Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nature Walk at Sharon Gorge

This is Junebug's "We walked all this way for NOTHING?!" face.
We went for a little nature walk at a place called Sharon Gorge.  The “gorge” is a little channel for a little stream that runs next to the trail.  The kids were not impressed, especially when the trail ended at the edge of a river.  We didn’t see any koalas, and we didn’t see any neat flowers.  Big thumbs down from all four of them.

It was a very enclosed trail; lots of vines and heavy foliage around that made you feel a little claustrophobic.  I felt rather vulnerable the entire time, so I was happy when the trail ended abruptly at a little viewing platform next to the river and that we could head back to the relative safety of our car.  It was a short little walk, but a good reintroduction to our weekly habit of nature walks.  Hopefully our future walks will yield more interesting sights.

The river at the end of the trail, complete with field of sugar cane on the other side.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brookelets at the Beach

There’s a lovely little lagoon near our house that allows the Brookelets to play in the ocean without the dangers of rip tides and deep water.  We’ve gone a few times and they have so much fun splashing, playing in the stream portion that leads back to the ocean, and building sand castles.  I get to sit nearby on my beach chair and keep an eye on everyone without raising my anxiety levels.  Pure win.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekly Report: First Week of School in Australia

We're living in the Bundaberg region, which is famous for its sugar cane (and rum).
Big fields of sugar cane are EVERYWHERE.
We are settled in Australia.  (Well, as settled as six people can be, living off of what they were able to pack into ten suitcases.)  Most of the suitcases are unpacked.  The pantry is filled with what I hope are suitably close substitutes of food we like to eat, and I get to discover each day how wrong I was in those hopes.  (Pork and cheese products = what is that taste?)  I have swept sand off of the tile floors, out of the bathtub, and out of bed sheets every day.  It. Is. Everywhere.  We also have library cards, which was a big deal for us.  We’re a cranky bunch without lots of reading material at our fingertips.

We started up with some school this week, much to the children’s objection, and accomplished very little.  We’re getting used to a different layout for our “school room,” and it was very difficult to get the kids to concentrate after taking our recess break down at the beach.  I figured out, towards the end of the week, that it’s far more productive to hold out the promise of going to the beach after all the schoolwork and cleaning are done, rather than as a break during the middle of it all.  We have a great big backyard here at our house, so recess is just fine running in the grass.  Once I figured out to wait to go to the beach (when the temperature is warmer anyway), we were able to get a little more done.

So little done, but we’re staying fairly caught up with math, which is my big goal while we’re here.  Next week I hope to get through language arts as well, and get back into our history and science studies.  We were studying humpback whales before we left the States in order to prepare us for our big whale watching trip this week, but finding books about whales was really difficult.  I’m incredibly confused as to why it was such a difficult task, but I guess libraries in Utah just aren’t as invested in the topic of whales as my hometowns in Washington state and British Columbia.  Sea mammals are a bigger part of the culture in those places.  We did what we could do with the three books available.

The whale watching tour was awesome.  We cruised around the bay for five hours, visiting pod after pod of humpback whales.  Humpback whales swim up to the Hervey Bay area during Australia’s winter in order to mate and calve.  The water down south is too cold for the newborn calves, so they’re born here and eat and eat and eat until they have about a two-foot thickness of blubber to withstand the migration to Antarctic waters.  We happened upon a new calf and its mother and were able to observe the feeding process, after which the little guy had some playtime.  So neat.  The kids ran from side to side of the boat to watch these magnificent animals.  It was a great experience.

The birthday girl!

It was a two hour drive to the bay, and on the way there Michael and Bluebird laid eyes on a kangaroo on the side of the road, but the rest of us didn’t see it.  There are “kangaroo crossing” signs all around here, much like our own “deer crossing” signs in the States.  I saw three dead kangaroos on the side of the road, so I’m thinking kangaroos are to Australians as deer are to Americans—somewhat common, but still special when you catch sight of one.  We also drove through a “koala crossing” area (the sign is so cute!), but didn’t see anything.  We’re keeping an eye out; hopefully we’ll see some of these creatures soon.

Whew, first week of homeschooling in Australia complete!  I’m excited to share our adventures with you all as they unfold.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Watching Humpback Whales in Hervey Bay

Penguin celebrate her eighth birthday shortly after we arrived in Australia, and she decided she wanted to go on a whale watching tour to see the humpback whales that famously stop over in the area to mate and calve.  I was able to snag a couple of good pictures from the boat, and thought I'd share:

Monday, August 4, 2014

the big, long plane ride

Hello there. You'll have to excuse my punctuation and other errors, because this post coming to you strictly from the voice recognition software of my phone. The pictures my Instagram account, and it looks this may be the only way that I can update the blog while we are turns out that the internet connection we have here isn't very good, in fact, it's rather ancient.I'm not sure there's much we will be able to do about it, so I'll try my best to post updates, but...yeah.

so, yes, we are here! We left Utah on July 26 and flew to Los Angeles. We stayed a few days in Los Angeles, as witnessed by my blog post there, and on July 29th we flew out of Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. That flight was aboard an enormous plane, eating something like 800 people, and the flight lasted 14 hours. Almost all the flights had television screens built into the backs of the seats, so the kids had no trouble at all with the long flights.

our flight to Sydney left Los Angeles at 10 p.m. And they served dinner at midnight, which three of the kids were still awake for, and then they turn down the cabin lights and everyone on board went to sleep. I got 6 hours of horrible sleep, and everyone else seemed to do fairly well with their sleep. I woke up while we were flying over Christmas Island, but because it was the middle of the night, I didn't see anything. I slept a bit while we flew over summer and Fiji, and then most of all of us were up and just watching movies on our little screens. The flying was easy. Like, the easiest part of it all.

while I had been excited about all the knitting I was going to accomplish on our big, long plane flight, I ended up knitting and sewing nothing at all. I was simply too exhausted. I guess with the swimming, the full day at Disneyland, I'm a general all-around poor sleep, I just didn't have anything left over to concentrate. It felt like work to pay attention enough to understand a movie.

once we landed in Sydney, it was a mad rush to get to our connecting flight to Brisbane. We had two hours to make the switch, which included picking up our ten suitcases, taking it all through customs, checking the 10 suitcases into domestic flights, and then taking a bus to our departure gate on the other side of the airport. You know, while towing four crazy children. We made it to the gate about a minute before they started boarding the plane.

we then flew from Sydney to Brisbane, and then later took another flight from Brisbane to Bundaberg. the Bundaberg Airport is tiny. It's just one conveyor belt for all the luggage, housed in the same room as the ticket counters. Michaels company's office is at the airport, so our car was ready for us and a couple of people from his work walked across the street to greet us when we arrived. After the enormity of everywhere else we had been, it was so odd to be in such a small place. We loaded up our baggage, some in our people mover, which is what Australians call minivans, and the majority of it on a workmates flatbed pickup truck, and then we set off for our temporary home, driving on the left side of the road, which makes me think we're going to die at any given moment.

and so we're here. We will live at our current house for one more week, and then we will move into the house we will be staying in until our departure in December. The ocean is one block away, and we tried to walk down there at least once a day to enjoy the waves and the sand. The kids are loving it all! It is quite beautiful, the birds make very different cause here, the wind blows through the palm fronds, and the sunshine is warm and delightful.we've had only a few days here but already I love it quite a bit. Hopefully I can figure out a better way to update the blog, as this way has taken me far longer than I would like to admit. Until then, I am updating and posting to my Instagram account usually a couple times a day. Unless I can find another way to make this work better, that may be the route I choose to go with Laur while we are here. I hope your summers stateside are going well, and hopefully I can resolve this ancient internet issue quickly.