Sunday, December 11, 2011

Australian War Memorial

By far one of the best places to visit in Canberra.   

Halloween at the Embassy

Halloween almost came and went without me noticing.  I think it may have something to do with how non-commercialized they are, that is, by American standards.  It didn't help that there were no trick-or-treaters at our door.  However, we did get in the spirit by attending the Embassy's Halloween party.  Even I dressed up!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

For the Birds

Stumbled upon this art display that I'll call "For the Birds".  Off of George Street in Sydney.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Balancing Act

It has been awhile since my last post.  I started working full-time and it has been a bit of a balancing act.  I was in a routine each day of dropping the kids at school, running or going to the gym, having lunch, blogging/facebooking, errands or chores and picking the kids up from school.  But, after eleven months, this routine got a bit old.  Truth is, I enjoy working and so it is good to be back at it.  However, I do miss parts of my daily routine like exercising, blogging/facebooking and picking the kids up at a reasonable hour (now they are in "afters" til 5:15).  I am still trying to figure out the best time to run each day, the house is rarely clean, clothes are not put away and we are cramming in the chores on the weekend.  Recently, I started running a couple days a week during my lunch hour.  This works out pretty good.  I've got great support to do this too.  I work with people who also exercise during the work day.   
Here are some pictures from a hike we took in the bush last weekend.  We came across this really amazing lizard and for the first time, we were swooped by a magpie...a very territorial magpie.  The swooping was unexpected so I do not have a picture of that.   

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cairns Holiday: Part 2 Kuranda Rail and Skyway

After a relaxing day hanging around the resort enjoying the pool and the beach (oh, did I mention our 3 bedroom apartment was right on the beach?) and delicious food, we took to the railway and headed into the rainforest.  A beautiful 90 minute train ride took us up into a quaint village called Kuranda.  We took a nice walk through the rainforest to stretch our legs and work up an appetite for lunch. 

Following lunch, we visited three sanctuaries in Kuranda including butterflies, koalas and birds.  Another check mark off of my list of things to do while in Australia: hold a koala.

Holden, the Koala.  This is the closest Uri is going to get to having a son.

Maiya and Holden the Koala

Maiya and I saw fish that had this same color scheme at the GBR

a nice fuzzy spot

The animals sure do like Uri

Uncle Tom's new hobby
 We ended our evening with a birthday celebration for my beautiful daughter, Anabella.

LB made chocolate balls for the party.

And, Uncle Tom made party hats!

Chloe's true feelings about chocolate!

Cairns Holiday: Part 1 Great Barrier Reef

After 6 months of planning, the time had finally come for our family’s visit and our trip to Cairns, Queensland.  Uri, Anabella, Chloe and I took the bus to Sydney’s airport where we met up with our niece, Maiya, our former brother in-law, Tom, and his girlfriend, LB.   It’s been a long 10 months since we left Connecticut and to have family visiting was so exciting!  From Sydney we took the plane up to the northeastern part of Queensland for a holiday in the tropics.  We stayed together in a three bedroom apartment at the Coral Sands Resort in Trinity Beach which was a 20 minute drive from the city of Cairns. 
Our first big adventure: the Great Barrier Reef
It was a sunny, but cool day.  The temperature was about 23 degrees Celsius and the water temperature was about the same.  The boat ride out was uneventful up until the last 10 minutes when Chloe got sick.  I tried getting her downstairs and outside before “it” happened, but we didn’t make it.  The poor girl went green right before my eyes so quickly. 

The boat docked out at a large pontoon where they offered snorkelling, scuba-diving and boat and helicopter rides.  Unfortunately, the week before Anabella fractured her elbow and was in a plaster cast so no swimming for her.  While Uri took the girls out on the semi-submergible boat, Maiya, Tom, LB and I went snorkelling.  Maiya and I decided to stay close to each other.  It was so much fun to swim with her.  She and I got so excited over seeing the large colourful fish in the most brilliant colours - turquoise, green, blue and black with silvery blue dots.  We also saw beautiful coral – pinks, yellows and purple. It was all that I imagined it to be.  The coral went on forever – layers and layers of it – some reaching within inches of the surface. 
When Uri and the girls got back from their boat ride, I suited Chloe up in her snorkelling gear to have a go at it.  She was quite nervous about going in the water as it was deep.  We tried several times to coax her in then decided to have lunch together on the sundeck.  Uri and Maiya went in after lunch and after awhile Chloe joined them too.  I stayed with Anabella in the afternoon because at this point she was feeling upset about not getting to go in.  We watched Finding Nemo on the boat while the snorkelling continued. 

Of all the places I want to go and the things I want to see while here in Australia the Great Barrier Reef was at the top of my lsit. It really was an amazing experience.   I am happy to check it off my list.  We may have to make another trip up since Anabella had to sit this one out.   
A few interesting facts about the Great Barrier Reef:
·         One of the seven wonders of the natural world
·         It is larger than the Great Wall of China
·         It’s the only living thing on earth visible from space
·         The reef stretches over 3,000 km (1,800 miles) along the Queensland coastline
·         It’s the world’s largest collection of corals (in fact, more than 400 different kinds of coral) and over 1,500 species of tropical fish live in and around the reef.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Going to the "Theater"

Anabella and I went to the theater, but not the kind of theater most people think about.  After a nasty fall on the playground and a long 24 hours, we found ourselves in the operating "theater".  Anabella, while playing on the swings, fell on her elbow and fractured the radial head (at the elbow).  At first, I'll admit, my hubby and I didn't think it was that serious.  She had been "acting out" at the playground (it may have had something to do with the cute blonde boy around) and we thought this drama was just another one of these shows.  She was complaining about pain in her wrist and as there was no swelling or bruising we felt justified in just having her lay low.  However, several hours later (I'm too embarrassed to admit just how long) while helping her get changed for bed I noticed that she could not straighten her arm so off we went to the emergency room.  After confirming the fracture, they sent us home in a soft cast for the night with instructions to report back in the morning for the inevitable surgery.

It's here that I first heard the reference to the operating room as the theater.  The doctor informed me that the surgery needed to take place that day and they were just waiting for a theater to open up.  It actually sounds pleasant, doesn't it? Well, it did to this guilt-ridden, stressed-out, and exhausted mother!

Seven hours later we were brought to the theater.  This was my second experience of watching my child drift off to la-la land.  As I stared into her eyes and whispered softly to her I could see her drifting farther and farther away until the shine left her eyes and all I could see was solid black.  It was heart-wrenching.  The doctors and nurses were so kind and understanding.  Then, off to the halls I was sent to wait.  As I waited, I had another cuppa (at this point, I'd lost count of just how many cuppas I'd had at that point) and amused myself on Facebook.  Unfortunately, most of my friends are in the states and as it was 1:30 in the morning back home there wasn't much to read about. 

About 45 minutes later, I was brought into recovery to see Anabella.  I expected her to be groggy and out of sorts, but what I saw made me laugh.  There she was already propped up on her pillow taking a huge lick of the icy pole popsicle the nurse promised her in recovery.  When she saw me she said, "Oh, Hi Mom".  She cracked me up.  Then she pronounced that this hospital was the "best hospital in the world", which stopped the nurses in their tracks.  They just stared and then sarcastically laughed.

Another 3 hours later, we were finally discharged.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Day in the Country

It's Memorial Day weekend in the USA, however, we are only reminded of this due to the day off Uri has on Monday.  The kids are off to school which means a free day for Mom and Dad - woot woot!

But, that's not what I was planning to write about.  I wanted to share the day we had on Sunday when we headed out to the country to experience "Austrailiana".  At least that is what our Aussie friends promised us when they invited us out to Gundaroo for lunch.  And, they delivered!  Gundaroo is in the state of New South Wales and about 25 minutes northeast of our 'burb, Franklin.  We had an interesting ride out.  As we live in northern Canberra, we headed through several new neighborhoods some of which haven't even broken ground.  We turned onto an interesting road called Mulligan's Flat which ended up being a dirt road for most of the way.  It was here that my friend Sonja called to make sure we had the correct directions to the town.  I told her so far, so good unless of course the road comes to an abrupt end or we run into not so friendly "mates" out here in the bush.  It was a pretty drive - just what one from the U' States expects to see in Australia - golden brown colored fields filled with tall grass and several kangaroo.  We were the only car on the road and I began to wonder if I should have packed bottled water, snacks and blankets.  We did arrive safely in Gundaroo where we found the main road with only 1/2 kilometer long of "businesses".  We were the first family (out of four) to arrive so we headed into the only gift/antique shop in town.  There were a few items I was considering purchasing, but then forgot to go back into the shop after lunch. 

We had a private room reserved for the 16 of us at the M and B Crowe's Restaurant and Pub.  Again, Austrailiana all the way!  A local artist was on the stoop painting and had his own private art show on display both on the porch and inside.  I have to say his paintings were quite good - beautiful texture and colors. 

Unfortunately, I did not snap a single picture on this trip.  I'll have to head back out there to capture some of the local sights.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Chinese Cooking 101 by Chef Maya

Last week I had my first Asian cooking class by Maya.  What fun we had learning how to prepare the vegetables including green onions, bok choy, carrots, ginger and garlic and stuff and fold the pork wontons.  I finally learned how to properly use the bamboo steamer and after the class headed out to the dollar store to purchase one.  The chinese sausages were delicious in both the steamed vegetables (including bok choy and carrots as well as in a bowl of delicious rice noodles.  Maya's tip was to not overdue it when using soy sauce or other sauces so to bring out the natural flavors from the foods.  The steamed vegetables were delicious as were the wontons.  We also enjoyed wonton chicken soup and teriyaki chicken wings that had been slow-cooking for more than 2 hours. 

I am excited to prepare a similar meal for my family just as soon as I can carve out enough time to prepare the wontons.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Classic

Today has been a fabulous Mother's Day.  It began with a quick run around Lake Burley Griffin with thousands of other mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. All of us came out to support breast cancer research at the Australian-wide Mother's Day Classic.  I completed the 10 kilometer run which took us twice around the lake.  This lake is not new territory for me.  While in temporary quarters it is the lake I ran around each time I tied up my laces.  It's a beautiful man-made lake that the Nation's capital city is built around.  National monuments, memorials, museums, Parliament House and beautiful parks line the lake on both sides.  The lake is named after a Chicago-born architect, Walter Burley Griffin, who designed the city. 

Uri brought the kids down to watch me race.  I was so happy to have them there especially because they missed the Half Marathon.  Temperatures were cold (-1 celsius) with frost on the ground.  Its difficult to decide what to wear when its that cold, but the sun was shining.  And, here in Oz, when the sun is out it tends to warm up quickly.  So, at the last minute, I decided to take off all of the extra layers (and I am glad I did!).  I kept my mother's day bracelet on that Chloe made me at school for good luck. 

The first 2ks were not record breaking.  The runners were so thick on a narrow path along the lake that it was difficult to do anything but enjoy a nice warm up.  You should have seen us making our way up the sidewalk to cross the King's Avenue bridge.  We were walking.  It took some time to get my feet warmed up after standing in the frost for an hour before the run.  After the first kilometer they began to tingle as they began to thaw out.  I saw my friend Pam driving over the bridge on her way to park her car.  The main reason I recognized her was because she drives an American car with the steering wheel on the left side of the car.  Pam and some friends were participating in the 5k race taking place later that morning. 

The route began to thin out at 3 kilometers.  My first 5 kilometers were good.  I was on pace and comfortable.  I was happy that I took my under-shirt off.  The sun was warm.  As I approached the halfway point (which was back at the start) I saw Uri making his way to the sidelines with the camera.  Although he was looking at me he didn't see me.  This is a picture of me getting his attention.

The second 5k was not as easy.  My notorious ITB problem came back...on the other leg.  Boy, it was painful.  Kilometers 6 & 7 were particularly hard, but I just wouldn't give up.  At 8k I saw that I was not off my pace too much and remembered my family was at the finish so decided to go for it.  I was happy to finish strong and came in at 55 minutes exactly.  I am quite happy with how I did.  I'll be calling the PT in the morning! 

My run today was dedicated to four amazing women: Kathy Alexander and Susan Richter who fought and survived this disease with incredible spirit, determination and grace; Uri's dear friend, Teri Morris, who is currently fighting this disease; and in memory of my grandmother, Grammie Bec.  It was emotional to be at this event thinking about all of my friends and family who have struggled with this disease.  This event also made me miss my friends and colleagues from the American Cancer Society, New England Division.  I'd have these fleeting moments of thinking I'd see someone I know...can't help it when I am surrounded by pink at a breast cancer walk/run.  I was especially happy when I saw two good friends from the Embassy; Maya and Sonja, who were there volunteering.  Thanks ladies for coming out to help! 

The Tribute Wall
After the race, I enjoyed a nice breakfast at home made by my hubby and cashed in on several of the coupons from the coupon book Anabella gave me for Mother's Day.  These included 7 kisses, a hug (which I have gotten three times so far), an uninterrupted bubble bath, and one back rub.  The coupon book is such a fantastic gift!  Lastly, I've had uninterrupted time to write this post because my husband and Chloe headed off to the grocery store.