Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where Has The Time Gone??

I see there is a huge gap in posts on this site.  I'd like to blame it on technical difficulties but the truth is that my life is no longer on hold.  Since we moved into our house I have been very busy.  I take Jenna to and pick her up from school each day.  The trip is approximate 3/4 of a mile.  We either walk or ride bikes.  Did I mention its uphill to get there? Thanks to that topographical issue I have been staying pretty fit.  After I drop Jenna off I either go to the store on my bike with a backpack or ride the big hill back home - weeeee!  Downhill is fast and fun.  Before our stuff arrived I used to walk to the store and used my Granny Cart, or as they say in Australia: Grandmother Trolley and the bus.  Fortunately, everything is conveniently located and I can get all the things I need.  After our stuff arrived I have been busy unpacking boxes and arranging our stuff throughout the house.  We really should have purged more.

Our First Aussie (Ozzy) Barbie (Bobby)

We met the nicest person at the park one day when we were out searching for homes to rent.  Her name is Ros.  She offered her phone number and invited us to call if we needed any help with anything.  She suggested the 'Shire' as a great place to live.  Of course she lives there too.  Sutherland Shire is located quite a ways south of Sydney, but relatively close to the airport where Dave works.  It is considered God's country around here; where the Hobbits live.  Anyway, shortly after talking to her we found the place we are renting now which is only about 5-6 blocks away from her house.  She invited us to her house after we moved in for our first Aussie Baaabie.  She and her husband Brendon and her boys Luke and Bryce plus a good friend of hers and her son all welcomed us for the evening.  We had nibbles (appetizers), leg of lamb (with mint sauce), very traditional, salad, baked potatoes and, of course, plenty of beer and wine.  Beer and wine is a weekend staple around here.  Sunday is family and visiting day.  We just make sure we have plenty of cold drinks in the frig in case we are invited somewhere or someone comes over.
Ros and Brendan above; Bryce is on the very left and Luke is sitting next to Jenna. The other boy, Riley, is the son of one of Ros' friends who also attended the barbie. He goes to the same school as Jenna.

Leg of Lamb, very traditional food in the Land of Oz.

Our Second Aussie Barbie

Our landlords, Paul and Magda, who live next door called one Sunday morning and asked if we wanted to go out on their boat for a look around the bay.  We took the offer and went straight away.  I'm sure Paul would prefer I didn't mention this but we were only a short distance out of our bay (Yowie Bay) when he ran out of gas - bummer.  Anyway, after he resolved the issue we went for a great boat ride.  Below are pictures of the house we are renting from the water.  Paul and Magda live in the little house to the left.  To top off the day Paul and Magda invited us to their house for a barbie. They grilled squid and rock cod. It was delicious. The next day Magda gave birth to their second son.

Paul and Magda in front

This is where we live

The rock next to pontoon is called Turtle Rock. 

First Visitor from the States

Our official first visitor from the states was my sister Kristi. She was nice enough to haul a bunch of stuff we wanted with her when she came. We were so happy to get all this stuff (picture below) - Jenna especially. 
We had a great time while Kris was here. We travelled along the coast south of us to Jervis Bay, shopped, enjoyed general sight-seeing, went to Sydney twice, went to the beach and to the Royal National Forest. On one particularly nice day Kris encouraged us to go swimming in our pool.  This was in October - burrrr. It was hot and sunny that day but it’s almost unheard of to go swimming in October as the pools are not heated and are quite cold - ours was 68 degrees. The real pansies around here don't go in the pool until at least January. Jenna loved it though, she had someone to swim with. Thanks for visiting Kris!

Loot from America

Yum! Lucky Charms...they really are magically delicious.

James Squire's Pub and Eatery at Darling Harbor.  I'm not sure why holding my neck.


Aboriginal Cave in Bundeena

Yes, that is shrimp on the baaabie

One of the many statues at the Nan Tien Temple


Jenna thought Halloween in Australia sucked. The whole US Halloween concept is just starting to catch on here.  Only about every fifth house was participating so you had to walk a long way in the heat to get a small amount of candy.  You go out during daylight which didn't seem very cool to her and it was hot so she went barefoot.  She ended up stepping on some bindies (the Australian version of a thistle) then she tripped on her broomstick and fell in the street.  We only had one group of trick-or-treaters at our house.  About 8 young girls showed up in one fell swoop.  We are located off the beaten track and while we were somewhat surprised that someone came to the door, we were ready with lots of candy. 

Jenna Gets The Gold

Every Thursday at Jenna's school they have an assembly where kids are recognized for doing well for various things.  There are several Merit Awards that go out first, but only one student from each class gets the Gold Award. Jenna received the Gold Award for making significant progress in reading, writing and comprehension.  Way to go Jenna!

So proud


Dave and I are both doing quite well driving here.  Well, Dave is way better than me.  As a reminder, we drive on the left side of the road and the driving mechanism is located on the same side as the passenger seat of American cars. One of the first problems I face when I get in the car is reaching over my left shoulder for the shoulder strap of my seatbelt. The other problem is using the windshield wiper when I want to indicate which way I am going to turn. Annoying, huh Kris? Every time I come to an intersection I have to remind myself which side of the road the traffic is coming from. I like to have Jenna with me so she can confirm that I am driving on the correct side of the road (left-hand side).

10 Years of Marriage

Dave and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary on October 29. We went to Sydney and had lunch at Peter Doyles which is located near the south end of the famous Sydney Bridge and across the water way from the famous Sydney Opera House.

The happy couple

Interesting Tidbits

Self Explanatory

Can you guess what his job is? Answer below.


Have you ever been puffed?  You would be if you had to go uphill to school everyday.  Being puffed is the same as running out of breath from physical excertion.

Did you ever use a rubber at school?  Jenna uses one every day, its an eraser.

Have you ever had heaps of stuff to do?  Everything is heaps when its a lot of something.  Like, I wanted heaps of candy for Halloween and I didn't get it.  Or, it takes heaps of concentration to drive around here.


Kelli, Dave and Jenna

(Answer:  He's our mailman)


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Somebody Pinch Me

As stated before we are living in Caringbah, NSW, which is part of the famed Sutherland Shires.  Our new address is 18 Turtle Road, Caringbah NSW 2229.  My cell phone number is: 0402-575-077.  The home we are in looks out over Yowie Bay, just off Port Hacking.  It is a deep ocean-water bay.  Try this link to goole maps to see our location:,+Caringbah,+NSW,+Australia&sll=-34.04313,151.123123&sspn=0.068276,0.110035&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=18+Turtle+Rd,+Caringbah+South+New+South+Wales+2229,+Australia&ll=-34.051877,151.109476&spn=0.017067,0.027509&z=15 .  If you zoom out you will see we are located south of the Sydney and the airport. It only takes Dave about 20-30 minutes to get to work.  It is beautiful here!  The house we live in is pretty old, but very liveable.  We have a lot of room and a fantastic view.  The downfall to this place is that the owners/landlords live right next door and they eventually want to live here so  it is likely our stay will not be as long as we would want but we will try to get as much out of it as we can.  Here is what it looked like out our front windows this morning.

Jenna loves her new school, Caringbah Public School.  You can go to if you want to see more.   On her first day at school she was greeted like a rock star.  She was surrounded by a bunch of girls all asking a million questions.  Everyone enjoys hearing about her life in America.  While they were working in their computer lab her teacher, Mrs. MacDonald, pulled up Rosemount, MN on the map and showed everyone where Jenna lived before moving to Caringbah.  Jenna loves her uniform and feels comfortable being dressed the same as everyone else. 

On her first day Jenna said she felt shy but good about going.  All the girls in her class surrounded her and introduced themselves.  They were all so happy and excited to meet her.  Jenna says her teacher is very nice, that she felt she really cared about her and everyone else.

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of the first days we were able to sit and have a beer in the sun at our new place.  "Take the picture before I go blind."  Not the best expressions, but the sun was pretty bright.  Do note that our coozies are from Shenanigan's in Rosemount.  Ahhhh, our first cold Coronas on the patio.

Here is Dave making friends with the locals.

Here are some more signs that made us laugh...

Super Center?

This is for Tom and Brian

I just liked the wording on this one.

There is much more to share, but I will start with this entry.  I have been without internet access on my laptop since last Thursday so I have not been available on Skype.  I will fix that at my earliest convenience. 


Kelli, Dave and Jenna

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting Settled

We have been in Australia for a liitle over one month now and are finally getting settled.  We have spent a lot of time on the road looking for a house to rent and have finally found one in Caringbah.  Once we found a house we had to decide on a school.  We had two very good options in the neighborhood and after fully scrutinizing each one we finally made our decision. It took another week to go through the application process.  We still need to get Jenna set up with uniform(s) then she will start on Wed. August 4.  At that point, I should have more time to add some of our current pictures and videos. 

I have not figured out how to set up the comments section of this blog so until I do, please send comments to me at


Monday, July 12, 2010

Time to Catch You Up

Hi Everyone:

Since we have been so busy looking for a place to live I have only been able to piece together this blog post bit by bit.  It covers several days.  For those of you waiting for this update, sorry for the delay.

Store Front vs. Mega Mall:

Walking down Coogee Beach Road or Bondi Beach Road you see rows of small doorways that open to different stores. Each doorway is only about 10 – 15 feet wide.  In some cases the inside of the store goes back about 2 or 3 times that far back. Some have downstairs space. Every once and a while the doorway opens to a grocery store.  There are all different types of shops located right next to the other - news agents (newspapers, magazines, bus tickets, etc.), fruit and vegi stores, real estate, restaurants, pharmacies (chemists as they are called here), clothing stores, hair salons, travel agents, banks, grocery stores, bottle shops (a place to buy alcohol) all squeezed in to a one or two small block area. Its an amazingly efficient use of space.  It doesn't look like a great place to shop, but it is.  All the stores collectively offer everything you need to live.  Its a very convenient way to shop.

All the restaurants are set up for outdoor eating which really sucks during this cold weather although they do provide outside heaters and minimal indoor seating. The weather was been a cool 60 degrees, sometimes windy and rainy; sometimes sunny. I’m told this is the worst of their winter weather and it will be over in a short 6 weeks. That’s sounds good to me. We are also having to adjust to winter hours where the sun goes down around 6:00 pm.

The local mall is amazing.  It is 5 stories high and has one of those large tv screens hanging from the ceiling. 

The Baths:

Just down the hill from our hotel next to the beach is a man-made pool.  You can see it just below the stairs where Jenna is standing. It is used to hold the sea water for swimming laps without having to deal with the open waters. Most people swim in the open waters anyway - this pool is for pansies.  Almost every city with waterfront property has one or two of these pools (or baths).  Some, like this one, are made with cement walls.  Some are just fenced in (usually chainlink) sections of shoreline.

The Plants:

The plants and trees are awesome. I love that people have Birds of Paradise plants in their yards like any ol' bush.  There is also a beautiful plant about the size of a lilac bush with a spray of red pedals on the tip of every branch. It looks like an enormous poinsettia. It very well could be a poinsettia, I haven't had a chance to ask. I have also see many unique and interesting trees including palm trees.  There are many common plants like alyssum, heather and daisies here as well.

The Birds:

The birds are fun to look for around here. We have seen common birds like starlings, pigeons and seagulls but the fun ones to look for are the parrots, cockatoo and flying foxes (giant fruit bats). The parrots are just plain beautiful to see. As Jenna and I were walking back to our hotel the other day we happened upon a pair in a tree that didn’t seem to mind that we were so close. I was able to get a pretty good picture of them. The cockatoos are crazy. They are big and white and as they fly through the sky they screech like a prehistoric bird (Taradaktal). I’m sure you know what I’m talking about but I can’t spell it to save my life. I can’t even get close enough for the spell checker to help me out. Every time we see the giant fruit bats, Jenna yells out “Batarama!”

               Yep, he's hanging out at the local dumpster.

Driving has been all Dave’s business. I’m the co-pilot who navigates complicated maps. Jenna is the bored passenger who wonders when the heck we’re going to be done looking at places. We have been driving through so many areas, past so many houses, and yet we are having difficulty finding anything. Everything at our rent cap is usually taken by the time we get there so we are looking at places above our cap and finding some that are good possibilities but probably won’t be approved. We are striving to get a place by Monday July 19 as the next day is the beginning of the next semester of school and we don’t want Jenna to have to wait to get started. We have certainly become familiar with the area and are getting around pretty good.

See maps at to see the road work.  It takes a couple cups of coffee to navigate through these mazes of roads.

Interesting tidbits:

Brekky 6AM. This was on a sign at the Hungry Jacks fast food restaurant. It’s similar to our Burger King. It just cracked us up.

They have Subway here! Since Jenna has pretty much gotten by on McDondald’s (she has practically every character from the Shrek movie from her kid’s meals), Subway is a great alternative. Other than that, one of our favorite restaurants is Hurricanes.  Dave and I had a killer rack of ribs while Jenna enjoyed her favorite item of bbq'd chicken and chips followed by a bowl of ice cream.

Chicken Sauce: We are always asked if we want any kind of sauce with our food whether its brekky, lunch or dinner. Dave asked what was included with a McDonald’s burger he wanted. He was told, ‘Tomato, lettuce, onion and chicken sauce’. Huh?? What’s chicken sauce? Can you guess?

Doors: If they don’t slide open you push them to go into a building. Think about it every time you open a door in the States, the majority of the time you pull the door. Every time I come to a door here, I have to think twice.

Which side of the sidewalk do you normally walk on when people are coming from the other direction? Here you have to remember to go on the left side of the sidewalk. Similar to when you drive.

Myth Breaker: The water in the toilets here do not flush in the opposite direction of our US toilets.  The water just goes straight down the hole. There are usually 2 buttons on the top of the tank to choose from. One gives you a gentle half flush while the other gives you a full robust flush.

The people here are so friendly and they love our accent. Dave keeps saying, but you’re the one with the accent.



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Made It!!

Our house is packed up and everything is on its way to Sydney.  It was weird seeing all our household goods in boxes throughout the house as well as when it was completely empty.  Its such a beautiful house.  We already have a renter lined up.  I understand we missed some nasty storms right after we left.
We stayed at the Water Park of America after our house was packed up.  It worked out as a great distraction for Jenna.  Once we arrived there Jenna started saying that she can’t believe we are really moving to Australia.  Having talked about it for so long the move it all seemed almost unreal to me too.

Saying goodbye to our friends, neighbors, and family was tough.  We are very thankful for all the support, good wishes, farewell gatherings and meaningful gifts we received before we left.  We are taking many fond memories with us.

We had a wonderful stay in Washington.  We saw as many people as we could fit in and we ate entirely too much food.  We stayed at our favorite place in Mukilteo, the Silver Cloud which is located right on the waterfront.  My sister Vicki and brother-in-law Tom spent a few days with us there.

We found out flight from Minnesota to LA was first class.  That was a nice surprise.  LA to Sydney flight was in business class.  We all slept as our seats reclined.  The flight was awesome.  We were able to spend a short period time in the first class/business lounge at the airport.  We flew in an A380.  It’s a monster-sized, double-decker airplane.  We are on the top level.  Our seats are set up for complete entertainment and relaxation. I’m not sure I will be able to handle economy after this treatment. 

We went to Coogee and Bondi beaches yesterday.  The air was really cool yesterday, but the water was nice.  People are out swimming and surfing all the time.  Jenna and I loved walking in the sand and getting our feet wet.  Jenna got a little too close to the incoming waves and got her pants wet and full of sand.  She really wants a wetsuit so she can really get into the waves. 

We are currently staying in the Coogee Royal Hotel.  Last night was our first night sleeping here.  We all slept well but are dragging a little.  We had an unbelievably beautiful sunrise this morning.  Dave went to work.  Jenna and I are planning a walk on the beach and then along the beach trail and a trip to the playground.  We will be looking for houses in North Sydney tonight.

I will update more pictures later.  It has taken too long to do this much and Jenna is chomping at the bit to get out to the beach.  Gotta go for now.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Shock

When Dave informed me that we only have 20 days left before we head to Seattle I nearly fell over.  I must have been in more of a state of denial then I thought.  I was just beginning to enjoy my time not working then was awakened by this realization.  Don't get me wrong, I love that we are moving to Sydney.  Its one of the most exciting things I have done in my life so far.  I am just starting to realize and feel the loss of what is familiar to me.

Currently, we do not have any buyers for our house and will more than likely have to rent it out.  We are slowly donating items and generally lightening our load.  It actually feels good to be less cluttered.  I am enjoying having the house in "show-ready" state for people looking to buy.  It is so refreshing to walk into the house and have it so tidy and clean.

Jenna is being a real trooper.  She says she feels very excited about our new adventure but at the same time she is anticipating missing her family, friends and surroundings.  She is a true adventurer so this will turn out to be a great time in her life all in all.  She had her closing ceremony and meeting for Brownie's/Girl Scout last night. She received several of patches.  One of the patches she received was an International Friendship patch.  It represents a Scout who is leaving the US.  Jenna is the only one to receive this patch.

Dave is all business.  He is really getting us through this move by staying focused on the behind the scene details.  He has put some time into getting the house painted and doing an overall spiff-up on it.  He is the foundation of our family.

We are all looking forward to our pre-Sydney trip to Seattle where we will spend time with family and eat.