Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First day of school

The school term started yesterday and Slade and Kai both had really good first days. Kai was really excited -- she's been saying that she doesn't have any friends here in Australia, and she's really missed her friends from SA. She was very happy to get to school, said goodbye to us without any concern and sat down with one of the little girls in her class. She was quite disappointed when I arrived to collect her in the afternoon!

Slade was a little more hesitant going to school, but he had a really good day. Had quite a lot to say about his new school and had spent quite a lot of time with one little boy, in particular. There is lots for him to get used to. He's in a big classroom (almost like two classes combined in a H-shaped room) with two teachers and one teacher's aide. They had music in a different classroom. There are two breaks and the school day is from 9am to 3pm. The school is from prep to grade 12 so it is really big! Nevertheless, he came home feeling really good about the day, and was happy to go back again this morning.

Slade was not keen on having a photo taken until persuaded to sit with Phillip on the stairs inside our house. Slade has a button up shirt with the school logo, blue shorts, white socks and black shoes, as well as a wide brimmed hat that they have to put on every time they go out of the classroom. One day a week he wears sports clothes which consist of a golf shirt and slightly less formal pants.

Kai was quite happy to pose!

The school is within walking distance of our house (probably about 0.5km). We went in the car on the first day (mainly as Slade had lots of stationery to take with him), but the queue to get parking was long and slow. This morning I walked with the children. From tomorrow they're hoping to ride their bicycles which they can park at the bike rack at Slade's school.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tips for a Better Life 2009

My focus has been away from my computer this last week as I'm writing my final honours criminology exam on Friday. It's somewhat tough learning while looking after children too, but fortunately the lecturer has told me which two topics to study so that has helped hugely and shortened my preparation time considerably.

I got an email this week from my American 'mom' Evie Read -- I stayed with the Read's as an exchange student after I finished school. There are some really wonderful ideas in this, and I thought this is a great email to share with others, and one that I should read again in the coming months.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant. [I liked this one especially as I'm hoping to walk with the children to school in the morning, and I'll have the walk back on my own after dropping them off]

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.' [This reminded me of Andrea who talks about those living in a new country needing to be strong and giving oneself a pep talk every now and again]

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2008.

7. Make time to practice meditation and/or prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6. [Do you think your own children count?!]

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured IN plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon [not sure how well that will fit into the budget!], broccoli, almonds, & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk, and let new and flowing energy into your life. [This feels especially appropriate as we start our new life in Australia]

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, or issues of the past, negative thoughts, or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card. [That made me laugh]

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the NEGATIVE BLUES away.

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you. [Especially appropriate!]

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?' [That's a good one]

26. Forgive everyone for everything.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. [Reminded me of someone I met this morning who has been in Australia for about 5 years. She said the first year was the absolute worst, but it really does get better after that]

30. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

31. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.

32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

33. The best is yet to come. [I like that]

34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up. [There's Andrea again!]

35. Do the right thing!

36. Call your family often. (Or e-mail them to death!) [Or put it on your blog and hope they'll go and read it regularly!]

37. Each night before you go to bed, complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________. [Definitely something to keep us going during these challenging times]

38. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

39. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life, so make the most of it and enjoy the ride. [I like that]

40. Share this with those you care about. I just did. May your troubles be less. May your blessings be more. May nothing but happiness come through your door!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Things we've done -- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

I'm casting my mind back a bit, because the blogging only got going a little after I arrived!

As the kids were so keen to see Australian animals, we took them to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is about 30 minutes or so from our house, soon after we arrived. It is apparently in the Guiness Book of Records as the world's first and largest koala sanctuary and has been visited by a couple of famous people including the Queen Elizabeth II and the Pope.

Parking for the famous people!

It was a wonderful day. We got to feed kangaroos, saw lots of koalas, as well as wombats, dingoes, snakes and birds. It was great to get so close up to the Australian animals that we've previously just seen in books.

Cuddly koala

Slade feeding a kangaroo

Kai feeding a kangaroo


Monitor wandering around the sanctuary

Facts about Brisbane

Found these facts in a recent magazine:
* Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia's third largest city
* Brisbane is the largest of Australia's six capital cities by geographic area and the third largest municipality in the world
* Brisbane has averaged economic growth of more than 4.5 percent for the last 20 years
* Population: 1.8 million people
* Exports are forecast to double from $41billion in 2004 to $98billion by 2026

In the News

Being a journalist I find it interesting to see what is in the news -- the community newspapers especially, have some really quirky stories every now and then. I guess it is the case everywhere, but I thought it would be fun to record some of the stories that appear in the news here.

Our local newspaper has a story this week about on-the-spot fines for offences such as public urination or offensive, disorderly, threatening or violent behaviour, where there is no need to arrest the offender. Basically the new system enables police to issue fines between $75 and $300 for public nuisance offences. These fines are issued in the same way that people are given a traffic ticket.

Quite an innovative idea and it is hoped that it will free up the courts. There has been some cricisim though that certain people could be unfairly targeted. Those mentioned: People with prostate and kidney problems, the homeless, and even those who urinate in the ocean.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Finding lemon creams and other stories

It's been a good week for us. I was feeling a little daunted with Phillip going back to work on Monday after being at home with us for two weeks. Now that it's Saturday I can't believe how quickly the week has gone by. I still have another two weeks with the children at home, but we've got quite a few plans so I'm sure that time will go by quickly too.

I left Phillip with the children late on Wednesday and went off to do some grocery shopping at one of our (many) local centres. Popped into a fruit and veggie shop that I hadn't been into before to look at what they had and check out the prices. In addition to the fruit and veggies, they had a long shelf of Asian goodies, and then I went around the corner to find Bakers biscuits -- assorted packs, lemon creams (my favourite), romany creams, and so on. What a find! They also had Simba chips -- the twisty ones in chutney flavour! Holding my lemon creams and chutney chips, the cashier said that I was obviously from South Africa. We chatted a little -- she saying that she absolutely loved the SA accent! And asking about the Aus accent, whether it was similar to the American or NZ etc. Having been here for just a few weeks I said that I wasn't even sure that I could tell the difference between the Aus and NZ accents. She thought that was really funny! She said they usually have other Simba chips and have quite a demand for the SA goods. I can't compare prices to any of the SA shops that are in Brisbane as we haven't been to one of those yet, but the prices were pretty comparable with some of the Aus chips and biscuits so it wasn't too much of an expense to treat ourselves. The cashier mentioned that she regularly gets asked for a certain kind of deodorant -- Pears, she thought it was, that South Africans say they miss. Not sure about that!

On Thursday I had a wonderful day with a fellow South African. Kay was in book club with me, and had moved to Australia in December 2007. They have bought a stunning farm about 45 minutes or so from us. It was so good being with someone who is familiar with South African things, we could talk about some of the people that we both knew, and she has been through the process of moving too. The area is a semi-rural one and it was great to have lots of greenery and space around us. They also have a great patio area and it was a cooler day with some rain so we could sit outside and really enjoy it. They have wallabies that come into the field that you can see from the house, and a koala that lives in their trees.

On Friday we did a few chores, including joining our local library. They have quite a few activities for children at the library during the holiday. There's a pantomine on Monday that the kids have decided they'd like to go and see.

Today has been mostly about getting chores done -- cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming and so on. The housework has been a little neglected during the week with the children at home. I'm hoping to get into a bit of a routine when the children go to school!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mt Cotton Rainforest Gardens

To celebrate my birthday today we headed to this privately owned tropical garden in Mt Cotton which is east of Calamvale, where we live, and heading towards Moreton Bay.

The property is owned by Betty Goleby whose late husband John was a minister in the Queensland Parliament. Since they bought the property in 1981, they have done a lot of work to clear black wattle etc and have planted quite extensively. Many of the plants were bought at fairs and fetes that they visited. The gardens are used extensively for weddings and other celebrations.

We had a wonderful picnic in the gardens, the children fed turtles in the dam and we enjoyed looking around at the beautiful flowers, many dragonflies, and colourful butterflies.

We also took a drive up to the top of the mountain on the property, from where you can see Brisbane city as well as Moreton Bay.