Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hello Hamo

Last week we spent 5 glorious days on Hamilton Island in tropical North Queensland. Hamilton Island is part of the chain known as the Whitsunday Islands. With Hawaii like weather, proximity to The Great Barrier Reef, amazing white sand beaches and stunning views, it is a tropical paradise and the perfect place for a family holiday.

We stayed in a private apartment on the resort side of the island overlooking Catseye Beach. The best thing about the apartment was that it came complete with its own golf buggy- the primary mode of transportation on the island. We drove the buggy everywhere- just because it was so much fun. My dare devil husband even thrilled the kiddos with a few buggy "donuts" in the car park. I was particularly happy that I didn't have to trudge up all the island's hills in my enlarged condition. Waddling from the buggy to the pool was enough for me!

While there we took a full day boat tour with H2OSportz called the Triple Treat. It really was a treat for the whole family. We boarded their boat, The Reef Spirit, and set out for a fun filled day. Our first stop was at the coral reef for snorkeling. We saw many colourful fish and of course all variety of beautiful coral. A few lucky people even spotted some sea turtles. The Little Princess was a pro at snorkeling, staying in the water the whole time. The Little Buddy got geared up and floated around a little with Dad before heading back to the boat with me. He looked so cute in that wetsuit- I can just picture him 10 years from now heading out to surf in a similar get up.

Our second stop was at the unbelievable Whitehaven Beach. The sand on this beach is 95% pure silica and stretches for over 5 km. The sand was so fine it felt like flour and actually squeaked when we walked on it. The kids had fun digging around and the Little Buddy had a chance to show off his newly acquired cricket skills.

Our third "treat" of the day was a stop at Tongue Bay and a short bushwalk to the lookout over Hill Inlet. Our guide was quite knowledgeable and pointed out many interesting things along the way, including the green ants which she encouraged us to taste stating that their "bums" taste like honey and lime. We passed on the ant bums, and headed to the lookout point where we were amazed at the gorgeous sand formations and the crystal blue water at Hill Inlet.

The rest of our trip was spent lounging around at the pool and enjoying the tropical weather. We rented little catamarans one day and spent some time touring the island in our buggy. One morning the kids went to the Clownfish Club (which they LOVED) and my sweetheart and I took a scenic seaplane ride over the Great Barrier Reef. Seeing the reef from the air was breathtaking! You really get a different perspective when you see it from above. My favorite bit was Heart Reef, the most photographed part of the Great Barrier Reef. Isn't it lovely? We also cruised over Hayman Island, Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. The views from the air were absolutely stunning and I am so glad we did the air tour.

We also had some wildlife encounters while on the island. The rainbow lorikeets and cockatoos were everywhere- and pretty persistent when it came to snatching food. I nearly had a heart attack when a beautiful little lorikeet landed on my knee one evening. (I hate birds!). Why is it that animals always flock to the one person in the group who does not want to be near them? We also had several visits from creepy little opossums each evening. They were definitely used to seeing people and got a little too close for my comfort!

Like all good vacations, the end came too soon. We were all sad to say goodbye to the beautiful weather and the relaxing atmosphere. Too bad we couldn't bring some of that Queensland sunshine back with us. It's been raining buckets in Sydney!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Best Deal in Town

To all our friends and family back in the U.S.

Beautiful private guest room with built in wardrobe, marble ensuite and sunny courtyard. Directly opposite gorgeous harbour beach with easy access to cafes and public transport. Currently accepting bookings.

We accept the following forms of payment:
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Jet Puff Marshmallows
Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packets
Italian Dressing seasoning packets
Honey Maid Graham Crackers
Girl Scout Cookies
Bounce Sheets
Glide Floss
Tide to Go Sticks
Nestle Toll House Semi Sweet chips
Clorox Bleach Pens
Red Vines
Dial Gold Bar Soap
Trident Gum (with xylitol)
Children's Motrin
Tylenol Jr. Melt Aways
Goldfish crackers
Crest toothpaste
Jello Pudding mix
Did I mention Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?

Any takers?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Such a Good Old Boy

One of the hardest things about moving to the other side of the world was leaving our beloved yellow lab behind. We knew he would be well cared for and loved by Grandma and Grandpa, but the four of us would miss him terribly.

There has never been a more loyal, loving dog than Smiling Riley. When we brought him home from the breeder at 6 weeks old he was the size of a football. I loved to carry him around and cuddle him. He slept happily in our bed at night.

At only 6 months old he was diagnosed with hip displaysia (bad breeder!). He underwent major surgery to repair both hips. It was his only chance at a full life. He deserved it.

As he grew Riley became a gentle giant, tipping the scales at 100 pounds! He had a bark deep enough to scare off the annoying door to door solicitors, deep soulful eyes, and a tail that could clear a coffee table in 2 quick swoops. We had to upgrade to a king size bed to make room for him!

We decided to share the Riley love. He became a certified Therapy Pet through the Delta Society. He listened while inner city kids read to him during after school programs and he brought smiles to lonely people in nursing homes who had outlived all their friends and relatives.

When the Little Princess was born in 2003, we were worried about how Riley would adjust. Would he be jealous of this new creature in our family? Not at all. He became her third parent- sticking his nose into the bassinet to check on her at night. Standing at my side of the bed, nudging my arm when I didn't respond fast enough to her cries. It was quite amazing.

And as our family grew, Riley always managed to fit in perfectly. He endured ear pulling, and tail grabbing. He was a constant pillow and cheerful playmate. He staked out his spot beneath the highchair and I never had to sweep up so much as a stray Cheerio. Good dog!

Riley's health was not as reliable as his disposition. He bounced back from ear infections, allergies, and multiple surgeries including the removal of a 2 pound cancerous tumor. He just kept defying the odds. Everyone was always amazed at his ability to recover from what seemed to be life threatening conditions.

(Riley sporting the t-shirt he wore for months while healing from major surgery).

But last week we got the sad news that Riley's health problems had finally taken their toll on him. He was just days shy of his 11th birthday. He will be missed terribly by all of us. I'm sure someday we will make room for another dog in our home, but no other dog will ever take his place in my heart.

A couple photos from our last visit with Riley.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

A perfect Mother's Day today.
"Sleeping in" until 7:30
Cinnamon toast and peppermint tea in bed
Lovely gifts made by tiny hands
Gorgeous, sunny Sydney weather
A ferry ride to the Opera House
Marveling at the Sydney Symphony with my husband and kids
Hugs and Kisses.

My favorite totally imperfect picture from the day.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms in my life.
Especially my mom and my mother-in-law. Love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Scratch Scratch Scratch

I taught elementary school in California for nearly 10 years and in all that time only encountered head lice twice. I've been living in Australia for 13 months, and have become very closely acquainted with these little buggers! It's some kind of an epidemic here. My kids have grown accustomed to me picking through their hair one strand at a time, sitting endlessly while I apply every lice buster solution known to man. It is really so tedious!

So when my own scalp started to itch I knew I could have a problem on my hands. Now let me back up and say that as much as I love my darling husband he does have one shortfall. He can never find anything. He is always searching for his sunglasses, his wallet, his key card, etc. Often these items are in plain sight. When I showed him our son's class picture, he couldn't find the Little Buddy in the photo. This man is really not the person I would trust to literally go through my hair with a fine tooth comb looking for teeny tiny nits. (And I'm sure it is a responsibility he doesn't particularly want to have anyway)!

Which brings me to this morning. I was having morning tea with two lovely friends. When I mentioned my fear about my possible infestation guess what they did? That's right- with absolutely no hesitation these two women started searching, combing, picking through my hair.

It is a really awesome feeling to know that I have such good friends here in Australia. Because there are times in your life when you really need a good friend.

Thanks ladies! Love ya!
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