Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chrissy in Brissy!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Chrissy 2010


Though silence in the blogosphere (from our end) has had ominous indication this year at times, we're glad to report that our slack behaviour in not reporting on our everyday mundane activities lately is because we're enjoying a period of non-craziness. Touch wood, as our Aussie counterparts would say...Translation: let's not jinx ourselves by talking about how great things are. It also might be because we bought a second-hand leather lounge suite for our living room recently and now are making up for almost 3 years of not having a comfortable place to sit in our house by sitting and relaxing in good company. Not too much exciting has happened over the past month, which has been a nice break.

However, one bigger news item is that our car took it's last trip in its 20 year run right on to the back of a tow-truck bound for the junk-yard, and was replaced with a car that I'm happy to report I'm proud of driving. It's a 2002 Corolla wagon, a great little car in great shape. We actually now feel bad for those folks who had to suffer through trips in our former vehicle when visiting, although that car got us through quite reliably for the most part (with the exception of our trip to the airport with the Beaver Clan...Sorry guys!) It was the last servicing that put 'er under, with a repair quote of over $2000, and a direct quote from our mechanic saying "well, you can drive it home, but if you start to feel anything funny with the brakes, pull over as fast as you can"...

We've also been having a blast getting ready for Christmas this year. It's been a fun month, and what Christmas season in Oz is complete without our annual yuletide lesson? Last years lesson: don't use a potted plant as your Christmas tree if it must sit on your kitchen table and be watered for a month...Mould thrived beneath the pot and we only discovered it when we took the tree down. That table is still waiting to be put out to the curb with the next curb-side pick-up. This years lesson: Don't put food on your tree, or leave it out overnight uncovered at this time of year. As much as I loved having a string of popcorn on our tree and how homey it felt (and which consequently took almost a day to string together), I didn't love the bugs it attracted. The cockroaches won once again, and I took the popcorn down after one night. The plans for cookies on the tree were shelved after that episode as well. Someday I'll have this living in Australia thing figured out.

I did stretch my homemaker legs this season and sewed stockings for the family to put out on Christmas eve (tonight!). They're made from material that was given to us before we left Canada from Anne (Tim's co-worker) who bought it from our friend Owen who bought it when he was living in Malawi. So they're not your typical Christmas stockings, but it was a lot of fun to make them and we have good memories associated with where they come from. My friend Betty let me use her sewing machine and taught me a whole lot about how to make life easier when sewing. I had a few flashbacks to home-ec classes and the frustration I used to experience on a weekly basis there, but all in all, it was a fun Christmas thing to do.

We had our annual Orphan Christmas dinner last night in true Australian fashion- seafood! Or as you might better recognize it, shrimp on the barby! We made it a goal not to use our oven, as that just adds to the already too hot temperatures we experience in our household, and we opted for seafood dishes, contributed by everyone. We had some of our ex-pat friends over and we ate extremely delicious food, had lovely Christmas drinks and complained about the weather and Australian idiosyncrasies that we still can't get our heads around. All in all, a success! I hadn't explored much of Aussie seafood prior to last night other than farmed salmon and a few species of whitefish, but I think I can safely say that the shellfish held its own. Good on ya Australia, you continue to win me over.

Over the holidays We're entertaining our friends Chelsea and Brett (who E affectionately refers to as Burt), up from Sydney where they've just moved, but originally friends from back home in Fredericton. It's been a blast to have them here and we're looking forward to a few more days of enjoying their company. Edie's quite taken with them, which means that Tim and I are experiencing low rankings on the I-want-to-hang-around-you chart. Not bothered at all, and Chelsea will never want to do another puzzle again in her life.

It's been raining like mad here, breaking records left right and centre for rainfall and low temperatures for the month of December in Queensland and all along the east coast of Australia. Though it has been trouble for a lot of folk (i.e. flooding, crop failure, etc), I have been as happy as a clam to have only experienced two or three days of over-the-top humidity and heat this summer, indirectly I think Tim must be happy about this as well. Pregnant hot lady is no fun to be around. As a matter of fact, it's now Christmas eve and it's raining buckets, not something I'm completely unfamiliar with given that I grew up in Yarmouth, but it's a whole lot greener here, and we had Edie out for a swim outside this morning...Ya, just different enough.

To our friends and family back home, the Chrissy cards haven't made it out yet, but I'm working on it. And thanks to those who have been more on top of their game than we've been, it's awesome to get snail-mail and phone-calls from those we love and miss. Our camera has been sitting idle this month unfortunately so we'll post some Christmas pictures in the next few days.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa's on his way

Just a quick note to let you know that rainy Brisbane is treating us well these days. The wet weather has meant the usual scorching heat hasn't yet hit us, although summer only officially began today (Dec. 1st). We're getting ready for our first full Christmas here, after our trip home in '08 and a sojourn north to Maryborough last year. We'll be housesitting for our friends in a nearby suburb while they vacation in Europe, and their house has air conditioning and a pool, much to the delight of Laura and Edie. It'll be as though we took a vacation ourselves - all we have to do is feed the dog.

Edie's been enjoying baking and decorating with her mom, getting ready for the holidays. She has been calling her snowman Ho-Ho, so perhaps she hasn't quite figured out the details yet. Her next surgery isn't likely to happen until May or June, but her spirits are high so we're happy to manage things as they are for the moment.

Bub number two is also incubating nicely. I would share our ultrasound photo but our scanner is broken and let's face it, a blurry image of an unborn child really only means something to parents and perhaps grandparents, especially when it's the 2nd child and the novelty has worn off from the 1st. Someday he or she might read this post, further contributing to his/her 2nd child syndrome characterized by lack of attention and general neglect. But hey, I'm a 2nd child, I can say those things out loud right? After all, there's no way Edie will hog all the attention in our household, will she? Hmmm.

All for now. Enjoy the photos.

December 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunny, sunny November

Hello folks,

It's been a while we know. These are some pretty hectic days for us and in a short time we'll write a proper posting giving a better idea of what's going on in our adventure down under. In the meantime, we thought that some pictures would quell the storm of anger that is surely brewing in our vast expanse of readership. Enjoy and we'll catch up soon.

Laura

More Fall 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ahhh beautiful October

G'day friends,

It's a rainy Friday night in Brissy, no better time to write a blog posting.

Speaking of rain, there's been a lot of it lately. Roughly the past 3 weeks have been more rainy than not, but we'll take it! Everything is becoming lush and green again, and the Jacaranda trees are back in bloom. Their flowering is a reminder of how long we've been here, this being our third season...Time is flying, hey? The rain of course brings out the mossies and sandflies, and the humidity that goes along with the rain also brings out the creepy crawlies...namely our friends the house ants. The first year that we were here I did all that I could to keep them out of the house (pre-Edie, of course, when I had time to worry about such things), last year they bothered me, but we became more tolerant of each other's presence...This year I'm pointing out where the crumbs on the floor are so I don't have to pick them up myself (Good work guys! You're doing a fabulous job!). So that's not really true, in great numbers the ants creep me out, but the scouts I don't mind so much anymore. All part of living here I gather, and it's not that rough a bargain. As with any hot and humid climate, cockroaches thrive here as well. These guys I have a harder time dealing with. I was pretty excited the other day when Tim got rid of one from the bathroom, the only one in our house for sure I thought, until a few days later when I turned on the light and opened the closet and saw/heard the telltale scuttling. I try to give the roaches fair warning so that they can at least hide while I'm around, and so far, it seems to be working (whatever 'working' means in this context...blissful ignorance?) Again, a bit more difficult to toleate, but doable, especially considering they're only around for part of the year.

Fall or Spring...Depends on who you talk to or how we're feeling


Enough of that talk. We're looking forward to a good Thanksgiving dinner here on Sunday night. Our friends Steph and Allison will be representing the Canadians, and we couldn't miss out on inviting our American friends the Davis clan (Tim, Lindsay and Baby Joel) and Edie's mexican uncle Domino from southern California...It's going to be fun. Tim and I both agree that Thanksgiving is the holiday that we miss the most in the Canadian calendar year, it's like Christmas minus the crazy. Family,food,cool nights,sunny days, what more could you ask for in a holiday? So this is our attempt to recreate the goodness. Much like using a yule log video to create a cozy Christmas atmosphere in our house last year, I'm sure this dinner will feel like a bit of a sham, but you know, we're getting used to the feeling. And our friends here become more like family to us the longer we're here, and we're thankful for this, so it's a good reason to celebrate. No?

Life it settling into a new kind of normal for us here with Edie on the mend. Seems to us that when we left the hospital, we were under the impression that things would be normal (as they were before) once Edie was on the rebound. It's not proving to be the case. As Tim mentioned in the last post, she's doing well. She is putting on weight and looking better and better, but we've realized that having part of her belly on the outside will be a bit of a hindrance to her until things are properly fixed, and because she'll be in surgery again in a few short months, our expectations in terms of recovery-timelines have had to change. She gets pretty uncomfortable by the end of the average day, and it's made much worse if she's had a big day or has missed sleep, etc. So our daily lives as they were, are proving to be too much for Miss E. So we've had to cut things back, and as a result Edie and I spend a lot more time together at home and both look very forward to our daily nap. Can't say that I mind this at all. We are trying/being forced to take things a day at a time, and re-evaluating along the way. This parenting thing...

And finally, speaking of parenting, it's almost time for 19 week ultrasound of bubby #2. How fast is this pregnancy going, hey? I've had some pretty positive midwife and obstetrician appointments where we've heard a heartbeat, which is always exciting. They're also watching me like a hawk and taking extra precautions heading into the second half of pregnancy given our exciting delivery of Miss Edie. Tim and I definitely appreciate the precautionary approach, even though it means a busy schedule. Whatever it takes to get the deed done, we're up for it.

And I'll leave you with that. It's past our usual bedtime of 8pm, and as a very wise grade 12 valedictorian once offered in his Tips from the Top, going to bed early will get you places.

Love to all,

Laura

Friday, October 1, 2010

Avian Aggro

Well it's that time of year again. Yep, nesting season for the various agressive birds here in Brisbane. And that means it's time to break out the cable ties and giant eye stickers for your bike helmet so you don't get muscled out of the territory of some testosterone-fueled male or overprotective female. Both Laura and I have learned this the hard way, as each of us has been swooped recently by a butcher bird up the street. This of course brings to four the total number of bird species that have gotten up close and personal with me since moving here, a list that includes butchers, noisy miners, a masked plover and that fiesty crow that Laura wrote about a while back that was terrorizing me every morning. And we haven't even dealt yet with the most notorious of all the swoopers - magpies - who are known to draw blood and blacken eyes when they make contact with intruders. It's only a matter of time. The only bird encounters I can remember from all my time in Canada was the occasional swoop by a swallow in our backyard, and of course my infamous encounter with a partridge in the backwoods of central New Brunswick back in '99.

All of these bird terrors here make for an interesting ride to work on my bike every day. The aforementioned butcher bird has set up a territory on our street at the top of the hill, so every day I have to come racing past to avoid getting chased. If he spots me he'll close in, only stopping when I'm looking directly at him. This means that I have to turn around and shake my fist or point at him while speeding down the hill to our house, not exactly stellar road safety. And the birds aren't my only concern, as I nearly got run over by a woman driving a big SUV on a rainy day last week. She entered a roundabout without seeing me and got right up on my back wheel, bending my kickstand in the process but fortunately not making actual contact with any vulnerabe body parts.

Despite all this, I must say that riding to work year round is one of the best things about living in Brisbane. It gets a little hot in the summer but it's definitely the most efficient way for me to get exercise. And I'm glad that my only animal encounters have happened in suburbia and not during my field work in North Queensland where the animals can do more than just give you a scare.

For those of you wondering how Edie is doing, well she's doing all right. She gets a little uncomfortable towards the end of each day but otherwise she's firing on all cylinders. She's been getting plenty of time with Baby Joel (aka Joel Davis, son of Tim and Lindsay) and hopefully getting used to having another bub to share the attention. As of March, she won't be the only game in town.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just a little one

This is one of Edie's favorite lines. We'll let you figure out what it might be in relation to based on our new adventures of late. This picture was too fun to leave to a later post.

From Little Princess


Also, we forgot to tell you about our fun day at the fair back in July. Our friends Lindsay and Tim weren't so forgetful and posted about the fun family outing on their blog. There are some good pics of Miss Edie, so feel free to check it out too.

Love to all!

Laura

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gosh

Hi everyone,

While it's hard to relay all of the good and bad reasons that we've not posted in a while...whatever. Man! How many different ways can I start a blog with the same message- Sorry! We'd love it if sitting down to write about our lives came more easily, but it just isn't in real life. But you know, we wish we could keep in better touch regarding our adventures, we really do miss our folks and friends back home like mad. It's actually kind of crazy that this is our primary mode of communication, don't you think? Regardless...We've had a few adventures since our last post, and I'll tell you about a few of them.

First off, we're in Springtime here in Australia. It's gorgeous! Actually, I didn't mind winter at all here this year, not because it was any warmer, but more likely because I actually sucked it up and bought 2 sweaters that brought me through many a chilly spell. Up until this year I was in denial about the need for warm clothes here, but my purchases really made this winter pretty comfortable and enjoyable. Amazing. However, I do have a bone to pick with being environmentally conscious and surviving winter in Australia. Last Fall, our landlords took advantage of a government scheme (one of many, we certainly do have a scheming government) which subsidized homeowners for the installation of solar panels for hot water systems. Not only would it save you money, solar energy is the way of the future, blah blah blah. Now, one would think that in sunny Queensland, the abundance of sun would provide more energy for solar storage than one could ever need. This may be true in some cases (especially inland), and I'm aware of people that have gone totally off of the grid with the installation of solar panels to provide all of their household electicity who save oodles of cash in electricity savings (some even make money by selling electricity back into the grid), and have experienced no inconvenience at all. But brother, I tell you, we had many a cold shower this winter. So, the problem. It's not always sunny in the winter. It may be warm, but it's often cloudy or raining. Which means no water gets heated by our 'abundant' solar energy. Our system does have a booster, which in theory will provide hot water in the absence of sun, but it takes (I'll say, on average) 1-2 hours to give us anything near hot, and you can't use the booster in 'peak' time (peak time is an arbitrary time of day chosen by the electricity provider where due to high usage, energy becomes more expensive to use and, they may just decide that you can't use it...for real). At times, we seriously ended up boiling water on the stove to give us enough warm water to bathe Edie in. I think the problem here is that if you're going to go solar, heating your water is probably the last thing that you should count on solar energy for. If you just heated your water with propane gas and relied on solar panels for everything else, you'd be laughing (which our friends who have made the switch are). I'm guessing that solar panels for heating water are the cheaper alternative in 'going green', and like most cheap things, you get what you pay for. In our case, our landlords also switched their hot water heating over to solar panels last fall, so at least we experienced the thrill of going green via a cold shower in the freezing winter in good company (in separate showers).

Back in July, on another environmental mission, we helped our friends plant trees on their new property which they'd recently purchased. Apparently the council in that area is keen on revegetating land that was once used for horse paddocks, and so provide grants to new homeowners to undertake revegetating with native plants. Great deal, hey? Of course, we provided very cheap labour (a good down home bacon and egg breaky was all it took), and we also had a blast. Miss Edie is such a funny little girl. We knew that she'd love this kind of thing, and she had a great time as we expected. Basically, if you give her a job, she's as pleased as punch to be doing whatever you ask of her. In this instance, she was our 'tree runner'. There were trays of big trees and little trees which we alternated around the property, and she'd bring over which ever size we'd request while Tim would dig the hole and I would plant the tree. It was great fun. We kind of hope we can do it again.

So our friends Rachel and Paul (who currently live in Portland, ME) arrived for a visit August 23rd, and left a week ago. We miss them a lot. They actually arrived at a crazy time for us. About a week preceeding their visit Miss Edie was sick with a cold, and by the Monday that they'd arrived, we felt the need to get her to our doctor for various reasons, but the major one being that her belly was just growing and growing. So basically, I picked up Rach and Paul at 7:20am from the airport, and by 10am had Miss Edie at the doctors office. From there they sent us to the hospital, and the next week and a half, we spent in hospital with Edie. During that week and a half, it was discovered that she's got Hirschprung's Disease, a congenital disease more common in boys than girls, and typically detected in the first week following birth, where there's a part of the lower intestine (a very short part in Edie) where there are no nerve cells present to move things along. The doctor's don't know how she's made it so long without serious hospitalization, but we're glad she has. And we're more than ecstatic to have worked out a plan with doctors to correct the problem within the next year. She had an operation to help things along in the mean time (an ostomy was put in place), and she's a very happy little girl these days. She's recovered like a champ and continues to surprise and impress us with her resilience. All told, when we got out of hospital, we had 3 days remaining with Rachel and Paul, which were fun-filled and packed. They did a great job of entertaining themselves and discovering while we were tied up at hospital, and in the end it was just so great to have them here despite the crazy time. Only one of us (Tim or I) were allowed to stay with Edie overnight in hospital, so on our home shifts we were just so thrilled to have such great company at home to get our minds off of our troubles. They also visited us in hospital as well, but it was really just having them around in general that made things so much easier. So we miss them a lot. And of course, in times like these we miss our families and friends back home so much. But in reality, we're in a pretty good situation where our doctors have known Edie since birth and the hospital we deal with is second to none in terms of treatment and care for both Edie and us. We can't say enough about how 'easy' this hard time has been because of this. We, as always, are very well taken care of.

And in other news, Tim and I are expecting another baby. Yahoo! And I can safely say, that in the 14 weeks that I've been pregnant so far, the demands that the new one is placing on me are far less than the demands of our first. Yahoo! So, all told, we've got a big year coming up. Our new wee one is due March 20, and Miss Edie is expecting to be fixed up sometime following that...We'll know more regarding a real timeline for Miss E after a specialist appointment on Wednesday of this week.

And so those are some of the things that have been happening. I wish there were a way to convey the little things that make us so happy on a daily basis, but I'd be writing for ages. Thanks to those who've been in the loop who've been praying for us and thinking of us, and to those who weren't, don't worry if you think you've missed out on an opportunity, there's a long road ahead.

We miss you,

Laura (on behalf of Team Jardine)

PS. Tim will be posting new pictures in the next day or two. Enjoy!

Spring 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Follow the action live (sort of)

Post 5 - Aug. 15th
This will be my last post for this trip. I'm enjoying my 2nd 8 hour layover at LAX in a week; this time I thought I would make a quick trip to In & Out Burger, a Californian institution. The closest one is a free shuttle ride away from the terminal (if you pretend you're going to a hotel or picking up a parked car), and the planes come zooming in for their landing almost right next door, so it makes for a pretty cool experience. In & Out Burger, of course, was referenced in one of our favorite movies, "The Big Lebowski", and is known as the fast food chain that isn't like other fast food chains, because it uses fresh ingredients and doesn't pay its employees the absolute minimum required by law. It's a noble idea, but let's face it, fast food is fast food - I'll rate the taste as o.k. but not great, but I'm glad to have finally experienced it.


Post 4 - Aug. 14th

Well the meeting wrapped up last night with a banquet on board the Riverboat Discovery, a replica paddlewheeler. We cruised the Chena River for three hours, enjoyed some nice hors d'oeuvres, listened to some reasonable Alaskan bluegrass music, and had a couple of drinks. It's all over - time to get back to Brissy!
Oh yeah, and they grow 'em big in Alaska! Cabbages that is.





Post 3 - Aug. 13th

We spent yesterday in beautiful Denali National Park. It's a real tourist hotspot, with plenty of buses moving around and the usual tourist traps (restaurants, giftshops, etc.). The highlight of the day was a hike to the top of Mount Healy. The views were spectacular, as the photos attest, and we saw some small but interesting wildlife, including Arctic ground squirrels and a hoary marmot.






Earlier in the day we stopped for lunch at the Savage River, a classic glacier fed system (sparse vegetation, clear water), and I managed to get up close to a pair of ptarmigan ("famous for being dumb" according to bird expert Keith Hobson) with fledglings.




So we didn't see any of the "charismatic megafauna" of the park (bears, wolves, caribou) but it was a great trip nonetheless. We returned tired and happy to our accommodation and got a few precious hours of sleep.

Post 2 - Aug. 11th
Well I made it into Fairbanks on Saturday, sans luggage but in good spirits after inhaling the fresh Alaskan air, which was particularly fresh after 29 hours of travel. My bags were delivered to me first thing in the morning so thankfully I didn't have to give my presentation in my travel clothes (as happened several years ago in New Zealand).

Alaska is beautiful and the people are very friendly. We're having a good time and I'm reminded of home often, most notably from the sound of Canada geese honking away at a wildlife refuge not very far from campus.




The state fair is in town so I stopped in for a peek. All the classic treats were there in great excess - lots of t-shirts with semi-funny slogans, cotton candy, nachos, and deep fried just about anything (halibut and pb and jelly sandwiches being prime examples). And the now-obligatory talent show "Fairbanks has talent" was also on. Good to see the local talent on display.



Last night we hired a cab to take us out to a great joint called the Turtle Club where we had a great feed of seafood. As a tribute to "The Deadliest Catch", I had the king crab, a local favorite, and it was deliciously proteinaceous.



That's all for now; tomorrow I'm off to Denali National Park, home of bears, caribou and North America's highest peak.

Post 1 - Aug. 7th
I'm en route to Alaska for a conference, currently in LAX airport. Thought I would pass along a few shots of Santa Monica pier - freeway by the beach anyone? I took the shots while I was killing a few of the eight hours before my next flight to Seattle. Santa Monica really isn't bad for a one dollar bus ride from the airport. It was a smoggy morning and the sun has just come out (at 1:00 pm), but nevertheless I enjoyed my lunch of clams n' fries and watermelon juice. Two other minor highlights - someone landed a stingray on a line while I was there, and a busker did an excellent version of Paul Simon's "Under African Skies"





I've decided that LA is just like Brisbane, except bigger, dirtier, concretier, and has a wider gap in socioeconomic status (the richest of the rich, the poorest of the poor). So let's say we won't be visiting here as a family anytime soon. I've also decided that I am now officially conditioned to subtropical life. Witnessing people swimming this morning when it was a bone chilling 18 degrees made me think they were crazy. I've gone soft.

Next update will be from the land of the midnight sun!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another winter in the Land of Oz

As we shiver away in our drafty house here in Brissy, we thought we would bring you up to date on the latest in our lives. Things have settled down considerably after a wild few months of travel. I wrapped up the last of the field work for my current projects with a trip to Cooktown and Kowanyama in early June, which means plenty of data to analyze and papers to write, but more importantly more time at home with Laura and Edie. Outside of our Tassie trip, this last trip may have been the best of the lot. We worked in rainforest streams along the coast between Cairns and Cooktown. Absolutely beautiful countryside, and looks the same way it probably did many thousands of years ago. Of course, crocs are particularly threatening in those waters because, due to the Great Dividing Range running so close to the coast, you are never far from the sea, so we had to be on our guard at all times. We managed to get up close and personal with a cassowary that came wandering into the grounds of the motel where we were staying. These impressive birds are under threat from human activity, most notably vehicle strikes, which has led to the strange phenomenon of speed bumps in the rainforest.

I also made a brief clandestine trip back to Canada in June - I was interviewing for a faculty position at Acadia University in Wolfville. There were only three people interviewed so I had a decent shot, but it wasn't meant to be. I found out last week that they had given it to someone else. Although it was a pretty awful trip (only 3.5 days home, 2 days in the air) and it was disappointing to come so close to a great job so close to home, it was a good experience, and hopefully I'll get the next one that comes up. My original goal was just to get an interview, considering it was a pretty high profile position (tenure track, Canada Research Chair), so it bodes well for future applications.

The chilly weather here has slowed down our hiking schedule but we've still managed to do plenty of fun things, including a visit to the Science Center (yes, dinosaurs are cool), lots of market days, baking, and our now-weekly get-togethers with our friend Steph. When we tell Edie that Steph is coming over she immediately says "party!" - it's fair to say that Steph is a fan favorite. We've also started going for night walks. Since it gets dark here just before 6 pm we can take Edie out for a walk before she goes to bed. She loves getting bundled up in her stroller and holding her flashlight to look for possums and echidnas (which we would never see this time of year, but that shouldn't stop her!).

Edie's rapidly expanding vocabulary continues to impress. She greeted the moon the other morning when I opened the curtains after she woke up at 5:30 am, and she's taken to piling plenty of toys and other trinkets into her bed before she goes to sleep. Just when we think she can't get any cuter, she surprises us again.

It's also election campaign time here, with Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard (recently annointed after dumping formerly unstoppable Kevin Rudd with an overnight party insider coup) going against opposition leader Tony Abbott. They present very polarized viewpoints, so it should be a good race. Of course, both are promising a tougher stance on asylum seekers that regularly arrive on Australia's shores, mostly from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Even though these "boat people" represent a small fraction of the number of illegal immigrants in the country - the vast majority are people who came legally and overstayed their visas - they are an easy target for any politician that wishes to cater to a fraction of the population that has mild xenophobia. Undoubtedly it's a difficult issue, but unfortunately it's one that pokes at our base emotions.

That's all for now. We'll enjoy these cool days....it won't be long before we're sweating it out again. Enjoy the pics.

Winter 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Rainbow Room

I took Edie to Southbank today. The Luminarium art exhibit was on, a huge blow-up maze with colored windows. Edie and I both loved it, despite the fact that we had to wait an hour and some in line waiting to get in (she threw her Ernie doll to keep occupied). Brisbane is great for this kind of stuff, we definitely need to get out more often!

Luminarium

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What a month...and what a chronologically confusing post

Hi all,

Last Thursday morning I woke up so happy. Tim’d been up north all week so it was kind of unusual for me to be feeling so great upon waking up alone…Usually when he’s out of town I’m trying my hardest to stay in bed for as long as I can…Either way, I thought I’d take advantage of my mood, slipped on my runners, popped a granola bar into Edie’s hand and took her for a run in the jogging pram. It was a great run. We saw her friend Bingo (a beagle pup), and Edie was ecstatic to find that Bingo wanted to eat her granola bar and then had a great time saying “Bingo, NO!” We also saw some Lorikeets in the neighbor’s tree. Lorikeets are very common here but Edie still gets really excited when she sees them. All in all, it was a great start to a great morning for us. We got back to the house, I put on a pot of oatmeal and we enjoyed breakfast together. As I mentioned before, feeling this good is kind of unusual when Tim is gone…For some reason, the worst luck typically accompanies Tim’s absence, and thus when Tim and I talk while he’s away, he usually gets bad news. But on Thursday morning, things were going so well that I thought that I’d give Tim a call and surprise him with a cheery good morning. I dialed Tim’s mobile and he didn’t pick up, so I prepared to leave an upbeat message. However, just when the beep signaled to leave a message, Edie projectile vomited her oatmeal all over the kitchen table. I hadn’t even had the chance to say “hello”, let alone “we’re doing great here!” I just stuttered into the phone “uhhhh…you didn’t just hear that or your daughter crying, uhhh, ummm, that wasn’t the sound of her vomiting…we’re actually doing great here! Gotta go!” So my good intentions were foiled again, and my good news conversation turned into the more familiar “what do I do? I don’t know what I’m doing here!” Poor Tim. Edie, it turns out, was nursing a stomach bug. It actually turned out to be a rather rough day, given the upbeat start. Thankfully, the bug was short lived with the worst being over by the time she went to bed that night. She did have a great time the next day pointing to her belly and saying “Go AWAY bug!” She’s sleeping now, and is hopefully sleeping all of that bad sickness off. I haven’t yet been hit with the bug, and I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t but I know that my chances at a clean bill of health in the next week are probably quite slim. Tim gets back on Thursday, and we should all be right as rain by then.

So, just before Edie went to sleep this morning (a week later) we made cookies together. It was a whole lot of fun. Zucchini chocolate chip. They’re fabulous and if you want the recipe, just let me know.

I got back from Viet Nam at the beginning of last week (just go with me on the timing thing, it's not important...I was in VN from the 10th to the 18th of May). It was a great trip, and maybe the relaxation factor from that trip has carried over into the relative ease at which I’m handling Tim’s absence this week, given the circumstances. I took notes in order to recount the adventure and hopefully the pictures do it some justice. I should start by saying that the freedom and lack of stress involved with traveling by myself was shocking. I’ve reflected many times since Edie has been born about how much of a stress-case I’ve become, but I can truly say that I left it all behind when I set foot on the plane to Darwin (I traveled Brisbane-Darwin-Ho Chi Min city-Hanoi). Not having to worry about whether there was an empty seat next to me on the plane for Edie to occupy was just the beginning of things that I didn’t have to worry about on this trip.
So I flew to Darwin and then on to Ho Chi Min city (formerly known as Saigon) where I stayed the night. I’m not sure if my relative familiarity with Viet Nam (having been there the year before) or the fact that I didn’t have anyone else to worry about , made my entry into the country pretty non-descript. It seems that last year when we stepped out of the airport into the sea of Vietnamese-speaking people, it was a lot more intimidating. I was able to grab a taxi very easily and didn’t care a lick that I was being ripped off for the ride into the city. I distinctly remember being super-peeved last year when we paid 20$ USD to get to our hotel, because all of the travel books had told us that we should pay no more than 10$...I suspected that I would have to pay 20$ on this trip being a white, female, english-speaking tourist, and I was right. But you know, I got to the hotel safe and sound and the 10$ extra probably would have been wasted anyway. I did chuckle when the taxi that took me back to the airport in the morning charged 7$, I gave the guy 10$ just because I thought it was funny. He looked like I had just handed him a gold nugget, which maybe isn’t that far off. The VND was trading at 1 USD=19,000 VND that day, and 19,000 VND could buy enough food to last almost a week, potentially.

Getting to Hanoi, again, was incredibly simple. I was met at that airport by Sebastien, the only white guy in the joint, and our friend Van Anh’s French-Canadian fiancée. In May, Sebastien and Van Anh were making their pre-wedding rounds in Hanoi prior to their wedding being held in Fredericton in June. Sebastien had spent the 2 weeks prior to my arrival totally immersed in Vietnamese life, and I think it’s safe to say that he was happy to see me. That being said, I’m not sure that it’s just Van Anh’s family, or whether it’s a cultural thing, but in Hanoi people come right up to you, say stuff in Vietnamese and expect you to reply back…it’s really awkward until you realize that it happens all of the time and people don’t seem to be too jilted by your inability to reply. But it’s kind of draining just not being able to communicate with words. It’s one of the only times in my life where I’ve been in a minority group, and I’ve come away thinking that everyone should be at least once in their lives. It’s a very eye-opening experience. In our situation we always had Van Anh to translate for us, so we were lucky. We could use public transport, eat local food, etc., without worrying about how to ask for it. We were also able to know what people were saying about us and in a number of cases, it was not very nice! In one situation a bus driver made the comment that if we wanted to sight-see, that we should get a taxi like all of the other backpacking tourists. Given that one pays the equivalent of 7 cents a busride to anywhere in Hanoi, maybe he had a point, and perhaps he was friends with a taxi-driver who wouldn’t get a chance to rip us off because we were riding a bus. But you know, there’s a reason it’s so cheap. It’s hot, crowded and pickpockets are everywhere. The seats are always taken which means that there are loads of people standing, holding onto the hand loops dangling from the ceiling, and did I mention it’s hot? You can imagine the smell of a hot, crowded bus where most people are riding with their arms above their heads. I couldn’t even stand my own smell! And those are just the busses in the city.

We did decide to take an overnight trip out to Halong Bay, which meant 6 hours in a bus on day one and the same on return. These busses we were actually able to sit in, but they’re rough. Traffic in Viet Nam is incredible, and indescribable…You have to experience it to believe it. No stop signs, no centre lines, no pavement in some cases and pretty much anything goes. Van Anh’s family are friends with a family who live near Halong Bay, and so the father of that family was our tourguide. He actually was in Hanoi when we were, so he traveled by bus with us to get out to Halong Bay. The funny part of this story is that he was getting picked up by our bus at another station the morning we left, and he missed the bus. He apparently didn’t see the bus stop. So he called Van Anh’s mom (who was traveling with us on the bus), while jumping on the back of a motorbike with some guy that he didn’t know, to chase our bus. Apparently he’d been chasing our bus for ½ an hour when he finally caught up, jumped off of the bike and onto our bus as it was still rolling along. He was still in conversation with Van Anh’s mom on his mobile phone as he jumped onto our bus.

Halong Bay was beautiful and I was really glad that we were staying with locals there (the family friends of Van Anh’s family put us up for the night in Van Don). We got to see a lot of local sites that aren’t on the beaten path and really got to rough it a bit. We slept on grass mats under mosquito nets in the sweltering heat, and I couldn’t have been happier. I tried fresh squid for breakfast that next morning…interesting. The fleshy part was good but crunching through the head was a little bit harder to stomach. On the drive to and from Halong Bay I was able to observe in peace, which I love doing. There were so many neat things to take in. Like the fact that most houses open up right on to the main road, and therefore are typically made into little shops where people wheel their stuff out in the day and take it back in at night. These houses are built very skinny, with tall ceilings for cooling, and the higher the building the better. As street-front real-estate is very expensive, most buildings have a shop on their ground floor and family space upstairs. And there are SO many barber shops. Almost every house I was in had a barber chair on the ground floor. I actually witnessed a child (probably 7 or 8 years old) who sat in one of these barber chairs for 3 hours getting his hair cut by an apprentice. What patience! And to think he’d have to get it cut again in a few weeks (Vietnamese hair is a bit wiley, it grows thick, fast and straight, so for men with short cuts, it’s tough to keep it from looking like a chia pet after a few weeks). That’s a huge amount of time for a youngster to invest in getting his locks chopped. I would have given the apprentice two thumbs up for the good job on the lad, but two thumbs down for the insane amount of time it took. Let’s hope he gets better.

Most properties also have walls surrounding them as well. These walls are typically topped with broken glass, which is really interesting in itself. Where does the glass come from? Who spent all the time putting it there? I spent a lot of time thinking of how I could overcome this kind of security system as well. Thick gloves, thick shoes, a bat to break off the sharp bits, seems too easy…So I came to the conclusion that perhaps the glass wasn’t only meant for security purposes. Vietnamese people have a lot of beliefs surrounding spirits and how to ward the bad ones off. A lot of houses have at least one mirror on the front to keep spirits away, maybe glass around property perimeter is another. But I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

I stayed the remainder of my trip in Hanoi with Van Anh’s family. They have a 5 storey house and I stayed on the rooftop floor by myself and loved it. Matresses are a bad idea in a place where humidity is greater than 80% for the entire year, so I got used to sleeping on grass or wooden mats. I also got used to cold showers and wet bathroom floors, and carrying toilet paper and soap everywhere. These two things don’t turn up very much in public bathrooms. The hospitality shown to me was second to none, and I can’t wait to go back. Viet Nam has grown on me.

Since starting this blog, Tim has been home from his trip up north and left again, I turned 30, and our friends Tim and Lindsay have had a baby- Welcome Baby Joel! Tim and Lindsay also had a birthday party for me on June 2nd (my Tim was still up north, and Baby Joel hadn’t joined us on the outside yet). I think it was the most thoughtful birthday party that I’ve had since my Smurfs themed party when I turned 2 or 3…My memory is a little foggy on that one. Anyway, we had homemade popcorn (which Edie pigged out on), stuffed fish and the most amazing cake that I’ve ever eaten, made from my favorite fair trade chocolate and fair trade peppermint tea. Unfortunately Miss Edie pulled the regular kid-at-a-birthday-party stunt, ate too much, and then tossed her cookies. I had taken 3 bites of the amazing cake when this all happened and it saddened me greatly to have to strip her down, clean her up and leave without my cake. Thankfully, Tim and Lindsay didn’t get sick, and also the rest of the cake was returned to us a few days later. It was just as delicious as I’d remembered from when before Edie yacked. Tim (of Team Jardine) called me on the morning of my birthday and told me to look in our picnic basket where I found a lovely note and two tickets to see Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf) for the end of the month. He won points there. After he got back from the trip up north we also took a Sunday night to dine out sans Edie, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. So the start to my 4th decade was an interesting, but good one.

Miss Edie had her first haircut on the Saturday past. She was surprisingly good, given that her frequency of tantrums has increased seemingly exponentially in the last 2 weeks. And who knew that the modern bob would be a better look than that Hulk Hogan mullet that she’d been sporting these past 6 months? She’s so very cute and funny and we love her to death.

Sorry for the long delay…And given that I’m on my own again I’ll be adding pictures bit by bit.

May-June 2010


Love to all,

Laura

Sunday, May 2, 2010

friends, beaches, radios

Howdy all.

There’s not too much to say this week. Things are humming along well in the Jardine household, we’re getting to the end of the second long-weekend in a row (Anzac day last weekend followed by Labour day this weekend). Since the weather is so nice it’s been easy to get out and hike or beach-walk, hang out in the park or go for a good bike ride.

We welcomed Sarah and Justin last weekend, and bid them farewell on Thursday for their road-trip up the eastern coast. It’s great to know that they’re having a great time, but it’s maddening to know that they’re in Australia and we’re not hanging out with them! We’ll reunite later this week before they head home. We may take in an AFL game in the city, but we’re not sure. We’ve been here for over 2 years and still don’t understand that game- and this says a lot considering who I’m married to. We’ve found that sporting events in Brisbane are generally fun to attend though, so we’ll probably give it a go.

I actually will be leaving Brisbane when Sarah and Justin head out. Yep, I’m off to Vietnam for a quick visit with our friend Van Anh and her fiancée who will be in Hanoi visiting with her family prior to their wedding back in Canada. It’ll only be me on this trip, which is kind of exciting and kind of frightening. I’m sure it will be great, and I’m stoked to be going while knowing what to expect (having visited last year at this time). I’m looking forward to Pho, and the yummy pork porridge and sticky rice balls that Van Anh got us for breakfast when we were there last time. I’ll admit that I’m relieved that I don’t have to stress about Edie traveling either...however, Tim probably feels quite differently than I do about this. He’ll be the one tending to Edie for 8 days without mum. He’ll be fine I’m sure, and he’s got access to lots of help here. He doesn’t think he’ll need it, but brother, unless he’s got some magic up his sleeve, he will. Edie + everyday life is a big, big job. She knows ‘no’ now and knows how to use it well. She’s so darn funny. So if you’re around and can lend a hand, don’t let Tim fool you into brushing help aside.

We made a trip out to Bribie Island last weekend for a beachside walk and it was amazing. We took along Sarah and Justin, Steph (our favorite Canadian physiotherapist living in Brisbane and regular Monday night guest) and our friends originally from Michigan, Tim and Lindsay. It’s weird that living in Queensland where beaches are plentiful and amazing, that we generally don’t go to them very often. I think the same can actually be said for lots of Queenslanders. Perhaps because of this, whenever we actually find ourselves at beaches here, we’re usually impressed. But Bribie was so much better than average. It was pretty much deserted (which gets huge points in our books) and so untouched by the development that lines the coast further south and somewhat further north. The whole skyscraper on the beach thing just makes me sad, so a nice clean, untouched, and long stretch of coastline was pure happiness for me. I wish we could have stayed longer.

Our bird sighting list has now reached 116 which is pretty fun. We’ve had a recent surge in sightings because of our trip to Tassie but also because we can actually get out and see birds now without dying of heatstroke. Yay for Fall in Queensland!

Tim will end this post. Enjoy the pictures!

I got to experience my fifteen minutes of fame this week when a media release was sent out about our research. This led to half a dozen radio interviews – most of which went well but ended up being turned into one-sentence sound bytes that you typically hear on the news. These usually offer very little additional insight into what the news broadcaster has already said and are pretty much pointless. They also publish a summary of the story online, which you can see here

However in addition to the shorter clips that go out, there are also the rare “feature” interviews, where you get your time to shine. These are longer and more focused. In fact, while most of the news clip interviews are recorded and edited down to that one sentence, once in a while you get the dreaded, gulp, live interview. My big media day was to end with a live-to-air interview with ABC Far North Queensland (based in Cairns). At around noon the producer told me they would be calling me at 5:20 that afternoon for the interview. Considering our hungry stomachs cause us to eat supper at 5:00 I decided to have them call me at home. You might say that was a mistake. At 4:30 the phone rang and I foolishly picked it up thinking that it was way too early for them to be calling. Laura had just run down to the post office and I was home alone with Edie. Sure enough, it was ABC Radio – “can you do the interview now? We’ll put you on hold and you’ll be on in a moment.” Now anyone who has had a phone conversation with me or Laura while Edie is in the room will tell you that her presence creates an environment that is a) noisy and b) difficult to concentrate on answering questions. So here I am on hold about to go on air and Edie is demanding that I read her a book or push her around on her horsie. Starting to sweat, I quickly grabbed her felts (a zoo scene that she likes to play with where she adds animals and dresses up people), hoping that she could play quietly. Nope. She did the whole “shake the bag while screaming no, no, no” thing.

Time was ticking, I could hear the DJ winding down a spiel about Robert Plant, about to change the subject to fish and my impending nightmare. Just then Laura appeared around the corner, I furiously waved my arms (silently of course) to get her attention, and she raced over just in time for me to sneak out the door and conduct the interview in the relative quiet of our driveway (with motorbikes racing past in the background). It was a fair trade for the possible child abuse charges I could have faced if I had had to resort to locking Edie inside the house and having her screams broadcast over all of North Queensland. Anyway, the interview went well, I’m sure it won’t be the last time I have to juggle Miss E and work. The lesson is – while it’s fun to take your child to work, don’t take work to your child. And also, if you’re ever listening to an interview and you hear a child crying in the background, have sympathy, the poor guy/girl probably just wanted to be home in time for supper.

Bribie and more

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tasmanian adventures

Howdy doo.

Well, it’s been another week of fun in Australia. This time in Tasmania. For those of you who are on the fence about traveling here, Tasmania is a reason in itself to come. Of course, this is the opinion of two homesick Canadians, and I guess that should be taken into consideration as you’ll find out in the remainder of this blog. On a side note, family and friends, if we never return home you’ll find us in Tasmania.

I should begin by explaining that the wife and child are a strong magnet for poor researching Tim…He really could be accomplishing so much more in the field were it not for Edie and I who seem to find so many things to go wrong while he’s away. Unfortunately this leaves him stressing out not only over the fact that he might be eaten by a crocodile today, but that Edie doesn’t poo anymore (this really happened). So, to ease his mind, and also to get our family out to see more of what Australia has to offer, Tim suggested that for this most recent field trip to Tasmania that Edie and I would be welcome company. This would solve the long-distance marriage/family dilemma and as a bonus, I’m pretty handy in the field. Tim is also a good friend to many. And I think it might have been a combination of good-will and fear of having our family out alone in the Tasmanian wilderness that drove him to offer our friend Dominic the opportunity to join us on this trip, just in case we needed a hand. Dominic (who Edie refers to as Domino, and I will too from here on in) is a good American friend of Mexican descent who also happens to be great field worker/scientist and needed to kill a few weeks of overtime work. So he decided to come with us, and actually is staying in Tassie for the next few weeks.

So, what exactly were we doing on this field-trip? Well, the short answer is that we were collecting bugs, water, algae, leaves and long-finned eels. These samples will be used to determine what the eels are eating and where that food comes from. The reason that Tim is looking at eels in particular is because the same species of eel is found in both temperate Tasmania and tropical North Queensland, and everywhere in between along the east coast of the continent. What this information will contribute to is the question of why some fish eat in the ocean while others (perhaps of the same species, as in the case of the long-fined eel) get their food in freshwater. The real underlying question is whether fish actually have the ability or desire to remain in the same place (eating the same stuff) for the duration of their lives, or whether they migrate (eating lots of different stuff) to potentially richer feeding grounds. Not that much different than humans when you think about it. Pardon me as I now push up my nerdy science glasses.

So basically, our plan was for us to travel to the 12 planned sites over 4 days and enjoy our time ‘collecting’ samples. For Domino and I, that meant fishing for eels. What a life, hey? For Tim, it meant collecting everything else (it sounds like he got the short end of the stick but he was the only one getting paid on this trip…and I should mention that Edie did relieve the burden of leaf collection by undertaking this at every site). I definitely thought I had the eel fishing in the bag given my history of eel catching. Growing up, it seemed that for every trout caught, probably 5 eels were also caught. Just ask my dad who always ended up having to unwrap mucous-ridden eels tangled up in a ball at the end of my line, or who had to cut the eel out of the fishing net that I had unwittingly placed the eel that I didn’t want to touch into. Seriously, all I ever needed was a worm and a hook. The eels just came. However, the last time that I had a fishing pole in my hand, I was probably 15. And apparently I’ve lost my knack in my 15 year hiatus. It’s like the eels knew that I was fishing for them this time, and purposefully avoided my line. I caught no eels and the only thing I did catch was a trout fingerling (a huge 10cm). That’s not to say that there were no opportunities…the eel that I almost had (out of the water, hanging off of my beef-cube bait twice) was a real whopper, but he/she got away. It was with great grinding of teeth that I left that site, especially when I had to throw my beef-cube bait into the stream knowing that Mr/Ms eel was going to be able to finish off their lunch without my hook in it. I relearned a lot over the 4 days of fishing. One big lesson being the same that my Dad will always remind me of (it was how I caught my first fish)- patience. Cast your line in and walk away, or sit on a bucket and contemplate life. That is how you catch a fish. So, that’s what I did after 2 days of impatiently casting at every site, and certainly that’s when the eels started biting. I just needed a few more days to hone in on my technique and I’m sure I would have been bringing those eels in. But alas, I got nothing. The only redeeming thing for competitive me was the fact that Domino got nothing also. So poor Tim has no eels, which perhaps means another trip??? All the locals couldn’t believe that we hadn’t caught any eels. Apparently they are quite plentiful. Just embarrassing.

So what was so great about Tasmania? Well, it had all the features of home that we just didn’t realize we miss so much. The placed that we rented for the first two nights was a 2 room house located in a pasture, less than a 10 minute walk to the beach. It had a chimney (which most houses do there), so for the first time in a long time Tim and I enjoyed the heat of a wood stove, which was very necessary. The temperature at night there gets down into the single digits. The blanket on the bed felt like the weight of 5 when you got down under it…Oh how I miss blankets! And nice people. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of nice people that we know in Brissy, but that’s just it. They’re people we know. Generally people we don’t know aren’t go-out-of-their-way friendly to us, and some (more than we’d like to admit) are downright rude. The people we ran in to in Tassie were just really, really, down-home friendly and they really had no reason to be, although you could argue that they were earning out tourist dollars. The general friendliness more than anything, really reminded us of home. And all of the yards with old cars rusting out in them – good ol’ economic depravity…That was a little taste of eastern Canada as well. We really were a bit sad to return to Brisbane after the trip, which says a lot considering how livable this city really is. Perhaps city slicking is just not our cuppa. I think that’s safe to say.

Edie traveled really, really well which also puts a positive spin on any of our travel destinations. We made the tactical move of renting cottages or apartments with 2 rooms rather than sticking to the hotel circuit. This was golden. We were able to set up a room with a single bed just like hers at home (mattress on the floor with lots of pillows to romp around in, complete with dollies which we brought from home), and basically leave her there for the night as if it were any normal night. She bought this hook-line and sinker. It wasn’t quite as smooth as going to bed at home is, but it was SO much better than our hotel room stay in Melbourne (see 2 posts ago for that adventure). Domino unfortunately had to sleep in the living room of each of the places that we stayed, but he didn’t seem to mind. As for driving, Miss E has a rocky history with traveling by car…Ask my sisters about it someday if you have the chance. I believe they may have experienced the worst of the worst when Edie and I met them in Maine in August last year and had to drive 2 hours to get to New Brunswick after having traveled across the planet earlier that day. Top of the lungs screaming the entire ride. I cringe at that memory. Regardless, she was really great on this trip. It probably had something to do with the hearts she had in her eyes for Domino, whenever he was around she was quite pleasant, including in the car.

We’re super excited to welcome Little Says back on Sunday. Our first repeat visitor!

Enjoy the pictures!

Love to all,

Laura

Tassie

Friday, April 9, 2010

We've been everywhere, man.

Hello all and Happy Belated Easter. It was a big four-day weekend for us (one of the advantages of the Australian life) so we managed a couple of rainforest hikes. Edie once again missed out on Purling Brook Falls, one of the nicest walks in southeast Queensland. She spent most of it fast asleep on my back even as we passed under the waterfall and got a little wet.

I've been on the move a lot in the past two months, with trips to the Flinders River (north Queensland), Mitchell River (ditto), and the Gippsland region (Victoria) for various sampling events. Victoria reminded me a little of home, with some nice clear water streams with gravel bottoms that had trout and eels, very unlike what I've become used to up north. It was also nice to be able to splash around in the water without worrying about a hungry reptile making a meal out of me.

This Wednesday we (and by we, this time I mean the whole family) are traveling to Tasmania to do some more sampling. Laura has kindly offered to come along to try and catch eels with a rod and reel so I can take samples. Apparently she has a bit of experience fishing them from her days on the Chegoggin River. And of course Edie will pitch in by variously collecting leaves and picking up stones. I think she plans on bringing her binoculars. Either way, it's going to be a great combined work trip/vacation, and we're pumped about seeing Tassie for the first time.

After our return from Tassie we'll be once again welcoming sister Sarah for her second vacation down under. She and Justin fly into Sydney on April 21st. No doubt we'll find plenty of things to do while they are here. But the fun doesn't end there. Laura is heading back to Vietnam in early May to see Van Anh and celebrate her pending marriage. That means Dad is staying home for a week with Miss Edie. We'll keep that a secret from little ears for the moment, as it could get ugly.

All for now, enjoy the pics!

Easter

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some new pictures to reattract readers

Summer Fun Down Under

Boy are our faces red...

Ummmm…(shuffle, shuffle) so ya. Sorry for the unintended 2 month break. It wasn’t you, it was me! Yadiyadaa.

Unfortunately for Team Jardine in Australia, this time of year always kicks our butts. The bulk of Tim’s fieldwork falls in these first 4 months which means that he’s gone more often than he’s here, leaving a cranky wife and bubby to hold the fort down. I’ll say that this year has been easier than last in that a) Edie is in daycare most days so that I can get to work or catch a zzz or two if necessary and b) Edie poos now. That’s not to say that she’s been easy to deal with on my own. In fact, for the last month and a half I’ve had the dickens of a time trying to get her to stay asleep at night. Almost every night she’d make her way to our room, end up kicking Tim out to the couch (if he was home) or I’d end up having to sleep with her in her bed. And sleeping with Edie is no picnic. I equate it to the honeymoon sleep: Edie’s always looking for something to hold and I’m spending the night trying to devise ways of discretely avoiding contact. So, there hasn’t been a whole lot of sleeping going on in this house over the past few months, which hopefully excuses our absence in the blogosphere.

Given the amount of time that it’s been since we’ve last posted, I’m in a bit of a quandary as to what to even write about...I’m rarely at a loss for words for very long though.

Tim, Edie and I did take a family weekend trip to Melbourne in between two of his fieldtrips. We think that Melbourne is a lot like Montreal, and we were very happy to wander through the streets and along the river for the two days that we spent in the city. The weather was gorgeous and it’s very easy to find great spots to eat while out and about. It was really enjoyable to spend the days there. The nights, however, were a bit of a living nightmare (for Team Jardine who thrives on good sleep). Edie hasn’t been sleeping well at home, and she certainly didn’t sleep very well in a strange hotel room. We’d rented a portable crib which she outright refused to use, meaning that Tim slept on the floor for 2 nights and I slept next to sprawling, crawling, restless Edie (who also managed to fall out of the bed). If you could have been a fly on the wall in our bathroom on our first night, you would have had a good chuckle. Tim and I stood in the bathroom for an hour that night waiting for Edie to settle down in the crib. You could cut the tension in that room with a knife by the time we finally gave in and went back out into the main room. I’m sure Edie thought it was all in a good nights work. Ahhh parenting. In the end, the best way to settle Miss E back down into some form of sleep, was to list off the names of her friends and to talk about how they were sleeping and how we should be sleeping too, I’ve used this tactic a lot since then. The things you learn on the fly as a parent…I should write a book. Oh yes, following this trip I walked away with a huge coldsore, and Tim had a situation on his right eyebrow which pretty much half-shut that eye…Stress doesn’t look very good on either of us.

We’re excited by the prospect of some visitors shortly. My sister Sarah and her (insert whatever word you would use for significant other here) will be hitting this lovely island paradise up in late April. We’re really looking forward to their visit. Our friends the Beavers have also confirmed a trip in late August, with the potential for more Bishop’s University alumni to join them on the trip. I’m sooooo excited for this!

It’s a new footy season here in Brisbane and we’re starting things off in fine style by taking in a game on Sunday afternoon. Home games are always so much fun, whether the Broncos are on a winning or a losing streak, they always manage to pull off big wins at home. Being a non-lover of violence, I surprise myself every time I’m at one of these games by booing, or cheering with the best of them…Picture the woman who yells “the chair! Hit him with the chair!” at a wrestling match, and you’d have an idea of what I turn in to. I blame this behavior, like most everything else, on my mom. She used to ring her cowbell like it was going out of style at my brother’s hockey games. I used to be embarrassed, but now I’m kind of proud of her.

Well, summer is finally gone and the change in weather here could be likened to what it’s like to go from April to May in Canada, with some obvious differences. You all of a sudden feel much happier and can’t put your finger on just why, until you realize that (and here’s one difference) you’re not covered in sweat at 5am (as opposed to having realized that you haven’t seen the sun for the last 4 months). It’s just such a more tolerable temperature here right now. I’m excited that I don’t have to change my clothes 5 times a day because I was so stinking hot. Of course, we’ll be complaining about the cold in a few short months, but for now I am reminded of why living in Queensland is so good. Too stinking far away from home, but a good place to be otherwise.

Miss E is growing up fast. She’s taken to reciting pretty much anything she hears, including the alphabet, which is really fun. She’s in LOVE with reading, all day long she just wants books. I guess nerdiness may be genetically linked, and if this is the case, she’s doomed with the pair of us for parents. She’s really into Dr. Suess and every now and then she’ll be making sounds that we can’t quite figure out, and then realize that it’s a Suess rhyme…Today she was talking about Nixie Knox (see X in Dr Suess’s ABC).

Love to everyone, we’ll get this blog thing back on track now that Tim is home for a bit of a stretch. Thanks to all who’ve been shaking your fingers at us for not posting.

Laura

PS. Congratulations to Shona and Ryan on the addition of lovely Lydia to their growing family. And to Tim and Lindsay for qualifying for Australian Medicare- Go North American researchers with pregnant spouses who irresponsibly move to Australia!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Season of Cuteness

January Goodness

Hello folks,

Laura here. Happy belated Australia Day. It’s an amazing time to be down under- the worst of the summer humidity is over (touch wood, as the say down here), lots of great produce is at peak season and we’ve got ~4 months of great fall-like weather to look forward to. The thing that would just put us over the top in terms of happiness would be a nice visit from family/friends, preferably both. Any takers? 2009 was a great year for visitors here, I hope we see lots more this year.

To celebrate Australia Day (though there are those who choose not to celebrate, for good reason), Australians generally eat lots of meat. I have yet to find out why this is the case (there are a few theories floating out there, one involving a polish prince who had a soft spot for sausages…the details are vague), but we decided to join in on the action with a backyard BBQ on the 26th. Our friend Steph the Canadian attended our celebrations as our special and only guest, and because she is gluten intolerant, carbs were scarce to be found on the menu. Oddly enough, Tim and I have been really good at not eating meat for the past few months…Ya. Broke that streak. On the morning of Aus day we went to a family carnival with a petting zoo, pony rides and lots of fun stuff. Unfortunately Miss E was a bit under the weather so it wasn’t as well enjoyed as it could have been. She did have fun watching the ponies though.



So there is a crow that hangs out on the corner of a street near us that harasses Tim every morning and evening as he rides by on his bike. Sometimes it just makes its presence known by making a large swoop above him an casting a shadow, other days it’s a full on attack where Tim has almost been in numerous accidents from having to swipe at it while whizzing by. I tell you this as a) a concerned wife but also as b) someone who has a hard time not laughing at others’ misfortune (not real misfortune, like starving people, more like at that guy who unfortunately just slipped on a banana peel). I’ll admit it. I laugh to myself every time I picture Tim swiping at this crow, even though he could be seriously hurt someday. I’m not proud of this, but I think I might come by it quite innocently…I’ll explain with a story…The other day I was pushing Edie on her swing and bent over to pick something up. When I came up, I miscalculated her speed and she hit me square in the hip. I doubled over in pain but couldn’t help but laugh as I heard the biggest giggle I’ve ever heard come out of the Edester. She laughed so long and hard over that one. Which left me with two conclusions to choose from: 1) I’ve laughed at others’ misfortune enough times in front of Edie that she thinks it’s ok to do it herself (yikes) or 2) That she’s genetically predisposed to doing so. Given the pranksters in my family, I’m going to go heavy on the genetic influence on this one.

If I do say so myself, our lasagna garden is looking good these days.
Miss E is a big fan of being outside, so we spend a good chunk of time everyday watering, weeding, trimming or just looking at it. I’ve already had to trim everything back numerous times, but everything just keeps coming back healthier and greener every time. After suffering from a black thumb in Australian gardening for so long, our herb garden has brought back my plant-growing confidence. It has also supplied us with more herbs than I know what to do with. We do have a second garden that we started shortly after the first in which we hopefully planted two tomato plants and a cilantro plant. After about a month in a half of no growth and painfully slow discoloration, I finally pulled the tomato plants. I also made the decision to live and let die everything else that popped up, since I’ve been fertilizing the garden with compost. Good old natural selection at work.
It has been about a month since I stopped pulling up the ‘weeds’, and the lucky dip garden is thriving. A couple of tomato plants have shown up, a few unidentified melon plants (or pumpkin/zuccini…can’t tell for sure), and an avocado tree…and my cilantro is still hanging on. Lots of blossoms but no fruit yet…We’ve got a beautiful tree in our backyard that’s in full bloom right now as well, it’s called the Pride of India, and has provided countless hours of beautiful shade during these warm days where it’s just way too hot to be in the house. It begs the question- is it really January?



So, I’m currently working for the man. Quite literally my man. After receiving the bad news in December that I didn’t get the scholarship to start a PhD at Griffith this year, we’d made plans for me to be going back to work as a research assistant in January. It turns out that Tim needed some sample processing done ASAP…So I’m cutting fish for 5 hours a day at the moment with intention to be starting up with my old supervisor in a few weeks. How do I feel about this? Pretty good. Tim’s not such a bad boss and it‘s nice to leave work at work and not have to think about it otherwise. Edie’s been happy to be spending time at the family-based daycare that we’ve got her enrolled in. We get a daily write-up of all of the fun stuff that she gets into there, trampoline, sandpit, swingset, painting station, etc., and get artwork on a daily basis. It feels so good to know that she’s in good hands everyday.

We’ve been hooked on tennis these past two weeks. The Australian Open is happening in Melbourne, and the action is good. Sadly, this means that reading has taken a backseat, and we’re feeling like couch potatoes every night…We make ourselves feel better by exercising earlier in the day, and remembering that it’ll all be over by this weekend. Then instead of feeling fat and lumpy from sitting in front of the TV every night we’ll feel great about having worked up a mental sweat by reading on the couch.

I must tell about some new friends that we’ve made here. We have been pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Tim and Lindsay from the US who have an eerily similar story to ours. They arrived here late in the year last year, ~3 months pregnant, Tim working for the same institute as Tim on a 3 year contract, and quite overwhelmed at what it’s like to move from North America to Australia knowing that there is a bun in the oven. We’ve been spending lots of time with them because we like them and also because it makes us feel good to actually be able to help someone else out when we’ve been receiving so much help from others since we arrived back in 2008. The last three weekends we’ve been hiking together on Saturday mornings and Lindsay, Edie and I have been doing lots of hanging out during the week since they arrived. We are really glad that they are here as it helps us to have them here as well. Case in point- Our camera broke just before Christmas, they happened to have a spare and handed it over gladly. So you can thank them (and Steph the Canadian who’s always got a camera in her hand) for the few, but lovely photos we’ve posted over the past few months.

Love to all,

Laura

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Beginnings

Hey folks!

2010 is well underway and life is good under the Team Jardine roof. I'm enjoying the sweltering heat (>30 everyday) and I can't say I miss the snow and wind chill on offer back home. Laura of course, misses our snowshoes but I think will begrudgingly miss the summer heat once we're shivering at night in June.

Not a lot to report since we rang in the new year, except for our first ever family camping trip. Ok so it was only one night and we went with our neighbors who had all the necessary gear, but it still counts right? Edie had her borrowed port-a-cot set up inside a three man tent from work and she got the best sleep out of all of us. In fact, in the middle of the day there was a downpour that happened to coincide with her nap, so she happily snoozed while we frantically tried to divert the mass of water that was accumulating in the middle of our campsite. Serves us right for building on a floodplain! We were all soaked to the bone but happy. It isn't a proper camping trip without a little discomfort. That night I shared the tent with Edie and her port-a-cot, and since the tent was only big enough to stretch out an average-sized adult diagonally, and her cot was taking up half the space, I spent the night in the fetal position and woke up with leg cramps. Hooray for camping! All told it was a lot of fun, especially since we were camped on the edge of shallow salty lake with a sand bottom, which made for some good splashing with Edie. One thing we learned is that Aussies sure know how to camp. I don't think I've met a single person here who didn't spend at least part of their summers camping while they were growing up. And some of the setups they had, you would swear they were squatters with no plans to ever return to civilization.

From there we stopped in with our friends Mike and Lisa (plus their three kids and Lisa's parents) in Coolum Beach to celebrate Mike's 40th birthday. The area actually reminds us a lot of the south shore of Bermuda, with long sandy beaches interspersed with rocky cliffs, beautiful blue water and rock walls on the roads. We stayed for two days and it was a blast. We had the entire downstairs of a rented house to ourselves, and the house had a pool with plenty of toys and was a 10 minute walk to the beach. We pigged out on curries and barbequed burgers, sausages and swordfish, swam three or four times a day, and generally forgot about all the stress of life for awhile. However the last night was punctuated by one of those "what's the point of our jobs and careers" conversations, aided of course by the combination of sparkling wine, beer and cider in which we were indulging. It was hard to drag ourselves back to work after that weekend!

Since I can't properly keep up with the NHL, NFL playoffs, or winter olympics buildup, I'm settling for the season of tennis that got underway this month with Australian Open warmup tournaments. Andy Roddick won the tourney here in Brissy, but the favorites for Melbourne are last year's champ Nadal and of course Federer. Regardless of who wins, we can look forward to high-performance athletes wilting in the Melbourne summer heat. All I can say is, it's hard enough to walk a hundred meters this time of year, let alone run back and forth swinging a tennis racket for four hours straight.

Laura starts back to work tomorrow, 5 days a week for 5 hours a day, so Miss Edie is headed to day care. A new phase for the Jardine clan, we'll keep you posted how it all turns out. Until then we'll keep enjoying the Aussie summer with friends both old and new.

PS - sorry about the lack of pics with this post - we'll get that sorted soon.