I haven't updated since November, so I'll do my best to tell everyone how things have been.
Had my birthday party. Ben bought me a Kindle which I LOVE! We had a '90's themed party where everyone had to come dressed in '90's clothes or as a '90's icon. See pictures here:
Christmas was great. We kept very busy and had a bunch of friends over that don't have family around either. It was a huge help to be surrounded by misfits :) We also went up to a friend's in Perth for Christmas Eve, she is our parent's age so it was nice to be in a family setting. I managed to find a used wii on ebay, and that was Ben's highlight gift at Christmas (along with some great games!) He was so surprised. It's so hard to keep Christmas gifts a secret when you have to order most of them! My highlight gift was a guitar and lessons! I started lessons in February and I'm hooked. Starting to get callouses on my fingertips, so it's making it easier to play!
See pictures of Christmas here (it's mostly just getting our tree!):
Poor Ben didn't have a lot of work, so he was getting quite discouraged. I had a LOT of work leading up to our big annual exhibition and celebrating the 25th year of the Galleries. Lots of things happening. Probably a ton of stuff happened but it seems so long ago.
Had our big annual exhibition, showcasing the best of south west art. About 700 people came. Was a very successful event. Ben's birthday was a huge hit! We had a themed birthday party (we really like themes, have you figured this out yet?) He did a "Good Beer, Bad Beer" party. Everyone had to bring a six-pack of "good" beer and a six-pack of "bad" beer (using obvious judgement.) We had two bins set up full of ice, with cardboard over the top and a flap. The "bad" beer bin had a poison sign on it, and the "good" beer bin a happy face. Every time someone needed a drink, they were to have someone flip a coin. If they called it correctly, they could reach through the flap in the good bin, and if they called it wrong, they'd reach into the bad bin. We had about 20 people come and everyone played! It was really fun (except that I'm not very good at calling a coin....apparently.) Ben also got GREAT news at the end of the month! After a longgggggggggggggggg time with no work, he was offered a secondment at Monadelphous (http://www.monadelphous.com.au/) They are an INTERNATIONAL company, and a HUGE one at that. Ben is currently working on a job site in Muja, which is over an hour away. It's at a coal plant. He is one of very few project engineers, and easily the youngest. It's a HUGE step for him, and a ton of responsibility. He is working on multiple jobs, worth millions of dollars. He deserves it! He has to get up at 5am and he doesn't get back until about 6pm :( But it beats being bored and having no work, and it will be great for his resume! I started a dance class and guitar lessons this month, both of which I am really enjoying.
We also went on a trip to Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, and Cape Range National Park! We snorkelled and hiked and explored for a whole week. Pictures here:
So we've passed the half way point of living here. Here's our tentative plan for the next 13 months :)
-Work our butts off and pay off a bunch of debt while saving some money too, until about July
-Attempt some weekend camping trips, see Northcliffe, Esperance, maybe try to get to Albany again
-Possibly go on a trip to Thailand in July (if our work schedules allow it), study for the GREs
-Work some more and study for the GREs
-We both take the GREs in Perth in October
-National Arts Conference in South Australia for me in October, as well as my huge exhibition opening in October
-Possible trip to Melbourne to see a friend's friend in a dance performance (AND TO SHOP BECAUSE MELBOURNE HAS AMAZING SHOPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! or so I hear)
-My mom and her friend Betsy visit in November!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Sydney for New Years, and a possible Cairns trip to dive the Great Barrier Reef! (This is practically definite...we book our hostel (you can see info here! http://www.yha.com.au/hostels/nsw/sydney-surrounds/sydney-harbour/)
on 31 March, and we will see the fireworks on the rooftop terrace party they have! Then we'd head to Cairns to dive after New Years
-Work a bunch more, start selling stuff, etc.
-Possible trip to New Zealand (or maybe combine this with backpacking, we HAVE to see New Zealand while we're over here, non-negotiable!)
-Leave in April 2013ish for a backpacking trip through Europe (possibly Asia?)
-Be home in Juneish to see everyone, get settled, buy a house :)
-Ben starts grad school Masters in Structural Design in September 2013, start renovating our first home, maybe pop out some babies, adopt a dog from the shelter..so many options!
So obviously..this is all tentative, and we all know life doesn't go the way you PLAN it to. I mean, who would have ever thought we'd be in Australia? But..it doesn't hurt to have some sort of plan. Can't believe we're a year away from leaving. I'm so happy we were able to travel and work and get into such a good place in our lives, but I will be happy to be home again. I am going to go absolutely AUTUMN CRAZY next year, that is the season I miss the most, by far.