Friday, December 31, 2010

Must have chocolate cake!

Yesterday, I tried to explain to Ellie the concept of New Year's Eve. It's pretty abstract for a child to understand, but she definitely latched onto the idea of celebrating! Ever since we attended a friend's birthday party where there were sparklers on the cake, she has not stopped asking for some sparkler action of her own! We agreed that New Year's would be a great opportunity to enjoy a cake with sparklers. She immediately elaborated that it must be a double layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting decorated with Smarties and butterfly sprinkles. She woke me up at 5:15 this morning, insisting that it was time to make cake! Yow. It was all I could do to hold her off until this afternoon, when we finally got the cake started. She had a blast!

We had to wait ages for it to fully cool so we could decorate it. I tried to time it so it wouldn't be ready until after dinner, though this pushed the girls' patience to the limit. Ellie took responsibility for the Smarties (those are like M&Ms), and Stephanie was designated sprinkle patrol to finish the cake beautifully.

Of course, once the sparklers were lit, the girls had misgivings...

There were absolutely no misgivings about the chance to eat a HUGE piece of chocolate cake for dessert.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! The morning started before 6 (as usual), but with this cuteness:

We try to keep a small Christmas. From us, the girls received new fairy dresses (fairies are soooo popular here!) and ukuleles! The ukuleles were a last minute idea, inspired by their newfound love of Elizabeth Mitchell's Sunny Day album, and this video in particular. They have had so much fun randomly plucking and strumming away. Now, we need to get ourselves a book on how to play (and how to tune...).

In the afternoon, they made quick work of the gingerbread house they'd helped decorate earlier in the week.

Then, it was time to go back to the beach! Stephanie skipped her nap but fell asleep on the five minute drive to the beach. She stayed asleep despite the hot temps and searing sun. We tried to make her a little shady spot, and we mostly succeeded in keeping her protected as she dozed. What a gorgeous day!

Today (Boxing Day) was searing hot. The thermometer read just over 40C (that over 100F) and the sun was absolutely brutal. None of us wanted to go out this afternoon. When Stephanie and I wandered across the street to the grocery store just before 6pm, she said we should have put on sunscreen so we didn't get burned. It was still midday brutal even then. And tomorrow is supposed to be just as bad if not worse before the weather reverts back to normal. Yow. Christmas Down Under!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Down Under

No pictures today, so those of you in the cold winter won't be tempted to throw things at us.

A cyclone in the north has been giving Australia the strangest weather this week! We've had rain in the summer (never happens!) and Melbourne had SNOW (in the summer!). It's been cool-ish, but the forecast was for nasty heat (39C) and humidity once the clouds moved out. We expected to spend Christmas hiding in the air conditioning. Instead...yes, the humidity came, but nothing New Orleans and Dohot veterans can't handle. The heat wasn't bad at all (closer to 30C), and there was a sea breeze. The sea breeze was so cool that there was a fog over the sea, which I've never before seen on a sunny summer day (Markus had many times in Cape Town). We spent a gorgeous afternoon playing in the beautiful Indian Ocean, jumping waves, splashing about and building sandcastles at the edge of the surf. It was heavenly! We were so aware that fortunate people are able to pay out big money to spend their vacations doing just that...and we live here! We feel very blessed.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Terrible Twos

Well, it has finally happened. Stephanie seems to have officially hit the Terrible Twos. It just took us a while to recognize the syndrome, because the symptoms are very atypical. The massive increase in tantrums, the screaming and wailing and crying and shouting and red-in-the-face meltdowns...just don't happen. She's not an angry character. She's a peaceful, easy long as she is allowed to set all terms. And have 110% of your attention. She won't have a fit if you don't pay attention, but you can bet she'll hop on the chance to get up to a mighty amount of mischief in a hurry.

She is an opportunist. It's like we have to baby-proof the house. She's into everything and using it in a the most devious ways. Although art supplies have been accessible since she was a baby, she is (for the first time) using them to draw on furniture, toys and books. Scissors definitely had to go out of reach, as did paint and glue. Toothpaste has been the #1 target for a few weeks now. We've had to be sure to keep all toothpaste well out of reach. She lets us know when there are weaknesses in our defenses. I thought my medicine cabinet was high enough, but apparently, the bottom shelf was not. One evening, while Markus thought she was with me and I thought she was with him, she was actually redecorating our bedroom with toothpaste.

The scene of the crime. Sigh.
Sugar has also become a major subject of adventurous pursuit now that we have a pantry. We moved the sugar pot to high ground, but she will eat it right out of my teacup before I can pour in the tea. A few nights ago, I was awakened after midnight to a loud crash from the kitchen, followed by Stephanie wailing for "Mama Papa Mama Papa!" I flew down the stairs to find her at the bottom of the pantry (on top of the thankfully unbroken wine bottles; ouch). She had dragged three chairs into the kitchen before finally scaling the shelves unaided. I'm not entirely sure if she was even awake at the time. It's crazy.

Stephanie is happiest when naked, and keeping her clothed in public is a real effort. She has also adopted the Aussie need to be shoeless. When she does wear shoes, they are inevitably on the wrong feet and there will be no correcting them. We have learned to dress her in the only two dresses she owns that zip up the back so she can't strip the moment she gets a chance. Of course, she now recognizes this property of those dresses and lets her extreme aversion to them be known. Fortunately, we are in summertime and it's usually warm enough not to fuss about clothes at home. A recent odd patch of cool weather really pushed us to our limits trying to keep her dressed and healthy, but other than that, we shrug it off and let her enjoy her "nackedei" status.

The only exception to the no-clothing rule is dress up clothes. She has gotten into that phase in a major way! She loves to dress up in princess or ballet clothes. But no underwear is permitted. Ever.

So what makes this abundant cuteness qualify for the "terrible" twos? It's not the behavior. It's the relentlessness. She never lets up, from dawn until well after dark, she craves and requires CONSTANT attention; without it, mayhem ensues and rapidly (Ellie is quick to jump on and increase the speed of the mayhem bandwagon once Stephanie gets it going). Though rarely naughty, she is very mischievous and she does delight in pissing Ellie off when Ellie presents herself as an easy target (her whining and fussing has taken off proportionate to Stephanie's new crazy).

Stephanie's days run from around 5am to 9pm, which is far longer than I like my own days to run. It doesn't leave Markus or myself with any real downtime during the week, and the weekends aren't enough to compensate much of the time. We're exhausted and it's getting harder to keep up. All the things I used to count on doing during her resttime can no longer be counted upon to happen at all. I'm behind on just about everything. The only reason I got this blog post done is that the girls were (mostly) playing together quite well, with the exception of a couple of minutes ago when they used my focus on the computer as an opportunity to try to invade Oma's room during her nap (I had to run at top speed to snatch up Little (naked) Monkeypants and intervene just in time). Oy.

The Terrible Twos are here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What a week!

It's been nearly two weeks since I've posted, and it's been full! Ellie finished school for the year last Friday. In Australia, the school year follows the calendar year, giving the kids the summer off like everywhere else except summer is over the Christmas holidays here. She'll go back in February and Stephanie won't be far behind her (eek!).

The day before school let out, her school held its annual school concert. It was ridiculously long and poorly planned (yes, the administration is getting a mad mama letter). Someone thought it would be brilliant to combine one song per class with a "graduation" speech night from 2 board members and 5 middle school kids, keeping dozens of 3-5 year olds and their families stuck in an auditorium until well past bedtime. This would have been a recipe for total mayhem anywhere else, but Montessori kids are such troopers. They sat patiently and quietly on the stage floor throughout the whole silly proceeding, from 6pm to 8:30pm (see why I'm unamused?)! Poor Ellie was so exhausted and miserable by the time we got her home, and then she had to go to school again the next day for a half-day. At least she could look forward to it because it was a party day. Otherwise, we would have kept her home. And it's just as well that she wasn't home. Papa had to take the day off to look after me!

Over half-way through the lengthy concert, I felt my leg falling asleep. Stephanie had been in my lap (exhausted too) the whole time, and her weight was getting to me. I thought I'd get up to stretch, not realizing my foot had already fallen asleep. Thank goodness I passed her to Markus before I stood up, because I went down HARD. I'd gotten dressed up for the Christmas theme, so I fell off my heels and torqued my foot between our row and the row of seats in front of us. The pain was searing, but for the sake of all eyes (especially Stephanie's), I just sat down and breathed hard for a long while. I managed to hobble, shoeless, to the car when the concert was over, supporting my weight on Markus's shoulder. He was on his motorcycle, so I drove us home using one big toe on the pedals (thank goodness no emergency braking was required!). Within an hour of that, I couldn't put any weight on it at all. Markus went out to the late-night pharmacy to rent me some crutches, and he had to stay home on Friday to drive Ellie to and from school and me to and from the doctor and the radiology clinic. Woo-hoo!

Fortunately, the x-ray showed nothing interesting. The doctor said it was probably a ligament, but if the damage didn't self-heal within a week, it might be a hairline fracture and I should come back. It's been a week now, but I've been off crutches since Monday. Markus had to be at work this week, so it's good that I could get back to mobility. I overdid it and my foot still hurts (worse today than other days, alas), but it's a lot better. Thank goodness.

This has been Ellie's first week home, and she's been adjusting to the big change in her routine. There has been a lot of whining, crying, and even hitting (hooray for learning from the other kids at school, sigh), and the tantrums have flown a bit too freely for my preference...but we think this will settle down as she does too. Mostly, we can tell she is thrilled to be home! She and Stephanie are great playmates, and Ellie is getting on quite well with Oma too.

Stephanie's sleep may be very slowly returning to normal. The newest development is that she is at the age when dreams become more vivid, and she's been sleeping fitfully. She might even be a sleep-walker. We had a strange episode in the middle of the night last night that makes me wonder, but time will tell. So far, Stephanie and Oma aren't sure of each other. Oma definitely prefers Ellie's orderliness and predictability to Stephanie's bohemian nudity and surprising resolve.

We'll continue to watch their relationship unfold, though I've got a separate blog post ready to go about a particularly funny encounter.

Markus will have a half-day at work today, and then he will only work two days next week before having a good bit of holiday at home himself. We're so happy!

Monday, December 06, 2010


Yesterday morning, I took Ellie to a birthday party. Skipping a shower, I wore my hair in a ponytail, which did not meet Stephanie's approval upon my return home. She insisted I take it out. She stomped. She sulked. She grumped. She wanted that ponytail gone. I, however, refused to cave, seeing it as no major affront to her health and well-being and therefore not a priority issue. Eventually, she stopped mentioning it and I figured we had moved on. I, of course, forgot who I was dealing with.

per·se·ver·ance noun \ˌpər-sə-ˈvir-ən(t)s\
Definition of PERSEVERANCE
: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness

Hours later, as I was cooking dinner, Stephanie started dragging a chair across the floor. We asked what she was doing, and she stated matter-of-factly that she wanted to "get the ponytail." We didn't understand what she meant. Here's what she had in mind:

If you look up "tenacious", you may find this pictorial sequence:

The last photo in the series might also be found under the definition for "stinker."


Today was Nikolastag. In the German tradition, Saint Nikolas visits in the night and leaves treats in the children's shoes. Despite lingering wariness of Santa Claus, Ellie was well-familiar with this tradition via her current adoration of the Conni books and she's been looking forward to Nikolastag for weeks! She was thrilled when she woke up this morning to discover Nikolas had left her and Stephanie matching necklaces and chocolates!

Of course, later Oma arrived and brought with her an extra treat each from Nikolas. What an exciting day!

Oma is here!

Oma arrived today for a 3 month stay. I have to say, the initial introduction could not have gone better! Stephanie is quite shy around strangers, so we weren't sure how it would go. She hasn't seen Oma since she was 6 months old, and Oma doesn't have internet for skype. That effectively makes Oma a stranger, but that's not how it played out at all! Thank goodness Mary and Mimi already visited us this year! Their visits prepped the girls for Oma, and the girls were ready to welcome her with open arms and minds. We all enjoyed a fun, happy dinnertime together before Oma headed to bed. Stephanie is wired and still up, but that's pretty typical these days (alas). Everyone is happy. Hooray!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A recipe for you

Ellie's class does cooking in the classroom. The children work in pairs on one recipe per term. This term, it has been gingerbread men. Ellie enjoyed cooking yesterday, and this morning, she was telling me the recipe. She got three ingredients into the list before I knew I had to write it down and share with you.

Gingerbread recipe, just as Ellie tells it

2 cups of flour
2 cups of ginger
1 cup of teaspoon
1 cup of butter
You have to scoop the butter with a spoon. You have to smoosh it all up with your fingers. Then, we have to add one egg and four cups of golden syrup. I tasted it before. If it is left over, we can taste it and I tasted it before. And then we mix it, not in the big bowl, only the little glass bowl with the egg. Then, we pour the bowl in the big bowl then we mix it in the big bowl then we mix it with our little fingers. While someone is stirring, someone has to mix. Even then you put it up into a big ball and make it all flat into a big ball and then you roll it out and then you cut it. That's it!
And then you put it in the oven.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas card sneak peek

Last night, I ordered our annual photo cards for Christmas, and hopefully they will get to us in time for me to send them out to you before Christmas. We captured some sweet family photos while down south a couple of weeks ago, but it was cold and rainy and that just didn't feel right for our cards. After all, it's quite unusual for it to be cold and rainy here, especially around Christmas time (summer!). Instead, we thought we'd set up our tripod and a picnic blanket and snap some pictures at the river overlook near our new house. You can see the city of Perth in the distance. Peppermint Grove yacht club is down to the left. It's an amazing vista. Every time I see it, I stop and marvel. "I actually get to live here?!" Wow. Thank you.

To keep it real, our pictures were taken by us on a timer. We'd been to the beach in the morning and the river in the afternoon. The girls are still wet and drippy from the river. We're all sandy. None of us has brushed our hair. It took some convincing to get the girls to acknowledge the camera at all. And yet, we still think these may be the best Christmas cards yet! Ellie had some cute ideas that we had to include in the final cut. For now, you can have a little sneak peek (test snap during set-up) and take in that beautiful background.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New house: the entryway and attached spaces

Disclaimer: In the interests of honesty, I did not tidy or organize ANYTHING for this sharing series, so you get to see it as is, in full transitional messy state. Please to forgive.

Yesterday, I promised to share more about the grand entryway, so we'll head into there today and the various spaces coming off of it. You can see from the outside picture of the house the big glass double doors and windows. Those open into quite a large entryway. I tried unsuccessfully to get a good picture of it (bright Aussie sun washing me out!), but this will allow you to get the idea.

This house lacks a coat closet (as many modern homes do, I'm told), so until we come up with an attractive solution, our coats and assorted bits have exploded onto the stairwell (the stairs lead up to the master bedroom and "parent's retreat"). The space where they sit now will make an ideal place for the Christmas tree next month (there is actually an electrical outlet at the base of the stairs), so next time you see it, we hope it will look a lot more sparkly and less bomb-like.

The entryway opens into the "formal living room", but since we aren't formal people, this is our living room, period (the intended "TV room" is what we use as our playroom, which is right off the kitchen; I edited that entry to include it for you to see). It's big and long, so we placed one couch across the center (facing the TV) to define the TV/lounge space a bit. Between the two torch-like wall sconces was a great and obvious home for the piano. Right now, all of our pictures and wall decor are stacked around too, waiting for me to get myself organized and arrange for them to be professionally hung (the necessities of a renter).

Leading down a short, sharply angled hallway

is a powder room

and the laundry room. Look, it's laundry day!

Between those two doors is the door to the large garage. Although there is more than enough space inside for two cars, the garage door and driveway are such that only one car can use it.

I can park my car and Markus parks the Vespa inside, so our daily transport is blessedly out of the vicious Aussie summer sun (heat wave this week and we're already a little worn out with the summer heat!). At least that means we have lots of guaranteed covered storage space, easily accessible.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New home: the kitchen

It's been a bit hard to motivate sharing about this house, because it so does not feel like a home (yet). I get a bit frustrated because I was so excited about the Walter St house. I loved the way it looked. I loved its high ceilings, hardwood floors and period details. The fact that the owners and previous real estate agents are being totally unethical (still!) about our move prevents me from feeling too much nostalgia, but the look and feel of this house are so very different that it's hard to feel at home here. The last house was old and surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens. This house is new and HUGE and looks like this:

The picture of modern suburbia (eek!). I tease Markus that he is secretly preparing me for life in Houston. Although I know we are incredibly fortunate to be able to live in a place like this, nothing about this place feels like us. We feel like caricatures of ourselves, especially in the mornings. For me, it's backing my big, relatively new car out of the large garage to drive my daughter to private school (yikes). For Markus, it's when he grabs his workbag and walks through the grand entryway (more on that another post) to leave for the office. We can hardly stop ourselves from feeling very '50s fabulous. I am tempted to don fancy dress, make-up, heels, pearls and a hostess apron, ready to great him with a drink when he returns home in the evenings. Seriously. Might as well have fun with it, because we have as yet been unable to shake the feeling that we are living someone else's life. We never had this feeling before. The house is a lot like Qatar, but at least in Qatar, all the houses were like that so there was no alternative (and there we definitely felt we were living an artificial life for soooo many reasons anyway). Anyway, moving on. You want to know about THIS house, so here we go!

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so I thought we'd share that space today. The location and layout of the kitchen is one of the reasons I ultimately selected this home. At first, it's corner position struck me as odd, but I really like how I can survey the dining area, playroom, and backyard from behind the kitchen counters. If I am in any one room for an extended period of time, that room would be the kitchen. It's good for me to be able to see what's going on.

The door you see leading off to the side from the kitchen (near Ellie playing with the bulletin board) goes into the playroom. This is meant to be a "TV room" (heavily wired for cable and satellite), but we aren't TV watchers, making the playroom solution even more obvious. It's a nice, big, open space. The girls really like it. I do too. The position is ideal.

As the hub, the kitchen is the first room I sort out when we move. I need to be able to cook to settle into a place, so I have to get everything put away. Here, I quickly learned how this is an architecturally designed kitchen, rather than a functional one. The many cabinets are shallow, with two (too tall) shelves rather than a more practical three, meaning that there is very little storage despite having more cabinets than I had in the other house. I had to reorganize at least three times as I unpacked boxes, trying to figure out the most efficient way to maximize the space and keep it as useful as possible. Another (minor) woe is the oven is somehow slightly smaller than standard size (which is already significantly smaller than American ovens), giving me strong misgivings about roasting a turkey in there late next week. Hm...

My favorite feature is the glass walls between the countertops and the cabinets. I've always wanted a chalkboard painted space in my kitchen, but this serves the purpose just as well with a more modern feel. I write notes to myself about meals, menu prep and groceries right on the wall with Vis-a-Vis markers. So handy!

Stephanie's favorite feature is the pantry. In our other house, all food was kept in Mama-height cabinets, well out of reach. Now, it's self-serve all the time (even if that's not exactly what Mama intended)! If Stephanie goes missing for an extended period, you can guess you'll find her hiding in the pantry, probably eating something verboten (like Nutella by the fistful). She almost completely shuts herself in there, only leaving the door cracked enough for her fingers to pull it shut and a small sliver of light to illuminate her mischievous deeds. I wish I had a picture for you, but alas, none have come out yet. The two-fisted Nutella morning was rather amusing, though I was slightly concerned about the half-full jar (it had been almost new). Ahem.

We were able to cart over our fridge from the other house. We had purchased it to fit that limited space (that kitchen was designed with the fridge as an afterthought, since the owners weren't providing one), and we were lucky it fit in here too. The dishwasher is a bottom-dollar throw-in (is quite small and only "cleans" if you have heavily pre-rinsed), but it seems to serve the purpose. There is no microwave, so we'll probably buy one though thus far we're getting by just fine without.

The trickiest part to organizing this house is the open plan structure. There is no obvious place to set things like keys, sunscreen and tissue boxes, because everything is always out in the open.

Even daily (constant) use stuff looks like clutter, which drives Markus crazy and makes even me feel like it should be put away...though there is no place to put it. We really want to avoid the trap of buying furniture for the bigger house (never a great plan), but we're having a hard time seeing a way around it in some instances.

On the upside, this open plan kitchen makes it a very easy central space when entertaining. Everyone can hang out in and around the kitchen (where everyone ends up anyway) without everyone tripping on each other. Would you like to come over for dinner?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New home: The Indoor Pool AKA Bali bath

I am tempted to carry on about our time down south (which was so fabulous!). Of course, you'd want to hear all about how much the girls LOVED herding the sheep and alpacas back into their paddock each evening. How our little Jungle Jane would approach slowly and in a sweet, gentle voice say, "Come, little sheep. Come, alpacas. It's time to go to bed. It's time to go to your paddock. Come, come, come now." How Ellie so proudly recalled that alpacas lift their tails out of the way to go pee, assuring us that she would show us just how it happened in case they needed to do it again.

Or maybe you want to hear about how despite the fact that it was unseasonably cold and rainy we let them swim buck-naked in the ocean, because really, why not?

I mean, it really was quite rainy and cold. Unexpectedly so. We had to borrow jackets from the farmstay owner. Not that we minded the weather much at all.

The rain gave us a great excuse to explore the great Mammoth Cave! See those colored lights? Those are the girls in motion. Glo-sticks took the fear away and made the cave exciting.

We're fairly sure you don't want to hear about how incredibly delicious the food and wine was at the Voyager Estate or the Xanadu winery (especially Xanadu. YUM!). No one wants to hear about that. So instead, I'll move along to introducing our new house, starting with everyone's favorite feature: the indoor pool.

Okay, so we don't really have an indoor pool. It's the master bath...and boy, is it ever. It is huge! After two years of no bathtub, it looks like an indoor pool to us! And then, you look out the windows and see the neighbor's beautiful blooming bougainvillea and think perhaps, just perhaps, you've been transported to a lovely spa in Bali.

The first night we spent in this house, we awoke to the loudest cacophony of birdsong AT 4 AM (which of course woke Stephanie too). It was a bit unholy. By 5, the sun was up as well and it was time to surrender. I stumbled (not just a little grumpy) into the bathroom, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, and saw this:

Wow. At the time, the entire house was still in boxes (with the exception of our bedroom, which my intrepid husband insisted on finishing before allowing either of us to sleep) and I was not loving the move. But this...I took a shower and just looked out the window (this photo is actually taken from inside the shower door), not caring who might have seen me, because this view made me feel like I was on holiday. And I'm not the only fan.

The girls LOVE it! What's not to love? Our good friends and previous neighbors came by this afternoon to play at the river and see our new house. Before we knew it, there were four kids having a blast in that tub. It's a happening place!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skipping ahead

As you know, we moved house the first week of November. My, what a week that was. Markus and I had been sick the week before. We were all drained and totally out of whack...and then the moving truck shows up, as if we were in any way prepared. Ha. Ellie went to school and Markus had a ridiculously intensive week at work while Stephanie and I did our best to manage packers, movers, unpackers, and cleaners on our own. I know this was a "normal" move, but I'm not a normal person. It's very unusual for me to move from one house to another in the same place. Managing people at two houses at the same time was a bit much. The first day I didn't have strangers in the house (Friday) was a good day.

And's over! Markus cannot abide boxes, no matter how hard he tries to deny it, so he worked like a madman to unpack. He springs out of bed at unholy hours (granted, the kids are up first) to get at it again. He wants it done! He wants it all put away! He wants it organized and finalized and finished! I am not nearly playing at that level (I like sleep and downtime), so the credit for most of the orderliness around us is due to him alone. There are still a lot of spaces that are unfinished, but most big areas are completely done. The kitchen was first (I did that!), the bedrooms, the playroom, the garage (we have a garage now!)...all done. The living room is getting there. The common spaces in this house are massive, so we need to do some tweaking and possibly some furniture buying...but that will come over time. I'd love to go through everything with you, but that would make for one massive post. I'll spread it out over the coming week. For now, I'm skipping ahead to explain a bit about the photo I shared yesterday.

On Monday, we ran away from the mayhem that is our new house and headed down to Margaret River for some much needed R&R. We stayed again at the Margaret River Hideaway farmstay, where the girls had such a brilliant time last time and were doubly thrilled to discover two new joeys have been added to the animals on the place. They were over the moon each time they got close to Patsy (8 months) and Je Quoi (4 months). Je Quoi spends most of her time heavily tucked into a basket under the owner's desk, but Patsy is old enough and trained enough that she goes wherever he goes. She bounds after his motorbike as he zooms around the grounds. She goes with him in a backpack when he's in town at a cafe or at the grocery store. She is his shadow, and I thought more than once that I surely need a baby kangaroo to keep under my desk and to follow me around on my scooter.

Julian (the owner) did let Ellie and I take Je Quoi in her backpack in our car when we followed him to a cafe one rainy day. We weren't allowed to open it (she is so little she gets scared, and she's still bonding with/to Julian), but that did not in any way diminish Ellie's joy at the responsibility.

While the sweet joeys were a definite highlight (we're sure the girls will be talking about that for weeks!), we had so many good times down south. It was wonderful to get away! More updates to come over the coming days. I think this one is long enough.