Friday, December 23, 2011

Jet Lag

*True to form, I wrote this post a week ago and forgot to post it.  Here it is:

I have jet lag.  It has been 5 days, so I should be completely over it, but it just seems to be hitting now:  a nagging feeling that I should be eating at midnight, waking up at 4:45 AM even though I just went to bed at 12:30, a suddenly and unexpectedly falling asleep at 3 in the afternoon.  

We are back in the US, after being gone for 18 months.  We flew to Melbourne, spent the night, then flew from Melbourne to LA.  I can never sleep on the airplane.  I don't think it has anything to do with discomfort really, there are just so many movies I want to watch!  Fourteen hours of entertainment later, we landed in LA.  We visited Shon's brother Jason and his wife, Alex.  Alex is 8.5 months pregnant.  She is so cute.  Really, that's not very fair.  She looked like she was trying to shop lift a basketball.  Lucky girl.  We are very excited and look forward to seeing their little baby girl soon.  
Somewhere in California.
I crashed and slept for a couple hours at Jason's, then it was back in our rental car - a beautiful grey mini van.  Sounds pretty "flash", huh?   It may not be cute, but it gets pretty good gas mileage and is surprisingly roomy.  We have quite a bit of luggage and it all fits!  Shocker.  Anyway, we headed back into the van and I drove, on the right side of the road, for the next 5 hours, to a hotel in Kingman Arizona.  
We stopped to fill up near Flagstaff, and the kids all romped in the snow!

After an awesome night's sleep, on the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on (I was really tired), we got up at 5 and drove to Farmington, NM!  It was such a great visit.  We stayed with my friend Annie and her family.  They are such great friends.  We loved having scriptures with their family, and watching the pleasant interactions between their children and Grandma (who lives with them).  We felt so at home.  What an awesome friend Annie is to host 7 extra people.  And I'm sure we were pretty annoying.  The first few days we were constantly saying:  "Look at the size of this milk carton!" and "In Australia, we do it like this" or "they say this in Australia."  It's kind of strange to be back.  When I first heard the radio announcer in California, I thought she was joking and exaggerating an American accent!  
Sunrise on the road in Arizona.

Farmington was great!  With the exception of a weekend in New Orleans, we have never returned to one of the places we moved from.  It was so nice to see all of our friends at church.  I ran with my running buddies, twice!  It didn't hurt at all, though I was definitely out of breath - but I'm blaming it on the elevation (sea level to 6,000 feet is quite a jump.)  I got to have lunch with my choir friends too.  We had dinner with a couple of very good friends.  It was so much fun!  I got to go to Homemaking (or whatever it's called) and chat with the ladies from church.  And my children played with their friends!  I think it made me as happy as it made them.  I know how much they miss their friends, and to see them so happy was very fulfilling.  (I have to admit, it was a bit shocking to see how much everyone has grown!  Seriously, what are you feeding these kids?)  It was just a really great couple of days.  

We were sad to leave Farmington, but so excited to go see our family.  It has been way too long since we have been home.  Eighteen months is a mission for some people.  And the last couple months have been hard, so it is really nice to be home.  I'm usually pretty good at avoiding homesickness (avoiding is the key word here - you can't get over it, you just have to get around it.)  More on that later.  

So, after 35 hours (so far) of traveling, we are home.  (We have another 18 hours to drive, and 15 to fly before it's all over.)

Life is good.  I have eaten Mexican food, with green chilis and fresh tortillas.  I have run with my friends.  I have been to Walmart.  (Seriously, have you seen how big that place is!)  I have heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, on the radio!  Soon, I will be in the mountains, skiing.  My children have filled themselves with horrible, sugary cereals, and I'm not even going to say anything (like "that's not breakfast, that's dessert").  But best of all, I have seen so many friends and family!  I couldn't be happier.  

Life is good.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I love having visitors!  Shon's sister Angie, her husband Brian, and their 3 children (plus one on the way) came to visit.  We took a few days and made another trip to the Whitsundays.  (I told you I couldn't wait to go back with my family!  I was serious!)

This time we had the boat to ourselves.  We had a ball.  The skipper, Steve, was awesome, and the decky, Emma was "brilliant!"  She was also Irish and a former pre-school teacher.  It definitely came in handy on a boat with 8 children!

The weather was a bit stormy.  We expected rain, but it only sprinkled.  It was much warmer this time around.  One wet suit was enough!  (Shon and I wore 3 last time.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two down. . .

***I wrote this post two and a half weeks ago, but I was in such a hurry that I forgot to post it!  Better late than never.

It is General Conference time again.  (Sigh.  I love General Conference.)  We ate cinnamon rolls, and  actually sat and watched all of the sessions with very few interruptions.  It's nice to have my children getting older.  For instance, last week we had the missionaries coming over for dinner and I also had to pick up Caleb from a play date.  You'd think pick up would only take a couple minutes, but I often find that "play date" here means "wine and cheese by the pool."  (No thank you, to the champagne, but I'd love a glass of water.)

 Actually, my one and only big complaint about Australia (besides the fact that everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road) is the alcohol.  Alcohol seems to be the language of hospitality here.  And though I don't drink, it doesn't bother me much to say no to a glass.  People are honestly trying to be nice when they offer me something to drink.  What I do have a problem with is children and alcohol mixed together.  Let's see, first there was the kindergarten disco where my son was handed a can of beer instead of a soft drink, and my friend's two year old got ahold of a can that was already open - he slept very well that night.  For the public school art night, every admission ticket came with a complimentary glass of wine.  Oh, and the school's family fun night:  all of the children went in a room for crafts and a sausage, while the adults stood around and drank.  (Family fun?)  At the last class parent rep meeting, one of the topics of discussion was how the school could get a liquor license for their next fund raiser.  When my daughter told me about the father's day gift this year, I made a pre-emptive strike so my husband would actually be able to bring his 3 lovely gifts home.  I brought sparkling grape juice to the school for the girls to put their hand painted wine labels on.  The saddest thing to me was listening in on a conversation where one mum was telling another that it was time to teach her 15 year old daughter how much alcohol she could handle.  I felt sick.  Australia would be a very difficult place to live as an alcoholic.  I'm glad I'll never have to deal with that. But just for the record, we have plenty of fun, laughter, and engaging conversation without the alcohol.  And now I'm really off on a tangent . . .
Emily's sparkling grape juice label from the Father' s Day breakfast.  

I went to pick up Caleb from a play date, said no to the champagne, swung by the grocery store to grab a few last minute ingredients for dinner with the missionaries, and came home to a perfectly clean kitchen!  My children (mostly Emily) had cleaned the kitchen and living room!  The magazines were even in a little row on the end table.   The floor was even swept.  I love having older children.
Speaking of older children, look who is almost taller than his dad.  

I also love having the missionaries over - especially this set, because one of them is family.  Sort of.  Shon's cousin's wife's nephew is serving in our ward.  Another tangent:  Elder Sio shared a bit of polynesian parental advice with our family.  When a parent asks you to do something, you have two options:  Do it, or do it sad. 
Here's Elder Thornton.  We just call him Elder Cousin.  Cuz for short.

But back to General Conference.  I feel so at home watching General Conference.  This particular one means our family has been in Australia for two years!  We moved here just a few days before conference, and in my jet lagged state, I woke up at 4 AM and watched it live on the internet.  (Because we are a day ahead of Utah, we end up watching General Conference a week later than the US.) 

We have learned a lot in the last two years. 

We have "learnt" to spell like an Aussie, whilst "practising" saying "Hache" and "Zede" in the alphabet (H and Z if you're confused.) 

I learned that I can indeed whip egg whites to a peek, with just a whisk. Our stuff took 3 months longer to get here than we had planned, so I had to learn to make do with what we had.  Ha!  I only thought I needed a mixer.  Seriously, try it.  It gives your fore arms quite the workout.

We learned that we really don't need plastic grocery bags.  After seeing dead turtles on the beach, and realizing how much easier it is to carry everything in with the big fabric bags, we, like the rest of Australia, have abandoned plastic bags.  Besides, they are just gross.  We have also abandoned paper towels.   Total waste.
There is a lorkeet on Caleb's head. 

We learned how to Surf!  That was fun.  Seriously, I love the beach.  How did I ever live without it? 

The kids learned to talk like an Aussie.  I am however stuck with my American accent (though I am frequently asked if I am Canadian - but I think most people who ask me this just can't tell the difference and know that Canadians don't like to be called Americans, but Americans don't really care.)  The two youngest are the best at turning their Aussie accent on and off.  It takes a few minutes after getting home from school for "mum" to become "mom." 
The family in Singapore.  Caleb is going to be an Elvis impersonator when he grows up.  

The biggest thing we have learned is that the world is very beautiful, and very small.  All those countries you see on the news, with tsunamis, earth quakes, and social unrest - they aren't so far away. 

We are all just neighbours, mate.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reasons why I have nightmares. . .

Others have excuses, I have my reasons why. . . (cue music from Nickel Creek)

Hi my name is Juli.  I am a mother of five.  I heard that someone asked a large family once if they were all one family, or if they were on a picnic.  The mother replied that they were all hers and it’s no picnic. 

I agree.  It’s no picnic. 

I love my children.  I have always wanted five children.  When people asked me when I was little what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I wanted to be a mother and have five children.  I am very blessed to have the desires of my heart.  I love being a mother.  I am happy that I am the one that gets to raise my children, with my husband.  It is definitely a two person job.  But I was the one who breast fed them.  I rocked them to sleep when they cried in the night.   I folded their cute little socks – so little they sometimes got caught in the washing machine filter.   I took them to their first day of school.  I taught them to ride a bike (well, Shon did that.)  I “helped” make pinewood derby cars (the ones Shon "helped" with won, but not mine!)  This weekend I am taking my eldest to his first stake dance.  Sooner or later, I will take them to college or to the MTC.  I feel full of joy that I get to be the one to do those things for my family. 

But it is no picnic. 

I have this repeating night mare where I wake up sweating, thinking that I have forgotten something important.  Unfortunately, some times it isn’t just a dream.
Shon caught one of the penalty kicks.  

For instance, last week, Shon had to go out of town to New Zealand for work. (A trip that conveniently coincided with the Rugby world cup, I might add.)  I knew it would be busy.  Every night there were multiple things going on.  Wednesday Emily had early orchestra, I had cello lessons (which went horribly, I might add – I’m blaming it on the fact that I donated blood Tuesday morning and I spent the rest of the week feeling less than sharp), a class representative meeting, swimming lessons for the kids, volleyball practice for Bryce, softball practice for Emily, and something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on that I knew I hadn’t put in my calendar.   I also helped Emily make a skirt for a Personal Progress project, but we didn’t quite finish it.  She is supposed to wear it on Tuesday night. 

Thursday was equally bad:  ballet and jazz, a softball tournament for Emily, basketball practice for Bryce, and piano lessons for the younger children. 

Friday was an all day volleyball tournament for Bryce, an eye appointment for Sarah, and girls camp began for Emily.  Unfortunately the volleyball tournament was on the complete opposite side of the city from the girls camp.  I spent most of the afternoon driving.  Seriously, hours, and 6 trips over the Gateway bridge ($3.85 each way). 
Bryce loves volleyball.

Saturday was no better:   a primary meeting, followed by a basketball game and the rest of the volleyball tournament (from 1-7 pm) which I had to leave to pick up Emily from her camp (girls camp is only a one night deal here).  Unfortunately, it was raining hard, and I had a miscommunication with the leaders, so Emily was already home as I drove through the rain from Bryce’s volleyball tournament, missing his last game – the only one that they won, I might add. 

I might have been able to handle all of our activities, but I also had a talk to prepare for Sunday morning, hymns to learn for the organ, and the primary presentation to prepare for (I’m the music leader, and is the responsibility that stressed me out the most); and we have company coming from Singapore, which we are going to take on a holiday to the Whitsundays next week.  I am so excited for guests, and I love holidays, but getting 5 children ready, with school makeup work too, and a house to clean for our guests, is no easy task.  Whenever we go on vacation, I wonder if it is worth all the work.   

Sunday, Shon came safely home, in spite of the strike at Quantas.  He was a bit surprised at the state of the house, but I had only done the things that are absolutely necessary, like scrape the oatmeal off the floor.  My talk went well.  I prayed, worked hard on it during the volley ball tournament (I let the kids play video games between matches).  The primary practice went well!  I asked my friend to play the organ for me.  Sunday I was asked if I could help with a musical number on Tuesday that desperately needed a pianist.  I’m not the world’s greatest sight reader, so I said I would if I could find a couple hours to practice. 

Monday went something like this:  Student free day so the kids were all home, Emily had testing which I didn’t know about because I didn’t read the note at the bottom of the pile of papers I haven’t gotten to (which really annoys Shon), we mowed the lawn, took Bryce to the mall with friends, tried to find a friend for Sarah to play with, but she had fun doing the grocery shopping with me, picked up Emily, picked up Bryce, tried to clean house, had people over to my messy house (so embarassing) for a last minute practice of the song for Tuesday (which went horribly, I didn’t have time to practice, and it ended with them asking if I knew anyone else who could play the piano at the last minute).  I threw together dinner just as Shon came home to another messy house.  And the doorbell rang. 

So, back to my nightmare, where I wake up, my heart beating uncontrollably, as I try to figure out what I was forgetting. 

Shon had arranged for me and the kids to go to the H family's house and have dinner and help teach the discussions to their daughter.  

On Wednesday night.

He reminded me, twice.

Oh, and I told my friend J she could bring her kids over to my house while we went to the Year 8 Parent Information Night  (also written about in note on bottom of pile).  She remembered. I forgot, until the doorbell rang and she came to pick me up (me wearing jeans and an old t-shirt, though “Information Night” apparently means “wine and cheese on the terrace” at our school.) 

Oh, and I finally got around to checking my messages on my answering machine.  There is one from Luke H, politely asking if we are coming for dinner. 

And one from Sofiah’s mom asking if Sarah could come over and play.  (My heart broke.)

It’s Tuesday morning.  I know I should be practicing the song I have to play tonight, but can’t.  Or maybe I should be practicing the cello so I can redeem myself from my last lesson after which my teacher is wondering if I know how to read music.  Or maybe I should be up on the terrace, introducing new parents to each other at the new student orientation (I am the class parent representative after all.)  Or maybe I should be doing the horribly filthy laundry from girls’ camp (it was muddy), or putting the zipper in Emily's skirt she is supposed to wear tonight.  Or maybe I should be cleaning up the house from the past week, but I’m not.  Instead I am typing and hoping that writing about this will somehow make me feel better. 

And if it doesn’t make me feel better, perhaps it will make you feel better when you have a bad day, or two. 

Can I just say thank you?

Thank you to the H family for making dinner for 7 extra people (who didn’t show up) and for so graciously accepting my apology. 

Thank you to Shon for coming home.  I don’t know how single parents do it.

Thank you to my friend J who brought cute cookies with candy corn (our favorite American treat - seriously Bryce asked for a bag for his birthday!) and for waiting for me as I changed out of my grubby clothes. 

Thank you to the sweet sister in my ward who wrote me an email to say how much my talk helped her, that it was the answer to her prayers.  It made it all worthwhile. 

***Update:  I found an hour to practice and the musical number went flawlessly.  The spirit was very strong.  My next cello lesson was excellent and Emily never finished her skirt!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sailing the Whitsundays

It's our anniversary this week.  Shon and I have been married 15 years.  More on that later.

In celebration of our marriage, we decided to take a little holiday together.  We booked a sailing trip through the Whitsundays.  They are a group of islands situated on the Great Barrier Reef.  Though we have never  been scuba diving (plenty of snorkeling though) we decided to give it a go and signed up for the "all you can dive" package.  We ended up doing 5 "discovery" dives - we had to stay with a diving instructor (Tristan) and couldn't go lower than 15 m.

My sleeve says "Sail, Dive, Sleep, Repeat."  Sounds like fun!

Here's our boat, the Wings 2.  It was comfortable, and the food was great!
We left from Airlie Beach, and sailed around for a couple days.  It took a bit to get used to the motion of the ship, but we didn't have any sea sickness problems.  
In Airlie Beach, Queensland.

There was a yacht race.  The water is so blue!

The crew were very friendly.  Here is Captain Pete.

Diving was really fun, especially once we figured out how to control our buoyancy and stop from floating into stuff without using our hands (waving your hands around does no good and just makes the water cloudy.)  The reef is gorgeous.  There were so many colorful fish.  We found Nemo, and a lion fish (very poisonous).  One of my favorite parts of being under water was listening to the whales.   I could have just sat and listened until my air ran out.  They were very vocal.  In addition to humpbacks, there was a pod of pilot whales swimming through.  We saw a couple of large  humpbacks putting on a show.  It was amazing.  (It looked like there was an explosion in the water.  I am amazed at how far out of the water such a large animal can go.)  We saw a few dolphins and sea turtles as well.  No sharks or jelly fish (though just for the record, I'm more afraid of jelly fish than sharks.)
Whitehaven Beach is gorgeous.  We could see dozens of sting rays swimming in the water below the lookout.

We climbed over some rocks and found a secluded beach.  Sitting on the rocks, we saw a large animal surface.  It looked like a fat dolphin.  It was a Dugong!  I've been looking for two years and this is the first I have seen.  They are the Aussie cousin to the manatee. 

Whitehaven beach was so amazing.  I've never seen sand like that.  It was like snow - fluffy and white.

What a sunset! 

We had such a great time that we can't wait to go back and take our family with us.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Book week was in August.  The kids dress up as a book character and have a parade at school.

Here's Caleb from Where's Wally? (or Where's Waldo? if you're American.)

Abby as Angelina Ballerina

Sarah had to go as an Australian colonist (or convict) to go along with their curriculum for this term.  

Emily's class theme was fantasy, which was an easy one - she used her Hogwarts robe from the Harry Potter movie premier night.  (Yes, we went at midnight.  But I'm a meanie and made B and E go to school bright and early.)  I borrowed Emily's "Muggle" tshirt for the occasion.  
Emily has been working on a different costume lately.  Last night's Primary Spectacular "Wearable Art" was, well, spectacular.  We will be scrubbing blue makeup off her face for days to come.  (For a school that won't even let the girls wear fingernail polish, better yet, mascara, this is really getting gussied up.)

Congratulations to Sarah who received an art award at a city-wide competition.
Here's a nervous smile for you.
And Congratulations to Caleb for receiving an award in the school assembly for "Staying Calm." 

 Each class had a calm child receive a certificate.  They were a very peaceful bunch.  I did find it amusing, because the day before, Caleb had gotten mad and kicked the window in the car.  It was slightly open, and just that little movement was enough to knock it to the ground, where it smashed into a thousand tiny glass cubes.  Caleb was upset (being the calm, sensitive child that he is) but he was even more upset when I told him he would have to pay part of the cost from his savings.  He has been saving to buy a remote controlled helicopter.  He will have to wait a couple more weeks.

Last week we went ice skating.  It was fun to see the little kids improve over the course of two hours, from hanging to the wall, to independently waddling across the rink.  On the drive home, Caleb said something funny.  He asked if we could go back.  I said we would probably go again some time.  He said "Good, because I forgot to jump up in the air and twirl around."  I love his confidence.

And speaking of funny things said, my children crack me up.  We were talking about taking temperatures.  One of the girls asked what the temperature of a dead person would be.  I said it would probably be the same temperature as the room it was in.  She said "so, if you put a dead body in a room and took its temperature, you could find out what temperature the room was?"  I was like, "um . . .  yes, or you could just use a thermometer and take the temperature of the room," to which she answered "Oh, yeah, that would be easier. . . and you wouldn't have to kill anyone!" (?!?)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Parable of the Lost Violin

Once there was a girl, a beautiful young girl. She took violin lessons at school for $32 (Australian) a lesson, the going rate (I know, it's outrageous!) She didn't particularly enjoy practicing, but she was getting quite good. She made the school orchestra, and was having a lot of fun.

Then one day, something dreadful happened. She lost her violin. She left it at school, as she did on occasion, and the next day, Friday, it was gone. She looked everywhere, but decided not to upset her parents and waited till Monday to tell them it was missing. Her parents were visibly agitated and noteably concerned, but tried their best not to "lose their cool."

Tuesday she looked again, but with no success. It was nearing a week of absense, and like missing people, violins are best found early in the search. To compound the problem, this was not her first violin. Her first violin had suffered a sudden and violent death, due to a fall during practice. Though her parents attempted to glue it back together they had limited success - it became an ornament on their wall, instead of an instrument capable of handling tension on its strings, only to be played occasionally, lest the glue fail and the violin spontaneously disintigrate. The girl's mother in particular dreaded going back to Hannah at Simply for Strings AGAIN to buy another violin (as fun as it is to choose stringed instruments in the shop - it has excellent accoustics!)

Unfortunately, Wednesday, her sister had surgery on her ears (tubes and adenoidectomy) and her mother honestly had no time to help her in her search for the missing musical instrument, more especially since after 8 hours in the lovely hospital, the sister passed out in the elevator of the hospital on her way home and had to stay an extra hour to recouperate. (Seriously, one moment she was standing there and the next she was a pale heap on the floor. Thank goodness there was an ambulance driver in the "lift" to help with the situation.)
Sarah in the recovery room after she got 'tubes" (grommets) and had her adenoids removed.

This beautiful, young girl's cranky and stressed out, but wise, parents knew that she needed to learn the value of her violin by paying for it herself. She had been saving for an ipod touch (another item her parents knew she needed to purchase herself in order to appreciate) and had just earned enough money to buy one, by scrubbing floors and babysitting for her cruel mother, who uses the Financial Peace Jr methodology to teach money management to her children. She was devastated when her parents gently insisted that she use that money to buy herself another violin. (It hurt her parents as well, to have to show "tough love" and they shed tears of their own.) She was so upset, she didn't eat any supper (though I swear it was offered to her) and cried herself to sleep, with her mother smoothing her forehead, gently saying "there, there."

During family scripture study that evening, her family decided to pray together for her to find the missing violin. The beautiful girl prayed, along with her 2 sisters, 2 brothers, and 2 very concerned parents. And they kept looking. . .

The girl awoke the next morning with puffy eyes and a headache from crying. She drearily trudged to school in the rain (just kidding, it wasn't raining). After dropping her siblings off at their respective schools (her poor mother has children going to 3 different schools) and helping her recouperating daughter get comfortable, the mother went to the school to look, once again, for the missing violin.  She was greeted in the school atrium by a smiling, but puffy-eyed daughter. The lost violin had been found! Her teacher had emailed the entire staff of the school. One of the gym teachers had seen the violin lying on a bench at the sports center!

And there was much rejoicing. They even made Rice Krispie Treats, with real, American marshmallows. (Now that’s a special occasion.)
And the moral of the story is:
Pray. And have your family pray with you. Ask for help.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What Expats do on Independence Day

I know you're wondering what American citizens who live in another country do on the Fourth of July.
Sparklers were the best we could do for fireworks.  

We get together with other Americans (even the little ones.)
The youngest American was only a few weeks old!

Sing a heart-warming rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."
Becky's awesome edible flag.

Drink A&W root beer,  and other American food:  apple pie (real Crisco in the crust), corn bread, hot dogs (NOT sausages), and salsa.
Thanks Family Fun Magazine for the idea.
Emily made and decorated cookies, all by herself.  
And let our colors show.

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slow Down

The last few weeks have been very busy.  The end of the school term always is.   Several days I had to be in two places at once - Emily was in the City District athletics (track and field) meet, and Sarah had a jump roping competition (it is a girl's school after all.)  Thank goodness for two parents!  (Congrats to Emily for making City District, and congrats to Sarah for winning her jump rope presentation.)  Shon has been working a lot, and we have all been generally stressed out.  Perfect time to get away from it all. . .

We went camping.  Yep, slept in a tent.  Bribie Island is so close - just an hour down the road, and we didn't even have to take a ferry - and the camp sites are so economical (Robinson = thrifty.)  We stayed on the beach, just behind the dunes.  Our tent (aka, our summer home) is old - we bought it just after Bryce was born.  It is huge, with three rooms.  We were definitely thinking ahead when we bought it, and now it fits our family perfectly.  It's had a lot of wear and tear.  The poles even broke one night during a big storm in Corpus Christi (but that's another story).  This is the first time we put out the big tent in Australia.  (Apparently our little 2 man tent really fits one man, one teenager, and one little tyke; good enough for the father/son camp outs every year.)

We slowed down.

The weather was perfect.

The ocean was beautiful.

The wildlife.   Kangaroos grazed just meters from our tent.  It was actually a little creepy at night, hearing them hop around so close by, but not being able to see them.  We watched for dingos but never saw any.  (That's good.)  Sea birds dove for fish and dolphins joined in the fun.  My favorite part of the trip was when we had to stop to help "bogged" campers get their vehicles un-stuck.  The kids and I lounged on the beach, collected shells, and watched the dolphins feed.

We took a little hike through the bush to see the WWII bunkers and mine stations.  It was fun to explore.

No one got hurt, sick, or even hungry.  Perfect trip.

I thought of it as I watched this mormon message.

It's good to slow down. . .

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Power of One

I admit it, I'm a choir geek.  I like to sing, but I LOVE to sing with other people.  I'd much rather do a duet than a solo any day.

I miss singing.
In Ireland, two years ago on a choir tour.

Last weekend, my sister got married.  Thanks to, I was able to be there for the celebration, 8,000 miles away.  My favorite part was hearing my beautiful, talented sisters sing together.  It made my heart ache.  Also, the choir I sang with in New Mexico (Caliente) is touring Greece right now!  I wish I could be there.  (Thanks for inviting me, guys, but I just couldn't make it.)

I've sung in choirs since I was little:  Children's choirs, high school choirs, college and university choirs, church choirs, women's choirs, show choirs, a cappella choirs, community choirs - I even got to sing back up for a country band once.  I love it.  The thing that amazes me about a choir is the power that one voice has for good or for bad.  Even in a very large choir, one person makes a difference.  You are always heard.  My dad (also a singer) sent me a link last week.  Check it out if you have a few minutes.  (I think I am Eric Whitacre's newest fan.)

I think sometimes we forget that our voice is heard.  Several months ago I went to a popular video store to rent a DVD (we still do that in Australia!)  I couldn't help noticing their collection of porn on the top shelf along the entire perimeter of the store.  I was offended by the pictures on the covers, and embarrassed to have my children with me.  I got my video and left.  I'm not the type that usually speaks up - if I ordered a steak well-done, and they brought it to me rare, I would just eat it rather than say anything.)  I talked to my friend Becky (yep, the same one that I grew up with in Idaho, who happened to move around the corner from me in Australia!) and she mentioned that she didn't like their top row selection of videos either.   We decided that we would say something, next time we were there.  I was nervous, but I did.

 I thought of my friend Angie who loves to read.  She read a book she liked but when the sequel came out, it was full of awful language.  She wrote to the author to tell her how much she loved her books and could she please not use such offensive language.  The author wrote back and said she would!

Today I stopped by the video store for the first time in 3 months, to see if they had Anne of Green Gables (it's chick flick time - we are on school holiday) and the video store had removed their offensive videos!  

I remember hearing that for every person who speaks up there are 100 people who don't.

Speak up.  You never know the power of one voice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nanner and Popsy

Translation:  Grandma and Grandpa.  

I have just returned from taking my parents to the airport to return to their home in Idaho.   Sniff, sniff.   That's right, we have had visitors.  We haven't seen my parents in almost a year, and for 12 glorious days, my parents stayed and played with us.  The house feels very empty now that they're gone.   I seriously contemplated faking a flat tire, so they would have to miss their flight, though I don't suppose that would be fair to my sister-in-law, Emily, who is 9 months pregnant.  My mother is flying to Ohio to help her as soon as she gets home.  (Busy woman!) 

In the Tambourine mountain rainforest skywalk.  

We had so much fun while they were here.  I have forgotten how nice it is to do the dishes with my mom, or have a profound conversation over dinner with my Dad.  

We played tourist for a few days, and even pulled the kids out of school so we could run up to the Sunshine coast (Coolum).  (Hey!  It was educational. . . ) 

Exploring the tidal pools in Coolum.

While we stopped at the Glasshouse mountains, the rain rolled in.  
Riding the City Cat on the river.  
Even the bugs in Australia are pretty!
We love the ocean.

Playing around at Underwater World.
We miss them.