Thursday, October 31, 2013

Melbourne with My Parents

July 4-8, 2013

I can't believe it has taken me so long to finish blogging about my parents' visit to Australia.  They visited in July.  JULY!  I'm so behind!  At any rate, here's where I last left off:

G'Day Grants!
Sights & Sounds From Oz
Beaches & Boats - 1770
Evolution of a Sunset - 1770
Kangaroos, Koalas, & Crocodiles.. Oh My!
Heron Island
Boomerangs, Didgeridoos, and Caves
Tondoon Botanic Gardens

I was really excited that my parents had chosen Melbourne as the big Australian city that they wanted to visit while in Australia.  Melbourne has been one of my favorite cities that we've visited in Australia, so I was glad to have an excuse to go back!  HERE is a link to my first Melbourne trip back in January. 

David and I had such a great time in Melbourne when we visited and loved everything we did and saw, so I decided to pretty much do most of the same things with my parents on their visit.  Why mess with success, right?   We spent one full day exploring the city, one day on a tour of The Great Ocean Road, and one day visiting Phillip Island and the Penguin Parade. 

On our day exploring the city, I was excited to show my parents everything I had loved so much about Melbourne the last time I was there.  We started off at the Queen Victoria Market.  This market is totally overwhelming, but totally awesome at the same time.  There is produce, meat, cheese, souvenirs, etc. as far as the eye can see! 


Lollies, lollies, and more lollies!
 We also spent some time walking through Chinatown and doing some shopping in The Block Arcade

Next up was the Federation Square area.  Fed Square is where David and I celebrated NYE 2013 last year.  It is right near the river and has some great views of the city.  There always seems to be something going on in this part of the city- while we were there, the square was home to a really neat sculpture exhibit.  While I noticed the beautiful church across the street from Fed Square the last time I visited, my parents were smart enough to have the idea to actually check it out.  St. Paul's Cathedral was so pretty inside, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on this for a second time!


And of course, we had to spend some time wandering the alley ways that are famous for their street art.  We were even lucky enough to see some street artists at work!
I love you Melbourne!  I hope I get a chance to visit this beautiful city again while we're still here! 

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Return to the Motherland

I've been meaning to post about this since the day our trip was finalized and in the books...

It's official (and long overdue), we will be home for Christmas!!!!!!!! 

Through David's company, we are eligible for a home leave trip (on their tab) once per year.  We were technically eligible for our leave in July, since that marked one year since David moved here.  Well, that time of year was a pretty busy time on the project for David, plus my parents were visiting around that time... so we decided to push our leave back to December so that we could be home for the holidays.  At the time that we made the decision to postpone our leave, I was a little doubtful that I would last nearly a year and a half here without visiting home even once.  However, being here for the holidays last year was really hard, so I knew it would be worth it! 

Once we had confirmation from David's company that our flights were booked, the excitement began.  I immediately installed a countdown app on my phone.  And since then, I've been in countdown mode.  When I first started my countdown, it looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

Time is seriously flying by- I can't even wrap my mind around it.  We will be back in the motherland- on sweet American soil before I know it!  Family and friends- prepare the Diet Dr. Pepper and Mexican food- here we come! 

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

You've Been Boo'ed

Even though Halloween isn't really a thing here in Australia, I still like to try and spread a little Halloween cheer.  So this year, I decided to repeat a fun little activity that I also did here last year called "Boo-ing."  Basically, you put together a little Halloween-themed goody bag and leave it on the doorsteps of a few unsuspecting neighbors or friends.  I also attached instructions and a "We've Been Boo'ed" sign so that hopefully the recipient can continue the chain and boo someone else!  The instructions and sign were found HERE

This year I had a much easier time finding Halloween items in the stores as compared to last year.  I guess as more and more Americans are coming to this small town, our Halloween traditions are rubbing off a little bit.  I was feeling extra generous this year and decide to do four Boo's.  In each pumpkin basket I included:

-Pumpkin Pecan Muffins
-Halloween Candy
-A Glitter Skeleton Ornament thingy
-Halloween Balloons


I'm pretty sure that by the time the people got their gifts, the chocolate candy was just a bag of melted mush, but oh well.  That's what happens when you live in the Southern Hemisphere and everything is backwards (and hot all. the. time). 

Happy Halloween!

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Easy Postcard Project For Travel Memories

I'm not very crafty, creative, or otherwise talented in the DIY arena most of the time.  I get easily intimidated by crafts and creative projects.  However, one thing I do love (and I like to think I excel at) is being a pen-pal... and anything else related to stationery and cards.  I have always loved to write and send letters, cards and postcards, and for as long as I can remember, I've been in the habit of sending at least a few postcards whenever I travel somewhere.  So when we moved to Australia, I wanted to make sure I kept that habit.  Something I also really wanted to prioritize during our time here was keeping track of all the places we've seen and all the memories made in those places. 

So when I stumbled on this simple travel postcard project idea from my all time favorite blog Young House Love just a few weeks before our move, I knew it was a craft/DIY project I could definitely handle!  It's so easy for me, because it involves something I do anyway.  When I'm picking out postcards to send to a few friends/family during a trip, I just make sure I remember to pick out one extra for us!  Then, all you do is write a postcard to yourself describing what you saw, did, loved, favorite places, funny travel mishaps, etc. on your trip.  Then I just bring it home with us, and toss it in this dish on our coffee table.  It's fun to look through them from time to time and it's a great conversation starter- PLUS it looks pretty!

Our collection so far- 19 and counting...

A few of our recent postcards

Postcard project on our coffee table (among the few Fall decorations I have)

Here's the link to the original project idea found on YHL:

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Snail Mail Collective {September}

A fun surprise all the way from South Korea arrived in the mail for me today!  My partner for the September Snail Mail Collective was Amber from "The English Travelers," and the theme for this month was "Back To School."  I had a great time getting to know Amber through the emails we exchanged and through her blog.  Amber and her husband are American expats currently living and teaching in South Korea.  They've had some amazing adventures so far- I loved looking through their travel photos! 

Amber did a great job finding fun gifts from her country that fit with the theme.  As a teacher, I always LOVE stationery and office/school supplies, so everything in this package was a hit with me- especially the panda notebook and the cute socks!  I also love that everything was so unique and different than anything I would be able to find here- or anywhere else I've ever visited. 


Thanks so much, Amber, for all the fun "Back To School" loot!  I love it all! 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Expat to Expat Q & A ~ Perceptions of Our Expat Life

Question #1: How do your family and friends back home perceive your new life, and is it accurate?

I actually think my family and close friends do have a pretty accurate perception of our life here in Australia.  Because I talk to these people pretty frequently, they are able to hear about both the positives and the negatives of living here.  However I'd say that my parents and my friend Jen (shout out to her new expat blog, "Lady, Relocated") probably have the best idea of what it's like to live here since we were lucky enough to have them visit already. It's one thing to tell people about the place you live and the experiences you're having, but it's another to actually be able to show them those places and let them experience the place for themselves. 

If I'm being honest, I guess it's probably safe to say that the friends I don't talk to regularly or other acquaintances from back home probably have a pretty distorted perception of what our life here is like.  And that is mostly because these are the people who only get to see the occasional Facebook travel photo updates.  By simply only considering what people see on social media, life probably looks pretty glamorous here.  Of course that is true sometimes- we are so lucky to be here and to get to do so much travelling, but those people don't get to see the other side of things: the challenges of living so far away, culture shock on a daily basis, dealing with my husband's ridiculously long work hours, etc.  During the time between the travelling (which is the majority of our time here), life here truly is pretty normal. 

Question #2: Do you find the need to edit your life from friends and family? 

I really try not to do this.  I try to be pretty open and honest about what life is like here- both the positives and the negatives.  However, I guess every once in a while, I have found myself "toning things down" a bit- this applies to both the highs and the lows.  By this I mean, I try to be careful not to come off as "brag-y" during the times that we do get to travel and see amazing places.  I want to share my photos and stories from these times so that my family and close friends can feel like they somehow shared in that experience with us, but not come off as obnoxious or boastful at the same time.  And on the other end of the spectrum, I sometimes also tend to "tone down" the lows as well.  By this I mean that if I'm having a really low or homesick day, I often try and minimize that to a certain extent when talking to family or close friends.  Not because I don't want to talk about it, but more because sometimes talking about it makes me really dwell on it more and sometimes end up feeling worse. 
The Glamorous Side of Our Aussie Life:


The Not-so-glamorous Side of Our Aussie Life:


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Friday, October 04, 2013

6 Things About Me

I've seen this "6 Things About Me" post going around for a few weeks now.  And I always love a good survey, so when my fellow expat blogger friend, Lisa at Meanderings, Wanderings, and Adventures tagged me, I was game to jump on the bandwagon.  So, here goes:  

1.) What is your favorite animal and why?
Since moving to Australia, I've become somewhat obsessed with koalas.  The time I got to hold a koala at the zoo in Brisbane was probably one of the top 10 happiest moments of my life.  So much cuteness in one animal- I die!  And they seriously have the best life- eat some leaves, then sleep for 16-20 hours a day.  Sounds good to me! 

How can you resist that face?!
2.) If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be?
Just one place?!  I refuse to pick just one.  So I'll list a few. :-)  Right now, I'm really prioritizing seeing as much of Australia as I can while we're here.  But beyond that, I would love to visit Bora Bora, Greece, and anywhere in South America. I don't know how my obsession with Bora Bora started, but ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to go there and stay in one of those above-water huts.  Greece- I'm just dying to see those beautiful cliffs with white-washed and blue buildings, ride a donkey, and who can resist Greek food?!  I know South America is huge, but I'd be happy to visit any country there.  I've always loved Latin culture, and it's been too long since I've traveled somewhere where I get to use my (very rusty) Spanish skills. 

3.) How many countries have you traveled to?  How many of the 50 states?

Countries: USA, Canada, Mexico, Antigua, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, England, Italy, Australia, New Zealand (that makes 11!)
States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington (That makes 21!).  Looks like I've been neglecting the Midwest! 

One of my favorite states I've visited- Montana.  This photo was taken on a trip to Glacier Park during Spring Break of my Senior Year of college. 
4.) What is your favorite thing about yourself?  
I think that one of my best qualities is that I am very patient.  It takes a lot for me to lose my temper or get frustrated with someone or something for "taking too long."  In a lot of ways, I think I have always been this way (maybe my mom and dad can verify for me?), but I also think I've developed so much more patience being a teacher.  I often have people compliment me on how patient I am, and while it isn't a glamorous quality necessarily, I really do take it as a big compliment and it is something I really do like about myself. 

5.) What hobby would you love to pick up?
Like just about every other blogger and traveler out there, I would love to learn more about photography (and have a fancy camera).  I have run across and pinned a few free (and a few paid) online photography classes, but I just need to find the time to actually try one out and see what I think. 

6.) What is something not a lot of people would know about you?
I was a dancer for around 15 years- ballet, tap, and jazz at first, but mostly ballet as I got older.  I never really had the "dancer body," but I loved dancing, especially ballet!  Since I never really got into competitive school sports, dance was my thing.  I remember how proud and excited I was when I finally got promoted to "pointe" classes at my ballet studio!  I still have several pairs of my pointe shoes.  I miss it a lot sometimes! 

Feel free to join in and share 6 things about yourself!  Below are some of the questions to choose from:

Choose 6 questions you'd like:
What is your favorite animal and why?
Would you prefer a city break or a sun, sea, and sand vacation?
If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be?
How many countries have you traveled to?  How many of the 50 states?
What is your favorite thing about yourself (or quality you like in others if you don't wanna talk about yourself)?
What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
What did you want to be when you grew up and what do you do now?
What is a pet peeve of yours?
What is the LAST concert you went to?
What is something not a lot of people would know about you?

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