28 November 2008

Saturday 29 November

Friday was a very hot day! Neo and I again went on an adventure. This time to Cleveland. I wanted to see what kind of housing they have there - the area had been recommended to us. We took the train and went to every rental office in the area. The response was similiar - nothing available at the moment. There were a couple of houses that looked interesting and one woman was willing to drive Neo and I to see 2 houses. I was very disappointed. It was a typical cookie cutter type house in a typical suburb. Not what we're interested in. It only goes to show that we have the best area. We got off the train at Wellington point to walk past another potential rental but found it was further from the train then we had been told, so gave up looking. But did see another rental that was lovely - but taken.

Dave took the kids to Redcliffe using the car! That's further up the "Sunshine Coast" about 1 hour from Brisbane. We can see the point of Redcliffe from our side of the beach. The children were all excited about their adventure. The water was clear - unlike our little bay area that is cloudy.

Unfortunately, I brought a therometer from the states so we could know the "real temp" But Dave was depressed by it because he could know how hot it was in the house. We don't have air conditioning...there are several ceiling fans - and the breeze off the ocean helps...but it's tough - especially for Dave.

A little bit about where we're staying. We live in a little village called Shorncliffe. It's a very small town with a train stop, a school, 1 restraunt, 1 B&B, and beautiful coastline. Just up the road 2 km, there's Sandgate. Sandgate reminds me of Mayberry. It's very quaint with wonderful shops. There's just about everything you need here. We run to Woolworth's for groceries. It's the grocery store here. There are chemists for medicines, etc. That's where I bought hats for everyone on the first day we had arrived.

Today, Saturday, it was shaping up to be another hot one....80 before 7am. We decided to take the car to see what The Gap was like. It was an area that we had identified as a potential place to live. It was nice - although not like here in Sandgate. Another confirmation that we are in the right place.

Once we returned, Dave went into town to find an internet hook up for his computer. He'll begin looking for work next week. He'll have to go into "the Bunker" or another internet cafe as we don't have access at home. I finally secured access through the library - at 1 hour/day.

The kids and I took a short spin to the beach. Then met the estate agent to view a 4bedroom house in Brighton - which is near Sandgate. It was one of the nicer houses we've seen. We're still looking, however.

I think I'll need to get a 2nd mobile phone. The one Dave has, he really needs to field calls for his job search.

Got to go - Neo is beginning to meltdown.

The pictures are of us enjoying the beach near our Holiday House. This is at the Moora Park beach front at low tide. There's also a picture of a Lorakeet and an Ibis - which the kids call "baldy"

26 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Technically we've been here 3 days - if you count the day we arrived.

Yesterday Neo and I went down to Queen Street then walked across the Melbourne St bridge to the South Bank. We visited Centrelink to get things set up for us with the government. Still have more to do but it's a start. I filled in some of the forms - but I have to do Medicare yet, and more forms still. I have this vision that it's very organized - almost like a sci fi novel/movie. We didn't get home until after 4pm.

Dave and the older children spent the day at home and going over to Moora park. It's right across the street from our house. Clara is allowed to wander around on short walk abouts. Tristan and Zoe and go together to the "upper" playground. There's a lower playground by the water as well.

For Thanksgiving "dinner" Dave and I had Veggie Pizza - it had artichokes, italian olives and roasted pumpkin for toppings. DELICIOUS!! And the owner was born and raised in New Orleans. He's Italian so it's "authentic" Italian pizza.

25 November 2008

Arrived in Brisbane

Today is Wednesday 26 November (Tuesday in US).

The children and I arrived a little before 8 am on Wednesday. The flight went much better then I had anticipated. Neo broke down and cried with 1 1/2 hours to go. I slept a lot. So did Zoe. I woke up hungry - but we had saved Neo's food from the night before and nibbled on that.

Once we landed, we were befriended by a flight attendant who took us around all the lines and helped us get our luggage. We are forever grateful for the wonderful assistance. People in line were coming around to see if they could get through too.

When we made it through, we changed into shorts, converted US dollars for Aussie dollars and found a taxi large enough for all of us.

Shorncliffe is very nice. The holiday rental we're in is all on one level and right across from the park. There's not much beach. But the kids are happy to explore. I took the car to Sandgate with Neo and we did some exploring there. We found the library and 3 real estate agents - so we'll find a permanent rental relatively soon.

Everywhere I go, I ask people about school. Turns out Shorncliffe is highly rated.
We might just stick to this area for our rental. We'll see.

This morning, the kids and I were up at 3am - except Clara. She didn't sleep much on the plane. Neo and I went on another explore...this time on the train. We're on the Famous Queen Street Mall. Neo's asleep and I'm at an internet kiosk. The rate is quite expensive and I cannot access our email for some reason...

I'll write again when I can.

23 November 2008

Last Day in the USA

I woke up at 4am with Solmanila poisoning. What a way to start the day. I had a salad last night for supper...

Neo woke up about 5am. Zoe and Tristan around 6. We had our big bags delivered from storage. We went off for the hotel breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa. We came back to the room to get the luggage arranged for the night flight.

I needed to take the rental van back to Hertz. At 10am, I left the older kids with Grandma and Grandpa Smith. Then I took the van back to Hertz. I didn't know where it was exactly so I drove around the airport looking for the rental cars sign. I finally found it by following the Hertz bus. By the time I arrived at Hertz, Neo had fallen asleep in his car seat. The people asked me where I was going. When I told them back to the hotel, they drove us. Isn't that sweet!

Grandpa took Tristan and Zoe down to the hotel pool for a little time to splash and play.

After lunch, we walked down to a neighborhood playground a couple of blocks from the hotel. It's a beautiful neighborhood - and a nice playground. While there, I missed the best picture of the day - Grandma and Grandpa on either end of the see saw with the kids on either side. It was very fun!

Now it's almost 2pm and we need to get our check luggage to Qantas. Grandma and Grandpa need to catch the shuttle back home. We find out as we board the hotel shuttle that Qantas has 2 desks - one at the international area and one on level 4. Fortunatly they are next door to each other. I asked at the door if the international area was correct and was told yes. When I arrived at the desk, they told me I had to go to Level 4 next door. So we loaded some of the luggage onto the luggage cart. Grandpa was a huge help here! I'm so glad we did this with Grandma and Grandpa's help.

We got checked in and the bags clear inspection. Then we went out where Grandma and Grandpa will meet their shuttle. Neo is exhausted and wants to nap. After waiting with them for a while, we decide to head back to the hotel. We said good bye to Grandma & Grandpa.

Neo didn't nap right away, unfortunately - not for lack of trying. So after supper of left overs and a fruit and cheese plate, we try again. This time he does rest. So now Clara, Tristan and I are waiting for 9 pm shuttle to go back to the airport for our 11:05 flight to Brisbane!

We're excited and impatient for things to start!

22 November 2008

Carlsbad CA = 22 Nov

I woke up at 5 am and Neo was awake by 5:30. Tristan and Zoe woke shortly after. They were all relieved to find that California had similar Saturday morning cartoons as Madison.

After breakfast, Neo took his nap and so did I. By 10:30, we were awake and ready to hit the road. First stop the beach!

It was a cool morning - low 60s with fog and a cool wind. Even still, all the children wanted their shoes off and into the water! By the time we left, everyone was wet - but especially Tristan.

We arrived at Legoland at noon. First thing, Clara went on a roller coaster that she didn't get to yesterday. We met up again at the Knights BBQ for lunch. Delicious!

We went round the park in the opposite direction today to catch all the attractions we had missed the day before. Another wonderful day touring. The crowds were thicker but not bad. The weather was cooler. I wore my jacket most of the day. Even though they were all happy to continue to closing, I wanted to go by 4 so we wouldn't be arriving in LA in the dark - trying to find our way around.

We returned to our Los Angeles hotel - Embassy Suites LAX - South, by 6pm. When we arrived, there was a wonderful surprise waiting for us.....GRANDMA AND GRANDPA SMITH!!

It was great to see them! We joined them for the manager's reception and then dinner. Neo was done by 8pm so we all retired to our rooms, and bed.

Tomorrow we'll spend the day in LA. Our flight for Australia leaves at midnight.

21 November 2008

Legoland 21 Nov - Friday

As predicted, Neo woke up early! 4:45 CA time (6:45 WI time). So I didn't get much rest. He was content to sit with me with the TV on while I continued to rest for a short while. Then wanted to go view the fishes downstairs. They were serving breakfast by that time and Tristan and Zoe were both up (6am CA time). So we dressed and went down.

The breakfast was AWESOME!!! They had cooked to order eggs, bacon, sausage, omelets, hashbrowns and pancakes. There was also cereal, fruit, coffee, juices, pastries. WOW. The kids and I were amazed.

After breakfast, we worked the contents of the bags some more. We left about 40 lbs of clothing and shoes that we decided we won't need in Australia. Then we moved the 6 large bags onto the luggage cart and left those in the hotel storage. The carseats, stroller and carryon luggage came with us back to LAX to get the rental car.

While at the rental car place, the children were given balloon animals to play with while I did the paperwork and received directions, etc. They really had a good time playing with the sword balloons. We also had a snack while we waited. Finally the van was ready. We were finally on the road by 11am.

It took over an hour to get to Legoland. We received our AAA discount and an unexpected discount. Legoland is offering a free 2nd day for each 1 day ticket purchased. So we bought 1 day passes and received 2nd day free. That's nice since we only had 3 hours to go through Legoland today.

It was a perfect day for touring. Not hot at all. Crowds were light. Here are some photos.

After Legoland closed at 5, we found our hotel. Then went to the nearby subway for supper. When we returned to the hotel, I set the kids up with TinkerBell. Neo and I went right to bed. It was 6:30. The kids came to bed at 8:30 and I woke up then. Later, the phone rang - I found out this AM was Dave but I couldn't wake up enough to look for it in the night.

20 November 2008

Travel to Los Angeles - 20 Nov

The children and I slept at Melanie and Rachel's home on the night of the 19th. I have to interrupt our story by telling you that Melanie is a wonderful woman. She has helped our family each time a new baby was born, by caring for the older children while mom and dad went to the hospital. She's a wonderful friend and neighbor.

So Melanie housed us the last night we stayed in Madison. She woke me up at 5:30am. I showered, dressed and woke the kids at 5:50. The cab had been ordered for 6 am. Moments after I woke the kids, the cab arrived!

Everyone sprang into action. Melanie and Rachel began bringing bags out to the cab. We had 7 check bags in total - 1 for each of us plus the car seats and an "over flow" duffel bag. I helped children find shoes and socks and coats.

Finally we were all out and Melanie was loading suitcases into the back of her car. I was surprised by this as we had ordered the same minivan that had delivered our renters the previous night. In the end, it seemed best that the children and I ride in the cab and Melanie follow behind.

When we arrived in the airport, I ushered Zoe and Neo into the building and set them up with their crossiants and juice. Then I helped Clara and Tristan to bring in the other bags. We did a little more juggling to get everything arranged for the trip, then proceeded to the American Eagle check in.

I told them we were traveling international, and showed them our passports on request. They checked the itinerary and saw that we were spending several days in California. Because if that, the fee waiver on the luggage that Dave had enjoyed, did not apply. So we ended up paying $125 luggage fees. That's $15 per case for the first checked item plus $25 for the other 2. The fees paid and the boarding passes collected, we went through security. Everyone did quite well. Fortunately it happened at little Madison airport.

Then we went out for breakfast. On the way to our gate, Zoe started to complain about stomach ache and covering her mouth and screaming. The restrooms were being cleaned near our gate, but I took her in there anyway. Zoe seemed to recover without incident a short while later.

Neo and I were enjoying a book when the boarding call came. I think we left that book at the Madison airport! We had to gate check Clara's carryon bag and mine. Also the stroller was gate checked. I had decided to take Neo's car seat on the plane with me. Initially I didn't want it for the domestic flights. I think it helped contain him - and he needs that. But it was heavy and ackward plus I had the laptop, my purse and the diaper bag to carry and it was difficult to manuever down the narrow plane corridors. Neo wanted to be carried onto the plane and each time we boarded planes, he screamed and balked! Poor little guy!

Our flight to Chicago was delayed due to something going on in Chicago. Zoe didn't have any difficulty with her ears - a huge relief. She enjoyed the invisible ink book that her friend Erin had given her and used it most of the flight.

When we arrived in Chicago, Neo was looking like he was about to fall asleep. I wanted to avoid that so he would sleep on the plane to Los Angeles. We made our way to the connecting gate. It was about 10:30 so we decided to get an early lunch. Lunch woke Neo up completely. Soon it was boarding time.

Again Neo screamed as we made our way onto the plane. He was exhausted as well as wanting to be carried. I lugged the carseat, et al while Clara took my carryon and hers as well. Once on the plane, we got settled and Neo calmed down (much to the other passenger's relief, I'm sure). As in the previous flight, Tristan and Clara were seated in the row behind us.

The plane was full. There were several other families flying as well. The flight to LAX went well. Neo took a nap, and so did I. We bought a tin of potato chips. the older kids watched Wall E again until the battery on the computer gave out.

Thirty minutes before touch down, the cabin pressure changed, resulting in painful ear popping. Zoe began screaming. Even though I asked her to drink, yawn, swallow, blow, etc., nothing helped. Neo also was holding his ears and screaming (1 on either side of me!) Neo didn't understand to drink and refused. I decided to go for the EarPlanes that were in my carryon above us. They WORKED!!! It was amazing!! She stopped screaming. For Neo, I was able to distract him with a book.

We finally landed in LAX! Now for the luggage. We collected our luggage and were making plans for the next step when Zoe announced that she had to get to the bathroom urgently. Clara and Tristan kept Neo and the luggage while I rushed to the bathroom with Zoe. We arrived on time.

Back to organizing luggage again. We had 13 pieces - checked and carryon. Plus other bags had been pulled out but not readjusted. So I was in the process of putting jackets, and other items into bags while the children ran around a little - there was no one else in the baggage claim area where we were. When a wonderful woman came by with a Luggage Cart for us to use. We thanked her and stacked 3 of the big suitcases onto it. We stacked the carseat and 2 carryons onto the stroller. I carried the laptop, my purse and Neo, pushed the stroller and pulled another bag. Zoe pulled her carryon and Tristan's. Clara pushed the luggage cart. Tristan moved 2 large suitcases. We finally made it outside. There we found another luggage cart and hoisted 3 cases onto it.

We watched for the shuttle for our hotel, but didn't see anything. Finally, I called them and asked about the shuttle. It would be arriving in 15 minutes. I realized I wasn't standing in the right place, and we needed to get to the sidewalk island. We began our move as before but now Tristan has a luggage cart too. I couldn't quite carry Neo and pull the remaining bag. A Luggage Cart helper came and pulled that bag and helped Clara and Tristan across and up the sloped sidewalk and into position.

We stood there for another 10 minutes. When the van arrived, the driver was very welcoming and loaded all our suitcases into the van. He then unloaded them all and brought them to our room. In my mind, I heard Dave saying, tip him well. So I did! He offered to store our luggage - the items we don't need for these few days in CA - while we're in Legoland. So we'll take him up on that.

The hotel is WONDERFUL!!! I'm so glad I decided to stay here! It's every bit as nice as the pictures. We have a 2 room suite. There are Koi ponds, waterfalls, gardens in the atrium area inside the center of the hotel. It's lovely. The kids were overjoyed. We took a little swim in the beautiful pool. Then joined others at the Manager's receiption downstairs.

We ordered a couple of entre's from the restraunt. Then retired to our room.

Dave called just as the children were going to sleep. He had gotten up early on Friday in Australia. He took the train downtown. Went to our bank, but they would not allow him access to our account because I wasn't there. Fortunately, he had some US dollars that he was able to convert and he'll be OK until we get there.

I also found out today that OZForex did not wire all the funds that I had instructed them to send to purchase the car. So there could be a delay in that purchase. I called OzForex tonight and asked what was up with that. They agreed it was their error and will send the funds in 2 hours time. So hopefully things will still come together. If not on Saturday as planned, then on Monday or Tuesday.

I received an email from Grandma and Grandpa Smith today. It turns out they will be nearer to LAX then initially thought. They invited us to come visit. I would, except we have already purchased our hotel for Friday night in Carlsbad, CA - Legoland - and it's been charged to our account. I think I have to stick with the original plan....

It's very late (1am WI time and 11pm CA)! I need to get some rest!

Last Night at Home - 18 Nov to 19th

After we took Dave to the airport on the 18th, we went to the Shorewood School Book Fair and purchased 1 book each for the children.

When we returned home, I completed the packing. At 8:30, I put the kids to bed. Then continued to pack until 11:30. Dave reported that he had arrived at St Louis and that all was good. By 11:30, Dave had sent an email reporting that he had arrived at LAX and I decided I needed an additional bag.

On the 19th, Clara and Tristan went to school. Zoe did not want to go, so her last day was Tuesday. After we dropped Tristan off, my good friend Mary came by to help me clean to get the house ready for the renters. Mary brought her son, George. Zoe, Neo and George had a good time keeping each other company as Mary and I cleaned. Mary was an excellent helper - I don't think I could have gotten everything done - or as well - if she hadn't come by.

At 1pm my friend Kathleen and her daughter Erin stopped by to pick up Fiona's scratching post. She helped me move some furniture, flip the king mattress, and clean behind the bunk beds - before she had to collect her children from school. There were many tears at our parting.

Mary and George left about the same time. Again, many tears. I have wonderful friends in Madison!

When Clara came home from school, she helped me finish up. Then I collected Tristan from school. We had to run to the bank one last time. Then off to Charter Cable to disconnect service.

Tristan moved all the suitcases across the parking lot between our house and Melanie's. The pizza was ordered and arrived by 6pm. Clara went to join the others at Melanie's. Neo and I took a few more minutes then went over. Minutes after we left, Dave called. Of course we were at Melanie's!

Actually, by the time I had gone over to Melanie's for supper, I was really quite frazzled. It had been several days of really pushing it - staying up late and getting up early - to complete the packing and getting the house ready.

After supper at Melanie's, the kids watched "Wall-E" and I went back to our house. Rachel helped me by packing up the last of the food, and washing the few dishes that were out. Melanie called to say that Neo was asking for me and offered to bring him over. Shortly after she arrived, I saw a taxi pull up in our driveway....it was our renters, the Le Denuff family! I have to add that the taxi was a minivan from Union Cab. It contained 12 large suitcases, carryons and 6 people plus the driver. I was really impressed that they were able to get everything in and encouraged that the same feat could be accomplished for us on our trip to the airport in the morning.

Neo and I greeted them. I took them around the house and showed them everything. I took them to the van and demonstrated how to run it. While I was doing that, Dave called my cell phone, which was in my purse at Melanie's house. Tristan answered and Dave was able to talk with him and Zoe.

Clara came over and I introduced her to them. She helped me bring the last of my stuff (including a wash basket full of clean clothes) over to Melanie's. When Neo and I returned to Melanie's, the children, with the exception of Clara, were asleep. I put Neo down. Then Dave called.

Dave said the place was like Hawaii. The birds were very colorful - and unlike any he's ever seen before and the air is perfumed. I'm excited about seeing this for myself!

Dave talked about the beauty of the place. He seemed really up beat. He had some suggestions for the plane.

Clara and I finished up organizing the luggage, then went to bed. I was awake for a long time, reviewing the events of the day and running through lists in my mind. At some point, I must have gotten some good sleep though, because when Melanie came down to wake me at 5:30am, I was sound asleep.

Brisbane - Posted by Dave - Catherine in transist

Brisbane is beautiful, birds here I've never seen except in pictures. Got up this morning at about 4AM, went out to look at the stars - pretty amazing, Orion was clearly visible but he was upside down! A lot of stars totally unfamiliar to me.

Today I took the train into the city center. I will see about the banking and perhaps a mobile phone if I am ambitious. The holiday house is nice but does not have a phone line, not even local.

18 November 2008

Dave Flys the Friendly Skies

Dave left for Australia tonight. We had an enjoyable day together. When Clara came home from school, we picked up Tristan from school then headed to the Madison airport. We arrived with plenty of time. Dave had already checked his bags by the time we had parked the car and came in. We didn't stay though because Zoe was unhappy. I received an email from Dave stating that he was in St. Louis - so all is going as planned.

I'm still stuffing things into suitcases and weighing them. I'm also practicing with my new laptop - to see if I can do things like I did with the desktop.

Tonight is our last night in our home here. Tomorrow night we'll be sleeping at the neighbor's house. We fly out Thursday morning!

17 November 2008

Neo's 2nd Birthday!

Today is Neo's 2nd Birthday! Unfortunately we won't be doing much because of the flight out for Dave on Tuesday. Plus we're quite busy continuing to pack.

We sang happy birthday to him last night at the neighborhood farewell party. There were cupcakes with candles in his honor.

16 November 2008

Farewell Parties

Our special neighbors, Rachel and Melanie, hosted a "neighborhood" Thanksgiving dinner for us on Sunday, November 16. All of our neighbors are very special and they all turned out to wish us well. I had tears in my eyes by the end of the evening. The food was delicious too. What a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Neo's 2nd birthday was celebrated at the neighborhood dinner. Neo turns 2 17 November.

We also hosted a farewell party/Open House at our home on Thursday, 13 November. That was a very special day too. A good number of friends dropped in to wish us well.

Our cat, Fiona, went to live with friends of ours today. She seemed to be doing OK when we left. It's quiet here tonight without her prowling around and sleeping at the foot of the bed.

We are well blessed with very good friends here in Madison.

15 November 2008

Dave's Last Day at Work!

Friday was Dave's last day of work! He said it felt odd to be done. His last week was working from 1:30pm to 10pm so he could cover the California contractors calling in with questions. He said he didn't receive many calls. On Fridays, the contractors in California go home (I guess they're flown in from other parts of the west), so he worked daytime hours. That was the only day we had a "conflict" with 1 car. I had to get the kids to school and he needed to be to work about the same time. As a result, the kids were tardy.

Dave had parent teacher conferences this week. He met with Clara's teacher on Tuesday. She said Clara is doing well in school over all, however she was concerned about a reading test that Clara took (in September). She suggested that Clara retake the test. I wonder why teacher didn't bring it up to Clara or us before this! Now that Clara only has 3 days of school left, we don't have much time to reschedule. Otherwise, Clara is doing well. Clara's teacher said that Clara will be missed.

Tristan is doing well. His math skills are excellent. He's very social - almost to the point of being a problem in class. His reading skills are OK, but he needs to read more and improve his sight word knowledge. Nothing that we didn't already know.

Zoe is doing great in kindergarten. She can write numbers to 19. She can recognize about 20 letter sounds. She is still learning the lowercase letters. For the remainder of the kindergarten year, she would be working on learning 30 sight words. Again, nothing we didn't know about.

I met with the management company yesterday. I notified the renters about the manager 2 weeks ago when I was there. I brought all the ice melt for the season at that time too. I sent letters this week to each tenant with the management company's information. I feel good about where we're at with that.

Canceled the Netflix yesterday. Also canceled the automatic payment for our cell phone. It just re-upped so we have 100 minutes then it's done. The utilities have all been transferred into the tenant's names. On Tuesday, I'll go over to charter to disconnect the cable TV. I have to buy a converter box for our analog TV yet. I do have the coupon, just haven't done it yet.

The transfer of documents from my desktop computer to my laptop computer is going surprisingly well. I've been backing up important documents onto disks too. I think we'll need a printer/copier once we get to Australia. This one has been indispensable.

It's another Badger football game here today! The last one we'll see - but there's another one next week that the renters will be here for. The weather is cool - 40s - and overcast. The game begins at about 2pm. So the warmest part of the day. I expect we'll have fewer people parking.

Most of the stuff is packed. I still have to go through my desk a little. It's about 1/2 done. I Helped Clara get her suitcase packed yesterday. I'll wait for Tristan and Zoe until Tuesday or they'll have it all tossed out before we depart.

I'll start packing my suitcase today - and Neo's too.

Dave flies out on Tuesday! So just 3 days left! Wednesday is a final preparations day for me. Then we fly out Thursday morning!

10 November 2008

Corolla Sold in 2 days!

Sold Dave's car on Saturday. Received MORE then we thought we would - and more then Blue Book value - very happy and surprised. Just confirms to us that we're doing the "right thing" with our Australia move.

This week we'll "juggle" getting Dave to work and the other family members to/from school and other errands. It's only for 5 work days. Then Dave is done with work.

Here's one more picture from Halloween. Dave actually wanted to dress up this year - quite unusual! I think it's because his outlook is very positive.

We are making progress on purchasing the Trajet in Australia. The Seller has taken the van into the mechanic to have all the items corrected and the Road Worthy Certificate in place. That's something the US can look into. In Australia, a car has to have a Road Worthy Certificate to be on the road.

Clara and Tristan have asked to have 19 November in school, since the renters won't be here until that night. We'll see how the packing is coming. I'm thinking it will be OK for them to have the extra day at school and with their friends.

We went to Blackhawk Church for the last time before we travel last night. It was amazing the number of friends I saw that I don't usually see. Everyone was very nice - wishing us well and sending us off.

06 November 2008

8 School Days Left

Told the children this morning that they have 8 school days left (7 for Clara because she has an extra day off). They have 2 days this week (Thurs & Fri) then 4 next week and 2 the following week!

We packed 2 small boxes with things to send ahead - mostly books - and we were told it could be $300 to ship to Australia! For that price, we'll just check another bag at the airport and pay the fees!

Dave switched his hours at work. They need coverage at night. So he's working from 1:30 pm to 10pm. He just has 7 days left. This week and next.

I'm checking things off my list. But I'm starting to stress. And now have a cold probably because of the stress.

Clara is having her last playdate with her friend Elena today. Tristan is to have a playdate with his friends Henry and Cole. Zoe had a playdate with Erin on Monday.

We're getting really close to closing the sale on a car in Australia. It's a Hyndai Trajet van.

I've got a few more hours of Asset Builders to get done. There's another conference this weekend I have to get finished up. Speaking of which, I need to get some work done!

03 November 2008

2 Weeks and Counting!

The time to depart is quickly approaching!

I just listed Dave's Corolla on Craiglist this morning (Monday 3 November) and I've received 6 replies. I think it will sell faster then we are ready to sell it!

Dave's last day of work is officially 2 weeks away. He's done on 14 November.
He flies out on 18 November and arrives in Brisbane on 20 November at 7:45am.

I'm trying to buy a mini van from here so he'll have it to get around with and pick us up.

The children's last day of school is 18 November. 19 November we'll finish boxing stuff away and tidy up. We'll stay the night at the neighbor's house. Our renters arrive at 2300 hours. I'll meet them, show them around the house and van a little - depending on how they're feeling.

We'll catch a taxi to the airport on 0600 on 20 November, Thursday. We'll check our bags, and get breakfast while waiting for our plane. The flights to Los Angeles from Madison, WI will be a little over 6 hours. Just long enough to call it a day. Dave insisted that the children and I spend at least one full night in a hotel in Los Angeles.

My original plan was to fly out of Los Angeles to Brisbane at 2350 on Friday night. The 1 day in Los Angeles could be spent going to the beach, museum, or other short day trip.

But I thought it would be nice for the children to visit their Grandma Stallman! It's been 2 years since they've seen her. So I called her and asked if it would be possible to have a little time with Grandma Stallman before we fly out of the US. Grandma Stallman lives in Phoenix. She agreed that it would be wonderful for us to get together but it would have to be over the weekend.

With that in mind, I booked our flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane for Sunday night at 2350, 23 November.

Grandma Stallman canceled our plans to meet!!! I'm so heart broken and disappointed.

What am I going to do with the 4 children in Los Angeles for 3 nights? We hadn't wanted this long of a lay over in Los Angeles.

Dave suggested we consider going to Disneyland. We love Disneyland and here's our opportunity. But my heart isn't in it. We were just there last year. Another family suggested Legoland - that they had a great time.

So to kill the extra time, we'll drive to Legoland - just 90 minutes away. We'll get a 2 day pass - go on Friday 21 November. Stay overnight at a nearby hotel. Then Saturday 22 November. Then we'll drive back to Los Angeles and return to the hotel.

It's a lot more time in Los Angeles then I wanted to spend. It's a lot more activity then I wanted to do because my focus is on Brisbane and getting settled there. But unfortunately, Grandma Stallman canceled on us - I couldn't reschedule the flights because the fares are non-refundable.

I had considered driving up to visit Grandma and Grandpa Smith. But they are 4-5 hours drive away from Los Angeles. It would be really a lot for the children to be on the road for that long each way. 90 minutes will be enough for them - and all that luggage!

We'll be boarding our Brisbane flight at 2350 on Sunday 23 November and arrive in Brisbane on 25 November.

Good news, Grandma Stallman wrote an email to say she's considering meeting up with us in Los Angeles after all! It would truly be wonderful to see her again! I sure hope she can make it!