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


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.


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.


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
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.
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.
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.