Monday, December 21, 2009


In honour of our first official overseas Christmas (after making it home in time last year), we present a top ten countdown of our favorite things about the Christmas season in Canada.

10 – Snow and cold weather are still “quaint”. It’s easy for us now to see footage of a frozen landscape and feel nostalgic about the onset of winter. But let’s face it, most of winter just plain sucks (note, this is Tim writing, Laura loves winter). However we can all agree that prior to Christmas, everyone is in good spirits and the harsh reality of another four months of winter hasn’t yet set in. The warm looking Christmas lights adorning people’s homes add to the charm. Of course, those same lights are often still up in May, but who cares, it’s Christmas!

9 – Real fireplaces. In the absence of any need for a fireplace in this part of Australia, ever, we miss the coma-inducing heat kicked off of by the blazing hearths back in Canada at this time of year. There is nothing like waking up too early on Christmas morning after no sleep that night, overindulging on chocolate and turkey during the day and passing out in front of the fireplace for an afternoon siesta. We find ourselves slightly embarrassed by the fact that a DVD of a burning yule log with cheesy Christmas music in the background has got us through a number of evenings here over these past weeks.

8 – Tim again. Saturday NHL hockey, Sunday football, World Junior hockey. I’ve tried to watch North American sports on my computer, using some handy internet links, but it just isn’t the same. I really miss wasting a whole day on the couch with the NFL, especially dozing off around 4:00 (usually late in the third quarter of the early games), then summoning the energy to go and have supper, overeat and then return to the tv for the late games.

7 – Christmas movies. Not sure what it is about Aussie TV networks, but they don’t feel the need to bombard us with the Christmas classics until Christmas day. They seem to be more in favour of the Christmas day marathon, rather than the November/December marathon that we enjoyed back home. So, in vain we’ve been searching the TV guide practically every night trying to find a good Christmas movie to drown our homesickness with, to no avail. So, despite our broke-ness, we’ve gone for the rentals. We’re currently enjoying watching John Candy and his polka band as they drive Kevin Mcallister’s mom back to NY to find Kevin. Ahhh, Home Alone. Christmas goodness. Last week it was Elf. I will say that both of these movies evoke more emotion than they ever have…There’s a lot of eye sweating going on around here.

6 – The collective decision by society to shut things down for a week or so. This doesn’t happen often enough. After all the eye-opening realizations of the global financial crisis, particularly that we’re married to our jobs and don’t spend enough down time with family, shouldn’t this become even more important?

5 – Christmas plays. Given our infant situation, we miss out on the school play scene, and because Edie’s typically asleep by 6:30, pretty much any other family Christmas gathering is off. I’m guessing we’ll get our fill of Christmas plays in the years to come, though I think that Edie’s a bit sad that she didn’t get invited to be baby Jesus this year. She thought she was a shoe-in for the role, though apparently Jesus didn’t cry (see "Away in a Manger") and well...we don’t promote lying on the resume.

4 – Work Christmas parties – most notably the Canadian Rivers Institute annual party and the UNB Biology party. Both were always memorable, including good food, bad karaoke, excess alcohol, and even the occasional violation of the Christmas tree.

3 – “Silent Night” at the end of the Christmas Eve church service. Gets me every time. Although we may get this one here as well. We'll know in a couple of days.

2 – The food! Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, chocolate, potato chips, egg nog (Laura only, Tim hasn't forgiven egg nog since an "incident" at Terry Leggatt's a few years back). All the things we routinely deny ourselves during the year, we turn loose in late December. Today we had cinnamon rolls and After Eight mints for breakfast.

1 – Family and friends, of course. Regardless of how you feel about Christmas, there's no denying the power of loved ones at this time of year. It's the reason people fight their way through crowded airports, drive on icy roads, and endure all the other frustrating elements of late December to share the moments with people you care about. And you really start to appreciate it when you're away from it. So enjoy it while you have it. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Miss E, Dad and Mr. Dylan

So sorry for the sideways orientation...I can't seem to figure out how to change it, but I think you can get the idea. WE LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Hello everyone,

It’s our 92nd week of living in Australia and it’s also the first day of summer down here. The 92 weeks have been good and have passed very quickly, the first day of summer brings with it the sad anticipation of 80%+ humidity and 30-35°C temperatures for the next 6 weeks at least. We spent the month of December in Canada last year so we had it easy, December being the BEST winter month in Canada and being the WORST summer month in Australia. Already I’m willing to admit that I’m unreasonably cranky these days due to the temperature, and this is only the beginning. We do have air conditioning in the house, thank goodness, and I’m at least aware enough to recognize that our family life is a lot better when we just turn the darn thing on, energy costs aside. Another factor that makes family life better is being able to cook on the barbeque. Anything that requires an oven to cook these days needs to be done first thing in the morning unless we’re going to be out of the house that day, it’s just too hot otherwise. We’ve discovered grilled veggies kebabs (pronounced kee-baabs in Aussie speak) over the past few months and just last night were exclaiming to each other about how crazy it was that we’re both extremely happy to mow down on a plate full of veggies for supper…our past carnivorous and/or very picky eating habits certainly wouldn’t have led us to believe it possible.

The Jacaranda trees have shed their purple flowers and have started to bud leaves, meanwhile everything else has come into full bloom. Especially lovely are the Poinciana trees right now, with incredibly vibrant red flowers. Our neighborhood has a few nice ones. The birds are all back in full force now as well, making for many early mornings in the Jardine household. It’s quite a chorus at 4:30am…Edie likes to join in too. Christmas lights are also starting to make an appearance, but I’m just not sure that I can get too into it. I’ve had way too many Christmas lead-ups where the main thing that I wished for was a white Christmas, I’m an old dog and new tricks are rough on me. Every ounce of Christmas Laura wants to have snow. I guess I should count my blessings in that I won’t shovel snow for the following 4 months though. Once we get around to putting up a Christmas tree (i.e. dragging our potted plant from the backyard into the house) we’ll start to get in to the decorating thing. Also notably absent from our Christmas in Australia is our Christmas music, most of it being stashed away in our various storage places back in Canada. I don’t think Tim minds as much as I do, since I would have had it playing since oh, probably October, and he’s more of a December only kind of guy. I shouldn’t say that Christmas music isn’t available here, but a) we’re broke and b) I think we’d have a tough time finding what I miss the most- the Sufjan Stevens Christmas Box Set…If anyone has a spare and wants to send it our way…do it quick!

I’ve been getting Miss E out in the jogging stroller more and more these days. There was a long period where she didn’t want anything to do with strollers other than to push them along so we did most of our transporting with the backpack carrier. Now that she’s ~20 pounds (yup, she’s a small fry) it’s not so much fun to tote her around that way. Actually, last week I ended up having to run ~800m with her in the backpack during the middle of the day after carrying her around all morning. While she absolutely loved it, my body did not. I spent the next two days thinking that I was either pregnant or had Dengue fever because I was so tired (I have neither of those afflictions, just to reassure you). Either way, the early morning runs with the stroller have been good. Miss Edie just loves, loves, loves to go fast and to get a glimpse of all of the early morning traffic. She especially loves to wave at all of the busses and trucks as they pass by.

November, other than being the month where lots of men grew creepy ‘staches, was Australian music month. The radio station that we’re tuned into was playing all Aussie music all month and I’m happy to say that it was enjoyable! Making things especially easy on the ears was the fact that there was a big tribute weekend for Paul Kelly on the 13th and 14th of the month. I heard/read a number of interviews with Mr. Kelly (most humble musician out there I think) and there were rave reviews of the show and they’ve played scads of his stuff all month. He’s been making music here for 30 years here and has quite a back catalogue. If you haven’t given him a listen, we highly recommend it.

Tim came back from the Australian Rivers Institute annual forum telling me of a conversation that he’d had at the forum party about how every parent thinks that their infant is a genius. It’s funny, hey? Such simple things like being able to point to a ball and say “ball” make Tim and I go nuts with how smart and clever we think our little gal is (and she is clever and smart!). It’s always shocking to me when I see another child who exhibits the same traits as Edie, I somehow have them pegged as specific to our special little girl. The reality is that children develop at very predictable and similar rates and in theory we know this, but we still think that our child is somehow unique and special in the things that she accomplishes (like walking…how many adults do you know who never learned how to walk? Or teething for that matter). I find it fascinating to think about this effect, as if it’s somehow ingrained into parents when that baby pops down the chute. It’s probably very good for children that we do feel this way. We’re still just so insanely proud of Edie. I can’t wait until we can share her with the rest of you back home.

Her new tricks of the day- spitting (I’m talking projectile) and biting her toys and screaming at them when they don’t do what she wants them to (most notably her sesame street vacuum cleaner). If anyone has any tips on how to nip these habits in the bud, we’re all ears. In the meantime, I'll be quietly repenting of all of the biting and spitting I did as a child. Sorry mom.

I’ll leave things there. Have a great week and maybe some nog on our behalf.