Thursday, November 19, 2009

Proud Mommy Moment

We spent last evening at the Calamvale Community College awards evening. It was the main award ceremony for the school for 2009. Slade was one of two children in his pod as it is known (total of about 50 children) to get a merit award.
He was extremely anxious before the ceremony. He did know a bit about what to expect as they had a rehearsel during the day, but was nervous about all the parents who would be watching.
However, he did very well, went up on to the stage and shook hands with the person handing over the award. Then stood very proudly with his group to have photos taken.
He got a certificate and a medal that he put next to his bed when he went to sleep. He walked through holding on to it after waking up this morning.
I'm a very, very proud Mom this morning!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Operation Uganda

In my quest to find Christmas gift ideas for the December issue of Sabona, I happened across Operation Uganda. What an awesome organisation. It was started by a family (a couple and their four children) who went to Uganda in 2004 after their house in Brisbane burned down (resulting in them taking reassessing what was important in their lives, and they saw a DVD about Uganda. They now help 200 children, some orphans who are in full-time care in a facility run by the organisation, and others who receive medical assistance, food etc.
They are selling awesome handmade jewellery and arts and crafts made by people in Uganda. There are wonderful clay and paperbead necklaces and bracelets as well as other handmade crafts. There are pieces of cow horn used in some of the items which is something that I don't think I've seen before.
The products are so reasonably priced and they are also recruiting sales people to sell the jewellery at home parties, fetes etc. Sales people earn 30% on their sales and there's no cost to start up.
It's really a wonderful opportunity to help people in Africa.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What We've Been Up To: In Pictures

The River Fire -- we sat at South Bank near to the river to watch this amazing annual firework display.

The Ipswich Rail Workshops Museum -- We're definitely making the most of our annual passes here!

The Coolum Beach Kite Festival

My beautiful daughter at Wellington Point

The Ipswich Rail Workshops Museum held a model train display recently. On display was the biggest Lego train display in Queensland.

Visited by Edna the Echidna: Slade recently brought an echidna (not real!) home from school for the evening. He took pictures of what he did with the echidna while she stayed with us. He put these in Edna's book of travels and wrote a story about what she did at our house.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I can't believe coming back to my blog after all this time that I've had so many visitors. Wow!

It's been a very busy time for me. After being contracted to do some work for Sabona soon after I arrived in Australia, the work load has increased and most recently I was appointed editor of the magazine, which is for people from Southern Africa living in Australia. It's an awesome opportunity for me, pretty nerve-wracking too! The first issue that I was involved in editing is due from the printers any day now. Can't wait to see it after all the work that we've put into it.

In addition to myself as editor, we had someone new to do layout so the magazine really has a whole fresh new look.

In addition to the magazine, I continue deal with emails and other queries. We get a range of questions coming through the website every day and it's my responsibility to answer or find an answer as the case may be! To say that I've had to make lots of contacts during the last few months is an understatement. I certainly don't know the answers to most of the stuff myself! Facebook has become an amazingly useful tool -- it is incredible what technology can help us achieve.

So enough about me...the rest of the family are doing well. Phillip is busy at work and doing lots of networking, through the Sabona Business Network and other networking groups. Slade and Kai are both doing well at school. Kai has just a two months of kindi left and then will be in prep (grade R) when school goes back after the long holiday. Being one of the oldest in her class she is SO ready to go to big school. Her main concern is the uniform which she is not very keen to wear. She's become quite expressive with her clothes often looking at what characters on TV where and wanting to dress up like them. The other day she came through from her bedroom wearing leggings and shorts and proudly told me that she was dressed just like Fely, who is one of the stars in the new Hi5 series that's started on TV here!

Slade is doing well at school and his teacher is so happy with the way that he's come out of his shell since the beginning of the year. He has a good group of friends, and is pretty confident about his ability at school. I am so pleased with the way that his reading has come on, and he's really enjoying being able to read. I got a children's book to review for Sabona in the post yesterday, and he picked up saying "I'll be able to read that."

Sabona has kept me really busy during the last few months and in some ways I think has kept my mind off the familiarity of things in South Africa and family and friends being so far away. I certainly do think it's true that when the excitement of the first few months of being in a new place wears off a little things can be quite difficult. And I'm grateful that Sabona's kept my mind off that. I did feel really sad though when Kai got upset after a recent skype with her cousin, who is the same age as her, and told me that we should never have left South Africa. Pretty heart-breaking, but it was past her bedtime so I had to put at least some of the sadness down to being tired, and I know that she's enjoying many aspects about living in Australia. On the really good side, we are all very excited that my mom is coming for two months from the beginning of December. We are really looking forward to showing her around, and being able to do lots of things together during the long summer holiday.

And my Dad also arrives for a week just after Christmas and we'll be heading up to the Sunshine Coast for five nights at the beach. We are all really excited about that -- Slade had a wonderful day at the beach recently and just loves getting into the waves with his boogy board.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bits and Bobs: Life in Australia

Used to the sight of street children, begging adults holding children at traffic lights, and South African debates about how to best deal with street children and beggers, I found the following article in our local newspaper interesting: Our local McDonalds (or Maccas, as it's known here) recently called the police when a mother sat down with her children (boys aged one and four) on the median strip in a busy road after buying food for the children from the fast food outlet. The McDonalds staff were concerned and called the police, who found the 32 year old woman was doped up on valium, having taken the drug just before their outing. She pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the life of a child.

Cash toll booths have been closed on two of our nearby motorways. We have a tag inside our cars that registers as we go through the toll, and when we reach a minimum amount of credit, the next instalment is charged to our credit card. Although the tags have been available for some time, it is only in the last month that the cash toll booths have been closed. There are now various ways to pay -- either using the tags as we've got, or using a video system which enables you to have an account and the video of you going through the toll to be matched to your account and your toll fee deducted. You can also charge your credit card for a period of travel (between one and 30 days) -- included in the charge is a video matching fee. While the system is still being phased in, if you don't have any of these systems in place when you go through the toll, you'll have three days to go into a centre and pay your toll! (By the way, there was also an advert in the local paper thanking the toll collectors that had made a significant contribution to Queensland Motorways for the past 23 years. The advert states: "With less than a week to go before the toll booths close on 22 July, we encourage you to take the opportunity to farewell your favourite toll collector as you pass through the toll booths." How nice is that?

The Lord Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman refers to the problem of dumped shopping trolleys that I mentioned in a previous blog. Relatively speaking, of course, this is a really serious problem. Writes the Lord Mayor: "These abandoned trolleys are smashed into cars by vandals. They are pushed into creeks or left in the middle of the road to be struck by unsuspecting motorists. It will now be an offence to walk down the street with a shopping trolley without a good reason." Talking about other by-law type legislation, the Lord Mayor says that the council will also be going after people who litter the city with unauthorised billboards and posters. "These new local laws will allow us to target the people who authorise the distribution of these posters and not just the poor mugs who get paid a pittance to put them up, unaware of the legality." Newman concludes by writing: "I want each and every one of you to be fiercely proud of your local suburb but it's hard to be proud of your local suburb when it looks like a garbage dump."

Residents of Holland Park, a suburb covered by the community newspaper that we receive, are being offered free one-way screws to secure their car registration (number) plates after a recent spate of licence plate thefts. What a crime prevention initiative! The crime prevention police launched Screws on Crime enabling residents to secure their licence plates with one-way screws. The plates were being stolen by thieves wanting to commit 'petrol drive-offs' or other crimes. The police said that in the current economic climate registration plates are often stolen and fitted to another vehicle so the vehicle can be filled with fuel and driven away without paying. Of course, the stolen registration plate makes it difficult to track down the responsible person.

Footpaths are another issue that were raised in a recent magazine column written by Lord Mayor Campbell Newman. This financial year Brisbane council will spend at least $23million on footpaths -- about $9million more than last year. Newman writes: "Believe it or not, footpaths are one of those issues that split communities -- like traffic calming. Many people don't want a concrete footpath. They prefer grass, while others want sure footing as they walk down the straight. Those who do want a footpath would prefer it goes on the other stide of the street and so on and so forth. It's a real balancing act." Whew. Not being used to the general availability of footpaths, we've just been really appreciative to have them at all!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kai's Birthday

Today was Kai's 5th birthday. I found it really hard to celebrate it so far away from family, people who've been friends for a long time and Kai's friends of several years. Both Slade and Kai's birthday parties in South Africa have always been celebrated at our home, with lots of children running around and enjoying themselves, and my family there too.

Yesterday afternoon we had a small tea party with a few friends. It was really great. The children had a wonderful time, and it was nice to be able to sit and chat to the adults. The weather was wonderful so we sat outside on our patio. The children ran around playing inside and outside and just generally having fun.

I continued with my tradition of making a decorated cake (in fact, I did two this year...more about that later). Kai had chosen a teddy bear cake for the afternoon party. I was pleased with the way in turned out, even though it did look decidedly dog-like during the icing process!

This morning Kai opened her presents. We gave her a little kitchen unit that has a fridge, dishwasher and sink. The tap and dishwasher make noises which she absolutely loves! Slade had chosen a Dora track for his sister. She is really pleased with it as she loves Dora, and Slade rather likes the track too!

Kai had asked her friends at school to dress up for her birthday. Her teacher decorated the classroom with streamers and balloons and put pictures of fairies on all the tables. Phillip and I took the princess cake that I had made to Kai's classroom around mid-morning and had a little party with them. We then left them dancing to Kai's new Hi-Five DVD (she's really into dancing at the moment).

When I went to collect her she had several presents that she had been given by her teacher. It was really wonderful how they had spoiled her and really made her feel so special on her birthday. We are really so happy with Calamvale Early Learning Centre, which is the kindi that she attends. The staff are all so wonderful and caring. One of the mom's who came to Kai's party yesterday, and also works at the centre, said that it was really great when Kai, encouraged by her teachers, shared stories about South Africa earlier in the year, and that some of the children still talk about Africa every now and again!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Slade's Sports Day

Slade had his sports day at school yesterday. It was a really fun day. For the prep and year one children it is mostly just about having fun. They weren't involved in the more serious athletics activities that the older junior school children were doing.

The event started with a parade. The preps and year ones walked with their group of classes -- Slade is in the gecko group and as he is the class rep he walked in the front carrying the banner. Each group had a war cry that they had made up themselves. The older children were split up into their houses and each house had a war cry.

The preps and year ones then did 80m running races in groups of about eight. Slade came second in his run. He was really happy about that, and I was so proud to see him participating and having such fun.

After having a break, the children did fun activities in small groups. They did long jump, relay type games, kicked balls into a soccer net and did a small obstacle course. Slade thoroughly enjoyed it all and participated in everything. I am so proud of the way he tried his best, was confident in all that he did, and interacted well with the other children. A real feel-good morning!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunshine Coast

We headed up to the Sunshine Coast at the weekend. Leaving home at about 7am on Saturday we headed north along the motorway, stopping briefly at a beautiful botanic garden on route and then to Mons to the home of Derek and Odette, friends of ours from South Africa. Phillip worked for Derek, who owned a Liberty franchise in Westville, until they left for Australia about seven years ago. It was wonderful to see them and catch up. They have two children, Jessica and Bevan, and the children all played really nicely together giving us time to chat!

We left around lunchtime driving into Maroochydore, one of the big holiday towns on the Sunshine Coast. We stopped to look at a caravan and camping park there. Cotton Tree park is quite nicely situated alongside the river, right as it runs into the sea so you can walk around the bend and you're on the beach. A really great spot. The campsite is run by the Sunshine Coast council and is the biggest in Queensland. It was pretty full -- lots of camper vans and caravans especially. Funny to see shelves at the office for people to get their post -- seems that there are quite a few people staying there for lengthy periods of time!

We decided to head up the coast towards Noosa and stopped at another council-owned campsite at Coolum Beach. A really nice spot, still quite busy, but a much smaller park. The park is on the beach, just on the other side of the sand dunes so you can't actually see the waves from your tent. After setting up our tent, we headed onto the beach. It was wonderful out there -- blue sky, great waves. Slade so enjoys the water and was out there with his boogy board. Kai played a bit in the waves and really enjoyed playing in the sand as well.

We also spent time at the play area, just up from the beach. Kai picked up a branch from the ground and started to sweep the stairs leading up to the little play room at the top. We wondered if that's something she learned in Africa!

We made use of the electric BBQ facilities (for 20c) at the campsite, and the jug (kettle) and hot plate which were free for anyone to use. The evening was cool, but we made hot water bottles and got into bed early. No fires were allowed in the camp and we had an unpowered site, so we had an early night and went to sleep listening to the sound of the waves.

The next morning was more of the same -- time on the beach and at the play area. I also spent time walking around looking at some of the many resorts and apartment blocks for a possible place to stay later in the year.

We had a long trip back -- lots of traffic for no apparent reason -- perhaps just other people who'd also been away for the weekend. But all in all it was a great weekend, and the kids are very keen to go camping, particulary at the beach, again soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fabulous Weekend!

We have had the most wonderful weekend filled with such excitement for the kids (and Phillip and I really enjoyed ourselves too).

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to South Bank in the city where there was a Hot Wheels (cars) event. We parked at the railway station fairly near to our house and took the train into the city.

The Hot Wheels promo was fairly small, but the kids had an absolute ball.

There was one marquee where they could play with hot wheels toys -- the cars that change colour when sprayed with hot and cold water, and other tracks that could be put together. They have really wonderful systems that fit together and you can set them up so that one car goes part way along a track and then sets off the next car, which goes along and sets off the third one, and so on. A little challenging in a room full of children, but great fun nevertheless.

There was also this amazing limo there as part of the promotion. Amazing inside -- a fancy bar like look to it! Seriously flashy!

The kids got given cars, and the absolute bonus was that when the event ended at 2pm, the organisers didn't want to pack up anything so the children could take any cars and all the tracks and other bits and pieces that they were playing with. Well we came home with a whole lot of stuff. The spray set, as well as various other bits and pieces of track that fit together, and a couple of cars!

We wandered around South Bank a little, mainly while walking between to and from the railway station. The kids played in a wonderful play area and we spotted this funny sign, which was in a covered area that was about 3m by 2m in size!

One of the most wonderful things about South Bank, and I am so looking forward to taking my mom to see this, is this beautiful bougainvillea archway.

Then today, as a special birthday treat for Kai who turns five later this month, we went to the Princesses Disney on Ice show. Kai was absolutely star-struck! It really was beautiful. We were at the huge Brisbane Entertainment Centre -- great venue, easy to park, and just off the motorway -- and we were sitting almost at the back (in the cheapest seats!), but we could still see quite a lot and managed to get some okay pictures.

The skaters were wearing great costumes -- I especially liked the Ariel scene -- the octupuses and sea horses, and in the Beauty and the Beast scene, there were skaters dressed up as cutlery wrapped in serviettes! The dwarfs had really great facial expressions.

It was wonderful to see all the skating. The show featured various princesses -- Ariel, Aurora, Mulan, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, and there was a dragon that breathed fire.

There was a beautiful carriage that carried Cinderella, and at the end of the show Tinkerbell got into it and fireworks went off around her. What a way to end!