Ren was born in September. I got a sniff of a new job in October. Applied for it in November, won it in December, started it in Cairns in January. Sold our Cairns house in February, promptly bought a block of land on the Gold Coast, put the wife and kids on a plane to Japan, and moved myself and our stuff to the Coast in March.
Got used to the new work environment through April. Started negotiating with a builder. Took a couple of weeks off in Japan myself over Easter and Golden Week, then we all came back together to move in with Mum and Dad in May.
Found child care for the kids. Signed a contract on the house build in June. Masumi went back to TAFE and construction started at the block in July. Three trips to Canberra for work during August. Now here we are in September - Spring is springing fantastically, Mum and Dad have just headed off for a long holiday in Mother Blighty, we've got the house to ourselves, and our not-so-little boy is crawling as he approaches his first birthday. All of our kids are doing well. It's a beautiful sort of mayhem for our family.
But I should elaborate.
First - the new job. I'm still with the same department. With the change of federal government last year, we got a new name, but it's the same business. My old position was a pseudo IT and project management role supporting biosecurity operations in far northern Australia. Now I've jumped into corporate IT, providing IT support and services to all of our staff and programs in the Brisbane area. It's been a good shift - I'm learning new things, working across a broader cross-section of the department's business, and getting opportunities to do interesting work. The only killer is the commute to Brisbane, but once we have our own house, the commute will be shorter and I hope to work from home more regularly. See how we go.
Of course, it's also been good to move closer to my family. After 5 years in Japan and 7 years in Cairns, I was looking for an opportunity to be closer to my parents, closer to my brother, too, and it makes a lot of sense for us to move before the kids start school. Really looking forward to the Commonwealth Games here in 2018. Japan was great, so was Cairns, and I miss them both, but it really feels like the right time to be on the Gold Coast.
Second - selling the house in Cairns. We tiled the patio, did a couple of touch ups and spoke to a local real estate agent in November, just in case we had to move quickly. When the confirmation of the new job in Brisbane finally came through in January, we pulled the trigger and put the house on the market. We got lucky with our timing. A shortage of houses on the market in that part of town, in our price range, led to a quick sale. Within 3 days of placing ads on the web, we had a signed contract. The agent hadn't even put a sign up on the street!
Third - moving house. Masumi and the kids went to Japan - we missed each other, but this proved to be a great idea. I didn't have to pack everything on my own. A few work mates came over for a packing party, that part was sensational. Problems only started when I was ready to go, I'd locked things in with the backloading company and taken leave on the day the contracting removalist was due to turn up... and they were a no show. Dramas ensued. In short, the backloading company shafted me and I had to get another reputable local removalist in at the last minute. It worked out in the end. Just. I reckon everyone who has ever had to deal with removalists has at least one bad story to tell. Now I do, too, but at least I'm wiser for it. Next time, if I ever have to have a next time, I'll be dealing directly with whoever is handling my stuff.
Fourth - the new house. As soon as I knew we were moving to South East Queensland, I jumped on a plane and went house-hunting. Coomera, the suburb around Dreamworld, used to be the boonies, nothing but forested hills and rural properties. Now it's the Gold Coast's next booming centre of development, with houses everywhere, a train station, all the schools and shops you could ever need, and a major shopping centre and Commonwealth Games infrastructure about to start construction. I originally intended to just buy an existing house, but the few I looked at were nothing special and the other inspections I'd lined up just fell through. The only thing that jumped out at me was a good block of land, in a nice pocket of a new development in Coomera, near a good school. I was introduced to a builder who seemed to have the goods. It was hard to believe that I was going to build another house, only two years after building our first, but it just seemed like it was meant to be.
The only problem, of course, was that we would need somewhere else to stay until it was built. Mum and Dad came to the party. It's a tight squeeze, four adults and three kids in a three-bedroom house, but now that the house is going up and we can see steady progress, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And in many ways, for all the minor hassles of living under one roof, it's been great to see my parents and our kids enjoying so much time together.
Now that we're settled into life on the Gold Coast, I'm catching up with old acquaintances from school and uni. I'm getting back into taiko drumming. I joined the local team Kizuna and got on stage for the first time just last Sunday. Some of the people I've met through the drumming scene have also been keen to learn Awa Odori dancing, so we've started a small group that meets regularly to practice. Maybe by this time next year we'll be ready to perform.
And maybe I'll pick up my act and get more blog posts in by that time, too? That all depends on whether it stops raining or not. :)