Saturday, February 28, 2009

Australian Bushfires

Last Sunday was a National Day of Mourning in Australia for the Victorian bushfire victims.
I was going to post something about it then, but I haven't been very well all week, so it didn't happen. This tragedy is still on my mind, and fires are still raging in Victoria. As with any disaster, there is a huge flurry of activity in the beginning, but then new stories emerge and interest starts to wane. I know it is still big news in Australia, and it still is to me. I found the following on YouTube and wanted to share it. My favorite image is the Australian flag at the end. It is badly damaged, but still flying.

Be sure to watch the video full screen and turn the volume up.
The total fatalities is now 210.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Electronically Savvy

Our youngest son, Samuel, tends to be a bit obsessive about things.
His first great obsession was a foam letter T. T went with him everywhere, there was not substitution. If T was ever misplaced..........

it was a disaster of monumental proportions!

Then came the great "Airplane, bus, truck and train" obsession that lasted far to long for our sanity to stay intact! Every time an airplane, bus, truck or train was seen or heard, Samuel calmly announced it. The catch was, you had to repeat the word exactly how he wanted you to, or he escalated in volume and temper!!
It's a bus.
It's a bus!
It's a bus!!
It's a bus!!!
It's a bus!!!!
IT'S A BUS!!!!!
Thankfully, that obsession has now passed as well. It was PURE TORTURE driving down the interstate to get my daughter from school. Have you any idea how many buses, trucks, trains and airplanes we saw!!
It seemed like a trillion.
That obsession has now moved on and has been replaced by technology.

I never thought I would have to restrict my 3-year-old's computer use.

We have a child gate on our study door. If it is left open, Sam sneaks in, logs himself on and plays his favorite game. If you happen to be logged on, he will log you out of whatever programs you have open.

Sam calls this his "ABC Game".
It is a wonderful tool for learning letters and learning to read.
Just not all day, every day!
To make it even better, it is completely free!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pay It Forward

OK, to win on my hubby's cousin Amy's blog, , I had to post this on mine.The first 3 people to leave a comment on this post will receive a gift from me. There's a small catch...You knew there would be didn't you? Post this on your blog then come back and leave a comment, telling me you're in. Fun, huh? Remember, only the first 3 comments receive the gift.

I like to give-away books, and I happen to have 3 extra books on hand, so that will be my 3 gifts.

1 copy of "In the Bush" by Roland Harvey

I have 2 copies of "Are we there yet? A Journey around Australia" to also give-away


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow......

Jessica has very long hair. We find her very long hair everywhere. Most recently, the vacum cleaner stopped sucking stuff up. On further investigation, we found that it had sucked up its quota of Jessica hair and the rollers had ensnared enough Jessica hair to make several wigs.

Jessica's hair needed to be trimmed, a good trim.

Jessica decided that she could part with 10 inches and then donate it to "Locks of Love." This is the 2nd time that Jessica has done this and I am proud of her.

10 inches and then some later......

Ta Dah!!!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chug, Chug, Chugging Down Memory Lane!

My little boy, Samuel, loves trains. He is particularly fond of Thomas the Tank Engine. At the state fair last week we got to see a exhibit of model trains, old steam engines, etc..
It bought back memories from my take a walk with me down memory lane.

When I was in 3rd grade, our school participated in the 100th anniversary of passenger trains in Tasmania. I am not sure if that was exactly what the anniversary was, but it was something to do with trains! We all got to ride on a steam train from Ulverstone to Launceston. It was an all day event, and was terribly exciting because we missed out on school for a day! We each also received a commemorative gold coin.
As we chugged along I remember at each railway crossing there were people lined up to wave as we steamed on past. When we reached Launceston we walked a short distance to the city park to have a picnic lunch. It was a fun place. There were monkeys exhibited in this park, so that made it even more interesting. The monkeys are no longer there, but the park is still beautiful and a lot of fun.
The trip back home seemed to take longer and wasn't as exciting, but I think it was one of the best field trips I had during my school years. Ever since this adventure, I have always enjoyed travelling by train.
My next train trip was with my Mum. We had been to visit my Auntie Lyn I think. We travelled from Burnie to Ulverstone. When I was deemed old enough, my friends and I would catch the train from Ulverstone to Devonport. The train station was a very short walk to the movie theatre and it saved my parents considerable time allowing us to do this. My friends and I were very sad when the passenger train service ended. It just wasn't cost effective to keep it going.
One of my favorite things about visiting England was riding the trains. When I lived in Perth, Western Australia, I also made use of the train service - as well as the buses. One of the places we will visit when we go back to Australia in June, is the Don Railway. It is a train museum, but they give rides, and that is an experience and a memory that I want my little boy to have.

If you want to share other people's walk down memory lane, click on the link at the top of my post.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Family Night

Every Monday night we have Family Home Evening. Why do we do this every Monday night?
Our church recommends that every Monday night be set aside for family time, but also because it is a god thing to do! We do a variety of things. One night we may have a formal lesson that goes along with whatever the kiddos are learning at church. Sometimes we go out to eat and then go to the book store. Another night we may deliver cookies to people or invite someone over for dinner and to participate in family home evening with us. In the summer we often go to the park.
We also like to play games.
Last night we didn't actually play this particular game - we had a Wii bowling tournament.

But, a week or so ago we were looking for a game that Samuel could and would participate in.
In the depths of our game closet we found "Splat". We hadn't played this game for a very long time. In fact, I'm not sure if they even sell this game anymore. If they don't, it is a shame.

Everyone has 2 bugs made out of play dough, the object of the game is to get those 2 bugs to the finish line. The other players will have several opportunities to splat your bugs. If that happens, you have to make a new bug and start it at the beginning.
This is a very tension relieving game.

I didn't realize that some of the photos were fuzzy until I downloaded them onto the page. I'm not taking them off now, so sorry!
This is a bug after Samuel had finished squashing it. The thing is, however, this bug wasn't supposed to be splatted, Samuel just randomly splatted our bugs with a big splatting foot designed for this purpose.

Joshua and Jessica made quite elaborate multi-colored bugs.
It was really fun to splat them and listen to exclamations of anguish.

(please excuse the piles of folded laundry in the background, at least it is folded!!)
And, no Family Home Evening night is complete until little brother climbs onto the back of big brother and slides down his legs - 30 times or so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Florida State Fair

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to going to the fair every year when it came to town. In Tasmania it wasn't called a "fair" however, we called it a "show". I'm not sure why it was called that, but every year I went to the Ulverstone Show. Maybe because it was an opportunity for everyone to "show off" the things they had made and entered into competitions at the show?

We have carried on the tradition by going to the fair every year wherever we have lived. When we lived in Minnesota, it was a very easy thing to do because we lived right next to the venue of the Minnesota State Fair. The kids were little, so we would go to the fair, when it was nap time we would go home, and then go back to finish off the day's adventure.

A few things change over the years, but a show is a show - or a fair is a fair - wherever in the country or world it is.

When I was little, me, my sister and her boyfriend got stuck on a Ferris wheel at the Ulverstone Show - in the rain I might add! I am a little wary of Ferris wheels now. But, every fair has them, even here in Tampa!

Crowds of people everywhere!!!! We usually go to the fair on the first Friday. Jessica gets a ticket from school and her school district has the day off for "Fair Day". We usually don't stay for the evening because there is a lot of gang activity and trouble that particular Friday evening every year.

We always check out the petting zoo. Sam loves to feed the animals. Here he is feeding a zebra. This is one of the spots we spend the most money I might add! Sam would stay here all day. The big kids won't admit it, but they had fun here as well!

Sam hardly stops smiling the whole time he is here. In this particular photo, the giraffe had just given Sam's face a bit lick. Of course, I didn't catch it on my camera..........

Yum, yum, carrot sticks and cute little boy fingers.

We did not go on this ride. You could not pay me enough to go on this ride. I sat enthralled watching this ride. How could people go on this ride? They sounded a big fog horn every time they launched someone in the air. If a ride warrants a fog horn blast every time someone takes off, it is not a ride for me.

Everything at the fair is either deep fried
(even the candy and drinks)

or on a stick
We did find some "healthy" fair food however. Well......healthier!
One of my favorite places at the Florida State Fair is Cracker Country. They show how life was back in the "olden days."
You meet all kinds of interesting people at Cracker Country.
Sam would stay here forever! It was very hard for a little boy not to touch this particular exhibit!

Toot, toot, chug-a-chug

Sam was also very excited to sit in a helicopter.

Relaxing in a rocking chair was also pretty fun!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane - Sissy

On Wednesdays I like to take a trip down memory lane along with many other people. If you would like to join in, or just read other peoples memories, click on the link and follow the directions!

Well, today I was going to write about one of my childhood memories, but after making a telephone call last night to my sister, I changed my mind. My post is still going to include some of my childhood, I'm jut going down a different path with them.

My Mum and Dad were married on my Mum's 18th birthday. My Dad came from a large family, 10 brothers and sisters. My Mum had 1 brother and 2 sisters. My brother and sister were born fairly close together and then there was a string of miscarriages. Eight to be exact. One little baby was stillborn and one little boy, David, lived a few short hours. Attitudes and thinking was a lot different back then, my Mum didn't get to see David before he died because he was transferred to a different hospital. She also didn't get to see or hold her stillborn baby. Like I said, attitudes and thinking were a lot different, this was in the 50s. My parents finally realized that another baby was not going to happen, that was, until they adopted me.

My brother and sister are 15 and 16 years older than me. Needless to say, I was quite spoiled growing up. I shared a bedroom with my sister. I tell my oldest son that it is a family tradition when I can see his frustration of sharing his room with his little brother - Joshua is 21, Samuel t is 3. I called Gayle, "Sissy". In fact, I was quite devastated when I found out that wasn't her real name, I think I was around 5. To me my sister was a fairy princess. My favorite photo of her is when she was all dressed up to go to a dance. I don't remember what type of dance, it was fairly formal I think. She was wearing a full length satin dress that she had made herself. Her hair was all done up and I thought she was beautiful. I still have a little toy tea set that Gayle bought me for Christmas one year.

I usually call me sister in Australia every 2 weeks or so. I missed calling this past weekend, so decided to call last night. Her husband answered the phone and told me that Gayle had been in hospital since Friday. He followed that with a, "I guess I should have called and told you." Gee, do ya think??? I called Gayle at the hospital and she sounded dreadful. Will call again tonight and hopefully she will be doing better. My Mum would always tell Gayle that when she died, it was up to Gayle to keep me up to date on all the family happenings, to keep in contact with me, to stay close to me. That is something that Gayle has taken very seriously. Because of the age difference, we weren't very close while I was growing up, but that has changed over the years since Mum and Dad died.

We are as different as night and day, but we love each other. Gayle loves angels and every Christmas I send her an angel figurine. I think I will send her an extra one this week.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Tragedy in Australia

Of all the natural disasters, I think fire is the one that terrifies me the most. I get scared when I hear that a hurricane may be heading our way here in Florida, but I know that the reaction I have to that is completely different than the one I would have if it was a fire instead.

I have been following the stories and watching the images coming to us from Victoria, Australia. The death toll keeps rising and I can't stop my tears from falling.

As far as I know, I do not have any family or friends that are caught in this terrible tragedy.
But, watching people grieving, even though they are strangers, is still a heart-wrenching thing.
People have lost their lively hood, their homes and many have lost their families.

A few years ago our house was flooded by a burst washing machine hose. We had just put in hardwood floors, so most of our books, photo albums, etc., were in boxes sitting in the garage. The water went into the garage as well as through every room in our house. The boxes sucked up the water and even though I sat up most of the night removing photos from the albums, we lost a good hunk of our memories. I was fives months pregnant at the time and was extremely emotional about the "stuff" we lost. Just a few months later our little girl was stillborn, and through my grief I realized that the "stuff" I had thought was so important, was not. That is why I would leave at the mere hint of a fire coming my way.

Unfortunately, many of people caught up in this horrific fire, had no warning.

I watched a video made by one of the Australian news channels. It included the noise of the fire coming. It was a dreadful, sickening sound.

My thoughts and prayers have definitely with the people of Victoria, Australia the past few days. They will remain in my thoughts and prayers for a very long time.
One thing I know about Australians, is their fighting spirit. Even with a grief and the loss that is so great, they will rise above it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reach, Reach, Reach those goals!!!!

So, recently my husband and son spent two days at a Senior Fest that was held at the fair grounds here in Tampa. My husband has had a booth at several of these events and they have proved quite entertaining at times. If you have give-aways such as pens, magnets and popcorn, your booth is swarmed. Every now and then, someone is actually interested in the information you have to share. At the recent Senior Fest, Richard Simmons of exercise video fame was a special guest. He led a senior walk and a few other motivational things.
One of the booths had people making elaborate hats out of balloons. Jim and Joshua had great plans to get balloon hats for themselves and have their pictures taken with Richard Simmons. Well, I have yet to see these photos, I don't think it happened, they both chickened out! They did, however, get autographed pictures of Richard. Why? Why? Why? Did my husband get one made out to me??? I certainly do not have anything against Richard Simmons, but where do I put this photo? At the moment it is on my refrigerator as a motivator of sorts. It scares me a little bit.
Here we are into February and I wonder how many people have stuck with or even started their New Year goals. Exercising has been a sticking point for me. Full of great intentions that never really materialize. This week I will do better. My husband and son have been going to the gym, so it isn't like I would be heading out alone. Will check-in next week and let you know how I have done!!
Don't they say that if you do something for 30 days that it becomes a habit?? Let's hope that this is correct!! I think my reward for sticking at exercising will be to take down the picture.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday's Walk - Memories of home

I found the above web site quite a while ago and had very good intentions of joining in every Wednesday, but...........

So, here is my first Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.

As we are preparing for our first trip back to Australia in 12 years, my thoughts have naturally been turning to memories of home. Memories of family, events and places. Memories of those that we will be visiting with and those that are no longer there. Our last trip back to Australia was for Christmas 1996. My Dad was dying from cancer. I had to decide whether to go back for a funeral or to go and see Dad before he died and let the children (and me) have some memories of their Grandfather. It wasn't a very difficult decision.

My parents divorced when I was 14. My Dad remarried a lady that my family had known forever. Her husband was a fishing buddy of my Dad's and he had died a few years before my parents divorce. Birdie is definitely on our list of people to visit several times. She could whip up a full-blown meal out of absolutely nothing. When we would stop by to visit, she would always insist that we stayed for dinner (tea), when we would protest about it being to much trouble, she would say, "Nonsense, we are just having scraps."
I have wonderful memories of that trip. My Dad was a man of very few words, so we didn't have any long heart to heart talks, but sometimes actions make up for the words. I loved watching my Dad watching Jessica as she ran around his huge backyard with her brother. Jessica looked a lot like me at that age and I could tell that Dad was thinking of me as he watched her. It made me feel good to know that his memories of me bought a smile to his face. Dad always had a huge vegetable garden. He had been having trouble with birds, rabbits, etc., eating his vegetables, so as a deterrent he had placed several plastic snakes strategically around his garden. My children did not know that they were fake and they soon came tearing into the house when they spotted the coiled snakes basking in the sun. My Dad thought that was hilarious!!

Growing up, my Dad took me with him on fishing and hunting trips. He always put the worms or frogs on my hook for me - yuk! Dad even made me my own fishing rod. My Dad would often bring home orphaned baby kangaroos, wombats and one time, a native hen that we called a road runner. We raised it with our baby chickens. My Dad spoiled me. For Christmas one year Dad made me a playhouse that had a kitchen and a living room complete with a working stove and lights.

Dad loved taking the kids to a fish hatchery that he was instrumental in building and running. Joshua had the wonderful experience with his Grandfather of taking a dead mouse out of a mouse trap and resetting it. That day my Dad drove us all over the local area showing us the sights. We got to see the farm that my Mum and Dad had owned just after WW II.

This is my favorite picture of my parents. Not sure when it was taken, but, even though they divorced, it is good to know that they once loved each other very much. It is good to know that they still loved their children and their children's children.

This will be a difficult trip in some ways. My Dad died in March, 1997 and my Mum died February, 1998. Not having them there when we return is going to be a shock, even though they have been gone all this time. They are what make home - home.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Bye-bye Poo

Bet that heading got your attention!!!! I do not have pictures for this post and for that I think you will thank me!!
We are attempting to potty train Samuel, and he isn't cooperating! Last night, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth (mine or Sam's?) Samuel finally did a few drops in his potty chair. He doesn't mind sitting on his potty chair, he does so every 10 minutes or so. Before he sits, he announces extremely loudly, "Wee wees, wee wees in the potty." Of we rush excitedly, thinking that this will be the moment, thinking that if he goes at least once, it will click and everything else will fall into place. Two seconds later, "All done." Sometimes it pays not to think.
When Jessica takes Samuel out to jump on the trampoline, she has started a habit of saying, "Bye bye shoes," as she takes his shoes off and puts them next to the trampoline. Samuel now says bye bye to everything! Last night Samuel said bye bye to his wee as he flushed it down the toilet. How cute I thought!
Today Samuel and I went to Costco to get a few groceries. Walking down the cereal isle Samuel announces in a very loud voice, "Bye bye wee!" Not just once, but several times. Asked him if he needed to go potty, "Nope," was the reply. After several more bye bye wees, he then screamed at the top of his lungs with a maniacal laugh (OK, so I am embellishing the maniacal laugh, but I know it was in there, waiting to come out!), "BYE BYE POO!!!!!" Where the heck did that come from?? I may never know, but one thing I do know for sure, the more you try to quiet a 3-year-old with bodily functions on his mind, the louder and more often he repeats it!
I swear it was much easier to teach my other 2 to go to the bathroom!
Aren't you glad that I am not adding pictures?

Bye Bye Blog

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday - View from the Belfry

This is the Tampa skyline
We have lived here nearly 13 years now, and to us, the Tampa area is fairly peaceful.

We love to go to the beach and relax. I love the ocean (or gulf), the sounds of the water are very soothing to me.

Even when you throw in a trip to one of the many amusement parks around here - Busch Gardens is approximately 15 minutes from our home - our lives stay fairly calm and collected.

The past few weeks have been CRAZYhowever.
The newspapers, the TV news, everywhere you go - it is all you hear about, it is all you see!

That's right!

Super Bowl

It is here, in Tampa, today.

(just in case you didn't know this)

I know no one who has tickets for this event.

I have been to a Monday night football game at Raymond James Stadium however. It was quite good. A lot different to Australian Rules Football. American football stops and starts a little to much for me. It is exciting when they shoot off the cannons when the Bucs score a touchdown!!

It would be wonderful if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing in the Super Bowl today. But alas, they are not! .

I miss Australian Rules football. For those who may not know anything about Aussie Rules footy - here are some pictures. Not a helmet or padding to be seen anywhere.