Critters, critters, and more critters

Trip Start Oct 13, 2007
1
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Trip End ??? ??, 2009


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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hi Everyone--

First of all....I have dryer sheets! Thanks to Jim who was in Denver and my friend Kendra, I'm well stocked! Life is good!

Before I get into the critter stories, let's talk food. Most everyone reading this knows about my love of all things chocolate. Can you imagine the heaven I was in when Kim (Jim's bosses' wife, from Minneapolis) suggested we meet at Max Brenner's, a chocolate restaurant! I thought Max was going to pass out from the aroma of chocolate that you're hit with when you enter the restaurant. Like Mother, Like Son.  We had chocolate pizza, chocolate dipped strawberries and I think a chocolate shake. It's all a blur now. Another new find has been chicken schnitzel. It's a flattened chicken patty, breaded and deep fried, served on a bun with various toppings. I like them, but then I like everything.  We've had a fair sampling of "fish and chips" and find that it's hit and miss with the quality.  I'm also including a picture of some of the interesting things we get at the grocery store.

Along the same topic, I've struggled with learning my oven.  Remember, it's celsius, and it's a fan-forced oven, which I'm not used to.  Suffice it to say that it took about 3 tries for me to get a batch of cookies for school suitable enough for public consumption.

Okay...now for the start of the critters.....

We had our first encounter with an Australian spider.  We believe it was a Huntsman, which are fairly common, and not too bad on the meter of poisonous spiders.  I believe if they bite, it hurts, but you don't have to go to the hospital.  Sam spotted it early one morning, and I was pretty much frozen with fear.  How big?  Probably an inch & one half in diameter.  Big enough!  After Jim made several attempts to squash him with a tissue (they're fast), I smashed him with my sandal.  I promptly ordered the spider identification chart that people have told us we need.  This chart will tell us when it's important that we get to the hospital if we're bit by certain spiders.

I've also found that those little black lizards that I mentioned in a previous entry, come in bigger sizes.  I began noticing them on my morning walks through a nearby park.  They scurry away when they hear me coming, but I find it much more enjoyable to turn my ipod up nice and loud so I don't have to hear them in the bushes...they sound much larger than they are.

Birds....I actually really like the different sounds of the birds here.  But the laughing kookaburra is the one that sounds like monkeys at the zoo.  If you want to hear it for yourself, follow this link, and click on the "sound bite" within the text.  It's exactly what we hear on a regular basis!  http://www.treknature.com/gallery/Oceania/Australia/photo834 43.htm

On a more enjoyable note, we finally got to see some koalas and kangaroos at a koala park sanctuary.  At first, when we approached an area where the koalas were, we thought they were just stuffed ones.  But no....they were asleep clutching onto tree branches!  They sleep 20 hours a day (apparently the eucalyptus helps ;).  They're not as friendly as you would think, so we could only pet them with the zookeeper's guidance.  However, the kangaroos were another story.  We could enter an enclosed area, and there they were just loose and lounging around!  They were very docile and sweet and welcomed anyone to pet them.  One even had a baby in her pouch, but only it's hooves were visible.  Very cute. 

The boys continue to do very well adjusting to life and school here.  Sam even attended the Year 3/4 Fancy Dress Ball!  Although we learned after the fact that "fancy dress" means costume.  That's okay...there were kids even in board shorts and sandals.  I guess anything goes here.  Max has his first dance that the Year 5 kids put on for the Year 6 kids.  It's a Hawaiin theme.  I don't think we can go wrong on that one. 

Guitar lessons for Max and piano lessons for Sam area lined up for January.  Max is definitely making the switch to the sax next year when school starts in February.  Sam will be playing clarinet (not trumpet as he initially thought).  A popular recess activity for the boys here is handball, which they enjoy a lot.  Homework comes home on Mondays and consists of a spelling list which they have to practice throughout the week in preparation for test on Friday which is a dictated paragraph laced with the spelling words.  They also have to do something called "spell on" throughout the week which reinforces the spelling words and usage.  "Mentals" is the final piece, which is "maths"....about 20 questions each night related to all areas of math...geometry, multiplication, fractions, time, money, measurements.  They don't complain about the homework, and some of it they find very easy, and some they just haven't been exposed to...like turning symmetry.  What the heck is turning symmetry anyway?

This weekend, we went on "holiday" to Port Stephens.  About 2.5 hours north of us on the coast.  We stayed at a great hotel in Salamander Bay, one of the several towns that make up what's considered Port Stephens.  Depsite the enormous dead cockroach I found in the bathroom when I arrived, it was a very nice, new hotel.  We had a two bedroom place, but it was like the boys had their own little apartment, equipped with a flat screen TV, little fridge, balcony, etc.  They were in heaven, and didn't want the "parents" to enter their domain.  Our room had the living area (#2 flatscreen tv), a full kitchen, dining area, and bedroom (#3 flatscreen TV).  The best part of the place was the pool.  You know how a castle has a moat?  Well, picture the moat as a pool that went around the entire complex.  And at various points off the pool, were sandy beach areas.  And for once, I can say that for the price, this was a very good value for here!  We're only sorry we weren't able to spend more time at the hotel.  But, we had 2 fun activities scheduled.  We took a dolphn cruise--Port Stephens is home to about 160 bottlenose dolphins, so we had no problem seeing them.  We also went sandboarding.  A shuttle in a very bouncy 4 wheel drive vehicle took us to the top of dunes 40 meters high (around 120 feet I think).  Then you sit on these little boards about the size of a skateboard deck, and down you go!  I'm still getting sand out of my ears!  Then, it's the climb back up the hill to do it all again.  It was lots of fun, but my bum is feeling it today.  After that, we went to the beach where Max and Sam tried out body boards.  This was a much needed weekend for all of us.  Jim's had a very tough couple of weeks at work (the project is still a big challenge) and the family time was good for us all.

But back to the grind...the boys to school, Jim to work, and me to my mop and bucket.  Oh, and the termite inspector comes today!

Oh, to answer a common question about gas prices (petrol as they call it).  If I calculated right (because I had to convert from litres), it's about $5.07 a gallon!  Yikes! 

Finally, the new Australian word of this blog entry....Esky.  It's what they call coolers.  Something tells me we will need one for the upcoming months, since we've just started our summer.

Until next time!

Barb
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Comments

maureenkahn
maureenkahn on

These are really fun!
Hi Barb--
Just finished reading your newest blog entry and can't begin to tell you how fun these are to read. I really get a sense of what you guys are going through. And how wonderful this will be for all you later to have these memories. Sounds like everyone is doing well and adapting quickly. Please tell Jim hi for me. I'll try and catch up with him via instant messaging. Hope he is keeping his head above water with this project. To update you here we had our first real snow last evening about 5-6 inches. It's quite beautiful but I'm sure it will get old come January & February. We had a big ice storm last Saturday and that definitely wasn't fun! Keep the blogs coming and thanks again for keeping us updated on the Glore's big Australian adventure.

crae
crae on

I love Sydney as seen by Barb!
Hey, Barb,
I was remiss in responding to your last blog. But, I too, love this and look forward to each one. It's almost like I'm with you experiencing everything. Sand in your ears, huh? Ick! I'd probably get fat eating your 'digestive crackers' as I love grahams and chocolate!

I'll write more as soon as I can. Weather is in the low to mid 20's today and we had 3-6' of snow last night and more expected tomorrow. Unfortunately, no 'snow day' at school for the boys. I'd definitely prefer to be with you at this time of year!

Love to all of you,
Crae

lindasmoot
lindasmoot on

GREAT BLOG
HI BARB & CO....... great BLOG and I've enjoyed reading the entires and epecially seeing the pictures! Love the SAM disco pose! And the sand surfing looked awesome.... except the walk back up! ha, ha! Glad you are all settling in! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Best Regards, LINDA SMOOT

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