Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Birthday Boy

Since Nathan had the first birthday since moving to Australia and he was the child we were most concerned about, we decided to make this a bigger birthday for him.  We did some normal things, like letting him choose what was for dinner (banana pancakes with chocolate syrup) and picking a birthday cake.  We also decided to let him pick something "big" to do.  He wanted to go to the Torango Zoo in Sydney, so we decided to leave for Sydney on Saturday and visit the zoo on Sunday.

Friday was Nath's actual birthday.  He invited Sami over and they swam in our pool for quite a long time.  It was a beautiful day - 33 Celsius and not a cloud in the sky.  The kids had a blast and we had to force them out of the pool when it began to get cool in the evening.

After Sami went home we opened presents and had birthday cake.  As we had gotten packages to the house, I had been opening and wrapping them.  Family didn't want to send things wrapped in case they were checked by customs.  My mom even had me put several Monster Trucks together just so things would fit in a box.  Nathan later said he would rather have just opened the brown boxes.  Thanks for telling me that after I had bought several overpriced tubes of wrapping paper, son.

Sitting with his presents

He was excited to get his telescope

Yummy Mousse Cake (or Mouse, per Nathan)

Blowing out his candles

We got up the next morning and headed off to Sydney.  We stayed at the Marriott in Circular Quay this time.  We were a 2 minute walk from the harbor.  This is the lovely view we had.

Harbour Bridge at day...

and night.

We headed off to the Rocks to spend most of the day.  We had pizza at a small pizzeria - Bri and I had ours topped with Proscuttio and Rocket, while the boys had a Four Cheese.

Next we went to a museum that outlined the history of Sydney, from Aboriginals to present.  It was inter, even for the kids.  It was small enough to hold their interest.

The Rocks has a huge outdoor market on the weekend.  It had all sorts of interesting things, including key chains made from Kangaroo parts.  They actually had beautiful clothes.  Since I was with three boys I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked.

We wandered around and ended up in some green space under the Harbour Bridge.  There were several cannons from the original battery, so the boys had a great time.

With my birthday boy

How I Stopped Worrying

and Learned to Love the Bomb
It was beginning to drizzle at this point, so we walked over to Circular Quay for afternoon tea.  Nathan had a hard time choosing what sweet thing to eat.

He ended up with a ricotta filled donut that had been rolled in sugar.  It was the house special and wonderfully tasty!

We walked over a few streets and wandered through the Royal Botanical Garden, which is just beginning to bloom.  I would love to go back in a month to see it in full bloom.

We went back to the hotel after this to clean up for dinner.  Finding an affordable, kid friendly place around the harbour is not the easiest thing to do.  We settled for a 24-hour diner type place.  The food was pretty good and we headed back to the hotel to catch some sleep - and the last of the Premiership Semifinal games.

We woke up to a grey sky with heavy rain.  Nathan still wanted to go to the zoo, so we were off.  We bought ponchos and headed to catch the ferry.  I have very few pictures because it was raining so hard, which is unfortunate because it was a beautiful zoo.  I got to see a baby Platypus swimming (called a puggle), which is as adorable as one might expect.

We wandered into a wombat den.  I learned that if they feel sleep, they sleep on their backs.  I was getting ready to take a picture when Brian got my attention.  An emu had followed us in the den and began to move fairly swiftly towards us.  We quickly got the kids and moved out of that area, shutting the gate behind us and the Emu away from us.

The elephants were fun.  The two siblings were wrestling in the water, reminding me very much of two human brothers.  Adorable.

This is actually from the Sky Safari

I was able to get a picture of the Koala because there was a roof over us.  It was pouring by this point, so after several hours at the zoo we decided to head out after the Koalas.

We rode the Sky Safari from the top of the zoo down to the ferry.  I'm certain it would be beautiful on a lovely sunny day.  Here's what we got:

Brian and I found a Starbucks in Circular Quay and got coffees because even with the ponchos, jackets, and umbrellas, we were still fairly cold.  I was looking forward to having a Pumpkin Spice Latte after seeing so many people talking about it on Facebook.  Alas, it is only available in the United States.  Stop taunting me, please!

We drove home in the pouring rain, which makes for a horrible drive.  I was still cold and decided to take a nice hot bath in my lovely sunken bathtub.  Nathan had a wonderful time, which is what matters the most.  We love our favourite 7 year old!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Maddness, I Tell You, Maddness

Mini-Maddness, that is! 

One of the things we love about Nathan's school is the well-roundedness (spell check is telling me I made this word up.  Oh well) of the education.  There is a definite emphasis placed on the arts, which naturally Bri and I love.  They built a Performing Arts Theatre last year so the children would have a place to perform, as well as community groups. 

A few nights ago, the Junior School (preschool through 4th grade) put on a Mini-Madd (music, arts, dance and drama and the mini is because they're well, mini).  It was a lovely night.  The teachers did a wonderful job with props, choreography, costumes, and timing.  The kids had a wonderful time and did an even better job.

A few highlights for me (besides Nath's numbers) were the preschoolers dancing to Singing in the Rain, Shel Silverstein's "Unicorn," and a acted out performance of a story about the jungle, complete with percussion instrument to imitate animal and insect sounds.

Nathan's class performed two songs.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures during the performance, so here are a few pictures from home:

"Arrrrre You Serving Captain Jesus"
Happy Pirate
They brought home the rest of their costumes yesterday after school.  I was glad because the fish costumes were adorable.  This was for "Octopus's Garden" which also had octopuses, jellyfish (clear umbrellas with streamers dangling down), mermaids, and divers.  Adorable!

Will wanted me to take his picture at the show, so here you go!

Cheesin' for the camera
At the end of the program all of the children sang "Let Your Light Shine" with the younger kids holding (fake) candles.  They were surprised by glitter cannons and chaos basically ensued.

We picked Nathan up at the end.  He clearly loved being on stage by the look on his face.  Well, that and he told us so.  He really enjoyed the applause.  Welcome to the club, baby!

I'll try to post Nath's birthday pictures tonight after he opens his presents.  He's very excited about turning seven today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Allergies, Part Deux

Sorry it's been awhile since I've posted.  Good thing about moving to Australia when we did is we missed most of "winter" down here.  Bad part of the timing - I get to have two spring allergy weeks.  Everything is blooming here, including a beautiful grapefruit tree in our neighbors yard.  Part of it is hanging over our fence and the smell is amazing.  However, I'm blaming it partly for my stopped up right ear and scratchy throat.  Needless to say, this week has been pretty uneventful.

Last Saturday we wanted to picnic at Birubi Point on the sand dunes.  We ran out and bought several types of meat pies and drinks to enjoy.  When we arrived at the dunes, we quickly decided to head home to eat.  It was incredibly windy, most have been a storm somewhere out in the ocean.  It made for beautiful pictures, though.

Surprisingly, no surfers

After lunch, we wanted to play in our swimming pool.  It had heated up enough and the kids had been hounding us to swim.  So I ran upstairs and changed into my swimsuit in our bathroom.  Now, I don't normally leave my clothes in the bathroom, but decided to since that's where I'd be changing back.

We swam and had a great time.  Nathan is becoming much more confident in his skills and it's fun to watch him become comfortable.  Will is still a bit chicken, but we're working on that.

I was getting a bit cool outside, so Wills and I went back in and I ran upstairs to change clothes.  I have been told that if you put anything on the ground, you must shake it out to make sure there are no baddies in it.  I picked up my shorts and gave them a good shake.  Confident that nothing was going to crawl out of them, I went downstairs to watch some rugby.

As soon as I sat down it felt like something was stinging me on my left thigh.  Concerned, I rolled my shorts up a bit but could find nothing.  I rolled them back down and it felt like I was being bit in another spot on my leg.  At this point I'm getting mildly concerned, so I tell Brian what's happening.  Knowing I'm such a girl about bugs, he tells me it's probably something in the denim material irritating me.  I tell him it's never bothered me before, but maybe.  I head back to the couch to watch some more Rugby World Cup (go Wallabies) and try to forget.

A few minutes later my leg is getting very sore.  Once again I roll up my shorts.  This time I find a large red area with white raised spots.  I start to freak out and run upstairs to take off my shorts, all the while yelling for Brian to follow.  He comes up and finds me whacking my shorts against the bathroom floor, still finding nothing.  I'm trying to keep it under wraps that I'm quickly imagining having been bit by some deadly spider, not that there are that many of those in Australia, sarcasm implied.  Luckily my husband is much more level headed than I am and searched my pockets.  Apparently I had put a cheap earring in my pocket and the back was stabbing my leg.  To his credit, he didn't laugh until later.

That night we were on the couch talking about finding a sport for Nathan to play.  He actually very much wants to try out Cricket and we've signed him up for an instructional league.  However, while we were looking in the newspaper for sports info, we stumbled on this ad:

One vowel makes a world of difference

In case you can't see the ad well, around the fish it says "Nelson Bay Gropers."  Now, I'm assuming they meant Groupers since a fish is pictured.  That's what I call a "touch" football league...

This next picture is for my mom.  She's been wanting me to take a picture of the birds around our house.  Here is a small flock of cockatoos congregated across the road.

Noisy little buggers
We don't have much of a yard, but there is a huge green space directly across the street that the local kids play in a lot.

Next week is a big week.  Nathan has his school's Mini MADD (music, arts, drama, and dancing) and he's turning seven on Friday.  To celebrate, we're heading to the Toronga Zoo in Sydney on Saturday.

And for anyone who's is still curious, the bug in the last post has been identified as a cricket by one of the guys Brian works with.  Good news, it's not a stinger.  Bad news, it's still totally disgusting!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Don't Throw Bouquets at Me...

Nathan is doing very well in Kindergarten and has made several friends.  However, his favorite is Samantha, by a lot.  They are often running around together when I drop him off.  The other day when I picked him up they were holding hands coming back from chapel.  It didn't seem like a big deal - a lot of the kids hold hands walking to or from somewhere.  Below is a transcript of a conversation I had with Nath after school one day.

How was your day today?
It was great.  I played with Ashley and Bradley and Samantha.  Sammi is        my best friend.

I'm so happy you've made such a good friend in Australia.

Me too.  People like to say "Nathan and Samantha are in looove."  But were not, we're just best friends.

That's fine sweetheart.  You can be best friends with a girl if you want.

Mum, what's in love mean?

Well, I'm in love with your daddy and he's in love with me.  Aunt Suz and Uncle Randall are in love, as are Aunt Nancy and Uncle Scott and your grandparents.

OK.  I do not love Samantha.  I'm only going to be in love with you, mom.

That's lovely, babe.  I'm certain however that someday you will change your mind.

I will not!  I will only be in love with you forever!

That's fine, just don't turn into Norman Bates.


Oops, I just said that out loud.  Nobody baby - why don't you change out of your uniform and we'll go play in the hot tub!

Aaand scene.

Stellar parenting, I know.

Now, what would prompt kids in kindergarten to think about being in love?  I just forgot about it until I saw evidence that maybe this girl does have a crush on Nathan.

Exhibit A
Here is the inside of a card that Samantha made for Nath.  The outside had hearts all over it.  They are walking through a forest.  I particularly like the roots on the tree and flower.  Aren't they too young for this?

On a completely different note, is anybody who reads this good at identifying insects?  This thing is on the outside of my door, ensuring that I won't be going out to the patio any time in the near future.

Where is your husband when you need him?
For size reference, he (and I'm assuming it's male, girls aren't that gross) has a body size of 1 1/4 inch, and the antennae are about 1 1/2 inches long.  His head is read and, holy schmoley, I believe that is a curved stinger.  I googled his description and came up with nothing.  Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bits and Pieces

It's been a bit since I've had a longer post.  It seemed like no one thing was long enough to write about, so I decided to do a post about all of the little things that won't have much continuity.  It seems like a lot has happened since I decided to do that post and I finally have some downtime tonight.  So, without further ado, here is a little slice of our life!

After meeting with Nath's teacher and the head of junior school, we decided to move him back down to Kindy.  It wasn't the easiest decision, but it seemed unfair to have him try and keep up with kids that have been in year one for 8 months at this point.  The school year only lasts about another 3 months, so we decided to make this an adjustment period for him.  Nath has a hard time with change, so this appeared to be the right thing.  However, like any mother, I was second guessing myself.  I really like to have confirmation on things, and luckily Go d is aware of that!

Now I don't really want to get "preachy" on this blog because that's not my purpose for it, however it's silly to think that my faith won't show up in posts.  I really love to see God act in the small things - it's a wonderful reminder that He cares about my day to day activities, not just the "big" things.  And what happened next seemed like a God moment to me.

Nathan was paired with a new buddy named Ashley.  The second day of Kindy, a lady asked if I was Nathan's mum.  After saying I was, she introduced herself as Ashely's mum.  She then asked where in the US we were from.  I told her Kentucky and she asked what part.  I replied that we were just across the border from Cincy and she asked if we lived in Newport or Covington.  I had a funny look on my face until she explained that she had been moved to Wright Patterson in Dayton for three years.  It's nice to be able to talk to somebody who has had the same experience as me and Nathan has someone to talk to who knows about the US.  We are planning to go out for coffee sometime just to talk.  God is good!

Here is the view of sunset from the second holiday rental we had.  It was a perfect location once we had a car.  Nothing wrong with having the beach as your backyard!

Next I was off to find someone to cut my hair.  I hated to leave my stylist Missy behind.   If anyone needs a new stylist in Northern KY, may I recommend her?  Missy owns The Fringe Salon and does a great job!  I wondered around downtown Nelson Bay for awhile and passed a cute salon a couple of times.  What sealed the deal was seeing a lady with great hair walk out of the salon.  I went in and we chatted for a bit and I made an appointment.  The owner was lovely and did a great job of cut and color with my hair.
Stupid face, I know, but it's harder to take a picture in the mirror than you'd think!

It's not that much different at the moment, but I'm trying to grow it out some.  It's very  windy here and my hair is always in my face.  Being able to pull it back will be a huge plus.

Below are a few pictures of my favorite beach so far.  The water is a beautiful aqua and very clear.  The beach is very wide and there are huge sand dunes behind it. 
Amazing colors

Nath is trying to like it, despite the waves

On Wednesday of last week we found out two huge pieces of news.  First, everything had cleared the red tape through Brian's work for us to move into our new home.  I absolutely love this house.  It is very modern looking, is open, and lets a huge amount of light inside.  The pool and spa in the backyard are a huge bonus and will be wonderful to host parties.  And as I stated in the last post, it's just wonderful to be able to stay in one spot.  Now we're finally able to cook our own meals.  Tonight we roasted a chicken and veggies.  Everything we've heard about convection ovens is true - I don't think our chickens have ever turned out so moist.

The second piece of news is that our house in the states is under contract!!!!  Now we're praying that everything goes smoothly between now and the end of the month.

I would be remiss if I didn't wish my father a happy (Australian) father's day.  Anywhere in the world, a girl couldn't have asked for a better father - love you daddy!

We celebrated Brian's second father's day this year with a new grill.  We have a gas hook-up for a grill in the backyard - perfect for barbies during the upcoming summer.  I guess since he's such a great father to the boys, I won't begrudge him two holidays, even though I only get one!

I hope this post wasn't too rambly, but I wanted to update everyone with our lives.  Nothing exciting, just our new normal!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Home Sweet Home - Mostly

I was going to post yesterday about odds and ends, however I was doing this instead :

View from our kitchen
We were able to move in yesterday.  I know all of those quotes about home being where the heart is, or where they have to take you in, etc.  I have a different idea - it's where you can permanently put your clothes away.  We've been living out of a suitcase for about 6 weeks at this point and it's been driving me nuts.  I'm in the middle of doing mounds of laundry to get rid of that musty, been-in-a-suitcase-for-six-weeks smell.

We have received our air shipment of several quickly needed things.  We used it mostly for the kids stuff and a few "homey" touches.  Right now we have rental furniture until our things arrive - probably in another month, at the earliest.  Until then, touches like this are so important:

Thanks, mom - I still love it!
Nathan saw this picture and immediately stated that something finally feels like home.

And now I'm off to unpack more suitcases, do more laundry, and figure out how to heat up the hot tub!  I'll do my "odds and ends" post tomorrow!