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.