After an incredibly busy June and July at work, I flew back home on July 29 so that I could attend the Family Reunion that occurs every 3 years. The 'Onion' as it is often referred to, is based on my Mom's family and her 10 brothers and sisters. If you do the math, that translates into about 150 people who admit being related to one another, showing up at any given Onion. This year was no exception. We eat, we drink, we do skits and we get reacquainted with one another.
For example, I haven't seen my brother's oldest for about 10 years and in that time, he's gotten married, joined the Air Force, has been stationed in Japan for 6 years and this was the first time I got to meet his wife and her 2 boys. What a great family and what a fine man he's become. There is a video he put on Facebook of our family doing their skit with another family plus I think he put my solo skit on, doing my best Aussie imitation as "Crikey Craig." I was glad that Aussie Customs hadn't seen it before re-entering the country, it could've been "cavity search!"
I returned August 10th and Holly followed me, planning on staying about 3 weeks. That'll be the most time we've spent together since I arrived in the land of Oz. She's studying for her final oral exam to get a Masters in Speech Therapy/Pathology next month and it is a daunting task to cover 3 years worth of study. I know she'll do well.
My situation is whether or not my contract will be renewed in October and if it is, should I accept it? I do miss the homeland, but it is wonderful down under. There are financial considerations; will I make more here than in the depressed economy back home? Will Holly allow me to stay longer if it makes sense to do so in some way. She does after all, want to see if she can work down under for a couple of years herself and with getting her Master's plus becoming certified after one year of work in the US (although it is possible to do that working abroad), she would have an easier time making the transition to Oz if I were already here working.
What about kids? Both are doing well with Carly halfway through her Bachelor's and Nick working full time plus after having graduated last year. They're exceptional young adults (no bias here) and it is difficult for me to be away from them. Holly would find it even harder to handle the long distance, at least for too long of a time.
If I don't get my contract renewed in mid-October, my plan at this time is to sell all I've acquired at a "Deportation" yard sale, hop in the car and spend the 28 days the Australian government allows me to stay while not employed to travel and see this great country. I haven't had much opportunity to travel as I thought I would and plan on making up for it. That will mean leaving mid-November and if were to return to the US, I'd lose the foreign income exclusion and have to pay taxes on everything I've earned this calender year (I can only be in the US a maximum of 28 days per calender year). It doesn't matter that I pay taxes at a much higher rate than the natives here in Oz, the IRS wants its share of blood regardless of where it was earned. Thank the US government for keeping families apart...again.
I do have a ticket to return on Dec. 23rd when we'll head down to Sunriver, OR to join up with Holly's siblings and their families for Christmas. We've done that a couple of times in the past and it is a lot of fun. I'd recommend it! So mid-November until Dec. 23rd I will either find a place that is inexpensive to live, such as Bali or Papua New Guinea or some such south Pacific locale OR see if I can crew on a yacht delivery to a non-US destination. Either way, I'll fly back into Sydney to catch my flight back for Christmas.
I do have one ad out for crewing but does anyone have a suggestion for cheap living for 6 or so weeks near the land of Oz? Some pensioners claim to live on less than $180 per week in Bali, and that includes the maid who does the shopping and cooking!
If you haven't visited me yet and wanted to do so, time is potentially getting short.