Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lest we forget. . .

Happy Anzac Day!

Australia took a holiday on Monday to remember the Anzacs. Anzac stands for Australia/New Zealand Army Corps.

Not knowing much about the Anzacs, I checked a book out from the library. I didn't know. I didn't know that Australia had such a part in the first and second world war. I didn't know Australia went to Vietnam. I didn't know that Australia is still fighting today in Afghanistan and other areas of the world that need extra security.

I think war stinks. I understand why we have war, but it is a complete waste of human life and natural resources. If leaders would stop being corrupt and people would be kind and tolerant of each other, war wouldn't be necessary. But it is. I pray for peace, but I also pray for the safety of the men and women who are fighting for peace, no matter what country they are from.

As a mother, it hurts to see the pictures of men lying on battle fields. I know some of them had wives and children, but they all have a mother.

I was profoundly impressed with the respect and honor that Australia shows its veterans. We went to an Anzac Day concert at one of our favourite places, the South Bank. It was beautiful. The Queensland Symphony played, prayers were said and hymns were sung, along with a standing ovation renditions of "Advance Australia Fair", and "Waltzing Matilda", and the pipes were playing - the Queensland Police Pipes and Drums. What is it about bag pipes? I can't get enough.

During part of the concert they showed pictures of families being reunited with their loved ones. Those pictures really touched me. I've been there. My father is a Gulf War veteran. I remember the day in December that he left. We drove to Salt Lake City where we stood in line all day to get our military ID's updated. We went to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and they sang "I'll be home for Christmas." It was a live recording, so we had to try not to sob as our family cried through the song. Even more vividly, I remember the day he came home. It was an explosion of hugs, people holding signs, singing patriotic songs, and happy crying. Fathers were holding babies they had never seen. We came home and our neighbors had decorated our house in yellow ribbons. I saw that same expression of joy and sacrifice on the families in the photos at the concert.

Thank you for your sacrifice, and also thank you to Australia for showing the respect to your veterans that they deserve.

Here's an Australian classic and a new family favorite:

Anzac Biscuits

125 g butter, chopped (1 cube)
2 Tbsp golden syrup (Americans, look in an import store, or try 1 T molasses and 1 T corn syrup.)
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda (baking soda)
2 Tbsp boiling water
90 g rolled oats (1 C)
150 g caster sugar (1 C white sugar)
65 g coconut (3/4 C)
1 C flour

In a pan, stir butter and syrup until butter is melted. Then add the soda and water. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix. Bake at 150 C (325 F) for 20 min or until lightly browned. My oven burns everything (really, it's not my fault!), and I like things chewy rather than crunchy, so I only cook them for 10 min. They have a great chewy texture and a wonderful carmel flavour. Even my children, who don't like coconut, love these cookies. Don't forget the flour (I did the first time I made them - actually, my recipe left it out - honestly, it wasn't my fault!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Guess who will never be the Elder's Quorum President again? (Shon has been Elder's Quorum President 3 times, in 3 different wards.)
That's right, Shon's a High Priest. He is the new first counselor in the Chermside Ward Bishopric. Our Bishop is awesome. He's also been bishop for 7 years. . .

We live in paradise. It is heavenly. Most of the time. But we definitely have our moments - the kind that make you say, "can I go home now?" It just gets a little awkward being a good little Mormon mother of 5 in this society.

For instance: yesterday I got a text from a couple mums at Churchie asking if we could all meet at my house to plan car pooling and have a coffee. I called her back. Um . . . you can come over, but we don't drink coffee. "That's ok, she says, we'll just have tea" and hung up. I later explained that we're LDS. We don't drink, nope, not even Coke - except for medicinal purposes :-). In the mean time, we had a nice cup of vanilla mint herbal tea and some lovely lavender cup cakes (did you know lavender tastes good?! It does!)
They look pretty. My new best friend, Vanilla Pod, made them for me. (Vanilla Pod is an awesome pastry shop near my house.)

Here's my new tea pot.

Banks in Australia close at 4. That stinks.

Monday, April 12, 2010


The kids went back to school today. Easter Holiday is over. I keep calling it spring break, but it's not spring, it's autumn. Here's what we did with 2 weeks off school.

Now isn't this your idea of fun: stick 5 happy (but noisy) kids in a car for 14 hours to explore a bit down under. (Actually, we had to go to Sydney to visit the American consulate and conduct some business - kill two birds with one stone.)
Listen to a little didgeridoo and party with the natives.

Here's a familiar sight.

The Sydney Opera House has such great angles.

Ride the ferry out to Manly beach.

Bondi Beach (home of the famous reality TV show: Bondi Rescue - don't worry, I hadn't heard of it either, but we don't watch a lot of TV.)

Bondi is a beautiful beach right in the middle of Sydney.
This is a wildlife crossing. There were koala and kangaroo signs everywhere, but I think this is for the sugar gliders and possums. We saw plenty of boomers. After Sydney we drove to Coff's Harbour where we realized our car was badly leaking fluid. It was Thursday evening. We found a mechanic who would take it - on Tuesday. In the mean time, we got to use their loaner car - a totally "flash" (australian for fancy/cool) 1991 station wagon, which didn't have enough seatbelts for everyone. Fortunately, it says "Goodyear" all over it, so we had no problem convincing the cop at the random check point that it wasn't really our car. I think Shon's 5 o'clock shadow (broken electric razor) helped convince her that we really are responsible parents who use seatbelts. (We really are!)
On Sunday we went to church. It was a small branch which doubled in size for the holiday. We don't normally see the fruits of our efforts, but we did this time. We made friends with another family that had children (here is their daughter with ours) and Shon got to borrow their surf board. We brought our boogie boards, and had a ball. We also had an invitation to dinner and, most importantly, a ride home to Brisbane for Shon (who had to get back to work) and Bryce (who had a football [soccer] camp). The rest of us got to stay and enjoy a couple more days at the beach. The car took all of an hour to fix, and we got to spend a relaxing 6 days by the beach.

This was my morning run, along the beach and up the stairs, where I startled a kangaroo. (He startled me too.)

Caleb, mate, you're too young to kiss! We took a little bush walk, past the banana plantations at the top of a hill. It was beautiful.
It was cloudy, so it's hard to see the ocean in the background.I've never seen this before: an honesty box. Put in your $2 coin and take a bag of ripe bananas.

It's good to be home.