[Sunset over Glenelg Beach]

Sunset over Glenelg Beach (Glenelg, South Australia)


Australian Journal - February 2002


February 1-12, 2002 - Back to school: Things have been a hectic, so we've gotten behind on our journal updates. Monday evening Clara had a swimming lesson, and Lucy played in the other half of the pool, and they both had a good time. Afterwards they had a shower and put pajamas on at the pool. Then we came home and just continued getting ready for bed. The next day, Tuesday, the 5th, was the first day of the new school year.

Sandy got up early so as to be ready to get the girls out the door. However, even with the girls going to bed early, they were both still sound asleep in the morning when it was time to get up. They did a good job of getting ready, and Sandy was able to take a couple of pictures of them on the front porch before leaving for school. One adjustment we have made over the past few months living here in Australia is that a liberal application of sunscreen to all exposed body parts is now a part of our normal morning routine.

It was quite a bustling place at Wilderness! Sandy, Clara and Lucy had to go way down the hill for a parking space, so then had quite a trek back up the hill (since Clara has moved from the "Lower Junior School" to the "Upper Junior School" now - and, oddly enough, the upper school is actually uphill from the lower school) with all of Clara's new school supplies. Her teacher had their desks and lockers all labeled. Then we hiked back down the hill, and of course, Lucy was saying that she was tired and she might need to be carried. But she walked right in and sat down on the carpet in her classroom and never looked back.

This term Lucy is in preschool ("Kindy") four mornings a week. Monday is Show 'N Tell, Tuesday is Library Day, Wednesday is Lucy's day to spend with Sandy, Thursday is Cooking Day, and Friday is Computers and Shared Fruit--and all days involve lots of art and play.

In the afternoons when Lucy is at home, Sandy and Lucy have been playing a lot of "Connect 4", and Lucy has really started to get the hang of it. She really didn't want to play that game because she said she never wins, but she gave in eventually. After playing a dozen games or so, she started to win a few with just a bit of coaching and a few suggestions here and there. And one time she totally caught Sandy by surprise and she was so tickled with herself. She said, "Mom, you weren't paying attention, and I beat you!" Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle!

Meanwhile, Clara is happy to be back at school with her friends. Now that she is in the Junior School, the girls are allowed to go to the library or the computer room at lunch time, and that has been a big treat. The girls were also very serious about covering all of their "exercise books" with different varieties of Contact, so that project kept Clara and Sandy busy in the evenings (17 notebooks in all).

After the busy first week of school, we took it easy over the weekend. After having so little time together during the week, Clara and Lucy were so happy just to play together. That gave Sandy a chance to bake a cake and prepare a big bowl of fresh strawberries to take to a "Driveway Party", hosted by our neighbors down the street. The host and hostess are a Qantas inspector/maintainer and a painter (artist) respectively. It was a good opportunity to meet some more of the people on our street, as we heard from some friends across the street, many of the neighbors had been very curious and anxious to meet us. It was a lovely cool evening. In fact the weather has been unseasonably cool for quite awhile now, but as the second week of school progresses, things will be heating up to the 100 degree F range again!

The second week of school also meant starting up violin lessons again for Clara, and her class made pancakes on Tuesday for Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)--part of their "literacy" and "numeracy" lessons. Wednesday she will spend the morning at the Junior School "swim heats" in preparation for the big Swim Day at the Adelaide Aquatic Center next Wednesday. There will be different swim competitions, with the different "houses" in Wilderness competing against each other. Clara is in Sparaxis (often simply called "Spraky"), so she will be wearing a bright orange swim hat. Good thing we have been taking all of those swimming lessons the past few years...

February 13-26, 2002 - Settling into the new routine: It's been another long spell between journal updates since Tim has been in Seattle for nearly three weeks, and Sandy, Clara & Lucy have had their hands full with day-to-day activities. Tim left on the 4th (and arrived on the 4th, due to crossing the International Data Line on the way to Seattle), and got to see how things have changed since our departure (and especially since September 11). The trip went well, and on time, in spite of 6 security screenings on the way. The big changes were the increased security at the airports, with the National Guard in place with their M-16s, and the increase in patriotic symbols (flags, bumper stickers, posters, etc.) Traveling on a Monday turned out to be a great idea, as the huge immigration arrival hall at LAX was completely empty except for the people on Tim's flight. Tim & his two empty suitcases (to bring back a long list of stuff for Sandy & the girls) arrived safely at the Hawthorne Suites in Kent that we had departed from almost 5 months ago, and settled in.

Throughout the next couple weeks, Tim spent most of his time at work, but did manage to find time for lunch with various sets of friends, and a very nice "afternoon tea" (as the Aussies would say) with friends Bruce & Robyn and others from the neighborhood. Tim also got to visit his Scotch-tasting pals and selected a few bottles to bring back. One evening, Tim also took some of the Aussies he works with to a local sushi bar (the first time some of them have had sushi), which went well; they also stopped off at a driving range on the way back to the hotel, where Tim got to embarrass himself trying to hit golf balls for the first time in 20 years. He even managed to bounce one off the ball-collecting cart (intentionally) - but unfortunately, the Aussie who had made a bet that no one could hit the cart wasn't looking at the moment of truth!

On Friday night, Clara had her first Australian sleepover, inviting friend Katarina from Wilderness over for the night. Both girls ended up sleeping on the floor in the living room, on our Thermarest camping pads, and Lucy slept with Sandy.

Saturday night, Tim attended the annual progressive dinner in our (US) neighborhood, as "family surrogate!" It was fun for him to see old friends and neighbors, and share pictures of our life down under. At the last house, Tim called Sandy, so all the "Ladies Night" ladies took turns talking to Sandy, and urging her to hurry home. Sunday, Tim went out for lunch with a couple of scotch-tasting pals (the co-hosts of the annual Burns Party in Spokane, which he managed to miss by two weeks this year), followed by sampling a few drams at one of their houses, and catching up on things.

Monday, Lucy got her first taste of Reception - Wilderness is a firm believer in the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, which says that young children (4 and under) should actually spend full days in educational settings. So, Wilderness recommends that kids in Kindie, who are due to transition to Reception within 6 months, should spend at least two full days a week at school (i.e., not just half days). We had originally intended for Lucy to do 4 half days a week this (1st) term, and 2 full days and 2 half days a week next (2nd) term, and then full days 5 days a week in Reception starting in 3rd term. However, Lucy did fine, and in fact was bubbling over and more chatty after a full day than she usually is after a partial day! Monday night Sandy got a baby sitter, so she could go to Wilderness for parent information night, and she was able to meet all of Clara's "specialist teachers" for French, art, music, physical education, "information technology" and "resource-based learning."

Clara has also been quite busy with her violin and tennis lessons, and has so far managed to keep up with both, along with her other school work. The Burnside pool also had a spot open up for Lucy, so both girls now have swimming lessons on Monday evenings as well. Wednesday was the Swimming Carnival at the Aquatic Center. Clara won the freestyle event for her group. However, the Sprakies finished 4th of the five Wilderness houses.

Finally, the last weekend came, and Tim left work at mid-afternoon on Friday (early Saturday morning in Adelaide) for the airport, and headed home. Meanwhile, Sandy and the girls headed off to spend the day at the beach-front house of Chris, Jacquie, Allanah, and Jessica. Tim's return trip was quite a bit different than the trip out, since there is a lot more travel volume on a Friday departing the US than arriving on a Monday - and he also had two "max weight" suit cases. He had to repack them several times to get everything in and padded adequately. He even had to forgo any attempt to bring his desperately-desired coffee home, due to weight-and-volume restrictions! He had allowed about three hours between each of his three flights, and was to be quite glad of that before the trip was over! He also arrived plenty early at Seatac - which turned out to be a good idea - since his luggage had to go through "random" secondary screening (it passed), then he had to go through primary screening (he passed), and then he went through secondary (supposedly random) screening at the gate (and passed). This was shaping up to outdo the six screenings he'd had to wait through on the way in to the country!

The departure from Seattle was reminiscent of the initial departure 5 months ago. First it was a nose wheel tire that had to be changed. Then, after the aircraft was pulled out, had started engines, and begun to taxi, it stopped - the operations folks had decided that the aircraft was not balanced properly. So, they opened up the cargo doors, and moved cargo around until they were happy. Then it was off to LA. Fortunately, the schedule had some pad in it, so arrival was only about 30 minutes late. However, as Tim walked from the domestic to the international terminal in LA (quite different from our panicked run 5 months ago!), he noticed several lines exiting the building and wrapping down the sidewalk. His first reaction was "No. That can't POSSIBLY be the security check in line!" In he went, looking for the security checkpoint for his gate; then he backtracked along the line, and yeah, verily, the line DID start out on the sidewalk. So, he got in place, and was happy that the ticket agent in Seattle had said that yes, the bags WERE checked all the way through to Australia this time, and he didn't have to retrieve them and recheck them in LA - because the check-in lines were, if anything, longer than the security lines!

Fortunately, the line moved reasonably quickly, and everyone had the routine down. Since part of the security measures state that aircraft cannot leave with a passenger's baggage on board but no passenger, the airlines try reasonably hard to find wayward or delayed passengers, and hurry them through security. This, of course, does nothing for the on-time depature rates of the airlines, but it did comfort Tim standing in line. He eventually made it through the line in only 45 minutes, and on to the 747 for Melbourne. The flight went well, although since Tim was suffering a cold, his inner ear was apparently acting up, and he came close to air sickness for the first time in his life. But, that passed, and arrival in Melbourne was uneventful. Immigration was no problem, and Customs once again outdid themselves - this time, their only concern was the four cans of canned pumpkin he was bringing back for Sandy to use in breads and muffins - once the agents had examined a sample can, he was waved through with his 2.6 liters of scotch, and 50 kilos of miscellanous stuff (vitamins, toys, DVDs, various items of apparel, etc.) No duty assessed at all this time.

On the very last leg of his return home, from Melbourne to Seattle, Tim got to ride in a brand new Boeing 737-800 which still had the "new plane smell." It was the Yananyi Dreaming aircraft, painted in an Aboriginal paint scheme. The paint scheme was inspired by the dramatic landscape around Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), in central Australia. Yananyi means going/traveling. Yananyi Dreaming arrived in Adelaide on schedule, and came in via the Coorong Peninsula and over the Adelaide Hills (and Tim could even pick out the girls favorite slide at Dunstan Park) - a gorgeous day for travel - and especially to return home.


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