Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm feeling humbled

Three years ago we arrived here in Alice Springs and i remember our first Sunday at church and the culture shock involved. There were so many aboriginal saints in church that day and many visitors as well. For those of you who have never been to the outback, let me tell you a little about my first impressions of aboriginal people. They are not known for being sanitary or clean in any way. To put it bluntly, they stink. I don't mean just a little bit, but they really smell, and when you get a good number of them in an enclosed chapel, it can tend to get a little bit overwhelming to say the least. As you walk around town you see them everywhere. They live in the dry river bed, in the alleys and many of them do actually live in houses as well. They walk all around town, so it's hard to miss them. Whenever you see a group walking together there is almost always one or two in the group carrying a very large case of beer and when you see them elsewhere they are very commonly drunk and beligerent. Ok, so that was my first impression.

Now we've been here for 3 years and have got to know so many of them. I've seen so many change their lives, clean themselves up and start to attend church regularly. These people are a great people with strong spirits and many are just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Though it's hard to see this as you get around town and live here, they really are out there.

Tonight we had our branch Christmas party at church and we had a huge turnout. It was truly humbling to see so many people from all over the world there. We have Aussies, New Zealanders, better known as Kiwi's, Americans, many Asians from China, Korea, Philipeans and more and then we had a very large turn out of aboriginal people as well. The smell no longer bothers me ( I actually don't remember even smelling it tonight) and the people bring in such a strong spirit to go with them. As I returned home and got on Facebook (my addiction) I was introduced to a video that was made earlier this year and I felt so strongly that I just want to share it with everybody. It was made by one of the senior missionaries serving here in our branch and so many of the people in it are very dear to us as a family and to our branch as well. To me, this is what living and being in Alice Springs is all about.



Can you see the true joy and light radiating from each and every one of those faces?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

National Vacation-part five (Adelaide)

While in Adelaide we were thrown more rain, lots and lots of it. So, once again, all of our outdoor activities had to be postponed or canceled. We stayed with our friends the Watts. We met them the last time we were in Adelaide for our branch temple trip. They had a busy week planned but were gracious enough to allow us to stay anyway. We went to church on Sunday and our friend Lyndy got a flat tire on the way. So they got it changed and we all got back to their house afterwards. We had a nice dinner together that night and that was probably the only night we actually got to see much of each other. During the rainy evenings the kids had to find things to entertain themselves. One of the things they found was Lyndy's basket of laundry pegs. They all had a blast with them as you can see.

We also got to take a trip to Melba's chocolate factory. There they have everything open so that you can see how chocolate is made and, if you go at the right times, you can see the workers making your chocolates for you. There are free samples throughout and then you can buy the candies and chocolates by the bag full as well. We spent way too much money in there but the kids each got something they really wanted and have enjoyed eating it.


Josh and I got to spend an evening at the temple and do a session. I have a special place in my heart for the Adelaide temple as that's actually our home temple and it's the place that I got to do the work for my grandparents and feel the special spirit that was there as we did so. We didn't get any pictures of the temple this time (I don't know why, maybe we forgot the camera?) but that doesn't make it any less special.


We also spent the day as a family at the beach too. We got there at a decent time of the day but it rained the whole drive there. We told the kids to pray for sun so that we could actually enjoy some time at the beach that day (though not swimming-it was winter after all). We parked the car and all of a sudden the sun came out and broke through the clouds. The kids were so excited. We said a prayer of thanks before we got out the stroller and went for a walk up the beach. We walked up to the pier and decided to walk out to the end for some pictures and a good view and as we approached it we saw these clouds-another very large storm moving in. We thought it was a ways off but then it started moving fast. We went quickly to the end of the pier, took some pictures and walked back. As we approached the beach again (and the shops) the storm hit hard and pored down rain.


We quickly ducked into a toy store for a look around and spent about 20 or 30 minutes in there until the rain stopped again. Once it stopped this time it was pretty much done for the say, thank goodness. We got out some Ziploc bags and let each of the kids collect a bag full of shells of their choice, walked along the beach, had dinner at McDonald's and looked through some of the shops for a bit. As our time was expiring for parking we decided to walk back and head home. We arrived back there just as the sun was going down. That night was Lyndy's birthday and we wanted to do something special for her. Nigel and Lyndy had to work most of our trip as well as having their anniversary and her birthday and we wanted to have something special anyway. We grabbed her some flowers, a nice pair of fuzzy, warm socks and I baked her a cake. The decorations aren't the best but I did the best I could with what I had. She loved it!




Finally, our stay in Adelaide was done. We packed up the car, once again, and headed out a little bit later than we had planned to. We decided to try and make it as far as we could that night but to stop someplace and sleep during the night. We ended up driving a little bit longer than we had planned to since the town we wanted to stay in had no room at the inn. We made it into Coober Pede right about 10pm (it's dangerous to drive after dark with all the kangaroos on the road) and found ourselves a room at a decent price. In the morning we went to the Old Timers Mine. Last time we took the inside tour and decided that the kids really only wanted to see and dig in the noodle pits so this time we walked through the outside and then let the kids each fill a small Ziploc with opals from the pit.





We had sandwiches to eat and then headed out on our way home again. We got home at a decent time and, after 30 days of going and going, we let ourselves relax in our own beds once again.




National Vacation-part four (Great Ocean Road)

I decided that this portion of our trip needed it's own post. We really had so much fun on the great ocean road and our trip to Adelaide. We stopped at Apollo Bay as it started to get dark and as found a hotel to check into. It was a Best Western and had 2 rooms as well as a living room and kitchenette. It was roomy and we really felt comfy there. Once we were checked in we decided to take the kids to the huge park along the highway so they could get some energy out after a long day in the car (and we never tell the hotels how many kids we really have so the less energy they have the better). They had a blast on that playground and there was so much to do but it was hard to get very many pictures as it was getting pretty dark and my camera didn't want to focus very well.



After a good nights' rest we headed out once again with the 12 apostles in our sights and Adelaide afterwards. It didn't take us very long to get to the 12 apostles. We found ourselves a parking spot and too a walk across the walkway, under the highway and to the ocean viewing area. It's a breathtaking view to see. The rocks, years ago, used to be connected to the land. Through the years it washed away the land around them leaving them out in the middle of the ocean the way they are. There used to be 12 of them and they were called something else which didn't get any interest or people coming to see them. Then they changed the name to the 12 apostles and made viewing them easier and now they are something that people come to see all the time. There are also only 10 or 11 of them left, as the ocean has since washed a couple more down to the point where you can no longer see them above the water. It's something that everybody should see and take it one day. God's natural beauty!



Our family with some of the 12 apostles behind us



Some of the 2 apostles in all their beauty




The view from the other side (aka the rest of the apostles)


Once we saw and took in the apostles we jumped back on the breath taking Great Ocean Road for awhile before we cut up and across our scenic route to Adelaide. We made pretty good time throughout the day and arrived somewhere around 9pm that night at the familiar home of our friends the Watts.




National Vacation-part three (Melbourne)

Melbourne added for us some challenges. We arrived at the Westin, which took us a bit to find, later in the evening only to find that we had to park in a lot that wasn't very close to the hotel. So we unloaded right out front where the whole world could see how many kids we were shuffling in. We also had to initially walk all the kids past the front desk to the elevator, hoping they wouldn't see them and try to charge us an arm and a leg for having so many. Our room had only 1 king size bed which meant that all the kids had to sleep on the floor. As it was, they wanted to charge us $60 per night for a roll away bed to put in the room. Talk about a rip off-Sydney gave it to us for free. We got settled in and even though they complained, we got the kids sorted out on the floor ( I think the Sydney Westin spoiled them) and we went to sleep for the night.



The next morning we woke to rain. Sometimes it was heavy and other times it was just a mist but it pretty much kept on in some form or another the whole time we were there. Almost all of the activities we had planned in Melbourne were outdoor so we had to get creative and look for something to do indoors. The first thing we found was the Melbourne Museum. The kids enjoyed themselves so much at the one in Sydney that we figured we couldn't go wrong. It wasn't too far from our hotel and it was only $8 per adult and kids were free-how can you go wrong? Well, let me tell you. It happened to be the first days of school holidays in Melbourne and I think that everybody and their siblings decided to go to the Melbourne Museum that day-it was crowded to say the least. We were constantly counting kids and checking to see if we had them all, losing some of their crafts and even lost a kid at one point (only for a minute-then we found her again). Even with all the craziness we still got to spend quite a bit of time at the museum and the kids had a blast.





Dinosaurs at the museum



The kids all dressed up in their Pompeii themed helmets


Had to get a picture with Yoda before we left the museum. Isn't he cool?

We did a lot of sight seeing and shopping in Melbourne and our stay there seemed so short. We tried to get to this supposedly really cool park called St Kilda's while we were there but the streets were so confusing and not labeled correctly (and we forgot our map at the hotel) so after about an hour of driving what should have taken 10-15 minutes, we gave up and went back to the hotel. We spent another whole day finding a laundromat and doing our laundry and it was really cold the entire stay there. As you can see in the pictures, we had to pull out the big jackets in order to stay warm.
While in Malbourne we recieved information from Josh's command that something might be wrong with our house. They said that somebody made an anonymous report that our house was trashed and that our cats were shut in the bedroom with nothing to eat or drink. We freaked out. We called our neighbor, who has a key, to ask her to go look but she was too busy (I won't go there) to walk next door at that moment. So we called the friends watching our house who promptly drove across town to check it out for us. They called back within the hour to tell us that everything looked fine and that our other neighbor said the only people he had seen in and out were the other neighbor, our housesitters and the AC maintenance guys. Bingo! The maintenance guys had entered our house without permission, saw Mimi, who has been quarantined in our bathroom and made up a nice story about the house to report it to housing. So then the army guys had to walk through, housing had to walk through and our neighbors came over to straighten up a bit for us. Talk about a nightmare! We've had words with housing since.
We got to go to church on Sunday and the members volunteered to set up childcare for us to go to the temple on our last day. We loaded up the car, checked out of the hotel, dropped off the kids with the ward's young women (I think they counted it as one of their service projects) and went to the temple. We got to do a session and really enjoyed our time there. We got some really good pictures of the temple too.



After leaving the temple we pretty much headed straight out on our trip-car loaded and all. We decided to take the scenic route to Adelaide along the Great Ocean Road. It's a beautiful drive and there's so much to see. We took our time and stopped at beaches and lighthouses along the way. We didn't get very far the first day. We could have made the trip in one day if we had left early but we decided to take 2 days instead and just take our time. As it started to get dark we looked at where we were and decided to stop in Apollo Bay for the night so that we could see the 12 apostles the next morning in the light.


One of the lighthouses we stopped to see along the way

To be continued....





You know it's been too long when...

I decided last night, after reading somebody else's blog, that I should come and look at my own. I started typing it into my browser and usually it pops up options of recently viewed sites, there was nothing. That's when I knew that it had been too long since I wrote in or even looked at my blog. so here I am. I'm going to try and make a better effort to update something on here at least once a week. It seems to me so often that nothing important is happening anymore because a lot of what I do it just the mundane day to day stuff with the kids. However, some of that mundane stuff might be interesting to others and there is some other stuff that isn't so mundane as well, it's just not as prevalent.

So, recently (or semi-recently anyway), we had the month of November. After Halloween we took down our decorations, kind of slowly, I think it took about 2 weeks to get them all put away, and then got out Christmas stuff. Last year Josh made me wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas decorations and somehow we didn't even get the tree put up until the week before Christmas. The lights went up on the outside of the house at the same time and we didn't get much else even put up. The year before, I had a 2 month old baby and somehow managed to put it all up with heaps of time to spare. The difference? It went up right before Thanksgiving the year before. Granted it was only a couple of days before but still, it was before. So this year, knowing that we are now leaving here in January and that everything has to come down the week after Christmas to get ready for packing, I told Josh that it all had to go up ASAP so that I could enjoy it. The house looks great, both inside and out, and we are really starting to enjoy the Christmas season more this year and getting anxious for all the festivities.

For Thanksgiving we decided to have a big group of people over. We were kind of slow at inviting people to come over because somehow Thanksgiving came upon us really fast this year. We tried to invite our friends the Kaeslers but it was too late and they already had plans. We did however, have over our fried Marilyn and her brother Calvin, the 4 elders serving in town, Krystal Taumalolo, Tyne Martin and her 3 kids Jesse, Jono and Aotea, and our friends the Maritz, Chantal, Kevin and their kids Nathan, Ethan, Kristin and Nicholas. It was a full house but isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? I'll miss being able to have such big and multicultural get togethers once we get back to the states for good. For example, Krystal and Tyne are both from New Zealand, Marilyn and her brother are part aboriginal and full Australians, the missionaries had 3 Americans and 1 Aussie and the Maritz are from South Africa. I love having so many people from so many places over and then we all get to try some of the dishes from each of their countries. Everybody loved the Aussie salad and I loved the South African desert and they all really enjoyed the pumpkin deserts, even though they were all leery at first to even try them. It's great to share.

So now we're well into the month of December and the holiday season is in full bloom. The kids all finished school last week, Josiah graduated the 3rd grade, Noah from 1st grade and Raven finished Transition (the equivalent of American kindergarten) . It's a little bit weird to have the school year over and done already, but only because we're now going back stateside and they'll have to repeat the grade they just finished for a few months.

Josh has finally started getting job offers and interviews, which is such a relief. He has already interviewed for 2 companies in Ohio, one said they have no positions right now but want to hang onto his resume and the other is sending him an offer this week. He's also interviewed out here at base for a position that he'll find out if he get the offer this week too. There's a company in the Virginia/DC area that wants an interview and another in Colorado for the same. The job we really want in Tucson, AZ might not find out if they can hire him until as late as March, which is a big bummer. Perhaps we'll start hearing from some of the other Arizona companies he applied to before too long-I can hope can't I?

We should be getting orders any day now and we are to fly out of here on or about January 19 to start out processing and be done with the military. There are parts that I'll miss, like the health care being covered 100% as well as housing and all out utilities, but there is so much more that I won't miss. I'm ready to have my own house and not have to worry about the kids spilling things on the carpet or breaking things that don't belong to us (then I can worry about them breaking things that we have to fix ourselves, right?). Ok, that's about the extent of my thoughts for now. I'm sure there will be something else that comes to me later, but that'll just give me something more to write about. Maybe I'll finish blogging about our trip one of these days-so much has happened since then.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New family pictures

As one of our fundraisers for the preschool each year, we have a picture company, Moving Pictures, come and do family pictures. They never cease to do a beautiful job with them. It costs us $15 for the sitting fee and an 8x10 (probably a bit bigger, I usually have to cut it a bit). Of the cost $10 goes to the preschool and $5 goes to Moving Pictures and then we have the option of purchasing picture packages as well, which of course we bought. It's a good fundraiser because so many families participate and all love what they get in return. This is our results. The family picture is at the top of the blog now and the rest are below. Enjoy! I know we will.


Me with Raven and Rebekah AKA, the girls

Josh with Caleb, Josiah and Noah AKA, the boys

The kids: Caleb, Raven, Rebekah, Noah and Josiah


And Josh and I



Time out for some venting

As I've mentioned before, I sit on the parent committee at Rebekah's preschool as the president. We all get together once a month to plan our fundraisers and go over the things we've already done to see what we can do better next time. We have one mom who serves as our treasurer and thinks that she is in charge of everything and we all need to bow down to her. Every time we plan something she suddenly comes up with a better idea the next day and then takes over to make everything the way that she wants it to be. Then the rest of us sit in a dizzying spin wondering what happened and why on earth we even bother having meetings or a committee. She seems to think that she IS the committee after all.
Last year I was also on the committee as president when Raven went to that preschool and we had a wonderful committee. When we had meetings we all shared and listened to each other's ideas and then tried to incorporate as many of them into our fundraisers as we could. I loved being part of the committee so much that I decided that I'd do it again this year. I also enjoyed so much being the president last year and all the stuff I got to do as such. This year and this group of parents has really made me want to be out.
Tonight we had our monthly meeting and have been planning for the art show that happens next week. The art show is our biggest fundraiser for the year. We sell sausages and steak sandwiches, drinks, there is face painting, raffles galore and this year we even got fun light sticks with swords and a fiber optics to sell. So we proceed to talk about all the stuff we need to organise and then we come down to raffle prizes. We took inventory of what we have to raffle off (we've all been out hitting up businesses for donations). We have a voucher for $80 worth of dinner at a restaurant, an Avon basket, a really nice cake, a tent, a couple of other things and our big prize is a couple of really nice sets from Tupperware (earned at a party the preschool hosted). This mom decides that the set of Tupperware and some of the big prizes shouldn't just be "given away in a raffle," that instead we need to do a silent auction for them. Now granted, the one Tupperware set is supposedly a $300 (aud) value, so I see the point in maybe getting a little more money from it, but we didn't pay a cent for it-it was given to us. So I suggested some other ideas to raffle it off and get a bit more money instead of a silent auction where many of the parents on as tight a budget as we are won't even bid. Isn't the point of a raffle to get a prize that is worth much more than the ticket(s) you paid for? Of course not, it has to be HER way or the highway(she could afford to just go out and buy the set straight out). Every idea I gave was shot down almost faster than I could say it. The teacher looked like she was trying to iron out the best way and still get some money for it. I gave in. A silent auction might not be too bad and we'll probably still make some money for it and maybe the bids will stay low enough that I'll have a chance to win it too-she was talking about $30 or $40 being the finishing bid. So we move on with our planning.
Toward the end of the meeting she suddenly decides, out of nowhere, that we need to set a minimum bid for this set and it should be no lower than $50. Now, I love Tupperware as much as the next person, but there is a reason why my kitchen is NOT full of it. Tupperware is expensive. As much as I like the stuff, I just can't rationalize spending that much money on something that a $1 container will do just as well. a $50 minimum bid just put me out of the running altogether, and probably many other parents as well. Yes, we live in a really nice house and we have some nice things. But I'll be the first to tell you that we don't pay for our house, we don't pay for our utilities and the only reason I can even afford my groceries is because the military gives us a cost of living allowance on top of our pay that almost covers the groceries we use each month. From each paycheck I have about $150 that I can use, after groceries and bills, to buy other things. This paycheck it's buying new school shoes and church shoes for my ever growing children and then that money is gone. So, a $50 minimum bid just shot me out of the running altogether.
What bothers me more is that only 1 other mom agreed to this and the rest just kept quiet. They're under the impression that this lady just doesn't give up and that fighting her won't make a difference. Well, it will, cause on a committee the majority rules. That means that if only 3 of us say anything and 2 are for and 1 is against, that the 2 will win. It doesn't matter that the other 4 didn't agree, they didn't day anything so they lose. OPEN YOUR MOUTHS AND SPEAK UP!
I'm so frustrated with the way this lady takes over-maybe we should make her the president, vice president, secretary AND treasurer, she thinks she owns the place anyway. Who needs a committee when she takes over anyway.
Josh and I have come up with a much better idea to approach this raffle/silent auction thing and I plan to take it to the teacher tomorrow, alone if I have to. I just hope that she understands where I'm coming from and that other parents just aren't made of money that way. And, that there is so much more money to be made with a raffle as opposed to an auction anyway($10 per family times several who will put in for it adds up much faster).
Ok, that's the end of my rant. I hope it makes sense. If not, then I'm sorry but it made things a little more clear to me anyway, and isn't that what counts?

Monday, August 24, 2009

National Vacation-part two (Sydney)

We left Gold Coast pretty early on Friday morning, June 26 and headed for Sydney. We had a reservation at the Westin, Sydney starting Friday night so we wanted to get there at a decent time (not 5 or 6 am the next day). We arrived right before Midnight, found the hotel (which wasn't as easy as you'd think it should be), found a parking spot (also not easy) and Josh went to check us in while I stayed with the kids. I was feeling a bit nauseous so staying in the car and out of the night air was my idea of a good time. After about 10 minutes Josh came back and got in the car, just as I was about to ask him where we were going he says "they won't let me check in because the reservation is in your name." Are you serious? This is so annoying! Half in tears, tired, now more nauseous and just plain ready to go to bed, I storm out of the car and into the hotel. The lady at the counter says "How can I help you?" I need to check in so I tell her that. then I say "I'm a bit upset that you wouldn't let my husband check us in tonight and that I have to come in to do it myself" She starts in on this "it's policy" garbage to say that the reservation was made in my name and therefore I have to check in. I told her that we are joint owners and both on the account and, therefore, there is no reason for him not to be able to check in for us. I was a bit mean but I was tired and cranky and hormonal to boot. She starts checking us in and I calmed down a bit. I finally apologised and told her I was tired, pregnant and nauseous and just plain wanted to stay in the car until it was done. She changed into a different person, offered me a seat and whatever else she could do for me (funny what pregnancy can do for you). She offered me room upgrades (which she should have anyway) and got all checked in and sent me out with a bellhop to unload the car.

The girl unloading the car was so nice, maybe in her early 20's and eager to help out how she could, but very knowledgeable. We unloaded a lot but hadn't told the hotel just how many kids we actually had, so trying to not be up front about them while they were all asleep (for once). I took Caleb up with me (we had to walk past the front desk to get to the elevator) and I got all of our stuff put into the room while Josh parked the car and brought up the rest of the kids. Our room was big and spacious with a great view from the 20th floor. We had 2 double beds and quite a bit of space. Caleb kept looking out the huge windows at the street saying "car, cars Momma. Look car cars!" Just as I expected Josh would be there any time, there was a knock at the door so I answered it. It was the bellhop and she had brought us more towels, soaps and toiletries as well as another bed "we were talking and thought you guys might like another bed with all the troops you had in the car." Talk about nice and helpful. Our first night may have started out crazy, but we definitely picked the right hotel to stay in while in Sydney. I highly recommend the Westin on Martin Place in Sydney and you can feel free to tell them I sent you.

On Saturday we did some shopping and walked around a bit but really didn't do a lot past that. On Sunday we made a trip across the bridge to go to church. We attended the Greenwich ward and they were so friendly. While at church we found out that the temple was closed until Wednesday morning so we basically had Wednesday and Thursday to go while we were there. We got some names and phone numbers for people who might be able to watch the kids for us while we went and headed back to our room.

On Monday we went to the Sydney opera house and walked all around it. It was a nice, long walk that took us about 20 minutes to get there but it was worth it. The kids all marveled at the look of the opera house and loved all the docks on the water and the bridge just over the water. It was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed ourselves. We thought about taking the tour until we discovered that it would cost us close to $200 for the whole family to go-not worth it in our books. We stopped at the gift shop and let the kids each pick out a small, inexpensive something before heading on our way back to the hotel again. On the way back we discovered a really cool looking park. It had what appeared to be pieces of decorative stone from a building that was no longer together and they were all spaced out to look nice. There was a photo shoot with a model (who looked really unhappy and uncomfortable) and they took up about half the rocks but they took a break just after we got there and didn't resume shooting until we were about ready to leave again. The kids loved climbing on those stones and the especially loved posing for pictures on them-Raven was the camera ham that day, I think I must have got about 20 pictures of her alone as she kept yelling "Momma, take a picture of me on this rock!" We found a fountain to play in on the way back and discovered a free Australian currency museum that we tagged for another day when our kids weren't complaining about sore feet.



On Tuesday we went to the currency museum and Noah especially really enjoyed seeing all the money and learning a bit about how it was made. It was a self-guided thing and pretty quiet in the other side of a bank but it was free and really cool. After that we went to a park and found a place to sit and have lunch. We made sandwiches and had mandarin oranges and the kids enjoyed chasing the birds away and climbing a tree that was nearby. We kept having to look for Caleb as he would chase a bird and keep going until we called him back and he'd turn and see how far he had gone. The other kids all kept pretty close though. After lunch we headed to the Australia museum of Sydney. It cost us just under $50 for the family because we opted to see the exhibit on mammoths that they had going too. The kids loved the mammoth exhibit and all the bones and videos and everything that was meant to be touched. When done there we saw the rocks and gems, stuffed animals, dinosaur bones, insects and so much more. We were in the museum for hours and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We finished off with the kids' activity corner before we left (we knew we'd never see anything else if we started there). We then hit the gift shop and picked out one small something under $10 for each kid and some things for ourselves before they kicked us out of the museum (you'd think they all wanted to go home or something). It was just starting to get dark when we got outside so we put on our jackets and took a leisurely stroll back to our hotel, picking up some dinner at Pizza Hut on the way.


On Wednesday we decided to see the botanical gardens. It was right near the opera house but not quite as far. There were so many trees and flowers to see and there were even a ton of bats that lived in the trees. The kids loved the walk along the ocean too. It was kind of windy and chilly so we didn't stay too long. We hit the gift shop to see what they had (not nearly as much as others) and spent very little there before heading back to the Westin again.




Thursday was laundry day so we went walking to the laundromat the hotel recommended. After a very long walk with a heavy load, we discovered that the place was not a do-it-yourself thing. They told us where another one was and we went walking again. It wasn't where they said it was so we stopped to ask directions again. Nobody knew anything so we headed back to the hotel again and pulled out the phone book. After locating a place and calling to make sure it was what we wanted, Josh took the boys for a drive (no, it wasn't walking distance as they told us) and I put the girls and Caleb down for naps. When we got up we got in the car to head to the temple. It took us 30 minutes just to drive the 5 or 6 blocks to the bridge with all the traffic and one way roads and then we missed our turn a few times and finally found the home of the family who had volunteered to watch the kids. We arrived there at 7:15 and the last session of the night was due to start at 7:30-the temple was another 20-30 minute drive from their house. We were bummed but knew that we wouldn't make it in time. So we sat and talked to the family and got to know them a bit and then took the kids to the temple to walk around. It was freezing so we didn't stay very long but we took some pictures and talked with the kids about temples and had a really nice night.







Back at the hotel we got everything folded and packed and loaded into the car again so that we could head off to Melbourne on Friday morning. It was a nice, long week in Sydney and I took so many pictures that I'll have to upload onto Kodak photo gallery for all to see-I'll let you know when I get to that one.

Monday, August 17, 2009

National Vacation-Part one (Brisbane/Gold coast)

Ok, slowly but surely, I'm finally catching up. Here goes.

The kids last day of term 2 was June 19th so our plan was to be out of here bright and early on Saturday morning, June 20th. That is until I realised that Josh was working a mid shift Friday night and wouldn't be home until just after 8am Saturday morning. So we pushed our schedule back a bit and I had almost everything ready to load into the car when he got home instead of the night before. Josh loaded up the car while I gathered the things that weren't by the door, I took a shower and we headed out around noon.


We had planned far in advance, mapping out our route using Google maps and that type of thing and put it all into a book to keep it together. So, off we went with the plan of making it to Tenant Creek before nightfall. As we turned down the road the directions said to, it was a road we recognised-the one that we took to go to the aboriginal camp called Mulgabor where our church has a small building and some great members. Of course we weren't turning down the road that went there, but instead continuing on down further. About 60 miles down this "highway" it suddenly turned to a dirt road. We continued driving it because the directions said to, but we were leery about how long the dirt road would last. We drove this dirt "highway" all day and through a lot of the night. After dark we dodged suicidal kangaroos, who hopped to try and get into our headlights (thank goodness we were faster than they were). Then there was the wild pig laying on the side of the road. Josh was driving at this point, slowed the car to a stop and pointed the headlights to see what it was. We saw it was a pig and Josh starts honking the horn at it. trying to figure out what his problem is I said "um, hunny, it's dead". We had a pretty good laugh and joked through the rest of our trip "piggy, why are you sleeping?!"


Around midnight the road finally turned back into pavement and we rolled into a town called Boulia just before 1am. The gas stations were all closed and we weren't going to make it to another town before we ran out of gas so we found a motel and pulled in. Of course, being a small town, it was also closed but had a bell for after hours and Josh rang it. The clerk answered the door in his boxers, gave Josh a room and key and set us up to pay in the morning. The room was pretty nice and we got about 6 or 7 hours of sleep. The price was much less than we expected it to be for a small town in the middle of nowhere and we were much in need of the rest.


Sunday morning we headed to the gas station, filled up, found the best road atlas ever (to avoid any further dirt highways) and headed out again. We drove nice, paved roads all day, only stopping to make sandwiches or use toilets along the way. Our reservation was in Gold Coast, near Brisbane for Sunday night so we kept driving. Around 5 or 6pm we decided that we weren't going to get there any time soon so we called to let them know that we were coming but that it wouldn't be early. At that point we anticipated arrival around 2am. At around 10pm we pulled in to use a toilet and discovered something sticking out of the front, right tire. upon examination we decided that it was a small bone (possibly from any of the numerous kangaroo carcasses we ran over or near or the suicidal rabbit that dodged back and forth and ran under the front bumper of the car-the kids were quite unhappy about that one). But the bone wasn't causing problems and we had a spare tire so we kept driving. We arrived at the hotel, The Sheraton resort and spa, Gold Coast, around 5am Monday morning, exhausted and ready for some sleep in a real bed, and we checked in without any problems and went to sleep. When we got up sometime in the afternoon, we ate some lunch and went to find a grocery store to restock our supplies for the week.


On Tuesday we went out to the car and started to drive, only to discover that the tire with the bone in it was now flat. Talk about an answer to prayers that it waited so long to get that way. We changed it for the spare, got directions to a place to fix it and went that way. The tire was not patchable because the hole was in the sidewall of the tire so we needed a new one. They had a good, used tire they sold us for $45-this included putting it on the rim & putting it on the car (this we didn't expect for the price). The guy even aired up the spare and put in back under the car for us. We were feeling like we got an awesome deal as this would have cost us at least twice that in Alice Springs.




It rained a lot during our 5 days in Gold Coast (and they insisted that they were having a drought) but we still managed to play at the hotel's private beach, collect some shells and have a good time there. We found a really cool playground for the kids and spent most of a sunny afternoon there. We walked through the huge mall on the rainy days.




We had spoken to our friends in Alice Springs about going to the temples along the way and who they might know in each location that could help us out with kids so we could go. Some of them had family in Brisbane who agreed to watch the kids for us one day. On Thursday morning we headed out nice and early to get to where we were dropping the kids. We made it there without any problems and with plenty of time. Tui was so nice and was so helpfull. We headed off to the temple and got lost along the way. Our session was due to start at 11:30am and, after stopping to get directions, we arrived at 11:40. The next session was due to start at 5pm that night. A bit upset and not knowing what we should do, we parked and walked in figuring that even if we couldn't get in to do any work that we would at least take some pictures and walk around the temple. When we got to the desk they told us that they had some sealings we could do and that they were short people to do them. We excitedly grabbed our clothing and dressed to go in. It was beautifull and the spirit was so strong. We were down to the last few sealings and I suddenly started feeling lightheaded and not good. I asked to sit down and did so. I sat through a couple more and then I was done. If I sat there any longer I was going to pass out. I knew they had less than 5 minutes left but that was going to be too long so I asked to step out of the room. It was so hot in there and the hallway was so much cooler, it was almost instantaneous relief but I felt really dumb for having to leave when they were so close to being done. I sat a couple minutes and then everybody else was leaving so I walked with them back to get changed. In the changing rooom one of the other ladies came in and commented to me hoping I was alright. I told her whathad happened and she said "are you pregnant?" Now, what part of me feeling overheated and lightheaded said I was pregnant? It caught me off guard. I answered yes and she saithat she had once had a similar experience but she sat there until they were done wishing that she had stepped out and very nearly passed out herself. She said that she admired me for stepping out instead of sitting there and suffering-I think I needed that beacuse I was feeling a lot like a shmuck.








After we put our things into the car we grabbed our camera and walked around the temple to take some pictures and feel the peacefullness that is the grounds of the temple. Once we were finished we drove through the city (thank goodness for that road atlas we bought, we would have been driving the one way roads for hours without it) and headed back to get our kids. We visited a little and then thanked Tui for her help and headed back to our hotel. Once there we found a place to do laundry and packed everything up so we could head out for Sydney the next morning. We wanted to be out at a decent time so we weren't driving until all hours of the night to get there this time. We really enjoyed our time in Brisbane and Gold Coast, even if we didn't get to go and do and see very much. Perhaps someday we'll get to go back again and see more.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vacation is over

We had a great holiday traveling and now I'm getting back into reality again. We've been back now for a week and a half and the time has flown by. There was so much that happened and we saw so much while we were gone. We took our car, equipped with dvd players, gameboys and notebooks, crayons and pens (and heaps of luggage and supplies of course) and off we went for a month. We left alcie Springs and drove for 2 1/2 days to arrive in Brisbane and Gold Coast where we spent 5 fun days. From there we drove to Sydney, another long days drive, and spent a week doing everything you can imagine. After Sydney we drove a long day to Melbourne and spent another 5 days playing tourist. And from there we took a 2 day drive to Adelaide, stopping to see the 12 apostles along the way and many other scenic views along the great ocean road. We spent a week in Adelaide with friends and tried to find many indoor activities since it rained all but one day while we were there. We saw beaches, collected shells, and were really good at being tourists I think. There is so much more to tell but i'm going to break it down into a post for each stop along the way so that I don't overwhelm and I can include pictures to go with it all. We got to stay in some great hotels that cost us nothing, thanks to our time shares, and Josh's employer paid for the gas so we pretty much just paid for our food, trinkets and fun stuff along the way-what better way to travel! You can look forward to pictures and details in the very near future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We're off to see the wizard

I actually feel like I've accomplished a lot the last couple days. My house is mostly clean. All the kids bedrooms are clean and vacuumed, my room is clean, my bathroom is immaculate (which almost nver happens), laundry is almost finished, my dishes are all but done, just one load to put in and start and then it'll all be done and nothing dirty left in the house. Pretty much the only thing I have left to do is to straighten the living room and dining room, clean the kids bathroom, which isn't too bad, and then pack the boys and myself and then pack it all in the car. We leave in the morning shortly after Josh gets home from work and I'm exhausted. I think I'll just get it all ready and stick it by the door so he can help me load it up in the morning. Anyway, I'm off to finish up and I'll try and update along the way.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Busy

This week has been so busy and a little bit stressful. It turns out that everybody got this flu bug, except for me. I don't know how I managed to avoid it because I'm usually the first person to catch whatever it is because I have this low immune system or something. I have had a cold though, but I can handle that much better than I can the flu. I think the weirdest thing is that all the kids got this flu bug but it only lasted for about 8 hours and then they were fine and going crazy and driving me nuts again. They had the diarrhea for a couple of days but seemed to be able to get by alright with it. Then, a couple days later, they all got lethargic again and started vomiting for another 8 hours or so. What kind of flu acts like that? It was so weird. Anyway, it's done and gone now and everybody seems to be feeling much better. It's a good thing because the only thing I accomplished last week was cleaning up after their vomit and changing sheets, etc. My poor house suffered more than I wanted it to but we've fixed that this weekend for the most part.

This week is going to be a bit more stressful. We leave for vacation next weekend and we'll be gone for a month. I have most everything for the actual trip done but now we have to clean and pack. That means making the house clean enough that when we come home we won't be disgusted to be here, making lists of things to do and things to pack and all that fun stuff. I'm anxious to go and we'll be able to say that we've been to all the Australian temples but 1 when we get back. We have a bunch of activities planned that we've looked up online and made lists of possible things to do in each place. It'll be a fun trip and memorable for all of us, it's just all the stuff you have to do to get ready that can be bothersome. That's alright, it's all worth it in the end. So, I'm off to make some lists and then pack lunches so the kids can eat at school tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Good Days

There are days when I end the day thinking "gosh, my kids must think I'm a big, mean ogre" or that I really had a bad day. Most days have the sort of an ending where I lost my temper or did or said something that I'm sure my kids or husband weren't happy about. Then there is the occasional day where I put the kids in bed and sit down to think"gosh, that was a good day".

Today was one of the latter. Even though I was awakened last night to give cold medicine to a sick kid (that Josh had just bitten his head off for waking HIM up), the kids woke me up earlier than I would normally like to have woken up, there was no school today for an Australian public holiday but Josh still had to work, we started having a flu bug through the house about lunch time and, even though I got to lay down for a nap with kids today, I got awakened 4 times to deal with vomitting kids or cleaning up the vomit that was spilled from the "throw up bucket" and onto a bed. Somehow I was able to deal through it all and was even patient and didn't yell at anybody for anything too miniscule today. Somehow I didn't mind having to get up to deal with kids while I was sleeping (I am normally very grouchy when they wake me up from a deep sleep). And, even when Josh came home in a bad mood, it still didn't phase me the way it normally would. I got some cleaning done today, did some dishes and even had plenty of computer time and got to talk on the phone to family for a couple of hours to boot.

I wonder sometimes what it is that makes the difference, why it is that I can sometimes deal through all of the chaos and not have it phase me, when most of the time I get really frustrated or lose it. I don't pretend to understand it all but am really thankful when a day ends the way it has today and hope and pray that tomorrow can be just as nice.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to Rebekah!

From then.....


to now.....

Rebekah is 4 today. I can't believe it most days. Sometimes it's the wonder that she's 4 already and other days it's that she's only 4. She acts so much older and is so smart. She can be such a little spark of sunshine one minute and then a little terror the next. She is definitely a girl-and isn't that what I asked for? I went into labor with her while we were going to a session at the temple and all of the temple workers were freaking out and wondering what they could do to help. Little did they know that being where I was was an answer to prayers because it meant a 5 minute drive to the hospital instead of an hour to 2 hour drive. I remember having her and the wonder of holding her little tiny and new body in my arms. She was a good little nurser and was definitely Mamma's girl (and still is most days). I'm so glad that the Lord sent her to me and, even when she's throwing her tantrums and fits (which is most of the time lately) she knows that I still love her and wouldn't give her up for anything. Happy Birthday Rebekah!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Crazy drivers

I was driving last week and thinking to myself how lucky we had been since we got here not to have had any accidents or anything. There are so many traffic circles here and, surprisingly, things run pretty smoothly through them and there are very few accidents. Now, you still here from all sorts of people about the accidents they got into in traffic circles but it's not usually anything serious. In fact, most of the people that I know of with good dents and dings in their cars got them while they were parked someplace and they came out to find that somebody had hit them and taken off. It's apparently pretty common here.
So, I guess that when I was driving and thinking those thoughts last week, I forgot to knock on wood or something. I went to the school today to pick up the kids and parked my car in the line along the road with all the other parents in front of the school. I went into the office and talked with them and then grabbed my kids and we headed out to the car. As we walk past the line of buses and the car comes into my line of vision I noticed a good dent in the door. I was thinking to myself "wow, that's a big dent. I wonder how long it's been there. I don't remember seeing it before. I wonder how it got there." Then my thoughts turned to "Oh no, I wonder if somebody hit me while I was parked here".
So we get even to the car and get ready to cross the street to it and this girl with a YMCA shirt on turns to me and says "Is that your car there?" I said yes and she proceeds to tell me that the bus driver just backed into my car. She was indicating toward where the school's bus usually parks but the shed it parks in was closed and it didn't look like it had been opened in awhile. And she kept saying "She" and I know that the school's bus in driven by a man. Then, around the corner comes an unmarked bus. It's not a huge bus or anything but still a good sized bus. The girl tells me that it's the YMCA's bus and she doesn't know why they let this lady drive it and tells me all about her backing into a tree last week while she (this girl) was yelling at her and another lady was honking at her.
So the bus driver pulls into the bus lane to park and has most of the bus sticking out into the middle of the road. Don't they check these people out before they let them drive buses? And then they're picking up a load of kids for after school care-makes you feel for those children's safety doesn't it? I'm trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do now, we haven't been in an accident since we got here 2 1/2 years ago and things aren't done the same here as in the states. The bus driver gets out, with most of the bus still sticking out into the road mind you, and proceeds to apologise saying "I know it's not any consolation, but this is the first time that I've ever hit anything and I thought I had plenty of room for a 3 point turn there." Wait a minute! Didn't the other girl just finish telling me she hit a tree last week? Besides, buses are supposed to drive around the loop and aren't supposed to be making 3 point turns on this road. Then Noah turns to her and says "but look at all the dents in your bus. You have to be more careful how you drive." Go Noah! You should have seen the other girl's face and the old lady trying to worm her way out of that one.
Anyway, they take down my name a number and tell me that somebody from the Y will be calling me in about half an hour or so and we can get it worked out. They also offered to call the police to file a report but I still needed to get Rebekah and they needed to pick up other kids (poor kids). Long story short, they are going to call me back tomorrow with all the insurance info and get it taken care of. It's not too bad, the door still opens and I'm pretty sure it'll just pop back out without any further damage (I hope), At least we weren't in the car when she did it. I think I'll talk to them tomorrow about maybe getting her to take another driving course or maybe some more practice hours or something cause, goodness knows, she sure needs it and those kids riding the bus deserve more competency.
Here are a couple of pictures of the dent. Like I said, it isn't so bad, it's just that she probably shouldn't be driving around a bus full of kids without more training to be doing so.






Sunday, May 24, 2009

How did he get so smart?

Caleb is 19 months old now (or he will be in a few days anyhow) and he amazes me every day at just how smart he is. Tonight he was down by my desk and playing with the main part of my computer. He likes to play with this and has, on numerous occasions, pushed the power button and shut everything off while I'm in the middle of things. We've fixed most of the stuff he could mess with down there by covering it up with index cards and tape. So now about the only thing he can play with is the disc drive, which he proceeded to play with. He found the little button that opens and closes it and pushed it to find that it came open. I was in the middle of a game that would have been lost if there was a disc in there that popped anything up on my screen and had to be closed, so I checked to make sure there was no disc inside-nothing so I was safe and he could play. I commented this to Josh and we went on letting him play. after a couple of minutes he left, I thought he was done already-short attention span and all. Nope. He came back a minute later with the DVD that had been in the player in our bedroom, popped open the disc drive and proceeded to put the DVD in. Little smarty pants! How did he know that would work? He does play with the DVD player in our room and thinks it's so much fun (that's what we get for placing it down where he can reach it) and the two pop out just the same way, so I can see how he associated the two. He was quite upset when I grabbed the disc just before he could push it in but man, how did he get so smart?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bangtail Muster

This is the parade that they do here for May day. Everything closes on this day and all groups, schools and whatever are encouraged to enter a float in the parade. Those who aren't in the parade gather all along the street to watch and wave. The preschool that Rebekah goes to always enters a float and it's always a blast to put together and all that. This years theme for the parade was "solar" and very few of the floats actually had a solar theme to them even. Our parent committee sat and brainstormed for 2 hours about what to do, etc. We had this whole plan to do a solar city on the back of our big semi truck bed. It was a good plan. The next day the plan changed. We were now going to do a rocket ship. Not a solar rocket ship, mind you, just a regular old rocket ship with a solar panel attached to the back of the truck. They kept our theme we had decided on, "Solar powering their future" but that's the only thing they kept. So, a few people took over and basically planned the whole thing and the rest of us, completely confused as to what happened to our solar city and our 2 hours of planning, just kind of went along for the ride. I do have to say that the float looked really nice. It was very colorful and stood out really well-it just had nothing to do with the solar theme we were supposed to be following. Oh well, it was a fun time and we learned to ask a lot more questions the next time we have a 2 hour meeting and then everything changes the next day. Here are some pictures:

Rebekah and I on the float getting ready to go


Rebekah and her best friend, Chantel getting ready to go with Flynn pouting next to them


Our float driving down the road


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blah...

I've been at a loss of what to write about this last week so I just haven't written. Nothing extraordinary or out of the ordinary has happened, just the same old day to day stuff that happens every week. The only real differences are:
1.) Josh is sick. Having a sick husband is a lot like having another child who is nearly helpless. He whines almost as much as the kids do and he mopes and get frustrated at the smallest things. I really just want to send him to bed and tell him not to get up until he feels better. The Dr told him he couldn't go to work the last 2 days so he's been home and driving me almost as crazy as the kids. He's a bit better tonight at least and he even did some cleaning. I guess he could tell that I was getting frustrated with his mood or something.
2.) I got to go out yesterday and have a girls lunch. Josh kept Caleb, since he couldn't go to work anyway, and I took Rebekah and one of my friends and we went out to lunch. We chose to go to Subway-she's pregnant so I let her choose what sounded good. It's funny, she's a first time mom and some of the things she has heard about or read about and all the wives tales that she is sorting through. It's fun to giggle about some of the things and then tell her how untrue they are. Rebekah had such a good time being with just the girls and we had a really nice chat while we ate. It's nice to get out occasionally and just have girl talk.
So that's all of the abnormal around here. Everything else has just been the same old thing but it makes the days go by quickly enough.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm Done!

Do you ever have those nights when bedtime can't come soon enough? When you want to put the kids in bed whether it's time or not? Where you HAVE to have some time to yourself or you'll go crazy? Tonight is one of those nights. It has been one thing after another all day long. Josiah has had this major attitude all day and it's my fault for whatever it is that he did and he's been kicking things and throwing things all day and even tried to say that he was staying at Kmart because he didn't want to be part of our family anymore (I think I told him he couldn't do something or have something when we got home that spawned that one)-I told him I loved him and I hope he found a family that would be nice to him.

Josh has been working mids this weekend which means that he sleeps all day and is gone all night and I maybe get to see him for 30 minutes to an hour in the afternoon if I'm lucky. It also means that I have to keep the kids busy, quiet and/or out of the house all day so he can sleep. I think that makes it worse for the kids, especially on Saturday of all days. I got brave and took them all to the store to buy a present for Noah's friend who's birthday party he was going to this afternoon (hence the Kmart trip) and then we went to grab a few things at the grocery store. As we were leaving Josh said I should pick myself out some flowers for mother's day since he wouldn't be able to get out and get anything. So I let the kids each pick out a bouquet of some sort at the grocery store. It cost a little more than I normally would have spent on myself, but I ended up with two vases full of beautiful flowers of all sorts that way (and I think I deserve it after a day like today). So why am I at my whits end with the kids today? I really don't know. All I know is that my patience is frazzled and I'm so glad for the peace and quiet now that they're all in bed. I made it through the day and everybody is still alive and in one piece-now I have to go prepare a lesson for Relief Society tomorrow as it's my turn to teach. I think I'll go pray for the spirit first or I may get nowhere.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Exhausted!

I think I'm finally catching back up from last week. You wouldn't think that a few things all piled on top of each other would have worn me out so much. So, to recap my week:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All the kids went to school today and when it was time to pick them up Josh came along and took them all home for naps while I stayed at the preschool to work on our float. It seemed to be coming along alright but it was so not what we discussed in our committee meeting (the one where we talked about themes and what we were going to do for 2 hours). But, I was going with it anyway. It finally got to a point where they were asking for ideas on how to mount a solar panel on top of a stick (fake solar panel made from cardboard and tin foil) and I had given them 3 different ideas which they answered "no, how about we do...." I finally just walked away to help clean up after the kids as that was the last thing that needed done and I'd rather walk away than to have them pretty much pretend that I wasn't there. As I got outside I commented to one of the other moms, the vice president of the parent committee, that I was pretty much useless inside and so I'd rather clean up a mess that my kids weren't there to make than to get upset over it. This spawned into a whole conversation in which I found that I was not the only one lost in the decision to change our whole float into something that had nothing to do with solar energy and that our 2 hour meeting was pretty much a waste. It's nice to know that as president and vice president our input means nothing. Oh well, we'll learn to speak up sooner next time and relate our frustrations maybe in the next committee meeting. We pretty much finished the preparations for the float though and canceled the Friday working bee because of it.

Wednesday

I got to go with Rebekah's preschool class to the pet shop to pick out the new fish for their class. They got to wander through the bird area, the lizards and finally to learn about fish and pick out 3 goldfish for the class. They picked out big fantail goldfish, one gold one, named Goldie, one spotted one, named Spotty, and one spotted one with much less color, which they named Stripy. It was a lot of fun for all the kids and then when they were through, the guy showed them what they feed the snakes-frozen mice. They apparently have them breed at the desert park here and then they freeze them and sell them. So they're clean and disease free and all the kids loved holding and playing with the frozen mice. Rebekah with Chantel, Tyrese and Mrs Cooper petting and holding the frozen mice

In the evening I spent my time packing for Josiah’s class camp and getting everything loaded into the truck so we could just get up and go on Thursday morning.

Thursday

Bright and early we were up and getting ready to go. I decided to put Noah and Raven on the bus since I wasn’t sure where we were supposed to be meeting and didn’t want them to have to wait around the whole time until school started. Then Josiah and I grabbed our last few things and headed out to school. We didn’t have to unload or anything since I was taking my truck out to camp, so we just helped other parents get set and load up the buses and stuff. Once everybody was ready we all headed out to camp. I had Carl’s mom, Lela riding with me. We got about half way out and I started hearing this rattling sound. As I was trying to figure out where it was coming from, something flew off the rack on top of the truck. As I looked in the rear view mirror, I saw tent poles flying everywhere.

For those of you who don’t know the story of the tent poles, let me elaborate. My parents gave us this very big tent in August of 2006 while we were home on vacation. We were excited as they referred to it as the condo tent and our family wasn't getting any smaller-we had pretty much outgrown both of our small dome tents. We loaded it into the van, drove it across the country to Maryland and then packed it to come to Australia, where we would be able to do much camping. When we got our stuff and it was time for our first camp out, we decided to put it together in the back yard first so that we wouldn’t look dumb out at camp trying to set up a tent we’d never put together before. So, we rolled it out, only to discover that we had no tent poles. My parents had forgotten to give them to us and they were sitting in their shed in AZ-several thousand miles away. We camped in our 2 little dome tents a few times and then, when we went home last year, August of 2008 (2 years without the poles for our nice, big tent) we picked up the poles and mailed them home to ourselves (don’t ask why they couldn’t have been mailed earlier, it’s a long story that I don’t want to talk about). So, now you know the story of our poles and now, back to the other story.

Here are those same poles scattered all over the highway behind me. I immediately pull over and jump out of the car to start running. The car behind us slowed and drove around them and then the 2 cars behind them had other moms in them and they pulled over and jumped out too. We got them all picked up and none were run over-amazing, I know. At least the tent was there in case of rain and the kids didn’t end up needing it that night. We loaded everything into the cars instead of on top now and off we go to camp. We arrived and the kids had snacks and then we all went off for a hike. It took about 45 minutes or so and was fun. After we came back, we had lunch, finished setting up camp and the kids did activities one after another.

My camera battery died at the end of the hike so I tried finding some cell phone service to call one of the other moms who was coming out that evening so she might stop and bring the other battery to me (our house is on her way out of town and she and I are pretty good friends). One of the teachers said she had service about half-way up a mountain nearby so Lela and I went for a hike-No luck. Then one of the other moms suggested going to the next town, about a 15 minute drive, and try there. If nothing else they should have a pay phone or land line we could use, right? So we arrive in Ross River to find that there's still no cell service but as we pull in, there's a nice, big pay phone in front of us. I pulled out my change and headed over. Just as I'm reaching for the receiver, a lady calls out "that doesn't work. Hasn't worked for about 6 months now". No good. So she tells me to try the front counter of the hotel and see if the guy will let me use his phone there. In I go only to have the man tell me all about how Telstra (the phone company) won't come out to fix their pay phone and they aren't allowing anybody to make personal calls so that they'll all complain to Telstra and maybe they'll come out and fix it. He goes on to tell me all about how nobody cares about them and they are the emergency contact for all travelers, blah, blah, blah and he doesn't like giving mouth to mouth to people who are dyeing. 15 minutes later I finally inch my way to the door after discovering that we'd have to drive nearly back to Alice Springs to get cell service (an hour drive) and that there isn't another land line before we get there. We won't be going back to Ross River again. I had just enough camera battery to get 1 or 2 pictures at a time(if I snapped them fast) before it would shut off on me again. So, back to camp.

We had dinner and relaxed most of the evening while the kids did skits and then played night games in the dry creek with their torches (flashlights for all you non-Australians). I think the most amazing part was that when the teachers said lights out at 9:15, the kids all got quiet and by 9:30 it was silent and most all of them were asleep. (I wish my kids went out that fast at home.) The parents all stayed up to watch the campfire and get warm and we went to our tents/swags about 11pm. I was out about 5 minutes after I laid down.

Josiah with some of his friends lined up to head back to camp after the hike
Friday
Today we got up nice and early. The kids woke me up just before 6:30am and I finally got up and came out of my tent about 7:30 (breakfast was scheduled for 7:45 and I was supposed to help). We all ate breakfast, packed up tents, sleeping bags and swags and then it was off for another hike. This one took just over an hour and was a lot steeper climb, both up and down, than the one yesterday. The kids had snacks afterwards, did some activities and games, I helped Josiah's group in a scavenger hunt, and then we had a talk by the ranger. He brought out two snakes called a child's python, the technical name was something like a Stimpsons Python (they only grow to about 1 meter long and are non-venomous). All the kids got to hold or touch the snakes and ask questions about snakes or whatever. Then we had lunch, took a big group picture and by 1pm everybody was loaded up and driving again. We arrived back at the school just after 2pm, unloaded the buses and trailers and then waited for the kids to get done with school.
The whole groups with parents, teachers and all, right before we left camp
We went home, I showered, packed up everything we needed for overnight with the family, switched all the camping gear from the truck to the van and then we were off again to Simpson's gap for the night with our church. We arrived first and attempted to set up our tent with all the elastic broken inside the poles. It took some twisting, pulling and lots of muscle to get them all set up right (the metal fittings were all jammed up onto the poles so they had to be pulled out to fit together), but we did it finally. We had an enjoyable night with everybody around the campfire and all my kids were begging to go to bed by 8pm (my kids usually beg NOT to go to bed at 10pm). Once we put them in bed Josh and I sat around the fire and talked for a bit-it was very nice.
Saturday
I got up about 8am, had breakfast and helped tear down camp (this branch doesn't really know how to go camping) and we were home by about 10am. We ran everybody through showers, except me, had lunch and then all laid down for naps. I got up with just enough time to shower and get myself ready for the military ball. I think I did a pretty good job for the short time I had. Our friends, Adam and Alethea Harding, arrived to take our kids for us and then we were off to the Crown Plaza for the ball. We had pictures taken, had a few of the appetizers and then went through the line to get in. They had a big-time General there so we had to be all particular and be introduced and that to get into the ballroom.
We got a good table with only 2 people there that we didn't know very well (everybody knows everybody here, just not always very well). They started the ceremonies with the color guard, the playing of both national anthems and then a few other speeches, followed by the POW/MIA table explanation and presentation. Just as they were finishing the POW/MIA thing we all here a big crash. One of the wives at the head table fainted and hit her head on the table on her way down. Several of the registered nurses in the room ran to the front and got her assessed and they decided to call in the paramedics, who assessed her again and loaded her onto a stretcher and took her to the hospital. Apparently she was feeling nauseous, which could be a sign of spinal injury or concussion, and they had to determine if it was her nausea that caused her fall or the fall that caused her nausea. (They did announce awhile later that they had received a phone call to say that she was fine and had been released and sent home.) So, 45 minutes later, we went on with the scheduled events, skipping a few for the sake of time. Dinner was good and the talks by the general and some of his staff afterwards was interesting. They finished the night with door prizes (we didn't win anything). When they announced dancing, they called all the military men and women outside, took some pictures and gave them all coins. They each got a coin from the general and one from the big Sgt Major that was with him too. We danced for a bit, talked and socialized a little and then I headed home. Josh had to stick around for awhile because he had volunteered to be the designated driver for Army personnel so that we could get our tickets for free. They supplied the vehicle and gave Josh free sodas and stuff while he waited. He only ended up driving home the Captain and his wife at the end of the night so it wasn't all bad. (and everybody else was gone by midnight so he didn't get home too late either).
Josh and I at the ball. This is one of the proofs off the website-we'll get the better ones when the order comes in in a couple of weeks.
Sunday
We went to church in the morning and then I took everybody home and headed off to the preschool to assemble our float for Monday morning's Bangtail Muster parade (it's an Australia thing they do for May day). I kept myself quiet and busy in the corner and away from those moms who seemed to think they needed to run the whole thing (it's so not worth the argument otherwise) and we got everything assembled. It was a nice and colorful float and, despite the fact that it really didn't fit with the solar theme, it looked pretty good. I haven't downloaded the pictures yet so I'll have to post about the parade another day.
So that's my busy week and I'm now completely exhausted. It's late and I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Flies

I have this fly that has been flying around my head all night and it makes me think of flies in Australia-specifically the outback and Alice Springs. For those of you who aren't familiar with Alice Springs and their flies, let me expound. The flies here are not just ordinary flies. They are very aggressive and they like to fly into your face and all over you. They like warm, moist places and that means that your ears, nose and mouth are all exposed and fair game to fly into. The little aboriginal kids here have snotty noses and, therefore, snotty faces all the time (and they don't wipe them, they just let it run. My kids freak out over a little buger and they just let it sit on their faces) and occasionally you see flies stuck in their snot-it's gross (are you getting a visual yet?). We have here what's called "the Alice Springs wave" because you have to walk down the street swatting the flies away from your face so they don't fly into those warm, moist places. I've actually become pretty good at hitting the flies as they buzz around me (though that may just be because there are so many of them that you can't help but hit some). I will never take for granted the flies we have in the US again-they are nothing compared to these darn flies. It's started to cool off now and the flies aren't nearly at thick as they are during the summer but I can't wait until they are all but gone. I'm going to go find myself a fly swatter and kill this darn fly.

Caleb with flies all over his butt and legs (Click for a closer look)


Josh's arm covered in flies

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nothing new

We've found out that Josiah's flu was just that-the flu. He miraculously recovered the day after we took him to the doctor and was anxious to get back to school again with his friends. Go figure.

This week is going to be a hectic one for us. We've got a field trip with Rebekah's class to the pet shop on Wednesday. The preschools rabbit died just before school started, the bird died a few weeks into school and then a few weeks ago they had a break in where the people trashed the place with glitter, paint and every other art supply they could find, filled the fish tank with paint, and killed the fish and then took the fire extinguisher and sprayed it all over the top of everything before they took the stereo, camera, the teacher's reading glasses and a few other things and left. Anyway, that leaves them needing new fish too. So, it's off to the pet store for a tour and to buy some new pets and I get to chaperone.

Then on Thursday and Friday, I volunteered to go with the year 3 kids and Josiah on their camping trip to Trefina gorge. It's just over one night, but with about 60, 8 and 9 year olds. They want 1 parent for every 2-4 kids so there will be a lot of us going along. It should be fun.

Once we get back on Friday right after school, we're having a branch camp out on Friday night. The whole family has been anxious to go on this one. We debated whether or not to even go when they changed it to this weekend, but we'll go anyway I think. At least the truck will be all packed up already-all we need to do is add a few chairs and sleeping bags and our food for the night (maybe we'll buy something on the way). We'll be back early Saturday morning (because this branch doesn't know what camping really is) and then we'll all have an early nap.

Saturday afternoon/evening, we have the military ball. I still need to hem my dress and maybe make a shrug to go with it. The fabric store was closed on Saturday for Anzac day, so we'll have to go tomorrow to see if I can find some fabric for a shrug that I like. We were also supposed to go to a farewell dinner for two families at church Saturday night but it happens to be at the same time that we need to be at the ball for dinner, so we'll miss that one.

Sunday we have church and then a working bee at the preschool to prepare our float for the parade on Monday morning. All of the kids should be able to be in the parade with their schools but I'm not sure what Living Waters has in mind for their float. We'll probably drop off Raven, Noah and Josiah for their float and then Rebekah and I will go the the preschool float where, as President of the parent committee at the preschool, I get to ride along.

The next week should be so much less busy after the parade but, until then, I'm feeling exhausted just thinking about it all. I'm off to start the hem on my dress.