eastern beach spans about 4 kilometres. Actually, it is very convenient to enjoy a walk and the scenery when we do not feel lazy. Last weekend was one of those days. With Kimi around we will definitely have more!

The sun was up and it was not so cold. Yes, a good sign that spring is coming. The grass is green with yellow wild flowers in bloom -- a delight to see along the edge of the walk path. It was very tempting to pick the flowers. In fact, little girls walking past were usually carrying a bunch, happy and contented with what they got.

The walk including pushing Kimi on his pram was not tiring. We only had a leisure walk, nothing heart pumping unlike others who went there to exercise and sweat. Upon reaching downtown, we went straight to Westfield for lunch at a Japanese fastfood and snagged a Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies collection. I am not a big fan but for $37 for 6 movies, I made hubby smile and reminisced those days I watched action movies with my Tatay and brothers.

It is another quiet weekend full of chuckles and cuddles.

NB: We managed to see the 6 movies in less than 24 hours. :D

Monday, August 10, 2009

big screens

When I started with my current job in mid-2008, one thing I liked is the 2 big computer screens. Yes, each one of us has 2 big screens like this photo of my work station. It's very handy when viewing and copy-pasting two different documents at the same time. I don't have to write down bits of information that I have to input in another application. One program on one screen and another one on the other. It makes work life a lot easier, isn't it?

I already get so used to it that I find it difficult now using the laptop at home -- even if our laptop's screen is big compared to other notebooks. It's still small by my new standards.

For those setting up an office and not money-strapped, this can be good for you too. One disadvantage, though is when you are slacking off a bit. Everyone can see what you're doing on your computer screen.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Quiet Sunday

We did not have anything planned last Sunday. After breakfast, the sun was up, a rare occasion these days, so I decided to bring Kimi to the small park across our house and for a short walk around the block -- our bonding time sort of since I work full-time. I quickly dressed him in several layers of clothes and jacket, prepared his small bag and ‘smart’ trike, and in less than 15 minutes, I was already pushing him. Have to move fast. The dark clouds might come anytime -- as you might know Melbourne and surrounds including Geelong is notorious for its four seasons in one day.

The walk to the park was great. Kimi was excited as always. He was even glancing and giggling back at me while I was pushing him and his trike. I put him in the swing and I told him to hold the side straps tight while I was also holding his hands then lightly swing him. He loved it! I found a front strap to buckle him up a bit. After a few more swings and enough confidence, I slowly let him go that I was able to snap photos of him.

He moved his feet and body to fit between the strap and the swing. (Imagine him inching and wriggling his body). I knew right then and there that he wanted to walk around so I unlocked the buckle around his waist and put him down.

He went straight to the seesaw and I positioned and held him to make sure he would not fall over. After a while, he motioned to go down. He explored the area, ran after me, and laughed his heart out.

After a few more minutes, the wind was getting strong so I decided to start our walk around the block before eventually heading home in time for his morning nap. He enjoyed the walk, smiling to everyone that walked past and saying aw aw! to the dogs.

Upon arriving home, he probably missed his Tatay (dad in Filipino) that he went to him for a cuddle straightaway and slept in his arms. They were such a bliss to watch, isn't it?

Life is tough moving away from our comfort zones, leaving family and friends behind, starting anew. However, simple outing like this makes me like living in Australia. The open spaces and parks and the priority they put on families and raising kids are really great -- something that can outweigh the benefit of access to affordable nannies in the Philippines. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Shoes Please

As I have mentioned before, Kimi finds it difficult to speak yet. He is still babbling words we can't figure out and is using actions, gestures and all body language he could think of for us to understand him. He understands us pretty much though and follows our instructions, in both English and Filipino, most of the time especially when it favours him.

This is very evident a few days ago. When I came home, I found Kimi looking and waiting at the screen door while hubby is fixing something outside. He could not get out of the house and run after his Tatay (means father) since the screen door is locked. Had it not been locked with a key, he could easily open it by tip-toeing and slowly turning the door handle. I was really amazed when I first saw him do it a week ago. I was both proud and worried, though. Proud because he uses strategies to get what he is after and he doesn’t stop practising until he gets things right. Worried because he can easily get out of the house.

To continue, he was all smiles seeing me approaching. He probably knew that he could persuade me with his big hugs and masarap na kiss (sweet kiss) to carry him outside and see what Tatay was doing. He reached out his hand as if asking me to carry him. I did not. Instead, I stoop down and opened my arms wide. He showered me with big hugs and his masarap na kiss. After a few minutes, he was tugging me towards the screen door – a strong indication that he really wanted to get out. I still did not carry him.

I noticed that he was wearing only one of the pair of his squeaking sandals. So, I gave him instructions to get the right shoe and give it to me. I said the instructions a couple of times in both English and Filipino to make sure he grasps both language. As usual, he quickly followed. I motioned him to stand still while I was telling him that he should wear the other pair. I knelt down, put the other shoe near his right foot, opened the strap and asked him to put his foot inside the shoe. With not much thinking, he eagerly followed and lifted his right foot while trying to balance himself. He could not lift it too far though. After trying a couple of times to no avail, he suddenly just sat flat on the floor without looking what his bum might hit. It happened so quick that it made me have a good laugh while putting on his shoe. He was really in a hurry to go out.

I walked him to the door and watched him while he happily inspected Tatay’s work. The less than 10 minutes hullabaloo made me realise something. (1) Kids are really funny. And the more important, (2)Kids even without speaking are great negotiators. They can get things their way if you let them.

Oooopss... I must be warned!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting Lost in Oz?

If you are a new migrant in Australia and have no access to GPS, is the way to go in getting instructions on how to reach your destination. They are now providing landmarks together with the turn-by-turn instructions either by foot or by car.

But, if you are using public transport in the state of Victoria, I recommend that you check Metlink Melbourne before travelling to plan your trip and get instructions on how to go to your next destination. It includes bus, tram, and train schedule, turn-by-turn instructions when you need to walk, and, of course, a leg and stop map.

In case, you're heading my way, let me know so I can prepare a cuppa!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Massa, get well soon!

I was not really an avid follower of Formula 1. But, my husband is hooked so I also end up up to date and sometimes watch the races even if it's shown during the wee hours. Ferrari's Felipe Massa underwent an emergency surgery after a high-speed crash during the qualifying race in Hungary GP on Saturday. He sustained concussion and a fractured skull when he was struck on the helmet by a damper spring.

On a positive note, the CT scan were good. If it were not for the accident, he could have shared the podium win with his team mate Kimi Raikkonen (2007 Formula 1 Champ).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's the Fuss about?

Kimi was only 3 months when he left Geelong for Sydney and was only back to Geelong a couple of weeks ago. He has taken the CityRail numerous times on his Sydney escapades but it was only last Sunday that he took the V/Line train to join in the Melbourne Open House. The train's set-up was different with seats fixed and facing with another row of seats. There was not much space to move around compared to the city rail with an area reserved for passengers with prams.

During the first 5 minutes of the train ride, Kimi was silent than usual. It was like he was still assessing the new environment. His eyes were wide open, observing everyone around him and the scenery outside. Two friends who joined us for this trip, sitting next to the window, facing each other, took turns of putting Kimi on their lap to tell him things on the road, from the birds, the dogs, the grass, the people, the hills of the You Yangs, the buildings, to the ferris wheel. The explorer in him was not satisfied with what he saw outside. In between, he was clutching my hand to walk towards the middle of the carriage which joins two cars together. Eventhough I needed to hold on the railings to make sure we would not fall over, Kimi was not even scared a bit. In fact, he seemed to be excited standing on the adjoining portion for a few minutes before heading back to our seat.

Upon arrival in Southern Cross Station, we transferred to the suburban train to get to Flinders Station, which is nearest to Federation Square where we can get a map of the MOH. We arrived early than the official opening time of the participating buildings so we decided to take photos of the facade of St. Paul Cathedral, an Anglican Church and have breakfast at Hungry Jacks (Aussie's version of Burger King). We had burger and Kimi had hash brown. Not healthy, I know, but he doesn't fancy the banana I brought for him.

Capitol Theatre in Swanston St was our first stop. We walked past a long queue of teenagers, waiting for a concert at a nearby building, everyone having a chit-chat. I felt like we were lost in their midst. It was good though that there were a lot of tourist information volunteers roaming around the area, always ready to assist and smile at you. The accommodating lady directed us to a second shorter queue for those going to Capitol Theatre. It was still a long wait that Kimi already started to be fussy even after a bottle of milk. I knew he was already sleepy but we couldn't put him to sleep with all the distractions around him. He wanted to ran around and go up the stairs in the foyer leading to the insides of the theatre. I was always running after him to make sure he would not bump his head. Since it's dark inside the theatre, I held him in my arms and he screamed in a loud high pitch disturbing everyone listening to the guide. I quickly brought him out to the foyer and waited for hubby and our friends. Thus, I was not able to carefully observe the design and architecture of the theatre. But, hubby, eventhough agitated with Kimi's screaming, was still able to take a few photos that I can look at.
We went to our next stop, the Melbourne Town Hall, since it is only across the street. I managed to put Kimi back on to his pram. I pushed him to the Council Chamber at the second level. Kimi behaved for a few minutes so I was able to look around in awe of the grand and intricate designs of the Chamber. It's small but it looks like a miniature council hall of kings and queens in movies, with all the wood sculpture and the chandeliers. To my mind, it has a distinct feel of the Gold Rush period. Other rooms were also open for viewing but I was not able to enjoy them as much since Kimi started to be fussy again. One security lady guard even talked to him to appease him. To my surprise, he held his hand up to the lady guard and the lady guard carried him in her arms for a couple of minutes. There were many other visitors so we stayed in one area to wait for hubby and friends, wandering around and taking photos. Since Kimi is already restless and sleepy and the wind was blowing chills to our spine, we decided to go to the Direct Factory Outlet in Spencer St instead of continuing with the MOH visits. Kimi was not be able to sleep much but at least, we could take a seat while taking turns in looking after Kimi and at the same time doing a bit of window shopping. We took the tram to DFO and stopped at Rialto Hotel Intercontinental. The hotel is also one of the buildings open for viewing so we went in to have look. I am not big on architecture and art, but, I thought it was not as grand as I imagined it would be. There was no intricate designs and chandeliers of old times. But, it shows a contrast of past and modern designs with the steel and glass railings against the brick archs and walls.
At the end of day, when Kimi and I are exhausted and tired, hubby and I made a realisation. It is no longer an easy day to be out and about tugging our little one with us. A lost sleep and a disrupted routine for our toddler can mess up his day and ours. To prevent future frustrations, we will now consider Kimi's rest time in our trips.

Friday, July 17, 2009

16 month check with MCHN

When Kimi was still in Sydney, it has been a regular activity for him to visit the Child Health Nurse a few days before or after his monthly birthday. But, he did not visit them for his 16th month. So, I booked him right away for an appointment with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse to re-establish his records in Geelong and discuss a few things with the MCHN on what activities he is expected to be doing now until the 18th month. The MCHN tried to do an 18 month old assessment. But, Kimi were not doing some of the things being instructed to him. The nurse informed us that it might still be really early to expect them from him especially the things that we have not done with him yet like putting blocks on top of each other, make-believe games of pouring a cup of tea or drinking, etc since he is 6 weeks short to 18 months.

So many things can be learned and acquired in a matter of 4-6 weeks especially with toddlers who are always at their feet exploring their world. I was, however, concerned about his speech development. He can say a few words he wanted to say like mama, tata, baa baa, ba-bye, jay jay, ba waw (for his wiggles CD), and dede for his milk. But, if we ask him to repeat what we are saying he can't do it yet. He can't be bothered to even say his name. On a ligther note, he understands instructions in both English and Filipino and responds to them pretty well. If he wants to say something he usually signs and demonstrates it to us although there are limitations to this.

His motor skills are developing quickly as expected of boys. He can go up an adult chair, sit still and stand up quickly without any assistance. He can run, run and run and go up and down the bed or the sofa. He knows where to turn off the TV and the computer, tinker with the remote control and the mobile phone. At the moment, he learns what he wants and dismisses anything that does not interest him. I know babies develop at their own pace. We need to expose and stimulate him further to learn and discover the skills at his own time. It is needs a lot of patience.
To start off, we bought a 7-in-1 set of wooden toys for him to stack up, group, and sort. He quickly did the stacking up. But, it did not interest him to do it for a long time. I am lucky if I sustain his interest for 10 minutes before he wanders around the house again or asks to do something different like read a book, piggy back ride, or sing and dance depending on his mood.

We also started to introduce him to washable colored pens and crayons but he still tries to put the crayons on his mouth so we are really watchful that he does not swallow them.

Since he learns a fair bit from watching his DVDs, I am now on the look for DVDs that could assist his speech development. I found them really expensive and I am not even sure if they will work fine with Kimi so I am now waiting for something to come up on ebay in the next few days. Otherwise, I will be forced to buy a brand new one to trial. I just hope they have a money back guarantee, which I doubt.

Sometimes, we ran out of new things and activities to stimulate him. Do you have any suggestions that we can do before his 18 month check in September?

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Men are Taking over

Straight from work on Thursday night, I took a Jetstar flight from Avalon to Sydney. Not for my regular visit but for packing my son and hubby’s stuff and bringing them home in Geelong. The entire flight was really bumpy, with my stomach turning upside down a few times. It did not in any way, however, change my enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming weekend. Wondering why? -- because Kimi and hubby would now be staying with me.

Yes, they moved back to Geelong over the weekend. We all drove down to Geelong early Saturday. In contrast with my flight to Sydney, the 8 plus hours land trip was "smooth sailing," something we hoped and prayed for. However, driving an old but well maintained car with a 16 month toddler, who can be fussy at times, would really make you a bit anxious during the trip. It was good, though, that Kimi cooperated. He slept most of the trip. He ate, played and sang with me when he was awake. He screamed a few times but they did not last long. Overall, I can still say he is my happy baby.

Upon arriving at home, I thought the battle started. Kimi did not want to go out of the car. He was observing and looking around. He knew it’s not his nonna’s house. With a bit of a struggle, I was still able to get him out of his car seat and put him inside the house. He did not want to touch anything, he was still observing. I let him sit in his new toddler chair and table. There was resistance for a few minutes. I left him inside the house with hubby’s uncle to help hubby get their things in the car. Lo and behold, when I came back Kimi was already walking around the house, following me whenever I put bags in our room, the kitchen, and the laundry. He was already inspecting his new abode. And in less than an hour, he was already so comfortable that he wanted to take control of the TV/DVD remote and press the desktop computer’s keyboard.

Kimi’s first night was not as bad as I had imagined it would be. He wanted to be put to sleep by his Tatay. He was tossing and turning when the clock hit 4am. But there was no big drama, no long loud crying at all.

So far the first four days of Kimi in Geelong went well. A lot of it attributed to hubby’s good care. He is keeping Kimi well adjusted first before he hits the road and look for work in Geelong and Melbourne. Whenever, I’m home they are maximising my presence. Hubby is taking over the desktop computer and Kimi is following me everywhere from the kitchen to the bedroom and even to the door of the toilet. They are now both running my life and I like it, especially their big hug and kisses, and the dancing, and the singing, and the laughter and the meals together.

Now, I can say we are truly a family.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Embrace It

Here is a different take on the global financial crisis by Australian cartoonist, philosopher, poet and artist Michael Leunig. In a nutshell, he is saying that someone becomes more creative and emerges to be more successful when subjected to challenges and difficulties in life. Thus, the global financial crisis may do more good than harm if taken on a different perspective.

Leunig says it is up to individuals to absorb and handle their present suffering.

"One's got to live creatively - creativity means you lose what you expect to have, but you find something better and then you grow," he said.

"If that's what's happening, I say let it happen and embrace it."

Spread optimism, creativity, and the thinking out of the box!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

He's Coming Back

Looking after a newborn baby as a new migrant could be tough especially for working parents as you have no familiar support systems easily accessible. Child rearing is a different approach compared to what I have seen and experienced with my niece and nephew. In the Philippines, a middle income family can afford to hire a nanny to help with looking after the kids. Down under, a nanny is not affordable. There are family carers and child care centres, though. However, putting our son in child care at a very young age was not an option for us. So, we accepted my mother-in-law's offer, who is living in Sydney, to look after our son. It is an hour and a half plane ride from Geelong. We battled being away from our son and the monthly visit in return for a family member's care. It may not be the ideal set-up but we believe it is better for our son. Don't get me wrong though. Child care centres may still be a good place to start if you research and check them well enough.

The good news is my little angel is finally going back to Geelong in July instead of me heading to Sydney when I get my permanent residency. Times are tough especially with the longer than usual financial slump. We decided that it would not be a smart move to let go a stable and secure job and risk looking for work in Sydney where competition is much higher with a lot of qualified workers getting unemployed to recession. Apart from that, we will be able to strengthen our ties as a young family and truly depend on each other to reach our family goals if we only have each other.

In preparation, I made a list of a few things that we need to do:

• Hire a carpet steam cleaner
• Keep the stack of books in an area that he can’t reach
• Childproof the cupboards, drawers, tables, and power points (outlets)
• Re-arrange the shed to provide space for his bike and art and crafts area
• Look for child care or family carer
• Arrange for his things to be sent back to Geelong
• Do a general cleaning before the carpet cleaning
• Draft a new schedule and routine for him
• Book a flight to pick him up

I am already excited. I have a long list that I want to do with my son and husband. It may be a hit and miss but what matters is we are together sharing the journey ahead. I will definitely post our experiences as we go along.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Easter Celebration

This is quite a late post. But, it is better than never I reckon.

The long weekend for Easter celebration gave me an opportunity to play with Kimi much longer than usual since Australia celebrates Easter Monday, making a 4-day long weekend. Aside from attending the Filipino mass during Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday and dining out with the entire family on Easter Synday, we were not able to get out of the house much since Kimi got sick and it was drizzling.

In one of our plays, Kimi pretended to be a mail man. He was walking around with a shopping bag across his shoulder and showing off to everyone. He loved it that he even stared at himself on the mirror. But, he looked more like a little shaolin than a mailman. Would you agree?

On Easter Sunday after mass, the entire family dined out at Five O. While I was ordering, Kimi walked around trying to get the attention of the girls on the next table. He was successful enough that the girls said hello and asked for high-five. After about 15 minutes of waiting and laughing at Kimi, we were alerted to get our order at the counter. 'Twas the cheapest yummy steak, lasagna, and potato wedges with chilli sauce and sour cream that we had -- in short value for your money. Kimi just so loved his wedges without the skin.

Before going to bed, Kimi still had time to open his Easter gifts. He just enjoyed tearing the wrapper and smiling at the camera. He also tried to put on his bunny ears from Ninang E. Isn't he cute?

Next year, we will bring Kimi to an Easter egg hunt or probably have our own egg hunt with friend's kids.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Am I Pregnant?

In a span of 1 month, two migrant friends asked me what I did when I first found out that I was pregnant. They were asking about whether I went to a private OB or a public OB, how much were the fees, etc. They are new mothers-to-be and have also been in Australia for around two years now. I gladly responded to their queries, reminiscing how I went about the entire experience. I thought I better share it here and be of help to other new migrant mums out there. When I missed my monthly period, I did not bother checking a pregnancy kit. I initially thought my body was just adjusting to the cold weather and I was just stressed over the job hunt and it would soon come once I started with my new job in a week. In addition, I don’t feel anything different. No morning sickness and craving that they were talking about. Three weeks after missing my period and enjoying my new work, husband prompted me to consult with the doctor. Doctor Hunt Not aware of the Australian processes, I got a phone directory, looked for an obstetrician and rang a private OB clinic. To my surprise, I was informed to go to my General Practitioner (GP) for a referral. As I did not have a GP yet, I insisted that I already knew that I needed to see an obstetrician. But, still the receptionist pointed out that it is the policy – I need a referral letter. Few days later, I again consulted the phone directory to look for a GP. I was still in the dark of the Australian health system so I called each clinic near town to look for a GP. About three medical clinics no longer accept new patients on a regular basis. That was a big shock. I wondered how come these things happen in a developed country such as Australia. I tried my luck again and rang Geelong Women’s Clinic, a private clinic just a few blocks from work. The receptionist were nice enough to squeeze me in one of the doctor’s schedule as they have a policy for new patients to book at least 1.5 months in advance. I told them my case and they booked me for an earlier schedule. But, still I had to wait for 3 long weeks. While waiting, I had a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables especially cauliflower and broccoli. I did not have any alcohol and coffee in my system. Had lots of milk (breakfast, dinner and sometimes lunch) and 3-4 litres of water as I had difficulty with having a pee. It felt like I was having a urinary tract infection, which according to my readings is easily contracted by pregnant women during the first trimester. Having lots of water took away the pain of peeing. Otherwise, I would have needed medication to remove the infection. But, this should be consulted with the GP. GP Consultation My doctor’s appointment came and I explained to her my case. The first thing she asked me was if I already tried checking the pregnancy kit, which I did not do. So, she asked me to do the test in the clinic and it was confirmed! There was neither physical check nor blood test. She discussed with me whether I would like to be referred to a private OB or to the public hospital’s ante-natal clinic. I told her that I am a new migrant and a paying patient and my medical insurance will not reimburse any obstetrics-related claims yet as there is a 12 month waiting period. To help me decide, she then asked her assistants to call the clinics and hospitals and check the prices for me – consultation, hospital bed, delivery fees of both public and private OB. The doctor gave me scripts requesting for blood test done at Pathology Care to check haemoglobin level, blood group, German measles immunity and Rhesus factor and the ultrasound to check the baby’s measurement, due date, heartbeat, placenta, and baby’s condition at Lake Imaging during the following weeks. I was not given any antibiotics for my pee problem as the water therapy worked well but was advised to take any pregnancy vitamins available at the chemist. After about 10-15 minutes of discussion and consultation, the clinic charged me $60. The First Tests Upon arrival at work, I rang both Path Care and Lake Imaging to arrange an appointment. With Path Care, I was informed I could just pop in as they are serving on a first come, first serve basis. But, with Lake Imaging, I needed to wait for 3 weeks for an available slot and should come with full bladder, which means I had to drink 500-1000ml two hours before the schedule and hold it. It was difficult since I cannot control my pee starting week 10. It felt like the baby was pushing it. In fact, I was not able to hold it for the ultrasound appointment and we needed to re-schedule it, which was already on my 15th week. By then, the technician was able to see that I might be having a boy and it can be confirmed on my week 20-21 ultrasound. Going Public or Private All the results were forwarded to my GP and everything were going okay. The GP gave me the price comparison of public and private hospital. Basing on the hospital bed fees ($700 per day) and consultation fees ($70 per visit), I initially decided to see a private OB. However, upon learning from the private OB’s receptionist that the doctor charges $3000 for normal delivery and may be more if there’ll be complications, the practical side of me thought twice as that would be a substantial out of pocket cost. I rang my GP’s assistant and requested for a new referral to the public hospital’s ante-natal clinic, which would charge $1000 for the delivery fee even if I would have a C-section – the sure $2000 difference could already buy a lot of baby stuff. My GP’s clinic faxed the referral letter straight to the ante-natal clinic of the public hospital and I booked my first appointment after a few days. Ante-Natal Clinic I waited for 3 weeks for my appointment with the midwife at the ante-natal clinic. She explained to us my options of care and suggested that since I had no complications so far, I can have a combined care of the midwives and the hospital’s OB. We readily said yes as the midwives seemed so competent, loving and caring. A student nurse was also introduced to us and asked if she could monitor and accompany me throughout my pregnancy. Because of my love for learning, I said yes and accommodated her. It was a plus factor since she was there during doctor’s visit when my husband could not come. In essence The first 20 weeks of my pregnancy was an emotional rollercoaster ride. I just migrated and we just got married. There was joy, excitement, doubt, fear and frustration (over the medical process). But, overall we maintained optimism on what the future would bring for our bundle of joy and our starting family. I was sure the angels and the stars conspired when we had Kimi.

Going Down Under

It was my husband, then boyfriend, who first moved to Australia in 2004 under a student visa with an ultimate goal of migrating under a family-sponsored visa. At that time, Australian citizens and permanent residents in Sydney can only sponsor skilled migrants from a list of in-demand skills. Thus, he had to take that longer and more expensive route.I did not bother waiting for him to get his permanent residency and sponsor me under a spouse visa. It will take longer, marriage was not discussed at length, plus the "proud and independent" side of me wanted to migrate on my own as early as possible. Don't get me wrong. Other couples I met through the application process opted to get married first, either church or civil, then, applied for an Australian visa. This way, resources are saved. Smart move, isn't it?

It took a while and a lot of reading before I was finally able to decide on which type of visa best suits me. There are several skilled migration visas and they (subclass numbers and policies) are changing almost every 6 months since I started with my information gathering. Thus, it is must to do a lot of reading yourself if you plan to migrate to Australia. Information you get here will not be enough as some of them may already be obsolete in 6 months time. This only gives you an idea on how I went through the process. I am not a migration agent but I am migrant who went through the process myself in 2006-2007.

  • Read the information about the different skilled migrant visas at or specifically the general skilled migration page. There are various visas you can choose from, depending on your circumstances and the points (for age, skill, English language ability, specific experience, state government nomination, Australian experience, Australian qualifications, occupation in demand/job offer, community language, regional Australia study, and partner skills) you will get. If you are outside of Australia, you can apply for skilled independent visa, a state-sponsored regional visa, or a family-sponsored visa.
  • If you are lucky enough to get an employer even before you get a migrant visa, you may go through the employer-sponsored visa, which will allow you to work in Australia under the company sponsoring you. This visa however will not let you work with another company and will not be considered as a permanent migrant visa that will enable you to apply for Australian citizenship. Thus, upon arrival in Australia and after working for a few months, you will still need to apply for a general skilled migrant visa for people in Australia and satisfy the requirements of the general skilled migrant visa that suits you. These visas are fully discussed at visa options inside Australia page.
  • If you lack enough points, you may also take the route of studying first in Australia for at least 2 years. Once you finish the course, you may apply for one of the general skilled migrant visas. This, however, does not assure you of an automatic migrant visa grant. Studying in Australia for at least 2 years will only give you extra points and waive the mandatory requirement of recent work experience of 12 months in the last 24 months. You will still need to accumulate the required number of points for the skilled migrant visa that you are applying for. Thus, it needs careful research.
  • For those applying for a state-sponsored visa, this is an additional step. Research on each of the state's sponsorship requirements and processes. Bear in mind that you need to prove to them that you will be a valuable asset to the state and you can manage to settle and adapt well. Review the skills that each state is sponsoring for the permanent migrant visa and the provisional visa so you can carefully consider them in choosing your nominated skills.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
South Australia
Western Australia

  • Choose the skill that best describes what you do and your qualifications. The list of skills, assessing body, and the corresponding points you get for the skill can be found at the SOL.
  • Thoroughly study the requirements and processes of the assessing body for your nominated skill. Read, read, and read. If there is anything unclear, ask the assessing body or ask those who have applied for assessment of the same skill.
  • Gather and prepare your documents for the skills assessment based on the guidelines issued by your assessing body. Getting copies of your qualifications and job descriptions may be a daunting task. Thus, it might be beneficial to get extra copies for your visa application.
  • Send your application to the assessing body either via courier or online if this facility is available. If there is an online application, you might save a bit of waiting time as the assessing body no longer need to encode your application details. Then, wait for the results. The results will be posted to you by the assessing body in 6-14 weeks. This may vary for each assessing body.
  • While waiting for the results of your skills assessment, gather information about and reviewers of IELTS, which will test your English language ability. Information on IELTS can be found at: If you get at least 7.0 band score in each of the 4 components of IELTS, which are (1) reading comprehension, (2) listening, (3) writing, (4) speaking, you will get 25 points for English language ability. The points you get for English language ability is discussed thoroughly at: English eligibility page.
  • Book your IELTS exam allowing enough time for the review depending on your needs. Do practice tests available online or with IELTS review centres to gauge your preparedness. Watch television shows and videos in British and Australian English. It takes a bit of time to get used to the accent especially if you are more familiar with the American English. BBC is a good one. Overall, just practice and come to the exam ahead of time with your passport, driver's license or SSS identification on hand. In 2 weeks time, you will receive your exam results.
  • Additional step for the state-sponsored visa: Gather your documents for your state sponsorship application. Note that requirements vary for each state. Send your application via courier or online if available. Make sure to present your application in a way that brings out an extensive research of the state in terms of its quality of life, cost of living, and work opportunities. Some states would require proof of your financial standing to show that you have enough resources when you migrate. Note though that you will not need to physically show them the money when you come over. Thus properties and other physical assets may be included together with your bank statements. Wait again. This may take 2-6 weeks depending on the state that you are applying as they have different processes. In my case, I received sponsorship from South Australia in 4 weeks and Victoria in 7 weeks. Note: most state sponsorship applications are free.
  • Once all the results arrived, gather your documents and requirements for your visa application which include but not limited to passport and birth certificate of all applicants, education qualifications of main applicant, skills assessment results, IELTS results, proof of genuine and continuing relationship of married couples etc. Print out the application forms (Form 1276; Form 80; Form 47A) and visa-specific checklist so you can have a go at answering the required information and check you have all the requirements. It takes time to look for the information so it is handy to have them in one paper even if you apply online. Scan all your documents in coloured as they will be attached when you apply online. Information on application charges i.e. how much and how to pay can be found here.
  • Apply online or send your application by post or courier to Adelaide Skilled Processing Centre or Brisbane Skilled Processing whichever is applicable to your visa. If you send it by courier, you can track when your application is received through your courier's tracking system and in a few weeks you will receive an acknowledgment letter from the Immigration. If you apply online, you can track your application at the online system using your account. The acknowledgment letter will provide you with an email address where you can send a blank email to get information on which applications (based on application date) are already being allocated and processed.
  • Now the waiting starts. If you have a query with your application contact Immigration using the ways discussed at this page . If you have a change in circumstances, say the wife got pregnant or you changed address, inform Immigration about this. For more information, check here.
  • If your application has been allocated, your case officer will write and request you to provide the additional documents such as the medical exam and the police clearance of all applicants in your application. You may have the medical exam in any Immigration Panel Doctors as explained on this page and police clearance as discussed here. Since the medical exam results and police clearance have short validity period, usually 1 year, and the application review takes longer, it is best to secure them when the case officer requested.
  • During this time, the case officer will thoroughly review your application and the information you provided. They may call your current and previous employers or even ask their embassies to do random visits of smaller business establishments to check the legitimacy of documents submitted resulting in a fair bit of time.
  • Then, visa is finally granted. The instructions on where to have the visa stamped on your passport are provided on the visa grant letter. It might be worth checking the website of the Australian Embassy in your country of location. This may vary from country to country. Once you have your passport back with the visa, book your flight and start to think about your plan to physically move! Remember that you and all other applicants should enter Australia on the date of last entry stipulated on your visa. This is usually the expiration of the medical exam results or the police clearance whichever comes first.

These are the general steps that I followed to migrate to the Land Down Under. The processing time varies now. A guesstimate is 12-15 months on the average. It is enough time to learn more about Australia and strategise the big move of your family. It is very important to plan ahead especially if you have kids to consider.

Wishing everyone all the best with your own migration journey. Would love to exchange insights with you! :D