Thursday, December 16, 2010

Look what I found!! Again!

I can barely believe this!

On a 'recent' trip to pick up some friends from the airport,  Shawn and I discovered that their plane had been delayed.  So, we opted to drive somewhere nearby to avoid outrageous airport parking fees.  I followed him, thinking we were headed to Micky D's... but we turned a bit earlier and discovered....

Krispy Kreme!!!  

Now, I must confess that although Shawn knew it was there, I had somehow missed that bit of info.  So, I was very excited to see some familiar, sugar-loaded, nice-n-tasty donuts!  Yay!!  And, I didn't have just one!  I had two!!  I'm makin' up for lost time, ya know??  ;-)

On the way out I saw this bit of fun...
isn't it cute!

So, what started out as a trip to the airport for some friends (which we did find with a welcome home sign and all) included an added surprise!  :-) 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3... 2... 1... GO!

...for a ride on the Giant Swing...

A couple months ago (yes, I know, I'm that far behind... but this is worth sharing), the kids and I went to a nearby camp with a group we're involved in.  Our purpose was to help out and connect with some folks in the community, but luckily we got to have some fun too!

Here's a couple shots of the kids getting ready and going for a swing.  (it's like a zip-line for those in the states, but with stationary poles instead of a line to 'zip')

 D all suited up... safety first.


B's ready for a go.
Starting to get pulled up.

 And she's off!!
Look, she's flying!

Lined up by the rope waiting to pull up someone.
(actually, this is what D and B did most of the day, 
their swings came near the end of the group)

I had a turn too, but the kids opted not to take pics of me.  They had the camera and thought it best to take a video.  Don't know what will happen with that yet.  ;-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Caught in the Act...

Well, actually, before the act.

This is Bren and one of her friends before a 'recent'  drumming performance. 

I tried to take some pics inside during their drumming (which was absolutely fabulous!), but it was too dark and I was too far away.  It was a great performance.  She's loved her experience drumming this year.   

I'm thankful for all the opportunities she's had at school, and outside school, this year.  She found some new interests and had some wonderful experiences.  :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Never thought I would!

I know how I am as a mom.  Well, at least I think I know that.  I have been a pretty strict mom... bedtimes are non-negotiable. So are tv limits... what's allowed to watch and when.  Dinner is only what's offered, there's not a selection.   There's a line and it's not allowed to be crossed.  

There are certain things I would say that I would never allow to happen.  I'm not talking about the "big" issues, just things I wouldn't see as copacetic! (being okay)

Well, I am about to cross that line.

I am about to allow something (eek! I even masterminded it)  that even just a couple years ago, I never imagined I would.  

Tonight, I am taking my daughter to the a first showing of a movie.  Doesn't sound too bad like that, does it?  Now consider it's a midnight showing AND it's on a school night!!  What am I thinking?? 

But, this is not just any movie, a movie based on books she has read multiple times, books that pushed her into preferring long, thick stories and becoming a great reader.  Stories she's adored and re-enacted with friends during her younger years. Stories that show the value of friendship, determination, and creativity just to name a few. Yes, we'll be going to see Harry Potter 7 And we're both so very excited!

Sometimes, rules are made to be broken.  Sometimes, it's more about seizing the moment and experiencing life (even silly, little things like movies), than about watching the 'line'.  'Cuz ya just never know when the moment will come again. ;-)

Well, that's what I'm telling myself today.

(and for those of you worried about D, he's off having fun on a school trip, we're not leaving him out)
(and yes, Shawn is in on it, but I was only telling my story)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Anyone like a Cuppa?

Recently, we invited some friends over for dinner.  They couldn't come by for dinner, so these friends said they'd stop by earlier for tea.

Like any calm, reasonable adult I thought, "WHAT??  What am I suppose to do with that??" 

Americans don't do "afternoon tea" (or morning or evening tea for that matter)! We don't even know there's a difference between afternoon and evening tea.  Needless to say, I was feeling a little lost...

Thankfully, I managed to pull myself together.  Even more thankfully, the friends stopping by were gracious. Very gracious.  We had tea.  And, if I didn't do it properly, they never mentioned it.  We enjoyed our tea with a lovely cake they brought along, chatted, and had a great time together.  But I felt way out of my element.

This makes me think that oftentimes it's more the effort we make, than actually doing something "just right". 

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. ;-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Look what I found!!

 Can you see it?
Some bagpipes and MIK!
(that'd be men in kilts!)
A Scottish Fair right near us.  WooHoo!
(it was a cold and windy day)

One of the fun moments was watching some 'strong men' competitions.  Although we missed the caber toss and haggis hurl, we did see a couple events.  (sadly, they're the ones I don't know the names of)

 A pipe band off marching to perform.
(That's Mt. Kembla in the background)

Some of the competitors watching their events.
Aren't those kilts wonderful! I think it's quite fun..

  A closer pic of some of the pipers.  Lovely sight!  This was the end of the event with a massed bands performance.  It was a delightful Saturday, not quite MI RenFest, but best Scottish fix I've had in a while!                    ~~~~~                                       Gotta love the hubby who made sure I got there. :-)  I'm a lucky gal.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Milestone Moment

In life there are some moments that you know are markers of change.  While change is inevitable, (or so they say) some change just hits me a bit more while other change is slow and sneaky.   The same is true with my kids.

Throughout their lives, there have been moments where immediately things were different.... when they became mobile, started communicating, went to school... are a few obvious ones.  They're good moments in that they show wonderful progress and growing independence.  But, to me, these changes also include a bit of sadness 'cuz they mark the end of a 'era'. 

Yesterday, one such changed happened....
The whole family went out to an event in Wollongong, Viva la Gong.  It was a fun day with music and performers, food, merchandise stalls (including several fair trade one), and kids activities.  Good fun! 

After spending some time together listening to the music, visiting w/ some friends we bumped into, we decided to wander in different directions.  I had Brenna.  We went through the children's area and she found a craft that interested her.  This is a familiar, comfortable event. 

Then, the moment came...  after a lifetime of waiting in lines for face painting, she wanted a henna tattoo.  I know, it's not shocking, or really unexpected, but it does shout inside my head, "Where has my baby gone!?!" 

Some changes, I'm just not ready for...  ;-) 
But take a look, the artwork is GREAT!

just last year...



Different art, same smile

(Disclaimer: the daughter just came in and said, "I still like face paint."  So, maybe it's not such a big change after all.)
(and here's hoping that there'll be some more blogs in the near future... sorry, folks)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That Didn't Work

Well, my attempt to re-enter regular blogging wasn't as successful as I'd hoped.  I only got one post in last month.  Not very impressive.  (don't know if anyone noticed... well, except my mom...)

So, I'm trying again.  There's something to trying again, right.  Or as Thomas Edison said, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."  So, I'll try to keep posting regularly, if only for my mom. ;-)
In case anyone out there was wondering, I haven't been avoiding my readers. (that's you, Mom) Sometimes, I just didn't have much to say.   Occasionally, I has something to share, but couldn't get it quite right.  Once in a while, I wanted to say something that wasn't nice, but then I remembered that Mom always told me "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  So I didn't.  ;-)  (okay, that really didn't happen much, but it was fun to write)  Recently, however, I've been busy with some work.  I've gotten another "casual" job where I work two days a week and other days if they call.  (I've worked most of the last three weeks for them! crazy)

But enough excuses!  ;-)  
Here's my first post of a new attempt.  Cross your fingers! 

I'll leave ya with a pic... 
 Family game time!
and snacks
Although after an unfortunate incident playing this game in PA, I have been banned from participating.  I do stand on the sidelines and cheer on the players.  It's better all around. ;-)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Long Overdue...

... No, I'm not talking about my library books.  ;-) 
(Those are fine, we get emails letting us know when they're due)

However, an updated blog post is overdue.  And I had been doing so well for a while there. 
Time to try again...

Darian is interested in cooking.  He enjoys cooking and eating. ;-)  But mostly cooking.  He'd like to be a chef and is looking into how to make that a reality. 

In our effort to 'help', we've arranged for Darian to choose a menu, write a shopping list, plan a schedule, and cook the meal once a week.  Although I have some cookbooks, Darian prefers searching through the ones he's been given by friends and family or those he's collected from places we've visited  (like the White House and Graceland).

His first attempt was a huge success!!  
He made lasagna and Mexican corn.  They were both mouthwateringly delicious! 

We all enjoyed his creations!  :-)  

Brenna eating like a girl. 
just look at those delicate fingers

D enjoying the 'fruit' of his hard work!
(and notice that he attempted to clean up the kitchen as he went... not too bad)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Flashback Friday - Memphis Fun

A warm August day in 2007
Visiting Mud Island in Memphis
Good memories, and great times!

 Fun on the tram ride over to the island.

A sweet cousin with the Memphis Pyramid in the background.

The kids at some of the tributaries before the river begins.
gotta love the "quick-I'm-getting-wet" faces. :-)

A quick trip out west. ;-)

Always time for a little visit 'home'.

Racing shoes down the river.

Nanni's being careful heading out of 'Memphis'.

Cooling down...
and getting wet.

Taking a moment to dry off.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Pain is often the beginning of a journey.
I don't know how often it starts us moving, but I think it's a major cause.  To me, there are two responses to pain: sit in it, or move on.

I have sat in pain.  
It doesn't change the pain.  It acknowledges it;  it experiences its depth and edges; sitting in it can even allow me to learn from it.  The pain may lesson with time, but it remains, a place of tenderness, or perhaps a scar.

I have also been pushed by pain.  When the sitting in it just doesn't work.  Maybe there's too much pain to handle, or perhaps, it's a pain that's paralyzing.  Sometimes, I think, one pain can lead to another, they can feed from each other or avalanche into one another.  I can't sit in these pains. 
It's too much.  I must move.

I think it's easy to sit where we're comfortable.  There's no reason to move when surrounded by comfort, little motivation to change or adjust.  I've felt this too.  I tell myself I'm growing or changing, beginning a new direction, but I like the steadiness of what I've known. 

I don't think pain is like that.  Pain demands a reaction.  We can choose to sit, but that is a choice.
Pain moves us.  It shapes us.

I'm not sure I like that.
But I guess I don't have to, eh?

Saturday, July 31, 2010


An American playing netball is kinda like... 
well, I don't know what it's like... think of something that's a bit out-of-place and slightly awkward and that's what it'd be like. 

If an American is going to play a game that involves a court, two teams, a round ball that can bounce, a rim (aka, 'raised goal'), and passing and shooting, that game will be BASKETBALL.  And to come clean,
I am not even a mediocre basketball player.  
I coached a bit, but only because I was a parent and made my sister help.  (and even then, there were some very frightening, uneducated coaching moments... but that's a different story)

Netball is one sport that isn't big in the states.  I don't think it's there at all.  I hear some Netball Ambassadors went over to spread the sport... but I've never heard what the outcome was. 

But, it's HUGE here! 
It's mainly a girls' sport, although there are co-ed teams.  One funny rule is that when you play, you have to wear a skirt. (just the girls, silly)  It's kinda like a tennis skirt.  If you don't have yours, you can't get on the court.  (I learned that today... had trackies on and that just didn't work)

It's a fabulous and fun game!  I play alongside some very patient and amazing women who are willing to put up with my mistakes and teach me as we go. 
They've accepted me where I'm at, 
and are helping to move me forward in the game.  
What a treasure.

I am by no means good, but I try and have fun. :-)   Have a look...
This is before the game... I look confused, that's normal ;-)
The player with the ball is actually 'trimming' a nail.
The refs check fingernails before the game to make sure they're not too long.
Safety first.
(and we're stretching... that's important too)

Just a look at the court (sorta) and the different outfits.
In the back, the other team is wearing bodysuit type skirts.
We're not that official... I like our uniforms heaps.
Oh, and on the left, on player is practicing shooting.
Only certain players can shoot, depending on your position.
I am not one of those players!
(I can barely make a basket when there's a backboard helping)

Certain players are allowed in certain parts of the court.
The position I'm playing here (Wing Defense.. my only position) isn't allowed in the circle.
So, I stopped. (sometimes I forget)

This is a common occurrence...
I'm standing beside an opposing player because I've been called on a 'foul'.
(not sure if that's really what it's called)
You can't touch or run into the other players... 
But they stop too fast, so I get 'pulled up' often.

An action shot!
I'm trying to make sure the player in front of me doesn't get the ball.
And I'm really concentrating! 

Hope you enjoyed this little netball journey with me. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Flashback Friday - Sibling Sweetness

It's hard to believe they were ever so little!

Ball pit fun when D was 5  years and B was 19 months.
A day when we met Nanni for lunch and fun somewhere in Michigan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A different view...

Recently I chatted w/ some folks about Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan.  You know the one?  The guy gets beat up and robbed while journeying some where and left for dead.  When the religious men pass by, they choose to keep walking, leaving him in his pain and trouble.  Then, when a man who's looked down upon and seen as unworthy passes by, he chooses to stop.  He chooses to show love and care for the man.

I've often read this story and heard lessons about it that focus on encouraging us to be the one who shows love, the person who will take time and effort to care.  And that's
very true and valid.  
We need to see those hurting, those in need as our 'neighbor' and love them as ourselves.  (which is quite a big lesson and pretty hard to do, especially if they're different from us)

But, I started thinking about the often overlooked character in this story, the beaten man.  We don't know much about him except that he was a man walking down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Those would have both been Israelite cities.  Could the speculate that he was an Israelite too?  And if so,
what would he feel 
when he watched his "brothers", those who should love him, walk by as if he was too unimportant to notice?  What feelings would he have for those men after he healed physically?  For the men who represent his God and who didn't seem to care at all for his pain?

And then, what feelings would he have for the man who did stop and help him heal?  A man who the religious people saw as an outcast, as unworthy, as unacceptable.  Yet, a man who was able to show love through his actions.  How would the hurt man see him now?   

I feel like the beaten man, struggling and in pain, stopped in my journey.  I have watched as some who claim to be my "brothers" pass by unconcerned, show in their actions they want nothing to do with me.  I have also experienced those who others consider "unclean" or "unacceptable" stop, take time, show me love and invest to help heal my wounds.  I know my view of these groups has altered;  I wonder if it was the same for the man in the story.

Wordless Wednesday - Kids & Kebabs

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

He says it well...

I read a bunch of blogs.  I like hearing peoples' thoughts and perspectives.  I enjoying using their thoughts to refine my own.

I find blogs to read through people I know and often end up reading blogs of people who just have interesting things to share. 

One blog I like is written by a missionary in Costa Rica.  I don't know him.  I don't even know which tradition he belongs to.  I do know that what he writes is reflective and honest.  It reads as though he's not afraid to be himself, warts and all.  He thinks and makes me think.  I don't have to agree with all he says, but thinking is good.

I've had some thoughts about 'chruch-y' things and how they can be off-putting.  I don't have the words to share what he does so well.

So, if you're interested in thinking a bit today, and maybe even reflecting a bit on yourself, have a look...
"I'm Not a Role Model"

Driving Differently

After our quick trip to the States and returning back in Oz, I noticed a difference in the way we drive.  (no silly, i've known for a while that Aussies drive on the left side of the road... shesh. ;-)  )

When I drive in the US, I use the "emergency brake" when I park on hills, just to make sure the car doesn't roll anywhere after I've parked it.  (who knows, it could go for a joy ride w/out me and what fun would that be??)

However, whenever we stop to park anywhere here, we use that same break.  No matter where I park... on a hill, in a parking garage, or in a driveway (sometimes those are really inclined!).  Perhaps that's why it's called the "hand brake" here.  It's used more often than just for 'emergencies'.

I don't know why I'll pull the break here as soon as I park, but I've never done it in the states.  Kinda odd.

(oh, and to give full credit, it was first the wonderful hubby who noticed this unusual phenomena. pretty perceptive.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Brenna Show

I am so impressed by what the little girl has been up to recently.  She has found somethings that she enjoys and has fully committed herself to them.  It's both inspiring and tiring to watch.  :-)

She's discovered a passion and love for performing and has immersed herself in that.  She's part of an African drumming group as well as a dance troupe at school.  She's also earned a solo spot in a song performance for her music class and is involved in a public speaking club.  And that's just the activities she's doing in school.  (Can ya understand about the tiring aspect??  I am, she's not)

In a couple weeks her school is celebrating Education Week where they'll take a day and share some of the activities that are being done at Mt. Brown Primary.

When a teacher asked B what she'd be doing for the day, she rattled off her list of performances.  The teacher replied, "Maybe we should call it the 'Brenna Show'."  That made her smile.  It's great to see her getting involved and enjoying her Year 6 so much.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quick Review of a Speedy Trip

We enjoyed a quick trip back to the states for my little sister's wedding.  :-)  We hadn't planned on making it back, but just couldn't miss being there to support and celebrate.  And I can't say how very thankful I am that we made the trip.  :-)

Here are a few highlights of our whirlwind trip...

Getting to know a new cousin didn't take long

 Mr and Mrs Morgan
My little sis and me
Enjoying some family fun after the wedding.

Visiting with Dad after his heart surgery and the wedding.
He's looking pretty good here and doing great now.
Mr and Mrs Morgan bonding with the nieces and nephew.
Don't they look so happy together! ;-)
We enjoyed a visit with Grandma Grace
on the beginning of our road trip south.

Thankful for the flexibility of friends, we stopped for
a late lunch with some ones just outside Cinci.

Chatting with some of the Carpe Libris (book club) girls
at a lovely dinner.  Thanks to all who came and cooked!

Our gracious Jackson hosts opened up their home
for a Memphis invasion.  :-)  
Wish I had room for pics of everyone.

Saturday night, we spent time at Pringles Park 
to cheer on the local team in America's pastime.
The boys are sporting their 'rally caps' in the last inning.

After the game... one week married!  :-)
We got to see some fireworks here too!

Thanks to my fabulous cousin who welcomed us for dinner
(oh-so-yummy grilled chicken and brats!) on our journey north.
The kids loved visiting w/ their cousins and having time out of the car!
We saw more fireworks as we drove north on the 4th. 

The big rush north was to celebrate D's 16th birthday with family!
It was a fabulous gathering of family and fun
on a very warm PA day!

Can't spend time at Nunu and Pappy's without
hanging out in the pool. 
It was nice to visit summer for a few weeks during our winter.

A day at Pittsburgh's own amusement park...
Thanks, Griffiths.  We all had a BLAST!

Dinner with three generations.
Ah, hoagies.

Summertime's complete with a tasty s'more!

and some lovingly made Mountain Pies!

Back in MI again.
Enjoyed lunch at Big Boy's with my family
just before walking into the airport to head home. :-)

It was a whirlwind trip, but I was so blessed to be able to share in the joy of my sister's wedding and see so many friends and family who took time out of their busy schedules to visit us on a this trip.  Thanks.

(disclaimer: Please forgive any missing important events or people.  While I'd love to be able to have everyone we saw in this post, it would make the post crazy long.  I appreciate and love each of you who came to see us and even those we didn't get a chance to see.  Hopefully next time)