Friday, October 31, 2008


We live down the road from a Catholic church with a changeable church billboard. This week, the billboard announced there would be a Flame Mass this Sunday. For the local teens, this must have been too hard to resist (either that or someone doesn't care for the priest):

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ellie says

Ellie is such a helpful girl! Markus cycled in to work today, and he was ready for a shower when he came home. Ellie always pounces him for playtime when he walks in the door, but she didn't miss a beat when he headed for the bathroom. Her response to "Papa needs a shower" was:

"I'll pull down your panties and put shampoo on you."

Undeterred by his independence in this area, she then followed him into the bathroom, insisted on helping to remove his socks, and then adjusted the toys in the shower to ready the space. When he turned on the water, she grabbed the curtain and announced,

"I'll give you privacy."

Of a limited sort, of course. I was so tickled I had to come record this all straight away, but she's still in there. One can only assume she's giving him instructions on a proper lather.

Our stuff, Ourselves

I've been thinking in all this unpacking and settling in that items we own say a lot about us, where we've been, and how far we've come. Consider...

...the spoon rest that I use daily (that we fondly refer to as "the kidney") is an unusual ceramic object Markus made in bored desperation in Lowestoft.

...the $80 bread box we got for $20 because it has a scratch and a dent in the front but opens and closes just fine. It matches our new fridge with the cracked handle and the washing machine with the dent at the bottom. And, and, and. Dinged but functional: that's us.

...the clothes dryer we bought in Qatar that we toted to Holland and now use in Australia but still don't know how to fully operate because the manual is in Danish.

That last one amazes even me. I'll just stop there, but I think I'll come back to this list and add to it over time.
What about you? I'm sure you have something in your home that fits into this post. Please tell me about it in the comments section. I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some people have issues

Everywhere we go, people stop and make a fuss over baby Stephanie. She's a darling! She's gorgeous! What a sweetie! Look at those cheeks! What a happy girl! They go on and on, and we just stand there and grin proudly. But every now and again, we encounter people who are different (weird different) from the others, like the lady last week who offered to help me when she saw I was holding Stephanie, my purse, our jackets, and trying to pick up another bag...and then she snatched Stephanie rather than handing me the bag (this resulted in instant baby tears and almost-released Mama whoop-ass). Today was a prize-winner. We were in a cafe sharing a muffin (which Stephanie was shoveling in with gusto), when a lady at a nearby table caught sight of Stephanie. She broke her conversation with the other ladies at the table to make the normal cooing-over-baby noises, reaching over to stroke Stephanie's pink Polo sweater (fab gift from Auntie Awesome) and saying, "This sweater is lovely! A total waste of money, but lovely!" Then, she reached to stroke Stephanie's bare leg, saying, "You're gorgeous! Yes, you are! But you'd better watch that eating. You don't want to keep these fat knees. Oh no!"
I honestly couldn't tell if she was serious.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Furry friends

You might remember that some months back, our family included two deranged cats by the names of Bandit and Smokey. When we found out about our move to Perth and the quarantine situation here, we opted to find them a new home if a good home could be found. As luck had it, we found them a GREAT home with a loving family whose three kids adore them so much that they play with the kitties all day and sleep with the kitties at night. When I heard from the adopting mom about a month after the kitty transfer, she raved so much that it seemed the cats were even better off with their new family than they had been with us as we were bogged down with the move and a newborn and a busy toddler.

Ellie loved having pets, but she accepted their absence as a matter of course. We simply told her it was time for the cats to live with a new family, and she accepted that at face value. She didn't cry. She didn't even bring them up. If someone mentioned the cats to her, she would matter-of-factly tell them that the cats had gone to live with their new family, no emotions or visible regrets. Ellie has had so many transitions and changes over her 3 years that she seemed to accept them as inevitable and not be bothered.
Except she is bothered.

Since we've gotten our things here, she has been waiting for the cats to come too. Over the past few weeks as we unpack and settle in, she has asked repeatedly for the cats. Apparently, it was fine for them to live with their new family for a little while. Now, it's time for them to come back to live with us. In the past few days, she has actually gotten quite upset about it when we try to explain that the new family is permanent. Her memory has always been amazing, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised about this. Still, it has hit us out of left field. We won't be getting any more pets during this nomadic life, because it's just too hard to say good-bye and often impractical (or impossible) to bring them along. Even if that weren't such an issue, it's hard to find someone to care for pets when you go "on vacation" to go home for 3 weeks or more at a time. We have recently adopted a Beta fish (a request entirely separate from the cat issue), but we're even waffling about acquiring a tank full of guppies or goldfish (as we'd really like) because it will be harder to find someone to care for them over long holidays. It's a not-so-obvious downside to this nomadic lifestyle, and one that makes us very sad when we see Ellie longing so desperately for pets.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Water babies

No, the spiders have not gotten me (yet); the exterminator will spray outside on Wednesday. It's been a few days since I last posted because we are still trying to settle in, though finding time and energy to do it has proven challenging this week. The weather has been up and down recently, swinging from cool spring to hot summer to rainy fall all within a 7 day stretch. Swinging temperatures outside mean varying temperatures inside, and nighttime challenges reared their ugly heads again. I hadn't mentioned it for fear of jinxing us, but after we moved Stephanie back to the "children's wing", sleep in this house settled down quick. Ellie still dawdles as long (and as loudly) as possible, but she has no one to disturb and eventually caves. She does often wake once during the night and wander into our room for comfort, but Markus can usually settle her down again without much trouble. Stephanie still wakes twice a night to nurse, but she is also growing like a weed (as long as many 12+ month old babies) so that's no problem. This calmer routine has been working for a few weeks now. This week's high temps meant they got too hot while sleeping woke up, and last night temps plunged again and they got too cold and (you guessed it) woke up...but we're going to get there.
On to other things!

Last weekend, it was so warm that we christened our pool! Stephanie is still too young to tolerate the cold water, so she and I watched her big sister and papa play. Ellie has a wetsuit, so we squeezed her into that, pulled on her floaties, and plopped her in the water. What a happy little duckie she was too!

The weekend before that, Markus was finally able to get back on a windsurfer. He discovered a passion for that sport in the final months before we left New Orleans (windsurfing over in Ocean Springs on the weekends), but he hasn't been able to indulge in it since. In Qatar, it was TOO hot and in The Netherlands, it was TOO cold! People still windsurfed in both places, and we commented on the madness from the safety of some temperature-controlled locale. Now that we're here, there are no more excuses. While the Indian Ocean is a bit too wild, the Swan River makes an awesome spot for windsurfing (and kite surfing and sailing and paddle boarding and kayaking...), so off he went! He signed up for a refresher class, borrowed their equipment since ours wasn't unpacked, and had a blast!

Summer is just around the corner, so we are looking forward to getting back into more water sports again. We've discovered many wonderful picnic spots and shallow waters for kiddie splashing. As long as we can keep our skin out of the sun, we're up for some mighty fun times outdoors in the coming months! It's strange for me to think that this is October, the time of year I have always associated with cooler temperatures and autumnal foods. It's spring-turning-summer here. Daylight savings just kicked in today (more on this topic another time), so we "sprung forward" as the world I know "fell back". That puts us about 8 hours behind Europe and 14 hours behind the Eastern US. Ick. Trying not to think about it. Look at the lovely sunshine!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Loving reassurance

Today has not been my day in the spider department. You already know about the big black spider trauma, but it gets worse. As I went to check on Stephanie before going to bed, I spotted a spider on the hallway ceiling to put my earlier "HUGE" spider assessment to shame. This one was as wide as my hand (wrist to fingertips). Strangely enough, I instinctively knew it was harmless but you know enough about me by now to know it could not stay. I woke up Markus and made him take it outside. I have a PHOBIA. I know spiders are our friends, but this encounter left my heart racing and breathing shallow. That spider was NOT SMALL. Afterwards, I crawled into bed and tried to calm down. My spider savior turned to me, observed my state of distress, and lovingly reassured me with, "Even if it gets back in, comes down the hall, crawls up the bed and onto our faces, we won't notice in our sleep." With that, he rolled over and passed out.
You have got to be kidding me!
I am calling an exterminator first thing tomorrow morning.


I know spiders are our friends. They eat insects and are generally helpful critters. I know this and tell this to our three year old daughter, allowing her to extrapolate even more friendly characteristics from "Charlotte's Web". But make no mistake...spiders are not my personal friends. While I can appreciate them from a distance, I want them nowhere near my body. Ever. And now we live in Australia, where there is one particular deadly spider to be avoided: the redback. Related to the black widow, they are jet black with the tell-tale red marking on their topsides. Of course, the locals think I'm crazy for being worried, but I'm new here and these things make me nervous. I have researched them and learned that they are just about impossible to get rid of (they can close off their lungs for up to 7 hours if you spray!), but thankfully are rarely found in houses. The bites are nasty for adults but deadly for young children (of which we have two!), so I am very redback averse. And there are currently two unidentified black spiders in our house. One of them is quite small (a juvenile?) and the other is HUGE (the size of an Australian 50 cent piece, which is huge in my eyes when it's in my house). I just found the latter about an hour ago, and I'm still quaking about it. It's in the kitchen skylight, and it has a hiding place where the wall doesn't completely meet the ceiling right at the top. Lacking spray, I tried to suck it up in the vacuum, and it just laughed at me. It was too strong to get sucked away. This does not make me feel better about it, believe me. The hardest part for me right now is not being sure what type of spider it is. I only saw it from underneath, so I couldn't see if it has a red back or not. It could be the Black House Spider (which eats redbacks!), but those have nasty bites too. I want it gone. But I think it has other plans. For now, I just hope those plans include staying where it is to patrol the skylight with impunity.
Please cross your fingers that it doesn't come out to get me for the whole vacuum cleaner episode.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekly Video Post

This week, we actually have two videos to share, and both are from today!
First up, baby Stephanie has sprouted two teeth in the past few weeks, and she now chews everything! It's like we have a puppy in the house, only less destructive. Stephanie has always been a keen eater, and now she has no interest in pureed baby food. It's chewable or bust, so in the past few days we've started giving her some basic finger foods to keep her busy while we prepare other things. She loves experimenting with the pincer grasp, and we doubt its complexities will elude her for long. Meanwhile, it's darn cute to watch her. If you are so inclined, enjoy today's experiment with Cheerios and be on the lookout for those two teeth I mentioned!

The other video wasn't taken much later. While Stephanie munched her Cheerios (or tried), Markus and Ellie were on the porch hanging the baby swing. We had to give it a whirl straight away, and Ellie insisted on pushing her sister by herself. What you can't see is that Ellie is initially watching her own reflection in the glass door. The video you see here is take 3, after she'd already been knocked back a couple of times by the swing as she watched herself instead of the moving object (this is to explain why you hear me reminding her to watch her sister). The sisterly love you see here is a small example of what we are blessed to witness every day. Stephanie is absolutely crazy about her big sister, and usually the feeling is mutual (as long as no one expects Ellie to share Papa).

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Our friends Meghan and Eric are tying the knot at a beautiful Virginia plantation wedding today. Congratulations, you two! Best wishes for a lifetime of love and laughter!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Update on the big move-in

We were so happy when the movers arrived with our things on Monday!

Oh wait, that's not our truck. That's the rental furniture being picked up. THIS is our truck:

Oh dear. But wait...



Ahhh...that's better. Retreat into the sunshine. Enjoy the early days of summer.
No wait...intense Australian sunshine cooking the marrow in my bones! Retreat back inside and tackle Box Mountain!
Fear not, you smarter-than-us, simple-living-advocates: Operation Declutter has already commenced! We knew we had too much crap-o-la, but we've had other priorities in recent years. It's easy to let things pile up and stay piled up despite moving around too much because someone else moves us. Once things are unpacked and put away, they are forgotten. Not this time! No sirree! We are sifting as we go.

Regardless of the unhealthy volume, we are happy to have our own things again. Ellie is especially thrilled! She has been working diligently to get us back into full form.

Someone has got to keep things running smoothly.

Facebook follow-up

I did it! I'm on!
I am no longer a know-nothing, out-of-touch, behind-the-times person!
At least, I won't be when you come be my friend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We're professionals

The moving in continues, though we are mighty impressed with how far we've come already. The girls could not have been more amazing and cooperative on Monday while the house was in total upheaval. Markus took Monday and Tuesday to attack Box Mountain, and we've made more headway than we could have believed in just two days! Of course, there's a lot left. I recently met another new transplant here with two kids close in age to ours. She was talking about when their container is due to arrive and was commenting on how much unnecessary stuff she knows is in it. Then she looked sheepish and said, "I'm embarrassed to tell you this, but we have 107 boxes. 107! Isn't that crazy?" Honey, if that's embarrassing, you don't what to know how many we have. We have more than 40 boxes of books alone. If you really want to keep your movers busy, 107 boxes total is for amateurs.


Will someone please explain Facebook to me? I've had multiple urgings from multiple sources to join Facebook lately, but I am in the dark on it. I have been inexplicably resistant to joining Facebook and/or MySpace, so I know nothing about that other than everyone seems to be on them but me. I have a family blog, so what is the point? Unlike blogs which omit personal details, the point is to provide personal details, yes? How does the whole social networking thing happen? Does everyone use their first and last names? If married women, do they provide maiden names so old high school friends can find them? How does this work? What are your user tips? Would you recommend it? Please explain it to me like I'm a know-nothing, behind-the-times out-of-touch person because well, I am a know-nothing, behind-the-times, out-of-touch person when it comes to these things.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Moving in

Today, the rental furniture company will pick up their things and the movers will start unloading our container. Hopefully, they won't be tripping over each other too much in the morning when all the fun begins. It will be nice to have our own things again, but their arrival does mean we're about to be buried under an avalanche of boxes. We hope to mountaineer ourselves out again as smoothly as possible. Living with minimal furnishings for (more than) a month really helps one appreciate how little one actually needs...and how much STUFF one possesses. Yikes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cute babies make me smile

I know I'm biased, but Baby Stephanie is a cutie!

And just when I think she can't get any cuter, I discover she has long enough hair to do this:

And then look what happens when her hat slides down her ears:

It is Cute Fest 2008 around here!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ellie says

It's been a while since we've shared an "Ellie says" moment because lately she is a CHATTERBOX and hardly inhales between sentences, much less allows for simple quotes (hard to quote her accurately when one sentence is 5 minutes long). Today, she remedied this for me. We met Markus for lunch downtown for the first lunch date we've managed in a long time. Ellie is an extremely picky eater, but I thought we'd scored big when the take-away place had sparkling apple juice, the perfect combo of her two favorite liquids (apple juice and sparkling water; for some reason, she won't drink still water anymore). I happily handed her the bottle and waited for the enthusiasm that was sure to follow her first sip. Instead, she sipped it and slowly handed the bottle back to me with a pitying look in her eyes. In a tone that clearly addressed her concern that I had finally gone off the deep end, she said, "Um, Mama...I think this is beer."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Shaking it off

Apologies to you regulars who have been checking in but not finding a new post. I figured you wouldn't want to hear our whining about the lack of sleep, the cold Ellie caught, the deep chesty cough that wracked her little body for two days, the transfer of the cold to Stephanie and Markus, Stephanie cutting her first two teeth (adorable but so painful!), our bouts of homesickness...nah. Why go on about that? As my good friend Laura would say, "Let's have a Pity Party! You make the cupcakes and I'll do a dance!" It's a new week, and things are settling down again.

Over the weekend, we reached our limit with the bedtime woes (Ellie apparently being incapable of getting in bed without screaming until her sister awakened miserably), so we are trialing a new sleeping arrangement. Stephanie has moved to the back "children's wing" (fancy words on our PCR for "hasty addition to the house with dorm-style appeal"), where she seems much happier. She is a very light sleeper, and it's harder for her to hear any of us back there. Of course, the same is true in reverse so I'm sleeping back there too in another room until I feel sure she's okay. Yes, we have heard of baby monitors, but I have to ease into it. Besides, it's still quite cold in the house at night, and the idea of padding down the hall in my pjs multiple times a night in the cold just doesn't appeal to me. Anyway, so far, so good! She does still wake up, but it's twice a night instead of the horrid every hour or two she had been doing. Ellie is still struggling with night-waking too, but we think it's her big, bare room. It is kinda creepy. Thankfully, we got notice this morning that our things should clear customs this week! Hooray! We don't have a confirmed delivery date, but we are so happy to know it won't be much longer in this temporary arrangement.

So what have we been up to? You know we cannot just sit around at home, so we've been getting out and about, despite the colds and the teeth and the exhaustion (oops, wasn't supposed to be whining about that). Two weekends ago, we headed out to a state park in the Perth Hills to have a look around. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to do or see. It appeared to be a lovely picnic destination, but we had no picnic so away we went again.

One lovely discovery we made nearby was a cafe/restaurant called The Lavender Patch. The family who runs it also lives on the land there. It's a beautiful spot and a really nice cafe too! We enjoyed pumpkin soup with fresh lavender bread and some much-needed coffee and cakes. The toilet paper made me nervous though. I know it's just a decoration, but jellyfish do not belong anywhere near my fanny.

This past weekend, we made another visit to the Perth Zoo. Ellie is in it for the horses--the carousel horses, that is.

I really like the Outback Walk where they let the kangaroos and wallabies roam free. We got really close to one wallaby, but just as I snapped the photo, Markus sneezed.

And who can resist the adorable koalas?

Last but not least, a bit of wombat trivia for you:

Who knew a big bum could be so useful?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekly Video Post

This little gem is actually from two weeks ago, but it's a favorite for obvious reasons and must be shared. On our most manic Monday as we rushed home from the bakery, I heard such merry sounds coming from the backseat that I had to pull over and capture the fun on video. If you are squeamish about spittle, you might want to skip it...but if baby giggles warm your heart, proceed and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The bright side of the moon

I am now the proud owner of a completely unnecessary and utterly fabulous iPhone 3G! Oooooo, the joys of Mac in the palm of my hand! As I said to our friend who is a recent PC-to-Mac convert, welcome to the bright side of the moon!