May 27, 2008

Hot Potato Hot Patato, Cold Spaghetti Cold Spaghetti...

Okay, I know it's been a rough few weeks and I often wonder what I am doing here. I have to see kangaroos at a zoo just like we did at home. I have to deal with all of this crazy moving stuff and anti-American sentiments, I miss my friends an family. But then again, there are these little gems to look forward to that I can partake of in Australia. No, I am not even talking about doing a Tim Tam Slam, drinking Milo, or eating Meat or Gravy flavored potato chips. I'm talking about SEEING The Wiggles LIVE!

For some of you this would not be a plus, it would no doubt be a major con. You might even rather stick your finger in your eye than go. But for us it was an exilerating family event that we have been looking forward to for weeks. That's right, we have seen the wiggles in person. We danced and sang along to the songs, we even dressed like them. The lighting is no good, but here we are awaiting the start of the show as Jeff, Murray, Anthony, and Sam / Greg. We miss you Greg! You'll always be a Wiggle to us!

Okay, yeah, we are pretty much major nerds. Sometimes I get these ideas that seem great at the time. I think to myself, I am not really a member of society here so I don't care what anybody thinks, yes, I think I'll have us dress up as each member of the Wiggles. Then you get there, and everyone is dressed normal, and you kind of realize you DO actually care. Poor Ben, why did you ever go along with my stupid plan? Some one even asked him if he was a Wiggle! No lie!

The concert was great and the kids had a magical time. It was held at such a small venue. I could literally almost see Anthony's glowing white teeth and the scars from his nose job. It was, I mean, ah, amazing. It really was fun to do something to get your kids all excited about. We were watching a lot of the show on tv in the previous days, you know, trying to practice and get ready so we were sure we knew all of the songs. Two days in a row Laine said, "I just love the Wiggles..." It was hilarious.

Here we are after the show outside the Hornsby RSL club. We were ever changed from this moment, we will never be the same again.

We chased the concert down with an hour of driving around looking for a Hungry Jacks to eat at.

Look familiar? Yeah, it's the same. We got Whopper value meals which tasted just like the one's at home. Yup, they made me just as sick as at home, and I regretted eating it just like at home too.

It was a great day. I had a really fun day visiting a new friend in Double Bay yesterday, which I now realize is the Beverly Hills of Australia. There I was driving myself there, passing and waving to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bay Bridge on the way. It was amazing. Sometimes it really is so cool to live here. No, I'm not manic as you may be thinking from the complete change in temperature from some previous posts. It is just that there are really high high's and really low low's. 3 cheers for it leveling off poste-haste!

May 24, 2008

My Dad, the Hero

I have always loved and respected my Father so much. I have always looked up to him in so many ways. He has more integrity than I've ever known any one else to have. The man raised 5 girls {no boys} enough said.

My Dad always worked really hard to make a good life for our family. He was a firefighter. We weren't a rich family, though many around us were. I didn't care though. I was really proud to tell people what my Dad did. We loved visiting him at the firehouse when we were little. It was great as a kid, and so much fun to go bring Sunday dinner to him and hang out at the firehouse, pretty much the coolest place on Earth. And on those days when you get to go visit the firehouse for a school field trip, I could have given the tour myself, which was another reason to be proud.

It has been so great that since 9/11 that more people realize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of these men and women and their families, as well as other branches of law enforcement. This isn't some job they have, they are a brotherhood. They risk their lives together, and I've seen my Dad the day one of his men has fallen. It's like nothing you can describe.

Today I got an email from my Mom, and maybe it is the stress or that I sometimes get homesick. But I was proud again, and I was moved to tears. My Mom said that a member my Dad's crew has a brain tumor. They were hopeful, but the cancer is aggressive. Just yesterday, when the results came in, they discovered that even with more chemo and radiation, this man will die within 6 months to a year.

My Dad has taken it very hard, as well as the rest of their crew. In order to show their support, they have all shaved their heads. This would be touching already, but man, you didn't know what a gorgeous head of thick lustrous hair he had. It was beautiful. Thanks for your service, and thanks for showing us what it means to be a friend and brother.

Thanks for once again being an example to me Dad. I love you.

Save me from myself

Okay, this is not going to be the most "upbeat" post ever. I've really had it today. First of all, I really hate complaining, and I hate complainers. I hope you can tell the difference between complaining, and being honest. I probably should just delete all of this and forget it ever happened rather than actually posting it, but I'm not gonna.

I had a friend that I had been keeping in contact with over the years. I love her so much, and I miss living close to her. She was such an example to me, and taught me many things. We fell out of contact over the last few months, and I often wondered why. I felt it was a little one-sided, as I really would have loved to hear from her. I finally broke down and wrote to her. She wrote me back such a heart-wrenching email about what her life has been like lately. I really, really felt for her. She indicated that she wasn't able to write me because she just wasn't in a place where she could be happy for me. My life seemed to be perfect and I seemed to be having new adventures and great experiences.

So let me just lay it all down on the line so no one is confused. This move has been unreal. It has been so incredibly challenging for both Ben and I personally. So many times lately I have wanted to give up, and Ben and I both agree that if there were and easy way out and we could move home with our tails between our legs, we might just do it. We are 90% there. But there is that last 10% of us that thinks and hopes that maybe the adjustment period is almost over.

Ben has had to put in incredible hours since we moved here. He is exhausted and hasn't had a moment to relax since we arrived. Most days he comes home, has a quick bite, and sits and works while I watch tv at night. Most days are boring and mundane since I don't have many friends, everybody works! Everyone who is around is very tight-knit with their family. It is not like it was before, when we moved overseas. Surround by good friends who were in our exact situation and you had so much in common {then again, there are no men hocking loogies constantly and I can speak the language and of course the food situation goes without saying...}

Being an American overseas SUCKS! Everybody hates us and I'm sorry my Aussie friends, I really am, but some people here take it to a new level I have never experienced before.



I am not the US Foreign Policy! I am not the cause of your Economic problems! I am not loud, or annoying! I am not rude! I am not an idiot, and I, like most Americans DO know where Sydney is and DIDN'T think it is in England or "wherever"...

For all of the ignorance you claim that we, as Americans posses, you really would be embarrassed at the things I have been both asked and told since I arrived here {as well as before, I am sad to say I have had this experience with Aussies before I moved here}. I seriously in my wildest dreams would not EVER dare to say the things to some one's face that have been told to me. But yeah, I would say them behind your back...

but that is beside the point!

There are many people here that I love, that help get me through the day. But man I wish people here felt about Americans the we we feel about them! Americans LOVE Aussies. We love their accents, we think they must be the funniest, most down to Earth people. In fact, besides terrorists, we as Americans love all, okay most, cultures. We think to ourselves that their quirks are "charming". Even the French. I just wish that favor were returned to some degree, and that so many negative assumptions weren't made about me because of where I come from.

I really do want to thank my friends who I do have here. I love my friends at the butcher shop, they are so great to me and put a smile on my face. I love my neighbors. I have made some good friends at church as well. I have met some great people, so I regret to take away from them. But I have to get it off my chest! It has also been so theraputic to have my hobby, Hot Garlic, thanks to everyone who participates. It really helps to have something you enjoy to look forward to.

Notwithstanding everything I just ranted about above, it has been difficult in many other ways as well. It is hard to be away from family and friends. I won't get to experience spring, the best time of year {besides summer} for a whole year and a half! It has just plain been stressful and a lot of work to move and unpack and attempt to get settled into a new life. We have so many loose ends flying everywhere all of the time. We are constantly so busy chasing down minute details that we don't get anything done! There are so many reasons I can't describe, or even put my finger on, it's just been hard!

But don't cry for me Argentina. I'll be fine and the dust will settle, I hope.

Okay, I'm done now. I feel better. Thanks.

PS : My sis Kate had this on her blog a while ago. I thought it was so hilarious, and always wanted a reason to post it on my blog. I think the time has come, it doesn't get any more appropriate than today. I do, however, think this is less of the world according to Americans, and more the what others in the world think Americans are thinking.

May 19, 2008

Ben + Monkeys = Disaster

Sorry, this video has come at the high cost of my sanity, as well as the life of my computer. I think uploading this video and the events that ensued, have aged my computer by 12 years. This video was supposed to accompany the text below, as well as the other video. This is more what I am talking about when I reference Ben's "love" for animals. It is quite a bit longer than it needs to be, just get to the middle of it for the good part.

By Popular Demand

Ben's retecence for animals is well documented, and only matched by my undying love for them. Funny story. I loved our family dog, Cujo, with all my heart before Ben and I married. We used to sleep together and she used to pee with excitement whenever I came home from college. The first night we stayed at my parents house overnight after we got married was a little rough for both Cujo and I. Ben and I went down to my old bedroom in the basement, and Cujo followed right behind, thinking this would be cozy with Ben added to the mix. Ben said no and Cujo sat outside the door and scratched and whined for what seemed like hours. It was heart wrenching! I started crying, but I knew I had to choose my marriage over this dog I loved so much. I know, break out the Kleenex...

Anyway, I hope that story makes the above video of Ben all the more funny. He was good enough to oblige my secret wish of having a day of frolicking and laughing with monkeys. Little did I know they would be so stinky and greedy. It was still pretty fun, and the trip gave us some priceless footage. We have told some of you about this, and others have had the privileged opportunity to preview it. Here it is, back by popular demand. Please keep in mind that I was a nursing mother with a bad bra and a bad haircut to match, and bad clothes. I was on vacation! This is us on our Bali Trip in '05. Enjoy.

May 15, 2008

Clifford 101

In case any of you are wondering what the Clifford face is, I hope this answers your questions. And if this movie so happens to pop up on Showtime or TBS, go ahead and DVR it and save it for a rainy day. It will be worth your time.

May 13, 2008

Haircuts much? Spiders Much? Forts Much?

I love it, I love it... and I don't care who knows! Yes, I do love getting my hair cut at the local Beauty School. Some would call me cheap, others maybe frugal. Yet others would say ridiculous. But I love it just the same. I have been going to the beauty school since I was young, though I did take a break in high school and went to the most expensive salon in Orem. I started going again in college and have never looked back. When I was first married I went to a school in Bountiful and got my hair cut next to Olene Walker. We even chatted since I knew her, Ben was working for the Governor at that time. Anyway, things run a little differently here. It took me months to figure out the system, but I finally found a government run Tafe school and booked an appointment.

I got there and I was in luck, free haircuts that day! You can't beat it. I splurged on lunch since I was saving the $10 a haircut costs. I made an appointment for next month where I am going to add highlights to the mix for $15!

It was a very, very interesting experience. There was this gay European guy in skinny jeans, I was really, really hoping to get him. Instead I got this husky English woman in her 40's. I was disappointed at first, but she really came through for me! She did a great job. Above is the picture, I got Laine to take it. I couldn't get a decent shot out of the 30 I had her take. She was dancing and wiggling all over the place. In the end, I decided that I preferred a decent face shot to a good hair shot, since I couldn't have both. I know the pic doesn't really flatter the hair much {please, I am not trolling for compliments here, I know it really doesn't}.

I couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. "So would you like some fringe or just keep it the same?" "Would you like to keep the {some word I don't remember, started with a c} or would you like me to even it out?" "Now, you need to use this purple shampoo weekly so your blonde doesn't look daggy, come round to the basin and let's give it a wash". I felt really lost in the whole process, I am looking forward to next time and I am bringing a friend who can translate for me.

Getting your haircut in foreign countries is a very cultural experience. I cut my own hair in Taiwan, but in Korea I used to walk to this little shop near my house. They would just slap the he!! out of my head! They would pop my ears and do all sort of crazy stuff. Even just the way they mix your hair around while they wash it was so different. It was different here as well, but no slapping or popping.

Since that wasn't raw enough for you Stace, here is one of the pics in my photo shoot with Laine. It looks like my best "Clifford" impersonation, {love that movie} "Natalie, please, make a face like a real human girl!", But alas was just one of the better shots when you are having your 3 year old take the picture and you've got this blasted overhead lighting going on. I'm in love with that double chin action.

And here's this little guy that moved into our boxes whilst they were being stored in the garage. He had also come and planted himself on our front window one night. He is HUGE and quite scary looking, but thanks to our handy-dandy chart of which nasty spiders are lethal and which ones aren't, we learned that he is a Huntsman or Wolfsman or something, and harmless.

We finally moved out all of the boxes and had them picked up. Ben made a little fort out of them for Laine to enjoy before the garbage man came round to pick them up, she quite enjoyed it.

May 7, 2008

A very merry un-birthday to me!

Jenny, I know you are totally going to be jealous about this and I'm sorry. But Ben threw me a surprise half-birthday party this weekend. It was so random. Seriously, Ben is great, and I'm not going to complain. But there have been birthdays and anniversaries where he has literally been so busy beforehand that I don't even get a present or a card {don't worry, he makes up for it with random $200 gift certificates to the spa for Valentines and surprise half-birthdays}. Needless to say I was totally floored when he came home from "golfing" Saturday morning with half of a birthday cake, hats, masks, streamers, noisemakers, and half of a birthday card.

It was hilarious, and so creative, which also was surprising. Sorry Ben. He got the kids all into it and they all sang and everything. This was a completely different day than the below pictures, so as you can tell I am no liar about the chicken suit. It is also obvious that I was very surprised, as the house is wreck, I am in my exercise clothes sans hair and make-up getting ready to do Turbo Jam, Gabe is not dressed... I am very vain, enjoy this pic, you will hopefully never see me, my house, or my kids this raw ever again. I only allowed this pic to be taken because Ben was so excited at his clever wit. I also figured there would be a before and after, or at least a fake shot where we all looked perfect and pretended the surprise was happening right then at that very second! The moment passed, however, with no second photo-op.

Anyway, we got a sitter that night and went out to Chinese food and sipped hot cocoa at our coffee shop and we chased it down with some grocery shopping. I know that may sound boring, but I LOVE the grocery store and few things excite me more than perusing through the aisles dreaming of things I can create. Ben got a bad case of "shopping legs" but tried his best to humor me. Anyway, thanks Ben, it was the best half-birthday I've ever had!

May 5, 2008

Funny kids and "Double" Prams

So somewhere along the line Laine has been educated in the wonderful art of the knock-knock joke. She seriously just came home saying them one random day. I have no idea where she learned them or who "taught" her. She thinks she is hilarious. They go a little something like this:

Laine: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Laine: Dinosaur

Me: Dinosaur who?

Laine: Dinosaurus Rex

This is promptly followed by an uproar of laughter coming from Laine, per usual when she tells any kind of "joke"

L: Knock Knock

M: Who's there?

L: Dora

M: Dora Who

L: TV Dora

...More Laughter...

L: Knock Knock

M: Who's there?

L: Flying in the air

M: Flying in the air who?

L: Me

As promised {though I am pretty sure no one really was waiting by the computer}, here is a pic of our double stroller. We actually have a Joovy, which is a sit and stand type of stroller that I LOVED when Gabe was a newborn and Laine was 2. But it is pretty heavy for these hills and all of the walking you have to do when you are a one car family. It just got to be too much and I resorted to this because I am a weakling.

When we went to Fiji, we seriously only took this umbrella stroller. And this is what we looked like everywhere we went. I also was seriously taking Gabey on the 10-15 minute walk to Laine's school to pick her up, and then bringing them all the way home like this. None of us really minded at the time, but are really glad we have our bike trailer / jogging stroller now! And oh yeah, since it is winter we are back to dressing the kids in their warm Halloween costumes as jammies. Laine is living in this chicken suit, she never wants to get out of it. She has even cast off her beloved "space" suit {aka track suit}. But not the space ships unfortunately...

And as of tomorrow we will finally have a second car! It has been a LONG four months sharing. And by sharing I mean me not having a car but once every fortnight. And by fortnight I mean once for every time we built a fort, which has not been that often lately. We bought a Nissan X-Trail. They are really cute, it is a smaller SUV, pewter color since I know you are wondering.

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