an overflowing bin & a parking ticket

IMG_7944I know. I know. It’s full. And — somehow — our bin got missed, even though we thought we had it in the right place on the curb. And the recycling truck doesn’t come back around for 2 more weeks. And our red regular-garbage/rubbish bin is almost full.

Don’t panic, Angie.

It’s funny (or not) how I talk to myself these days and the topic of those 1-sided discussions. I can honestly say I never panicked about recycling before, but suddenly I’m thinking thoughts that never before crossed my mind like…should I get up in the middle of the night and stick recycling in neighbor’s bin or to the shopping center?

Thankfully, a new mom friend from Lizzy’s kinder (preschool) came to the rescue, offering that her recycling bin had room.

I never thought I’d hug someone over taking my trash before.

Since we’re on the topic of “foreigner tax,” we had another one just yesterday in the form of a parking ticket. For $74AUD. (Fortunately it’s a bit less painful when translated to $60USD.)

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We had marked our calendar for yesterday, planning to go see a free Bubble Soccer all-day competition on the beach. We drove 40 minutes south from our house and found a great parking space. It didn’t dawn on me, “This is a block from the water. Would such a space be free?” The path to the park for the game didn’t pass us by the token 1 or 2 parking “pay here” machines. It was only when we walked back to the car after being gone 3 hours that we saw a machine. And saw the faint numbers in front of each car on the foot path (sidewalk).

Uh-oh.

Honestly, when we saw the white ticket taped to the windshield, we thought the penalty would be higher. (I have a friend whose husband floored it to get through a train intersection before the arms could come down, and he was slapped with a $1200 fine. Ouch.)

But the day was still fun and we continue to learn…and learn to laugh at ourselves and whatever situation we can’t quite navigate as Americans.

Bubble Soccer -- a total hoot, especially at the beginning of the game and after each goal. The teams line up on each end and run toward each other to get to the ball first, knocking each other over and top speed. Should we be laughing and cheering it? Ha!
Bubble Football (aka our soccer) — a total hoot, especially at the beginning of the game and after each goal. The teams line up on each end and run toward each other to get to the ball first, knocking each other over and top speed. Watch video.
One of Joshua's very favorite places to be although his serious face doesn't show it. Maybe he was hearing the faint sound of our parking ticket being written.
One of Joshua’s very favorite places to be although his serious face doesn’t show it. Maybe he was hearing the faint sound of our parking ticket being written.

The final “foreigner tax” confession is about light bulbs — and how many trips to the store and purchases –it me to get the right bulb. Have you seen such different sizes and…shapes? And this doesn’t even include 2 others not pictured that I tried. To my credit, try #4 fit and worked but, as Scott noted, it was like staring into the sun.

Oh, so I guess I have to pay attention to the wattage and the size? I almost cried. Ok, not really. But almost. Next you’ll ask me to pat my head and rub my stomach and make sure I put the recycling in the right location on the curb.

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To end with a good laugh (because we actually are in a good grove and enjoying living here more and more), I give you great glimpses of Australia.

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Because you say, "I have gastro" to describe any stomach issue.
Because you say, “I have gastro” to describe any stomach issue.
Remember, it's a very international city. Sometimes you just have to state the basics. On the back of the toilet stall.
Remember, it’s a very international city. Sometimes you just have to state the basics. On the back of the toilet stall.
Kind of like an impulse item at the petrol (gas) station. Oh yeah! I forgot I need to cut the grass. Oh look! I can rent one right here. How convenient.
Kind of like an impulse item at the petrol (gas) station. Oh yeah! I forgot I need to cut the grass. Oh look! I can rent one right here. How convenient.
Our neighbors don't need that rental service. They have turf instead. And that's...not an uncommon sight here. Aussies don't spend lots of time on their grass here. Water and time are too valuable to do that and, truthfully, they'd rather relax and "play." Our garden (back yard) is an example of the landlord's place of value -- it wasn't ever really seeded for grass but rather a compilation of various weeds, we think.
Our neighbors don’t need that rental service. They have turf instead. And that’s…not an uncommon sight here. Aussies don’t spend lots of time on their grass here. I can count on one hand how many really-well-tended lawns I’ve seen since moving here. Water and time are too valuable to do that and, truthfully, they’d rather relax and “play.” Plus, some spaces like this plot in the front of our neighbor’s house is so small, they probably think. 
Hannah, our babysitter, sitting at the Cru stall (booth) at Melbourne University during the first week of school.
Hannah, our babysitter, sitting at the Cru stall (booth) at Melbourne University during the first week of school.

Oh, and the beginning of the school year on college campuses for Cru has gone great! God is moving and we’ve heard of about a dozen or so university students from across Australia who have heard about Jesus (probably for the first time) and made a choice to follow Him. Amazing in light of the country’s secular reality.

Who knows what is yet to come!

5 months

September 14, 2014 was the day we flew out, sweaty from Orlando heat and schlepping 19(?) bags (how can I forget the number?) and teary from saying goodbyes. 5 months ago.

And now we’re here. Feeling more like our sea legs are stronger (praise God, how long have we 4 been well now???) and our hearts are more settled.

Scott recently announced, after coming home from the grocery store, that it was a new day — he hadn’t stood in the yogurt section for 10 minutes, stuck in indecision like we’d commonly done in the early days. We celebrated.

Now our confusion is over the incredible selection of dog food in the -- get this -- huge refrigerated section. Next to the yogurt.
Now our confusion is over the incredible selection of dog food in the — get this — huge refrigerated section. Next to the yogurt.

Driving on the other side doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Yet I’m still very much aware of my need to pray for God’s help to stay alert.

No one hurt, thankfully, we got a little "bump" on the way to Lizzy's second day of Kinder. The lady who hit us was really kind as we talked on the side of the road, very apologetic. But I didn't believe her when she said we don't call police but rather just give each other information. I called the police (000 here) and learned she was right. Police only get involved if there's a big accident. Who knew? Not sure how you can be sure the person at fault will own up to it, but, thankfully she did and we have a new bumper. The things you don't think to ask ahead of time, when you move somewhere: "So, say I get in a fender-bender. What do I do?"
No one hurt, thankfully, but we got a little “bump” on the way to Lizzy’s second day of Kinder. The lady who hit us was really kind as we talked on the side of the road, very apologetic. But I didn’t believe her when she said we don’t call police but rather just give each other information. I called the police (000 here) and learned she was right. Police only get involved if there’s a big accident. Who knew? Not sure how you can be sure the person at fault will own up to it, but, thankfully she did and we have a new bumper. The things you don’t think to ask ahead of time, when you move somewhere: “So, say I get in a fender-bender. What do I do?”

Another milestone, Kinder (pre-school) has started for Lizzy and she loves it.

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First day. (See the red squares she’s outlined on calendar? These are the big 2 days each week, 8:15-10:45am)

 

If I don't come back to the U.S. and it's not because of the kid-friendly play areas in public restrooms, it will be because of kinder. The Australians know how to help kids learn and it's through play. So grateful for Dover Street Kinder and how the 3 teachers (including Ms. Tarnia, here) are already instilling in Lizzy a love of learning as she explores.
If I don’t come back to the U.S. and it’s not because of the kid-friendly play areas in public restrooms, it will be because of kinder. The Australians know how to help kids learn and it’s through play. So grateful for Dover Street Kinder and how the 3 teachers (including Ms. Tarnia, here) are already instilling in Lizzy a love of learning as she explores.

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A praise--a couple new friends for our family through Kinder! There are two kids, including Reuben here, who are really great kids and their moms are believers! Joshua and I had a playdate with one of the moms, Alyssa, and her 18-month-old last Thursday and I got to know her better. I'm so encouraged for the new friend!
A praise–a couple new friends for our family through Kinder! There are two kids, including Reuben here, who are really great kids and their moms are believers! Joshua and I had a playdate with one of the moms, Alyssa, and her 18-month-old last Thursday and I got to know her better. I’m so encouraged for the new friend! The timing is good because I’ve recently weathered another round of “lonesomeness” (as Mom used to call it), just longing for friends who know my story and I know theirs. It takes time. I know it takes time. 😦
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We’ve found a church home. A place that is a tiny earthly mirror, I believe, of what Heaven will look like with the 22-some nationalities nestled together on a warm morning, one without the common “air con” (a/c) I lived in without thought in the U.S. — most houses and most churches (apart from the very large) don’t have a/c because of cost and the very few weeks it’s needed.
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Our new church family of 150 or so people and all with stories of coming here. Like the woman we met this morning — how do I say her name? — who emigrated from Croatia 50 years ago and sounds like she just stepped off the boat. You have a Joshua? she says to me. Pointing to the small a/v area in the back, she smiles and tells me of her grandsons, Joshua and another one, serving there. And her daughter, Lydia, is right there in front of us. She lost her husband 26 years ago, “but my family is here together.”
Here are my 2 cute Sunday School students watching a short video from the Jesus Storybook Bible DVD series (thanks, grandparents!). Over school holidays, churches don't offer Sunday School and creche (nursery) soas to give the teachers a break, I'm assuming. So, Scott and I took turns with our kids in an empty classroom during the sermon.
Here are my 2 cute Sunday School students watching a short video from the Jesus Storybook Bible DVD series (thanks, grandparents!). Over school holidays, churches don’t offer Sunday School and creche (nursery) soas to give the teachers a break, I’m assuming. So, Scott and I took turns with our kids in an empty classroom during the sermon.
The little creche (nursery) room and my little love-to-line-things-up guy.
The little creche (nursery) room and my little love-to-line-things-up guy. (And I’d love prayer about possibly starting an official creche for our church and a rotation of help so that moms can actually be in the service. Right now, we’re all back with the kids in this tiny room. Only a handful of kids but enough that it’d be wonderful to offer a ministry to the moms and the kids, I think. A bit daunting to find any extra time and also to navigate background check applications and finding help since we’re new, so need wisdom and timing from the Lord about it, if I’m to be the one to start it.
This Valentine's Day Eve was made possible by unexpected gift money and a dear friend and her daughter babysitting the kids. Scott loves Korean barbecue back in the States, so we tried a place nearby and loved it. A perk of living in Melbourne is the incredible global array of people and food easily accessible and, sometimes, even at a reasonable price!
This Valentine’s Day Eve was made possible by unexpected gift money and a dear friend and her daughter babysitting the kids. Scott loves Korean barbecue back in the States, so we tried a place nearby and loved it. A perk of living in Melbourne is the incredible global array of people and food easily accessible and, sometimes, even at a reasonable price! (Valentine’s Day is not a big deal here. Funny how I assume everything American is done around the globe. The local Cru campus ministry was having their before-school retreat (Uni starts back in 2 weeks for their fall) and I asked if they usually have the retreat over Valentine’s Day. Mike — an Aussie husband and dad of 4 — said, “Oh. Is that this weekend?” Ha!)
Nothing says I love you like heart-shaped schnitzel, a commonly-seen item in grocery stores meat counters. I bought some from a very kind store owner from Greece (another story for another time) and made chicken parmesan. Yum!
Nothing says I love you like heart-shaped schnitzel, a commonly-seen item in grocery stores meat counters. I bought some from a very kind store owner from Greece (another story for another time) and made chicken parmesan. Yum!
Since we're talking food, another Aussie food thing I'm finally getting used to. Snags (sausages) go on a slice of bread. Diagonally.  Then, just wrap it up. Kindof. Messy. But not in a bun. I think it's there way they save a teeeeeeeeny bit of money amidst steep prices in everything. But it's growing on me. Plus, you're never not prepared for a BBQ. Oh, we're having sausages for dinner? I'd have to say no, we can't come because we don't have buns but...wait! We can come. I have a loaf of bread. All is well.
Since we’re talking food, another Aussie food thing I’m finally getting used to. Snags (sausages) go on a slice of bread. Diagonally. Then, just wrap it up. Kindof. Messy. But not in a bun. I think it’s there way they save a teeeeeeeeny bit of money amidst steep prices in everything. But it’s growing on me. Plus, you’re never not prepared for a BBQ. Oh, we’re having sausages for dinner? I’d have to say no, we can’t come because we don’t have buns but…wait! We can come. I have a loaf of bread. All is well.
Lizzy exclaims at lunch at Subway, "Look! Australia!"
Lizzy exclaims at lunch at Subway, “Look! Australia!”
Joshua started speech therapy last week with Ms. Fiona and will be going weekly. Feels huge to have found someone we feel good about and to finally be starting.
Joshua started speech therapy last week with Ms. Fiona and will be going weekly. Feels huge to have found someone we feel good about and to finally be starting. Would love prayers for our 30-minute sessions and for greater ability for Joshua to eat raw foods like carrots. Praise is that Joshua’s vocabulary is growing rapidly, after being at a stand-still for so long. Thomas the Train is to thank, in part. Favorite words now include, “Toby,” “Emma” (Emily) and, just yesterday, “Annie.”
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Lizzy pointing out to Joshua where some of her friends live. At this point, most of those are imaginary friends we hear about (no friends in Russia quiet yet) but we can’t wait for the day when the kids do know other kids from all over the world! That’s a big reason we said yes to this adventure to move here — that they would have a bigger view of the world and of Jesus than either Scott or I did at their age. I see it already starting to happen for Lizzy. One day a few weeks ago, I said in passing that we could pray for the Aussie kids every time we saw an Aussie flag. I tell you, that girl sees flags where I’d never have seen them and will just launch into a simple prayer. Something like, “Dear Jesus, I pray for all the kids in Australia to know You. Amen.” May I pray so readily and with as much faith. I think God brought our whole family here to increase our faith as we ask Him to move hearts here…and watch Him do it.

 

My love of tennis is rekindled at the Australian Open

The plan was just to go into the City to celebrate Australia Day with the masses. We’d wear our Aussie t-shirts, (skipping the thongs — see below), wave flags, enjoy the train ride into and back, and eat a snag or two (sausages).

We never expected to sit 9 rows up from an Australian Open 4th round match.

Off to downtown Melbourne for big Australia Day picnic/free festivities.
Off to downtown Melbourne for big Australia Day picnic/free festivities. (Note we’re wearing jackets — and it’s Australian summer. So odd.) Riding into the City, we passed by where the Open was being played and said to the Lord that I’d sure love to go watch. Was there any wild way He’d provide a way to do that? But I said it and forgot it.
Australia Day celebrates the
Australia Day celebrates the marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales (current day Sydney harbor). The parade was a beautifully-visual reminder of the many, many peoples and nations that now call Australia home.
Just one of the numerous words that don't translate quite the same between Australia and the U.S.
Just one of the numerous words that don’t translate quite the same between Australia and the U.S.
Nope, no idea.
Nope, no idea.
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After the parade, I asked Scott what he’d think of us taking the free tram to where the Open was being played, just to take a few pictures. He said sure, so we took the 10 minute ride. Since we were there, we inquired at the ticket counter about cost for general admission. They said it’d be $40AUD ($32US) each (kids were free). We stepped out of line and I thought we’d go. Scott surprised me by saying, “You played tennis and love it. When might you get this chance again? Let’s do it.” As I was amidst a surprised reply, a man walked up to us and said, “Do you need tickets?” Um…what? The man and his friends were just coming out the exit, evidently having watched some of the game but leaving. “How many tickets do you need? They’re still playing. A great game.” “Two tickets is all we’d need,” I faltered, in a bit of shock, my prayer coming back to mind. (And internally I’m jumping up and down and screaming.) The man handed us two tickets, we thanked him excitedly and started to walk away. I walked quickly back after him, and thanked him again, telling him about how I’d prayed for a way to see the game and that God used him to bring that about. He probably thought I was crazy, but I wanted to give God praise for the lavish gift He gave this high school varsity (of 1 year) tennis player.

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Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, is last year's Australian Open men's single's winner...and just happened to be one of the players playing. We're cheering for Stan as I write, as he's playing in the semi-finals. Go Stan!
Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, is last year’s Australian Open men’s single’s winner and ranked #4 in the world…and just happened to be one of the players playing that day. Tonight as I blog right now, we’re cheering for Stan as he’s playing in the semi-finals. Go Stan!
A huge board displaying the pictures of last year's single's winners (Stan is over Joshua's shoulder) and the brackets of this year's Open and who's won and moving on.
A huge board displaying the pictures of last year’s single’s winners (Stan is in the left corner) and the brackets of this year’s Open and who’s won and moving on.
What a day! We assured Lizzy that God doesn't always say "yes" when we pray, asking Him for something. Sometimes He says "maybe," "wait," or "no." But, I'll sure celebrate the "yes" times like this!
What a day! We assured Lizzy that God doesn’t always say “yes” when we pray, asking Him for something. Sometimes He says “maybe,” “wait,” or “no.” But, I’ll sure celebrate the “yes” times like this!

What’s your Australia question?

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In honor of Australia Day this upcoming Monday, I thought it’d be a great time to take questions, if you have one. It could be about Aussie culture, food, does-the-toilet-bowl-really-flush-in-reverse? or whatever.

Our friend, Jayme from Lincoln, emailed to ask yesterday, “I have been wanting to ask if your kids are getting an accent or not?” Love that you asked that! Not yet. Well, wait. It seems like Lizzy’s picked up how the Aussies say “no” with an “r” at the end, like “nohr.” Pretty cute. Lizzy starts kinder (2-day pre-school for 2.5 hours each day) on Tuesday, Feb 2, so ask me after a few weeks of school.

Leave your question in the comments for this post, or you can email me, too.

our first Christmas in the southern hemisphere

Coming from Orlando, a hot Christmas wasn’t the shocker it could have been. But it was still different. Quieter.

A few things played into that. One was a daily Advent time our family enjoyed. Because it was simple and Lizzy especially loved it, we slipped into the morning ritual and stayed there. My heart is thankful for the built-in turn-my-face-to-Jesus time.

Another reason it was quiet was that we weren’t rushing to finish Christmas shopping and packing in order to catch a flight to the Midwest.

And…it seemed that most everyone around (including neighbors and their cars) evaporate, and with it, the daily noise.

A few photos (most for family back home) of what life has looked like recently.

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Making Nana's famous sugar cookies...with ingredients we could find here. Turned out more brittle, but eat them in one bit and -- shazam! -- no crumble issue!
Making Nana’s famous sugar cookies…with ingredients we could find here. Turned out more brittle, but eat them in one bite and — shazam! — no crumble issue!
The nearby shopping center where a shoe store seems to pop up overnight in the middle of an aisle.
The nearby shopping center where a shoe store seems to pop up overnight in the middle of an aisle.
Not an infrequent site here, but ironic to see at the shopping center during a season that much of the world celebrates Jesus -- the only God who can save. Oh, how I long for Aussies to know Him!
Not an infrequent sight here, but ironic to see at the shopping center during a season that much of the world celebrates Jesus — the only God who can save. Oh, how I long for Aussies to know Him!
While Christmas shopping one day, the kids and I found a great coffee shop with a reserved area (no joke!) for families and free "babycinos."
While Christmas shopping one day, the kids and I found a great coffee shop with a reserved area (no joke!) for families and free “babycinos” (a small milk drink with chocolate sprinkles and marshmallow, if you’re lucky).
Speaking of shopping centers, American mommies out there are gonna be jealous. No, the kids aren't making their one and only phone call from jail. It's the family toilet (restroom). Unreal. There are nursing stalls wtih curtains, a tiny toilet for little people and this play area you can basically corral your kid(s) in while you tend your other kid(s).  If I never come home, you'll know why. I'll be in the curtained room sipping my latte.
Speaking of shopping centers, American mommies out there are gonna be jealous. No, the kids aren’t making their one and only phone call from jail. It’s the family toilet (restroom). Unreal. There are nursing stalls with curtains, a tiny toilet for little people and this play area you can basically corral your kid(s) in while you tend your other kid(s). If I never come home, you’ll know why. I’ll be in the curtained room sipping my latte.
We enjoyed a great Christmas morning as the Bentley 4, opening gifts and skyping with both sets of grandparents.
We enjoyed a great Christmas morning as the Bentley 4, opening gifts and skyping with both sets of grandparents and Uncle Chad.
Safety first.
Safety first.
We were adopted into Allan & Mandy family (Cru's national director in Australia) for Christmas Day lunch and afternoon. Thank you, Gibsons!
We were adopted by Allan & Mandy (Cru’s national director in Australia) for Christmas Day lunch and afternoon. Thank you, Gibsons!
Because Christmas falls during the heat of summer down here, Christmas lunch is usually cold salads, seafood or something on the BBQ (grill). Allans made a delicious spread!
Because Christmas falls during the heat of summer down here, Christmas lunch is usually cold salads, seafood or something on the BBQ (grill). Gibsons made a delicious spread!
We brought dessert, a pavlova. I think I did a cultural faux paus in using spray whipped cream instead of cream-you-whip but our hosts were very gracious. Probably didn't hurt that it still turned out yummy!
We brought an Aussie dessert, a pavlova. I think I did a cultural faux paus in using spray whipped cream instead of cream-you-whip but our hosts were very gracious. Probably didn’t hurt that it still turned out yummy!

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I used some Christmas gift money to buy running shoes. Yes, Jess Cole, I'm running. And I'm as surprised as anyone else. The whole country seems to shut down and take holiday (vacation) from December 23-January 5 and since that included Jazzercise, I knew I needed to do something for the 2+ weeks. So, Scott and I decided that since he was off from the office during that time (the office also closed) that he'd bike for 30 minutes each morning and I'd run for 30 minutes, swapping being at home with kids. We've really loved it as it's been a great way to start the day. But, as much as I've loved it, I've missed the all-body workout Jazzercise is with the strength training as well. Looking forward to going back tomorrow to teach my 2nd class!
I used some Christmas gift money to buy running shoes. Yes, Jess Cole, I’m running. And I’m as surprised as anyone else. The whole country seems to shut down and take holiday (vacation) from December 23-January 5 and since that included Jazzercise, I knew I needed to do something for the 2+ weeks. So, Scott and I decided that since he was off from the office during that time (the office also closed) that he’d bike for 30 minutes each morning and I’d run for 30 minutes, swapping being at home with kids. We’ve really loved it as it’s been a great way to start the day. But, as much as I’ve loved it, I’ve missed the all-body workout Jazzercise is with the strength training as well. Looking forward to going back tomorrow to teach my 2nd class!
View from my run.
View from my run.
Beauty drawn by God through the paintbrush of a snail.
Beauty drawn by God through the paintbrush of a snail. A common sight.
We brainstormed a list of things we wanted to do as a family over the Christmas break to make it special. Enjoying a BBQ and biking in a local park was one day.
We brainstormed a list of things we wanted to do as a family over the Christmas break to make it special. Enjoying a BBQ and biking in a local park was one day.
I will miss these great BBQs (grills) that are at nearby
These great built-in-propane BBQs (grills) are at every park we’ve been to.
Drove 30 minutes to cash in on a Groupon I'd bought for a kids' jump place only to remember I live in Australia -- the country that shuts down for 2 weeks.
Drove 30 minutes to cash in on a Groupon I’d bought for a kids’ jump place only to remember I live in Australia — the country that shuts down for 2 weeks.
The kids got their first board game from their cousins and it's been fun watching Lizzy learn how to play (and how to not be a sore loser). Scott remembers it as "Cooties" (obviously no longer politically correct nor market-savvy) so it's now called "Beetle." Any one else remember playing?
The kids got their first board game from their cousins and it’s been fun watching Lizzy learn how to play (and how to not be a sore loser). Scott remembers it as “Cooties” (obviously no longer politically correct nor market-savvy) so it’s now called “Beetle.” Any one else remember playing?
Cheered for the Huskers (and then Iowa this past Saturday).
Cheered for the Huskers (and then Iowa this past Saturday).
Tomorrow marks the end to the holiday and back to work on Tuesday. I've been thankful for the slower pace and some significant things I feel like the Lord impressed on my heart during a few hours last week Scott gave me to get away alone.
Tomorrow (Monday) marks the end to the holiday, Joshua’s 2nd birthday, and then back to work on Tuesday. I’ve been thankful for the slower pace and some significant things I feel like the Lord impressed on my heart during a few hours last week Scott gave me to get away alone.

And, to be honest, it’s been a spiritually dry time lately.

This international move has, honestly, exposed my heart. I’m seeing how, under stress and without some of the structure of life and community in Orlando, I can run to all sorts of things that don’t bring life, but bring comfort…at least for the moment. Or two. Emotional eating rears its head again as if saying, “Eat this, drink this and feeling lonesome will be abated.” Yet I know that it’s a temporary fix and that seeking Jesus and asking Him to comfort me in those moments when I miss America and the friends and family and my known life…that’s where to run.

I’m also exposed in how I use my time. When I should go to bed, I’m on Facebook, grasping at feeling connected in two worlds. When I should get up — I want to want to get up and spend quiet moments reading the Bible and hearing truth and the voice of Jesus, but the sheets stay pulled stubbornly over my head. And when I should be all-present with my kids, I’m allowing myself to be under the pile of a to-do list that never ends. (Wait, I thought that was just my problem in America. I guess the problem followed me here. Oh, is it me?)

Sigh. The stillness of this Christmas season has been a gift in many ways and hard in others.

Afresh I see my need for Immanuel. The God who “moved into the neighborhood” as the Message says. The God who came and lived and loved perfectly because we couldn’t. God made flesh who came to bring abundant life to a woman in Melbourne who longs to live out the freedom He came to give her. I’d welcome your prayers.

Time to go to choose sleep so that, by God’s grace, I may choose time with Him in a few short hours.

about bike-riding mail carriers and more

Before the Aussie Culture tidbits (it’s been too long!), I’d like to give a public thank you to my quads.

My legs are talkin’ to me after my first evening back teaching Jazzercise in 6 months. Wow, that felt good. And, wow, remind me never to break my arm and move internationally again.

Really puts a cramp in my health and makes me suck wind teaching class.

Recently got this in the mail--my new necklace, a gift from Jazzercise, inc. for teaching for 10 years. One of the best decisions I ever made. It's given sanity and health and lots of new friends to this diabetic mama of two now living Down Under.
Recently got this in the mail–my new necklace, a gift from Jazzercise, inc. for teaching for 10 years. One of the best decisions I ever made. It’s given sanity and health and lots of new friends to this diabetic mama of two now living Down Under.

First up, mail.

The first time I saw a yellow-coat-clan man on a motorcycle, he was zipping down the painted dotted line on the street. Between cars. Yes, it's legal here. I'd thought he was just a pizza delivery guy in a hurry. Nope. He's the mailman.
Here’s our neighborhood mailman. He’s so fast I’ve yet to be able to meet him.

The first time I saw a yellow-coat-clan man on a motorcycle, he was zipping down the painted dotted line on the street. Between cars. Yes, it’s legal here. I’d thought he was just a pizza delivery guy in a hurry. Nope. He’s the mailman.

If he has an accident, I only hope he’s not carrying my precious mail.

Oh, speaking of fast, let’s talk about how not-fast mail is to receive and send. Two weeks to get here and a bit less to get to the U.S.

And I still haven’t figured out how he only carries 2 small satchels. Maybe he does a lot of pick-ups at the main Post? Or, maybe postage is so expensive people don’t send mail anymore? $.75AUS ($.63US) for a domestic letter and a whopping $2.75AUS ($2.27US) to mail a letter back to the States.

Or, it could be because he’s only handing out mail. Interesting–they don’t pick up outgoing mail from our mailboxes. We have to mail them from the office or from a box around town.

The doll

If the Dollar Tree had an Aussie cousin, she’d be The Reject Shop. Love this store. Everything from cheap-why-didn’t-I-find-you-before-I-spent-all-that-money removable hooks (as most renters in Australia can’t put holes in walls per landlords’ leases), picture frames, kitchen tools, cleaning supplies.

Speaking of American versions of things, here’s something I find quite funny: companies that are just average, not great or even bankrupt in the States seem to do quite well here.

#1 example. Subway. I see the sandwich maker on seemingly every street corner. And I swear that wasn’t the case when we visited 2 years ago. Subway’s Jerry is rolling in the AUD$, I think.

#2 example. Kmart.

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K-Mart. This one’s even 24 hours, which is pretty unheard of. Normal shops close at 5:30 Monday-Wednesday (open until 9 Thurs & Friday) and back to that 5:30pm close Sat & Sundays. Exceptions are grocery stores like Coles and Woolworths (yes, it seems the U.S. 1950s mercantile store died and came back as an Aussie grocery store.)

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#3: KFC. People love love love KFC. My coworker practically salivated upon hearing the name the other day when I asked her about it.

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#4: Blockbuster. Oh, Blockbuster, I must admit I was taken aback to see you the other day thinking you were all but gone, but then felt a bit like I did watching Rudy the first time. Blockbuster! Blockbuster!

Ok, post-workout sleeeeeepy kicking in but I have to tell you a few things I’m loving about Aussie culture.

The 10:30am morning tea (e.g. coffee or hot tea and some kind of pastry) is a daily ritual for many, it seems. You can see it in the shopping centers and coffee shops, like this one (below). Lizzy, Joshua and I stopped into this neighborhood one during errands this morning.

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There’s almost always some kind of little cafe in each strip of shops, like this one. The Post is the Post Office, followed by a oft-seen chicken place, then a Milk Bar (a small convenience store), an IGA (anyone else know about that grocery store?) and then the little cafe we were at–with the black awning/outdoor seating.
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I loved all the grandmas and grandpas from the down-the-street Bingo hall who walked over for morning tea at our cafe.

The country seems to know how to play and drink a cuppa (coffee, tea, etc.) at any point of the day.

Even during a trip to the store.

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Lizzy and Joshua enjoyed this not-small play area at a Christian bookstore (I know–couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Melbourne had one!) and then we 3 enjoyed a morning coffee (10:30am daily snack) at the in-store cafe.

Gotta love that Bunnings (think Home Depot) has a play area and cafe.

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Why, yes, I’ll take a latte and a little tomato plant.

And Mars’ candy bars also hold up the Aussie slow-paced banner.

This type-A girl is still learning how to work-rest-play. One of the many reasons God called us to move here?

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Worked, now time to rest and hope to play…soon and more often.

Night night! (Good morning for most of you!)