Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Five Random Things I Miss

We have been living in Sydney now for just over four months, and I think we are finally settling in. But this week, I was hit with a wave of longing for a few things that we don't have or can't get here in Australia. Admittedly, it is a random collection of things. Nonetheless, here's the list - in no particular order:

1. General Mills Cereals - specifically Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Total. General Mills produces food here in Australia, but not cereals. And we can get a type of Cheerios in the grocery store, but it is not the same. But there may be hope - according to the General Mills Australia & New Zealand website, "General Mills Australia and New Zealand is a growing consumer food business." Hopefully that means they will be expanding their cereal selection soon.

2. Pay at the Pump - Using a credit card to pay for gas (petrol) at the pump was something I had taken for granted. Here, drivers have to pay for all their gasoline purchases inside with the clerk. Not that big of a deal, unless I have the boys in the car...then we all have to tramp into the store together to pay.

3. Caribou Coffee - or American coffee shops in general. Australians love their coffee, but it is nearly impossible to get a regular, boring, no-frills cup of (filtered) coffee. I remember missing this when I lived in Sydney 10 years ago - I asked for a cup of filtered coffee and the barista looked at me like I was crazy and then told me that it would be a 15 minute wait while they made a pot of coffee just for me. In the coffee shops here, there are a variety of coffee drinks on the menu - espresso, cappuccino, flat white, short black, long black. But no plain coffee. For many Australians, plain coffee = Nescafe Instant Coffee. Trust me...it is NOT the same thing. And specifically to Caribou - I miss their hot chocolate and their mango black tea. But thanks to my mom for bringing me several bags of the mango black tea when she came to visit in July. Yum!

4. Food Co-ops - We were spoiled living in a metro area (the Twin Cities) with so many food cooperatives. And there is a great co-op in Decorah. In the Sydney area, there are a couple of food co-ops, but none of them are near where we live - the closest one is at least 30 minutes away (in no traffic). I miss being able to buy food in bulk. And the co-op was the place where we bought most of Vincent's allergy-free foods. Fortunately, the grocery stores here have a halfway decent supply of foods he can eat.

5. Culvers - We are not a fast food family, but we did eat Culvers on occasion when we lived in the Twin Cities. There is something special about their burgers and frozen custard. Sigh...my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Of course, we miss our family and friends. And I'm sure there will be other things that I will find that I miss. But all-in-all, we are very happy to be living here. And there are lots of Australian things that we missed while we were living in the States...like meat pies, lamingtons, Cadbury chocolates, and my sister-in-law's spinach pie...yum!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Knitting for Charity: a mama and baby koala

In mid-October, the boys' daycare centre - Kids Academy Hornsby - is participating the Australian Cancer Council's Relay for Life. The centre is holding various fundraising activities in hopes of reaching a $2000 goal. I'm not big into selling/buying chocolate bars, but when they notified us that they were looking for donations for the raffle, I decided that I would offer to provide a knitted contribution. I knew that Susan B. Anderson's book of knitted toy patterns, Itty Bitty Toys, would be the perfect place to look for a pattern. (By the way - I am totally in love with the giraffe on the front cover and am hoping to make it for Desmond for Christmas. And I think I am going to make the snake pattern from this book for Vincent's Christmas gift.)

In the end, I decided on her pattern for a mama and baby koala. I figured that it was very appropriate - not only because we now live in Australia but because Desmond's classroom at Kids Academy is the Koala Room! It took just over a week to complete the two stuffed animals. I learned one valuable lesson - it is really not a good idea to work on knitted toys on the train - too many small pieces, too many double-pointed needles...just not worth the hassle! It was a fairly easy and straight forward pattern. The only downside was all the bits and pieces that had to be assembled in the end. But that is what happens when you knit toys!

I dropped the mama and baby koala off at Kids Academy earlier today and the staff just love them. I hope that who ever wins them in the raffle loves them too!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day in Australia.

Before you ask, Mother's Day in Australia is on the same day as Mother's Day in the United States. And, no, my Australian-American husband does not get two Father's Days - just one. We celebrate the holiday in whichever country we are presently living.

My husband is a pretty laid back and humble guy. And, to be honest, he's probably going to be a bit embarrassed when he finds out that I am about to dedicate an entire blog post to him and the fact that he is a wonderful dad to our two boys.

Paul has told me that when he was a teenager and an young man in his early 20s, he never really saw himself becoming a husband - much less a father. But then he met me, we got married, and things changed (thank goodness!!)

Paul was present at the birth of both boys - Vincent in April 2009 and Desmond in September 2011. But it was with Desmond's birth that he went above and beyond the "normal" father duties when he helped me deliver our baby at home (it was a planned home birth) before the midwife arrived (Desmond was in quite a hurry!)

If you know Paul at all, you know that he is a thoughtful, gentle, and kind man. As a father, Paul is patient and practical and consistent. He plays golf and trains with Vincent, stacks up blocks for Desmond, and enjoys reading to both boys (when Desmond isn't grabbing at the pages). He has amazing and unique bonds with both boys.

This year, we are spending Father's Day at home - Paul went to the Father's Day breakfast at the boys' daycare on Friday and both boys made him cute Father's Day gifts. But we are home today, just hanging out. Things have been a bit stressful of late, and it is nice to have the day at home with just us.

Happy Father's Day, Paul. The boys are lucky to have you as their dad and their role model. We love you!