June 7 2009 ~ Happy Birthday Queen Mum?

I can certainly understand that as the head of State of the UK and 17 Commonwealth nations, including Australia, that we would celebrate the Queen's birthday. What I don't understand is why we're celebrating it with a New South Wales (the state of Western Australia celebrates it another day) holiday on June 8th. when her birthday is April 21st. New Zeland had "their" Queen's birthday  last weekend. Go figure.

June 6, 2009 ~ Auntie Diane & Ti Ze's Parcel

If you know my daughter, then you know how much that girl likes to receive gifts. Doesn't need to be anything big. A pack of cool post-it-notes, a notebook, or even a clip board gets this girl very excited. Since arriving in Australia she and her brother have received numerous letters and packages. Belated birthday, Christmas, Valentines, heaps of we miss yous and Lana even received a Flat friend in the mail. It's been really lovely because it connects them to people they love & miss.

Well a couple of weeks ago, as we walked in the house from school, Lana noticed a parcel sitting by the door. Before reading the label she yelled out that there was a package. I said it must be for me. She picked it up and excitedly yelled out that it most certainly was addressed to her & her brother. Well, we just barely got in the door before it was opened and the contents were spilled out everywhere. Their timing was perfect. Lana's friend was having a Hannah Montana party in a few days & Lana got to wear her new shirt (Am I the only one who sees a bit of Jessica in this shot?) Also, in their journey Diane & Joe got Nuno the coolest t-shirt that he modeled while at the zoo.

June 5, 2009 ~ The B Burn

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been trying to get back into running. Now I know that 420 meters is not the longest distance, but when it is straight uphill, and I mean UP HILL it is pretty rough. Then throw in a kid & stroller and you really get a workout. Well this past Sunday, Nuno & participated in a fundraising run for an organization that helps access essential medical equipment used in pediatric wards in hospitals in New South Wales as well as East Timor. Two of the three organizers have some pretty serious first hand stories of medical emergencies with their kids so this is race takes on a serious meaning in this community. Normally I have a rough time walking up this road, but this day there was a spring in my step.  Nuno was so inspired that he asked to get out of the pram and walk. It didn't last very long, but I was sure proud of him

June 1, 2009 ~ Catch up

Okay, so we returned from New Zealand & things just got very busy here. The first person to blame is my smarty pants daughter. The day she returned to school from our holiday (see below) we received the good news that she had moved up a reading group. That was really great news. But she also moved spelling groups. There is where the work came in. Having gone from cat & bat for spelling words she moved to drought & dungeon. Between the extra time we spend on homework now there is also gymnastics, swim & dance. She loves them all & I promise we are not overworking her. But they do make for a busy week. Next to blame is my husband who has signed up for soccer. That, for anyone who is considering such a move, means a kiss goodbye to going away on the weekend. We do enjoy going to his games. The kids run around & I plant myself on the blanket with some nibbles & wine & have a nice chat with my friend Mandy. Last to blame is me. I have started running again. I am really happy about it, but there goes the weekend mornings. Then with no blame is Nuno. Although he does have his Speech class once a week and that  "homework". He for the most part just goes along for the ride enjoying all the kids he meets.

I just mentioned that I got back to running. It was something that I had debated doing & something that really pushed me over the edge was hearing Trisha Meili interviewed by Leonard Lopate (to hear interview click here:)

My Running Rock Star Sister

On Sunday, May 3 my sister wowed the crowd at the lehigh valley half marathon.  Carlos was not given her t-shirt, however Dudu was asked to hold on to her medal until the day he runs his first marathon. I think we've created a monster!

April 22, 2009 Our adventure to Rotorua & Coramandel

The first leg of our trip was through Rotorua. Rotorua is known for its geothermal hotsprings. We had a stroll around town we headed to dinner & a show. As soon as the hungi buffet was cleared & Noa discovered the stage , we knew we were in for a great night. She did not let us down. The dancers did a great job, but our little girl STOLE the show. Not only did she do the Poi dance with Nuno, but she also got up there when the men did the haka....click here for Pictures & Video
After leaving Rotorua we heading to Rotoiti for the Maori hotsprings.

From there, we started our journey to Coromandel. And what a journey it was. After a good drive north we got off the 'main' road and proceeded to drive 20K on a gravel road. Below you will see the pictures from our trip. You will certainly understand why Auntie Sarah chooses to live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.....click here for Pictures

April 17, 2009 ~Carriage Rides & Train Rides

Granpa sure made the kids' day when he took us all for a train ride....click here for pictures

April 16, 2009 ~ Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man...

April 16, 2009 ~ Waiheke Island, NZ
One of my favorite places on Earth is the Island of Waiheke. Just a short ferry ride from Auckland, you get to a place that is just that much more "chilled out" than Auckland. For those of you on the Eastern Coast of the States, think of Block Island, but warmer. Each time we go out to Waiheke I have a magical time. To tell you the truth I wasn't sure how I'd like it during the fall. It did make it different, but it forced us to explore corners of the island that I had never seen. A big thanks to Anne & Denny for having us along. It was a gorgeous time.

Waiheke Photos

April 15, 2009 ~ NZ
When you see how many folders I am posting, I hope you understand how we have kept SO busy that I haven't been able to post. We're trying to take advantage of our school schedule that grants us two weeks with our friends & CUZZIES!!!! What a time we have had & one week left!

Nails with Gran

At the Market with the B boys
A Night With Dear Old Friends
Cuzzies x's 6

April 12, 2009 ~ Congratulations to our Sailing Wonder Woman

Little miss sailor sister has only been sailing for three years and has won three trophies just within the last few weeks. These are not short up &down races. One was a solo race around an island in Auckland Harbor.

April 8, 2009 ~ What a Treat!!!
We're in New Zealand for Easter holiday. Our plans involve catching up with friends and family. I had also hope to get down to Rotorua to see a Maori village and show. You see each time we come to NZ my kiddos get loads of family time, but they have never experienced anything "cultural". Well what a treat we had today.

Gran invited Lana & I out to her school for chapel. It was a lovely end of the term service. Since the student body is comprised of a variety of Polynesian cultures they are all represented in the church hymns. The students sang in Tongan, Fijian, Samoan, Maori as well as English. One of the staff members is leaving the school so there was also a dedication to him. The reverend presented him with a gift and a former student spoke after which the students all chanted a school song. It was so powerful. You can see clips here & here.

Then as we were walking out of chapel the students all gathered for what I thought was a school photo. I was wrong. They were gathering for a haka in honor of the parting teacher and the visiting guests. It was AMAZING!!!!  You must check it out here.

April 2, 2009 ~ World Autism Awareness Day

Aidan, you and your family inspire me.
Maria's video for her beautiful son Aidan

4-2-09 ~ Yesterday morning I received this picture of Big D.

My first thought was how he looked more like his mother than his two BIG brothers. Well, minutes later I get this in my inbox.

Okay I was wrong. The B-boys are in fact clones!!!

4-1-09 WILD life - Before I went to New Zealand for the first time, Hildy had told me that one of her favorite things about the country was that there were signs of wildlife everywhere. She said whether it was the birds in the trees or little bugs in the puddles formed after a rain ,there was life everywhere, even in the cities. While there this past Christmas, we stayed on the island of Waiheke. Our house was perched high on a cliff & to get down to the beach we had to walk along a path which would wind through a bit of wooded area. (For those of you in NorthEast CT, imagine a more rainforest type of wooded area.) It was not an easy walk up or down, but Nuno seemed terrified. He insisted on being carried and would tuck his face into my neck. I was absolutely perplexed as to why my easygoing boy was so terrified. It wasn't until a day or two had passed that I realized it was the sound of the bugs. (Imagine loads of crickets singing into amplifiers then you get it.) Yes, it was loudish, but I knew what was making the sound so therefore not scared. Nuno, being unaccustomed, was terrified. After I explained what the noise he was just fine.

Sydney, much like all of New Zealand, has signs of life everywhere too. (I won't even get into the spiders, snakes & sharks here.) One thing that impressed me when I flew over for the house hunting and drove around with Pam was the amount of 'green' throughout the city. The city planners should be proud. Just in Sydney center there are too many parks to mention. There are the Botanical Gardens, Centennial Park, and the list goes on. Between Cricket ovals, children's parks, and ALL the trees lining the streets there is so much green in this town.

Well, thank God Hildy warned me about the unique birds I would hear.  I kid you not, but if you didn't know better you might think a monkey or screaming child was moving through the trees. I have linked to the 'Birds in the Backyard' (of Sydney) page. Click here to hear the bird calls. I highly recommend you check out the laughing Kookaburra & the Noisy Miner. I am also linking out to the flickr page where I have a clip from the harbor nearest to us. I have also linked to a clip taken at 6am in our backyard. It is because of this 'wake-up call' that I can not leave my children's windows open at night. Yes, I love that I can live 20 minutes outside a very large city and still have such wonderful contact with nature, but at 6am gratitude  for this is difficult to process.

3-30-09... Gran & Granpa's visit...We were very happy to welcome our first visitors. The kids were so happy to have Gran & Granpa come along to school and to all their activities. It was a fantastic visit. Besides celebrating Auntie Janet's birthday we also headed up to Shoal Bay to see Uncle David & family. To see pictures click here

3-29-09 - I'll tell you the lice took away all my free time for two weeks. Just as I was getting into the grove with posts the buggies invaded. I will not say we won the battle as that would certainly jinx us. However, in the same way we used to do tick checks in CT, we are now doing lice checks.

March 2009

Congrats to Rui & Sandra on the birth of their gorgeous baby boy

3-11-09 Is the old adage, "A family that has head lice together, stays together"? If so, then we're doing alright. Actually the treatment was more precautionary with Nuno & Stephen. But as for Lana & I we have become members of a very special club. My understanding is that this is quite common here. So much so that there is even a "fight head lice week" campaign. For those of you interested, I can certainly forward you curriculum activities for any age group....I am not joking.

3-11-09 James ~ Congrats Mate on winning your wresting match. SEND US SOME PHOTOS!!!

3-11-09 ~ The other day I discovered a necklace in Nuno's backpack as I was preparing his lunch. Click here to see a clip of the exchange. I thought you all might enjoying hearing him speak. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwigalo/3345787245/

3-11-09 Breakfast of Champions

3-10-09 Differences ~ School:

Since we’ve arrived in Sydney there have been many pleasant surprises. One of the things that we have been confronted with is the many differences in the schooling. To begin with, the calendar is different. Not only do schools run from late January to December, but the year is broken into four 10 week terms. There are advantages to both systems. Although I do miss long weekends, which are quite rare here, it is nice that we get 3 two week blocks where we can plan family holidays during the school year. This is especially good for me us as it allows us three possible times to go back to the States during the school year. This is something the US calendar doesn’t really afford us.


The process of enrolling in a school is also dramatically different. In Australia when you register a child for school, the forms ask me for his/her citizenship status. This is actually against the law in the US. I had been warned that if she were not and Australian citizen, which she is, that we would have to pay for her schooling. This would cost about $6,000. Fortunately she is an Aussie. That being said, there are still other fees. We had to pay about $100 for her books, $245 for the resource fee, $40 additional classroom fees & the library fee of $60 which is optional & tax deductible. I am not complaining about these fees. Lana attends a lovely school and we can afford to pay. Yet, I can not help but think of how this would work in the states. There is much that needs to be improved in American public schools, but it is wonderful that any child can rock on up and get a completely free education no matter who they are and what their citizenship status is. Then again, maybe some families would put more value in their child’s education if they had to pay for the paper & books that their child utilizes.


Although Lana was not very excited about it at first, I have to say the most convenient thing for me by far is the uniform. Yes, there is a cost at the beginning of the year, but after purchasing two dresses, and two sports outfits we were set. We opted for mostly new gear, but donated second hand uniforms can be purchased from the uniform shop at the school (all schools have their own uniform shop). Oh yes, we also purchased a school backpack, jumper (sweatshirt) & cap. I love it. Not only does it make my life easier, I love the fact that all the kids are on an even playing field. There is no competition with clothes. Also, the kids all look like kids. I love that Lana looks like a little girl. Zira had asked if different schools had the same uniforms. From what I have seen, every school in the same general area has a different uniform. As we walk/bus around town we will see kids from all the schools in their uniforms. It is a way to showcase school pride. Although I do like seeing these kids in their uniforms, some of their hats are quite….dated shall we say…  But once again, it’s about school pride and you see that displayed all the way through high school anywhere you go in town.


As you can imagine food options are different here. I’ll go into that in a later post, but suffice it to say that the school’s canteen special on Friday’s is buttered chicken, HOME MADE buttered chicken. If you know my daughter, you know she loves Fridays. The other thing she loves is that her mommy works the canteen. You see, what they do here is employ one person to work the canteen with parent volunteers to support her. This allows more of the money earned from the sale of food to go directly to the school. Parents are asked to volunteer once a month. My first day is this Thursday. Let's see how we go making a gazillion vegemite & butter sandwiches.

3-3-09 - Good news for Jose, Carlos, Dad, Andrea & Myself. Well at least we have rights in the Netherlands....Dutch Student Sues University

3-2-09 Happy Birthday Disney Girl!!!

3-2-2009 ~ Although the weather report is calling for the possibility of showers, you'd never suspect it as the sun is shining outside my window. However, even if the rain does come, the temperature will only dip as low as 68 degrees F (20C). Not too bad I suppose. Meanwhile back home they have just cancelled school for the fourth time this year because of snow. Our dear friends have sent us photos & the message that we should never have come to Australia because we don't get to see snow. Well, Lana & I are counting on one day being able to build a snowman when school has been cancelled...you will all be invited over for hot cocao.

2-27-2009 ~ Shakespeare by the Sea...One of the lovely things about where we live is the beach. Here is a picture of the span of it...

The picture(s) are taken from where we sat to see the play. [Normally we swim way down to the right in the (supposed) netted area.] Pam & I had been planning a night out and we finally pulled it off. For those of you who have never been to Australia then you may not understand how well these people picnic. They really have refined the activity. Loads of food & wine and great conversation. Pam's friend's were great & my friend Inger came too. We were really having a fun time when the play, Measure by Measure, started. It was a super evening. I promise when you visit we can do fun things like this too...

....a link to simone's flickr page. www.flickr.com/photos/combhua AWESOME photos & videos too

January '09  ~ Congrats (however belated) to Mike & Kath on the birth of little "g"

and here's his big brother cookie monster...

February 2009 ~ Although I was sad to not be home to celebrate. Very sad actually, Stephen & the kids did a great job making the day a special one. They gave me a lovely bracelet where I now carry around four special charms with me all the time. I enjoyed my emails & phone conversations too! Then there were the flowers. I was really spoiled in that department this year. Two stunning bouquets that still  look gorgeous. However, no one sang me parabens a voce....which means of course it's not official, so I am still considering myself 37!

2-24-2009 ~ It's funny, but I had to even think about typing the date. Not sure if you Americans know, but it seems we're the only ones in the world that write the month first. I would actually have written it the other way, but ALL of our photo files are in one system so to change them now would be a nightmare. Well, we're back. I am thrilled really. One of the hardest parts of being here is not being able to have you see Nuno blooming. His language is really coming along and he just says and does the funniest things. Hopefully this will make us seem a bit closer. Lana is great too. Settling in was tough, but she's made some friends and is doing really well.


So much has happened since we last said hello via kiwigalo. I can't list everything, but there are some recent developments that I will post. Meanwhile, we have the flickr page that we have posted photos to.


Miss you:)














2008 ~ Pictures & Links

2007 ~ Pictures & Links


2006 ~ Pictures & Links


2005 ~ Pictures & Links