Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

2011 has been a very eventful year to say the least. We wouldn't change any of it though. Before we sign out for 2011 and begin 2012, I better post Christmas pictures. (Otherwise it might be June before I get around to it.)

New PJ's for Christmas Eve

Tracking Santa using NORAD Santa Tracker.

Santa found us.

After dinner we went on a walk along the beach.

It was a little windy. (All together now... Ahhh.... so sad....)

The next day was Boxing Day and we went to a friend/distant relatives home for that. It was a BLAST!!! Her whole family was there and they were just as fun as my family... made me not feel quite as homesick. Oh and for those that are wondering what Boxing Day is? Nobody knows... it's just another day off work to drink and play. Ya' just gotta' love the Aussie life.

Do I have to come home in two years?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the same, but different

The main question I'm asked right now from friends and family back in the States is, "Is Christmas the same in Australia?"

The short answer?

Yes, but not as much drama.

Let me try to explain...

When we arrived in Brisbane at the first of September I noticed Christmas decorations in the stores. (similarity) Friends started to put up Christmas trees and decorations at the end of November. (similarity) There was a big Christmas festival up the road from us one weekend and then one across from our apartment the following one. (Christmas festivities-similarity) Shopping centre's/malls are busy. (similarity) There are Christmas carolers all the time. (similarity if we had lived someplace warm)

BUT there was NO 'Black Friday' to start off a spending frenzy. Stores are not staying open late. (We found that out the hard way.) And those that will stay open late for two nights this month? It's not that late. There are Christmas decorations, but not that many. All the drama seems to be so much less here. It's really hard to put into words.

When we were preparing (and I use that term loosely because I hardly feel like I had the time to prepare for anything) to move here, we found on the Australian Quarantine and Inspection site that Christmas ornaments were especially troublesome because they may have touched a live tree and be harboring pests. So we decided to just leave it ALL behind in storage. And, because we are only here for two years, we don't really want to purchase a lot of items. So, we bought an artificial tree and a box of ornaments and one string of lights and some Christmas-ey scrapbook paper. And then we let the kids loose with the decorating. Every day they seem to add something new to the tree or walls. Oh, and I can't forget to share two fabulous websites here and here on how to make Star Wars snowflakes. Jonathan and I have had a lot of fun making these.

My favorite is Yoda and C3PO

This is 1 of 4 that I made using 3 inch circles. It is obscenely large compared to our little tree so the plan changed and I used MUCH smaller circles for the tree ornaments.

The main question is 'Does Santa come to Australia and will he know the kids are here?'

This years decorations may just be my most favorite yet. Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

From One Extreme to the Other

This post was originally going to be a lot different. I've been planning on a "Thanksgiving Post" all month. I'll have to tell you all about the dinner and the "Great Gecko Hunt" that occurred following dinner... and I will... It was fun and wonderful and I was excited to share all the silliness.

But first, can I ask for a moment of silence and/or prayer?

I'm writing this post with tears streaming down my face because my heart is broken for a friend in Billings. She has been posting on facebook all about her pregnancy, the baby showers, the nursery, and all the excitement of being a mom again for the fourth time. I couldn't help but be excited. Just before Thanksgiving she posted that little baby Ramsey was born early and was in NICU and she asked for prayers for her little girl. Of course I prayed. I also thought that everything would be okay... Two days later, baby Ramsey returned to our Heavenly Father and my heart broke for my friend and her family. They are strong. Their faith is strong. I know they will be okay and I know that they are being watched over. But, my heart literally hurts for their loss and the pain they feel.


Let me wipe away my tears... because I do want to share how we celebrated Thanksgiving here.

I had to keep reminding myself that Thanksgiving is NOT a national holiday here... duh, I know... but it is such a tradition in my brain that I kept forgetting. For example? I was surprised the kids had school last week. I know.... I know... give me a break... and wish me luck on the fourth of July. (big roll of the eyes)

We had a lovely dinner. We were grateful to be together and to be on this new adventure. (It doesn't hurt that we were looking out on the beach instead of snow.) The kids were understanding that we 1) couldn't find a turkey and 2) even if we found one, couldn't cook it in our little oven. The only thing that they requested was that we at least have a whole chicken and that we have cranberry sauce. Well, we found the chicken easy enough and luckily the little market down the street had a jar of cranberry sauce tucked away on the back of a shelf. The rest of the dinner was pretty standard including our favorite "Aunt Amy's Special Sweet Potato" recipe. I can't say it's healthy, but it sure is YUMMY!!!
Hurry and take the picture so we can eat!!

While I was cleaning up, the kids were running around. I heard from the back of the apartment something about a gecko. I figured they were playing a game or teasing each other. After about 5 minutes, one of them comes back to the living room and says that they can't find the gecko anymore.

Wait.... WHAT?!?!

I have a gecko in my house?!?!

So, the hunt was on to find the little beast/creature.... it may as well have been a gila monster to me. There was NO WAY I could sleep knowing there was a little animal running around. Luckily, my husband is persistent (or knows me well enough to know better than to give up) and the little gecko was found and captured. We did release him into the wild (or the ledge of the apartment building) after looking at his cool feet and getting a scientific lesson from Papa Echo on how geckos can climb anything with their special feet and how science is looking into how they can use the same idea on ...... well, you get the idea. And by the way? Geckos are pretty stinkin' cool!!
Maybe it is a Gila Monster...

It was a weekend of emotions. Please know that I am grateful for all my friends and family and I would hug you all right now if I could.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back to the Koala Sanctuary

We loved Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary so much that we had to go back. While we visited the normal Aussie animals, we also went to the 'farm' area.

'But he's so soft mama... Can we get one?'

Am I in the 'Twilight Zone'? We lived in Big Timber, MT for how many years and we NEVER saw this (and probably should have considering the friends we had...) and then we go all the way to the other side of the world to see...

Sheep Shearing?



All you Big Timber friends can start laughing now...

All I could think of the whole time was
bound, bound, bound and rebound... from Pixar's 'Boundin'

Now let's get back to Aussie animals... oh yeah... the fruit bats... Yeah, that's not freaky or anything like that!!!

Their body is about the same size as a footy. (similar to a football for you Americans)

I'll end this post with a picture of the cutest. thing. ever.

Willaby, Wallaby, Woo...

She's so little... her mum died and so it's someones job to walk around with her in a pouch. Where do I sign up for that job?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Botanical Gardens

Our visit to Brisbane's Beautiful Botanical Gardens

Neat office in the CBD (Central Business District) of Brisbane

The Botanical Gardens and CBD is on the list of 'places we should go visit' when you come see us.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Syrup Only? No Way!!!

Aussie's KNOW how to make pancakes. We have found the BEST. Pancake. House. Ever.
Welcome to The Pancake Manor. It is an old church that has been converted into a 24 hour pancake and crepe restaurant. Not only do they serve pancakes, but they know how to top those pancakes with all kinds of yummy things. If they had 'free refills' on my diet coke, I might never leave the place.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

A Dementor, an Evil Fairy and the Man in Black

Aussie's don't celebrate Halloween like Americans. Some kids will go trick or treating, but the majority won't. Also? You don't know which homes are giving away lollies (candy). We figured we would skip trick or treating this year.


The kids were invited to go trick or treating with a group of friends. We quickly figured out costumes, found bags and flashlights and headed out. They gathered up quite a bit of lollies and muesli (granola) bars. They were beaming when we finally came back home. I didn't realize how much they were missing the traditional Halloween festivities until we came back and I saw how happy there were. Thanks Family S for inviting us to go along.

And, Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

School and Apartment pictures

School Uniforms

Our wake up call/bird on the railing right outside the bedroom windows.
Every. Single. Morning.

We ended up signing a lease for a furnished 3 bedroom apartment. It is a little larger than our first home. ;)

Our view off the dining room.

Our view out the master bedroom to the other side of the peninsula.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day at the Beach

Is there anything better than a day at the beach?

Um, yeah!

A day at the beach in Australia!!!

my happy place... right up there with Disneyland.

We LOVE it here!!