Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oxfam Trailwalker

We've spent the morning watching from the balcony as the first wave of 2,000 participants in this year's Oxfam Trailwalker trek past on the beach.

These people are walking 100 km to raise money to fight poverty. I love listening to my kids cheer them on.
"Keep going"
"You can do it"
"Go Trailwalkers"
"You're almost there"

They wave back and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Only 5km to go. Awesome.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beautiful Bather's Pavillion

For nearly six months I've been looking out my kitchen window at a beautiful 1920's art deco style building known as the Bather's Pavilion. It sits right on Balmoral Beach and houses a kiosk (where the kids can get their babyccinos), a cafe (where we've been known to order a basket of 4 pastries when there's no breakfast food to be found in our place) and a fine dining restaurant (which, before last night, we had never set foot in).

We've recently added a weekly date-night to our schedule. You know, we hire a babysitter and go to restaurants that don't have macaroni and cheese on the menu. It's so refreshing! So last night we decided to walk across the street and see if Bathers lived up to its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Sydney.

We weren't disappointed. Like many fancy restaurants around here, Bathers has a set menu. You select one entree (aka appetizer), one main (aka entree), and a dessert (this term is universal around the world) for a set price. They also bring out a little something before your selections to, I suppose, whet your appetite. Last night it was a teeny tiny thimble sized mug of potato and leek something and an equally teeny tiny spoonful of jewfish something or other. It is very hard to understand Aussies when they are speaking about fancy food. Suffice it to say, everything was delicious!

The restaurant also features a vegetarian and a degustation menu. Since I'm not a vegetarian and I had to google "degustation" I just stuck with the standard menu. Everything we had was amazing. Bather's isn't one of these overrated, over the top type of restaurants. The food was "beautiful", the service superb, the location perfect. All in all it made for a lovely date night. And we didn't have to worry about how to get home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

South Head Cliffwalk

A couple weeks ago my darling husband had a birthday and in desperation I bought a selection of bushwalking guidebooks to present to him as gifts. (He's so hard to buy for). They turned out to be very well received. He and the Little Princess have spent hours pouring over the books choosing our next family adventure.

One of the most beautiful walks we've done is the South Head cliff walk. Truth be told, we didn't get this one from the books, but from my awesome Aussie friend. The view from the cliff was breathtaking and I was thankful that there was a guard rail separating us from the huge cliffs.

The walk winds its way down to Watson's Bay where we enjoyed fish and chips at the famous Doyle's. There was also a big playground for the kids to run around on.
This was an awesome family walk, one we will definitely do again. That is, it we can get through the other 85 walks in our new guide books before we leave Australia!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Celebrating Us

Twelve years ago I stood in a little chapel in Malibu, recited vows we wrote ourselves, and said "I do" to a wonderful man.

Tonight I'm on the other side of that Pacific Ocean, enjoying dinner at Cafe Sydney, and thanking God for this man and the beautiful life we have made together.

In the dozen years between then and now we bought a house, got a dog, got a promotion, had a baby, quit a job, had another baby, sold the house, bought another, remodeled it, . . . . and moved to the other side of the world.

I couldn't have predicted our life together would have taken this turn, but I'm glad it did. I've learned to take a risk, try something new, explore the unknown. It's that curve in the road that makes life interesting. Here's to many more adventures together.
Happy Anniversary. I love you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Godzilla Encounter

This morning we set off on another family bushwalk. The Little Princess chose the America Bay track from our new bushwalking guidebook.

It's about a 20 km drive to a national park area in Sydney's northern beaches. As we got closer we started seeing signs cautioning us to lookout for wildlife on the road. Kangaroos, koalas, and even endangered bandicoots could dart in front of our car at any moment so we had to be extremely cautious. (Can you imagine the trauma our children would suffer if we were to run over an endangered bandicoot? It would be unbearable!)

We didn't see any wildlife on the road, but we encountered a Godzilla like lizard on the track. This bad boy was at least 3 feet long! He was right on the path as we approached the lookout at the end of the track!

That is a serious Aussie lizard! Spotting him was a definite highlight of the bushwalk but we also got to see Aboriginal engravings, a beautiful creek with little waterfalls, and tadpoles- some as big as softballs!

And of course, the obligatory stunning view:

Hiking the America Bay Track was an awesome family adventure, even if we never did see an endangered bandicoot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Like a Bike

Spend 30 minutes at any park or playground around here and you're bound to see heaps of preschoolers riding around on tiny pedal-less bikes. They're like a bike, sort of. The idea is that kids will get the feel of balancing first and then add pedaling later. In theory this is supposed to make learning to ride a two wheel bike easier.

We bought one of these balance bikes for the Little Buddy and he has taken to it like a fish to water. He starts at the top of this grassy knoll and then flies to the bottom where I bravely stop him from crashing head first over the retaining wall onto the beach below. This kid's got the need for speed.

By this time next year we might need a bike with pedals.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Top Ten

Things I love about living in Sydney:

10. The active outdoor lifestyle. People here are somewhat obsessed with physical activity. Every morning I see people running, boxing, doing yoga on the beach and swimming in the harbour for exercise. I can't say it has really rubbed off on me yet, but I'm thinking about joining the craze.

9. I live just a couple km from the amazing Taronga Zoo and get to go every week with my wonderful new friends. I've become very well acquainted with many animals I didn't even know existed 6 months ago.

8. I love the charming village feel of my suburb. I buy meat from the butcher, bread from the bakery, and fresh flowers at the shop on the corner. Lots of people walking around. It's bustling and busy in a very pleasant way.

7. There is always something to do- a festival or fair, a bushwalk or a scenic hike. You could easily do something different every weekend. It's never boring. In fact, today there is a food and wine festival going on right across the street.

6. The weather is beautiful (today). I love the crisp, cool weather of winter.

5. The people are warm, friendly and interesting. This goes for the Australians and all the Americans and New Zealanders I've met here, too. Perfect example: Just today a man in a suit and tie got out of his Range Rover at the 7-11 to see if I needed help putting air in the tires of my stroller. So nice! That's just the way people are here, so willing to help out.

4. The city itself is clean, safe, family friendly and fun. I'm not the least bit afraid to take the kids into the city by myself to check out a museum or explore some landmark.

3. Stunning natural beauty. Everywhere you look the view is breathtaking.

2. Great public transportation. Riding the ferry across Sydney Harbour sure beats sitting in traffic!

1. My front door is 50 yards from one of the most gorgeous beaches around. We can visit a coffee kiosk, stroll the boardwalk, play at the park, explore Rocky Point Island and watch as people get married at the Rotunda. It's a once in a lifetime "lifestyle" experience and I LOVE it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Heart Kindle

Moving to Australia has changed my life in many ways- mostly for the better. I'm lulled to sleep at night by the sound of waves slapping the shore, I buy (and eat) so much fresh bread that the lady at the bakery knows me by name, and my conversations are sprinkled with charming Aussie terms like "heaps", "bits", "cheers", and "no worries". But the biggest change is that I no longer watch T.V. At all. Despite the fact that we have the Platinum Pay-T.V. package, which allows us to get all 5 HD channels available here in Australia, there is simply nothing on that I want to watch. So our T.V. now primarily shows episodes of Little Einsteins and is a monitor for Wii games. And truly, my life is better for it.
But something had to fill the void T.V. left in my life, so I've become a voracious reader. I've always loved a good book, but now that it is my main source of nightly entertainment I'm taking it a bit more seriously.
That's why I am so head-over-heels for my new Kindle 2.

Kindle is the super slim electronic reading device available at Unfortunately, it is only available for delivery to U.S. addresses. There are two main things I love about the Kindle. The first is that I can buy books for $9.99 and read them instantly. This is a real bargain because paperback books are about $25 here in Australia! Secondly, I don't have to deal with storing all the books I buy. I just don't have room to keep stacks of books and even though I do enjoy passing books along to friends, this is just so much more convenient. The Kindle is also great for travel. Check out how thin it is:

So now at night instead of parking myself in front of the T.V. to watch another mindless reality show, I curl up with my Kindle and lose myself in the "pages" of a good book. I hope it's a habit that sticks with me when we move back to the U.S.

*Writing this reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Roald Dahl called Television. If you've never read it, check it out.*
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