Friday, February 18, 2011

Landing (Invasion) Day

Hello folks,

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of our arrival on this continent. Feb 18th 2008 feels like so long ago and yet we still feel new and undecided about anything, as we did when we arrived. Funny that is, hey? As Edie would say, 'cheers big ears', here's to another action-packed three years, wherever they take us and you. Love to all.

From Drop Box

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tassie pics

Tasmania 2011

Tassie adventures

Good evening friends,

At about the beginning of December Miss E figured out how to highjack our evenings by postponing her bedtime by about an hour and a half. It's taken a while to figure out just how to deal with this, and I'm not sure that our solution is sustainable...But, I have finished my “bedtime book reading with Edie” segment, and Tim is now in telling stories about kitty cats, puppy dogs and fairies, if all goes as planned she should be asleep within the hour. It makes for very little Tim and Laura time in the run of a day, and we suspect that Miss E is on to the fact that she won't be the only game in town by the time the end of March rolls around so she's getting what she can while she can. This makes it sound like we haven't told her about the new bub, when in reality we talk about it all the time with her. She's very excited for a new playmate, for various reasons I think- 1) she gets to be a big sister, aka, the boss, and 2) when the new bub arrives mom will be able to do stuff for Edie again. As an example I give you an excerpt of our conversation this evening just before Tim and I swapped over on the bedtime roster-

Mom: Goodnight Edie, I love you
Edie: Can you sleep in my bed?
Mom: Mom needs to sleep in her own bed because she's too big to sleep in Edie's bed
Edie: When the new playmate comes out then you will sleep in my bed again
Mom: Ummm, yes dear...

At this point Tim has heard this exchange and we both look at each other wondering if she'll hold us to this (guaranteed, she's like an elephant and never forgets), and then how we'll work our way out of the deal when trying to deal with 2 children and bedtime. What fun to come!

We arrived back from Tasmania just over a week ago and need to give you some highlights. It was an amazing and exhausting trip and Tasmania didn't fail to completely win us over once again. We've decided that it's our get-away place: so much like home (minus the family) and a truly delightful break from Queensland life, especially the mid-summer humid and hot/flooding/cyclone prone Queensland life.

So first off, Tas is a 2.5 hour direct flight from Brisbane when you fly into Launceston, so that's what we did. Miss E is a star traveller, made a few buddies on the plane and in general was a treat to have along on the flight. She's especially keen on being helpful to the flight stewards, which made things pretty easy. Such a far cry from the flight from hell which was the Sydney-Vancouver flight back in December '08...Where Edie perhaps still holds the record for the longest tantrum by a 3 month old...Regardless, from Launceston we drove south to a town called Ross about halfway between Launceston and Hobart, where we stayed at an old cherry orchard bed and breakfast called Somercotes. It was originally a family settlement established in the 1820's and has kept its historic qualities. We stayed in a 2 bedroom stone cottage on the property and revelled in the juicy cherries (in season and off the orchard) and quaint surroundings. Edie fell in love with the giant turkeys roaming the grounds along with the sheep. She's still talking about how the turkeys would jump off the ground to try and knock apples off of the apple trees. She spent a lot of time outside there. Our sleeping situation was a little rough since Miss E had to revert back to sleeping in a single bed (yes, she sleeps in a Queen bed at home, was there ever any question?), I found her screaming and half hanging out of the bed by about 2am, needless to say it was an indication of what her sleep would be like for the rest of the trip. The next morning we had a bacon and egg breakfast and hit the road.

That day our goal was to bypass Hobart on the way down to Southport, and sample a site along the way. The sampling went well, the bypassing of Hobart wasn't so successful. Tim had decided that we would take a 4-wheel drive track over a mountain to get to where we were going rather than drive through the city of Hobart. We had a good sturdy 4-wheel drive vehicle, and it sounded like an adventure, so why not, hey? Here are 2 good reasons: 1) Pregnant wife and crazy 2 year old child are absolutely useless in any situation that involves thinking your way out of a sticky situation and 2) Pregnant wife and crazy 2 year old child can provide no physical help in getting yourself out of a sticky situation. The first couple of k's up the mountain track were not so bad, kind of scary in places but drivable, but getting worse the further up the mountain you went. At about 5k's we were seeing water-filled holes on the track that a) our vehicle could have disappeared into and b) made the track barely passable. The breaking point (i.e. turning around and giving up) was when we were stuck in a deep rut which happened to have a row of jagged boulders along-side that came within centimeters of our vehicle when Tim tried to go forward or backwards. Just what we would have done if we couldn't have gotten our vehicle unstuck, we don't know...There are a lot of reasons that would have been very bad. But Tim did get us out, and aside from a few big klunks and rattles underneath we were able to get off of the mountain relatively unscathed. On our way back down we drove past a local going up the mountain who asked us how the track was holding out after all of the rain they'd had in the past couple of weeks...Now when a local has to ask the Canadian idiots in a very muddy 4WD how the road was, (indicating that the locals weren't even using the track) there's a bad sign. Again, just glad we got out of there.

We got to Southport late that afternoon and relaxed in our beachfront cottage. Beachfront sounds lovely (and it was) but the beach was much more like a beach you'd find on the north Atlantic seaboard. Frickin' cold. That didn't stop us from maximizing our time on the shoreline. We stayed at the cottage for 3 nights, and sampled various rivers in the vicinity over that time. On the beach, Edie was especially keen on the shells and one part of the near beach which had some really big rocks that got submerged with each tide and which were covered in green algae. She actually made herself an imaginary house near these rocks. The door to her imaginary house was perpetually in need of repair and Edie was quick to use imaginary oil, an imaginary hammer and an imaginary screwdriver to fix it. We had a lot of fun there. On a spare morning we also took a drive to the southernmost tip of Australia (by vehicle, you can walk further south if you're so inclined, maybe we'll tackle it someday). It was cold and beautiful. It kind of reminded me of places I've been in Newfoundland, but it was warmer and the water was clearer. There were 'thermal springs' nearby southport which we checked out, and decided that we've acclimatized to Queensland weather seeing that these pools were roughly 28 degrees, and 28 degrees does not feel warm anymore. I bailed pretty early. We also took a hop onto the Ida Bay railway, which is a long-standing tourist attraction in the area along an old railway line which used to be used to deliver limestone and other goods. It was a nice little trip despite keeping wiggly Edie within the train seat, no small feat.

The last night in Tas we spent in the city of Hobart in an apartment suite. It was lovely but we missed the beach. We found a park nearby the next morning and Edie spent hours there just going from the teeter totter to the swings. In the time there, quite a few people came in and out of the park. When I came to retrieve them, Edie had attached herself to some older girls and was quietly bossing them around by trying to relay her commands through Tim. Hilarious. Shy but domineering, wonder who she picked that one up from. Later that morning we hit the Salamanca markets to find some good sausages for lunch and were suprised and happy to run into our old Canadian friend Peter Edwards, one of the first people we met here in Oz. That was a bit of a shocker considering we rarely see him in Brisbane.

I mentioned that we 'sampled' rivers in Tasmania. That was the underlying goal of this trip, as part of the ongoing eel project that Tim is working on in which Edie and I provide free labour. At each stream that we sampled we collected leaves, bugs, algae and water in order to pair this data up with stable isotope data from eels collected in the area, to determine what eels are feeding on in those systems. The items collected also help to determine how productive these streams and rivers are. All of this helps to answer a larger question of whether fish that migrate from sea to freshwater during their lifespans actually have a 'choice' in whether to migrate or not...i.e. Do they migrate to get to more plentiful food sources? Anyhow, this was our second field trip as a family to collect data for this project and it was a blast. Edie was so happy to be in nature for most of the week and was particularly happy helping Dad out in the streams. Since I was pretty useless when it came to navigating steep riverbanks, at some sites Tim took Edie down to the river by himself. I wasn't sure I was ok with this at first, in case something happened where Tim couldn't get to Edie quickly, but we discovered that if we sent her down with snacks she was perfectly happy to putter around safely and help Dad when he needed it. At the first site that we tried this on, Edie accidentally dropped a wrapper from her Tiny Teddy snacks into the stream. I was on the bank watching, saw Tim contemplate what he should do for about half a minute and then laughed my butt off as he charged down the stream in waders to retrieve the wrapper...Not an easy task. But he pulled it off and felt that Edie had witnessed a lesson in environmental stewardship and how important it was to not litter. In true hypocritical parenting fashion, the next day we were driving to another site while Edie was coloring in the back seat. The roads there are not straight by any means, and coming around a sharp bend she tossed her cookies- i.e. she puked. We had no option at the time but to throw vomit soaked paper towels out of the window...and are just hoping that Edie can make the distinction between biodegradable items (though vomit soaked) being ok to toss but not plastic. Ahhh parenting, a.k.a, self-justification.

I should mention that we were 'helped' on one sampling day by another capable, but out-of-commission-due-to-the-addition-of-a-new-bub researcher, Dan Warfe, and her 3 month old daughter Lexi. They live in Tasmania. We love Dan and she and Lexi were great company. Dan helped a lot with knowing/finding good sites to sample. It's funny to think though that on that day we had two bubs, two mums, and Tim for a job that really should have taken 1 person. The joy of the family vacation/work trip is not lost on us.

I mentioned in our last posting that Tim and I were set to see Sufjan Stevens at the Tivoli upon our arrival home on the 30th. We knew we'd be so tired, but were pretty excited about the show either way. We were also aware that we would be pushing our limits for time with our plane arriving in Brisbane at 6:30 that night and the show starting at 7 (we were counting on a long opening act), us having to go home to get Edie to bed and then get back into the city...So you can imagine our dismay when we got to our car at the airport and found a flat tire on the drivers side. Rather than sulk however, Tim ran to the valet station, borrowed a bike-tire pump and pumped his heart out on our front tire while onlookers laughed. It did the trick and got us home where we met the baby sitter, popped Edie into bed (popped sounds quick, it was more like an anxious hour of telling stories), called a cab to get us back to the city and walked through the door of the Tivoli as Sufjan and his band were coming on stage. It was perfect timing. And it was an amazing show. For those who know of his work, his most recent album is a bit of an electronic diversion from his former folky banjo-plucking, and the show was based around his new stuff. To quote my husband from his ramblings:

"[The music is] Quite a departure from his previous stuff, but his formidable talent comes through in a pretty wild stage show that included breakdancing (white boy style a la Chris Bowes), a balloon drop, neon space alien costumes, vocal distortion and plenty of reverb. Just about everything that should make you shudder. But of course it was absolutely spectacular."

The show was totally worth the hassle, I'm glad that we do stuff that doesn't necessarily make great sense in the present because it's always so much better than expected when it works out well. It's pretty much the story of our lives.

So we're back into the swing of things, Edie's back in daycare after a 2 month break by our carer, which means that I'm back at work and we're all getting ready for the arrival of E's new playmate in March. Everything looks good from a pregnancy perspective and based on the last ultrasound at 34 weeks, we'll have a new little bubby that resembles Mr. Potato head. Awesome! Another fun piece of news- my Mom has booked her ticket to come down in May and June to help out with the new bub and with Edie's surgery which is scheduled for the 25th of May. Also awesome!

Love to all,