Saturday, August 28, 2010

Perth Adventures

This past weekend we went to an awards night in Perth for Ben's company Lowes Churchill & Associates. We drove up Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel, Waterside Apartments. Nancy, Ben's boss, reimbursed us for the room! It was actually a 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchen that we split with Mark and Nat. We had a balcony that overlooked the water (and freeway...haha) and our rooms looked over the courtyard. It was a great place to stay. The area was exactly what I think of when I think of Perth (we were in South Perth, outside of the city). It was built up with really really tall, BEAUTIFUL apartment buildings and hotels. There was a running path along the waterfront, and you could see the city. There are a lot of pictures in this blog, and we found a way for you to zoom in on them. Hold down the "Ctrl" button while you click on the picture you want to view. It will open the picture in a new tab and you'll be able to see it a bit larger. Here's a panorama view of the city--I love that our camera does this:



So, Friday we went to the awards night around 6:30. We ended up walking to the restaurant, which was at the Perth Zoo, it was only about 1 km away (about .6 mile). The food was really fancy, we had like 4 forks and different knives and spoons. It was fun though, we got all dressed up and had a 3-course meal. Of course, I forgot to get a picture of the four of us all together dressed up. But there will be other times I'm sure! Nancy gave a really nice speech about how the company was very young, including the people in it, and how proud she was. Here's a picture of the company receiving their award for "Best Regional Project Under $100 million":


(From the left: some motivational speaker who was really long and boring and loved to toot her own horn, Mark, Zack, Zack's gf/fiance, Nancy, Nancy's niece, Nat, Ben, and Graham is in front)

After the awards night, we wanted to go out into the city to see it at night. We didn't get to see much, but one of the girlfriend's of the guys that works for LCAA (he works out of Perth) told us that the casino is open 24 hours. So we decided to check it out! Ben and I have never been to a casino before. We didn't do any gambling, but we did laugh at the stuff people gambled on. Like virtual horse and dog racing--do they really think THAT'S not rigged? When we got a cab back, there was a long line of people. They basically have a big lane of cabs and everyone just waits in a line for one. It's funny, because you really notice how people are a lot less pushy here. Everyone just waited their turn and were very civil (even the 18 year old drunkies).

Saturday we went to the Perth Zoo. It.was.AWESOME. We spent the whole day there. I couldn't believe we were able to spend like 6 hours at the zoo! But it was really fun, and they had cool animals. There was an Australian Bushwalk where you just walked through where animals were roaming freely--like kangaroos, wallabies, weird birds, etc. Get ready...there are like 30 pictures.


Zebras.


Wombat. They're like hairy pigs.

Sun Bear.


Tree Kangaroos. They looked so soft and cuddly. He doesn't look as demonic as the picture shows--silly camera flash.



Tasmanian Devil!!


Love this picture of the lady tiger. Look how happy she is in dreamland.

We watched the male tiger for a long time. We could get nose to nose with him through the glass. He kept pacing back and forth and coming SO close to our faces. It was AWESOMEEEE

Showing some teeth.


"How YOU doin'?" Best picture of a kangaroo ever. Oh so seductive.



White Rhinos sunbathing.



Radiated tortoises.



Pelican. Which is really big...up to my hip in height.


Painted Dog. NOT a hyena, although they look similar.


Cutest meerkat EVAAAA. Check out the little smirk on his face. (A meerkat is Timon's character in Lion King!)


Awesome lions having a rest.

Koala! Sadly not as cute and cuddly as I was expecting. He looks old and wise, doesn't he?


This 'Roo was in the bushwalk. We were SO close to him. We could have touched him, but thought we should probably leave him alone.


"The Dingo ate your baby!" (This is a dingo. Just looks like a dog. He was so cute though, and seemed kind of sad. And old. And tired.)


Giraffe. Hopefully you know that.


Baboon. Don't their butts look painful? This one in particular didn't leave this tree--he just kept licking it. They had just been given sugar cane, maybe there was some on the tree?

Galapagos Tortoise. He was MASSIVE. At least three small children could ride him. Here, he is enjoying a lovely salad.


Lazy Croc. Ben would like to point out that the zookeeper's have done a marvelous job at recreating the crocodile's natural habitat--a Florida pool.


Baby Orangutan. We watched the orangutans for like 30 minutes. The mother got mad because so many people were watching and gave everyone the middle finger. Then she scooped up her baby and climbed up these really tall towers they have for the orangutans. The baby started showing off and hanging around the bars and ropes. I think s/he has a piece of sugar cane in this picture.


Little Penguin. They were really cute, and their coats are a pretty royal blue--which you can see better in the video. We got there right at feeding time!

Here is a video of the little blue penguins being fed. Right between :06 and :09 seconds you can hear an Australian crow--doesn't it sound like a crow from the States but with an Australian accent??


video


Ben and Mark riding the lions outside of the fancy Perth Zoo restaurant.

Well, there you have it. We had a great time, and any of you that visit will have to come to the Zoo with us. It was an awesome experience and we'd love to do it again.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Australian Plague

Well, as most of you know, I have been incredibly ill the past week or so. Actually, I feel like I've been sick pretty much the whole 2 months I've been here. Yesterday Ben made me go to the doctor's (good husband) and they took swabs and a blood sample, instead of just giving me antibiotics this time. I should have the results tomorrow. Basically, the doctor explained that here in Australia we have very similar illnesses and sicknesses to what I was exposed to in Maine. BUT, they're different strains. And because they're different strains, I have to build up an immunity to the new bacteria. I'm a little concerned, because I just spent 24 years of my life building up immunities in Maine. How long will I be sick here? How long will it take to build up a decent immunity in Australia? I work with kids, so I'm constantly exposed to new bacteria and new viruses. I take the necessary precautions, like trying to stay healthy and hydrated, washing my hands, etc. but it's like "Bubble Boy". It's like I've stepped from my Maine-Immunity bubble and into AustraliaWorld, and now if there's something to catch, I WILL catch it. Tomorrow I have a follow up appointment where we can discuss why I was so sick this time around, and if there are any immunizations I can get, what kind of vitamin regimen I take to help my immune system, etc. So that's that.

We do have a couple of pictures to share! We made our lemonade last weekend and it's really good. My friend Melanie sent me a new lemonade recipe so we're going to try that one next time. We found out that the lemon tree doesn't belong to anyone--the other side of the fence there is just, nothingness. So we think it's safe to pick the lemons. Plus when I drank the lemonade I didn't look down and realize I was naked or anything, and no evil Satanic kangaroo tried to talk to me, so I think we're all set as far as forbidden fruit goes :) Here's a picture of our fresh lemonade:



This weekend we are heading up to Perth for Ben's business awards/dinner thing. I think it's going to be really fun. We booked a nice 4 star hotel that is a 2 bedroom suite that Mark and Nat and Ben and I will be sharing, and it was very inexpensive! Also, Nancy reimbursed us for our hotel, which we didn't expect. What a good boss! Since dinner and the hotel are all paid for, we'll mostly be paying for breakfast, gas to Perth (which we'll split 4 ways), and the zoo the next day. I can't wait--from what we hear, the Perth zoo is pretty epic. I feel like we're finally getting to see more of Australia.

Ben went to Nancy's sister's house for dinner on Sunday night. I really wanted to go but I was feeling extremely miserable. Nancy's sister has recently begun flower arranging, and she arranged a little bouquet for Ben to bring home to me. How nice! They are really pretty. The big purple one is some kind of Australian Iris, and the really tall burgundy/yellow ones are called Kangaroo Paws. I'm not sure about the others, but the really small white-ish ones are REALLY fragrant and they look like tiny white daffodils up close.


We have decided that when our 6 month lease is up, we're going to move. We're looking at going to Withers, which is a suburb of Bunbury (I don't remember if I've already written about this. So if I have, skim past it.) I would be closer to work, and if we got lucky enough, I could walk to work. I really don't want to buy another car. The car we bought is the nicest car either of us have ever had, and if we're only going to be here for 3 years, I don't want to spend another thousand or whatever on an extra vehicle--that just means more registrations, more maintenance, more gas...this car is nice and I'd like to just have one if we can. Plus, because Withers is outside of Bunbury, we could get a newer place for less money. We've scrubbed the mold out of the showers in this apartment, but I suspect it's under the carpets as well. These carpets ARE from the '70's. When I was vacuuming, the hose was lifting off the carpet--which just makes me think, ew, what could be under there?! We need to find a place that isn't going to encourage me being sick all the time. Plus we had a big problem with out Property Manager recently and don't want to give them any more of our business.

That's the update. Will have lots of pictures to post after this weekend at the Zoo and the awards night!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Anticipating the taste of stolen lemons

I'm wondering if Ben and I are the modern day Adam and Eve. Except this time, Adam/Ben would get all the blame. The neighbors have a huge lemon tree that overhangs our side of the fence. The people in the adjoining unit to us are gone for a couple of weeks, because renovations are being done to their side of the building. That leaves us with the temptation of picking the lemons that hang over the fence. I didn't know if it was such a good idea--I mean, they're not our lemons to pick. God says stealing is wrong! Adam/Ben assured me that they wouldn't get harvested on this side--they would go to waste. If I make fresh lemonade, am I going to suddenly realize I'm naked? Is it possible for child-bearing to hurt any more than it already does? Will Satan take a snake form and kick it oldschool, or will it be a kangaroo, perhaps, in honor of us being in Australia? We'll see once we taste the Forbidden Lemonade.

These lemons are HUGE. I took a picture next to my fist so you could get an idea. They're about 3 or 4 times the size of the lemons in the States. Also, they smell amazing! People will think I've washed the floors with Pine Sol--yeah right! Who am I, Cinderella?


We took a little adventure yesterday driving as close to the Ocean as we could. It kept leading us back to the highway, which we were trying to avoid. We ended up at Peppermint Grove Beach. It's a beautiful area--there's a playground and a covered place where people were bbqing. And as soon as we stepped onto the sand, it felt like home. The sand was so fine! It's so different than the sand at the beach we usually walk on. Here's a picture of the beach:

On our way out of visiting one of the beaches, Ben spotted this sign. This wins the award of Creepiest Sign in the Universe that I Am Aware Of:


Oh, here's a funny sign in one of the beach parking lots. Careful, the HamBurglar might steal your valuables!
Mark was reorganizing his living room, and wanted to get rid of some furniture. We got two recliners and a dining table with 4 matching chairs! I'm so happy to be able to eat at the table with Ben now. Here's a picture (yes Mom and Dad, I actually packed that table cloth that you guys gave us from Wells Antiques--that's how much I love it!)


While we were driving, there were some really pretty areas that we had never seen before. One of them had tons and tons of white birds. I went to take a picture out the window and they heard me talk and flew further away, so you can't see them very well in this picture. But isn't the scenery beautiful?


Ben is currently at work, and when he comes home we'll be running 234762835 errands. We're going to open a savings account so we can start saving to come home--hopefully next June-ish. The tentative plan is, to save enough to come home for about 3.5 weeks, then fly to Europe and do some backpacking. The way we flew here was through Germany, so we could take a similar route. We'd like to see as much as we can while we're young and flying anyway! We're hoping to be home for 4th of July so my parents and Ben's parents can spend some time in Caratunk camping and seeing fireworks. Anyone else that is up for some tubing and camping should let us know. Ben's parents have an awesome spot on the lake and river in Caratunk, and a beautiful campground to stay in. Hopefully this plan works!

We also have plans to go to Margret River for our 1 year marriage anniversary (4 years being together!) It's like the Napa Valley of Australia. It's internationally known for it's wines. We're going to stay in a decent hotel (we have our eye on a 3 star hotel in the town, it's right above it's own restaurant and cafe) so we can spend more money doing whale watching, wine tours and tastings, checking out cafes, maybe renting some bikes. We are really excited! How are we ever going to top our 1 year anniversary? Hopefully in 25 years they can send us to the moon or something.

The nannying job didn't work out, I'm sad to say. But, it's okay. I am going back to the relief work tomorrow and they need me all week and next week. So we still have money coming in, and once my qualifications are assessed I will be able to take on a full-time permanent position for more money. It's a good job for right now, though.

So that's where life is right now. Hope you're all enjoying the summer! Ours hasn't even begun..I think we'll probably melt.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rambles

No new pictures in this blog, sorry! Our picture-worthy adventures are slowing down right now, but I'm sure we'll have more to share soon.

At the end of the month, we're going to a business dinner for Ben's work up in Perth. (Have I talked about this already? I can't remember.) Anyway, the tickets are all paid for, so we'll be heading up and staying the night so we can go out on the town and see Perth at night! We are also thinking about checking out the Zoo the following day. I guess the Perth Zoo is pretty sweet, so we want to see it since we'll be up there anyway. Will definitely get some pictures there!

Things at Ben's work are going well. Nancy is gone for a couple of weeks, so Ben is on his own with a list of things to do. He is also officially AutoCAD certified!! Pretty cool. He got his results back and they were VERY impressed with his drawings. They said his test was "exceptional all around" and he lost very very few points. He is such a smarty :)

Relief at the Early Learning Centre is going well for me. Very very hectic. My first day I was left alone almost all day with 10 toddlers (the ratio is 1:5). It's hard to get used to saying things like "wee on the toilet" and "change your nappy" and "time for morning tea". I usually say my American phrase first and then have to correct myself. I wonder how much time I will save once I get in the habit of saying the Australian phrase. Right now, I sound like this: "Charlie, time to pee on the potty. *Receive strange look from 2 year old like I am sprouting a second head* OH! I mean, Charlie, time to WEE on the TOILET! *Charlie smiles and comes running". That's a good 5-10 seconds per child I'm wasting. Jeez. I am meeting with a family today that I could possibly nanny for! It would be much less stressful--they have two boys, 3 and 6. The 6 year old is in school most of the day, so it would be me and the 3 year old for most of the day. The hours are great, it's full-time, and it's just the next town over. I hope it works out!

Our apartment is slowly filling up with things. Last weekend we got two bedside tables for our room, a vacuum, and some candle holders. We found an awesome headboard/footboard for $10 but it had sold! I was so bummed. It was perfect, and I haven't seen any of those under $100. Ohhhhhh well. We are still not sure if we're going to stay here. The bathroom has mold and it bothers both of us. Our lease here is 6 months, and then it goes on a month-by-month basis, so we may start looking for a new place after 6 months...probably in South Bunbury because it would be closer to my job and closer to the beach. We'll see!

Hopefully I will get this nannying job and then Ben and I can join the gym! Ben is excited to join a Squash team and I really want to do some Body Pump/Attack/etc. classes. I'm getting sick of working out in our spare room with just Jillian Michaels to keep me company.

That's all for now! Will update more later..hopefully with pictures, next time!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Laughing Kookaburras and such

Sorry it has been a while since our last update, but things have gotten so busy with stuff that is too boring to talk about. Lots and lots of paperwork, mostly. Errands everywhere..blah blah.

Ben and I picked up a little catalog delivery route twice a week. It's about $80 a week (yard saling money!) and we are enjoying it! It's just an easy little side job that forces us to get out and walk. Plus, it's good training for day hikes. We pack our backpacks way up (Ben's was almost 70 lbs. the other day!) and walk for a few miles. It's not something we NEED to do, but it's such a mindless, easy job, we figured we'd do it until we decided we are bored with it :)
Last weekend we went yard saling, and got all kinds of exciting things! A microwave (old school with the dial and everything!), a food processor, a dish rack, I could go on but I can't remember the other stuff. We also got a FREE couch and two chairs! They were in Port Kennedy, which is about an hour north of us, so we took Mark's Suzuki (I smell an adventure!) and loaded it up. So it wasn't actually free--$45 worth of gas, but that's cheaper than any furniture we've see in ads and at yard sales! Here is a picture of the couch and one of the chairs:

And YES! They ARE really comfy. We've also been able to order a new power cube for our wii, so we'll actually get to use it here, so we are happy about that. It was $15 with shipping. We are getting better and better at figuring out Australian Ebay.

I will be doing some relief work at a Child Development center in Withers (next town over) until my qualifications get assessed. I finally got my transcripts in the mail, and now I'm waiting on all my trainings and certificates from my last job. This week I'll be working 8-4:30 Thursday and Friday. Did I mention that I'm getting paid between $18.41 and $19.35? Because I am! It will be more once I'm not being classified as a "Casual Assistant", but until my qualifications go through, that's what I get. Not too shabby :)

Ben's job continues to be lovely. He just finished a "test" to get AutoCAD certified--he'll be the only one in the office with the certification! He had to do a drawing with AutoCAD and he drew a really cool house. It has to include all the structural stuff like beams and stuff--I don't know, I'm not an Engineer. But it looked awesome and he did a great job. Now he just has to wait to hear back if he got the certification, which he will :)

There is a fancy shmancy business dinner up in Perth at the end of the month that we are going to for Ben's job. How fun! We are thinking about getting a hotel room and seeing if Mark/Nat want to go in on it and stay the night up in Perth after. I'd love to see the city at night!

Lately I've been hearing these CRAZY noises when I wake up. It seriously sounds like 4 or 5 monkeys are outside the window doing the "ooh ooh AHH AHH" noise. This morning I heard it again so I ran down to see if I could figure out what the culprit was (not really expecting monkeys, but how cool would that be?!") I saw a bunch of birds fly off when I opened the shades, but one flew to the street sign and stopped. I could see it was white and black so I googled "Western Australian bird monkey sound" and I found out what it was within seconds. Gotta love the Internet. It is a Laughing Kookaburra (which made me get that song stuck in my head..."Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he, LAUGH! Kookaburra, LAUGH! Kookaburra, gay your life must be!" Please tell me someone else knows this song. It may or may not be from Gullah Gullah Island.) Anyway, here is a link to a youtube video of a Laughing Kookaburra--

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0ZbykXlg6Q

Now imagine this sound, but with about 4 or 5 birds doing it at once! Crazy birds. I think Australia has some of the most awkward creatures in the world. A few days ago, Mark found his passenger side window completely SMASHED out! And guess what it was from? A GINORMOUS possum. Equally awkward animal, with it's nasty little thick ratty tail and weird beady eyes.

I guess that's about it for now. Don't worry, I won't stop updating! Things are just paperwork-happy right now. More adventures to come!