29 June 2009

The last days of school

Zoe with her 60 Home Readers Certificate and Bookmark

Our children really love their school: Copacabana Public School. But the last week before our departure was rough.

On the last Friday, Tristan suffered a mild concussion.

On the last Tuesday, Zoe was sent to sick bay because she had a wave of nausea at the end of the day. She did vomit when she returned home and spent Wednesday at home with me. Wednesday afternoon she was doing OK, so we went to a birthday party she was invited to for her friends Izzy and Rylee. It was a lovely party and a beautiful day....at the Copacabana surf lifesaving club.

Thursday was the last day of school. Zoe woke up late and didn't want to go to school. Her teacher had organized a party on her behalf as a special lunchtime celebration.

Clara walked to school that morning. The lagoon had been let out again - this time a trench was dug by hand and it was smaller. There was standing water when Clara arrived in the morning and the tide was high. Instead of returning home for a ride to school, Clara decided to wade through the water. She was soaked to her buttocks! She didn't ask to call me, as I would have brought her a pair of pants to wear.

When I arrived at school, I heard that there was some confusion so I went to see her. We could not find any pants in lost and found and school did not have a change of clothes. So she had to wear the new skirt that I had bought her and we had planned to return to the store for a refund. She was not happy about having to wear her skirt.

Clara's teacher had arranged for the canteen to make cupcakes for the entire class to celebrate Clara's departure.

Tristan with his buddies Roan and Cullen

Tristan's teacher had organized a special card for Tristan. The card is huge and attached to it are many greetings - mini cards - from each of his classmates. Tristan had also been tested in his reading earlier in the week and scored as an "independent" reader. He brought home his "Wall of Fame" and all the spots had been filled in...an accomplishment not achieved by anyone else in the class.

Thursday afternoon, I brought Zoe in to her class a little before the bell. She was greeted warmly by her classmates. We took pictures.

After the bell, we went to Clara's room where she was chatting with her teacher. We took more pictures and said good bye.

As we walked out of the school yard, the principal and vice principal came to say good bye and wish us well.

Clara and Zoe with Principal Sue Lewis

The school was wonderful. My children thrived at Copacabana Public School: academically, socially, and spiritually. The teachers, students, and parents are awesome. Copa school is where my children made many friends. I also made many friends with the parents. We were well blessed to be part of this community.

Jennefer, the first parent friend I made at Copa School

28 June 2009

Tristan's Accident

Last Friday, Tristan was playing basketball on the playground with friends at the lunchtime recess. Someone hit him on the head with the basketball. The force of it pushed him into the support pole for the basketball hoop - where he slammed his head again. He managed to sit down on the ground, not fall down. They took him into sick bay and called me. Dave was working from home that day (we had planned to have lunch at a little beachside restaurant).

When we arrived, Tristan was back in the classroom. I checked him and brought him home. We gave him panadol and had him rest. He complained about nausea. I called the doctor's office and was referred to the Gosford hospital emergency room. Dave wasn't convinced we needed medical help at that time, so I asked him to monitor Tristan while I went to see the last school assembly (and record some of it).

Tristan in hospital

Before I could gather the other kids at the end of the school day, Dave called to say I needed to take Tristan to the hospital. I dropped Zoe and Neo off with Dave, and took Tristan to the emergency room. Clara was walking home that day.

Tristan cried in pain all the way to the hospital. Once at the ER, Tristan was examined by the triage nurse. After he had been seen, and was checked in, he vomited. The doctor tested his reflexes and memory - he passed with flying colors. It was about 5 hours after the injury. They gave him another dose of Panadol. They kept him for observation for 1 - 2 hours. He vomited again. At that, they ordered a CT scan.

After examining the scan results, they determined it was OK for Tristan to be released. We returned home after 5 hours at the emergency room with instructions to wake Tristan every 4 hours.

He has been his old self since then. We got the all clear to take him on the long flight back to the USA 1 week later.

19 June 2009

Lagoon ready to be drained - again!

I really like the cloud/mist hanging in the hills over Cockrone lake.

It's only been 2 1/2 weeks since the lagoon and Lake Cockrone were drained but it is nearly ready to be drained again. The measure indicates 2.1 meters. Last time it was drained at 2.5 meters.

There has been an unusual amount of rain in recent days. And the tides have been higher then usual - not king tides, but very high tides.

The Lagoon is really filling in too.

The orange fence behind Dave is were a new pathway will be built. The problem is where they want to build is underwater again.

Copa School Canteen Treats

Tea cup - Clock cookie base (clock face out) with icing, marshmallow (they are different then US version), fizzy candy for handle, and chocolate topping.

On Friday 19, June, the Copacabana School was having a party! As part of this, the children were allowed to wear "party clothes" - which means a Mufti Day or no uniform! The canteen staff and volunteers made special treats for sale - 50 cents each. YUM!

Frog in Pond: This is a chocolate frog inserted into green jello (called Jelly here)

Smiley Biscuit: frosting with candy bits for face on biscuit

Hedgehog slice: broken biscuit (cookie) bits with chocolate poured over the top. No bake
Crackles (cupcake wrapper): These are like risecrispie treats with chocolate and sprinkles. Very nice!

16 June 2009

Lake Cochrone Update - 8 days after drain

Lake Cockrone as it refills after being drained 8 days prior.

8 days after the drain, the lake bottom is still present - but more of it is covered each day. This is the section where Zoe was standing on the previous pictures.

If you compare this picture with the same one taken 4 days after the drain, you'll see how much water has been filled in.

This is a new family of black swans. We saw them swimming the day before. Here they are sleeping on the edge of the water with their parents. It's surprising since they are sitting in a highly visible, popular area. Many people with dogs come along here. These are the youngest cygnets I've had the privilege of taking a picture of.

This Cormorant or "shag" is called a "white" cormorant - but I cannot find a reference for it. It's truly amazing. This bird swims with water covering his body up to his neck. Then he dives under the water coming up after 15 seconds or longer quiet a way from where it submerged. Later, it stands on the edge and raises it's wings and tail feathers like this - possibly to dry? We haven't seen this cormorant prior to the draining of the lake and lagoon.

This is the black cormorant. We've seen it plenty of times around the lagoon.

11 June 2009

Brrrrrr! Whale Sighting!!

It's been cold here the last few days. Winter started June 1. We had temps in the high 30s at night. Our space heaters are on full blast! Fortunately we have a wall of north facing patio doors that let the full sun in during the day - and really warms the house! The temps in the day are nice - 60s - if it's sunny, things are really great.

Dave and I saw a couple of whales on Saturday morning! It was really exciting. We saw them from Captain Cook's Look Out. One even breached. The whales are on their way to the northern (warmer) waters to winter and calf. Between the hours of 7-9am, they are closer to the shore and can be seen from land.

Lands End Delivers

OK, I admit I'm having a difficult time with buying clothing here in Australia. It's expensive and the sizing is not easily converted. This is especially true for Dave. I was given a tape measure that has inches and centimeters on the same side. It's very helpful. Yet we couldn't find jeans that fit properly for Dave. And he's very choosy.

We found out that Lands End delivered to Australia! We ordered 2 pairs of jeans and a jacket from Lands End. Being long time Lands End customers, we know the quality is good. The jeans fit, they're what we expected, and the cost of the clothing with the shipping thrown in comes out to about the same as clothing purchased here - or even a little less. Great alternative!

07 June 2009

4 days After Draining Cochrone Lagoon

Zoe and Neo walking in the lagoon bed

Four days after they moved the sand between the ocean and the lagoon/lake, we walked down to see how things are recovering. It was a lovely winter day. Sunny and bright.

Bed of the lagoon

The bed of the lake and lagoon are exposed. There are dead fish everywhere, which has brought in the pelicans. Pelicans don't mind eating dead fish. It's amazing to watch them gorge on the bounty that is now available to them. This area has attracted more sea type birds then have lived here before.

Pelicans on the lagoon

Even though there are many dead fish, there thousands of new fish hatch lings everywhere. It appears that even though the draining was initiated by humans, that it might be a natural process.

Sand that divides ocean from lagoon

The ocean has already naturally moved the piles of sand back into place. There's a strip of sand that connects Macmasters beach to Copacabana again.

This pier was submerged just 1 week ago

06 June 2009

The waters rose and rose, then one day...

Rain clouds gathering over swollen lagoon and Lake Cochrane

It rained and rained. The waters rose and rose. The lagoon was almost touching the ocean. The measure read a hair over 2.5 meters. The high water mark was 2.6 meters. Water was standing in the trees across from our home. Water prevented us from walking around the lagoon to the beach. There was more rain then usual.

Small strip of sand left between ocean and lagoon

Then one day, Clara asked to walk home from school on Wednesday. I agreed. When I returned home with the other kids, I smelled a sewer type smell and wondered about it. About 15 minutes later, Clara called to say she couldn't get home, the lagoon had been let out.

The day before, I spoke with some very knowledgeable long time residents that had assured me that the school would be notified when the lagoon was going to be let out, so no one would be trapped trying to walk home from school. No notification was made.

Swollen lagoon in foreground with Lake Cochrane behind

The lifeguards were present. Apparently the waters going out and the waves created are a huge draw to surfers and swimmers. Someone drowned, or maybe not, I couldn't find anyone to confirm the story.

When I went to collect Clara from her friend's house, we went down to see how it's done. Here's the video that I took of the event. It was really amazing to me to see the change in Lake Cochrane and the lagoon. http://www.flickr.com/photos/25447601@N02/3602310870/