Sunday, April 27, 2014

A House Party

The party last night was enjoyable and I think Lesley really enjoyed being able to host.  Social occasions like this are certainly not my cup of tea when I don’t really know anyone.  Her three friends from the parade on ANZAC day were there, so I had met them, and Dorothy was here for a bit so that helped put me a bit more at ease.  I ended up chatting with a lovely couple named Des & Anne for most of the night and they were really great.  Their son and daughter-in-law live in Texas and they have visited the states several times so that gave us something in common to start with.  They didn’t know anyone else that was there either, so it worked out quite well.  All the kids tore the house to pieces.  We had a piñata for them and by the end of the night there were candy wrappers scattered all over the living room floor and in the yard outside.  Tons to clean up after the fact, but it turned out well all in all.

“Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord: unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice.”  That was the opening verse of one of the hymns we sang in church today and it really struck me.  Not knowing the songs we sing each week (or knowing the words, but not the tune we’re singing them to) has made me pay attention a bit more to the words.  Pastor Camden spoke on generosity in his message this morning and it was quite convicting (based on 2 Cor. 8:1-15).  I’m not sure I’ve ever given recklessly – not of my time, talents, or money.  Sure, I’ve given of all of those, but not recklessly.  And I’m quite certain I’ve never begged to give, like the Macedonians begged Paul to allow them to give.  I’ve met quite a few people who have been generous to me, a stranger in a semi-strange land, and it reminds me of how I don’t make much of an effort to be generous in my day-to-day life (especially back home when it’s so easy to be busy being busy).  Anyway, I met a few new people at church today – one was a lovely woman who had married an American and they had just retired and moved back to Australia.  Her and her mother had been sitting behind me in church and the mother (Barbara) had noticed me taking notes during the sermon and she offered to get me a copy of his sermon – I guess he has it all printed out in the back, my guess is for those who don’t speak English as their first language.  After the morning tea, as I was getting ready to go walk back to the bus stop Rosalie came over to ask if I was ready to go, they’d give me a ride home.  They’re so great – talk about generosity!  They of course couldn’t just take me back to Lesley they treated me to a quick lunch before we headed back. 

Lesley had a Tupperware party to attend at 2pm so I had the boys for what turned out to be the whole afternoon.  All the activity and the late night had made them a bit tired, so they were a bit tamer, but also quicker to get cranky: a double-edged sword.  Somehow we managed to make it through the afternoon without incident and I even got them to clean up their room (score!) and we were just coming back from the park when Lesley texted us to say she was home and would walk to meet us.  We’re heading off to the Flinder’s Ranges early Tuesday morning so we’ve got all day Monday to pack and get the house ready for the open house on Wednesday while we’re away.  Should be an interesting couple of days – she heard that it has rained there so a bunch of flowers should be in bloom.  Even if the boys are terrible at least I’ll have been able to see more of Australia, right?  Right.    

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ANZAC Day – April 25th

Today was ANZAC Day in Australia.  It’s the anniversary of the Australian & New Zealand battle at Galipoli during WWI, but is now their day to remember all those who have served in the armed forces.  I’d say it’s the cousin to our Memorial Day.  They have dawn services in all the capital cities (including Adelaide) and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge even made a surprise appearance at the service in Canberra.  We met a few of Lesley’s friends at a café for a quick coffee before we headed down to the parade.
It was a strange parade, or rather a strange parade route.  It was a really neat to see it though.  Strangely there were a bunch of bagpipers, not sure if there’s any significance to that or not. Three of her friends that were with us were in the military, but they weren’t marching in the parade.  Anyway, after we got back from the parade I attempted to do some crafty things with the boys.  Apparently I’m terrible with those little rubber band loom things that are all the rage these days.  I can do the super simple ones that you do on your finger, but the directions we had for “weaving” them on the loom were useless (at least to me).  We looked up a video on youtube and we still couldn’t get it right.  Thankfully, Dorothy and Andy came over for a bit so that helped keep them distracted a bit longer while Lesley was cooking.  She decided to have a party tomorrow for a bunch of friends, so she was making some snack food and then dinner.  I couldn’t talk the boys into going to the park and eventually Lesley decided to just let them watch TV instead of fight with them.  I was sitting in the kitchen chatting with Dorothy  about my plans while in Australia and Lesley said I could come back after my year was up – I should be a nanny and could come back on a different visa.  Don’t laugh, she was serious.

Ali called and wanted to go out for a drink so Lesley left me to take dinner out of the oven and feed the boys.  They both claimed they wouldn’t be long, but I knew Lesley didn’t get the chance to go out often, so I wisely didn’t believe them.  Thankfully the boys were quite good for me, even though they had hardly been on their best behavior during the day.  Magnus had thrown a huge tantrum before the parade this morning and had only gotten slightly better during the day.  They ate most of their dinner without much fuss and put on their PJs without a fuss too.  I could hear them squabbling a bit while I was cleaning up the kitchen, so I decided I’d best just go read my book in the living room while they watched their Friday night movie.  When it was over I told them it was time to pick out a book and go to bed.  They took their time, but did select a book and got right into bed.  It was an odd book called Diary of a Wombat, but there were two copies so, instead of me reading to them, they read the book to me.   They’re supposed to read a book each night, but they’re on school holiday so it hasn’t happened as often as it should have this week.  Lesley and Ali came back around 8:15pm and thought I was super nanny or something.  I’m 99% sure I had nothing to do with their behavior – I was just as much surprised as they were.  Lesley said I could be their Au Pair and Ali said, “Yeah, you should, she can pay you.”  Is this an episode of Punk’d or something?  If you’d told me back in December, when I decided I was moving to Australia, that I’d be babysitting, I would never have believed you.  It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. Considering the rough morning we had, this was a surprisingly pleasant ending to the day.  So keep the prayers coming, I like good endings to long, kid-filled days and there will be a lot of kids at the BBQ tomorrow night.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Becoming More Australian

I’ve just finished “Becoming More Australian” and I recommend you all read it (no idea if your local library would have such a book, but it’s worth checking).  It’s an easy and entertaining read; plus it has loads of random (and possibly useless – unless you plan to visit) facts.  Here’s a quick smattering of sentences from the section on their language:
“G’day mate, ow ya goin?  Come on, avego at Aussie English….  So what do you get when you mix Irish, English, Scottish and then gradually add a number of other languages and leave them to simmer on a hot island?  You get Strine – ‘Australian English’.  Strine is the broad Australian accent, so broad that the word ‘Strine’ is actually what the word ‘Australian’ sounds like down under….  Aussies also love comparisons, for instance: ‘flat out like a lizard drinking’ (busy) or ‘like a possum up a gum tree’ (happy).  They will also abbreviate everything that can (and cannot or should not be abbreviated): Barbie (barbeque), arvo (afternoon), sunnies (sunglasses), cossie (swimming costume), mozzie (mosquito), brekkie (breakfast), cuppa (cup of tea) and servo (service station).  Sometimes they are merely suggestive of the original: sparkie (electrician), chippie (carpenter) and chalkie (teacher).”

Now doesn’t that just make you want to read the book?  No worries (they say that for just about everything) if you’re not sold on the idea – I don’t offend easily.  From my own personal experience, they do indeed feel the need to shorten everything.  There is an add on TV right now trying to get you to buy Australian Mandarin Oranges because they’re in season now, but they call them “Mandies” the whole commercial.  At surf camp they called the wet suites “wetties” and at the time I thought they were calling it brekkie because they were surfers (most of them weren’t even Australian), not because that’s what it’s called in Australia.  Two other Aussie phrases I’ve been introduced to are, “I couldn’t give cheese away at a rat’s picnic” (meaning something is utterly useless), and “carried on like a pork chop” (meaning behaved in a silly manner).  I love the last one and it reminds me of how we say someone is “being a ham” or “hamming it up” when someone is acting silly in the U.S. 

So if you’re looking for a nice, undemanding book to read, I’d suggest you pick up a copy for yourself.  The book isn’t just about Strine, it gives a rundown on Aussie sports, food, and culture too!  As the back of the book explains, “You’ll learn why you should drive a ute, how to tell a kangaroo from a wallaby…how to play footie, enjoy cricket and a whole lot more!”  The chapter on the “ute” (which is pronounced ‘yoot’) is quite informative.  Where else would I have learned that kangaroos cannot fart or move their legs independently?   I definitely recommend the chapter on Aussie foods –I’m going to have to go buy myself some Tim Tams to try.  I’m sure you’ll find something interesting in this book, no matter your nationality or future travel plans.

This is a "ute" - half car, half pickup

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Housesitting - current and future

Where to begin?  To paraphrase Maria, I’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  I got up at 6am – ok, to be honest the alarm went off at 6am, but I didn’t exactly hop right out of bed.  Anyway, I threw on some tennis shoes and headed out for a jog, although I definitely walked more than jogged.  I was going to Gawler for the day, but had to put out the green recycling bin at Adams.  Since I wasn’t sure what time I’d get back from Gawler and didn’t want to have to do it in the dark I decided I’d best do it before I headed out.  I had no idea how long it would take me to get there so I decided I had best start early.  A bonus to the early start was that I got to see a bit of the sunrise.  After my trip to Walkerville I got ready for the day and then realized that Easter Monday was probably considered a public holiday and the bus wouldn’t be running until later than I had planned.  So the moral of that story is that I’m still bad with the bus schedule and I could have slept in.
I caught the train to Gawler and met Dick at the station – well I walked right past him and he apparently didn’t recognize me from the photos I have on my housesitting profile.  I’d never seen a photo of him, but thanks to cell phones we found each other.  We went back to their home where I met his wife Les and the 2 dogs, Pancho and Jordan.  They’re very nice dogs, but I’d definitely prefer if they were outside only dogs.  Just the neat freak in me I guess, well that and I’ve never lived with a dog inside before.  They’re actually British, but have lived here longer than they lived in Britain they told me.  If you know any Australian immigration history, they’re 10-pound poms.  Anyway, they showed me around the house and then their daughter who lives nearby joined us for lunch.  She was very nice and if I have any issues or need anything she said I can just call and she’ll help me out.  I wanted to be back before it got dark, so we headed out around 3:30 and Dick showed me the park where they walk the dogs, the vet and other places in town I might need to know.  Thankfully I didn’t have to memorize any of the directions quite yet, as some of you know I’m not known for my sense of direction.  They’ve had plenty of house sitters over the years so they have lots of maps and print outs of what to do while they’re gone, so that’s really good for me. 

I made it back from the train station in town and decided I should feed the gold fish quickly before I headed to the garage (in case I never mentioned, I live in the apartment above the garage).  I’m usually quite careful with the keys, I’m a bit worried about locking myself out of the house since she’s gone for the weekend.  I put my keys in my purse (or so I thought) and set it on the table while I went to feed the goldfish.  I grabbed my purse off the table, turned around and locked the door as I walked out.  As I was reaching into my purse to get the keys back out to unlock the garage I got that sinking feeling and turned around to see them still sitting on the table.  Ugh.  I quickly texted Lesley to ask if she had a spare key hidden somewhere, knowing full well she rarely has her phone right on her and since she’s on vacation probably wouldn’t have it with her anyway.  I tried calling as well, but didn’t get a response.  It was starting to get dark and I had no way to find the phone number for a locksmith.  I’ve never even called a locksmith!  I knew the Rowstons were having family over for dinner so I really didn’t want to bother them, so I decided to just send a quick text asking them to send me the number of a locksmith whenever they got a chance.  As I sat at the patio trying to figure out who I could ask for a phone book it dawned on me that there should be one at the nursing home next door!  Indeed there was, so, after looking through the ads I decided to just call the one on the keychain.  I just remember thinking when I first saw it that if I locked myself, out knowing the name of a locksmith doesn’t do you any good when their phone number is with the keys.  I probably should have called around to try to find a good price, or someone who could arrive quicker, but I figured Lesley must trust these people, or know them, or has used them before, so it should be a safe bet.  I gave them a call and they said it would be about an hour, maybe an hour and a half before they could be there, but they were on their way.  As I sat waiting Rosalie called me to give me the number of a place they’d used before.  I’d already paid a deposit over the phone (which when I told her that she seemed to think I shouldn’t have done – like I said, I’ve never called a locksmith before, I’m not sure of the standard operating procedure), so I told her I was just waiting for the other people to arrive.  About a half hour later she called back asking how it was going and told me that she was sending Doug over and if the locksmith didn’t come he’d just bring me back and we’d settle everything in the morning.  Seeing as it was now dark I guess it wasn’t such a bad idea to have Doug be there when the locksmith arrived...I just hate to cause a fuss. 
Tom (the locksmith technician) arrived to open the lock and by the time I filled out the paperwork he’d picked the lock.  As we were walking back out to the car I saw Doug’s head over the gate.  I paid the rest of my fee and Doug saw me safely back inside.  Not at all how I’d planned to spend my evening.  But, I really can’t complain – all that was hurt was my pride and my wallet.  Lesley texted me this morning to say she’d just received my message and Joy had an extra key.  I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever met Joy and I definitely don’t have her number, but oh well.  Definitely unsettling knowing I’m about to be in charge of someone’s house, two dogs and cat for 6 weeks by myself – and driving their car – but I’ve got to just let it go.  So that my newest Aussie adventure. 

On a lighter, more random note – the Sunrise morning show always gives me a laugh.  The other day, must have been a slow news day, they had a video of an American couple’s encounter with a moose while out snowmobiling. After they showed the clip, the Aussie news anchor says, “I love America, the wife was packing heat.”  And that my friends, is why I’m proud to be an American.

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Australian Easter Weekend

The library has been closed all weekend and I haven’t made it to the coffee shop to use the internet, so here’s a rundown of the weekend in one nice, long post – enjoy!

FRIDAY  --  Lesley and the boys were off early this morning so I was able to go to the Good Friday service at church this morning.  As with most things I try to plan here in Adelaide, it wasn’t easy.  Apparently, Good Friday is a very big holiday here.  The bus doesn’t run (the free bus that services North Adelaide) and the majority of shops are closed.  Thankfully, a woman saw me standing at the bus stop and advised me of the lack of buses, so I quickly texted Doug and Rosalie to see if anyone from the church lived in North Adelaide and could possibly give me a ride.  I could walk, but I had a feeling it would take me a minimum of 40 minutes to get to the church and I only had about 50 minutes until the service started.  The Rowston’s quickly replied that they’d be there to pick me up, I should have guessed that they’d change their plans and come get me.  They had me sit with them for the service, and it was a lovely service indeed.  In between the passages about the crucifixion that Pastor Scott read they had 6 different people, representing bystanders from the story, give their thoughts on Jesus’ death.   For example, a servant girl at the High Priest’s house, the owner of the upper room where they had the last supper, and Barabbas.  It was very thought provoking.  During the morning tea & coffee time I was able to meet Torrey and Liz’s daughter Carmen, so I sat with her and Liz chatting about Australian farm work and moving up to Gawler.  Of course when it was time to leave Doug and Rosalie had decided that we’d stop for lunch at one of the few café’s that were open today and have some lunch.  They introduced me to “pies” and “pasties” which are “traditional” Aussie foods.  And in typical Aussie fashion, when Rosalie mentioned to the man clearing our table that I was from America and they’d been introducing me to Aussie food, he quickly said he would bring me something I just had to try (I think he might actually be the owner because he wasn’t wearing the same uniform as all the other workers).  I was much too full to try anything else, so Rosalie told him I’d come back sometime and he was quick to say he’d look out for me.  Rosalie said that’s the Australian way.  They look after their visitors and you can easily become a regular after just a few visits to a shop.  So after a lovely morning, I had a nice afternoon cleaning.  I had the whole house to myself and was able to clean knowing it would stay clean for at least 4 days, which always puts me in a good mood.  Call me crazy, but I enjoyed my cleaning today.  The sun was shining and I had some great tunes playing – it was relaxing.  There’s open house tomorrow morning, so I got almost everything finished this afternoon and can have most of tomorrow off.

SATURDAY – A quick finish of the cleaning to prepare for open house and a trip to the grocery store during the open house left my afternoon free.  Hossein wanted to make Persian food for me and I had the rest of the afternoon free, so I managed to catch the bus and meet him at his house for lunch.  I would have imagined that Persian food would be more exotic, but then again maybe I just haven’t tried anything too crazy.  I really enjoyed it; it was some type of curried chicken over rice – he of course claimed it wasn’t his best, but I thought it was good.  As per usual, our conversation followed random rabbit trails, but because of that I found out that Iran doesn’t use the same calendar as we do.  Their new year starts at the beginning of spring, and Afghanistan still uses a lunar calendar.  Also as per usual, I somehow managed to miss my bus when trying to leave.  Hossein felt so bad because he told me when it would come by and we just never saw it; I just laughed it off and told him I just have really bad luck with buses, there’s nothing he could do about it.  Thankfully, I still made it back in plenty of time before it got dark.  Before I got off the bus I at least had the foresight to double check with the bus driver that the free bus would run on Easter Sunday.  He confirmed that it would be so I knew I’d at least be able to make it to church on time (well, as on time as I can be – which is 10 minutes late).

SUNDAY – The sermon at church this morning was probably the best one I’ve heard Pastor Cadman preach so far.  Because I was late I didn’t get a bulletin so I didn’t have anything on which to take notes, but he was speaking about the passage in Matthew 28 and how we often seem to gloss over the fact that there was an earthquake.  He’s actually from New Zealand so he commented on how the earthquakes a few years ago in Christchurch changed people’s lives.  Things just aren’t the same after you’ve been through an earthquake and we can’t be the same after we realized the significance of the resurrection.  We all need to be shaken a bit, just like an earthquake.  After the morning tea Doug & Roaslie took me to their home for the most delightful lunch.  Rosalie made the most delicious lasagna and for dessert we had this banana cake with raspberries and strawberry sauce – everything was so incredibly tasty!  Then they took me up to Hahndorf, a little town that’s kept its German heritage.  There were lots of cuckoo clocks and cow bells for sale and they had a nice art gallery dedicated to the work of Hans Heysen – he was a German-born Austrlaian painter known for his watercolor landscapes.  So after wandering around town checking out the shops we had some coffee and this little German dessert. I can’t remember what the dessert was called, but it was quite tasty.  Apparently during WWII they changed almost all of the names of the towns that had German names into more Australian names.  Hahndorf was one of the few that they didn’t change.  Anyway, they are such a lovely couple; they even gave me a Haigh’s Chocolate egg – that’s a famous Adelaide chocolate shop.

So after they dropped me back off at Lesley’s I finished cleaning up some leaves, took in the laundry, and put out the recycling bin.  It was such a nice afternoon.  I’m going to have to remember when I get home to mail them some things that are unique to Pennsylvania.  Rosalie is always so good at pointing out things that are unique to South Australia or are made in South Australia at all the places we visit.  Well, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One Day At A Time

I’ve managed almost 4 full days with the boys (sometimes with Lesley and sometimes without) and I’m not ready to pack up just yet, so some people must be praying extra hard for me.  Thankfully, they leave for a quick vacation early tomorrow morning so I’ll get some time off from the boys.  Today, Thursday has been quite trying.  Usually they amuse themselves at the park so that helps kill some time during the day and doesn’t require much from me.  Yesterday I took them to one of Lesley’s friend’s apartment so they could do an Easter egg hunt.  The couple is from Canada and spends they’re winters here in Adelaide.  There really wasn’t anywhere to hide the eggs, but they got chocolate and toys out of the deal, so they didn’t really care.  Once Lesley arrived we headed off to Stirling, this quaint little village up North.  She had to visit someone up there so I wandered around the shops and stopped in at their library while I waited for them to finish up.  Another friend of hers (we had coffee with them Monday morning, but I can’t remember if I mentioned that earlier or not) lives up that way so we stopped in there for a bit and then decided since we were in the area I should see the view from Mt. Lofty Summit.

 Isn’t the view spectacular?  You can see all of Adelaide, clear to the ocean.  We were all hungry by then, so after a quick trip to a little town a bit further north for dinner we headed back home.  Since we had to drive back past Mt. Lofty she decided I needed to get a chance to see the view when all the lights are on.  We missed seeing the sun set into the water, but as you can see – there was still some color left in the sky.  The moon of course was beautiful as well, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it on our way back down.

Well, the library will be closed all weekend, so Happy Easter everyone!!

We have God's Easter promise, so let us seek a goal
that opens up new vistas for man's eternal soul...
For our strength and our security lie not in earthly things
but in Christ the Lord, who died for us and rose as King of Kings.
--Helen Steiner Rice

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baptisms & School Holidays

My mind is often full of random ideas, in regards to what I should put in my next blog post.  None of the ideas seem to constitute an entire post, so I’m often left wandering what you all would like to know about my adventure of late.  I do get a few comments now and again, I did have one request for a video of me covered in ants while trying to mow the lawn the other day; thankfully I don’t think I’ll have to repeat that adventure, so I’m unable to provide video proof of my plight.  Before I left the States I was requested to find out if water goes down the drain clockwise or counter-clockwise since I’m in the southern hemisphere.  Hopefully in one of my next posts I can give you all a video so you can decide for yourselves.  Since it’s been a few days since I’ve posted, you’re all left with a run-down of recent events.

Sunday was the baptismal service and it was so neat to hear the stories of how God worked in the lives of the Iranian believers.  Maryam came from a very strict Muslim family, yet still found Christ; Hossein was led to Christ by a friend and later put in prison after the police raided his house church; and Amir found out about Christ from a friend as well, but didn’t become a believer until moving to Australia for school and going to the English classes at church.  It was very neat to hear more about them and to have a baptism the week before Easter.  Because 3 of the 4 people being baptized were Iranian they had Amir do the morning reading in English and Farsi. 
Romans 6:5-1 (the Message)—“So what do we do?  Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving?  I should hope not!  If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there?  Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?  That is what happened in baptism.  When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!  That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means.  When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.  Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.”
They had a celebratory BBQ at the pastor’s house afterwards, so I went along to that.  I've now been dubbed "Abigail II" because the pastor's daughter is also named Abigail.  They were all quick to assure me that I was in no way inferior for being the second :) I met several more people and got to know Doug & Rosalie better when they offered me a ride back to the church (I’d ridden up with Amir, Maryam and Hossein).  Doug was the first person I met my first Sunday, and his wife Rosalie is a sweetheart.  She has a very special gift for hospitality and making people feel welcome.  They found out I’d be alone over Easter and immediately offered to have me over after church next week.  They were taking Mario & Patricia (a couple from Honduras) and me back to the church from the Pastor’s house and decided they’d stop over at their home on the way back to show us where they live, and to meet their Corgi.  They even decided they’d just drop me right off at Leslie’s door when they found out I’d be trying to catch the bus back, even though it was even farther away from their home. 

I’d been a bit worried earlier in the afternoon because Leslie had mentioned on Saturday that she was going to look at another house Sunday afternoon (at 2pm) if I wanted to come along.  I’d told her when I left for church Sunday morning that I’d been invited to a BBQ, so I might not be back in time to go.  She texted me right as we were about to eat, asking where the BBQ was at, that she could come pick me up so we could go look at the house.  I told her it was in Eden Hills (I had to ask someone because I had no idea where I was at), but not to worry about me.  She said she wanted me to see it and I thought maybe she was a bit miffed at me for not being back in time.  Thankfully, when I got back to her house they were still out and when they arrived she didn’t seem fazed at all about the whole thing. 

The boys are on school holiday this week; and then they’re going on a trip over Easter, so we’re trying to keep them entertained while also keeping the house tidy (which is quite difficult).  Monday we managed to keep them off the TV and iPad (also, quite difficult) until about 4pm!  Leslie had fitness in the park in the morning and then we went out for coffee with another mom and her 2 daughters.  We got home and then Leslie realized one of the other houses she is interested in purchasing had open house for a half hour, so we hopped back in the car and headed back across town to go look at it.  The boys were not happy about having to leave home again, so after a quick peek I took them down the street to a park.  Thankfully I was able to just push them on the swings for most of the time, and then we played tag for a bit.  When we got back home again Leslie decided that, despite the inevitable mess, the boys should do some painting.  Aleksander painted me a duck with little golden eggs; Leslie said I’ve made a friend if he’s giving me things.  Since I’ve never seen Puss in Boots (that’s why he’d painted the little duckling and golden eggs) he convinced his mom to let us watch it (despite the no TV rule).  
You can see another duck he painted on the easel in the background.  Magnus was of course in no mood to paint, but did manage to eventually paint a dinosaur.  So, all in all, my first full day of “kid time” went quite well, I'd say.  They're leaving Friday morning, and I've already made it through most of today (Tuesday), so hopefully tonight goes smoothly (Leslie's going out for dinner with friends).  Hope all is well back home!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More cleaning & gardening

I made tacos for dinner last night and both boys ate them without a fuss!  Leslie was quite happy about that, and the fact that she didn't have to cook.  I was just happy everything had turned out and that Aleksander had liked them.  Magnus doesn't seem to like much of anything, so I wasn't worried about him.  Not sure what I'll try next, maybe fajitas...they seem pretty easy.

I cleaned the house again this morning and then around 11:45am Leslie took me back to her late father-in-law's house to finish up the gardening/yard work.  The bins from last week had been emptied so I was free to fill them up again, this time mostly with lawn clippings and leaves.  Mowing the lawn was not a treat.  It's apparently ant infested and I kept having to stop and brush ants off me every couple minutes.  Plus, just knowing there have been ants crawling up your legs (thankfully I was wearing pants) makes you feel as if they're all over you - sometimes they had made it all the way up my legs and sometimes it was my imagination.  Anyway, by about 3pm I had filled both the bins back up so I texted Leslie and she asked if I could walk back because she was baking banana bread.  As most of you know, I'm directionally challenged, so I wasn't sure if that was such a good idea, but I told her if she gave me directions I'd give it a shot.  Thankfully we'd driven there twice before, so, with her directions and my memory, I was able to make it back without any major mishaps.   Torrey, one of the Pastors at church called last night and invited me to a BBQ celebration after the baptisms on Sunday.  Hopefully I can at least make the service, but I'd love to go to the BBQ as well.  I had yesterday off so I'm not sure if I could have most of Sunday off as well or not.  I think Dorthy and her husband are watching the boys on Sunday, so I would think it shouldn't be a problem, but who knows.

In other news, I finished my first book and thought that in light of my interest in random facts and my present residence in Australia, that this book might be a good read.

Becoming More Australian: A guide to the quirks of life down under
I'll be sure to pass along any good facts I come across.  So far all they've talked about is how the Aussie's love thongs (flip-flops) and some Aussie slang terms.  I knew there was a reason I'd chosen Australia - our love of flip flops made us kindred spirits...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nothing too exciting

Well, I've now been away from home for a month...  Not too much going on here, so I've been slacking a bit on the blogging.  I've just been cleaning at Leslie's - still no offers on her house, so we keep trying.  At the moment it looks like I'll be staying here until at least the 23rd.  The boys have school break next Monday until almost the beginning of May when their new school term starts.  Since they'll be on break she said she could use an extra pair of hands (yippee) and when they go away over Easter she said I could watch the house for them.  So, although I have no job yet, I'm still not really having to spend any money on accommodation, and very little on food, so I certainly can't complain.  Since I don't have much new to share with you all, in terms of things I've seen or done, I thought I'd share some of the insightful little oddities I've noticed here.  And by odd, I simply mean different than Western PA.

  • There are no set standards for serving sizes of foods.  I learned this by watching part of some random documentary type show on TV.  It's pretty crazy actually, and I don't know how people diet in this country if you can't even figure out how many calories they've eaten. 
  • While we're on the subject of calories, they don't measure food consumption in calories, but in kilojoules.  
  • In my experience, almost 85% of Adelaidians (I think I just made that word up) say "Hello" to the bus driver upon entering and say "Thank you" as they exit.  They're so polite!
Well, that's the only ones that come to mind - but if I think of any more I'll be sure to share them with you all :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nearing One Month in Oz

Yesterday morning we got up and cleaned the house quickly before Leslie and the boys headed off to French lessons.  The realtor showed up at 10:30am I headed off to the library for a bit only to find out it doesn’t open on Saturday until 11am.  So I walked back to the square and sat on a park bench to read until I could get into the library.  Had about 20 minutes to check some emails and post my last blog post before I had to head back to close up the house at 11:30 when the open house was over.  Apparently there were about 4 families that came, but none seemed interested.  Around 2pm we headed off to the Saint Ignatius 2014 Festival, or as Leslie and the boys describe it, the school fete.  I guess that’s what they call them in the UK.  The fete was pretty normal school festival stuff; donated clothes, toys, and books for sale, food vendors and carnival rides.  One nice thing was that they had live music all afternoon.  The secondary school (which would be our high school) is very artsy I guess, so the band played quite a few songs, they had some student choirs and solos, then after the Family Mass there was a live band (made up of some of the parents I think they said).  The kids seemed to really enjoy it, but since I didn’t really know anyone and it was mostly geared towards kids, it wasn’t that fun.  There are worse ways to spend an afternoon though, so I certainly can’t complain.  We stayed until the fireworks, which were short, but pretty good.

Today, Sunday is my full day off so I decided to go to church, and I’d told Hussein if I was able to make it to church we could go for lunch afterwards.  While watching the news this morning there was a blurb in the sports section about a Pittsburgh Pirates fan who caught a fly ball in his tub of popcorn.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  It was so totally random, they don’t even really have baseball here – but the Pirates made the news anyway.  So I was ready for church, and thought I had plenty of time to catch a bus into town in time only to find out that the buses don’t really run all that often, and don’t start running until much later in the day.  So long story short, after waiting for a while and then walking to a bus stop on a main street,  I wasn’t able to catch the bus into town in time for church.  But, the bus stop I ended up waiting at was right outside the North Adelaide Baptist Church, so I went there instead.  It was very…. unBaptist, at least that’s how it seemed to me.  The pastor wore a rob, and it was very much high church.   I did enjoy the one group prayer we said though – not 100% sure I agree with all the theology of it (I’m still working through that, but here it is):
“Gracious God, we thank you that broken bread brings wholeness, that wine poured out replenishes, and that time spent with the Risen Christ brings acceptance and life.  We thank you for this community of faith, which nurtures and sustains us, and we remember those who, for whatever reason cannot be with us today.  May your gifts of love transform and enliven us, that we may live lives of thanksgiving.  May your presence among us provoke such longing for you that we will never be satisfied until the whole world knows your justice, your mercy, and your peace.”
After the sermon, the next bus was leaving the stop at 11:20 so I knew I could make it into town after church in time to meet Hossein for lunch.  As I was standing there waiting for the bus this lovely, older woman, named Beverly, asked if I had just been in church and was waiting for the bus.  I told her I was and she said she’d take me into town.  She dropped me right outside the church and I was able to catch the last few minutes of their sermon.   I was able to catch up with Torrey, Amir, and Maryam again and ended up sitting and talking for about an hour with Don, a gentleman from South Africa who is an ESL teacher, and Parry (I asked her to tell me her name twice and I’m pretty sure that’s what she said), a fantastic older woman who also does some ESL teaching.  I think she’s retired now, so she just does teaching at the church English classes and babysits her granddaughter.  Don has 2 teenage sons, the older son actually graduate last year from a high school in Gawler.  I think he said they live near Gawler with their mum.  Hossein and I headed off to Chinatown for some lunch, I can’t remember exactly what we had, he promised me it was tasty and he was right.  I don’t usually like Chinese food, and to be honest, I’m not even sure it was Chinese; it could have been Laotian or Vietnamese for all I know.  After lunch we headed out for a walk in the park.  We ended up stumbling upon police tape at one part of the river (there’s a path along the Torren River), and couldn’t figure out why, so we walked in the opposite direction and decided to cross the bridge and try the other side.  By the time we got back to that spot on the river (on the opposite side) they were pulling a body out of the water!  A gentleman nearby said they found the body this morning under the bridge up the river.  So I guess I’ll have to watch the news and see what happened.  I headed back to Leslie’s to get my computer, planning on just going to the N. Adelaide library since I thought it closed at 5pm, only to find out it’s not open on Sunday at all.  So, I caught the bus back to town…  That was my afternoon; still not sure what will happen next week, if I’ll stay at Leslie’s or go back to the hostel.  Hopefully we can figure that out early on this week so if necessary I can prebook my stay at the hostel.  Hope all is well back home and the Pirates are winning!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Babysitting the twins

I had such a lazy morning.  After not sleeping well for so long, even after having my own little apartment I did finally get some sleep last night.  Knowing I didn’t actually have any plans until 2pm I just laid around a lot of the morning.  I did have some things to do online, so I finally made it to the North Adelaide library to use the internet.  I applied for 4 more jobs and finally sent my bank statement to the cell phone company.  As I was getting ready to leave I decided to ask if there was a way I could get a library card, even though I don’t actually live here.  All the channels on TV here are pretty lousy, at least from what I can tell.  Everything seems like a soap opera!  At the hostel I just read the newspaper, but here I’ve got nothing so I end up flipping channels all evening because the most interesting things on are documentaries on China’s Debt or some other such random topic.  The woman was very nice and told me that I most definitely could get a card and since it was just a temporary card I was limited to 5 items at a time.  So I found a travel stories book and headed back to Leslie’s.

Watching the boys at school again this afternoon was easy.  They had a bit of a meltdown in the car on the way home again.  I think running around on the playground with the other kids for 45 minutes just gets them too wound up.  Don't get me wrong, her boys are pretty cute (just sometimes not very well behaved).  She had me listen to their reading homework the other night and it was so cute.  Although we all speak English, we all pronounce things differently.  Leslie is from the UK, but the boys have a mixture of Australian and British English and then, of course, I have American English.  Listening to them trying to pronounce certain words and trying to help them read certain words was a bit humorous to me.  Anyway, back to today.  I started chopping up the chicken for dinner and by the time I was done she was ready to go, which was good, because I wasn’t very comfortable rummaging around in her kitchen looking for things with her still home.  The meal turned out pretty well.  I went into the family room to tell them dinner was on the table and it was getting cold.  They gave me a brief glance and then went back to watching TV.  No skin off my nose, I went back to the kitchen and ate.  Aleksander wandered in as I was finishing and seemed pretty happy about the meal choice.  As soon as he sat down though he realized the TV was still on, so he said he was going to eat in the family room.  I asked if that was ok and he said he just had to get a plate to set his bowl on.  Leslie doesn’t strike me as all that strict, so I told him to be careful not to make a mess and let him go.  Magnus wasn’t showing up and I had a feeling he might not – he doesn’t seem to like to eat, so I took his food in to him.  I get the feeling there’s just no pleasing Magnus.  I don’t think he’s liked a thing we’ve had for dinner all week.  He did eat most of the pasta, I told him to just eat around the broccoli if he didn’t like it.  Watching TV while eating definitely made them both eat much slower, but Aleksander ate all his and Magnus never seems to eat all his dinner, so I wasn’t going to stress over it.

I somehow managed to tear them away from the TV long enough to get them both to do their reading for the evening, partially because I wasn’t going to let them watch a movie until they had done their reading.  Had a close call when it came time to pick a movie, but thankfully they did end up agreeing on one before someone threw a temper tantrum.  It was 7:30pm, which is usually when they’re to be in bed, but Leslie had told them they could watch a movie and they told me she always lets them watch the whole thing.  Leslie said to make it easy on myself, so I crossed my fingers and hoped they fall asleep on the couch.  She came home around 8:30 and the boys were still watching their movie.  We talked for a bit and then she said I was free to go.  I did not expect it to go that easily.  So, thank you all for your prayers, they definitely helped.  We’re going to a school festival after open house tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gardening Day

Well, yesterday afternoon was interesting...  Watching the boys during Leslie's parent-teacher conference was super easy, because I literally just watched while they played on the play ground with their friends.  They can behave when they want to and weren't too bad until she made them share an ice cream cup instead of getting their own.  Then shortly after we got home Magnus threw a huge tantrum so Aleksander and I played with Legos and toy cars until it was dinner time.  Leslie's friend came over shortly after dinner so Leslie asked me to get the boys ready for bed, and then eventually to put them to bed.  I've watched her try to get the boys to bed for a few nights now and knew it was impossible.  She can't even get them to do what she says!!  Thankfully they rescued me after a bit because they knew it was a lost cause.  After cleaning up the kitchen I was free to go - it was about 8:30 and we'd put them in bed at about 7:30 and they still weren't asleep (or close to it).  I can only imagine what Friday night will be like when I'm on my own.  At least they won't have school the next day so it won't be as big of a deal if they don't get to sleep on time.  

So this morning I cleaned up the house and then she took me an empty house (I think it was her father-in-law's home, but he passed away) to do some gardening/yard work.  There was a lemon tree and some bushes that needed trimmed, grass to mow, the place is pretty sad looking since no one is there.  I could have gotten so much accomplished, but all the stuff I cut down or weeded had to fit into these 2 trash cans!  I stuffed them so full I'm not sure how they're going to get it all out.  The lemon tree smelled so nice, but it had these super sharp jaggers and I kept pricking myself while trying to get as much into the trash cans as possible.  Thankfully it was much cooler today and mostly overcast, so it was perfect gardening weather. After I was half way through the day I realized I should have taken some before and after pictures for the blog, but by then my hands were so dirty and I had no before picture.  It looked pretty good when I was done, but I'll probably go back next week, after they pick up the trash cans, to finish mowing and raking up some leaves.  It was a pretty good day, and I'll take that over watching kids any day :)  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A morning off

I had the morning off again today because I have to be back at Leslie's house by 2:30pm so I can go with her to the boys school.  She has a parent-teacher conference and needs me to watch the boys during it.  She told me last night that on Friday night I'll have the boys because she's going out with a friend.  So, I'll have to cook them dinner.  With some help from the internet and some FB friends I've got a few options, so I'll run those by her tonight and see what she says.

Hossein met me at the library this morning for coffee, since he's off work this week, so we sat and talked for a bit before he headed off to an appointment.  I'm sure anyone in ear shot thought we were crazy because the topics were so random.  We talked about drugs in Iran and he told me about how they have four different police there as well.  There are tons of informants for the one police group, so you never know who to trust.  Ayatollah is bad and so is his government, you can bribe anyone.  He said most Iranians actually like Americans, they don't like our government, but they like us.  I tried explaining the differences between races, matches and games (in terms of sports) so that was interesting. For only starting to learn English 6 months ago he does pretty well.  We only had to use his iPhone dictionary a few times when he couldn't think of a word in English or I couldn't think of a synonym he understood in English.  From what he said his roommates are mostly Persian as well, so he doesn't get too much practice speaking English I guess.

Well, I'd better wrap this up and catch my bus.  Hopefully my first time watching the boys goes well this afternoon.  I'm really not looking forward to Friday night because I've seen how much trouble she has getting them to go to bed every night....  Hopefully they behave for me :)  In parting I thought I'd share this song with you all.  My Aunt Gayle introduced it to me years ago and it was stuck in my head last night when I couldn't sleep.  Such a great song and the second verse has definitely been me on this Australian adventure....

Lots of cleaning...

I spent the whole day yesterday (Monday) cleaning the house.  She's very clean, so it wasn't hard.  Wet dusting all the trip and baseboards.  Cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen, including taking everything out of the cupboards and wiping them down.  You work 4 hours for 1 night, so I worked all day to "pay" for Sunday night and last night.

I haven't had to cook yet, or watch the boys, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.  I worked for about 3 hours this morning doing some last minute cleaning because the open house is today.  At about 11am she said she couldn't think of anything else for me to do, so I was free to go.  The owners aren't allowed to be at the home during an open house in Australia.  Anyway, she did say that I should start thinking of things so I could cook.  Trying not to be a worry wart about that, but it's such an open-ended thing.  Does she have a recipe and the ingredients or do I need to go find all that on my own?  Do the boys need to like what I'm making? I can think of things to make, but I don't know if she has the stuff or a recipe for me to follow.  I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  The last 2 meals she has made were fantastic!  She's actually a very good cook.

So I caught the free city bus into town and am back at my lovely library to answer emails and apply to more jobs.  Still not a peep about any of the other jobs I've applied for in the last week.  I applied for 3 more this afternoon, so we'll see what happens.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to stay with Leslie after the 14th (I think that's an option) or if I want to go back to the hostel.  There are definite perks to both, and since the boys will be on school holiday from the 14th to the 29th I'm not sure if I want to be around for that or not :)   Plus, I feel like I'm a bit tied up, in terms of jobs, since I'm not totally free to come and go as I please so I couldn't really start work until after the 14th.  The hostel said the week of Easter is usually pretty busy, so I need to decide quickly if I want to book a room or risk not getting one there.  I guess it's not totally a risk, I could probably stay with Leslie and I'm sure Mr. M and his wife would let me come early, but I don't want to go too early.  More decisions....practice makes perfect, right?