Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ahhhhhh . . . BOOKS

Yesterday, instead of finding more TimTams like I REALLY wanted to, we decided to try and make it to the second house for the day. I'd had my eye on it for a while and had had to wait for an inspection.

As we rushed out to the bus stop to catch the bus it started sprinkling.  Where was the rain when we were burning up earlier that day?! We had a few clouds that the kids cheered for as we walked but no rain.  After managing to get a screaming Ethan to the bus stop (thanks to a wonderful brother that put the wrong sandals on his feet), we sat down and waited very patiently for the bus. Ok, not really. It was more of a "Ethan, get back here", "GAVIN put that stick down!", "Andy, get away from the road!" type of wait. Plus, we had the shrieking and yelling as the lightning and thunder got brighter and louder.

A very nice man, enjoying his beer on the way home from work, stopped to ask how long we had to wait. When I told him it'd be about 10 minutes he stopped the bus (they were going somewhere else than where we needed to go) that came along and asked if they could at least get us to a stop that had a roof.  So, on the bus we hopped for a couple of blocks and got off to sit in a bus stop with a roof.   And what a nice place it was too. It was right outside a wine and liquor store so there were cans and bottles all over it. Luckily my kids didn't go near them.   We started up the "Ethan, get back here", "GAVIN put that stick down!", "Andy, get away from the road!, "Ashley and Gavin stop flapping your arms and twirling around you're going to run into someone" and on and on. The nice man with the beer that got us on the bus came by to make sure we were good under the stop and I thanked him.

The kids played a loud version of I Spy on the bus on our way to the bus station where we'd switch buses.  Other passengers enjoyed listening to them.  At one point when Jakob spied something red, Andy yelled out "Is it that kid's shirt?!"   It was a kid behind me (Andy and Jakob's seats were facing me and I was facing forward) and apparently he heard.  He made a big deal about it being his shirt. Jakob and Andy were mortified and burst into a fit of giggles. Their faces were bright red and wouldn't say anything until we got off the bus.  I never did find out what was red that Jakob was talking about now that I think about it... I was just informed it was a chair.

By the time we got to the station it was too late to get to the house so Steve and I agreed to meet and look at phones (as mine is LAME).  As I walked with the kids over to the Big W store I stopped short and took a big sniff.  Could you guess what I smelled? Look at the title of this blog again.  Yes, that's right, books. I smelled BOOKS.  What a happy smell. I could just imagine all the wonderful books I could find in there.

Steve and I met up after I dragged myself away from the bookshop. I told him I had found a bookshop I wanted to go into. He told me we could go there or go look at a phone we couldn't afford to get yet.  Hmmmm...... tough choice! So off we went to the bookshop to see what we could find.  We had 10 minutes to spare before the store closed.

I grilled the store clerk on books I really wanted while my kids went to find books for themselves.  Then I wandered the aisles as I drooled. Ok, I didn't really, but I did in my mind. Steve found Terry Pratchett and grabbed one of those ($20 for a paperback). I found Mary Higgins Clark that I was so sweet to buy so I could read it and then send to my Grandma who shares my love for Mary Higgins Clark books.   The kids found activity books and we were out of there - $80 later. Yikes. But I was happy because YAY I have books to read!

We headed over to the Big W to get what we needed for the house and I stopped short by the book section yet again.  There we got two Ranger's Apprentice books, a Beast Quest book and some flash cards for the kids. Maybe I should stay away from those sections for a while...  Although Jakob finished the Beast Quest book in about 3 hours so I think we need the next one.  Right????

Today has been a very nice, quiet day full of book reading, flash card memorizing (Gavin is flat out amazing with his by the way. He could look at a card of 7-10 objects on it and tell me how many there were without counting!), and paper doll playing.   What a happy, happy day. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Case of the Growing Pants

I have this issue.  Its called, suddenly my pants don't fit. Now, don't get me wrong.  They don't fit because they're mysteriously growing.  They fit just fine when I got on the plane to come here.  They were actually a little snug.  Then Fiji and the humidity hit and that helped.  The walking around with a 20 pound baby everywhere did a little too. Although I think my right arm muscle is twice the size of my left arm muscle...

Then we got to Canberra.   Buses are all fine and dandy but they only go to certain places.  Our first and best purchase that got was a double stroller.  Seriously the best $65 we've ever spent. Yes, that's $65 for a double umbrella stroller.  So I went from carrying 20 pounds of baby (that I'm pretty positive went to 50 pounds when she fell asleep ) to pushing 70 pounds worth of 2 children while the others ran around me.  Although I woke up Sunday after the first time taking out the stroller, wondering why I had a bruise on the palm of my hand... then I started pushing the stroller and figured out why!

Each walking trip has averaged 30-40 minutes. We've been lucky twice with a 5-10 minute walk.  We've had amazing neighbors that drove us to a few other houses.  But the walk I've done three times now was 40 minutes each way. Twice I've done it with no Steve. And, of course, last night I said "Hey Steve, why don't I show you the house tonight since you can't go tomorrow?"   I think insanity MIGHT be setting in...

So how do I celebrate today's big walking adventure?  First I took the kids to the park that we walk past on our way home from the big long walk.  They were THRILLED. I wish I'd gotten pictures. There are all sorts of spinny rides to go on that would surely be banned in America. My kids loved them and are still talking about the ones they'll go on when we go again.

Second? I looked at more houses and found another one to look at in a few hours. Wait, that was third. Second was actually letting the kids have ice cream while I downed three gallons of water from the sink.

This is not all bad.  I'm enjoying the walking. Except for the whole walking in pouring rain that I mentioned a couple of blogs ago.  However, it was better than the sun we got today.

This is getting me out to see the sights.  I'm becoming familiar with the area and falling in love with the green everywhere. And enjoying it while I can. Apparently Canberra isn't always this green.  And the biggest thing is its letting me walk off the amazing food I've had since coming here.

We'll skip the vegemite. I'm sure there's a great way for eating it. I tried it once and I'm not looking forward to trying it again.

Meat pies. We had one of those in the airport and I fell in love.  They are scrumptious!!  The kids like them as much as I do.  Heidi screams and holds her hands out until I give her pieces of mine.   She's addicted.

TimTams.  Chocolate lovers UNITE.  These things are AMAZING.  My kids devour them but I think I devour twice as many in the same amount of time....  Then there are all the other treats just like them. I'm in chocolatey wafery heaven.  If I had a way to send them home I totally would just so everyone could try them!

Sausages of all shapes and sizes.  We've tried lamb, pork, beef and have enjoyed them all. There was a hot doggy kind of sausage that I made last week that the kids loved and I could live without.  They were okay but not fantastic. We'll be trying more pork ones tonight. YUMMY.

I could keep going but its just making me hungry and we're talking about my pants growing and not shrinking... right?    The first week I was here I ate and ate and did no exercise.   Which is another reason I'm very thankful for having no car and for the fact that buses don't always go where I want them to.  I have HAD to exercise. And there's no better motivator than necessity. Or something like that.  Now... where are those Timtams?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Misadventures of Cake Baking in a New Country

I missed a blog in there that talks about all of our house hunting on Saturday.  Suffice it to say, we saw 4 houses in the course of 5 hours, and fell in love with three. Thanks to wonderful friends that drove us to 3 of them, we were able to make as many as we did. We almost didn't go to the last house but I'm glad we did because its the one we fell most in love with.  My kids have been begging us to live in it.  It has HALF AN ACRE!!!

Anyway, Steve asked me to bake us a cake that night. I told him everything we were missing so I couldn't. He then went shopping for milk and bread - and came back with everything to bake a cake. Or so we thought.

First of all, we have no measuring cups here at the hotel so we used a mug for all of our cup measurings and a spoon for the smaller measurements.  Thanks to google we figured out how many grams of butter it takes to get 2/3 cups.  Then I used a wire whisk to mix everything up as we had no hand mixer.  Steve told me I'd get some good arm muscles at least. Yeah, thanks. We then realized we had no vanilla so I poured a very small amount of lime cordial in it instead for flavor.

So finally the cake was mixed and ready to go.  And the batter was yummy!  I googled the conversion for fahrenheit to celsius to get the right temperature to preheat our oven.  Steve then reminded me we have a convection oven here so I got to recalculate everything.

In went the cake, along with scooting Heidi out so she wouldn't play with the oven.  23 minutes went by and I went to check on the cake - it was soup.  I closed the oven door and realized that Heidi had gotten to the oven anyway and turned it from 168 C down to 80 C!!!  So up the oven temp went and we kept right on baking. And baking. And baking. And baking.  FINALLY it finished up and I took it out to cool.

The next morning I realized we had nothing to stick the cake on. Steve wanted me to cut it in half and put mousse in the middle of it.  So I took it out of the pan and set it on the baking pan that comes with all the ovens.  THAT was too deep for me to be able to cut the cake so I then had to slide it onto a cutting board that was not quite wide enough but it worked.  The cutting worked like a charm but then I had to transfer the top half  of it to the other pan. I put the mousse on the bottom half and realized it wasn't sitting where I wanted it.  So with the mousse on it, I got to pick up the whole thing and set it back in the pan - and then piece back together the parts that broke.  I then picked up the top half and set that part on it - and pieced together the parts of THAT half that broke.  It was one giant puzzle. Thanks heavens for frosting!!

And speaking of frosting...  that was also an adventure. Apparently 500 grams only makes about 2.5 cups of powdered sugar (depending what you're measuring 500 grams can mean several different measurements in cups!). Although that doesn't sound quite right. Anyway, I needed 4 cups. So in went all the powdered sugar.  And using a wire whisk with all of the ingredients for frosting was an adventure. Everything would get stuck up in the whisk so I had to use a spoon to get it all out every few seconds.  FUN.

Anyway, I dumped all the frosting in little dollops all over the cake and hid all the puzzle pieces of cake.

So how did this experiment turn out?  Quite delicious!  Despite the little lumps of butter and sugar left in the frosting, it was yummy.  My family all asked for at least a second piece and they would have had more if they could.  The cake was moist, the frosting was lumpy but great - and we survived my first baking in Australia.

And boy, am I glad there was no video camera in that kitchen to watch the process!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More House Hunting

Today I decided to be brave and head out with the kids with no Steve.  We got everyone ready and we headed out to the bus station. And waited. I checked the bus schedule and we waited some more.  And then some more.  Ten minutes later we finally decided to go back home to have lunch because by that time we'd missed the house viewing. As I sat down to email Steve to let him know we weren't going to check out the house, I finally heard the bus... 15 minutes after it was supposed to be there! I think they've been warned that there are 6 kids at that stop...

Two hours later we got everyone ready and tried again.  We were heading to the bus, happy that we would be early - only to find the bus almost to the stop.  So the kids ran ahead of me, flagging down the bus as I dragged the stroller and Ethan behind me.  We were almost there when a man pointed out that Ethan's shoe was about 30 feet behind me.  He ran for it to help me out and Jakob ran to get the shoe from him so we could get on the bus.  The driver said "You have your hands quite full Miss".  Yeah, thanks.   We survived though!  We made it to the Woden bus station.

After finding a restroom for a dancing Gavin, we went to look for Steve so we could move on to the house we were going to look at.  The kids saw him first and started jumping up and down cheering.  We met up and then Steve had to take my bus card to see if he could get more money put on it.   As he was leaving I'm pretty sure Heidi said "Bye Dada." It was so cute!

Sadly Steve couldn't get my card recharged so I paid my fare and we headed toward Isaacs.  Thanks to a wonderful lady that happened to notice we weren't from around there,  we found out that the bus stop we were coming up on was the one we were supposed to get off at. We thought we had another 10 minutes!! It was a beautiful neighborhood with very nice houses all around us.

That house was AWESOME.  It had two problems though. One was that someone else got to it first. And they do first come first serve. And the other is that its only for a 3 month lease.  It was fully furnished and had a good sized everything. Jakob was sad that he found two large spiders (But nothing like in the other two houses) but they all begged for us to stay.  IF the family leasing the house don't end up liking the people before us and if we don't find something else, we may take it. That way we have a little longer to find something that will work for us.   It was the first house I walked away from that I was sad we didn't get.

The good news is that the agent is going to help us look for a house!  Hopefully she can help us get into some of the houses that we're having a hard time getting an inspection for.

Steve enjoyed his work again. The kids had fun playing again after we cleaned up.   And then I tried Australian potatoes for the first time. Most of you will not think anything of this.  But to me it was a big deal. Having grown up on a potato farm in Idaho, I'm very VERY particular about my potatoes.  Meaning they have to be Russets from Idaho - especially from my dad - or they're just not the same.   But I must admit these were good.  Creamy and delicious but they lacked the Russet flavor.  I was happy and homesick at the same time.  I need an Idaho potato!!!  Andy was almost in big trouble because it sounded like he said they were a lot better than Grandpas.  Fortunately for him he said they're NOT better than Grandpa's.  That, or he knew he better amend what he'd just said. :)  So I shall enjoy Australian potatoes but I look forward to eating my Idaho spuds again in the future!

So tomorrow brings house hunting.  I think tomorrow there's only one house.  Saturday there are several that all look very nice. Monday has a few also. We'll just keep on swimming and find a house.  Now its bedtime!  Hopefully I'll be able to get pictures posted soon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What a Day!!

This morning Steve had to leave a little earlier so he could get to work with a coworker.   As hard he tried to stay quiet, I still couldn't go back to sleep until after he left.  I even got to sleep in because my kids enjoyed their DS's.  Sad I know, but you take what you can get! And I finished my blog last night at 1:30 AM so I figured I could use a little extra sleep...  But enough about sleep.

After allowing me to sleep for so long I made eggs, toast and juice for breakfast. The kids were thrilled.  Part of their jobs each morning is to make sure all of their clothes are in their luggage bags.  I'm mean because I scared them by telling them on the first day we were here that if they didn't, and they made piles, it was the perfect place for spiders to nest.  Noticed a trend here yet?  I despise spiders.  They scare me more than anything except heights.  Steve's joke is that he hopes they never find a spider that parachutes... Anyway,  it scared Jakob and Andy enough that they made sure everything was put away.   I still remind them to clean their room but I'm at least nice enough NOT to remind them of the spiders.  They remember. :)   So room cleaning happened and then they all continued with their DS playing.  Jakob got to chat with his cousin for a bit.

Steve got home a little early today in hopes that we could go house shopping. I found a couple of nice looking homes but none were ready to be shown today.  So we decided it was time to go get my phone fixed and to get a memory stick usb thing for my camera so I can FINALLY get pictures on this blog. Unfortunately, by the time we got there the stores were closed. We do that well.

On the bus as we were headed to Canberra Centre, I got to sit by two hilarious women.  They were very sweet and talked to me about getting houses and let me know more about Canberra. They praised me for having 6 kids and told me that we would be great for taxes later.  I told them by the time the kids would help with taxes we'd be back in America.  They said maybe the kids would see the light and come back. We'll see. :)  They ended up giving me a phone number to a great real estate agent to call. I will have to do that tomorrow. They weren't sure if we could get an agent to find a rental but there's only one way to find out!  They told me I needed two more kids - Joey and Matilda.  That way I would always remember they were born here in Australia.  They also told me that no one can not give us a house because of the number of kids we have.  One apparently works for the government here. She knew all types of laws.

We hopped off the bus and headed off to Aldi for the first time.  I stepped in there for all of five seconds before leaving 3 kids with Steve and heading off to a restroom with the other three kids.  They have those family bathrooms like you do in the US but this had a sliding door with an automatic deadbolt.  I felt like I was being locked into some kind of weird chamber - which I guess I was!    We went back and joined Steve in Aldi again and grabbed our groceries.  At Aldi you have to bring your own bags. And you don't bag them at the checkout. You have to go to a counter and bag them after.   We bought 4 bags for 15 cents each. 3 of them made it home in mostly one piece.  Thank heavens for a stroller that we could strap them over.  But you don't want to push that same stroller downhill or you may go for quite the ride. Just sayin'.

After we managed to struggle over to the bus stop we were thrilled that the bus was coming right then.  We, along with 3 other people, flagged down the bus. It pulled in - and then pulled back out and took off.  We all looked at each other and wondered what in the world had just happened.  So along with a few other people, four VERY heavy bags of groceries and our kids, we sat and waited for HALF AN HOUR for the next bus.  The kids ran around after leaves and asked every 3 seconds when the bus would get there. There was a lady there that thought it was the coolest thing ever that we have six kids.  She counted them and then guessed who was oldest and told me I was a very busy Mom about five times.  She was very sweet.

Finally the bus showed up and the kids ran off to the back of the bus like they've done every time.  They love the long bench in the back.  We all sat quietly (except Heidi who had to try to get something out of any bag she could possibly get to) and were happy to finally see our bus stop.  We pushed the button to say "next stop", got to the stop - and then they kept right on driving.  Apparently today is invisible day for us...  So, off we got at the next bus stop over.   Steve picked up Ethan and I took all the groceries in the stroller (after one of the handles broke).  And that's how I learned that you don't want to go down hill with a stroller full of groceries - and a baby. Luckily I was able to keep control of the stroller and we all got home safely.

We had a yummy dinner of fried rice. Gavin had 2 helpings which he has been doing a lot lately. I'm thrilled!!  We had ice cream for dessert. Why? Because it was almost melted from sitting at a stupid bus stop for over 1/2 hour.  But it was scrumptious so I'm happy.

Steve was a good Daddy and had the kids watch a documentary about wind cycles in Australia.  I don't do well with documentaries.  They bore me. But considering my kids hadn't done anything educational in the last 2 weeks (well, except the whole visiting two new countries and learning how to ride a bus in a strange country), I was happy they were learning. Except the clouds were apparently scary to Jakob who wanted to do something fun after the show to get over the fear of the clouds.  Ok, to be fair, they also taught about hurricanes, forest fires and other wind storms.  I just didn't think it was scary enough to warrant a way to forget about it before bedtime...

Tomorrow is another day.   We'll see what excitement it brings!

Monday, March 21, 2011

And Here We Are in Australia!

After the fun little ride in the plane it was time to find a way to our apartment/hotel.   We knew we were going to be picked up but that was about it.  So while the kids had fun looking for the right luggage,  we looked around for anyone that had our name on a sign (I was really looking forward to that!).  Steve finally went over to ask a guy who he was looking for, and he had been looking for us - but with a totally wrong name! It was part of a business that hired us but he didn't have our name or who Steve worked for!  But we at least found each other.  So off we went with all of our bags and a stinky Ethan to the taxi.  The taxi was huge and had plenty of space which I was happy about because we'd been squished into 2 taxis in Fiji.   He got us to Pinnacle Apartments and then left us to find our way up to our apartment.

The kids helped Steve take stuff up to the 3rd floor one or two bags at a time. Did I mention we had 26 bags?!?!  Heidi was asleep in her carseat so I stayed with her and the luggage during the 1/2 hour it took to get all the luggage upstairs.

It was nice!! Steve said it wasn't as nice as the pictures online showed but I've really enjoyed the rooms. 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms - one with a washer and dryer in it,  a full kitchen and dishes to use.  Its basically a townhome - perfect for 6 kids to be stuck in, right?

Well, sort of.  Just don't ask about the broken light, and the pen. But did you know that hand sanitizer can take pen out of a microfiber couch? I haven't figured out how to get it off the wall yet...  I'm not sure where they even got the pen as we couldn't find one on the plane so we could fill out our claims forms...

Steve wandered off to find a grocery store while I started laundry and got kids bathed and relaxing.  He found a Coles which is a pretty good sized store.  He took Andy and Jakob with him and had to stop a few times on the way back because Jakob and Andy kept setting the bags down to rest on the way back.

The next day was Sunday and while it would have been easy to say 'we're tired, we've traveled and I just want my bed',  we wanted to make it to church.  Depression was hitting, as was the enormity of what we'd just done by moving our whole family to a whole different country.  Steve and I were almost ready to turn around and go back.  I knew I felt that way but was surprised to see Steve going through the same thing!  Anyway, we both knew that we needed to make friends quickly and there was no better way than to go to church.  So after waking up at 5:30 in the morning (still thanks to our jet lag), we got ready for church and headed off to Bus #1.   We weren't able to leave until 9:02 because of when the buses started up and THEN we had a 20 minute walk to church from where we were dropped off.  That was hike number one.

Church was wonderful.  I walked in and within 2 minutes, along with changing a diaper and taking 3 kids to the bathroom, I'd also made three friends.   One of those friends had found Steve and was inviting us to dinner after church by the time I got done changing the diaper.  Ethan was worried about going to nursery until he saw toys, and down he hopped and didn't look back.  Poor Gavin had a rough time so he went with Andy.  We went from being in the biggest primary in the church to being in a small primary. Not tiny but small.  The 4 and 5 year olds are together, 6 and 7 year olds and then 8,9 and 10 year olds are together!!  Gavin had a rough time still so he spent Relief Society with Heidi and I.

After church we headed off to our friends' house.  We were fed and enjoyed a great visit with them.  Our kids had a ball on the trampoline and playing with bubbles, etc and we just enjoyed talking.  We got to see all the different spiders that we get to watch out for (on paper thankfully).   I'm very glad we met them and that we made the choice to go to church that day.

We came home and fell asleep early.  And of course that meant getting up early!  5:30 we had kids running down the stairs.   We had breakfast and then started unpacking. I didn't want to unpack all the way for two reasons. 1 I didn't want to have to repack. and 2. I didn't want spiders to find their way into all of my stuff.   The kids had no DS, no Wii, nowhere to go and it was coolish outside.  Not a good combination.   We still let the kids go swimming and then we went on a walk to go to Coles to get a few more things. It was a fun walk.   There were magpies and cockatoos everywhere. It was great!

Tuesday was Steve's first day of work.  Which meant it was my first day in a new country with nowhere to go and no husband to help with the kids for the day.  And did I mention that there was no DS, no Wii and no school for the kids to go to?  It was sheer chaos.  The kids decided our place was perfect for cops and robbers, tag, fighting over everything they played, and watching tv.  They were thrilled to find some of the shows they loved and hadn't seen in months.   Lazytown,  Bob the Builder (with an Australian accent!!!), Charlie and Lola, etc.   But of course that didn't stop them from continuing the running and jumping. I also got to figure out how to get pen off the stairs and the living room couch.  I had it off the couch by the time Steve got home that night but I wasn't so lucky with the wall or the stairs...

Wednesday, Steve left a little earlier from work so that we could try and look at houses.  We didn't get to do that but we did hop on a train (after swimming of course) and after walking all over the city centre we found where to buy cell phones - only to find out that they had closed 10 minutes earlier. We'd been warned that everything closes early here. We just didn't realize that that meant that malls close at 5:30!!!  So we hopped back on the train and on home.   The kids had a blast on the bus at least.  The walk around the city area was not so great.  Whining, kids darting here and there after leaves. I think I popped out a few gray hairs during that small trip.  But we made it back to the apartment and had dinner.

Thursday was a rough day.  Steve left early in the morning (I woke him up at 4 to get to the airport for his flight to leave at 6:45 - he didn't want to wake up until 5... that doesn't work!)  and was going to be gone for two days.  It WAS the first day after our trip that my kids finally slept until 8 AM!  I was quite thrilled.  And then I woke up to Jakob making toast for everyone.   I went in onto the computer and hung out while the kids played.   Jakob also made lunch for us. Quesadillas anyone?

  Jakob got an email from his class in Utah.  Each one of his classmates got to share a message with him. He was happy to write and I had to leave because I was crying for him. I knew how much he missed them.

Andy wanted so much to talk to one of his friends but I hadn't gotten in contact with any of them yet.  He went upstairs to clean his room and he came down sobbing "I never wanted to come here!!!" he said through his sobs.  Now, if you know my Andy, you'll know that he is a sweet boy who doesn't let much get to him.  He'd been bouncing off the walls waiting to come.  It absolutely broke my heart.  I had him sit next to me and I just held him wanting so much to make him feel better but knowing I was in the same boat. I was ready to go home too.  So we just snuggled.

That wasn't the worst of it.  Shortly after that, Ethan came into my room and was upset about something else that one of his siblings had done.  "Mommy I want to go home! I want to go home, mommy! Let's go get in the car."   This wasn't fair.  I was there in the house, without Steve and my kids were voicing the same thing I was feeling.  I reached out to facebook and had some amazing feedback and words of encouragement from everyone.  Minutes after snuggling with mommy, both kids were off playing and had forgotten their sadness.  I was left with the heartache.  I emailed Andy's friends' parents begging for emails from them so Andy would have someone to write to.  I helped Ashley write emails to her cousin and life seemed just a little happier again.

Friday was much the same type of playing and hanging out. Jakob made breakfast again that day. He just needed to do SOMETHING and figured this would be the best thing to do. Plus my kids decided that it was time to eat us out of house and home.  They have tried to eat nonstop since we got here! So instead of waiting for me, he figured he'd just do it on his own.  While I watched the box scores on my laptop for the BYU game, I made omelettes because that was all we had left to make in the house. And they were GOOD.  My kids were begging for more. But as it took 9 eggs to make what we'd already eaten, I decided to pass on making more.   And hey, we won the game!!  The kids enjoyed emailing cousins and classmates that day. It was great!!

Steve was able to take an earlier flight home that night.  As much as I've always loved to have him come home, I don't remember being THAT happy to have him come home.  Which is why I came up with the cheesy but heartfelt "Jaclyn Weist decided Steve is my W. Without him, I have a hole. With him, I am whole." status on Facebook.  I just felt like life was right again!  

Saturday was full of its own adventures.  We spent the morning coming up with homes to go look at.  Unfortunately, as much as I have wanted to stay away from driving on the opposite of the road, we learned the hard way that its better to learn that than to rely on buses all the time!  We missed 3 showings because 1. they're WAY too short (1/2 for most and 15 minutes for a few others!!!) and 2. we were too late finding them because they were either happening right then or with in minutes.   So we settled on one and headed out to do shopping until it was time.

We finally made it to Canberra Centre, which is their mall.  It was very nice!  We finally got cell phones for ourselves and we found a great umbrella double stroller at Target. Woohoo!  I was also happy to find that a lot of what we'd need to buy wasn't nearly as expensive as I thought it was going to be.  We had a picnic on the benches outside and let the kids run around for a bit. It was good for them.  But then we realized we were starting to cut it close to when the open house was for the house.  We took a bus thinking it would be close to where we were going.... 45 minutes worth of walking later we found it.  Yes, 45 minutes.  That consisted of trying to keep our 4 little ducks in a row while pushing the other two in a stroller. It was warm (not quite hot thankfully!) and it was a long walk up and down broken sidewalks.  I LOVED the stroller (until the next day when I found bruises on my hands... but we still use it). No more carrying 20 pound babies that begin to feel like they're 100 pounds.  The house was okay.  The only problem was that they wouldn't be out until we to be out of the apartment we're in. AND it was only for 6 months.  AND we didn't fall instantly in love it with it.  So off we walked for another 15 minutes until we found a closer bus stop. 

We then went shopping at another center and found a great place to buy groceries, etc.  And Ashley found out that if you pull Gavin out of the stroller in the front, all the groceries, etc hanging on the back of the stroller will cause it to tip over - and that makes for a VERY angry little sister.  We got to wait at a bus stop for 40 minutes until the next bus - during which Heidi screamed the ENTIRE TIME. AND the bus was late. And then she screamed until we were about 10 minutes from home.  Nothing I did would make her stop.  So I just kept trying because really, what else can I do?!  We were very happy to be home. And even better, the kids finally had a charger for their DS so they were thrilled to have something to play again.  We got the kids bathed and ready for bed and fed dinner.  It was a VERY long day - but hey, my Lucky Jeans fit much better for it!!

Sunday was another wonderful day of church - the morning leading up to it was not so good.  When we got on the bus, we realized that Heidi was rather... stinky. And not only that, she was leaking... not good on church clothes!!  Halfway through the walk Gavin started crying (He spends a great deal of his time walking actually crying) because he had to use the potty.  He didn't make it.... So we walked into church with one stinky one and one wet one. Oh joy!! But we were still happy to be there. I met more great people and the kids met more friends.  It was wonderful to be there and get to know more people!  I met another few families from the States.  So that made 4 from Utah (Besides us) and 1 from San Diego.  Plus two of those have ties to Eagle Mountain. CRAZY. 

We went to dinner afterwards again and had a fabulous time. Great food, great friends!  The kids had a blast and by the time we were done and ready to go my kids were begging to come back. It was great!  We came home and enjoyed some quiet time at home.  I say quiet time because DS' were played. I had hoped to blog but that just didn't happen.  I had emails to write for kids, etc. 

So that leads us to today.  And what a day it was!!  We looked around online to make sure we got all the houses we could to visit for the day.  Steve was given the day off so we could look at homes.   He walked to one while I was driven to another by my awesome friend (my other amazing friend was watching my kids!!).  Steve called to say NO WAY after finding cracks in walls, light fixtures where the string to turn it on and off was hanging clear down in the middle of the floor etc.   I got done looking at the house where I was and was frustrated.  The pool wasn't gated so that posed a problem and the house just wasn't that well taken care of.  The master bedroom was AMAZING with its walk-in closet and there was a great place for the boys to share a room. But I couldn't get past that pool and the unsafe hazards it brought to the family.  The agent I walked through with was rather worried (even more than I was...)when she found out the ages of the kids.   So a no go on two houses. 

We had lunch and then we were getting ready to go do some grocery shopping when I got a phone call from another house. They were in the area so we decided to rush over to see it. Rush is a relative term in this case.  Cue downpour.   I'm not sure why rain likes to follow us but it does.  Flooding in St. George, flooding in Eagle Mountain and big time downpour here - after having had a drought for the last 10 years!!!   So we walked out into it.  Luckily the rain was warm.  We made it to the street we needed to get to by bus and started walking - and splashing.  There were massive puddles EVERYWHERE so we couldn't avoid them. And true to form, we had one that needed a potty.  Who cried for 10 minutes until we found a tree for him - and his brothers. Hopefully that's not illegal here....  And then on we walked.  20 minutes in a downpour was not a good thing.  Especially when you get to the house that was not so great...

Now, part of it may have been because I was soaked.  But I really had a hard time with the house the moment I stepped into it and felt like I was stepping THROUGH the floor.  Outside was gorgeous.  The yard was amazing. The neighborhood was amazing. The inside.... not so much.  It was dark, the ceilings were low. The windows were huge, which were awesome - but were covered in little caterpillary worm things from the rain. Yikes!!  The kitchen was TINY.  And awkward to maneuver in.  The rooms were okay but not great.  And as we left one room Jakob told me not to look in the corner above the door - so i did.  I saw 1 1/2 inch legs and that was enough for me to move on quite quickly.  Luckily no one else saw it!!  They had a 'rumpus' room (toy room) downstairs - but you had to access it by going outside!!!  Ashley loved the idea of being able to play downstairs with no supervision....  Steve wanted to put an offer on the house and I flipped out silently.  I just plastered on a smile and said that we would think about it and call her back.  I couldn't do it.  It didn't feel good to me. I couldn't raise my kids in that house!!

So on we trudged back to the bus stop. Luckily, the rain had calmed down by quite a bit to a slow drizzle.   We took the bus home and I warmed up Heidi in a warm bath.  The rest of the kids glued themselves to their DS until it was time for dinner - which was scrumptious spaghetti.

And now I am here. Still contemplating my choices in houses.  Am I being too picky?  Do I just grab one because its there? OR do I wait and get something that fits my family's needs?  Steve had gone to see a house last Wednesday but when he got there the door was locked.   The house is being renovated so I'm not sure how it will end up. but its still on our list until we see inside. Its so hard to get to this point and wonder what to do for housing.  The same issue is happening with our car.  Its not easy to find a car that will seat 8 people!!  Our Odyssey did in the States but they don't here.   So we just keep on watching and praying that it will work.

Now that I'm caught up I'm hoping I can get pictures in here and update more regularly.   I decided I really should take a notebook with me on buses so I can write down what I'm thinking about as I travel.  My sister also pointed out that I should be posting some of what I've emailed or posted on facebook. I'll start that in my next post because some of those thoughts are worth sharing. I just know that I have much to learn while I'm here!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Ever walked into a sauna with 2 coats on (so you could carry everything), 6 kids and 12 bags of carry on luggage?  I don't recommend it.  That's how it felt walking off the plane into Fiji.  Keep in mind that we had 3 inches of snow the night before we left!   We walked into a very welcoming (though very HOT) airport to go through customs.  Holding all the bags, kids that were just on a flight for 13 hours, and wearing two coats becomes too much quite quickly!  To pass the time of that long line we were able to talk to two Elders that were just arriving to the island. I may have had two coats - but they had a full-on suit to wear!  After waiting about 20 minutes in a long line of people quietly counting how many kids we had with us, we finally made it to the front counter.
Our plane! This was as we were heading into the Fiji airport.
On our way into the airport, greeted by singing.
Heidi didn't want to play "Go through the Claims line"
The people there were thrilled with the kids. Heidi's chubby legs got pinched more times than I can count.  Everyone was very sweet and tried to get us through everything as quickly as possible. After the customs line, we waited for the other 12 pieces of luggage and two carseats.  We had many people help us out to two taxis and help us on our way.

If you have never driven on the other side of the road, that part is scary enough.  Add to that the pothole dodging and it's TERRIFYING.  The driver was very sweet and offered all kinds of advice for while we were there.  However, he would drift into the other lane as cars were coming, dodge the rather large holes in the road - into oncoming traffic, and got out of scrapes that I was actually rather impressed with.

This is the way to wait to be checked into a hotel room!
We survived the trip and made it to our hotel.  It was AMAZING. We stayed at the Sheraton Villas and the ocean was RIGHT THERE.  We had to upgrade our suite because the one we'd paid for wasn't available until 3 PM. And as it was about 6 AM when we got there, we were just a tad early.   After getting everything ready we managed to get everything into two golfcarts and we were on our way to the villa.

We had two suites right next to each other. You opened the main door and the kids were in one side and we were in the other. It was basically one apartment but enclosed at the same time. Pictures will help me make more sense.  After running wildly through both rooms (Hey, you would too after 15 hours in a plane!!), we got ready to go swimming.  The pool was huge.  It was U-shaped and each line of the U was about 100 feet long and about 15 feet wide.    There were bridges in a couple of places and you could go under them to get to the other side.  My kids didn't want to leave but we figured lunch would be a good idea. Even though it was only about 10:30 at the time...

Instead of going to lunch, everyone decided it was time to fall asleep. The weather agreed.  It rained hard and nonstop for the next several hours.

I was anxious to start emailing people to let them know we were alive, so I finally dragged everyone out of the apartment and over to dinner.  We had 15 minutes to spare before dinner so we went into a little air conditioned room to check email as fast as possible.  I'd forgotten it was air conditioned until I opened the door afterwards and got blasted by the humidity and heat. Yikes!

Waiting for the Internet.
We ate at a buffet that was open to the outside (meaning birds could come in whenever they wanted). The food was excellent. There were dishes from all over the world. Everyone loved it. Except Ethan and Heidi.  Ethan had fallen asleep while I was checking email and did NOT want to wake up. He screamed at everything (If you know Ethan, you know what I mean). The waitresses were very sweet and tried to hold him or help him with food or anything else they could think of.  I finally took him on a tour of the food and he found chicken, prawns and tortillas that he loved.  Meanwhile, Heidi was also fussy so another waitress took it upon herself to get Heidi to sleep.  They made a bed for her out of several chairs.    We left the buffet STUFFED to capacity and ready for bed!

We were in bed by about 9 PM and slept until about 4 or 5.  Our time zones were still messed up...  We waited until breakfast started and headed back over to the buffet for breakfast. This time it was mostly fruits, oatmeal, bacon and bean pizza (actually pretty good!), bacon and eggs.  The kids were ready to hit the pools but we decided it was time to sightsee.

We took the Bula Bus which is this awesome looking trolley with a thatched roof. They call it the bula bus because that's what you yell (bula, not bus) whenever you see someone. It's 'hello' in Fijian.  We went over to the port to do some shopping. Which really meant that we walked around in blazing heat listening to kids whine that they were starving and tired.  One of them is reading this over my shoulder right now, defending himself.  Anyway, we got each of them little souvenirs (pens, fans, necklaces, etc) and then went over to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.  It was so hot Steve and I just got a salad to share.  I'd insisted on Hard Rock Cafe thinking it would be air conditioned inside. NOT. AT. ALL.  And the service was terrible. So glad I got what I wanted. :)  The food was great though.  I know the kids' food was great because I ate theirs along with my salad. Oh and we'd asked for an extra plate so that we could split our salad.  They gave us a TINY plate so I ate half of the salad and then let Steve have the other half.  Which is why I was fine eating everyone else's food.

When we got back to the hotel we got our swimming suits and went pool jumping.  We visited three different pools in that time.  One was at a hotel down the road from us since they all share the same management.  While we were there, we decided to check out the beach.  By our villas there was no sand. The ocean went right up against the rocks.  We wandered to the 'designated area' of the beach and had the time of our lives. I fully expected the ocean water to be freezing like in California and was pleasantly surprised by the warm water.  Heidi LOVED IT.   She and Ethan were having a blast picking up sand and throwing it. Neither cared that the water was splashing into their faces or that there was sand all over them. All they cared about was getting to as much as sand as they could. I wish I'd had it on video but I was stressing out too much making sure they didn't get washed away!

When my blood pressure was sufficiently high enough from making sure I still had six children, we left the beach and headed to pool number two.  This one had a little walkway into the pool that the kids loved playing on.  We met a few little girls that flocked to Heidi and got up in her face.  They were from Australia and when they found out we were from America their mom asked who lives in America. "Hannah Montana!" It was so cute. They were just positive they were going to go and meet her.

After we finished there, we headed over to the last pool which was the pool we went to the day before.  We didn't stay there for long because by that time the younger kids had had it with water. I didn't think my raisined fingers would ever be the same again!

I bathed all the kids and got them in bed while Steve headed off to the store to get food for the night.  I sat glued to the TV, watching news about the earthquake and the warnings of the tsunami.  Yeah, I was a little freaked out.  The news going across the screen was "the mineral peoples (that's not what they are but I forgot the word) have determined that Fiji will not be hit by the tsunami but if it does, it will occur at 3:37 AM".  Was that supposed to make me feel better?!?!  I packed everything up knowing they'd be the hotel bright and early in the morning to get us to the airport.  I finally was able to get to bed.

I woke up relieved that 3:37 had passed and that we were okay.  We rushed to the airport (with me hyperventilating when our ride didn't show up on time) and had to sit and wait while Steve checked yet another bag.  They were nice and charged us yet another $100 for the bag. The security guard that told him to check it was rather unhappy about it (he didn't think they should have charged us).  We were rushed to the airplane and on our way to Sydney.

Waiting to leave Fiji
This flight was not nearly as fun. The kids were whiny, the people around us were rather grumpy (although if you had a kid kicking the back of your chair you would be grumpy too) and I was about ready to give Heidi away.

We finally touched down (Heidi fell asleep 10 minutes before landing) and were on our way to our new home.   We ordered a couple of meat pies (HOLY COW good!!) and rushed to find our plane.  It was the one plane that was delayed.  It was a small plane because it only had to go about 50 minutes to Canberra. I actually liked that flight the best because you could see everything!

My kids are now screaming at me to go have dinner.  I'll be back to continue the adventure!! Here are photos of the our island and villa

Sunday, March 13, 2011

And Onward We Go.

 Wow, I got way behind. Time to catch up!

In the midst of everything else I gained a new baby nephew and my little one decided to have a birthday.  Most of Heidi's birthday was spent packing, packing, and more packing.  That night we decided to stop and we let her eat her cake. It was AWESOME.  She had cake everywhere. Once I figure out what camera the pictures are on, I'll post them on our other blog.

Day 8 - Steve took Heidi to her doctors appointment while I kept on packing and cleaning out the garage. It was nice to finally have that cleaned out. Although the rest got done the night before we left. It was a mess!

The rest of the week pretty much went the same way. Pack, dump, load the pickup and deliver everything. We did add a trip to the pharmacy for a double ear infection for Heidi. Poor girl! I got home past midnight Friday night and tried to do some work but fell asleep in the midst of typing in books to send to Amazon from the bookstore.  Oh, did I mention we were still finishing closing that up?!

Day 9 - Among taking kids to basketball games and birthday parties, we had many awesome neighbors come and help pack everything up. We got a LOT done and I appreciated the help.  We had friends from Pleasant Grove come and stay until 9:30 to get it done!!

You'd think Sunday would be our day of rest, right? Nope!  We made a day trip to St. George to visit with Steve's family. I'm so glad we got that opportunity!  We enjoyed the visit and got to do a few of the things we do everytime we go.  The kids were thrilled to see their grandparents and cousins before heading out. I'm just sad we didn't get to spend a little more time there.

Monday was the last BIG DAY.  We still had the kitchen, living room, and little things here and there to do. By that time we had no more furniture so kids were on the floor sleeping and so were we!! Steve was a nice daddy and gave the inflatable mattress so the kids.  I was the mean mommy and stole it the next night for us. :)  The kids were so exhausted they didn't care WHERE they slept.

To add to the insanity of Monday, it decided to dump snow.  By the time we got done Monday night (Which was past midnight) there were a few inches on the ground.  Steve called and asked for help with cars so we could move the last of the stuff to the dump, DI, and my sisters' houses.  And we were well taken care of. We had many people show up and got everything taken care of very quickly.  We still had small stuff to do so it was late when we got done. But again, I appreciated all the help I got. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone.  My poor little ones sobbed just a little harder with each person we had to stay goodbye to!

Our good friends were very sweet and offered their home for us to sleep in that night. My kids were THRILLED to stay there because they had been begging to have a sleepover there sometime. So we stuffed 4 adults and 11 kids into one house.  We had pancakes before going to Ken Garff to sell our car, to the bank,  to finish stuff off at our house, to our bookstore to finish a few things there and then took a few things to Jakob's best friend's house.  And THEN it was time to head to the airport.  Which we left for a little late. Just a tad though... We had just under an hour to get 8 people, 26 bags of luggage (13 of those were checked) and 2 carseats through the airport. Oh, and both of those carseats were occupied by sleeping children...  Regardless of that, everything went MUCH smoother than we expected and we were on the plane and on our way.

6 kids may mean more little ones to usher along but 6 kids also means that many more hands to help carry the luggage from place to place.

The flight went great. We were really worried about Ethan not liking the flight and about Heidi's poor ears not doing well but both were awesome.  It was an hour flight and I was up about 10 rows from Steve and the rest of the kids. I had a lady offer to let me trade seats but by that time I was wiped out and was just happy to be sitting.  Heidi was a little antsy but otherwise did great. She did NOT like the descent though. Poor baby!!

We then had 4 hours to spend in LAX until our flight.  That was not much fun although I have fun pictures of Heidi walking up and down the hallways talking to herself.  We ate dinner and then hung out on the benches. Although, it was more me wishing the kids were sitting quietly on the chairs so I could rest, but that didn't happen. They loved the escalator runway thing and wanted to go on it over and over and over and over and over and over.  Heidi wouldn't sit still. They fought over the DS's  and they asked every 5 minutes (or less) when we were going to be leaving.   Thankfully they allowed those with children and infants to go first onto the plane. I got to sit right by a spot where they allowed a bassinet for Heidi.  She was out before we even took off!!  Ethan and Ashley were out shortly after.  Everyone got great sleep except Gavin and I.  Gavin, because the poor boy had a fever and was miserable.  And me because I was worried about him and I couldn't get comfy.  I finally gave him some motrin and he slept well after that.

At 3 AM they woke everyone up and fed us breakfast. Ashley wasn't happy to find out that she'd missed dinner the night before (chicken and rice that was EXCELLENT) but enjoyed her breakfast anyway. Steve filled out all the customs forms and then it was time to land.  He had a sucker in his backpack and gave it to Heidi. She did AWESOME for that landing.

And now its time to end. Next up - our vacation in Fiji!!