02 April, 2012

Meet the newest member of our family!!

We have 'hired' this Yamaha from the friendly family at WA Music in Innaloo. It's a family business that supplies all sorts of instruments including pianos to WA. They employ a strings expert, and the twin sons move and tune the pianos. It is so nice to have a piano in our home. We have been without one for 9 months. Yikes! The kids are eager to start some lessons and I will hopefully make some $ teaching in the near future. Thank you to the special people who helped us to make this happen!!

19 February, 2012

But It's a Dry Heat

It's 90F here (32.2C) and we don't have the air conditioning on. Back in Minnesota, this would be UNBEARABLY HOT. But here we didn't even notice until we saw the temp on-line. 90F? Really? The lack of humidity really helps. Also, living in an area with a sea breeze sure makes things bearable. I do not think that 90F/32.2C in Perth is the same as 90F/32.2C in Minnesota. Here it is a pleasant Summer day, back in Minnesota it is a sweltering malaria infused heat wave of death.

Or maybe we're acclimating.

When I go back to visit, I wonder if it will now be unbearably cold.

18 February, 2012

Two weeks ago we went to mullaloo beach for swim lessons. Of the two weeks the kids there where whining about jellyfish. I had a fun time at swim lessons. And I was in level four and now I am in level five. on Sunday Oliver, Zoey, mom, dad, and I went to mullaloo beach. and snorkeled for a bit and caught waves. About an hour later we where leaving right when we where about to leave I felt a pinch on my arm. And it stung in an irritating way. I looked at my arm and there where red marks I thought o no jellyfish. It didn't hurt much so I talked to I life guard. she said I should rinse it off or put ice on it. When I got home I put ice on it. It felt much better.

08 December, 2011

I found our family GP

As part of the 457 visa you are required to carry private health insurance. I am in the process of submitting our first medical claim with our carrier Australian Unity. The insurance works via reimbursement. You send in the receipts and they credit your bank account in about one week. One form required the doctor to date the onset of the condition. Australian Unity wants to be completely confident that they are not paying for a pre-existing condition. I was told the form needed to be filled out by the first practitioner I saw. No worries, I waited until the after hours clinic was open and went in to have the form filled out. Of course, there is a large rotation of doctors and the one I saw was not in and on holiday for three weeks. Ugh.

I called Australian Unity and they said I could have another doctor sign the form. Enter Doctor Neo. I saw Dr. Neo the following Monday after having very intense abdominal pains Saturday. This is the same doctor that personally called me to see how I was doing. So on a raining Tuesday, (remember we still don't have a car) I ride down to the clinic to see Dr. Neo. I was already annoyed because I had to make an appointment for a 5 minute discussion. I had a nice chat with Dr. Neo as he completed the form. I told him about making cremation arrangements for the baby, how we had seen the heart beat flutter during the ultrasound, how then I had a car accident the next week, blah blah blah. He listened intently and said that he could tell that I was still needing to work through a lot of emotions with this miscarriage. He was right about that. Then he did an amazing thing. He asked if he could pray with me. We bowed our heads there in his office and he prayed that God would continue to heal me and my family. What a blessing. What a tremendous witness of his faith. Oh, and he didn't charge me for the visit.

Next time anyone in our family needs medical care we will be making an appointment with Dr. Neo who works to heal body and soul.

06 December, 2011

Lessons Learned

A car is not critical. Until it is critical.

As you may have read in the previous post, Erika was involved in a car accident. Thankfully nobody in either car was injured and Erika was not at fault, so it isn't going to cost us anything financially.

WA not only stands for our state name, Western Australia, it is, we are told by the locals, also an abbreviation for Wait Awhile - the unofficial state slogan. Being the most isolated capital city in the world, it takes some time to get things that you need... like auto parts. So, while we wait for car parts - hopefully we'll be back on the road by Christmas after a three week delay - we are doing a lot of walking and biking (push biking in the local vernacular).

This has taught me some important lessons:

1. As the comedian said, EVERYWHERE is within walking distance if you have the time.
2. Living on the top of the hill makes it easy to bike nearly anywhere... coming home... not so fun.
3. There is a strong correlation between exercise and weight loss

Some of the ways in which this has impacted me :
> I have to leave the house 15 minutes earlier in order to bike to the train, but Erika now gets to sleep in.
> I sleep better.
> I can only wear a set of clothes once (as opposed to hanging back up a "clirty" shirt - biking up the hill home makes me sweat
> The kids can't go to evening activities due to the distance involved, it being dark for the ride (sometimes on the side of the road) and the time involved.

We may have figured out a way to get a rental car finally (living without credit cards is nice, but sometimes you REALLY need them), so we can become a bit more of a NORMAL family again.

My only real concerns is what to do if there is an emergency. James caught a Red Back (an Aussie Black Widow Spider) in the kitchen the other day. If he had been bit, I could not throw him on a bicycle and a recent train accident saw a man wait 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive after he had his leg severed by a train... and that was minutes from the hospital and ON the large freeway.

Not our typical Aussie post - apologies. Was just on my mind.

29 November, 2011

It's the people

Australians are generally very kind and helpful. I was very much reminded of this truth over the last few days and weeks. This November has been a particularly bad month for me although it is a memorable one to be sure. I mis-carried a baby, had surgery, and was in a car accident within a three week period. There were several other smaller problems but these definitely top the list. What has helped me and my family through these trials (and really isn't that what they really are?) are the amazing Australians I have encountered. Here are some examples of the Aussie hospitality I have experienced.

When I was recovering from surgery, my dear friend brought meals and even took my kids for the day. People have sent flowers and offered help. Medical personnel were very kind. I even had a doctor call me personally just to check in on me. That is unheard of in the US! Friends have called to chat, or visit, or text their support. Another friend rescued me from the auto shop today and loaned me her car. All of these kindnesses I would expect (with the exception of the doctor's concern) but it the kindness of strangers that I really want to highlight.

Warning this next paragraph is very long and rambling. It is a spaghetti story that will make sense in the end, I promise.

Today, while taking Madeline to school, a woman pulled out in front of me at an intersection and I struck her car with my van. No one was hurt thankfully. She was apologetic. We exchanged information and were on our way. Note: You don't need to involve police here in a motor vehicle accident. You are required to file a report online. VERY EFFICENT!! We limped to Madeline's school. I got out of the van to see if I could bend whatever it was that was rubbing on the tire out of the way so I could drive home. Out of no where, a staff member from the school asked if she could help me. Susan called maintenance and I was wisked away to have a cup of tea in her office while the van was gafted (duct taped) together. We ended up having a wonderful conversation once my hands stopped shaking. Turns out her sister lives in Colorado but is returning to Perth this Friday to live. We plan to get her niece and Madeline together. I was later sent on my way with a caution to drive carefully. All I could say was thank you. Susan and the maintenance man both said, "It was our pleasure to help you, that's what Mater Dei is all about." Fast forward about 3 hours to when I limp the car to the auto shop. Note: If you do auto body work in Australia you are known as a 'paneller'. (Spell check doesn't like that one). I didn't have an appointment but they managed to squeeze me in for an appraisal. I'm was told by a very kind man that I can't legally drive my car the way it was and that it will take an act of God for it to be repaired by Christmas. I'm feeling sick to my stomach with the news, wondering how am I going to pay for a rental car for that long when a lady from the office comes out with an offer of a 'cuppa' and a next door rental place. I manage to arrange for a friend to come and rescue me and give me a ride home. (Oh, and pick up Madeline from school 20 minutes late.) Then begins my attempt at renting a car in Australia. Not easy. No worries. Kay offered to lend me her car until tomorrow afternoon thereby giving us some time to figure some things out and go to the bank (they close up tight at 4 or 4:30). Immediate problem solved. Everybody can get to where they need to go in the morning.

Yesterday, I called a funeral center to make some arrangements for our baby. The lady could have just signed me up for the most expensive services but she didn't. She went out of her way to help us. She called the hospital and made an appointment for me to speak with the chaplain. Turns out the hospital staff should have mentioned these resources to me but didn't. Anyway, it sounds like some of the expenses might be picked up by the hospital but I don't know for sure. I didn't have time today to call the chaplain, I was too busy having a car accident.

My whole point is, these people didn't have to do what they did. The funeral lady could have just done her job and charged me the fees, but she didn't. The doctor could have waited until my next appointment, but he didn't. The auto panelers could have put me off until tomorrow, but they didn't. Susan, could have just left me to rip the wheel housing off of my car by myself, but she didn't. These people helped me when I really needed it and it made a huge difference to me. We all can help one another. We are called to do so, but how often do we 'not bother'? In the U.S. I have been helped by strangers many times. I've been known to ask a stranger for directions, or to jump my car. The difference is that in the U.S. people will certainly help you when asked. In Australia though, I wasn't asking. Help was offered me before I even really knew what I needed. Isn't that the definition of hospitality, anticipating someone's need?

Good on you Aussies!!! You made my day and I love you for it.

22 October, 2011

Squid dissection

Two weeks ago, I dissected a squid at Scitech. It was awesome. First, I went in the room where I was going to dissect a squid. Our teacher (I forgot her name it started with a C) had a video camera on a stand right above her dead squid hooked up to a screen. The class and I grabbed some stool's to sit on. Our teacher was telling us about squids for a while. Then, she told as to pick a squid. The squids where in little trays with one or two tools in them. There where about twenty trays on a table that was shaped like a square U. I was on the edge right next to the teacher and a boy about my age named Alex. He had never dissected anything before. He asked, "are you from america?" and I said, "yes, and I'm from Minnesota." My squid had very short tentacles. I named it Inky. Then our teacher told us to cut the squid open right up the back. It was hard to cut. Then she told us to find its' ink sack with out it spilling. Mine spilled all over. Then we cut out its' gills (they looked like feathers). Then we cut out its' three hearts. One heart was for its' body and two for each gill. The teacher wanted to cut my squids head off and she showed the whole class it's brain.... then she told us to name each part of its body. It was cool and I figured out how to tell a boy squid from a girl squid. I really liked it. It was fun, yes I said fun.