[5] Big Little Perspectives

Two weeks in, I’m very pleased to say that not all of my initial impressions of Silicon Valley are holding true. Our comfort seems to grow with our experience, and each day we find our feet just that little bit more.


This got me thinking. Adults – Cam and I – only make up two fifths of our family; less than half of the Mence-Barrins contingent! To truly speak on behalf of ‘we’, I’ve realised I should be documenting perspectives other than my own.

And so, this post isn’t about my own first impressions. It’s about Clara’s.

Rewind a few months. I think it’s safe to say that I really did worry about the impact this move would have on my kids. Truth be told, however, it’s been manageable. I mean, there’s jet lag, a yet unfamiliar ‘home’, and the heartbreaking questions like ‘can my kindergarten friends come to my birthday?’ and ‘when are we going back to Australia?’. But it has, on the whole, been an opportunity for robust discussion about life and its quirks.

The girls are learning to cope with change while still young. And I love that.

Cece is one and Coco is two, so either they can’t express themselves verbally or they’re oblivious to the change. I don’t think it’s the latter, though. Take Clara, for instance. She’s almost four years old and asks so many questions!

It’s one of my very favourite things about the stage of development that Clara has reached: that we can now have such interesting little conversations. In an attempt to keep her gorgeous mind ticking over, I’ve taken the opportunity to chat with her about the fascinating topic of American Terminology.

Here are some things I’ve uttered recently:

  • They don’t appear to have porridge in the supermarkets here – it’s called ‘oats’
  • Tomato sauce is called ‘ketchup’, Clara!
  • Autumn is called ‘Fall’ (Clara: ‘What, like falling over?’ *hysterical laughter*)
  • Cece’s dummy is called a ‘pacifier’!
  • No, that’s not a ‘lift’ – it’s an ‘elevator’
  • No, there’s no ‘G’ (ground floor) button – you’ve got to press ‘1’ for the ground floor! (Clara: ‘What? That’s silly!’)
  • ‘Biscuit’? Nope, ‘cookie’
  • That’s not a ‘footpath’ – it’s actually the ‘sidewalk’
  • It would seem that you’re ‘klair-a’ here, Clara and not ‘klah-ra’ (Clara: *grumpy face*)
  • Do you know what they call the ‘car boot’ in America? The trunk! (Clara: ‘like an elephant?’ *crazy laughter*)

I guess after coming into contact with countless new words, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that she’d start asking me a little more about American language.

‘Mummy, what are apples called in America?’

‘Apples’ are called ‘apples’!

‘Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Apples are called apples?’

This was followed by a massive round of hysterical laughter that quite honestly lasted an entire day. Every person she met, spoke to, or Skyped, she asked ‘did you know apples are called apples in America?’ which was then followed by a fresh bout of her infectious cackling.


It’s not all giggles, though.

I’ve noticed Clara’s starting to sing these sad little songs, usually at moments that would otherwise be quite mundane.

I’m in a car with Coco, Cece, and Mummy and Daddy.

It’s so boring.

We’re going to the shops.


And then there are the times when she sits down at the table with paper and textas and draws a bunch of (beautiful) squiggly lines. Clara tells us she’s writing letters to her friends in Australia and reads them aloud as she writes:

Dear Tom,  

I will miss you so much.

So, so much.

I miss you so much.

I miss you.

Love, Clara.

Heartbreaking, right? Mainly because our days, at the moment, are all about errands and not at all about fun or friends.

I guess these funny little conversations about words and observations are our way of finding joy in the banal. I try to cultivate that joy at every chance I get, hoping with all my heart that one day the enthusiasm she shows in her observations over the word ‘apples’ will apply to her experience with change more generally.



Today, we headed to the park, something that has now become an enjoyable daily ritual amongst the mountain of endless errands.

In a sad little voice, Clara lamented: ‘I’m just so ready to go and see the American beaches, Mummy’.

Soon, honey. Soon.

But then I asked her what her favourite thing is about America.

‘My favourite thing is cars!’

Why, Clara?

‘They’re just so beautiful. So, so beautiful. They make me so happy.’

‘…and Mummy, did you know ‘apples’ are called ‘apples’?’

*hysterical laughter*


To hell with rose-coloured glasses. I want kid-coloured glasses. Don’t you?

clare x 1

29 thoughts on “[5] Big Little Perspectives

  1. Christine Hulme says:

    Reading your blog reminds me of my own experiences moving here from Australia 25 years ago. My kids grew up here and are now 21 and 17. I notice you are learning to love it and you will. Try to go find some hiking areas, the parks are gorgeous. Exploring is the key to enjoying this area. So much to do with kids too. Hint: The further south you go the nicer house you get for the money and less traffic. We started out in Mountain View and moved to Morgan Hill, lots of open space. Good luck and enjoy the bay area!


    • Clare says:

      Hi Christine. Thank you for reading and thanks for your lovely note. I wonder if we’ll also be here in 25 years and saying the same thing about our kids growing up here?! We are definitely planning to explore a lot, especially the parks. California has so much to offer and our list of places to visit grows daily. We’re very excited about getting all the boring stuff out of the way and finding time to explore. Thank you again. I am now off to check where Morgan Hill is on the map!


  2. Leah says:

    Love your stories. Remember to correct people when it comes to Clara’s name, somethings are not meant to be americanised. Keep up the blog, it is not only entertaining but educational . Apples are called apples😂🤣


    • Clare says:

      Thanks Leah! I agree re the Clara pronunciation. However the challenge is that Palo Alto is in Santa Clara County – which means everyone knows the word Clara – but pronounces it Klair-ah. OMG! So I am correcting EVERYONE.
      I love the apples are called apples thing the best! xx


  3. Mollycott89 says:

    Tears running down my face! I love the way you are engaging the kids in life changes and enabling them to say it as it is. They will truly develop resilence in such a loving home and look forward to hesring about their American buddies! My client comes out with somd good ones: ” I wouldn’t give it oxygen” seems a polite way of closing down a discussion! Sending love to all x


  4. katherinefenech2017 says:

    Oh my gosh, Clara is the absolute cutest! I also love that her reactions to some American words are similar to the ones I had when I worked out that there is no “Ground” floor (still so confusing!) and that a dummy is a “pacifier”.
    I can’t imagine having to explain to a little one that she can’t just jump in the car and go to Australia to see her friends or have her kinder class come to her birthday party. Moving abroad with kids is certainly a bigger job! I’m glad you’re enjoying parts of the move though 🙂


  5. Antigoni Runge says:

    Hi there Clare

    Loved the story above from your daughters perspective, very cute and a wonderful to read about their take on things. I moved here recently from OZ with my 7-year-old and with my mind cluttered with stress, to-do lists and acclimating to our new environment I had to stop and consider what he was going through. He too would ask those adorable ‘what do they call in America questions…. I’d forgotten about them until I read your post. Thank you for taking my mind back to a smiling space….


    • Clare says:

      Awwww, you’re most welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read the post! How recently did you move and whereabouts are you living? I can’t wait until all the admin of setting up life is done!


      • Antigoni Runge says:

        Hey there Clare

        Happy New Year and apologies for my delayed response, I’ve just come back from Canada.

        We moved here in July last year however I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Canada visiting my elderly in-laws.

        Moving here is fantastic with so many new adventures but now I seem to have two lots of things to take care of, tax here and in OZ etc….

        We are living in an apartment in North Beach, where are you located.

        Hope this finds you well.


    • Clare says:

      Oh I hope you had a great time in Canada!

      I haven’t been to North Beach yet. We need to do some more exploring of the San Francisco area. We are south of you in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

      I know what you mean about having to do two lots of things – adds so much more to our life admin lists!!

      Hope you missed the earthquake last week 😉

      Clare x


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