[A hungry koala on the move]  [Waves at Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks)]  [Otago Harbour]  [Family Picture at Mrs MacQuarie's Chair]  [Yellow-eyed penguin] [Kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree...]

Australian Journal
(Last Updated 3-August-2006 - Back in the USA!)

Or see our more recently-updated American Journal (2006 - ??)

Journal entries from previous months The Oz Pictures pages The Australian Birds page
The Australian References page Giant Antipodean Roadside Attractions 2002 Tasmanian Trip page
Red Centre Trip page The Snowy Mountains Trip page 2003 Kangaroo Island Trip page
2004 Kangaroo Island Trip page Flinders Ranges (Wilpena Pound) Trip page 2003-4 New Zealand Trip page
2004-5 Tasmanian Trip page 2005 Top End Trip page 2005 Yorke Peninsula Trip page
2005 Far North Queenland Trip page Morialta Park (Adelaide Hills) Wittunga Botanic Garden (Adelaide)
2005-6 New Zealand Trip page 2006 Sydney Trip page Jamestown, South Australia

November 8-27, 2005 - Mid-term: Clara turned out to be quite sick after all, and the doctor ordered her to spend the rest of the week at home, much to her disappointment. Her teachers sent home a little homework, which, along with a little violin practice and lots of books to read has kept her from complete boredom. Lucy had a good week at school, and played the walking-in music for Thursday's assembly. The weekend brought two major events - the Adelaide Horse Trials (the largest of their kind and the only "four star" event in the southern hemisphere) and the annual Christmas Pageant (parade). We hadn't been to the Pageant since our first Christmas here, and Lucy really couldn't remember it, so we decided to go. We got there about an hour before start time - some folks had already been there for several hours, arriving at dawn to ensure a front row seat along the parade route! We contented ourselves with spots along South Terrace, where the parade forms up, and had an enjoyable morning, in spite of a few drops of rain, watching 70-80 floats, bands and groups make their way past us into the city, on their way to Father Christmas' home for the next month in the David Jones store on North Terrace.

Sunday was a day of rest and recovery for Clara after the excitement of the pageant, and Monday morning she insisted she was well enough for school - especially since it was the day the Year 6 girls got to wear casual clothes and spend the morning in the Middle School with the Year 7 teachers that they will have when the new school year starts in February. Clara made it through the day ok, but Sandy kept her home from softball practice in the pm. Which was just as well - since her violin recital was at 6 pm Monday night! Each year, Wilderness has a series of recitals for the girls taking music lessons - this year, they had two groups of girls each night - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, at 6 pm and 7 pm, all taking turns, mostly solo or with an accompanist. Clara played her piece (Skye Boat Song) along with her teacher, and it went well. The last piece was the Senior String Quartet, who came along to inspire the girls by showing how well they will be able to play by the time they are in the Senior School, if they keep it up. Tuesday brought Lucy's turn with a piano recital - she played two pieces which went well (although afterward she complained a couple times that she had made two mistakes.)

Wednesday brought a morning "off" for the girls, since most of the Wilderness teachers went downtown to participate in a protest of proposed new workplace legislation; this new legislation would potentially cut heavily into the current standard work benefits (e.g., it would allow workers and employees to "agree" for the employees to be paid for two of the currently mandated FOUR weeks annual leave in lieu of taking the leave; other changes would make it easier for employers to require work outside of the normal weekday first shift.) One of the major differences we have seen between America and Australia is a product of the current workplace rules - on average, Australians work fewer hours than Americans each week, they get substantially more vacation, and there is far less evening/nighttime or weekend working. This all results in families getting to spend a lot more time together, and the social life of individuals and families is more dominant. With these new rules (combined with the evening / weekend shopping hours which have started to come into affect over the past year), the Australians are moving closer to the American model - and perhaps not for the better.

So - Lucy went to school and spent the morning in the gym, preparing some cheers for the upcoming Sports day and then watching a movie. We kept Clara at home, to allow her to complete some homework and rest. This appeared to help, and when she went back to school, she was in pretty good shape again, so she played in the softball match against St. Ignatius, and they maintained their perfect record by winning 13-11. And then Thursday brought still more excitement - a special assembly with Dr. Jane Lomax-Smith, the minister for Education in South Australia, who came to talk to the girls, and to present medals and certificates for those girls who completed the Premier's Reading Challenge this year (girls who took the challenge this year only received a certificate; those who had successfully taken the Challenge last year received a bronze medal. Both Clara and Lucy received medals (see here, here and here), and Clara is already scheming about getting a friend to send her the entry forms next year so she can compete for a silver medal, even though we'll be living back in America by then!

And then, Friday provided the last major excitement of the week - Sports Day. Tim managed to see the first couple hours this year, the first time he's been able to attend in 5 years. The girls were quite excited, and had a good time, bringing home a number of ribbons each. In addition, they were quite pleased that their house, Sparaxis, won the overall trophy for the second year in a row (shades of Harry Potter!) Tim then finished off the week with a Bourbon Tasting at Matthew's house, hosted by Matthew and Marty. We were all quite pleased to sleep in at least a little bit Saturday morning after the busy week.

In other sports news, the biggest item, which had the whole country in an uproar, were the qualifying matches for the soccer World Cup. Australia hasn't managed to even qualify for 31 years, and after the last World Cup, there was a lot of discussion within the World Cup community as to whether they should create an Australasian region that Australia and some of the smaller Pacific nations would compete in, to give them a better chance to qualify. However, that never came to pass. Instead, the Australians hired a Dutch coach who had brought two other teams to the World Cup as a hired gun. And he succeeded again for Oz! It went absolutely down to the wire - Uruguay and Australia were tied after two full matches (90 minutes each) plus 30 minutes of sudden death - and it came down to a five ball shoot-out - which ended up deciding the match in Australia's favour due largely to their impressive goalie.

Another big event impacting the city was the arrival of Donald Rumsfield to meet with some Australian government officials; unfortunately, the security folks decided they had to close off a number of city streets in order to provide for his safety. This didn't do anything to improve the mood of the inevitable protesters - and in fact, it probably brought out more protesters than would otherwise have bothered!

One thing we forgot to mention some months ago was how Clara was inspired by the "Colonial Day" where she learned to use an old-fashioned ink pen; this led her to want to learn calligraphy, which she has been doing. She has gotten good enough that she's been doing calligraphy on cards and other things of late.

With the weekend came the usual Saturday morning swimming, plus the music practice and homework - as well as considerable preparations for the Christmas season. We got the tree up but not decorated, and the girls were quite busy decorating the apple-cinnamon Christmas ornaments they are making for their friends and teachers. Monday brought orchestra and violin for Clara - plus cricket during PE - Clara made a very impressive 43 runs (it would have been even more impressive, but she was gotten out twice in the course of that - but instead of leaving the field of play, in this version, you lose 5 runs instead - so she actually scored a "half-century" plus a bit. She was quite chuffed, as that was easily the best score made on the day.

Sandy worked with the girls in Lucy's class on Monday, and the last few girls finished up their sewing projects. So of course that meant that on Tuesday, Sandy started working with them on their second project, this one aimed at the Dads come Christmas time. They all seemed to have a great time (this second project was a little less technically demanding than the first one, but still drew on their creative sides.) Tuesday also saw Clara heading off to Prince Alfred College with the rest of her class for some preliminary solar boat races (recall back in Year 4 that Clara's class also built and raced solar boats - well, they get to do it again in Year 6.) All the Wildy boats won their races, so Clara and her teammates Katarina, Nicole, and Steph (as well as the rest of the class) were quite pleased. Tuesday night the girls went off to the pool for a makeup swimming lesson, and had a good time. Clara figured she swam 2 km during her lesson, and Lucy popped over to the big pool after her lesson in the little pool, and did 5 laps (50 m each) of her own.

The rest of the week passed quickly. Lucy had a bad night Thursday, so she stayed home with Sandy and only went to school for her piano lesson. Friday night brought the big Thanksgiving get-together of all the Americans working with Tim down here - this is the first time that everyone has actually been in town and available at the same time; plus an Australian couple and their two litte boys also attended - for a total of 17 adults and 9 kids. Jay played host, while Joanie and Ellen cooked turkeys, and everyone else brought pies, side dishes, etc. Sandy cooked a green bean casserole and a couple of apple pies (with help from Lucy). The kids all brought their bathers (swimming suits), and even though it was too cold for the adults, the kids had a great time in and around the pool. Then there was some general play and watching of a movie - Clara's comment afterwards was "Little boys sure have a lot of energy!"

Saturday brought swimming in the morning, plus a quick trip to the party store to finish Lucy's witch costume for Emma's birthday party in the afternoon; meanwhile, Clara went off to Sarah's for her 12th birthday. Then it was time for a late "dinner" of Tim's bean dip with nachos in front of a movie (Polar Express, by Tom Hanks - we all enjoyed it.) Sunday was dedicated to practice and working on Christmas cards and gifts - we have to plan a little further ahead to get things to the States on time.

November 28 - December 18, 2005 - End of the School Year: Monday, Tim took off to the States for another business trip. Sandy went to school and helped the Year 3 girls finish their Christmas presents for their mums. Tuesday was just another normal day, with plenty of practice and homework - one of their assignments was to rewrite the nativity story in a modern day setting, and Clara's rewrite was quite funny. Jesus was born in a caravan park! Wednesday brought the last softball game of the season, and Clara got to pitch for the first time. She wasn't able to strike anyone out, but for her first time pitching, it was darn good. Wildy won the game, so they finished the season undefeated. It's a bit sad that Wilderness does not have a softball program in the Middle or Senior schools (there are so many sport choices available to the older girls that not enough choose to continue with softball and there are just not enough girls to field a team), as Clara would love to keep going with softball. On Thursday was Lucy's turn to do a "warm fuzzy" for her Year 3 class - this is where each girl gets a day to bring in something special for everyone. Lucy and Sandy decided they would do a cold fruit smoothie for everyone. It was also the last day of Sandy's quilting group for the year - they take a few weeks off over the Christmas holidays. Since it was the last regular gathering of the year, the teachers, Faye and Joy, had made everyone little gifts again. It was a different type of needle case - and out of the same fabric as they used for the scissor bags they had given out last year, so the two gifts make a lovely matched set.

Friday Sandy had a Year 6 coffee morning, and then went to school to help the Year 3's finish off their presents for their dads and wrap them for Christmas. In the evening was the Christmas concert. It was in the new gym, and a cool evening so it was quite comfortable (some years, the heat has been pretty bad, especially in the old hall.) Since the teachers got so many comments last year about the audience not being able to hear the girls when they were speaking, this year it was all music. The selections were good, and the girls did a great job. This year, both girls were in the same concert, so Sandy (and the girls) only needed to attend one of the two concerts - although Lucy campaigned to go to the earlier Reception-Year 2 concert, since the little girls are "so cute!" This served as quite a reminder that our girls are growing up fast!

Saturday would have been swimming, but Clara had a rough night, with congestion and nose bleeds - plus, it was an unseasonably cool day, so the girls stayed home. Clara dozed in the afternoon with some fever, and in the evening, everyone watched the Lion King before turning in. The next day, Clara seemed a little better, so she went to Shana's birthday party, which she had been anxiously anticipating. When Sandy picked up Clara, she was still in reasonable shape. After dinner, Sandy and the girls decided to decorate the Christmas tree. Lucy and Sandy had unpacked all the ornaments and put them on the dining room table, but wanted to wait for Clara before starting to decorate. With all three working they got nearly all the ornaments hung - but ran out of hooks. After they had been putting ornaments on for awhile, both girls were just overcome with how beautiful the tree had become. And hanging their special ornaments was quite exciting for them, but since we didn't put the tree up last year, there were quite a few ornaments that Lucy didn't remember.

Monday was a big day for Clara, since the Year 6 girls got to go to David Jones (the big upscale department store in downtown Adelaide) with the principal, Carolyn Grantskalns, and pick out an outfit for her to wear to the Year 6 graduation a week later (Carolyn is moving to a new school in Melbourne, so this is a chance for the Year 6 girls to help say goodbye to her.) The girls were divided into groups, and they were given a budget and other information such as Mrs. Grantskalns' favorite colors, etc. A newspaper photographer even showed up, and a picture and story appeared a few days later in the Adelaide paper! After choosing the outfit, the girls returned to school, where they had a party down on the Middle School (where they will be going next year) playground. Sandy and Lucy got to eat dinner by themselves, and then Lucy spent some time working in one of the American style cursive books we had brought back on a trip to the States. Clara arrived home in pretty good shape after her big day, and after working on a little homework, Sandy expected that she would be ready to go climb in bed and read, but she dove right into wrapping presents for everyone. Clara didn't have any trouble sleeping - instead Lucy did, with a leg cramp, but she eventually fell asleep.

Tuesday Clara had an end-of-season softball party at Georgina's house, then came home with a huge amount of homework and was feeling that life was so unfair because she didn't get much reading time before bed. Lucy seems to have gotten Clara's stuffy nose, so everyone is quite anxious for end of term and a chance for recuperation! Thursday was the annual bus trip to quilt shops in several small South Australian country towns for Sandy's quilt group (and they filled a 60 passenger bus), which Sandy quite enjoyed. Tim arrived home safely on Friday, and we enjoyed a quiet evening, followed by a relatively quiet weekend - especially on Sunday, when the temperature got into the high 30s (over 100 F).

Clara spent most of Monday in rehearsals for the evening's big event - graduation for the Year 6 girls! A large crowd of family members and friends turned up at the new gym, and at about 6 pm, a slide show was started on a screen at the front of the hall - each slide showed a "before" and "after" picture of one of the Year 6 girls - a photo from their first day of school and then their official Year 6 photograph - underneath each was a line or two written by each girl about their Wilderness experience. It was a delightful start to a happy, emotional evening. Then, as the slide show finished, the girls began marching into the hall and up the center aisle in pairs, to take their places on the stage. The head of the Junior School, Ms. Evans, gave an introduction, and then the girls sang a song. This was followed by each girl giving a 30 second (or so) speech about one of the virtues (e.g., kindness, patience, courage, persistence, friendship) which Wilderness had taught them, followed by the handing out of certificates to each girl by the principal, Mrs. Grantskalns, and then the girls got their "revenge" - they had put together some skits about Mrs Grantskalns, and ran through them to the enjoyment of everyone - including Mrs. Grantskalns - it would have been easy to pick out which girl was playing the principal even if they weren't wearing a large sign marked "principal"! Afterwards, another song by the girls, and then a reversal of the march out of the hall marked the end. However, when the girls noticed that the slide show had started again, many of them ran back in and planted themselves to watch - since they had not seen the photos of their classmates - so we stayed for another half hour punctuated by "Oooohs, wasn't she cute!" and other exclamations out of the girls.

Even though graduation was Monday night, both girls had school on Tuesday and Wednesday - although from the sounds of it, the final two days involved lots of games, movies, food, scrubbing lockers and tidying the playgrounds, etc! On Wednesday this was followed by an after-school get-together at Zambraca's Cafe for the Year 6 girls, their mothers (mostly) and a few siblings. Thursday was a day to sort through all the papers, projects, and artwork from a school year, organizing things to keep and things to toss. On Friday morning was the Year 3 end of year picnic at Rymill park. This is the park with the very shallow pond where the girls can rent rowboats and paddle about. It was a sunny but coolish day, and the girls all enjoyed one last play together.

December 19-25, 2005 - Happy Christmas (as the Aussies say): Saturday, Tim had to go to work, and the girls had swimming lessons. Sunday was a quiet day, with more preparations for Christmas as well as a lot of play time for the girls - although they were quite excited and working hard much of the time getting ready for the big doll Christmas Party. On Monday, Katarina, Miranda and Isobel came, along with their dolls, and the girls had a lovely afternoon - they brought "Kris Kringles" gifts for the dolls to exchange (i.e., Secret Santa presents - only Sandy knew who everyone's Kris Kringle was), made mini pizzas, played tennis (only three balls over the fence into the neighboring court), watched the new "Felicity" movie, and had a generally good time.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday brought "Mud Drum Making" at Wilderness' "Spinoff" program - this is a variety of activities throughout the week leading up to Christmas that the girls can attend - the activities encompass dance, music, general arts and crafts, etc. Both girls thought the idea of making and decorating a traditional (clay and goat skin) drum and then learning to play it sounded like fun - and it was (in spite of the intermediate "yuk" factor of dealing with goat skin!)

Wednesday evening we had Anj, Pete, Katarina and Zof (and Katarina's and Zof's dolls, of course) over for the evening. Sandy made her "Tom Douglas Rub" Salmon, marinated chicken, grilled asparagus, corn-on-the-cob and Anj's green salad, along with cheesecake and fresh berries for dessert - it was a very nice evening, and the girls even found time to make a huge "Doll Hotel" out of a big box we had on hand.

Thursday, Tim worked from home, and Friday was the first full day of his holiday (and quite hot), so we mostly stayed in and relaxed. We got a surprise phone call in late afternoon, which was Lucy's friend Tali (who is moving away to Queensland next month) wanting her to come for one last sleepover. Lucy was over the moon, and then it was just Tim, Sandy and Clara, who played a couple rounds of three-handed "Hand and Foot" before bed.

Saturday morning, we got a another phone call - again from Tali, asking if Lucy could stay until 2 pm! So it was still just the three of us, and around lunch time, we had another surprise, with Lucy's teacher from last year (Year 2), Kath, stopping by to say hi! We had a nice visit, learning about Kath's year in a new school, and her husband Roger's adventures in Antarctica, where he is currently working as a member of the summer team at the Australian station. He is having a wonderful time, and the stories Kath told us made us want to visit Antarctica more than ever. Apparently penguins abound, and are not afraid of the people - instead, they are very inquisitive, and follow folks around, keeping an eye on what they are doing. Occasionally, the team gets to visit a penguin rookery on an island, which, when the ice is thick enough, is reached by walking from the base. Since there aren't enough pebbles on the island for the penguins to use in building their nests, each visitor is supposed to take a handful of pebbles along! Upon arrival, the visitors all set the piles down in front of them, and the penguins come over and make short work of the piles, carrying them off to add to their nests! Lucy was quite sad to have missed Kath's visit - and we didn't tell her Kath said she might be able to stop by later in the evening.

We had decided to have our festive meal on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas, to minimize the interruptions and cleaning up on Christmas - so Sandy, Clara and Lucy cooked a turkey, made stuffing, mashed potatoes and cucumber and tomato salad, all of which were delicious. Later on, as we were getting ready to enjoy the pumpkin pie Sandy and Clara had cooked, there was a knock on the door - and when we had Lucy answer the door - she was quite surprised and pleased to find Kath there (although afterwards she claimed she knew it must be Kath, since we made HER open the door!)

This is the first year where both girls have understood that WE (Sandy and Tim) are the ones to fill the stockings - and the girls immediately wanted to take turns doing the stockings! They were quite excited to go with Sandy to buy and wrap some of the things for Tim's stocking - and similarly, to help Tim with Sandy's. Clara even snuck downstairs after she supposedly went to bed to put a few things into Kirsten's and Samantha's stockings!

And although the girls were quite disappointed to be told the night before that they had to wait until 7:30 am before coming in to disturb Sandy and Tim on Christmas morning, they took it well. However, Clara popped in right on the dot, all dressed and ready for the day! So we went down, and the girls were everywhere at once - the involvement in the process apparently really fired them up. We opened the stockings to many oohs and ahs, then had breakfast, followed by the presents. Then, since we had had our big meal the day before, we just had an easy lunch, watching a couple of episodes of "A River Somewhere" (which Tim had received on DVD) while we prepared and ate the sandwiches and fruit. Later, we had turkey leftovers - it was quite a nice, relaxing day - something we particularly need in Australia, given the convergence of Christmas, the end-of-school-year festivities and the start of summer vacations - having Christmas as a "standalone" celebration will be one of the advantages of our return to the US next year (along with the snow for the white Christmas that the girls have been dreaming of!)

December 26, 2005 - January 26, 2006 - New Zealand: It's Christmas time (and summer) downunder, so that means we've been off on another trip in search of cooler climes - this time it was New Zealand for a second go. All the usual disclaimers apply to the trip pages - they've only just begun, and will be added to frequently over the next few days. A rough draft of the text page is here and a few pictures are here.

We arrived back Saturday night, just in time to catch the beginning of an Adelaide heat wave - so we mostly stayed inside on Sunday, unpacking, etc., and then on Monday, Tim returned to work, Clara had Katarina over for a play, and both Clara and Lucy had swimming lessons in the late afternoon. Lucy was quite excited, since she was promoted to the next level after her last pre-Christmas lesson, and now her lessons are held in the large (50 metre)pool. Clara spent time in NZ giving her some introductory coaching on the breast stroke, which is the main new feature of her new level. Friday, temperatures in Adelaide reached 42 C (108 F) and Adelaide had set a record of the hottest 72 hours period since 1943. We have a lot of sympathy for the bike riders in the annual Jacobs Creek Down Under bike race, which is taking place this week throughout the area - with the weather as it is, it is no wonder the Aussies are doing well! Friday night saw Lucy head off to Letitia's for a birthday party sleepover and a trip to the cinema to see The Chronicles of Narnia.

Saturday was another "stinking hot" day as some of our Aussie friends say - we got a little relief by going up into the Adelaide Hills to spend the afternoon with Anj, Pete, Katarina and Zof at the home of Anj's parents, Anne and Tim. We had a very nice visit and lunch, with the girls enjoying a long swim in their pool. Then it was back down into the heat of Adelaide (and it never really cooled off below the low-mid 30s - 90s F) all night. Fortunately, a change came through on Sunday and reduced the temperature to the upper 20s; the predictions for the next few days are a bit milder, and almost comfortable at night - although it will be back up to 39 by Australia Day (on Thursday).

Monday morning, Clara and Lucy were playing outside since the weather had cooled off, taking the dolls on trips on their bikes. After a while, Sandy noticed that tempers were flaring, so she suggested they go inside and do things by themselves. A while later, the girls approached Sandy, and showed her a "truce" they had written out and signed, promising no mean words, no harming each other, to remember the golden rule - and to pay the other five cents for violations - then they asked if it was ok for them to play together again, given that they had reached a truce... Monday afternoon brought another swimming lesson, which the girls thoroughly enjoyed.

The string of very hot days also brought out a couple more constants of summertime Australia - bush fires and power outages. The bush fires on Kangaroo Island were bad enough to darken the skies over Adelaide a bit, and bad fires are still being brought under control there as well as elsewhere in South Australia and Victoria. Fears are high of more outbreaks given the steadily increasing temperatures predicted for the next few days. We've been extraordinarily lucky to have avoided any power blackouts or brownouts - a common occurrence in the not-too-distant past in Oz during the high demand summer months. Last year, there were some brownouts, where there was insufficient power available to meet demand; this year, the problem has been the high temperatures causing failures in the transformers and fuses, which means that while there was enough power, many thousands of people could not access it due to the distribution system breaking down in places. ETSA, the energy utility, has apologized for the problem, and is working to do better - given that the utility is now privately owned, with the majority stockholder being a Hong King company, it's not clear just what they will do, if anything. Naturally, there are a lot of unhappy people around, and the issue looks to be staying for a while. Equipment failure is unfortunately common in the heat of an Australian summer - the brand new trams just purchased to replace the Glenelg to City trams also started failing in the heat. And not long ago, there were issues with a new wind farm about to go in - it was discovered that someone had specified the wrong turbines - ones designed for more temperate climes, which were unlikely to hold up to regular 40+ degree weather!

And of course the cricket is on - we had been contemplating going to the one day Test match of Australia against Sri Lanka at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday - but the predicted 39 C weather put a stop to that idea! The Australian Open is also in full swing in Melbourne - where the temps are merely warm, rather than stifling. We've been watching off and on - unfortunately, both the Australian and American hopes seem to be falling rapidly by the wayside!

Wednesday we woke up about 5 am, and noticed the smell of smoke in the air once again - we later learned this was from the Victorian bush fires raging a few hundred kilometers away. The day also turned out warmer than predicted, heading up to 35 (and still forecasting 39 for tomorrow - pity the cricket players!) Clara's friend Shana came to spend the day as well.

January 27-February 12, 2006 - Australia Day and Sydney: Australia Day was actually Thursday the 26th; we spent it at home, avoiding the heat! Friday continued hot, so it was another day with little outside activity. Saturday added high humidity to the mix, and we had Shane, Katrina, William and Francesca over for the evening, and had a lovely time (inside!). Sunday was a day of cleaning and sorting and getting ready for first term of the new year. Monday was exciting for Lucy, since she got her new glasses. Tuesday, both girls went off with Katarina, Zof and Anj to a ceramics place to spend the day decorating a few special pieces. In the evening, it was once again swimming lesson time - and a very nice day for it - not miserably hot, but warm enough to make the water pleasant.

And then on Wednesday, we were off again - this time to Sydney. We wanted to get in one last trip before leaving Oz, and decided we needed to give cities equal time. As usual, there will be a separate set of pages - here's the start: pictures here and text here - not nearly complete yet. We did find time before heading to Sydney to put a few more pictures on the New Zealand trip picture page. First draft of the text is here.

We arrived back safely on Sunday, just in time to get back into the routine. Monday, Katerina and Zof came for the day - plus, Clara and Katarina walked over to school for a couple hours of Middle School orientation - and then on Tuesday, it was back to school for everyone - followed by swimming in the evening for both girls. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday went quickly, with both girls enjoying their new classes, and learning their new routines. Clara does more travelling between classes and with different teachers and several new subjects now that she's in the middle school, so that will be a bit of a change for her. This term she has English, math, science, history, PE, French, Chinese, drama, music, art, and social education (not quite sure just what that involves...). Friday afternoon, Clara went home with Katarina, and Zof came home with Lucy, and then everyone was back home by dinner time. Saturday dawned a very nice day, which was a relief, as we had planned a big scotch-tasting / barbecue for the usual crowd of scotch tasters and their spouses. The temperature was in the mid-20s - warm enough for a barbie (although some of the Aussies did don jumpers, etc., as the evening wore on and the temperature dipped towards 20 - but it was still cool enough to enjoy some scotch as well. Clara has also decided to do water polo this term, so she has practices on Sunday afternoons as well as matches after school during the week; thus on Sunday pm she went to the Aquatic Center for her first practice. Treading water for the better part of an hour and a half did wear her out a bit!

February 13-25, 2006 - School routine: The girls are settling in well, with quite a bit of activity this week - Lucy off to the Electoral Office to vote for Junior School Council leaders and representatives, both girls with swimming heats for the upcoming aquatic carnivals, and Clara off to her first water polo match. Friday night was the annual "Meet and Greet" put on by the Parents and Friends association at Wilderness to give the parents a chance to socialize, and meet the new parents whose girls are just starting. The weather has moderated, so it was a very pleasant evening - unlike many years when it is very hot and uncomfortable. Saturday brought the annual "Sky Show" at Bonython Park. While we didn't attend, we had a good view of the fireworks from our balcony. Sunday we spent around the house, and then it was time for school again.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty quiet, but Wednesday morning was the Junior School Aquatics Festival - but this year, only Lucy went (Clara's is next week with the Middle School.) Lucy did quite well, with a couple of firsts, a second (inches from being first again!) and a fourth in the inner tube relay. Thursday brought Clara's second Water Polo match - this time against St. Peters Girls - they lost pretty decisively, since the opposing team was actually their Year 7/8 team, and clearly older, taller, and more experienced. However, since one of the other teams (Pembroke) didn't show up, the Wildy girls got to have a second go, this time also against the St. Peters Girls, but this time it was their Year 7 team, and they held them to a draw - not bad, considering they'd already played a full match against a bigger, faster team!

Friday brought the weekend, and both girls were ready for a little down time. However, they were both quite sad because Jessica has become sick, so she and Allanah couldn't come over for the double sleepover they'd been planning for a while. However, next week is going to be a very busy week for Clara - her Middle School aquatics carnival on Monday morning followed by a house lunch afterwards, Year 7 camp on Wed-Fri, and then a birthday party sleepover with Miranda on Saturday (dolls invited, too!) - so she could probably use a quiet weekend!

We've finished as much of the Sydney pages as we're going to be able to get done given everything else that's happening - the pictures are here and the text is here. We also added a last few pictures to the New Zealand trip picture page, and made a few corrections to the text here - but that's probably all we're going to have time for. And Tim has been working through the pile of things in his office, and finally got the Christmas card Clara drew for him scanned in - here it is.

February 26-March 19, 2006 - Lingering Summer - and Homeward Bound: The weather has been warming up again this week - nothing like mid-summer, but up into the middle 30s by the end of the week. Monday brought Clara's Middle and Senior School Swimming Carnival, which includes girls from Years 7 through 12 - quite a production and quite different from the Junior School Swimming Carnival - not surprising considering that it's mostly teenage girls! It's quite a social event, lots of costumes, and lots of events. Spracky started off strong, in second place at the first accounting point, but steadily trailing off to fourth by the end. This was followed by the house luncheon for all the girls in Spracky, which Clara quite enjoyed (much more than she expected!) Tuesday brought a surprise - Sandy got a call that Lucy vomited in French class, so Sandy brought her home, where her tummy troubles persisted for the rest of the day (although she was well enough at dinner time to complain about how good the food smelled, and how unfair it was she couldn't eat any!) Tuesday night, Clara and Sandy finished getting her packed for camp. She was so excited - they were going kayaking, swimming at the beach, staying in little cabins and making their own breakfast (5 girls in a cabin), making and flying kites, making plays, etc. It also seemed quite a bit more involved this year, with the girls responsible for bringing some of their food, and breakfast fixings (so Clara made Buttermilk Oatmeal muffins with raspberries and blueberries, all by herself - she got quite incensed when Sandy offered to help - "Mom, I've done this lots of times, I can do it by myself!" Clara was also quite worried about Lucy's stomach bug, and quite concerned she was going to catch it - but she was perfectly fine as of Tuesday morning when Sandy dropped her off at school.

Wednesday and Thursday went quickly, and then on Friday Sandy picked up Clara at school, and discovered that she had come down with the bug on the last night. However, she still had a good time, and survived reasonably well. Both girls went to bed early Friday night so that they would be in good shape to go to Miranda's birthday party / sleepover / doll party Saturday evening. Miranda is one of Clara's friends and her little sister Isobel is Lucy's friend. They both have American Girl dolls, so Miranda held a doll dinner party sleepover for her birthday, and Clara, Kirsten, Lucy, and Samantha were all invited. Everyone was very excited and Sandy had to do everyone's hair (girls AND dolls) in the afternoon (see here). Samantha wore her new gala gown that she got for Christmas, and Kirsten wore the light blue party dress she got several years ago. Allanah and Jessica also attended, and from reports on Sunday morning, all had a good time (lots of swimming was also involved.) (Also, here and here are the pictures Lucy drew for the front of Miranda and Isobel's cards.)

Sunday the girls made it home about noon, and then it was soon into another week of school. Monday the ladies that had all worked together on all the crafts for the school fair had a farewell lunch for Sandy at the Queen's Head Hotel in North Adelaide, and it was lovely--the first of many farewells to come. That afternoon was orchestra practice after school for Clara, and Tuesday was a program at a nearby school on debate for beginning debaters (Clara decided to try that this term, along with a handful of other girls from her class.) Wednesday, Tim took the day off, and went down to McLaren Vale with Sandy, and then out to Glenelg Beach for lunch. Thursday was another water polo match for Clara, and then Friday brought the long Adelaide Cup weekend. The Adelaide Cup is to South Australia what the Melbourne Cup is to Victoria, and the state essentially shuts down for the horse race. It used to be held in May, but after bad (rainy) weather the last couple of years, they decided to move it up into hopefully better weather (on average). This is also one of the peak weekends of the Adelaide Festival, which has been going on for a couple weeks. Saturday saw the start of Womadelaide (a world music showcase) and blistering temperatures near 40. Saturday Sandy also got a very exciting phone call saying that she had won the raffle quilt made by the Karoonda Quilters Group. Sandy has bought many raffle tickets for quilts over the years (the only form of gambling which she indulges in), so it was thrilling to find out she had won a lovely quilt.

We had been planning to go up to Jamestown on Saturday with Anj, Pete, Katarina and Zof, to their family farm, but ended up waiting until Sunday, and slightly lower temps. Sunday morning we met Anj, Pete, Katarina and Zof at their house, swapped girls, and then headed north. We had a good trip, stopping in Clare on the way for coffee and ice cream, then continued on, arriving at Loudoun Brae, their family farm, in early afternoon. The girls immediately wanted to head off and explore, but since it was hot, and the tall grass made for increased snake danger, they stayed near the house, and built cubby houses (essentially Aboriginal-style humpies) against a big pine tree - Lucy and Zof used pine needles as their primary roofing material, while Katarina and Clara used straw. We had lunch in the much-cooler farmhouse, and looked through some old photo albums and learned about the history of the family and the place (it turns out that Banjo Paterson was a great grand uncle of Katarina and Zof!) After the outside weather had cooled off a bit, we went for a wander, first down to the old Loudoun Brae schoolhouse, where we picked a few ripe apples off the tree outside the door, and then back to the haybarn, where the girls had a good time climbing on the stacked round haybales, or having "pushes of war" trying to roll the bales one way or the other. Then we toured the old shearing shed, before making our way back to the farmhouse, and up to the top of the hill, where we had marvelous views (and noted the remnants of the golf course with black-tar greens - this was added to the farm when it became popular to have add some sporting/leisure activities on the farm.)

We came back in for dinner of delicious fondue, salad, samosas, and apple pie, followed by a relaxing evening. Sunday morning, after breakfast, the girls added on to their humpies, and we did some more general exploring. Then it was time for lunch, and to head back south once again. We had one important detour to make on the way, and that was to the tiny town of Yacka, home of Keith Palmer, the Flinders artist with whose work we were so taken with three years previously on our Flinders trip. We had phoned ahead, so Keith was expecting us - although not perhaps 8 of us! He welcomed us in, and the girls were immediately oohing and aahing - not over his paintings, but the little stuffed wallaby in his living room! He and his wife Julie effectively run an animal shelter - this wallaby was one of their guests, and very much a part of the family, until she got stung by a bee - the vet was leery of giving her an antihistamine, so she died of the sting within a few hours. After a very nice chat with Keith, we decided to buy another of his wonderful gum tree paintings, and were soon loading it into the boot of the Tribute. Then we were homeward bound once again.

The traffic was a lot lighter than we expected on the way back late Monday - perhaps all the festival events were keeping people in town (and the cricket season is winding down while footy is heating up once again as well.) We will put a few pictures of our trip up on a separate page, but it is likely to take even longer than usual given everything that is going on. Here is where they'll be when we get them online.

On Tuesday, Clara's class got to go to an event at the Fringe Festival; then after school she had another chiropractor checkup, and he commented on all the muscles she's put on with her water polo - it is indeed good exercise! Wednesday was Lucy's turn to attend the Fringe with her class, which she greatly enjoyed. She also enjoyed seeing one of her close friends again, Tali, who had moved to Queensland but was back in town for a brief visit.

Thursday was Water Polo day, and Clara's team played Pembroke again - and this time they won! She was quite pleased at that. Friday, Caroline (one of the new girls who just started at Wilderness) came home with Clara for a play and dinner. She was actually born in Austria (not Australia!) but mostly grew up in the US. Saturday brought a busy day - Jacquie stopped by to drop off Jessica and pick up Clara; she then took Clara and Allanah to Kimba's birthday party at the Botanical Gardens; meanwhile, Lucy and Jessica got settled in, and then we picked up Clara and Allanah, and the four girls had a good evening and sleepover. Sunday afternoon, we went over to Tony's and Pauline's for drinks with them and George, our neighbor from across the street. The occasion was due to our big news - after 4 1/2 years Down Under, our time in Oz is coming to an end. We decided that with Clara almost old enough for Junior High, we really needed to move back to the States before it became impossible. The past few weeks have been a bittersweet time for us - and the leavetaking is going to be difficult for the whole family. We've had a wonderful time in Oz, and made life-long friends. The good news is that we will undoubtedly come back to visit - and Australians in general seem to travel internationally more than Americans - many of them have already visited the US once or more - and we expect to see many of them in Seattle after we've settled back in. So as we count down our last few days in the Sunburnt Country, this journal is likely to become somewhat sparse - and will all too soon cease to be our "Australian Journal." But we'll keep updating it, at least for a while.

On other fronts, the big news stories at present revolve around a scandal (the Australian Wheat Board apparently paid what were effectively bribes which wound up in Saddam's hands during the Oil for Food program following the first Persian Gulf War.) Now the witch hunt is on to determine who knew what when. Closer to home, the South Australian elections took place this weekend, with Labor increasing their majority as expected. In Tassie, there was more at stake, as it looked like the Greens would take enough seats to become spoilers. Instead, however, the Labor party managed to retain an outright majority, and the Greens barely (apparently) hung onto their existing four seats. In both states, the Liberal (conservative) party suffered serious defeats - at odds with the results on the federal side, where the Liberals had a convincing win in the last federal election. On the sports front, the Footy preseason is almost over - but the big news is the 18th Commonwealth Games, being held in Melbourne. It's hard to believe there are 71 countries in the Commonwealth - although considering that the UK constitutes a large handful between Britain, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland - and even the Isle of Man, for Pete's sake, perhaps it's not so surprising. Reportedly $50 million was spent on the opening ceremony - which we watched on TV (although many of our friends are going to Melbourne to see some part of the games) - and which we thought was rather strange, and much of it a waste of money - an opinion shared by many we spoke to. However, the games themselves are great fun to watch - especially when you see things such as the Cook Islanders hold their own against Australia (albeit still losing) in rugby, or Scots taking swimming medals ahead of the Aussies.

March 20-July 23, 2006 - Final Days: The days are clicking off rapidly now - Monday was Clara's last violin lesson and orchestra session - Tim, Sandy and Lucy went to orchestra practice to hear her play, since we sadly won't be here for the concert she has been practicing for all term! Tuesday, both the cars were sold (Sandy and the girls walked home from school) and we picked up our rental van. Wednesday, Tim dropped the girls off at school, while Sandy waited for the piano movers to come and take the piano to its new home with our friends James and Anna, parents of Clara's friend Lucy. Thursday brought the opening of the Clipsal 500 races through downtown Adelaide - and Sandy's last day with her quilt group in Colonel Light Gardens (which is on the other side of Adelaide from us, past all the Clipsal-related road closures!) - a very sad day for her, as she has had wonderful times with the quilt ladies over the last several years - we are hoping that some of them will be able to visit us in Seattle. They gave her a variety of wonderful presents, including a quilt they all contributed to with a block containing a personal message from each of them. Related to this was a bit of exciting news that we got a couple weeks ago - the quilt group (and others) occasionally have raffles to raise money for good causes, and Sandy usually buys tickets for herself, Clara, Lucy and her mom - and this time she won a quilt! It was made by the quilters group in Kooroonda, a small town about 150 km east of Adelaide.

In other news, a very large cyclone, named Larry hit Far North Queensland, centering on the town of Innisfail, just below Cairns, where we visited and had a wonderful time less than a year ago. This cyclone was actually bigger than the one which destroyed Darwin in the 70s. There was enough warning to get most people to safety, the devastation in many areas was total, and the impacts on the sugar crops and banana plantations sent prices through the roof. While perhaps not as massive in the destruction and displacement that hit New Orleans, it's going to take a long time and a lot of money to restore FNQ.

In some happier news, an Adelaide primary school teacher won Commonwealth Games hammer throw - this is after being the tuna throwing champ three years running at Pt Lincoln Tunarama! She'll really have something interesting to tell her kids about!

Friday was Sandy's "Clean out the Pantry" party for friends to come by and help themselves to all our leftover cooking and cleaning and Australian-specific supplies which are either to hard to ship to the US, or not useful there. Then Friday evening brought Tim's "Clean out the Malt Cupboard - Round Two" scotch tasting, and then Saturday the serious packing began. Clara and Lucy started organizing their stuff into three categories - to take with us on the plane, to send in the air shipment, and to send by sea. Then they were off to spend the day (and night) with Katarina and Zof. During the day, the folks buying the washing machine turned up to take it home, and Tim delivered the TV to its new owner as well - with the cars and piano gone, the house and garage are starting to look (relatively) bare. Tim and Sandy continued working, then went over to Pete & Anj's for a very nice Indian dinner, before returning home to do a little more organizing / packing and then to bed. Sunday brought more of the same, with Anj bringing the girls back home to help finalize their packing and sorting.

Sunday night the long-awaited change in the weather came through, so we could open up the house and turn off the aircon - only to get up in the night when the thunderstorms hit to close the windows again to keep the rain out - it's a good thing Tim got the yard stuff sorted and into the garage and undercover on Sunday! Monday morning, the movers (removalists, as they are called here) showed up on schedule - and seemed very pleased at how organized we were - even though it seemed to us as though we could have used a few more days. The air shipment was quickly packed and wrapped, and it turns out we had a little more space than expected, so we put a few more things in. The packing for the sea shipment continued through the afternoon, with good progress made.

Monday night was our first night at our temporary accommodation, "Cornwall Park" in North Adelaide. This was a very nice cottage attached to a B&B, overlooking the Adelaide Parklands and golf course. Tuesday brought the return of the removalists, who continued preparing the sea shipment, until another truck with a couple more folks arrived to load up the air shipment. That went quickly, and by the end of the day, the sea shipment packing was well along. Wednesday morning, they returned again, followed shortly by a truck with a forty foot container (we only needed a twenty foot container when we arrived!) They quickly finished packing and wrapping, and then began to load the container. At first, we thought there would be no problems fitting in - then as the halfway mark approached, we began to worry - the Aussie removalists however responded "No worries - she'll be right!" At the two thirds mark, THEY began to look concerned - but in the end they made it with room to spare. After they took off with the container, we headed for the school to get the girls - who were a bit shocked to come back to an empty house! Then it was off to our temporary apartment, and then over to the home of Pete, Anj, Katarina and Zofia, where they treated us to another wonderful Indian dinner and enjoyable conversation - we have really been lucky to get to know them while we've been in Adelaide, and will miss them greatly on our return to the US!

Thursday was intended to be an "overflow" day for the removalists in case they needed it, so we didn't really have anything scheduled. Tim went to work, and Sandy did some moving prep. Friday, Sandy spent the day at the house with the cleaners, getting it ready to turn back over to our great landlords, Marina and Sam. In the evening, Tim's coworkers hosted a party for the family at Chris and Jacquie's (and Allanah and Jessica's) house, which featured Chris' great homemade pizza along with some excellent Clare Valley wines to let us know what we were going to miss back in the States! Saturday brought more errands - picking up a last few souvenirs to take home, etc. Friday night we headed off to Shane and Katrina's, where we had an enjoyable evening visiting with them and Donna (another American friend from the "old neighborhood"), while the kids (Clara, Lucy, William, Francesca and Sarah) also had a good time playing. Then Sunday was the big day for the girls - their goodbye picnic at Rymill Park.

A large part of the Year 4 and 7 classes turned out, along with there parents, and even some of the girls current and past teachers, and the new principal. The adults had a good time chatting and visiting for several hours, with Tim roving around with camera in hand to make sure it was all documented, while the kids ran free, playing games, rowing boats around the ponds, and generally having one last big fling. The high point was perhaps when the classes made presentations to Clara and Lucy - in each case, a few "spokegirls" from each class got up to say a few words, and present the girls with going away presents - including white Teddy Bears made out of smooth fabric so all the girls could write messages and sign them for the girls. All too soon, it was time to say goodbyes, and head back to our temporary apartment.

Monday, everything was pretty much in hand, so the girls went to school, Tim went to work, and Sandy stayed at the apartment to get started on packing. Tuesday was the tearful day - Tim and Sandy went to school to get the girls - Clara's class had taken her bowling to celebrate her last day, while Lucy's class had planned a surprise party for her right under her nose - she never realized why she was getting sent off on all those errands, or why the other girls were always making special trips to other places! It turned out that they were working on a very special gift - an album with a page by each girl, featuring a picture and a few words. As Lucy and her friends left the classroom together for the last time, each of the girls gave her a hug - and it was only a matter of time before the tears started on first one girl, and then soon they were all going! As we waited for Clara, Lucy just kept going through her book, with tears streaming down as she realized we really were leaving. Clara's class was more stoic in general, but the hugs were still there, and a number of the girls had moist eyes as the goodbyes were said. Then it was time to drop all the accumulated stuff from the school at the apartment, drive into the city to drop the minivan, and then get a taxi to La Trattoria for one last, excellent Italian meal.

And then it was Wednesday morning - we were all up and ready early, and Tim and Clara went out to stand on the corner and make sure the limo driver found the right house - and then we were off to the airport! We arrived with all 10 checked bags and 5 carryons, and got checked in - at the new Adelaide airport for the first time - then it was off to explore the new Qantas club and have a bit of breakfast. We had a reasonably good set of flights to the US, although Clara's congestion and sinus infection made her very uncomfortable during the descents. We arrived in Seattle on schedule, found a rental vehicle big enough (barely!) for all our luggage, and headed to our furnished temporary apartment - after discovering that the combo on the lock was incorrectly set, and making some unhelpful phone calls, we managed to find the correct combo by luck, and got settled in. We slept pretty well, and then were up and off to Lucy's new school on Thursday morning. We arrived just as an earthquake drill was finishing up, and chatted with the ladies from the office for awhile, and then went in to meet the lady assigned to show us around. After a tour, we headed to Lucy's new classroom, where we met her teacher - a self-confessed nature freak, whose in-laws are from Australia - she immediately made Lucy feel at ease, and introduced her to her buddy, Sarah (who turns out to live just around the corner in our new neighborhood!) and then Lucy disappeared. We finished up paperwork in the office, then gathered up Lucy, who had a grin a mile wide and didn't want to leave at all.

Tim then dropped Sandy at our new house to wait for the carpet folks to come and measure, while he took both girls to a pre-planned trip to the dentist. Afterwards, it was time for a NON-preplanned trip to the pediatrician for Clara, would just hadn't been getting better in spite of the antibiotics. She was soon diagnosed with an ear infection in addition to the sinus infection, and put on a different antibiotic. Tim, Clara and Lucy then collected Sandy, went to the paint store to pick our samples to look at for the outside of the new house (in desperate need of repainting) then out for a quick dinner and home to head to bed.

Friday was much the same - this time it was Clara's school we headed off to - and she was in for quite a change from Wilderness - whereas Wilderness has around 500 girls in grades Kindergarten through Year 12, here Clara is in a school with over 500 students in just two grades - 6 and 7 - and coed as well! The students in 6th grade are divided into two "teams" - the Dream Team and Team Xtreme - each team has a core group of teachers who work together as a team, set their own curriculum, etc. While Tim and Sandy met with the counselor and did paperwork, Clara got a tour of the school from her buddy Cassidy, meeting some of her teachers and getting a general feel for things. Then it was time to head to the carpet store so Sandy could pick out carpets. While Tim, Clara and Lucy were waiting for Sandy, they stopped by the King County Library, got their library cards renewed, and loaded up on books. Tim and the girls also went out and bought cell (mobile) phones for both Tim and Sandy - an essential item when there are so many things to get done in such a short time.

Saturday brought car shopping. We knew from our research and prior experience that we wanted either a Honda Pilot (similar to the Honda MDX in Australia) or Honda Odyssey for Sandy, so we headed off to the Honda dealer, and after a day of test drives and negotiation, we headed home in late afternoon in Sandy's new "Ocean Mist" (basically silver) colored Odyssey. Sunday, even though Tim needed a car as well, we decided we couldn't handle another day of car shopping, so we spent it doing other errands, working around the house, etc. Monday, Tim went to work, while Sandy and the girls finalized all the flooring choices, decided on paint colors, and then we went out to a favorite Greek restaurant to celebrate Sandy's birthday in the evening. Tuesday through Friday brought more chores - both house related, relocation (paperwork, change of address, insurance, etc) related - and getting the girls ready for school. Since it's near the end of the year, they didn't need much in the way of supplies - but since there are no school uniforms here, they did need to do a little clothes shopping - fortunately, their Australian "casual clothes" were mostly in sync with what the kids here are wearing. And Tim was happy to go back to wearing jeans to work all the time, instead of "dressing up" (for him, this means wearing slacks...)

Tim also managed to get out and test drive a couple additional vehicles during the week, and on Saturday, took Sandy and the girls for a test drive in his vehicle of choice, a Honda Ridgeline. Since we had already sorted through insurance and other details the previous Saturday, this process went fast, and we were soon driving home in his new black truck. The remainder of the weekend went quickly, with the girls getting ready for the start of school (organizing their supplies, putting their names on things, etc) Monday, it was off to school for Clara and Lucy, and off to the house for Sandy, where the flooring guys were due to start work.

The weather had been fairly rainy, so we engaged our house painters to also do some of the high bits inside the house (front entry, stairs down to the rec room, etc) as well. So during the course of the week, they did a great job inside, and also got started on the outside. Meanwhile, Clara and Lucy started figuring out their school routines. Lucy has been very enthusiastic about her class. They are studying Africa, and they also have lots of living creatures in their classroom - crickets to feed to the tree frogs, and several others as well. Outside there is also the ABC garden (containing plants with names starting with each letter of the alphabet), and on Earth day they planted some garlic somewhere else around the school to share with a local food bank at harvest time. Not surprisingly, Clara is a bit more lukewarm about her first few weeks and it is slower going to get acquainted with the other kids. Her shoulders were drooping quite a bit those first few days, but now she is generally in better spirits when she comes home. She has enjoyed playing hockey in PE (her team is the Swiffer Dusters). She seems to really like her social studies/history teacher, and they are studying the Civil War. The spelling work she finds to be much easier here, but the math is actually a bit harder than what she had been doing in Oz. And so far there seems to more short assignments for homework and fewer large "projects." She has also joined the jazz band that meets after school twice a week, and that is a small group for her to get to know. Her art teacher is also a cartoon artist, so she is enjoying working on a cartoon strip of her own at the moment. So even though she is deeply missing all of her friends in Adelaide, there are a few small things that have captured her interest a bit.

On the weekend, everyone pitched in to paint Lucy's and Clara's rooms (Lucy went for a pale lime green; Clara chose a sunny yellow), plus the laundry room and master toilet. The next week went quickly; the girls started riding the bus home in the afternoons, while Tim mostly went to work, and Sandy went to the house to oversee the ongoing work - carpets, painting, plumbing, etc. and to start cleaning and lining kitchen drawers and shelves. And then the day we'd been waiting for - arrival of our air shipment from Australia, along with everything we had left in storage nearly 5 years ago. The garage rapidly filled up, but we got enough unpacked and organized that we could spend our first night in the house Thursday (4th of May) - what excitement! Since then, we've been trying to get through all the boxes as best we can - to make room for our sea shipment. It is now our 5th night here in the house, and the kitchen is starting to function fairly well. The painters finished the outside of the house, and it looks wonderful.

Our sea shipment arrived (ahead of schedule!), and seems all intact; the moving crew did a good job getting everything unloaded, unwrapped and reassembled, and we are slowly but steadily working our way through the boxes. Each day it feels more and more like home. So after 4 1/2 years of living abroad, the Australian portion of our adventure (and journal) is at an end - but the friendships we made will last for ever, as will the memories. And we still have more pictures and trip reports to add to this website - so stay tuned...

And it seems once the blogging bug bites, it remains - so here is the start of our American Journal...

The End

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More information about Adelaide: Current conditions and weather forecasts are available from ABC (Australia), Intellicast.com and Weather.com. For more accurate local observations from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, updated every 10 minutes, check here. Get the current time in Adelaide here. Find a street address in Adelaide via WhereIs Online. Check out what that Aussie slang means here. And here and here are some webcams of Adelaide (the DTEI building is only a few blocks from our former house and Wilderness).

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