Sunday, July 29, 2012

How are you going?

We are starting to pick up on some of the "slang" down under..trying to fit in with the locals.  Hopefully my overuse of "Y'ALL" doesn't obnoxiously give it away! hehe.

"How are you going?" is used quite frequently….and simply means, "How are you?" or "Whats up?". "No worries"…"G'Day"…and "Cheers!" are also very commonly used terms.  When a waiter brings your food to the table.."cheers!", after you say thank you to someone…"no worries" or even "cheers!" works, too. 

Our life in pictures this past weekend…

1. Surprise bottle of champagne delivered to our room from Ronnie's company to welcome us to Australia! Thankful and blessed.
2. Retail therapy and pretty window displays on famous George Street.  The city reminds me so much of New York.
3. First sushi train experience in the heart of Chinatown.  Stressful, but we managed.
4. Three story apple store.  Mega.

We took an all day tour to The Blue Mountains, about an hour west from Sydney. Gorgeous! Very chilly and windy, but luckily not a cloud in the sky! 
First stop, the Three Sisters.  As you can see, it is a rock formation of three points…and of course an aboriginal legend behind the name. 
Then, we took a scenic skyway across the canyon to take it all in.  The glass floor was a neat feature to see the waterfalls and canyons below.
Which led us to a walk in the rainforest…
..and then to the steepest incline railway in the world!  Don't know if that thing is up to code standards, but we made it to the top!
Our tour also made a stop at Wentworth Falls.  Took a few hundred stairs to get there, but worth the views!  We also had a chance to explore the town of Leura..and indulge in some fancy chocolates.

The day couldn't have ended more perfectly with a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park.  Up close encounters with Australia's well known national symbol.  Another "pinch me" moment.
The pictures speak for themselves…
The 2nd picture is a baby roo! And, do you spot a joey in the pouch?
Dingos!  The cute little white one was hopping around like Teddy.  Guess looks can be deceiving...
Meeting and Feeding.  Can you see the excitement?!
These two guys were fighting with each other out of our hands to win the food!
 I think you could say that Ronnie really enjoyed himself.  Ronnie + Kangaroo = mates!
Sunday was a day of relaxation…morning sunshine and travel reading at the Royal Botanical Gardens and FaceTime with Teddy!
Just wanted to thank everyone for the love and support this week!  Kenz and I are overwhelmed and truly grateful for everyone who has touched our lives (and our moms life!). 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Memory of Her

Two years have come and gone.  It feels like yesterday…ten years sometimes.  I can still remember her soft touch..her radiant smile..her calm and confident demeanor.  I try to hold on to the sound of her voice.  It's as if she slipped away on vacation.  Some days it is real, though.  Those days when I reach for my phone to call her out of habit.  Those days when I need advice or a pep talk that only a mother could give.  Those days when I just want to "go home" and curl up on the couch with her.  

But, all of those things are too much to dwell on.  Selfishly I wish my mom were still here to experience life with us on Earth, but I know she is in a better place with her Father in Heaven, free of pain and suffering.  Praise the Lord for that!  I have such a calming peace over me now.  My mother and I had a deeper bond that some will never experience in their lifetime.  Nothing can take that away.  Even though she didn't get to live a long life in number of years, her life was fulfilled.  Full of grace, love, and laughter.

I could go on and on.  Today, I just try to live a life that would honor her, in memory of her.  I feel her spirit with me everywhere I go.  I see her in the moon.  My mother has taught me that life is precious…we are never guaranteed anything.  My hope is that I can touch a few people along the way, like my mother did to so many!  I am so proud to be able to carry on her legacy.  We know she would be so happy and supportive of our journey to Australia..and my sisters strength back home!

It was a strange feeling being alone in the city today…knowing that my sister was going to be celebrating her life back home with loved ones the next day (since we are 15 hrs ahead here in Sydney).  Hard for me.  But, I tried to make the best of it and keep my mind busy.

Ronnie and I met for lunch in the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Learning to love living off of PB&Js and fresh fruit.  We found a magnolia tree to sit under, which is her favorite..and if you look closely in the top left pic, you can see the moon shining brightly through on this sunny day.  We even ran into a cupcake stand on the way that was selling red velvet cupcakes.  How perfect?!  I hear you, Mom! 
Cheers'ing to my mothers wonderful life!

If you know our story, red velvet is our thing.  My mothers thing.  My sister and I reenacted this pic of my mom (who was with girlfriends in New York just months before she passed) when we went last December.  
Then, I spent a few hours roaming through a bookstore.  Ended up in front of the harbor, with a backdrop of the opera house and shimmering waters to soak up the sunny day.  The way my mother would have liked to spend a day.  
Unplanned, I stayed until the sun was setting.  Peace. Calm. 
(Thanks Kenz..stole this quote from you)

Once Ronnie got off work, we headed to Darling Harbour, where one of our guilty pleasures is.  Mexican food.  We already needed our fix…looks like we will soon be regulars here. A knock off Chipotle for cheap burritos, chips and queso, and churros to end!  Then, we finished the evening walking around the area, reminiscing about times with my mom.  

Talking with my grandmothers before bed tonight brought everything back full circle.  I can't imagine the heartache of losing a child.  Whatever the situation may be, we don't let it define us.  Our life experiences open our eyes and broaden our thoughts…we have no choice but to "go on".  Because that's the way my mother would have wanted it.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

You'll never be this way ever again..

Thought for the day.  
Have been reflecting on this, as I feel it is so true and applicable to our lives right about now.  In so many ways.  

It is a good Monday.  Why you ask?
a.  Although I wasn't able to make it to my cousins wedding in Colorado, my sis skyped me from their reception so I could see the bride and groom!  Congratulations to the newlyweds, Zach and Sarah. This is the first event I have had to miss out on, which makes me very sad.  But, also very thankful that my family has been SO supportive and understanding.

b.  My friend Skyped the entire bachelorette finale so I could feel "connected".  Gotta love the little things.

c.  This is the first start to a week where I don't have plans or obligations lined up to carry me into the next a long time!  Last night was the first time that it really hit me..."O wow, I don't have work tomorrow...I literally could do anything I want!"  aka sit in my flannel pajamas until 3 in the afternoon (oops!).  

I guess I should get a move on.  Going to run from our hotel in the city to our flat in Kirribilli soon.  In an effort to be cost effective, we are going to meet back "home" every night and cook dinner in our kitchen.  On tonights menu, grilled chicken with lemon basil pasta. 

Here are a few pics from the Australian rules football (AFL) game we attended..Ronnie's work mate hooked us up!  I personally enjoyed the matching scarfs supported by all the fans...and the catchy victory song.  Seems so sophisticated for some reason? Go Sydney Swannies!

This next pic was for my sister.  She tracked where Bieber and Selena were at all times during their Sydney vacay for me, so I thought I would compare the two of us.  We just happened to be walking by the opera house on a cold and overcast Saturday when I found the spot!  Hahaha don't judge.

Overall, we had a wonderful weekend with new friends.  So thankful that Ronnie's coworkers have accepted us as a part of the family.  We feel so welcomed!  And thanks to everyone back home for the sweet words and kind encouragement.  I didn't think I was the blogger type, but it has become a great way to stay connected..and we love reading your comments, too.  I have had so much fun keeping up with our adventures, not only to share with you all, but also so we can look back for ourselves and remember all of the things we did…and the ups and downs along the way. 

All for now,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bare necessities

The bare necessities.  A whole new meaning.  

We have internet now, people!  Our life is a little bit easier.  Funny story though…when the engineer came to fix our wiring problem, I accidentally locked both of us out, not knowing a side door to our building locked behind you.  O ya, and no phone…and no contact numbers to call and rescue us.  Luckily, the technician got creative and crawled through the window.  Close call!

Did I forget to mention that our place has no central AC/heat?  For 10 of the 12 months, this is acceptable here as the average temp is 75 degrees…but for the other two, you sweat it out or freeze.  Right now, we are experiencing the latter (its equivalent to our January in the States, as seasons are opposite).  I have a newfound appreciation for a hot shower..and blanket..and fuzzy socks.  Most of our time spent at home is in bed, curled up under a down comforter and next to our tiny electric heater.  Ronnie tried to bear the cold in the living room by testing out our cable and getting reconnected with US sports…that lasted two minutes.  Not even worth it for ESPN. You know we have a problem :)

Also, we are having fun hand washing all of our dishes….and walking downstairs to the communal laundry.  That part isn't quite bad actually.  Everyone hangs clothes up to dry , so I enjoy hogging the dryer (in true Amercian style) and trying to sneak down when everyone else is at work. 

We have started settling into a routine somewhat.  I have been getting up with Ronnie every morning before work to iron his clothes..which gets me moving for the day.  Then, I have time to myself to FaceTime everyone before they go to bed.  It has also been fun to make lunch and meet Ronnie in the city for a nice break. 

I either run back across the bridge or get my daily workout in when the sun is setting.  I have already found a great running spot along the harbor and through a park…who knew working out could be so enjoyable?  If you know me, then you understand what a big deal this new routine is for me!!  I have started a "couch to 5K" program, which builds up my tolerance and stamina each week.  And I have great motivation to stay with it…Ronnie's coworker graciously invited me to join her and a few others in the "City2Surf" 14 km run in 4 weeks.  The race supports local charities of your choice (mine being Ovarian Cancer Australia) and starts in heart of the city and goes all the way to Bondi Beach…seems like a fun time!  

Also, Ronnie has been running home from work across the bridge, with backpack in tow.  Then, he stops by the local market to pick up fresh items we need for dinner that night.  Last night, we had turkey chili and homemade sweet cornbread (no Jiffy here!).  Brought us a little closer to home…and another attempt at staying warm.  Learned that ground turkey is hard to come by around here..the butcher said he would try to keep it in stock, though, now that he knows us Americans are living close by.  Isn't that so nice?!  And don't even get me started on finding "standard" baking items and spices…grocery shopping is a job in itself. 

But, just when we thought we were getting settled in, we got the word today that our shipment will be delayed even longer than expected.  What first was going to be 5 days without our stuff, then became 2.5 weeks…is now an extra 7-10 working days on top of the 2.5 weeks to get the final Customs and Quarantine clearances.  Wow.  So, in that case, we caved and checked ourselves into a hotel for the next two weeks.

Happy weekend!  We sure do have a busy one ahead of us surprisingly.  Lots of fun with new friends!  And excited to try a new church in the neighborhood on Sunday!  


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Welcome to The Land Down Under

Hello from Sydney!!

We made it.  Flight was pleasant, although I'm sure those feelings will wear off when we travel back to the States every three months.  We already have our trip booked for the first week in October, so it made our goodbyes that much easier.  Thanks to all our family and friends for making the effort in seeing us before we left.  

Had to make one last stop to Forth Worth.  Where my heart belongs.  

Our last day in Dallas…dropped off our car at carmax, lunch at Tolousse with Ronnie's dad, brother, step sister, and my sister, highland park soda fountain for classic milkshakes (you can't get more American than that), and final goodbyes. My sis then drove us to the airport with 10 bags in tow.  

Literally within 2 minutes of our cab dropping us off in front of our place in Kirribilli, a young and rather handsome gentleman introduced himself to us.  I guess it's not everyday that a local is hopping out of a cabbie with 10 bags!  He quickly proceeded to ask if we had arrived from the States, which to my response was "Just how did you know?!" in a sarcastic tone.  Maybe it was the accents? Or just the obnoxious amount of things?  He kindly replied, "It was just the twinkle in your eye."  

Then, ten minutes later as we were moving our bags in and tinkering with the three doors (with three separate keys I might add) to get into our place, our next door neighbors stopped by to greet us!  They are a lovely young couple, native to Australia.  We explained our situation, that our shipment of furniture wouldn't arrive for another two and a half weeks due to a back up in Panama (crazy I know)….and that we were about to head to the local Target and stock up on basic supplies.  We then said our goodbyes and they offered us to stop by anytime if we needed anything.  Five minutes later, a knock on the door…our neighbors again offering us to use their spare bed set!!! They apologized for not thinking about it in the first place and insisted moving it in right away.  Of course, we were taken back and somewhat hesitant, not used to the very kind gesture.  Our last next door neighbors in Dallas would go out of their way to not make eye contact or smile.  Just another way that God has shown himself in this journey…

On Sunday, we took a taxi to the local mall to shop at Target, Big W (equivalent to WalMart), and Woolworths (major grocery store).  We couldn't get used to the idea that you just took one cart in and out of each store and on to the next with your purchased goods.  Pretty convenient.  Due to the jet lag, we crashed at 6 pm and slept for a full 12 hours!  

Monday was Ronnie's first day of work at the Sydney office…or so we thought!  His boss was nice enough to let him have the day off to get everything organized (thanks Jenny!)…and boy is there a lot.  Ronnie has been so on top of things (surprise, surprise), but we still seem to be running into kinks.  Ronnie's dad explained it this way "If it was easy, they wouldn't call it an international assignment."  We now have an Australian bank account, prepaid local phones, but still not internet connection at home.  That has been the killer for us, since we are relying solely on wifi to communicate via skye and FaceTime.  They are supposed to come out today and fix the problem, but we aren't very hopeful…the initial set up took three weeks time to get an appointment, which we were prepared for and scheduled it a month ago so it would be installed when we arrived.  Then, when it didn't work, we called tech support and they determined that a technician would have to come out…"I have no idea when they will be able to come…we will TRY calling them and MAYBE they will call us back."  I guess we will have to adapt to the no sense of urgency attitude haha.  Don't you know this drives Ronnie nuts.  O well, looking forward to a balance….we will feel more accomplished when we get something done and appreciate it more!  

In the meantime, we will have to rely on sidewalk cafes and starbucks for our internet needs!

A ten minute walk in our neighborhood led us to Luna Park, a well known carnival on the waters edge.  Not too shabby of a view.  

Then, Ronnie picked up dinner from the local butcher shop and market.  Lamb rump with a homemade moroccan rub, baked potatoes, and a fresh tossed balsamic salad was on the menu.  And to our surprise, the outdated fan generated oven turned out to do its job.  

Still can't get over waking up to this view everyday.  The first sunrise and sunset over the harbor…

And the daily commute…I think we could get used to this.

Writing this post from the royal botanical gardens. Crazy birds walking around.  Sunny, 65 degree Sydney day.  

All for now!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saying our Goodbyes

What we have been up to lately....

Last day of work. Bittersweet. Going to miss my Baylor co-workers! Retiring my navy scrubs for now.
Reuniting with Teddy after our two week house hunting trip to Sydney. Thanks for keeping him, Grammy and Gramps! I can't imagine going three months without seeing him this time around..

Weekend getaway with friends to Horseshoe Bay, where all of my favorite childhood memories are. The trip wouldn't be complete without a day spent at the Yacht Club and a stop at Blue Bonnet Cafe. 

I was lucky enough to spend a few days with each of my grandparents..all to myself!  We missed Ronnie, but he has this thing called a job that I guess is pretty important..

First stop, Abilene to see Mema and Grandad.  My Aunt and Uncle were generous enough to drive in for dinner one night amidst their busy schedules and we made the rounds to see special extended family and a close friend. I always enjoy my time in the town my mom grew up and the house she was raised in.  So many wonderful memories there.  Our family dog, Abby, has been well taken care of in Abilene. She is in love with Grandad and will not leave his sight. 

Then, I was off to Denton to visit my Gappy.  We had so much fun together around town square, ice cream at an old fashioned soda fountain, visiting her hometown of Aubrey and my grandpa's gravesite, and seeing the movie Brave. We got her webcam set up so we can communicate easier, but the highlight of the trip was my sewing and ironing lesson.  Gappy got a kick out of the fact that I had no idea where to begin when threading a needle....hopefully I can do her proud and practice my domestic skills that I have learned from her through the years!

Our hometown of Austin was the next stop!  We were able to celebrate the birthday girl, Ronnie's mother. Charley grilled out and we had a yummy meal at home. Lots of laughs and love.  Also, they always make sure I can go to my favorite childhood places..this time it was margs and enchiladas at Mesa Rosa. I guess you could call me a "spoiled brat".

 We also had the privilege of celebrating Grandma and Grandpa Scherwin's 56th anniversary!  They came all the way from Chicago...and his Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Mike made an appearance too.  It was so nice to visit with them on the patio and enjoy the new pool at Ron and Becky's.  We watched home videos that Ronnie's grandparents brought of their own wedding and their kids growing up...transferred from an 8-track to VHS to DVD.  Pretty amazing.  We also celebrated Ron's birthday a little early..he is sporting his bday gifts from us in the pic below. What a stud.

Girls trip to San Antonio!  Always a second home for me with the Kirk family.

Happy Fourth of July from Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie!  What a great way to spend the day...with close family, the horse races, and an amazing firework show after!  

Have I mentioned that we have great friends?! Well, we do. And leaving has made us realize it even more.  They threw us a "Bon Voyage" party in Uptown, complete with a mexican dinner, private trolley ride for a couple of hours, and night out.  The night was full of cheers and special touches...koala cupcakes made by my sis, personalized koozies, glow sticks, American and Australian flags, and vintage Texas postcards that everyone filled out with a goodbye note and their contact info.  

Packing, packing, and more packing. This time, the movers boxed up the rest of our belongings that will be going to a storage unit in Dallas.  We turned in our keys and said goodbye to our apartment that we loved. Currently homeless and living out of two suitcases each. Thanks to our friends who graciously offered to take us in for the week..and share their beds, food, and space. Sold our car that Ronnie has been driving since we started dating. Said goodbye to Teddy until October when he will be allowed to come and be released from quarantine.  Mean Aussie government...why can't they follow America and let all of the diseases come into their country?! 
Saying our goodbyes......I hate goodbyes.  I would rather, "See you later!".  Maybe I am in denial? I don't know. Whatever it is, Ronnie and I are both ready to get there and settle into our new home.  We have been talking about it for so many months in anticipation, that we are anxious to just take the leap already!!  We will be leaving DFW Friday night and arrive in Sydney on Sunday (the day that Bieber arrives..omg!). Until then, keep us in your prayers for smooth and safe travels.