Monday, March 21, 2011

Harmony Day – Everyone Belongs

Today is Harmony Day across Australia.  It’s the same day, 21 March, each year when Australians celebrate their cultural diversity and share what we all have in common.   From the diversity and social cohesion program, “It's a time to reflect on where Australia has come from, recognising the traditional owners of this land.  It's also about community participation, inclusiveness and respect…”
The colour orange is worn on Harmony Day because it is a colour that inspires celebration.  Harmony Day coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which also uses the orange ribbon as its symbol of awareness of racial tolerance or cultural diversity. 
Girls Grammar is celebrating Harmony Day.  The students were invited to wear an orange accent with their uniforms such as a ribbon or hair piece.  Of course, my girls went with the bold and beautiful.  Students were also invited to bring an artefact from their cultural background to share with the class or to display in the library.  Anabella is very proud of her Russian heritage (from her father) and chose the refrigerator magnet of the Russian church. 
I am really happy the school is participating in this important day.  As a school with a high number of international students and its International Baccalaureate Program, it provides a wonderful opportunity for the children to celebrate different cultures and learn acceptance.  The celebration of events like these will have a positive impact on the children's educational experience.  It reminds me how fortunate my girls are to have this opportunity to live in another country meeting children from all over the world and learning beside them. 
Harmony: Agreement in feeling or opinion

Vegemite: A National Food Icon

"He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich",
Down Under, Men at Work

Well, I finally did it.  I tried Vegemite.  I've been in Australia nearly 7 months without trying this national food icon.  On our first trip to the grocery store (which happened to be an IGA), a jar of this black smooth-like peanut butter spread was added to the shopping cart by my husband.  He immediately tried it when we got home and had horrible heartburn for the rest of the night.  He wouldn't give up though.  He has now found the right recipe:  white toast with butter and the thinnest layer of Vegemite.  This is something he enjoys for breakfast or an afternoon snack (or tea as they say here).  And, since I was the one preparing this little indulgence, the smell of Vegemite repulsed me so bad that I could not bring myself to try it. 

But, then I was pressured to try it by my kids.  I, like most Moms, encourage their children to try new foods and say, "Well, how do you know you don't like it if you won't try it?".  And, that is where the kids got me.  I had to live by my words... BLECK!  Vegemite is NOT for me.  It is salty and otherwise taste-less, if that makes sense. I have to say, though, it smells worse than it tastes. 

One might ask: What is Vegemite? It's a black, smooth-like peanut butter paste that is made from yeast extract.  There is an interesting story behind Vegemite.  It was made accidently (go figure!).  Back in 1923, at a cheese factory in Melbourne, someone thought it might be interesting to see if the spent brewers' yeast could be used for something rather than discarded.  After mixing in some spice additives and vegetables, a "tasty" nutritious spread was produced.  Another interesting fact is that the cheese factory, then called the Fred Walker Cheese Company later became the Kraft Walker Cheese Company, which is now known as Kraft Foods.  Although, Kraft Foods is now American-owned Vegemite is still made only in Melbourne.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

24 Days and counting

I thought I'd provide an update on my earlier post about my training mishap for the April half marathon.  As I wrote before, after training for more than 12 weeks for a half marathon I encountered an all too familiar injury caused by a tight IT band.  This has caused great disruption to my training routine.  I haven't run longer than 10 kilometers in over 4 weeks.  The half marathon is 21 kilometers or 13.1 miles long.  I've had 3 sessions with the physiotherapist who assigned me exercises to strengthen my glutes and stretches for my hips and hamstrings.  I've added the elliptical trainer and resistence training to my weekly exercise program for the past four weeks.  However, I am not getting better.  In fact, when I do run the pain of the IT band sets in earlier in the run and often causes me to end the run sooner than planned.  I've also developed pain in both hips and my lower back which were not present until this time.  I was hopeful to nip this injury early so that I could make it to the start (and finish) line comfortably.  My training is behind schedule by 4 weeks.  I'm not sure I can regain enough of my endurance when I can't even run more than 6 miles without pain at this point.  I am scheduled to see the PT tomorrow morning at which point I hope to gain some further insight into what is going on with me.  Needless to say, I am feeling quite frustrated by this situation.  On a positive note, I am enjoying my time at the gym.  The resistence training is helping me to feel stronger in my daily activities as well as when I run.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Canberra Day

Old Parliament Building
Today is Canberra Day.  It's Monday and the girls are off from school.  We got up at 5 AM to head down to  Lake Burley Griffin to watch the balloon festival.  It was a beautiful, but cloudy morning.  My chillies were quite excited to be out that early in the morning when it was still dark.  On the way down to the lake they reminisced about two other times they were up before the sun.  Both times were to catch early morning flights.  The first time was in November 2009 when we went to Disney World and the second time was this past September when we left for Australia.

The balloons were setting up in front of the Old Parliament Building.  There were a number of food tents serving breakfast so we decided to support the local Lions Club.  While the girls were enjoying their breakie their best buddy, Michael and his Mom showed up.  That's all it took to get the girls to perk up!

Unfortunately, the morning was quite calm with little to no winds so the balloons did not take flight.  Only a handful of them even bothered to "blow up" (obviously, I have no idea what the proper terminology is for when they inflate).  Regardless, we had a nice time and got some pretty pictures.