Saturday, August 20, 2011

Whale Watching

We took the girls out of school last Friday for an "important family meeting." We went whale watching and it was AMAZING! We saw about 10 different pods (groups of 3 or more). First we saw blows or spouts on the horizon, but as we idled into migration area suddenly a huge humpback breeched out of the water! It was spectacular. This whale and it's companions stayed right by our boat for awhile and we were treated to a show of waving flippers, barrel rolls, fluke slaps, head slaps and more breeches. Slowly those whales moved on, but others came and dolphins, tuna, and even a few sharks. I felt like I was on an episode of animal planet. Some of the whales came so close to the boat you could see the individual barnacles. One pod circled the boat for awhile obviously curious. The group gave me a real sense of how big they are one seemed longer then the boat. We had a great time!! The girls loved it and seemed almost not to believe their eyes!

We are holding a thank you card from the captain, but the Hub took several pics that rival this one. These are just happy snaps from my phone. Hopefully someday I'll figure about a good way to post better pics, but don't hold your breath.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Brisbane Forest Park

Spent the morning skyping with friends in the US and then loaded up for an adventure. Today we headed to Brisbane Forest Park. It is part of the D'aguilar Mountain Range and sits just 30miles Northwest of Brisbane. It is an amazing forest of eucalyptus trees and bushland. We spent some time at the visitors center checking out the local flora and fauna including our favorite: a wombat. It is still so strange to me to see kangaroo just hanging around and wallaby that are tame enough they walk up to you. We went on a little nature walk through the bush and then headed on a scenic drive to Jolly's lookout. This spot is considered the oldest formal lookout point. I'm not sure what that means, but the views were stunning.

- abc

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Botanical Gardens

I've decided I must be getting older. I have become one of those people I remember my parents being, the kind of person who likes walking around gardens and looking at trees and flowers. I love flower festivals, rose gardens, and what is Brisbane are called parklands. Saturday we headed to the Mt. Coothta botanical gardens and planetarium. We had a fun time watching the typical planet show on the big dome. (brought back memories of Pink Floyd laser shows). The show was narrated by Robert Redford, but the resident astronomer was from Ireland so it was a strange mix of accented English. After the show we wandered through the botanical gardens. They are beautiful, lush with trees and flowers. There was a Japanese garden, a bonsai garden, several water features and ponds, a fernhouse and bamboo forest. We even accidentally crashed 2 weddings and several family photo shoots. It was a lovely cool day. We ended it at the mountain look out watching the sunset and the city light up. Brisbane really is a beautiful city. It reminds me of Northern California full of eucalyptus trees, bird of paradise, camellias, ferns, and palm trees.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is 49 books too many?

The girls are all home sick today. Ok really CB & J are sick so the third stayed home too just for fun. I decided it was the perfect time to take them to this used bookstore that gets all of the books discarded from the public libraries. We spent 2 hours looking through books and finally narrowed it down to the top 45. Then I had to find a few for the hub. All told we ended up with 49 books.

I admit, it does seem a bit excessive. Really it's not my fault. Excessive book buying is in my genes. To this day my dad's house is full of bags and bags and stacks and stacks of books. Almost all of them have been read, a few have been purchased twice. My dad cannot go into a store and not look at the books. As a kid my parents never said no to buying a book. My kids would probably say the same about me. Books are just a big part of my life I guess, especially living down under where friends seem harder to come by. So I guess while 49 is a bit crazy it makes sense when you think about. Oh and I only spent $85. Not bad in this land of $10 bottled water and $15 bananas.

- abc

Can I post multiple pics?

So one of the things the girls really like to do is explore all of the parks around the city.


Blogging with my Phone

This is a test to see if I can use this app to update my blog.

This is a picture of my office at St.Margaret's. CB fondly calls it Australian Hogwarts. The little pixie hut as it is called on campus was the school's first music room. It is like a small church inside with high wood beamed ceilings and paneling along the walls. Now it is home to Learning Support and my office. I am really liking my 2 day work week. I am having a great time getting to know the Secondary school girls I work with. My job is to boost their confidence and help them be better learners in school. Some days I am much better at it than others.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Easter was a 5 day holiday and other Aussie facts.

First, I just spent an hour or so browsing all of your blogs. It made me so very homesick and I must admit quite guilty that you all have made time to post interesting stories and pictures. I miss you all, but am so grateful for the small glimpse into your day to day and it made me realize that maybe it is the same for you. So many of you have asked me for pics of my house and neighborhood. I will post those. The truth is we found so much damage when we unpacked our stuff that until this weekend the house was not at all put together. Even now my couch is balanced on some books. The other reason I haven't posted pics is because the hub keeps looking at other houses and suggesting that we should move. To make a long story short: relo company entered into the lease without our consent. So I guess house pics are hard for me.

OK, it is the end of April. We just finished a 5 day holiday. Friday was of course Good Friday, which in Australia is a public holiday. Saturday and Sunday Easter weekend. BUT Monday was ANZAC day which is sort of like Veteran's day. Because ANZAC day and Easter Monday fall on the same day this year we also had today as a public holiday. Easter Monday celebrated on Tuesday. If I lost you at Good Friday you are not alone. While Australia is not an overly religious country it is part of the British Commonwealth and therefore celebrates and commemorates all of the protestant holidays. So fun we had a nice big break!! It was good fun, but also a little tricky because there were no stores or businesses open of any kind from 5:00pm on Thursday until tomorrow at 8am. That is a little crazy!! So no grocery store, etc. We spent a lot of time going to parks, playing games, and watching DVDs. It was good fun. I just should have planned a little better. Not sure what the girls are going to take for lunch tomorrow.

Besides house pics which I will post. Several of you have asked how Australia is different. I have already talked about the driving which is getting better, by the way. I still really need to work on parallel parking though. In no particular order a few things come to mind: the schools. I would say there is a much more rounded approach to education where music and math and pe all have the same weight. I have thought a lot about this and I guess in the US so many of our schools are struggling financially that we have really defined successful education as mainly math and English with a little science and history thrown in. Another big difference is grocery shopping and groceries in general. The stores are small like the size of a Walgreens and the variety is non existent you can either buy this brand or not buy it. Most Aussies shop almost every day buying small quantities of things and really mainly what is fresh. So when I go to the store and buy a weeks's worth of groceries there are always comments and the reality is I really can't buy a weeks worth of groceries the food expires. Milk for example only lasts a few days. Bread is the same and there are very few canned goods. The prices are crazy. Chicken is between 7-10$AUD per pound and the rate right now is $1.10 US to $1. Aussie. I am trying to get used to it and just go with it, but it's crazy. The flooding really drove prices up. Last difference because this post is too long and there are no pics. laundry. Most Aussie's do not have a dryer they hang everything on the line. I am not sure why this is, but ok. The problems for me are allergies and rain. Not sure what you do in that situation. I have a dryer, but it is the size of an EZ Bake Oven. No it is a little bigger, but I can't fill my washer because if I do all of the clothes will not fit in the dryer. Oh and by the way the shortest washing cycle is 2hours. I am not sure why. I have one of the most energy efficient Deluxe washers so I can't imagine how long a more basic washer would take. It's crazy. Needless to say shopping and washing take up a large part of my life here. I guess in many ways not a lot has changed. : )