Monday, January 30, 2012

Back Home

My grandmother has been in an assisted living center for the last six years. The two years before that were spent at different aunt's homes. She became really ill at the end of October. She would 'rally' a bit and then look as though she was going to pass away and then 'rally' again. During this up and down time, there was a lot of family drama. I heard about it and could do NOTHING... Then I heard of an inability of the care center to take care of basic needs. Again, I could do NOTHING...

And after hearing about escalating family drama (people can be so cruel sometimes) and even more neglect on the part of the facility.... I said to my dear sweet husband,

"I need to go home."

And as we bought the plane tickets he pointed out that even though I was going for two weeks, she may not pass away while I was there. It had been over two months from the initial time we thought was 'it'. I told him that at least for those two weeks, I would help in any way I could and hopefully give my cousin, mom and aunts a break.

We booked the tickets on Wed and I left Friday morning. I kept it a secret from everyone except my siblings. When I arrived in LA on Friday morning (dang International dateline) my sister called and said that my Grandma had passed away. So I spent 6 hours at LAX thinking of my Grandma and knowing that my mom was very, very sad. I couldn't wait to give her a hug.

With Julie's help, I surprised my parents and gave lots of hugs and did what I could to help prepare for a funeral. It was very important to my aunt to dress my Grandma in special religious clothing and do her make-up and hair. There were not too many others that wanted to help. My cousin Lisa and I went with my aunt and we took care of my Grandma one last time. It was a very special experience and I'm so glad I went. The funeral was lovely with many wonderful stories of her life.

And when that was all over on Monday, I realized that I still had a little less than two weeks before flying home. I spent that time with my parents, siblings and friends. I also filled that time eating things that I had been missing. I also saw my Missy dog.

I don't think she remembered me, but she did like me after I scratched her belly.

Snow? I much prefer sandy beaches thank you very much!

Any trip to Salt Lake always consists of at least one visit with my high school friends to Chili's. We like it because it has good food, good service and an unlimited supply of Diet Coke. I asked the waiter to NOT remove any glasses so I could get a picture for my Aussie friends. FREE REFILLS and the waiter just keeps bringing them.... Ah, God bless America.
That's 15 drinks (there was 18, but another waitress was 'helping' and took 3 away) for 5 people.
I LOVE me some Cafe Rio!!!

I get asked all the time what I miss most from America. I always answer with 'Fountain Drinks'. Turns out that nobody understands what this means here. (I've heard someone refer to them as 'post-mix' drinks.) Australia? I would consider living here forever if you offered the following at your petrol (gas) stations.
Cheap fountain drinks of any size and flavor. (Notice $1.49 for the XXL?)

And lots and lots of lollies (candy).

I'm starting to see why I have a weight problem...


Before I knew I was going to the states, we found a lolly shop in the shopping centre (hee, hee, I said lolly instead of candy and shopping centre instead of mall.... I even spelled centre the Aussie way....)
and found some lollies that we had been craving.
I spent $5 on these two packages and the four of us shared them. (Papa Echo refrained from eating the treasured candy.)

Grandma wanted to get the kids something they would enjoy and something that was difficult or impossible to find in Australia.
Ya' gotta love Costco. Thanks Grandma!!

As much as I loved seeing my friends and family again, I sure did miss my kidlets and husband. Two weeks was a VERY LONG time to be gone from them. I also missed the beach and the lifestyle here. I was so HAPPY to be getting on the plane to come back home to Australia.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quick Trip South

Summer vacation + Papa Echo has time off + a soon to end Harry Potter exhibition = a quick run to Sydney.

On the way down the coast we had to stop and ride camels... on the beach of course.

Look out! They spit.

I think we are the first tourists ever to get this picture.

And this one...

Dave- How would you like to tile the OUTSIDE of the Opera House?

The Harry Potter exhibit had all kinds of props, clothing, and backdrops from the movies. They would not allow cameras, so this is us waiting in line to get in. The wait was worth it!!

FYI... Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans are disgusting. Or so Alyssa says... none of us tried any of them after watching her try a "rotten egg".

Before we left for home the next day, we went to a Lego Exhibition. This was Jonathan's favorite sculpture.

It was a quick trip to Sydney, but fun!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You Are Welcome

At 3 inches this is a tiny spider.