Friday, December 31, 2010
We went to the beach yesterday morning. On the way there, I texted my parents, who are in the mountains: "It's December 30th--time to go to the beach!", knowing that it was far from beach weather where they are. Mom texted back that they'd had 10 inches of snow and no water for most of the day. Dad had to thaw out the pipe leading from the well with a hairdryer. I still don't really understand that, but you don't get a lot of details via text message, ya know?
After the hectic pace of the last few months, we have loved doing nothing this week. That nothing includes:
--eating Jason's homemade salsa and Mexican chicken (Yum. Seriously.)
--baking and eating strawberry pie
--going to the beach
--baking and eating cinnamon bread
--thinking about doing laundry
--baking and eating peach crumble
--not doing laundry
--chatting with friends
--watching Anchorman, which I got for Christmas. Truly hilarious movie. Will Ferrell is the gift that keeps on giving.
--and finally, showing Nate's new remote controlled dinosaur to our families on the webcam
Y'all. This remote controlled dinosaur is worth all the angst and heartache I suffered to get him. Santa came through, and thank goodness he did. It's nearly as big as Grace and roars, stomps, growls, belches, lights up, cranes its neck every which way--pretty much everything a 5 year old boy could hope for. And Santa got a pretty good deal on it, too. Woohoo!
In other Christmas news, I surprised Jase with a free 2 hour class at Sydney Trapeze School. No, I'm not kidding. Jason was a diver for many years, and as a result loves spinning through the air, taking death defying leaps, and other generally unwise things. I remember once when we were dating, we were walking through downtown Dallas. He looked up at one of the skyscrapers and mused to me, "Sometimes I wish I could jump off one of those and see how many flips I could do before I blacked out." He seemed surprised to learn that, no, I never wished the same thing. Swimmers and divers are a little nuts, in my experience.
So, I know it seems like a very random gift to give, but he's excited to go learn how to be a Flying Wallenda or whatever. And you can bet your sweet bippy that I will post photos when that day comes.
In the meantime, Happy New Year!! This year, we're going to some friends' house for a BBQ and pool party, and Ava and Nate are begging to stay up till midnight. Do you think it would be totally evil to let them think 10pm was midnight? We could do a countdown and everything: "Happy New Year! Now go to bed!!" As I told Jason, it would be midnight in New Zealand at that point. That's close enough, right?
Enjoy the weekend! I'll catch you on the other side.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
"Christmas began in the heart of God. It is only complete when it reaches the heart of man."--Unknown
It's been a wonderful Christmas day. I hope yours is too, wherever you may find yourself. Christmas can be a tough time for many people--I'm praying that joy and peace win the day.
Also, I'm sorry if you're out of AA batteries...I think we have all of them at our house.
Merry Christmas, y'all! Thank you for stopping by this little corner of the world wide interwebs. I think you're sweet.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
(Ava and Nate relaxing on the driveway after washing the car.)
And after you get over not having hot chocolate to drink and fires in the fireplace, you can appreciate the laziness of a summer day combined with the fun and anticipation of Christmastime. It's different, you know? But a good kind of different. And you can in fact celebrate the birth of Jesus in hot weather. I've tried it--it's true.
The other night we took the kids to look at Christmas lights. We didn't go too far, just drove around our local neighborhood. And saw this, which was my favorite. Nothing says Christmas in Australia like this:
I had Jason pull over so I could hop out (Heh--hop!) and get a picture. As I stood in these people's grass, I heard a rustling in the flowerbed at my feet. It was dark and I am skittish. I jumped, much like a kangaroo actually, and ran back to the car. So like Australia to have a big lizard or whatever lying in wait as I try to enjoy my Christmas down under. I get it, okay Australia? You have critters! Lots of them! Thank you for the reminder!
Oh, and speaking of reptilian things, we managed to get Nate's dinosaur from the seller on eBay! Phew--Christmas is saved, everybody! Feel free to go about your business.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
If she would've held still--I don't think Gracie has a future in catalog modeling--you could see that there are little beaded "sprinkles" on the ice cream. And here's the other--it's a red balloon. Sorry for this weird photo. I was holding her still with one hand and snapping the pic with the other. She was a hostile witness.Since Gracie loves to thwart my grooming attempts, she promptly pulled it out, so I can attest to their durability! Thanks, Beth! If you need a little stocking stuffer for a little girl in your world, check out Beth's website here.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By the time I set the tray down and got the camera to take a picture, half of them were gone. So, as you can see, fairy bread is a big winner. Even my scantly sprinkled ones! To me, it seems like this ought to be an American invention. It seems that Americans are usually the ones to invent the sugary, fatty snacks with zero nutritional value. Twinkies, anyone? Ho Ho's? Deep-Fried Snickers Bars? But the Aussies beat us to the punch on this one. Nicely played, guys.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Please notice that I said, "try".
It was crazy-making, to say the least.
Can you get a sheep dog for children? I have seriously wondered about this.
Someone who may or may not have been me may or may not have gotten a little Mommy Dearest with them. I threatened, I bribed, I threatened to retract my bribe. I reinstated my bribe.
"Act happy, kids, or we'll move in the middle of the night and Santa won't know where to find us!"
I figured I'd gone too far when Nate told me at one point, "I'm not gonna be your friend, Mom!" That was a high point.
And then it started raining. Here's what Grace thought about that: "Fiery darts are falling from the sky. Why does everyone hate me?"
So we went to the bakery.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
And here I am afterward. Ava and Nate weren't sure how to take it all. I think Ava was more embarrassed than I was.
Full Disclosure statement: Dad would like me to tell you that, although we were at Bondi, on a path with literally hundreds of people strolling back and forth, he let me go down a little side path, where only a few people were around. And he also maintains that I flaked out halfway through, and only gave about 15 seconds of good, quality chicken. I say why take 30 seconds to do what you can get done in 15? I was clucking, I was bobbing, I was scratching. What more can one girl-chicken do?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Oh, Sydney. Sydney, Sydney, Sydney. I get all annoyed at you for your lack of free refills, high cost of living, and poor excuse for salsa, and then you go and do a thing like this. Look at you, all stunning and stuff. I can't quit you.
It's a funny thing, when you have 24 hours with no agenda but relaxation. There are so many things you could do, that you try to do all of them, but in shorter duration. So, it's like relaxing on speed. Lay in your bathrobe and watch part of a movie, sit in the hottub for 15 minutes, take a power nap, go to dinner...let's keep this moving along, shall we? We're burning daylight! There are opportunities to chill that we are not utilizing!! What's wrong with you? Pick up the pace!!
No, we really did have a lovely time. And came home this afternoon to discover that Grace has an ear infection, Dad got the stomach virus that's been plaguing the rest of us, and no one got much sleep. So, all in all, a good night to be away!
Ha--just kidding! Sort of.
Chicken pics coming soon!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Sorry for the delay. We've been a bit busy. There have been sightseeing and grandparents and reading books and gameplaying and now, stomach viruses.
Both Grace and I got sick at the same time last night, on the heels of Ava and Nate being sick last week. Poor Jason had to get up with her every time she got sick last night cause I was not up to the task of, like, walking and stuff. One of those nights where the fuzzy bath mat looks like a perfectly good place to lie down.
But tomorrow is a new day! I need to come back and tell y'all how my Dad made me cluck like a chicken in a public place. There are pictures.
Don't you just love family?
Saturday, November 13, 2010
When the kids were diagnosed with whooping cough last month, the doctor told us that, post-treatment, they would likely have a cough for up to 90 days.
She wasn't kidding about that. Although not as often anymore, Ava and Grace continue to have dramatic, "whoop-y" coughs going on, especially at night. It sounds awful, but they're mostly undisturbed by it. And I will add, that "whooping" cough sounds a lot more cheerful than it really is. Whoop sounds too much like "yippee" to me. And trust me, there are no balloons or parties involved here. Just phlegm, mostly. Sorry--there, I've said it. Should I have said sputum instead? No, definitely not, that's way worse.
Anyway, we've gotten used to hearing them cough in the night, and sometimes one of us has to go and hold Grace for a minute so she'll calm down. But this week, Nate got a stomach bug, followed a few days later by Ava getting it. And now the countdown is on to see if Gracie gets it too. You know how some workplaces will have an "84 days without an accident" sign posted? And then, when someone gets hurt, the sign goes back to zero? That's a little how this feels. We'd been doing so well! But now our sign is back to zero. Someone's gonna get canned.
So this week, in the night, when one of them coughs, we sort of lift our heads off the pillow. We're thinking, Is that a normal whoop-y cough? Or is it an I am about to throw up cough? Then one of us, whomever got up the time before, will nudge the other and say, "Nate--threw up" or "Grace--just coughing." It's one of the many, many things in life that you don't think you'll have to think about. Until you have to think about it. Yes, my life right now is about discerning whether my child is blowing chunks in the next room or just merely hacking up a lung. And then, half asleep, trying to decide which child it was.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Don't just sit on the monster truck! Next time, plug some coins in that baby and take her for a whirl. You deserve the thrill!
Life's short, you know? We all need a treat every now and then. That photo depicts pure, cackling glee. I'll take some of that, please--right over here!
Now here's the part where I say we could all learn so much from children. Teach them well and let them lead the way, blah blah.
Have a great day. Put the pedal to the metal, baby!
Monday, November 1, 2010
This house (pictured) was the only one we went to with carved jack-o-lanterns. As my neighbors and I stood on the driveway watching the kids, I chuckled. "That's 50 bucks worth of pumpkin right there." Maybe they'll find a way to work it into their everyday decor.
So that's that! It was nice. But I was reminded of what I always miss this time of year: candy corn.
How I love candy corn. Like regular corn, but awesomer. As a kid, and then for more years than I'd like to admit beyond, I'd eat it by the handful(s). Candy corn is pure in its mind-numbing, tooth-endangering sweetness. It's simple and unpretentious. Take all your high falutin', uppity candies and give me candy corn any day.
You can't get it here...but I have hopes!
Did you get candy corn this year? Would you tell me about it? Was it the traditional corn style or the tiny pumpkin variety? Was it wonderful?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
It's a beach town just an hour or so south of Sydney. Lovely. But please don't make the mistake I did when we first moved here and say, "Wall-un-gong". Even though that's what it looks like. Cause people will snicker at you, like they did at me. It's "Woo-lohn-gong". These wacky Australians. Also, Cairns is pronounced "Cans". What gives?
Anyway, Jason left last night with Ava and Nate--they were gonna camp out. Grace and I don't camp. So we stayed home and we're joining them this afternoon, after I teach my scripture class at the high school. It rained in Wollongong last night, so camping out didn't happen. This did instead:
Ha! Love that.
It's always crazy trying to get out of town, and Jason keeps texting me more stuff to bring. Bike Helmets, swim goggles, extension cords. I need to get out of here before he comes up with more stuff.
But this, my friends, I will be packing for sure:
The new Lee Child book is out! And just in time. I've blogged about Jack Reacher and his wild, justice-seeking ways before. They involve: stopping at nothing, broad shoulders, striding purposefully, and percolated coffee. Oh, and pure awesomeness. Becky has a great post up today about the books. Why haven't you been reading these? Your life is surely lacking as a result. I say this as your friend. Anyway, I'll try not to neglect the kids or our friends this weekend as I devour the book.
Enjoy the rest of your week! xoxo
Monday, October 25, 2010
Over the last few years, though, I've noticed that more people and more of our grocery stores and shops are getting into Halloween. I've heard about some neighborhoods that go all out, with every house decorated. And though it's nothing like what it is in the States, there's a lot more Halloween chatter and activities going on. It's been interesting to watch it gradually catch on here.
Yesterday, Grace and I were at Woolworth's (our local grocery store) and I saw this:
Good news is, you can get a Halloween pumpkin for your very own self. Bad news is, you gotta pay 25 bucks for it. I stood there and laughed to myself in the produce section. Because there is no way, noooooo way, that I am paying $25 for a pumpkin. Not gonna happen.
Thankfully, our kids don't know what they're missing. They don't know that their cousins in America will go out trick-or-treating and come home with 8 pounds of candy. Last year, we visited about 4 houses--all friends of ours--and came home. Ava and Nate were happy, and so was I. Easy peasy.
A few nights ago, I was at a preschool committee meeting and the subject turned to Halloween. Most of the moms there were ambivalent about it, but a few were adamant. They didn't like Halloween and didn't see the point of it. It wasn't really because of their religious views, as is often the case in the States with people who don't participate in Halloween. It was more like, why do people do this? What's the point? Plus,isn't this an American thing? You can imagine that, if you didn't grow up doing it yourself, the idea of dressing your children up and sending them out to countless houses asking for candy is a little bizarre. One lady said her husband was caught unaware by some hopeful trick-or-treaters last year and all he had to give them was dried figs. Ha! Awesome.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
It is unpleasantness that I would not wish on anyone. Need I say, toast with jam Does Not Cut It.
There ought to be a red phone for situations like this. "It's 7:30 in the morning and I have no peanut butter. Send in the helicopters!"
I hope that you have a great weekend, enriched with peanutty goodness. Unless you are allergic. In that case, I hear that almond butter is nice.
Edited to add: I have been sitting here thinking of all the other areas of life that should have red phones. Like, "I'm too tired to get off the couch and go to bed!", or "This tupperware container is full of 2 week old leftovers!", or "I have to act like I know what this meeting is about!" What are some of yours?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
This morning I took Nate to kindergarten orientation. For those of you in other parts of the world, our school year begins at the end of January. So, about this time, schools hold events for the next year's kindergarten students to come check it out. The kids play while the teachers observe, and the principal talks to the parents.
Nate kept telling me he was "embarrassed to go", but I think he meant "nervous". Sometimes there's not much difference between the two, I guess. Once we entered the classroom though, he pointed at some construction toys and said, "Look! We have those at preschool! Bye, Mom."
Well, okay then. It's bittersweet, but also an extraordinary relief when your kid can separate from you without too much stress or anxiety. Makes me feel like we've done something right. Of course, earlier that morning while Nate and I were dropping Ava off at her class, he found a rock the size of his head, picked it up, and was poised to throw it. So, maybe a need for improvement there.
After the program, there were cupcakes with each child's name on them, balloons in the school colors, and rainbow popcorn. Maybe kindergarten won't be so bad after all.
This is one of those moments in parenting where you marvel: how do the years speed by when many of the days seem so long? Speaking of bittersweet.
I think I need a cupcake.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
1. Kids' Songs on You Tube.
Grace doesn't sit still long to watch TV, but she loves watching stuff on our laptop! All three kids sat the other morning and watched--in perfect, descending height order too! (Told you I've been organizing!) Here's some cute ones I'd recommend to entertain your young child:
--The Elephant Song, by Eric Herman. Very cute little song with illustrations.
--Little Red. This is a song/cartoon about a race horse. Ava loves this one.
--The Duck Song(s). Here's Part One, Part Two, Part Three. These are silly songs about a duck looking for grapes. I know that sounds weird, but you just have to see it for yourself.
Our once-neglected bird feeder is now the hottest spot in town. Yeah baby, cockatoos flying in from all over town to hit that. Nate can't help himself...when he sees one outside at the feeder, he creeps outside and gets as close as he can. Then he yells at the top of his lungs. Then he laughs while the bird flies away, screeching. I told him that cockatoos are pretty big and that he better be careful. He might make them mad. Yet, he is undeterred.
The kids have really enjoyed the laid back life of quarantine. When no one wants to come over to your house and people run screaming from your wheezing cough, why get dressed? Ava was pretty bummed to have to put on her uniform and go back to school yesterday. We've enjoyed relaxing a little more. Hey, ya gotta make the most of these situations.
4. Water balloons.
My friends, because I love you, I have just given you a piece of childcare GOLD. Why hadn't I thought of this sooner? Water balloons are the answer! The answer!! We'd bought these for Nate's ill-fated birthday party and got them out yesterday. The kids had so much fun throwing them off our balcony to the driveway below. After dinner, we went in the backyard and threw them at each other. Then this morning, Nate was throwing more onto the driveway. This, combined with a few cans of silly string from the dollar store have been the highlights of the week.
And it reminded me of how fun that stuff is. When was the last time you used up a whole can of silly string or chucked a water balloon? It was liberating.
And that is how we're surviving around here, along with the usual suspects: Lego tower building, DVD watching, and mess making. You know you've been home a long time when the kids fight over who "gets to" go get the mail. Wild times over here.
So after tomorrow, we're back in the swing of things. That's good news. Even better news? The doctor informs me that all three kids will likely have this cough for three months. That just made my day. Cause I was really hoping to get more dirty looks at the grocery store.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Except they do. I left to see my friend, and then on Wednesday afternoon our GP called me. "You've got a fun week ahead!" she told me, adding that I could come pick up the prescriptions. The girls would need to be quarantined for 5 days, and if any of us started coughing too we'd need to get on the antibiotics. Of course, I'm getting this call 6 hours away from Sydney, so I called Jason, and he picked up the medicine and got the partay started.
Later on Wednesday, a nurse from the Public Health Service called me to make sure we'd gotten the antibiotics and to find out if the kids had been around any infants or pregnant women since they'd been sick. I asked her why they got sick since they'd been vaccinated. It seems, she told me, that vaccines don't necessarily keep you from getting sick if the illness is in the population. But they make it much, much less worse. I guess whooping cough sticks around from people who don't get vaccinated? All those crunchy, granola types who don't believe in vaccines? That's fine for them, but I didn't realize it would make my kid sick! (I'm kidding, crunchy no-vaccine people! I like granola, too.) Anyhoo.
I've been away on a trip without my kids 3-4 times in their little lives. And it amazes me, but each time, they manage to get sick. And these are remarkably healthy children who rarely get sick. My standings in the Mother of the Year contest fall a little lower each time. Jason handled it all beautifully--I offered to change my flight and fly home Thursday, but he said fuhgeddaboutit. He didn't even subtly try to make me feel guilty! Yet more proof that he is a better person than I am.
But I'm back in the saddle now! I flew home Friday morning and resumed my post. Nate was able to go to preschool Thursday and Friday, as he hadn't been coughing. We were assured that until the cough begins, a person isn't contagious. Friday afternoon, I went to pick him up. "Hi, Mom!" he called out, with the voice of a 60 year old chain smoker. Uh-oh. He had gotten a cold over the course of the day, with the inevitable cough creeping in last night.
So, Nate started on the antibiotics, too! His 5 days begins today, and ends Wednesday. I have a prescription for myself, but haven't needed to fill it yet. Are you confused yet? My GP laughed at me when I called her. And, bless Nate, I'm going to cancel his birthday party again, cause we'll still be on quarantine. There's always next year! I think we'll be eating frozen monster truck cake for a few weeks, though. You want some? Come stand in my driveway, and I'll drop some down from the balcony. It's safe, I swear.
All in all, it's not so bad. Quarantine while you have DVD's, high speed internet, and spring weather is definitely bearable. Ava will be able to go back to school on Monday and I will dip our entire house in hand sanitizer. That's the plan.
Have a great weekend, y'all!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Somehow, someone replaced my little baby with a big boy who has, like, opinions and stuff. This is what he wanted to wear for church on Sunday. Nate is equal parts barbarian, comedian, nudist, and sweetie pie. Little boys are just about the best thing ever.
Nate was born just three months after we moved here. When I look at him it's hard for me to believe--both that he is turning 5 and that we have been here more than 5 years! I posted some about his birth here, and here is how I know he is our first true-blue Aussie: he hates wearing shoes, he loves hot chips, and he likes to party. (See first paragraph re: nudity.)
Speaking of parties, we've had to postpone Nate's birthday party for a week. I wasn't planning a big bash, just a few friends to come over and eat cake and shoot silly string at each other. But Ava developed a wicked cough over the weekend, which may or may not be whooping cough. There's something of an epidemic in Northern Sydney, so I took her to be tested today. The doctor advised, and I agreed, that we probably shouldn't have 7 kids over when whooping cough might be present. Like, "Hey kids! Forget candy--for your party favors this year, you get an infectious disease!"
Don't worry...for a healthy child Ava's age, whooping cough isn't dangerous--just very contagious. If she has it at all, she'll need to be kept away from other kids till she's been on the antibiotics a few days. Grace is also coughing a bit so we had her tested as well, just as a precaution. But we are all fine.
My main concern at this particular moment is how to freeze a frosted sheet cake. I'd already baked and decorated Nate's cake last night, and there's no way I'm baking another for next week! Here's my plan: put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to harden the icing, wrap it in something (foil?), put it in a covered metal tin, then stick it in the freezer. What do you think? Anyone tried this?
So wish me luck y'all. I'll let you know how all that works out. And prayers, crossed fingers, and pixie dust, please--that Ava and Grace are free from whooping cough. Thanks! xoxo
Friday, October 8, 2010
Lovely Rainbow Lorikeets. We had probably half a dozen perched on our balcony. Nate and Ava were so excited. You can see the bread there that they put out to try and keep them there longer. Can you believe how intensely colored they are? So pretty.
This one seemed a little mad at me. This was taken without a zoom lens, so I was just standing there right in front of him. He was kinda rocking back and forth and clicking his tongue. Is that lorikeet for "Step off, human!"? Who knows?
Sorry for the picture quality! I wasn't quite as willing to get close to this one. This is a green snake that Jason spotted on our driveway day before yesterday. We have a garage that we use for storage (as in, it doesn't lead directly to the house and we don't park the car in it) and Jason saw it about to go in there. Yikes! He caught it, being the mensch that he is. I looked it up on my phone and we determined that it was probably a Green Tree Snake. (It's hard to tell from the photo, but the snake was a pretty vivid green color.) This snake, the internets assured us, was non-venomous. So, Jason took it to the bushland across the street and let it go. If you love something let it go, and all that.
I know! What's with all the animals? I think the warmer weather is causing everyone to come out. I'm not sure what kind of lizard this is, but I do know they're pretty common. I see them skittering around from time to time. They keep to themselves though, which is fine by me. They're a bit skittish, but I wanted to get you a better shot. Do you see how I have your best interests at heart? Here's a shot Jason took of me trying to get a closeup:
Grace insisted on coming along. As bait. Oh come on, I'm kidding. And yes, Jason took a picture of me taking a picture of something. Internet, we only thought of you. But here's the money shot, yo:
He's probably about a foot long, from head to tail. He skittered off right after I took this, I think cause Grace growled at him. No, really. She growls at any animal she sees right now--birds, cats, dogs. And now lizards. Really knowing Grace, are we surprised? She'll cut you.
So that's what's been happening here. Jason and I defending our home and children from all manner of critters. Ah, the wilds of suburban Sydney.
- I am from the American South and now I live in Australia with my family. Jason and I have 3 kids, Ava, Nate, and our little Grace. We moved here in 2005 to help start a church and became the pastors in 2007. This blog is about what happens when people STOP being nice and START being real. (Not really. I stole that line from "The Real World".) This blog is about a stranger living in a strange land, trying to do some good, and raising kids. Also, there is some drinking tea and eating Tim Tams. Life is good.
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