When you think of Sydney, you think of The Sydney Opera House, Right?
When Dad and I went to Sydney we wanted to see as much of the Opera House as we could. We started the day at The Opera Kitchen under the Opera House for breakfast. And look at the view.
We quickly moved to a tour. We had a great guide named Curly, my Dad's name is Larry, so all we were missing was Mo. He really had neat and interesting information.
The iconic Opera House design was a worldwide contest in the 1950's. One of the judges arrived late, and demanded to review all of the entries that had been thrown out. He found the only design that had the two halls side by side, and even though it broke many contest rules, he pulled it out. This entry was only a drawing, and had no math behind it to ensure it would work. The designer just got a paint brush and paper and painted what he felt. His design of the shells was the winner.
This project was suppose to be completely finished in less than five years and only cost 6 million. It took over ten years, and cost way over 100 million. The cost was so high they ended up firing the designer as soon as the outside was finished. He took all his plans, flew home, never to return to Australia to see his completed masterpiece that stared from the simple feeling he painted. They had to find other designers to finish the inside without any of the original ideas.
Not really sure why they were worried about money though, the Opera House was entirely funded through a lottery that was created to pay for the building.
Inside is decorated only with concrete, glass, and beams. They wanted it to always be in style and knew that styles in art always change.
Did you know that The Opera House is not white? Yeah, me neither. It is white and yellow. It is colored to help the reflection not blind you when you look at it. Also, there is no grout in between the tiles. The outside of the building is entirely self cleaning.
The building has never been cleaned. The rain water goes in-between the tiles to help clean, and each tile has texture to help them clean off.
As soon as we finished our tour we found out there was a New Years Eve concert that night. We also discovered that our tour ticket got us a discount on dinner at The Opera House and our tickets. Even though we did not have clothes to really go to The Sydney Opera House, we decided, "Why Not?"
The concert was amazing. They played every Opera song that you would recognize and had many Australian talents performing.
I had so much fun paying attention to the small detail at The Opera House. It was amazing all the work that was put into building the magnificent building.
I would highly recommend to take The Opera House tour. I would also recommend always packing at least one nice outfit in your bag. I have always gone by this rule. My grandmother took me to an opera when I was a kid, and I did not have the correct clothes. It was a last minute trip, and we were quickly trying to grab me clothes. I ended up wearing shoes, with rags in the toes. I always, always, always pack at least one outfit after this trip as a kid. I didn't pack until the last minute for our Sydney trip, and didn't grab a lot of things I usually pack. Oh well! We had fun, and made memories! What is one rule you always have when you pack?
For Dad's first Australian beach we decided to try a beach we hadn't seen yet, Byron Bay.
Everyone we talked to told us to get there early because parking can be very scarce close to the beach. So we were in the car by 4:30 am. We got there in two hours, the thing we forgot to factor in, New South Whales (the state Byron Bay is in) does day light savings. The state we live in, Queensland, chooses not to participate in such things. Even though we got there around technically 7:30, we got a parking place, actually there was tons of spots at that time. But it soon filled up near lunch time, and everybody was bustling about.
This beach is like most beaches in Australia, beautiful, and we loved it. The little town is cute, and more a backpacker type town, not your typical touristy town at all.
We had fun just exploring the ocean since the beach was pretty much ours that early in the morning.
As the day went on it was so much fun watching all the people arrive at the beach with their Santa hats on playing their Christmas music. Now, I realize this is not normal day happenings, but this beach was so friendly. We loved it.
My Dad had never seen the ocean before this day. He just walked around and kept repeating, "I get it." "The beach is amazing." "Those colors." "How do you describe this to anyone?"
It was really neat to share this first with him.
After we played at the beach a while, we went up to the lighthouse.
Little did we know, the lighthouse was on the most Easterly part of Australia. Of course, we had to take a picture.
This was definitely a top ten beach of ours, so far. It will always be special to Dad, since it was his first. What is your favorite beach? What is something you have done with your parents that they have never done before? Have you ever happened upon something significant without even knowing it was there?
We wanted to have the most traditional Australian Christmas we could have this year. I spent a lot of time asking people, "What is an Australian Christmas?" Here is what I learned:
We went to the market and got the food for Christmas lunch, including pick up sausage for the sausage sizzle, and wagyu steak, because it is cheaper in Australia.
Picked up Dad, because you have to have family!
Rented a car, and headed to friends house
At Berniece's house we had prawns and pavlova, both according to my research, Aussie Christmas musts!
Christmas morning we headed to the beach to cook steaks on the barbie, and enjoy the waves.
The sign is suppose to say "Merry Christmas." I did not account for the wind, not my smartest idea. On the way home we did stop for a bush hike. We wanted to burn a couple more calories before we ate some traditional American dinner.
Don't worry, we did not throw all American Christmas traditions out the window. We did have dressing Christmas night. We had to keep some things "homey." I did add Christmas Pudding for dessert Christmas night. There was just too many sweets people said were must haves.
We had so much fun, exploring Australian customs, and feeling like a true local. What did you do Christmas day?
Christmas Baking....That's an American Christmas Tradition, right? Those who know me, know how the title Christmas Baking, on my blog is just funny in itself. I have never cooked. When Josh and I first started dating I had him over to my apartment for dinner one night. I cooked everything in the microwave and threw away all of the evidence before he got there. When Josh worked week on/week off, or month on/month off, he would bake meals and freeze them so I would have something to eat while he was gone. My idea of cooking was heating up a bag of veggies in the microwave or a box of macaroni and cheese. Needless to say I have gotten a little better since we moved to Australia, have to cook everything fresh, do not have a microwave, and do not have any quick food places around the corner.
Getting in the Christmas spirit has been really hard. I am not complaining at all, Australia is amazing. Just being honest on the blog, it has been hard to get in the spirit. Not being around any family and being the middle of summer really does not fit with any of our family Christmas traditions. Even though Josh and I have been together for six Christmas', this is our first year to actually be together. Josh has always had to work. Being this far away, and having our first Christmas together, has really made us think. What Christmas traditions do we want to have?
We still don't know what traditions we want to have, all we can decide is we don't want to have any traditions that anyone feels like they HAVE to do, just because it is a tradition. This year our traditions have been a mix of American and Australia traditions. We really are enjoying the Australian traditions, and can't wait for a full Australian Christmas this week.
Now, the family part will change this week. MY DAD IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA, CHRISTMAS EVE. Yes, that does deserve all caps. He has never left America, and doesn't really make a habit out of leaving Texas.......EVER. I can't wait for him to get here. We are going to Sydney at the end of this week, two islands, and other beaches while he is here. I will be sharing our adventures in the next couple of weeks.
Josh, my friend Courtney, and other friends really have tried to do many things to make us all feel more Christmas-y. One day last week, Courtney and I turned the AC down low, got blankets and watched ABC family movies. It really was fun. Another day this week we had our try at Christmas baking. I mean come on, nothing screams Christmas traditions like baking, right? Courtney is the baker of the two of us, she is teaching me.
Courtney and I decided to bake Christmas Crack (recipe) and Cake Batter Cookies (recipe) at our place. The funny thing is, not being a baker, we did not have a double boiler or a mixer. It was fun making all of the substitutions. Like the mixing bowl in the pot?
We baked and baked all day. It was so much fun, but after all of all of our baking we looked at each other and laughed. We had all of this food, but not really many people to share it with. We divided up all of the goodies, shared them with ferry drivers, bus drivers, and our husband's office. Don't worry we did have our fair share of eating.
Tonight Ameilia and I are going to go try a new tradition, watching Home Alone at the city beach, then catching some fireworks. So, if you had a chance to start a blank slate of Christmas traditions, what would you keep? What would you start?
This blog has hit over 1,000 hits a week! This blog has only been live seven months. To celebrate this growth I have signed up for Passion Fruit Ads. This will let readers advertise their blog or product on my blog. The price is $20 for a month ad, or $60.00 for a sponsored blog post. To have your ad on here is really easy!
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Every day last week we got one storm. Now, when these storms roll in, they roll in quick, and hard. It is crazy the sun will be shinning one minute and literally five minutes later the sky looks like the picture below. It is one of the craziest most powerful things I have seen.
These storms do not only produce sheets and sheets of rain, most produce some form of hail. The picture on the left is a picture of our window that got knocked out on Thanksgiving day this year. There was so much hail damage Thanksgiving day, they have ran out of glass (that is what they say), and our window might not get fixed until March.
Since it has rained so much lately, when it is not raining I try to take advantage. Since I have been relief teaching most days, I have had not had as many days to just go explore. Last Friday I had a, "just wonder around town day." I decided to take pictures of things that make me laugh or happy. Here is what I took.
Running in the heat, really makes me happy. I know it is backwards from most people, but for my running friends this comes to no surprise, everyone knows I hate running in cold weather. I am really loving running in hot weather in December. When I say hot, I mean like a hot muggy July/August day.
I know that when you Christmas shop there is an unwritten rule to drink Starbucks...right? Well, I was still a little hot from running, so I opted for a cold drink. I should have never tried the Christmas Cookie drink. WOW! thats all I can say. When I ordered it, I told them, "As skinny as they can make it," I felt a little better about drinking 1,000,000 calories through a straw.
I really have already sent Christmas back to the states. I had all my Christmas shopping finished before my Mom came in September. I figured that would be the best way to get gifts to Mom's side of my family and Josh's family. I still need to get something for my Dad's side, but he is coming Christmas eve and can take it back to them after the New Year. I am thinking wait until after Christmas sales. They have to have those in Australia right?
So while I was out "shopping" really just walking around people watching. I found this finger guard at the $2.80 store (we don't have a $1.00 store). After all my encounters this year with cut fingers and stitches, I figured this would not be an extravagant purchase.
When I walked out of the shopping center I saw a small crowd of people and tons of television cameras. Leave it to me, I went straight to a broadcaster and asked what was going on. He told me that if I knew anything about sports, or was from Asia, this would mean something to me.
I then told him, I do know a lot about sports, and started asking him questions about baseball, cheerleading, and football, I knew he wouldn't be able to answer any of them. After he just looked at me, I said, "we are both smart is sports just different sports, now what sport it this for."
Shocked he then explained that this was the trophy for the Asian Cup for soccer, hence why it would be special if I was from Asia. So, of course I had to take my picture with the trophy. Can you tell what the mascot is? They told me it was a wombat. They are going to play a couple games for this trophy in Brisbane, I might need to try to get tickets to see if I can learn more about "sports."
I really am enjoying getting to live in a new place, experience a new culture, and see new things. Life is pretty good in Brisbane. What is something that has made you laugh or happy this week?
The local department store puts on a parade and pantomime show every night for ten nights. We decided to go and enjoy the Christmas spirit. I always love a good parade. I like the actual parade, but come on pretty good people watching also.
The parade only went a half of a block. This was the first "float." I think they are trying to be like Macy's with the parade, but they have just a little bit of work to go.
They really did not have floats. The parade was divided into three sections. The first section was The Nutcracker.
They did a great job telling the story of the ballet in a 5 minute span. They had all the costumes, scenes, and dancers. It really was neat.
In between each section they had balloons. Yes, do not worry, this parade was equipped with balloons. They were just a tad bit smaller than Macy's, but hey Myer is trying at they really were neat. I heard many kids say, "wow, look, they are so big."
The next section was the story of Christmas. Do you see the problem in the picture above? This picture was taken two weeks before Christmas, and Mary is already carrying baby Jesus. Hey! they are leaving Christ in Christmas though. Josh and I have really talked about this a lot. Australia prides their self for being a secular country, but you never see Happy Holidays. Everywhere you go, it is Merry Christmas.
It kind of is neat, even if they do not know it, they are celebrating Jesus.
The last section was none other that Ol' St. Nick. He was pulled by real reindeer. I thought that was a really neat touch. I guess the other seven reindeer were resting up for the big night, but I was so glad we got to see two of his helpers.
The parade ended at city hall at the square. In St. George square they had their pantomime show.
Now, I thought a pantomime show was a show with mimes, but it was not that at all. It was a musical about saving Christmas. When they first came out and started the show, Josh and I looked at each other, and started laughing. Look at their outfits. Come on you can't tell me you didn't have the same thought as us. Our first thought was Mean Girls, their outfits were identical.
In Australia they still sing all the traditional Christmas songs. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, Let it Snow, Jingle Bells, and all these songs about snow. Well, it is never going to be a white Christmas in Brisbane. I loved how they spun having a white Christmas in this skit. They were trying to save City Hall. They said it was freezing, and if it was frozen, no one could drive around, everyone would be stuck in their houses, and Christmas would be ruined. The whole skit was about trying to make City Hall warm again.
Once Christmas was saved City Hall had an eight minute show, that started every fifteen minutes, on the front of their building. The show was their rendition of The Nutcracker. It was really neat. Josh and I ate dinner around City Hall, and got to see the show six times.
We really enjoyed the show, but the more we watched it we started talking about how camera phones really have changed our life.
No one could enjoy the show because they all had to get it on the camera. We really, me included, need to remind ourself to enjoy the now, who cares if we miss something on our camera.
We really need to appreciate every minute. Merry Christmas!
What is something your town does for Christmas?
Friday is the last day of school in Australia before their summer break which lasts until the last week in January. I know, I know, different than us, but remember it is summer here. They do year around schooling running on a calendar year. They have a two week break in March, June/July, September, and then most of December and January off.
Going with the title of this post, it has been a very odd week to say the least. I was in a year five classroom Monday teaching about open and closed syllables, when the principal walked in to the classroom. I did my normal thing, waited until I had break in my lesson, and then asked him if I could help.
His answer shocked me because he offered me a job! Yeah, getting a full time job was not in the picture for me after moving here. So, like the pictures below says, "Why think outside the box, when you can, ditch the box." The box is being ditched!
YES! You read that correctly!
He offered me a full time contract job. Contract is different than a permeant job. Contract job is specific to the school and on a term by term basis. A permeant job is not specific to the school and you can be sent to any school in Queensland at any moment. From everyone I have talked to, a contract job is what I want.
Most teachers with permeant jobs have been sent to teach in the bush for around four years. The one downside is that contract work is based on bodies in the chairs on day eight of the new school year. If they do not have the numbers, then I do not have a job. I will go back to relief teaching (subbing), which honestly has been keeping me busy most days.
He gave me a day to think about it, I couldn't go in on Tuesday, so we had a phone conversation. When I came back on Wednesday, they already had my name on the wall, as a teacher next year.
The school I will be teaching at, is 100 years old. I don't know why, but I really think that is neat. I will be teaching a year one/year two classroom. Which in American terms is first/second grade classroom. Yeah, the double grade classroom kind of scares me, but hey I always love new adventures, and this is all about "ditching the box".
One really big deal is my classroom will have air conditioning. I can not believe I have been this blessed. I am getting to have a classroom and get air conditioning. I never thought in the 2015 school year I would be excited about air conditioning, but a classroom and air conditioning, Win-Win I think so. Just this week, I had to go sub in a room, because the teacher got overheated and had to leave.
I already had the first half of the year planned with trips to Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, around Australia, and even a trip home. I told the principal this when he offered me the job, but offered a solution with my problem.
My friend Courtney is going to help me set up the classroom, we are going to make the procedures together, and she will be the teacher in my classroom when I am traveling. Again, win-win. I am so excited and nervous.
Teaching full time in a foreign country in a double graded classroom, younger kids than I am use to......ditching the box.
What is something you have done that has completely ditched the box? Any pointers at teaching in a new country or a double grade level?
There are a couple things I really miss about home, this weekend was one event I missed. Something I have always looked forward to is running St. Jude Marathon every year. St. Jude Marathon is one of my favorite races I have ever ran. There is just something about the feeling I get when running that race. For those who are not familiar with St. Jude Hospital, it is a children's cancer research and treatment hospital, but no one pays a penny. Everyone can get treatment from the hospital. They do fundraisers throughout the year to help keep the hospital open and with cutting edge technology. The families who have had and have love ones at the hospital all come and cheer the runners on, while saying thank you for raising money for the hospital. Here is the kicker though, the runners run through the hospital campus. Yes! the kids, the nurses, the doctors, come and thank you and cheer for you. If you can run through the campus without crying, you are not human. I get goosebumps just writing about the experience. St. Jude was my first marathon ten years ago. I have ran it with many of my closets friends, and it was the first race my mother did after her heart attack. So to say St. Jude Marathon weekend holds a special place in my heart is an understatement. Any runner in the states needs to add it to their race calendar. The race got canceled last year due to an ice storm, but had great weather this year.
My mother did St. Jude half with her friend Kary this weekend. She made sure I was with her in every way, she wore her Australia outfit, and signed our name on the hero wall. So glad my mom has friends who will complete half's with her. She is blessed.
Well, for us this weekend, that is a funny story. We had a great weekend planned of going to the beach, eating at a world market, and maybe hiking. None of our plans happened. We are finally seeing it does rain in Queensland. HA! I think it has rained a total of seven times since I have lived here. Now, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it moves in quick, and rains hard.
We woke up early Saturday morning and tried to get a seven mile run in, we got about 5 miles in, and noticed the clouds. Yes, you read that correctly Josh is running with me now. Luckily we both had our go-cards with us, and could hop on public transportation. We decided to find cover, and wait on the ferry. Don't worry we were entertained while waiting on the ferry and dodging the rain. Look at this missing poster that was posted at the ferry stop.
Josh and I couldn't stop laughing at this poster. They are missing it really bad, but left out some key details that would help find it.
We got on the ferry just in time for the bottom to fall out of the sky. We were so happy we had dodged he worst part.
I guess we forgot that we were on public transportation, and wouldn't be dropped at our door. We still had to run up the hill.
Well since we were trapped inside our house most of the time Saturday, I had extra time on the computer. I booked a trip home! I will be home in April/May for five weeks. I will fly into Dallas for opening day of the Texas Rangers with my Dad. Then I am going to run Big D Marathon, anyone want to join? Then Mom and I are planning a road trip. After that I will be around my Mom's house, can't wait to see friends and family.
What did you do this weekend?
Last week, I said I was having some trouble getting in the Christmas spirit. I have taken some of the suggestions, and they are helping, thanks. Except, Joyce I can't find any candles that smell like Christmas here. I am sure I am just looking in the wrong places, and will keep looking.
I decided to share a different family tradition, gingerbread house competition. Everyone brought their own kit or cookies and we decorated. Well of course we had to eat if we were all getting together, so I prepared the traditional Christmas/Thanksgiving meal for everyone. We had dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, twice baked potatoes, and deviled eggs. Most of the food was a first for most of our friends. We didn't have a friends Thanksgiving, so this was a chance for them to try out food.
I once again hit up China Town for all the fun paper goods. China Town is one good deal in Australia. All the fun paper goods and table cloth was less that $10.00. I mean come on, the $1.00 shop couldn't beat that at home.
Setting up was not at much fun this time, but we made it work. Thank the Lord, I am now working most days, so I do not have all the time on my hands anymore. Also, my partner in crime, Courtney was out of town, so she couldn't help make it all pretty. She is one of the best "fluffers" I know. Josh pulled through and helped me get everything together, I am lucky to have a husband who has a Home Ec. teacher as a mother.
I really think everyone had fun just letting their creative juices flow, talking, laughing, eating, and helping each other hold their houses while the icing dried. Patience for the icing really proved to be tricky with the kit houses.
Ameilia, her winning gingerbread house, and her first place prize. I figured who ever won was filled with the Christmas spirit, so why not fill their car with Christmas spirit? HA! This was another China Town find, a kit to dress your car like Rudolf.
What is a Christmas tradition your family has?