Thursday, August 28, 2008

Up For Air

We've been home for a week and haven't been able to catch up with things. We've been suffering from major jetlag. I don't remember it being so rough, but then I was seven years younger last time we went.

I thought I would add some of my favorite scenes from Oz. This is a picture of Mum and Dad's pawpaw tree. That's their neighbor's house in the background.

I love this picture of Grandpa going down to the chicken coop with the grandkids. They loved feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs. Dad built the steps himself. They looked forward to going every morning and afternoon.

Jacob, Mimi and Nina with Grandpa and the chickens.

Nina, Jacob and Mimi gathering eggs.

Here's JoJo with his son, Jacob.

This is an Aussie dryer. It was an experience Ali did not enjoy. It's really not that bad, unless you have tiny little baby clothes that take forever to hang and take down. Ali didn't like the crunchiness of her jeans. I don't mind a clothesline, but I'm sure my neighbors would protest.

Test your vision! Spot the wallaby! The darn thing wouldn't let us get very close to take it's picture. But we saw him a few times. He's just to the right of the shed, if you didn't spot him.

Our trip was wonderful and the best part was spending time with family. Needless to say, we could have stayed at least another week.

So this is where we stayed for most of our trip, at Mum and Dad's in Samford. It's just outside of Brisbane, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Underwater World at Mooloolaba

We had a great opportunity to stay at our friends beach side vacation condo in Caloundra, which is up the coast. We shopped at the quaint little shops, ate fish and chips, enjoyed the view out the window, enjoyed some time with Adam & Fiona's family and froze our butts off!

We had to include a picture of the Happy Valley on the other side of the world, to compare to our little Happy Valley. This one looks a little more fun, eh?

Wednesday we went to a wonderful
place called Underwater World. It had amazing creatures from the ocean. I think they're amazing but I hate those freaky little monsters and they scare me to bits - and for this reason I stay far away from the deep blue ocean.

This was the entrance to the parking. It was pretty cool. We saw lots of fish, frogs, toads, sharks, stingrays, eels, crustaceans - sounds like a feast to me!

We saw fish like this:

I can't remember what kind of fish it is but he sure was purdee - in a freaky kind of way.

We also saw sea dragons, which are especially freaky. They look almost like a weird floating plant but with a seahorse kind of head.

They look like this weird little creature that is very rare. Can you see his funky little nose on the right bottom? Ew!

Here's another weird looking one.

Evil I'm telling you! Spooky, scary creatures! This is almost as bad as looking at bugs. These sea dragons reminded us of fairies in a way, the way they floated and moved with grace. I could almost think they were pretty - as long as they're behind glass.

Then there was the whole tunnel experience with the moving walkway with about 12 inches of acrylic between us and sharks, and stingrays, and sawfish, and groupers, and other scary beasts from the deep.
They were pretty interesting. Mimi was scared to death to see a shark and had to hold my hand the whole time. She must have grown an affinity towards them during our tunnel ride because she now has a stuffed animal who happens to be a shark. That's what life is about, overcoming fears. I'm still staying out of the ocean.

Here's a few views from the tunnel. Those stingrays have ugly faces.

This would be my offspring standing in the jaws of a shark. So dramatic, I don't know where they get it from.

Which reminds me, we went out for a bite to eat after our busy day. We had chicken.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I said I wouldn't do it and I did!

I was forced to. I didn't want to do it. I had no choice. But it was either stay home or go shopping.....hmmmm....let me think - go shopping! But the only way I could get there is drive. I didn't want to drive at all because driving is a very subconscious thing, you don't have to think about it. You just drive. You can even multi-task while driving. I was afraid I would find myself on the wrong side of the road, getting honked at and getting the forks from some disgruntled Aussie.

I sat on the right side of the car, with the steering wheel on the right side, the indicator at my right hand instead of left. Every time I went to signal I turned the windshield wipers on. Then I had to remember to drive on the left side of the road. Ali was the navigator with directions in her hands. The only time I drove on the wrong side of the road was when I pulled out of the driveway. Then Ali kept telling me I was driving too close to the line on the left side of the road. But we made it! The light at the end of the tunnel. Shopping, glorious shopping.

Have I complained about the prices here? A bottled water costs $2-3. Also soft drinks are about $3.00 and there's no free refills!!! Food is very expensive and eating out - shocking. We went into a McDonald's the other day and they had a McCafe. This is a little counter in McD's that has some decadent desserts on display behind the glass counter and a fancy coffee maker there. And for about $5, you could buy one of these desserts, which serves one. And gas, about $7+ per gallon.

Well, it's about 11:00 pm here and I need to go to bed. Tomorrow I will have more time to post photos, since we can't find the cord tonight. I'm sure it's somewhere amidst the dirty laundry, clean clothes, souvenirs, toiletries, etc. By the way, my hairspray made it safely and so did all the passengers. My do is still do-able and I'm still pretty hot. Love those affirmations that you hope will become a reality!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Here comes trouble!

Here's my 17 year old baby boy, Seth, carrying his two cousins, Wilson (left) and Jacob (right). He just carried them around for awhile and they loved every minute of it. Aren't they all chick magnets? The little dudes are almost four years old and cute to the core. They're like two little cyclones running around!

Sleeping Beauties

Mimi discovered eye shades on the airplane and gave her Qantas eye shades to her cousin Nina. The kids were so exhausted after our family get together they fell right into bed when we got home. It was so funny to find them wearing eye shades, Fiona took their pictures. Too bad they can't stay eight forever. I love how their shades are coordinated with their pajamas. Mimi with her pink and Nina with the black. Brady's eyes are still opened. Someone has to watch for bed bugs.
Sweet dreams little princesses.....
and Brady Bear.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mellow Yellow

One trait that Jared's family has is that their conversation always ends up turning to the toilet. So amidst the discussion about the half flushes and full flushes and the water rations, someone brought up that there was a commercial that a lady had written who's motto was, "If it's yellow - let it mellow. If it's brown - flush it down." Of course, I found that extra funny since I've been referring to everything being flush worthy or not.

Yesterday (Friday) was Fiona's birthday. We went to a tavern for dinner and met her father and siblings & spouses there. We knew her family from living here before but haven't seen them in 12 years. I can't think of Fiona's dad, Noel (rhymes with Joel), without remembering a time when Seth was about 2 1/2 years old. We went up to Rockhampton where he lived, stopped in for a visit and while we were all around the dinner table Noel walked up the stairs with Seth behind him. Those who have ever had toddlers know when they discover something they go through a phase of announcing it (like asking your favorite color or age.) Seth's new saying was, "I can smell something!" Then he would tell you what it was, like bread or burgers, etc. So as he followed Noel up the stairs he announces, "I can smell something!" Noel turns around and says, "You can? What do you smell Seth?" Seth answers, "A fluff! Pah! A stinky fluff!" We all teased him thinking he could get away with it.

Then there was a time when Seth was two and Fiona had him for the day, just to spend time with him. They stopped by Noel's and Seth had to go to the bathroom. Fiona went in to wipe his bottom and Seth says, "I don't want you to wipe my bum, I want Noel to wipe my bum!" Noel quickly said, "That's alright, Mate, Fiona will do it."

Tomorrow I will have a little more time to post some pictures - it's 11:30 pm and time for me to drop into bed!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Here she is.....Ali in her favorite place! Shopping! This is just one view of the never ending mall in Chermside. Here she is with Katherine (Kat) who looks like a fashion model after two kids. She cheats though, because she's a personal trainer. She teaches classes at local gyms on yoga, pilates and spinning. She explained that spinning is indoor cycling, which I replied, "Oh, I know what the exercises are, I just don't do them." I love the lime green couches in this store and they would look so cute in my house. It's out of the budget, though. I'll have to continue to love my red couches instead.

Here is Ali with Fiona, who looks like a fashion model, even after four kids. We had a great time shopping, having lunch and more shopping. We are still trying to recuperate from jet lag and eating dinner at 4 am our time. My digestive system is rebelling. It's only 8:00 pm and I'm ready to fall into bed. We were all awakened by the rooster early this morning. His days are numbered.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Heavenly Shopping Trip One

Mimi had a dose of farm living today. She got to go with her grandpa (Pa Pa) to the chicken coop and gather four eggs. She loved the chickens almost as much as her hamster. Pa Pa was attacked from behind from the rooster and it attacked him in each leg, causing him to bleed. He chased it around with the metal bucket he had with scraps to feed the chooks (that's Aussie for chicken). We may have fresh chicken before the week ends if that rooster doesn't behave itself. We saw the banana trees with green bananas that won't ripen until we leave, pawpaw trees and lots of bush oranges. Also a bush turkey that would look better with a little gravy. No sign of the wallaby yet.

We had to get a small dose of shopping in, got a couple of souvenirs and a few other goodies after we exchanged our US dollars for Aussie dollars. Of course, our dollar isn't as strong as it was last time we came. Seven years ago we paid .50 cents for every Aussie dollar. Now we paid about .93 cents per dollar. Things are quite expensive here, especially food. Gas works out to just over $7/gallon. Makes us a little grateful for the high prices we have in the USA! It's much cheaper to buy by the gallon than the litre. I also like my weight much better in kilograms than pounds. The gravity is better and I weigh only half of what I did in the US.

From our car we saw a hawk attack a mickey, which is a bird. I've never seen an attack so close as it was right next to the car as we were waiting at a red light. Feathers started flying everywhere and Ali said the bird was naked as it ran under the car next to us. The hawk flew off as soon as traffic started moving again. Mimi was sad for the mickey, of course.

Adam and Fiona and their four kids arrived from Tasmania, which was only a 2 1/2 hour flight to Brissy. We met our new sis-in-law, Katherine and her two kids for the first time. We had a houseful - 19 people. Kat's daughter, Neve (10 yrs old) thought Ali looked like Hannah Montana. She was taken with her cuteness and asked Ali to teach her how to speak with an American accent.

Tomorrow I promise to add pictures - we haven't stopped since we got here! By the way, the mall was AMAZING and Ali kept referring to it as Heaven on Earth. It was three times the size of our local mall. Sigh!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Week With No Monday

Could it be true? A week with no Monday? What could be more perfect? I'll tell you what could be more perfect.....a week with two Fridays!

We made it! We're here in Oz after a very long flight. I guess it wasn't all I built it up to be. We were all exhausted and it was a very bumpy ride most of the way over the Pacific Ocean. So just when you were drifting off to sleep it felt like someone kicked your seat to wake you up. Most of our flight was during sleeping hours. Mimi asked if we stopped in the middle of the night to get gas in the airplane. She commented that this was the best airplane she's ever been in. "They have food, they give you a blanket, a pillow, it has a big window, a TV, headphones, a light....." But she couldn't believe the bathroom was so tiny and she's never seen such a tiny bathroom. It was even tiny compared to her standards, who usually refers to small things as "Mimi size."

When we got to Jared's parents' house, we were briefed about the water situation. Queensland has been in a drought and has had to resort to drastic measures. Four minute showers, half flush for a number one, full flush for a number two, boys are to go outside to do number one. So I asked if I should save a flush and just pee in the shower. After my shower I apologized, because I thought I would save another flush, but I didn't know it wouldn't go down the drain very easily. I've been making sure my bladder gets its flush worth.

We had a nice day with family, taking in all the old and new sights and sounds. The old Queenslander houses, the trees, the fruit trees and the sounds of the wonderful Australian birds. Ali and Mimi have the prime room where they may catch a glimpse of a wallaby outside their window in the early evening. Well, 18 days left and lots to see and do!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Farewell Dear Friends

Our bags are packed, We're ready to go,
We're standing here outside our door......
So kiss me and smile for me, Tell me that you'll wait for me -

Just an old John Denver tune from long ago (before my time of course!) We haven't been able to sleep for the last couple of nights from excitement, running errands and hoping we've remembered everything. I've been like a head with my chicken cut off! It's very strange watching yourself run around and not being able to do a thing about it.

But Qantas is calling my name; with movies, meals and maid service. Sigh. Then I have to wake up to reality again.

I will miss you all and it will seem like a blink of an eye when we get back. Sorry we couldn't catch up before we left, but save a date when we come back!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Underwear Day!

Today on our local morning show they said a new Operation Game came out to celebrate National Underwear Day. "Cavity Sam" is sporting a new pair of boxers and has a few new ailments, one being "Phone Finger" and something about a "Blast Zone" which is where gas is passed. It's not called "Blast Zone" but something about toxic gas. That is something I would not try to remove on purpose, because I have two males in the house that are frequently releasing their own toxic gas on a regular basis. In fact my friend was talking about how boys always leave skiddies in their underwear and they never grow out of it. I agree! Which is why I don't do my son's laundry anymore.

Which brings us back to the "unmentionables" that are now broadcast everywhere. I looked up National Underwear Day and I realized we really don't appreciate what we have. They don't have underwear in some countries. They wear loinclothes or gourds (well, the men anyway) and they don't have the choice to wear briefs, boxers or tighty whities!

The beginning of underwear appreciation came when Calvin Klein erected a giant billboard in New York Times Square sporting a muscular man in nothing but briefs. People have been exposing their knickers ever since.

In the last couple of years my son would bring his friends over and each of them would be exposing their boxers at the top of their jeans. I would tease them saying, "I can see your underwear!" or "I see wedgie bait!" or "I see London, I see France, I see Brendon's underpants." Then they would hike up their jeans. I thought I would play a little joke on them and I bought myself a pair of LOUD boxers from Old Navy that had Hawaiian flowers all over them. I put them on under my jeans leaving the top exposed. I walked into my living room, pretending to drop something saying loudly, "Oooops! I dropped something" making sure I had all of their attention and I bent over to pick it up and exposed my new lovely boxers. It was great to see the faces of horrified teenage boys! I think they thought it was gross.

Celebrate National Underwear Day this coming Aug. 5. Treat yourself to a new pair of undies - a thong, boy pants, bikinis, granny panties, boxers or briefs. Show them off to everyone you know - be proud of your panties! Okay, not really. I'm a very modest person who thinks National Underwear Day is a crock. Now...National Bra Day.....that would be uplifting.