12 April 2014

New School Year 2014

It's a new school year.  Many changes from last school year.

Clara wearing her Senior Uniform
She's painting on the surfboard.
Evening of Excellence
for Top Ten Awards Night
Clara is in year 11 at Kincumber HS.  She is considered a "senior" and there's a uniform change.  Seniors wear white shirts (juniors wear blue shirts).  Seniors have additional priviledges on the school grounds, including certain bathroom and break areas.  In years 11 and 12, she begins preparing for the Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Clara was recognized as being one of the Top Ten GPA in her year from Year 10.  I was proud to be in attendance in February when Clara received her certificate and award for this achievement.
Clara's award for Academic Achievement
Clara @ Central Coast VISION
with her Winning Artwork
Clara's skim board was also chosen for Central Coast VISION art competition which was held at Gosford Regional Art Gallery.  It was a pleasure to attend the opening night with our artist.

Tristan started High School @ Gosford Selective.  This school is open by invitation only, so we are very proud of Tristan.  The commute is 45 minutes each way via bus plus 2 minute walk from the station to his school.  He leaves each morning at 7:30 and returns at 4:30.
Tristan wearing his Gosford HS uniform
Tristan and the entire Year 7 went on a 3 day overnight camp to Morisset.  It was a chance for the students to bond with each other and staff.  Tristan went on the giant swing, ropes course, sailed, swam, hiked and more.  
Tristan is taking English, Science (which he loves), Math, Woodworking, and Food Tech.  He is happy and seems to be thriving.

Zoe and her class told "Survival" Stories
Zoe is our other "Senior" as a Year 5 student in Copacabana PS.  She also has a uniform change from the full dress to a skirt.  Zoe seems to be doing well in school.  She is playing soccer with her team again this year and loving it.
Zoe entered a national art competition and was chosen as a finalist.  Her entry is below - or this link.

Zoe's artwork was chosen as a Finalist in National Contest
Neo was chosen to Present
during school Assembly
Neo is a lively and happy boy.  He is in Year 2 this year.  He's an independent reader and reading chapter books.  He is also playing soccer this year.  He is on a new soccer team this year made up of Copa school friends.

Zoe and Neo walking home from school
Because we live in MacMasters Beach now, Zoe, Neo and I get to walk home across the beach some days. It's a nice way to walk home from school.

Zoe's bunny, Silver

02 February 2014


A long awaited goal has been obtained, we're dual citizens, Australians and Americans.

September 11th was our test day in Sydney at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.  After all the documents were approved, the remaining hurdle was the ceremony.  I had to make 3 applications: 2 online for Dave with kids and me; 1 via post because Clara had turned 16 and no online form is available.

Clara was fortunate to be called in for her citizenship ceremony in Sydney in December.  There were 40 people at Clara's ceremony.
Clara with Citizenship Document
This worked well for her travel to the US as our Permanent Resident visa for re-entry into Australia had expired.  

The other family members' citizenship ceremony happened on Australia Day, 26 January - the National holiday. It was held at Laycock Theatre in Gosford (our local council).  There were 120 people from 21 different countries becoming Australians together.  The gathering included several political representatives and the families and friends of those becoming citizens.

Each new citizen was called up on stage individually, children included.  When a row of candidates were on stage, they said the oath together.  Then each were given a Lilli Pilli tree and an Australian Flag.

The ceremony lasted 2 hours.  Afterward, the enrollment board collected our registrations to vote (compulsory in Australia).  Even Clara is registered to vote, even though she cannot vote until she's 18.  There was a lovely reception.

With Gosford Mayor Lawrie McKinna

The local paper, The Express Advocate, interviewed me for an article - profile of a new citizen.

Later that evening, Zoe and Neo were in the Woy Woy lantern parade.  Then we watched the fireworks to complete the celebrations.

07 November 2013

Sydney North Athletics Carnival 2013 plus

Tristan in the white & red race shirt walks to starting line
Tristan's time for the 100 metre race qualified him to run at the District level, Sydney North.  It was held at the Sydney Olympic park.  Tristan ran well.  But it's all about the Hoodie.  The line for the "jumper" snaked from the entrance gate and up the stairs.

Neo (center) in Red Vest, dancing

Neo was in the K-2 school musical "Giraffe's can't Dance" which is a book they put music and dances to. Well done, as usual.  Neo had a great time performing.

Tristan's birthday was over the school holidays.  He took his friend Ziggy along for go carting.  Clara, Neo and I raced as well.  We had a great time.  Then sushi for lunch.
Ziggy & Tristan

At the end of October, we moved back to MacMaster's Beach.  This house has 5 bedrooms.  Each of the kids' rooms is larger then the house in Copa.  We are tucked back in the trees.  Large yard.  Views of the lagoon and of course walking distance to the beach and school - if the kids are so inclined.  So far I've been driving them to/from school each day.  We did have a rare Long Billed Corrella visit at our new house.  And King Parrots, Dave's favorite are a common sight.
Rare Long Billed Corrella

Clara & I following her Induction Ceremony
Clara was inducted into Student Representative Council last Friday.  This is for 2014 and her Year 11.  She will be attending functions as a representative of the school.  She was chosen out of a field of applicants.  Really proud of her hard work on the Year 10 exams.  It used to be common for Year 10 students to receive a certificate from high school after year 10.  That's mostly been phased out, but a Record of School Achievement (RoSA) is offered for those who complete year 10 and have full time employment or full time training course (apprentiship).
Special dessert Sushi

26 August 2013

Athletics Zone Competition, Soccer Awards & 100 Word Challenge

On Friday, Tristan received an award for "Outstanding piece of writing on the 100 Word Challenge" for his creative writing piece.  Tristan's work was showcased world wide.  In this particular challenge, the participants were to use a prompt and create a story.  His class has been participating in the 100 Word Challenge all year.  Great creative writing opportunity.  http://kidblog.org/MrFrew/0150de57-b3d8-427e-8e77-12a74c7294cf/100-wc-39/

On Thursday Tristan represented his school at the Brisbane Waters Zone Athletics Competition.  Tristan did very well. He will likely move up to the next level of competition - Sydney North - in discus and 100 meters race.

Tristan about to throw discus

Tristan made the semi-finals (4 participants)

Tristan ran the 100 meter 13 year old race

There's the starter gun

Neo completed his first year of soccer. Gala day was on Saturday - where they played 3 fun games, had a sausage sizzle, and received their trophies.

Neo with his team and coach Dave

Neo receiving his soccer trophy and certificate

20 August 2013

Photostream 2013

I'm relieved to see that my last post was in 2013....I was afraid it had been longer.   As you can imagine, a lot has happened since Feb 2013.  Short list - my job ended in April.  I started my own business in May.

Dave continues on in his work.  It seems to be more stressful every week.  We went to Taronga Zoo together - no kids - during a short break from work.  We continue to enjoy morning walks on the beach at the weekends.

Tristan as Creepy Scarecrow for Camp Creepytime Party

Sweet 16

Ice Skating @ Hunter Valley Gardens

Zoe on skates

Zoe in Snow play area

Neo in Snowball throwing area

Tristan waiting for a snowball
Most of these pictures are from July school holidays.  Clara turned 16 in June.  The kids had their US passports renewed in July.  Clara ran cross country at Brisbane Water Zone -in  May.  Clara started a job - then lost it.  Clara earned her driver's license and drove for the first time in August.

Clara's choice of shoes for walking on a very muddy path to Little Beach

Clara's Sweet 16 Birthday Party with Friends @ San Churros

Clara and her boyfriend, Jesse

Tristan was successful in getting into Gosford Selective High School.  He begins there in 2014.

Neo is almost an independent reader.  Zoe has redecorated her room.
Zoe's Zebra Themed Room

Zoe Painted these...

17 February 2013

End of School Year 2012

The new school year 2013 has begun, yet I haven't shared all the excitement from the end of the last school year.

Southern Leaf-tail Gecko 
Tristan ran for Prefect at his school.  To be a candidate, he had to complete an application.  Then he had to write and present a speech to the entire student body.  Finally, he had to create a campaign poster.  There were a large number of candidates.  Even though Tristan was not elected, we are very proud of his willingness to run for Office at the highest level.

Tristan was 1 of 2 representatives chosen to attend Gosford Selective school's Science day in December.  He really enjoyed the day with several different science projects.

Tristan received an award for completing the Junior Division Math Olympiads.  He also received a special achievement award for his "Outstanding Effort and Improvement in Mathematical Problem Solving" from the Mathematical Olympiads.  Tristan received this award because his teachers submitted his name to the international organization Australasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiads Inc

Clara came in First Place of all Year 9 students in both Visual Arts and in Photography.  In addition, she won the competition in her year to create the best promotional brochure.

Clara spent the last weeks of this school year completing a painting for entry into the VISION art competition to be held at the Gosford Regional Art Gallery in March.  Only 80 students are chosen from all Central Coast High Schools to have their art displayed.

At her school assembly, Clara earned an End of Year Merit Certificate for: "First Place Year 9 Photography, First Place Year 9 Visual Arts, Consistent Effort in Year 9 Mathematics; Consistent Effort in Year 9 History; Consistent Effort in Year 9 History; Consistent Effort in Year 9 Marine Studies; Attitude and Industry in Year 9 Personal Development, Health and Physical Education.

At the beginning of this year, we are invited to "Evening of Excellence" on 20 February where Clara will be awarded for her high achievement.

We are very proud of all of our children's achievements, but especially Tristan and Clara in these recent months.  To another successful school year for all. 

29 January 2013

US Visitors

My cousin Tamara and her husband Don came to Sydney in September 2012.  I had the opportunity to meet them for lunch and we walked from Circular Quay through The Rocks to Darling Harbour and back.  It was a lovely, but short visit.

Grandma and Grandpa Smith arrived in November.  They were on a 75 day cruise which docked in Sydney for a couple of days.  We had the opportunity to host them for Thanksgiving dinner at home.  The children and I enjoyed touring their cruise ship.  Here's Sally's account of their visit:

We had 2 days in Sydney. What a beautiful city it is. I wish we could have spent another couple of days there. We spent our 2 days visiting with Richard’s son David, his wife Catherine, and the 4 grandchildren, Neo, Zoe, Tristan and Clara. Upon our arrival in Sydney, David met us at the cruise terminal and we took the train out to where they live in Copacabana. The train took about 1-1/2 hours, then we drove another 20 minutes to their home. Catherine prepared a lovely Thanksgiving dinner and baked the most delicious cake which was madefrom baked merange (Pavlova) with fresh fruit on top. After dinner we all walked down to the beach and took some pictures. The kids had a little time to play in the sand before making the trek up a very steep hill back to the house. After recuperating for a while, Catherine drove us back to the train station where we boarded the train back to Darling Harbor to get on the ship.

With Grandpa Smith on Copa Beach
(Grandma Sally, Photographer)
The next day we took the shuttle into town and met Catherine and the kids by Circular Quay. While we waited for their arrival, we were able to walk down to the harbor and get a look at the Sydney Opera House. What a magnificent building it is. When they arrived, we all took the shuttle back to the ship so they could have a look at our living arrangements. I think everyone was impressed with the luxury of the ship. We had lunch on the ship at the Lido Buffet where there were lots to choose from, including everything a kid could want: sushi, hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, fruit and lots of desserts. (We even managed to pack up a few cookies for their train trip back home.)The kids got to check out the life-size chess set and play a little ping pong on the Lido deck, and shoot some hoops and play a little shuffle board up on the Sports deck. The time flew by much too quickly, and we said our goodbyes and put them back on the shuttle to town to catch their train back home.