23 October 2010

Unaccompanied Personal Effects

3 different views of our pallet while in Madison

Our pallet of boxes arrived at the port in Sydney. What to take and what to leave behind was my job.

First I got estimates from moving companies about shipping all our furniture, and other goods. We did not have enough to fill a container. The cost to move everything was over $5k US dollars - an amount that didn't make sense to me. Much better to buy new then ship the old. We decided to send the things that would make our place in Australia feel more like "home".

In the end, I packed 24 boxes including 2 bikes, 3 boxes of books, pictures, a box of important papers, comforters, 3 boxes of toys, and special Christmas ornaments. It total, it weighed over 500 pounds (238 kilograms) and cost $1700 to ship from our house in Madison to the port in Sydney.
3 different views of our pallet while in Madison

Once the shipment had arrived in Sydney, I had 3 days to collect our stuff - any delay would result in a daily storage fee. We removed the rear seat from the "big" car. I planned my trip. Then I loaded Tristan and Neo into the car, and we drove to Sydney.

The shipment receiving company charged us $500 in fees. We found the company near the Sydney airport. We collected the documents drove to (30 minutes) to Customs.

Customs asked for the documents and a packing list, which I provided them. I was then sent to Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. AQIS wanted to inspect specifically the bikes and the pallet - to be sure it had been properly fumigated. If the pallet did not meet the requirements, the entire shipment would be quarantined. There are specific things AQIS is looking for - and they will quarantine and/or fumigate items and in some cases confiscate things. High on the list of prohibited items: Meat, animal goods, wood, plants and plant material. I knew the list and did not pack anything that would cause a problem.

We paid the fee for the inspection and drove the 40 minutes to another warehouse. Once there, we were told AQIS had not begun their inspection, but that a fee had to be paid to the warehouse for the inspection to proceed in their facilities. I had to go to the ATM (another 10 minute drive each way) to collect cash to pay this fee. When we returned with the cash, we had to wait another 10 minutes for the inspection to be completed. Everything passed - which I knew it would.

A fork lift brought our pallet to the car. Two workers and I moved the boxes into the car - and it all fit! Just barely room for everything. With the car fully loaded, and difficult to see (couldn't use the review mirror - but used the side mirrors a lot), I drove home.

Everyone was so excited to see their possessions again. "It's like Christmas,"Tristan said. Indeed it was.

04 October 2010

Poorly Neo

Neo on a well day making his sand castle

We've been in Australia for 6 weeks now and we've been fighting illness for a lot of days. First Clara was sick - lost her voice and sore throat, that was our first week. Then Zoe and Tristan had 2 days of school followed by 4 days of stomach flu. That was our 2nd week here. Shortly after we moved inout our rental house. Tristan was annoyed that he missed his class excursion.

During the 3rd week, Neo was ill with a stomach flu - he was even more severely ill then the other 2 kids. Finally I was sick with the stomach flu - in bed for 3 days. On Friday of that week, Zoe went on her class excursion to the Power House Museum in Sydney and caught some sort of cold. She was poorly over the weekend.

Zoe and her partner stage left

During the week Zoe had her Musical performance at school, everyone was healthy. Zoe's musical was based on a book called "The Other Ark". Her teacher has dance training. She chose the music and put together the dances. The performers were Kindergarten, First and Second graders. During the last week of school for 3rd term, they performed a matinée for the 3-6 graders on Tuesday. Then an evening performance on Tuesday night and Wednesday night with tickets sold in advance. Clara and Dave went to see her perform on Tuesday and Neo and I went on Wednesday night. Zoe did a great job! She seemed to be a lead dancer - counting out and directing for others on the stage. Also during her performance, she was brought to the forefront with her partner. Unfortunately, I was too far back to get good pictures. The ast day of term was Friday 24 September.

Zoe and Neo jumping the waves

In this last bout of illness, Neo became feverish and complained of pain in the overnight Friday 1 October. It was the Friday night of a "long weekend". Monday 3 October everything was closed. I took Neo into the doctor on Saturday. He was complaining of a sore throat and ears. Doctor said he had mild tonsillitis. He was given a prescription for an antibiotic. He seemed better by Monday evening. During the night, we gave him medicine for pain. However about 2am, he had a fever and complained of more pain. This morning (Tuesday 4 October), we found fluid coming from his ear. We took him back to the same doctor who confirmed that his ear drum had ruptured and gave him a different antibiotic. He explained that he thought Neo had the flu along with the ears and throat. His throat was healed.

Poor Neo. We feel really bad that his ear drum ruptured. What a lot of pain. Poor guy.

01 October 2010

Clara's High School - Kincumber High School, NSW

Clara wearing her Kincumber High School Uniform

Clara is in year 7, which is the first year of high school in Australia. She attends school at Kincumber High School in Kincumber. Every morning, she walks the steep hill, (for those in Madison area, Topping Road has a similar slope), to The Scenic Road where she waits for the bus. Two other girls from our block meet her at the stop - one in year 7, the other in year 8.

Kincumber High School is a large, multi-building facility with a mixture of covered walk ways, open commons areas, and enclosed hallways connecting the buildings. The buildings are set out in "blocks" where an field of study is housed in each block. The area of the school takes up more then an entire city block - with sport fields surrounding the buildings. There are even farm animals on campus.

School terms are divided into fornights - with the first week labeled Week A and the 2nd Week B. Clara's schedule is never the same day twice in the 2 week rotation. Classes like English and Maths receive 9 hours of instruction per 10 day fortnight. Elective type classes will have 3 hours of instruction in the fortnight. Clara takes woodworking and she also has sewing. Other classes include: PE, Health, Literacy, Science, and Geography.

All the girls wear blue plaid skirts and light blue shirts with the school crest as part of the uniform. There is a red jumper with blue piping on the sleeves for cooler days. Leather shoes and white socks round out the uniform.

Australian schools meet 40 weeks in the year (compared to 180 days in Madison). There are 4, 8-10 week terms with 2-3 week breaks between terms. The school year begins in late January and runs until mid-December. Children can begin Kindy at age 4.5.