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,


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.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

He looks at her, she looks at him, "we survived" they quietly wisper in unison

And this, folks, was what you would have witnessed on the deck of our friends' home at the stroke of midnight 2010, just after having released firecrackers, sparklers and a few silent prayers that Edie, who was sleeping in the room next to the very loud deck, would remain asleep through the hullabaloo. If you're wondering what exactly it was that we survived, I'd suggest that there's some great reading material in our archives from 2009...You can find all of the wonderful details there. I'm going to keep this very short as it's jolly hot here in front of the computer.

We spent our first holiday season in Aus this year, and it was good! Certainly one of the things that has made it so great is the fact that we've been sharing a lot of the holidays with our friend Steph from Canada. Just having another Canuck around that appreciates the same things that we do in this season had been amazing. We cooked a full-on holiday meal together (gluten free, which we weren't sure was possible) just before we left for Maryborough (4 hours north), and it was just what the doctor ordered. Our stay in Maryborough was wonderful and relaxing...we've got some great friends up there who took great care of us and gave us the grand tour of the town which was built heavily around the train industry in Australia. Model trains feature a lot in all of the Chrissy Decos (Aussie-speak for Christmas decorations) in Maryborough. Edie enjoyed all of the festivities and slept really well, making things really easy on mom and dad. We've been meeting with friends over the break for lots of good food and socializing, and we spent New Years up the street with neighbours from all over. I can say with all honesty that this New Years Eve was the best I've experienced yet. I don't know if it was sheer relief that 2009 was finished and we really had survived, or because most of the friends there were new parents too and our kids were all asleep, or because we were just able to relax in good company, or because I've rarely made it to midnight on New Years Eve, but I will look back on this one with fondness.

On behalf of Team Jardine, here's to you and yours with hopes for a great new year.