Rainbow Lorikeets

We’ve moved into our “permanent” residence for the rest of our stay here in Australia.  The first place we were was only for three weeks or so while we waited for our current house to become available.  Michael was adamant that I would like this house better, which I doubted when we moved into the first house because the first house was very, very nice.  Now that we’re in the second house, I will totally admit that he was correct.  Both houses are huge and close to the beach, but this second house also boasts this:

My kids are so finally learning how to swim.

The other side of the backyard looks like this:

See that big tree bush thing in the middle?  It is a haven for birds.  There are multiple birds in that thing every minute of the day, slowly waddling along the lengths of the branches, sucking the nectar out of the weird honeysuckle-like pods that grow on it.

My favorite birds that visit are the Rainbow Lorikeets.  They usually visit in pairs, and we’ve seen as many as five at a time making their slow searches through the branches.  We eat lunch out on the patio almost every day now, just so we can watch these beautiful creatures as they eat.  Lunch has never been such a quiet event in our family, ever.  Even Monkeyboy silently munches on his sandwiches while his little eyes follow the Lorikeets’ movements.

I was trying to get a good picture of this guy’s underside
to show how colorful their bellies are, and he was scooting along
and totally bumped his head on the intersection of that branch! Hee hee!

Because this place wasn’t beautiful enough, right?  Goodness me, it’s just wonderful to just look at the world here.  You can’t get enough of the light, the trees, the colors…it’s just gorgeous.  Hopefully I can get some photos of some of the other insanely-colorful birds flitting about all regular-like each day.

These are my favorites, even when they’re squawking their little heads off at each other.  Michael tells me that there’s “Lorikeet Trees” in various parts of the city where big flocks of them go to roost at night and you can’t hear another person yelling at you right next to you because the birds are so ridiculously loud.  I’m glad we don’t have that problem, just the occasional squabble every couple of hours.  It’s worth it though, to look at those brilliant feathers.  So pretty.

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Watching Humpback Whales in Hervey Bay

Penguin celebrate her eighth birthday shortly after we arrived in Australia, and she decided she wanted to go on a whale watching tour to see the humpback whales that famously stop over in the area to mate and calve.  I was able to snag a couple of good pictures from the boat, and thought I’d share:

Disneyland

Oh, what a fun day!  There were lots of lines, but the Brookelets handled it all fabulously–no meltdowns at all.  We took a break around lunch to head back to the hotel to cool down and re-charge, and then we went back to the park until we could hardly walk anymore and just did not care if we missed the rest of the rides.  Good times.

Dumbo Ride. Now that’s joy.

Monkeyboy was SPEECHLESS when we took him to see Captain America.

Heading back to the shuttle.

What a fun day for us all.  Hopefully we’ll be able to return again in the future…preferably in the off season though.  It was a lot of sun, a lot of people, and a lot of lines.  Perhaps an autumn or spring-time trip next time.

It’s so funny to me how satisfying it is to me to say that I’ve now taken my kids to Disneyland.  I remember, during my childhood in Canada, talking with my school chums about Disneyland and how American kids must have so much fun all the time because they were able to go to Disneyland every summer because it was so close to all of them.  Now that I have children, and they are very much American, I feel like I carry a subconscious “to-do” list for their childhoods, which included taking them to Disneyland.  Complete!  (Other random items on that list include Mt. Rushmore, Gettysburg, and Washington DC.  My understanding of American childhood “necessities” has been completely informed by 1950’s era advertising.)

While I Lounge, Exhausted

We flew out of Salt Lake yesterday, and the kids loved the airplane ride!   There’s a video of Bluebird and Penguin during take-off that I’ll have to post later because they were so stinking cute.  Everything went really smooth in regards to our travels.


Highlights include:

1. Monkeyboy flirting with his Japanese female seat neighbor for the duration of the flight.
2. Junebug asking her Latino seat neighbor why he wasn’t speaking English…when he actually was.
3. Junebug watching “Toy Story” with the aforementioned middle-aged Latino man, and the two of them laughing at the same places together.
4. Bluebird watching “Frozen” with headphones on, and belting out “Let It Go” for a few bars before Michael and I could catch her attention and remind her that she was sitting in a crowded airplane.
5. Penguin’s smile throughout the entire trip. Goodness, she enjoyed everything.
Waiting for our shuttle at LAX.
We spent today exploring the area around our hotel. We’re taking a few days to enjoy the Los Angeles area before our departure from the northern hemisphere.

The kids’ one big wish: swim in the hotel swimming pool. I’m happy to report that Michael and I fulfilled their great wish this afternoon.
Highlights include:
1. Monkeyboy flinging himself into the deep end of the pool, trying to get Michael’s attention. Me yelling Michael’s name across the pool so that he’d turn around and see his drowning son.
2. Penguin has the beginnings of some diving skills–she can do flips and spins off the side of the pool. I have no idea when/where she learned to do any of it.
3. Michael can throw Monkeyboy halfway across the pool. I insist upon being in the vicinity of the boy’s landing spot so I can pluck him off the bottom of the pool. Michael says it’s not needed, as he gets to Monkeyboy before he runs out of air.
4. Bluebird jumped into the pool towards me, but then decided she didn’t want to be by me, so she kicked me in the gut as she swam away. Nice to see you too, daughter.
5. After yelling, “Don’t run!” numerous times to the kids, I pulled off a spectacular slip-and-fall while simply STANDING next to the pool.  Some days I find it questionable that I ever possessed athletic ability.
6. The kids are SO TIRED that Monkeyboy asked if he could sit in my lap during dinner at the restaurant, and after he situated himself he laid his head against my shoulder and fell asleep. We had to carry him back to the hotel, and he didn’t wake up when we changed him into his pajamas.
7. Michael is so sunburned, but only where he wasn’t under water, so he’s got this hilarious sunburn “capelet” going on. He’s currently responding to work emails without his shirt on, and had informed me that, in Australia, minivans are called “people movers.”
And, even though it never occurred to our children to ask for it, tomorrow we’re going to Disneyland. The kids have never been, and Michael and I have only been once each. The kids are SO EXCITED that they put themselves to bed at seven.
Which leads us up to now, with me lounging on my super comfy hotel bed, just being tired and content. The power of the family vacation, especially after packing up six people to move halfway around the world. I’m very grateful for this little “hiccup” in our journey that’s allowing us some “just us” time. It’s been a busy couple of months leading up to this.
Disneyland tomorrow, and THE BIG FLIGHT the next day. We party hard and travel harder, yo.

Something Beautiful

This is my friend Rachel.  We’ve been friends for a few years.  She’s the friend who “tutored” Bluebird in Latin when we were first starting out two years ago, we embarked on a lofty 72-hour kit creation kick a year ago that she kept up and I did not, and we get to rub elbows a lot in musical pursuits.  I think she is one of the coolest people in the world.  She’s funny, she’s intelligent, she’s…Rachel.

About a year ago we started a short-lived ritual of walking our dogs during my family’s morning recess break.  During this ritual walk each school day (for however long we kept up with it) Rachel and I talked.  We talked about religion, briefly visited politics, talked about the books we were reading, and shared childhood memories regarding various subjects that came up.

We also talked about infertility.  My dear friend wanted to become a mother, and was having a hard time realizing that dream.  I listened as she described what tests and procedures were coming up, I listened as she talked through how she felt about the results, I listened as she thought out loud through something I wished I could fix for her.  I had suggested herbs in the very beginning of her struggle to conceive, but it had become apparent through the years that herbs weren’t going to fix the issue.  I watched her struggle to control her emotions after a round of fertility drugs; she’d wave it off and shrug, saying, “It’s just the hormones.”  So much time and effort to bring into creation a child.  Why wasn’t it working?!?!

I prayed for her and her husband.  My children prayed for one of their favorite people that she could be a mommy like she wanted.  Our family prayed together, out loud, every morning and night, remembering her alongside our cousins and siblings.  “Please, Heavenly Father, if it be thy will, allow Rachel and her husband to become parents.”

I just got home from throwing my friend a baby shower.
She’s due to give birth to a sweet little girl in June.

During those walks and talks I made up my mind, should God bless Rachel with a child, that I would throw the biggest, most beautiful baby shower I could muster in celebration of her impending motherhood.  To work so hard for something deserved a huge to-do!  As luck would have it, other ladies in our neighborhood wanted in on the fun as well, so we went all out.

At Rachel’s request, we had a tea party baby shower; which is funny, because we’re Mormons.  As a collective group, we’re not really known for our tea party-throwing skills.  Therefore, all the “teas” offered were herbal:  Lemon Chamomile, Peppermint, and a rooibos-based Tulsi Dosha Chai.  (I made a little announcement at the beginning of the party that there was no actual tea in any of the teapots, and that no one had to worry that I was enticing them to disregard the Word of Wisdom.)

And it was lovely, oh so lovely.  The looks of delight on the ladies’ faces as they carried their delicate cups of “tea,” the “oohs” and “aahs” over the finger foods…it was pretty, it was refreshing, and it was just wonderful.  I think I’ll be pleased with how well this baby shower went for a long time.  It was one of the nicest things I’ve seen in a while.

Seriously, always throw a party with multiple hostesses.  There were five of us altogether who put the food together, and it went splendidly.  (I didn’t have to touch the Egg Salad Sandwiches or be anywhere near them at all!  Score!)  We all made what we each liked to make, and everything was taken care of.  I was in charge of the tea and scones.  That’s it.  I also made some macarons on a whim, since I’m obsessed with the recipe from Martha Stewart Living and have been waiting for an excuse to try it out just because.

I don’t have a picture with the mom-to-be, but I do have this one with my fellow hostesses.

I told her that I needed a picture of her
with all her swag, and she obliged me so fittingly.
Love her!

There was a good attendance, and we had fun with the various (non-annoying) shower games.  Rachel received some lovely gifts for herself and her daughter, and I saw her make multiple trips to refresh her tea cup.

I took pictures of everything.  I knew I would write a blog post about this awesome party that I helped throw, and I wanted some beauty shots to accompany the play-by-play.  But as I look through the photos, I’m disappointed because they don’t capture the true beauty of the occasion.

Because what is beautiful about all this, after all the tea and finger foods are gone, is that we’re celebrating a miracle.  We’ve watched a heart-wrenching struggle turn into something so joyful that it makes our hearts hurt with happiness, like when you’ve smiled for too long and your cheeks ache.

We gathered together today to bask in the glory of our friend’s answered prayer, to sit together as women and cheer on another one of us who will soon enter the ranks of motherhood.  We thought of our own miracles at home; far, far away from the breakable china we balanced in our hands, while laughing at the realization that we celebrate the arrival of motherhood with delicate servingware and dainty foods when the realities of motherhood dictate that we eat PB&J and drink from plastic cups soon after we are initiated.

We hugged each other, placed hands upon each other’s shoulders in concern, smiled, laughed, and nodded our understanding.  We shared stories of our experiences–stories about our fears of motherhood, our disappointment with some of our parenting choices, amusement over what children say, gratitude for the help we receive and the lessons we’ve learned, and love for our families and friends.  And amidst the clinking of tea cups upon saucers and tearing of wrapping paper, we shared one more thing:  A quiet sense of excitement for Rachel.  She got her wish, her prayer, her love:  She’s going to be a mother.

Which is one of the most beautiful things that this world has to offer.