Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Still catching up. . .

Continuing on from our last episode, the Robinsons return Down Under.

We miss our cousins!

And friends.

After we returned from our trip to the US, Bryce took a shower and went straight to EFY at the University of Queensland.  Kids flew in from all over Australia.  They had such a great time!  I remember how fun it was to go when I was 14.  The dances were awesome!  I can only imagine how much more fun it is here.  Most of the kids here are the only members of the church in their schools.  (When I drop Bryce off at early morning seminary, it is a mishmash of colorful ties, blazers, tartan skirts, and shorts with knee socks - so many uniforms from different schools.)  Getting together with other youth who believe the same things you do - now that is just good fun!   Bryce came back more confident, and capable of articulating his beliefs.

When people ask me about the church in Australia, I tell them that if you meet active member of the church from down under, they deserve your respect:  they're not just good people, they are stalwart.  Everyone who continues to "keep the faith" here has made sacrifices - whether it be turning away from social drinking, saying no to friends who want to go "clubbing", not dating people who don't support your standards, giving up rugby or rowing (or marathon running!) or soccer because the games are all on Sunday, or wearing modest clothing even though it is way too hot.

It broke my heart the first year we were here and Sarah had to say no to 7 or 8 birthday parties in a row (never getting to go to a single party that year!) because they were all on Sunday.  There were a couple parties I thought might have been alright, but then that would just get confusing, having some be ok and some not, so we just decided to have a "no parties on Sunday" policy.  At first we used to just say, "sorry, we can't come," but I felt a bit rude, like I was hiding something, so I now tell people, thank you, we appreciate the kind invitation, but that we decided as a family that we wouldn't go to parties on Sunday because that is our Sabbath day.  Last month, Sarah's best friend's mother called to see if there was any way Sarah could come to a party on a Sunday.  When I said "not really" she said, well, we'll just have to plan the party on a Saturday then.  Sarah was so happy!  (By the way, it was an awesome party - a trip to Dream World - the Aussie equivalent to Disneyland!)  It has happened several times now, and not just with birthday parties - Emily's soccer party, Bryce's volleyball dinner, they all were changed from a Sunday to a Saturday because our children couldn't come.  People here really are so kind and thoughtful.

So. . . We got back from the US and had a couple weeks to kill getting ready for school.  It rained most of the time.  That doesn't stop us from swimming in our pool - if you're wet you might as well get wet, but it does stop us from visiting the beach.  The surf gets really crazy with all of the water pouring in from the streams and rivers.  We tried the Gold Coast one day and didn't last long after several kids got pulled out on a rip.  Watching the life guards drive out on their jet skis gave me a traumatic flash back to last year's rip experience.  So, with the rain, we spent a couple days exploring the museums down at the southbank.  (If you're ever in Brisbane, definitely check them out!)  Here are some cheesy pictures I took at the Gallery of Modern Art, using my phone.

This exhibit was called "We Miss You, Magic Land" and everything was made with sugar and icing and such!  A little too pastel for my taste, but the kids loved it.
  Everything in this exhibit had to do with spots.  I liked it.
(If you want to See Forever, you have to open your eyes, Caleb!)  

We loved the Obliteration room!  The kids were all given a sheet of spot stickers and told to stick them anywhere in the all white room.  Everything was white - a piano, computer, kitchen utensils and house plants!  By the time we saw it, there were more spots than white. 

More spots.  
And then, suddenly, school started.

Is that a missing tooth?!

Did I mention how much I love back to school shopping in Australia?  This year I had to buy a couple pairs of new shoes, some socks, a back pack, one $200 calculator, and heaps of stationery and books, which according to Australian tradition, must be covered in book covering material.  I am a pro at covering books.  Trust me, I have spent hours practicing. One big plus about having to wear shorts is that when your son grows 6 inches in one year, his shorts still fit!  Nothing else I bought him has lasted so long.  I am all for shorts and knee socks.

The house felt so empty when the kids went off to school, especially with the rain.  I turned on the TV, but that was just distracting, and I really did have a lot of work to do, especially with my washing machine broken.  (It took four weeks to get the right part installed, just this morning. Yeah, no more hauling the laundry to the laundromat!)  So, to give myself a little background noise, I started listening to pod casts.  I LOVE it!  My favorite right now is "Things You Missed in History Class" from  I especially love ship wrecks, art history, music history, and historical medicine.

Just for the record, I actually really enjoy the laundromat.  I can get 8 loads washed in half an hour!  The problem is drying.  Here, most people use a clothes line, so the laundry place may have a dozen washers, but only 2 or 3 dryers; and my dryer wasn't broken, my washer was.  So, rather than sit around for hours and dry my laundry, I just hauled it all home.  The clothes line works great - when it isn't raining, or extremely humid, which it is, most of the time.  Using a clothes line in a rainy place makes for interesting social experiences.  The sun comes out and mums walking their children to school suddenly run off saying "I'm going to put my laundry out!"  It gives new meaning to the song "Today while the Sun Shines, work with a will. . ."  Some day, someone clever will invent a solar/wind powered clothes dryer (only $599!) which will become all the rage in California, where people are so environmentally conscious, and the rest of the world will laugh and point!

One of my favorite things about laundry is that I feel like I am working when I am really just waiting - and what better to do while waiting than read a book!  I have been eagerly waiting for this book:  Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale.  I love reading Shannon's blog.  She is so witty!  Several of my favorite books are hers:  Book of A Thousand Days, The Princess Academy, and of course, Rapunzel's Revenge, my most loaned book ever.  I finally just begged the school library to please get a copy so I could have mine back.  Sarah even went as Rapunzel for book week.

Rapunzel from "Rapunzel's Revenge" by Shannon Hale

 There is so much to look forward to right now.  My cousin, Jennifer Wolf, has a young adult novel coming out in April, Breaking Beautiful, which I can't wait to read.  Also, the movie of the Hunger Games.  I'm going to have to find my mockingjay pin again!

Ketchup. . . I mean tomato sauce

It's time to do a little ketchup, only we call it tomato (say tom-ah-to) sauce here.  Things have been very busy since the new school year started.  It will have to wait for another post though.

We had a fabulous trip home for Christmas.  We asked our children what their favorite part was, and they all agreed that playing with their cousins and friends was the highlight of our holiday.

We spent time in Los Angeles, Farmington New Mexico, Salt Lake City Utah, and Twin Falls Idaho.  

The week after Christmas, we had our Patterson Family Reunion at the Albion Campus Retreat.   It was awesome.  Growing up, we always drove past the Albion State Normal School on the way to Pomerelle ski area.  There is an old state college for teachers.  Built in 1901, it was used for decades to teach teachers, but has been completely vacant since the 60's.  I used to day dream about going inside the old buildings.  

Not only did we get to stay in the restored Miller Hall, we were given a tour of the other buildings, which are now used only at Halloween as a haunted house.  We explored the orchestra pit and dressing rooms under the stage in the theater.  The gym was pretty cool too.  I always feel bad seeing things in disrepair - especially something that used to be so beautiful.  But we had an awesome time exploring.  I think it would be a very scary haunted house!

The weather was unusually warm, but we still managed to have a great time skiing!  It was Caleb and Abby's first time.  They did great!  I think they are our first children to not cry their first time on the slopes.

When we weren't skiing, eating, or playing games in the rec room, we were in the hot tub!  The best part of course, was just being with family.

But, before we headed up to Idaho, we spent a week in Utah.

We had a special visitor.  Brother A was visiting from Arkansas!  It was so good to see him again.  I miss Brother A.

Me and Brother A.

Go BYU Basketball!

At Temple Square.  Can you tell Caleb was tired? 

Christmas Eve with Shon's grandparents.

 We got to see the Tabernacle Choir Christmas broadcast.  The choir was amazing.  Jane Seymore was a witty narrator.  Everything was great - especially the super nice college student who paid for our parking when I realized that I only had Australian cash!  I offered to get his number to pay him back and he wouldn't have it.  Merry Christmas to you too!  Living in Australia, I sometimes forget there are so many LDS members in the world.  To see so many people - including President Monson - in one room was overwhelming.
Sarah and I in the Conference Center.

It was so much fun to spend Christmas Eve with Shon's family.