Sunday, 30 December 2012

Closing off 2012

I completely forgot about Storytelling Sunday for December.  The weeks just turned into a blur of packing, painting, gardening, more painting, moving, unpacking, job interviews, and work!

We have bought a house with my mom (and her husband) and we are no longer renting!!!!  No more horrid rent inspections!!!!!  Here we are the day we got the keys to the new place ...

It just so happened to be the day before Thanksgiving and so we spent Thanksgiving cleaning and prepping the new house for painting.  It was the FIRST time in my memory that we didn't have Thanksgiving dinner with family and/or friends!  Everyone in the family was topsy turvy with moving and packing and work so we decided to not have the big meal.  I thought I was ok with it until the day arrived and I had to try not to cry.  It has always been my favourite holiday as it was the only one that my parents didn't fight over as my dad is Australian.  My Grandma always made the day so special even though we had to go to school during the day.  The dinner she made was spectacular and she would have rounded up all the stray Americans in town and invited them to dinner.  No year was ever the same :-)

For the first time EVER it was just the five of us.  Dirty and dishevelled from cleaning (you would not believe the sate the previous owners left the house in!), we sent the boys down the road to the local fish and chip store for our Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was exceptional fish and chips!
It will go down in our family as a good story to tell.  I think next year we will have a HUGE dinner with all our family and friends to make up for it!  We didn't even have plates or utensils ... just the paper it came wrapped in and our fingers :)  They do make great fish and chips and it was VERY delicious.

We are now all unpacked and have had our first Christmas in our new house ... all seven of us :-)  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and have really enjoyed this year with you through all of life's ups and downs.  Here are the three kids about to open the present Santa left.  This year it was one big family present and it turned out to be a dart board for the new games room.  Santa also brought them all strawberry plants and a box of Lucky Charms (cereal) which they are currently rationing (he brought it one year before as it is a cereal I loved as a kid each time we visited the US and it is extremely unhealthy!)  As it is $12 a box here at the specialty store it is definitely a once a year treat!

New Year is fast approaching and I think we all deserve a terrific 2013!  One of my goals this year is to finish losing my extra minutes ...

Saw this and absolutely LOVED it!
I start a new job on the 3rd of January selling new homes for a local building company.  It is all commission based and hopefully we will be earning money in the near future :)  Lots of changes and lots of excitement.  I have a craft room in our new home and I am trying to finish unpacking and sorting it so I can use it!  Another goal for 2013 is to make up kits using my own stash and craft MORE!  I am also part way through a 50's inspired dress that I would like to finish.  I would also REALLY, REALLY like to find the time to do THIS online class and make the Lilly Rose Dress plus learn all the altering techniques.

See you on the other side of the New Year,
Love Chipper

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Packing, packing, and more packing!

As the title says we have been packing! We only ever half unpacked when we moved into this house as we were only supposed to be here for 6 -12 months. But after two and a half years in the 'temporary home' we are finally moving into a permanent home and we will be unpacking EVERYTHING!

But even if we had only unpacked half it seems that our stuff also grew and the garage was piled with half filled boxes and opened boxes that had a few bits from the top removed and all sorts of junk! But we seem to be on top of it now and have mostly finished packing except for the kitchen and our clothes. We move out of here and into our new home in about a week and a half but we get the keys on Wednesday!

Well, I had best be off as we have painting and cleaning to plan!!!! I'll leave you with pictures of our boxes (or some of them!) along with The Beagle. He was most put out at having to spend the day outside while we packed as he kept trying to get into everything. When he wasn't napping, he was laying at the screen door watching with sad eyes.


P.S. thanks for the Christmas pudding recipes.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Help! Christmas Pudding ...

I am sure you are all aware by now that I am not English. But The LOML is and the children have followed his lead when it comes to Christmas pudding. (YUK!!! is what I say!)

This year The Thinker would like to try his hand at making our own. When we lived in Ireland they always liked Tesco's Finest Christmas Pudding as it wasn't overly nutty.

I don't have any family recipes for this and so I am asking for your help. Does anyone have a delicious recipe we could try or do you know of a published recipe that is yummy. I have read a few but have NO IDEA what I should be looking for in a recipe.

Have we left it too late? Are there any useful tips I should know? Please help, I am completely lost!


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Storytelling Sunday - November

Sadly, I missed Storytelling Sunday for October but I really want to participate for November.  I have been racking my brain for a good story and have drawn a blank, until this morning.  So here is a brand new story hot off the press this morning ...

This is about The Princess, the one who never likes to draw attention to herself, the one who didn't speak at school for FOUR years!  You would never have guessed that she was that way if you ever saw her at home, as she is the loudest of our three children.  However, the minute a non-family member is present she is silent.  At her school they have a 'Crazy Hair Day' fundraiser each year for an orphanage in Bali and a local charity (chosen each year by the senior class).

Now if you have ever perused Pinterest I am sure you will have seen lots of photos of crazy hair.  I used one such photo as inspiration for my Halloween costume this year (more on that later LOL) but each year I have tried to get The Princess to be just a little adventurous and it was a disaster.  I have offered to use coloured hair spray - NO!  I once braided wire into her long plaits so that she could then have them hold any shape she wanted.  She took one look at it in the mirror and  - NO!  So each year I have helped her put her hair in a high pony tail and tried bright ribbons around it.

Last night The Princess mentioned that it was Crazy Hair Day today, had I not received the note?  She is sure she left it out for me ... hmmmmm NO!  Being cheeky I offered to do her hair like mine was for Halloween - NO!  I asked her if there was anything special she wanted me to do?  I received a shrug and a blank look so I suggested that she google 'crazy hair'.  For the next half hour all I heard were giggles and then "Mom, do you think you could do this one?"!  I was amazed, The Princess is growing in confidence (YEAH!).  I knew that she was getting braver as she presented a talk to her whole class this year, in the past she would have just stood up there silently waiting for the teacher to give in and ask her to sit back down, or she would have whispered it so that no one could hear.

So meet my 'Crazy Hair Stegosaur' ...

With coloured bobby pins for that added pop of fun!  She was very excited this morning and I hope that this is the start of The Princess starting to blossom :-)

If you like a good story then head on over to the host of this series, Sian.  There is always a collection of good stories to read each month.  They will make you laugh, cry, think and everything in-between.

Happy Reading,

Monday, 5 November 2012


Hi everyone, its been a long time.  Days turn into weeks and before you know it weeks have become months.  I haven't even had a chance to read any blogs during my absence.  I had over 2,000 posts in my reader LOL  It is a good thing that I have them sorted into groups :-)  "Mark all as read" has become my friend and tonight I whittled that down to 43 must read posts from those blogs that interest me the most.

So what has kept me away?  To begin with it was a bit of the blues, but then other things started taking up my time.  We move house in a few weeks and I NEED to start packing.  This will hopefully be the last move for awhile and I am looking forward to unpacking all of the still packed boxes in the garage and calling a house "our home".  I have three job interviews this week which will make things on this end heaps busier but also better.

I have found a few snippets of spare time and have created some stuff which I will start to share on here in the coming weeks.  I will be packing up my craft room on Wednesday in preparation for moving.  I need to use the room as a 'full box' storage room so it will be the first stuff to be packed.  Yesterday we drew out scale drawings of the kids rooms and our bedroom (that will also be part craft room) so that we could see what furniture will fit where.  We have promised the kids that we will paint their rooms before we move in.  The Thinker wanted BLACK!  He has settled for one wall of large black and white stripes for Newcastle United.  I couldn't imagine living in a completely black room!  In the new year he wants me to paint the crest on his wall if he still has space after hanging up his pictures.  The Extrovert is planning on red accents of some sort for Liverpool.  We are still working on his walls.  I suggested  something graphic, but we will see what happens.  He doesn't want white so we are thinking  light grey walls and then red somehow.  The Princess wants pink (surprise, surprise!) and then she wants to paint flowers on the spare wall space herself.

I missed October's Storytelling Sunday but I hope to have something this week for November.  I will do my best but make no promises.  I am heading off to try and read some of your blog posts and will be back.  I have missed being here but I also enjoyed the break.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Storytelling Sunday - September

Well, it is still a Sunday so we shall still call it Storytelling Sunday, even if I am a week late!  LOL  This is my contribution to the fabulous collection of stories told every month with Sian at From High In The Sky.  Grab yourself a cuppa and go over to check them all out.  I know I will be a little later when I have a few more moments to spare!  They are always worth a read and you will laugh, sometimes cry, and ALWAYS have a great time!

This month I am doing something a little different just to get you all thinking, and because time is short!  We all know about Facebook (and if you don't then you must be a hermit) and like it or love it FB is often controversial.  But for our family who live scattered all over the world it has been a wonderful invention for keeping in touch.  As much as letters are special, lets face reality and say that we often just don't have enough hours in the day to write to anyone and everyone.

In 2008 we went on a family holiday to Florida.  While we were there I uploaded photos each morning from the previous day (I am an early riser) to an album on FB with comments about the photos so that family could see what we were doing.  It turned out that it was a wonderful idea for two reasons.  Everything was fresh in my mind when the photos were posted and as I am STILL scrapping the photos I have the journalling already completed.  AND as comments were posted on the photos more of the story unfolded.  It was like keeping an interactive holiday journal.

The photo story below was from the 'Back Lo't at Disney Studios and is called 'Harbor Attack'.  First you will see the photo, followed by my original description and then the comments in italics.  I hope you like it :-)

This was the back lot tour. We waited ages for this ride as it was cancelled due to lightning. When it started up again I was one of the 'volunteers'. Not sure what I got into!!!!

The LOML "doesn't she look happy to be a volounteer.. she tried all day to get on stage as a helper i think she lucked out here look at the next few photo's..this was a great show.."

Me "I was very happy to be a volunteer. I was just having difficulty walking in the heavy waterproof overshoes. They were 2 sizes too big!!! Didn't want to fall flat on my face in front of a few hundred people!!!"

The sexy suit I had to wear as the volunteer. I was the mechanic on a ship in Pearl Harbour. This is a specail effects type show. I was told to sit in a chair, answer the phone, and DON"T LOOK LEFT!!!

The LOML "doesn't she look great in this blue suit..."

I asked why I shouldn't look left and was told ... "You'll See!!!"

The LOML "just don't answer the phone..."

Answering the phone ... wonder whats next.

The LOML "remember don't look left..."


The LOML "oops we can't see her anymore.. at this stage the kids were screaming with Laughter. We got a prime view spot because Christine was on stage.. Pity she abit wet..."

Me "It was fun though!!!"

The LOML "Trust me she is in there somewhere..."

It was very fun and the kids still laugh about it today!  See you next month (hopefully on time) for another story.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

LSNED 2012

I joined Shimelle for LSNED a few years ago and have yet to complete a year.  Some would say I should take that as a sign and just give up, but I am not a quitter.  Maybe this year is my year?!?!?!?  I already know that a mini album won't work, nor will 12x12's.  So I was stumped as to how I might even give myself an option of completing it until I went here.  Sian is using a photo app and that started my brain ticking over ... I have LOTS of camera/photo apps and I LOVE playing with them!  They are my portable stress-ball.  So why not use one or ten of them???

So I will be attempting to join in to LSNED this year and I will reserve the right to play with lots of photo apps to record my lessons.  First up I will play with Kabaam, a fun comic book app.  My friends and I have used this app for a fun trick or two and it is great for a laugh.  I might even use it all month long and add one box for each day ... but I am not promising anything :-)

Today was not a great day ... it was a Bridezilla day!!!!! A majority of brides are lovely creatures, but some have been bitten by the Bridezilla bug and those need to be avoided at all cost.  Today I learnt that you can not reason with a Bridezilla, you can't dangle sparkly bling in front of them to placate them.  You just need to walk away with a smile and not let their nasty comments hurt your feelings.

I had over eight brides today to assist with invitations.  Three of them were death incarnate.  At the end of the day I sat on the couch in the shop and cried.  I cried for my hurt feelings and I cried for their marriages.  It will take a miracle for their relationships with their future husbands to live up to the unrealistic expectations they have.  If they think that they can still get 10 year old papers, or $30 invitations for $10 then they are setting themselves up for disappointment just with the invitations alone.  You should have seen some of the HUGE files these brides carried.  They want diamonds for the price of glass and their poor fianc├ęs (and myself) cop the brunt of their disappointment.

Tomorrow is Storytelling Sunday and Father's Day (in the Land Down Under).  It will be a much better day :-)


P.S.  I should say that I don't usually make $30 invitations, but there are some brides who want soooooooo much that they have quotes for invitations for $30 EACH!!! I can't imagine spending that much on an invite that will probably go in the bin/trash!!!!!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Height of Summer

I enjoy reading Julie's blog over at Notes on Paper and this August she is running a series called The Height of Summer Winter :-)  Have you ever corresponded with someone and then finally met them and you were surprised by their height?  I remember going to Madame Tassauds and standing next to the wax figure of John Wayne and being absolutely SHOCKED at his size!!!  I also didn't realise just how petite Kylie Minogue is.  Size is hard to picture at times and as bloggers we sit behind our computers/iPads/Smart phones and never really consider each of our heights.

As taking a photo with my family would just be too easy (and besides only The Princess is still smaller than me) and I really wanted to think of something different.  So I came up with this ... I just hope it works!  

I am just a smidge taller than 120 distress inks stacked one on top of the other :-)  So how tall does that make me?  (It turned out smaller than I had hoped. The sign says 10 = 14cm = 5.5")


P.S. I used the stop animation app Stop Animator by Samuel Adams.  It was free and super easy to use.

Craft Storage

You may be asking yourself why I was so excited to receive an Ikea kitchen cupboard for my birthday?  Well, it is the answer to my storage problems :-)  I had an epiphany one night while sleeping and the next morning I tested my theory and it worked, so I have been planning ever since!

I use the Artbin Super Satchels for my craft storage.  We sell heaps of them at the shop but we do get the odd cracked one and then they become mine.  Over the years I have accumulated quite a few and even with HUGE cracks they still work perfectly!  So, what is an Artbin Super Satchel you might be asking yourself?

I find them very useful especially as we move semi-regularly and the house gets quite dusty with the air-con on.  The double deep ones have removable dividers and they are very useful for embossing folders, 6x6 pads, paints, sprays and other bulkier items that you might not want falling all over the place.  They also do narrow ones with lots of divider for smaller items.

But the main problem I have faced is with storing them.  Artbin do make a cube for them that they slide into on plastic runners, but over here they retail at $104 and only hold FOUR!  I just refuse to pay that much for a cupboard for them to sit in (even at cost!) and hiding them in a big cupboard with doors is a waste as I like to see things (and I also don't have a spare big cupboard with doors!).  So mine have stood proudly in the corner of my room in a HUGE stack, with others dotted around the place.  The problem with this solution is that I inevitably want something in the BOTTOM container and to get to it I have to unstack them all and then re-stack them once I have the item I am looking for.  It drives me just a little insane at times :-)

I had planned on just making my own 'Artbin cube' style storage for them but time is always against me.  We built our shop counter out of Ikea kitchen units and as we wanted it narrower we used the wall cabinets and just put legs on them to make them the right height.  They are fabulous under-counter cupboards as they aren't too deep (they are 35cm deep).  I never thought to see if they would hold the Artbin's until a few months ago when I dreamed about it.  The second I walked through the shop door the next morning I tested the theory and it worked perfectly!  So I asked for the Ikea 40cm wide wall cupboard for my birthday.  No doors or anything, just plain.  Here they are $45.  And so my mom bought be one for my birthday :-)  LOL

Here it is made up.  I chose to put in the wall fixing bracket (the silver bit) while I made it as one day when we do buy our own house again I will probably mount it on the wall.  My dad gave me money for my birthday and so I went to Ikea and I didn't realise that they also make one the same width and depth but LOTS taller.  It was even better value so I bought one of those with his money.  I believe it is meant to be a broom cupboard or a shallow pantry.

Today I ended up with an unexpected whole day off!!  I set off to the hardware store after dropping the kids and school and bought a BIG box of shelf brackets and away I went ...
See how the Artbins sit rested on the little brackets.  They fit perfectly!  It would be a little easier to slide them in and out on a rail but the only ones I could find were plastic drawer rails and they were $5 a pair!!!!  I haven't had any problems with them so far but if I find one is a bit too heavy to get in and out easily I will just get a thin piece of wood and glue it to the mini brackets as a guide rail.

And out one slides from right in the middle!  It is pure bliss!  Not all of the containers are full as I didn't get to choose which ones got broken. LOL  Some are deep where they could be the narrower ones, but over time I may get some more and then I can swap things over to get the most from my space.

And here they are all finished.  I added a shelf to the middle of the tall one to put my plain Bazzill on.  I had them on the floor behind my desk in Cropper Hopper Vertical Storage Holders (like magazine holders) but I prefer to pull my paper out from the front, not the top.  So I turned them on their sides and slid them onto the shelf.  I think it will work quite nicely.

The Artbins with green clips hold my Cricut cartridges.  I have run out of room in these cupboards so you can see a few stacked on top.  I shall just have to save for another one.  The next few I get will probably be short ones as I want to eventually build my craft room using them.  That way they can go under counter tops, or hung on the wall above counters.  The other nice part about them being Ikea units is that you can get very cool drawers to fit inside them (as in they don't have a front in the same way as an under-counter drawer does) that are designed for holding tins in a pantry.  I think they would work very nicely for punches or sprays.  However, at $50 a drawer they can be added in the future :-)

If you ever find yourself using Artbin Super Satchels, here is a much cheaper way to store them!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Catch up :) (photo heavy)

I had so much planned to post over the past few weeks, including details of the BEST DAY of the YEAR!  So here goes all be it a bit late ... :-)

While my previous posts about Hiro were auto posting The LOML and I went away for the weekend.  I had made wedding invitations as a friend for a gift last year and they bought us a voucher for a weekend away as a thank you.  They also offered to babysit the kids too!  It has been three years since we went away together so we were very excited.  Thankfully the place we stayed was only an hours drive from home and we set off on Friday evening after work.  It was right on the harbour in a very pretty holiday/vacation town.  So we did touristy things and ate until we needed to be rolled back to the hotel.  We even went to a place with a miniature village, mini golf and a maze!  The weather was perfect and it was so relaxing and wonderful.

Our view from breakfast :-)

The miniature village
Me after we arrived at the miniature village
Entering the maze ...

Will he find his way out???
Devonshire Tea anyone???
Looking out over the ocean before dinner
Those photos were just from Saturday!!!  But so you see the dreary dusk sky?  Well Sunday was stormy, rainy and awful!  So we decided to drive home after we checked out of the hotel.  We couldn't have asked for a better day on Saturday and we enjoyed getting home early to spend some time with the kids.  They were spoilt too all weekend.

Midway through the month it was my BIRTHDAY!!!!  So of course that means that it is the best day of the year in my book!  I love birthdays.  It's not just about the presents, but that it is a day special for each person where they should be treated like a princess (or prince).  My order for breakfast was poached eggs on toast - YUM YUM!!!!  I was supposed to have the day of work crafting with a friend, but we had only just sat down to start when I got a call from The LOML to say that I needed to come to work straight away as he wasn't well.  Thankfully he didn't need to go to the hospital again and we were able to come home after lunch.  He improved over the afternoon and he instructed the kids on the preparation of my special dinner.  I had requested crumbed steak, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and gravy.  And it was YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!

I chose not to have a cake this year as I really craved warm brownies with vanilla ice cream and Hershey's chocolate syrup.  While the brownies were cooking I made The LOML call the health line to confirm that a trip to the ER wasn't warranted as he had a Dr appointment two days later.  He tried very hard to act like nothing was wrong as it was my birthday, but that just made me more worried.  So better late than never we enjoyed our brownies.  They were also YUM YUM YUM!!!

In the end I chose frosting and not Hershey's syrup :)

For my birthday I got a Sizzix Eclips (spoilt aren't I??) and some Tim Holtz background stamps.  I also got something a bit unusual from my mom that I had asked her for ... an Ikea kitchen wall cabinet.  I will have to show you later what that is for :-)  I am giddy with excitement and I just hope it works!  No, I am SURE it will work ... but you will just have to wait.

The LOML hasn't been able to drive since our weekend away.  He was constantly unsteady on his feet and light headed.  The Dr was increased his new medication from his last visit to the hospital and he was getting worse, so without telling me, he went off the medication.  Within two days he felt better!  He went back to the Dr and now he is almost back to himself.  It is crazy, but it seems that he had a delayed reaction to the medication.  As it built up in his body it was getting worse.  I was starting to get very worried and all of it was caused by a nasty tablet!  I hope that it is now the end of it and he stays better this time.  It was all very worrying and has made for a busy and chaotic month.  Hopefully he is cleared to drive again really soon as he makes a TERRIBLE passenger!

All in all I think we are headed into a pleasant September :-)  The Extrovert turns 15!!! Oh my!!! I suddenly feel old :-)  If I don't see you before, I will be back for Storytelling Sunday this Sunday. Pop back then for all the details and enjoy a story or two.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Adventures with Hiro - part 3

Monday saw the kids all return to school (this was a few weeks ago now LOL).  That night Hiro went with the boys to cadets.  I wonder what he thought of it all?  There was another Japanese student there that night from yet another school (this is the popular time for Japanese students to visit as they are on summer holidays and don't miss school).  I wonder what he thought of it all???  It was hard to tell but the boys said he took lots of photos and the cadets all made him feel welcome.

Wednesday was Hiro's last day with us.  They had organised afternoon tea at the school with a performance by the students.  They sang a song in English and Japanese.  You can see Hiro in the back row, just left of the middle.  They were swaying from side to side and The Thinker stood up on his chair to get the shot.  This was the only time I got to see the students all mixing with each other.  You would never have know that there was a language barrier.  Each of them just re-phrased things until the other understood.  It was great to see them all hanging out and being silly together.  It made me feel just a little old, as that was once me!!!

During the presentation each student gave a speech in English thanking their host families.  Hiro was the last to give his and his was the longest.  He said the nicest things about us and it made us feel really special.  I am glad that we were able to have him stay with us and I would be very pleased to have him stay again.

We had organised with my brother and SIL to meet up for a Japanese meal that night at an authentic restaurant in the city.  We had hoped the wait staff might be able to help us with translating, but they were very busy.  We also wanted Hiro to have the opportunity to share with us some of the food he was used to.  Other than sushi and a few other food court style dishes we had never had Japanese before.  My SIL loves Japanese food and she had recommended the restaurant.  The first thing Hiro said when he sat down was "I am so excited to be having Japanese food!".  It was definitely the right decision to go there.  While we were there we gave him his mini album and he spent most of the night looking over it :-)

The Extrovert (wearing his new glasses!) and Hiro

The main meal came as an set tray and you chose the 'main' part, so we asked Hiro to suggest our starters.  We tried lots of wonderful food and I would never have thought that I would have ever eaten raw beef.  But it tasted sooooooooooo good and I will definitely be having it again!  For our main course four of us (including Hiro) had the tempura with udon noodles and sushi.  Every main dish comes with miso soup, salad and beans.  Hiro said they have the miso soup and salad every day with their dinner.  Everything tasted YUM!

Tempura with Udon and Sushi

The LOML had teriyaki pork and rice and The Extrovert tried the sashimi.  The Princess had picked up a tummy bug that day at school and so she was unable to come.  She was very disappointed.  We will definitely be having Japanese again.  As we were leaving Hiro said it was his best night ever!

All of us at dinner.

He had to take family photos the next morning and Hiro was very sad to be leaving.  The boys said he cried when he got to school as he didn't want to go home yet.  We all had adventures with Hiro and we will remember them forever.  Remember, if you are ever given the chance to host an exchange student, seriously think about doing it!


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Adventures with Hiro - part 2

There wasn't any way we could avoid having to work Saturday so Hiro and The Extrovert came to the shop with us for the morning and at lunch time we let them go across the road to the shopping center for lunch and a brief look around.  It is important in Japan to buy souvenirs for family and friends back home and this gave Hiro another opportunity to shop for gifts.  The Extrovert was hoping that Hiro would want sushi for lunch as it is his favourite, but he opted for Chinese.  Thankfully there is also a place selling sushi in the food court so they both had what they wanted.

I have already said that we went out for Italian Saturday night and by the time we came home Hiro was looking very tired.  I think that the late night Friday at youth group and the intense week of study was catching up with him.  The Extrovert had hoped that they would both get up early on Sunday morning and head to church as The Extrovert was taking The Thinker's rostered spot helping out in Children's Church.  But we told him to just let Hiro sleep until he woke up as he really needed his rest.  As it turned out he must have been really tired as he almost missed breakfast.  He then asked if he could stay home and study for the morning so The LOML and Hiro spent the morning at home.

That afternoon we had planned to take Hiro to Fremantle for a look around the markets and stay for fish and chips with friends at a place right on the water.  My mom collected The Thinker from camp and after he had showered and cleaned up they met up with us.  We wandered around the markets with The Princess after sending the boys off on their own and tried to find something that wasn't the usual run-of-the-mill touristy gift for Hiro's parents.  We found a little shop selling prints and originals by a local artist.  They were somewhat quirky designs and we bought his parents coasters featuring Aussie animals.

A photo of their gallery
Fremantle is a port town and a famous tourist destination.  On the weekend and most days in summer there is plenty of street entertainment and this day we watched a crazy pirate sword swallower.  He was nuts!!!!  He is even in the Guiness Book of Records for sword swallowing.  After cringing at sword swallowing while on the top of a pole, we headed off to the small beach in Fremantle.  My kids took their shoes off and jumped right in (remember that it is winter here!) and Hiro looked at me as if to say "can I do that too?".  As soon as he realised that he could remove his shoes to splash too and he was in like a two year old!

Wandering around the marina.

The Princess and The Extrovert were first into the water!

What would a beach trip be like without writing in the sand?!?!?!?

The Extrovert and Hiro wandering  along the beach

Looking through the old jetty.  The Extrovert is running towards us.

The Extrovert being silly

The Princess playing too.
After a splash around on the beach the kids all cleaned their feet as our friends had arrived and we were off to enjoy fish and chips.  There are two very big fish companies in the marina and both catch their own fish.  It was left up to us to decided which one we went for and we chose Kailis Fish.  Their boats are moored right next to where we eat (you can just see them in the photo below) and at one end they sell fish to take home.  My friend also had an exchange student from Japan but from a different area and school.

We bought a family plate of fish and chips just for our four kids (four fish filets and LOTS of chips) while The LOML and I had snapper and chips.  It was sooooooooooooo YUM!  The kids polished off all theirs quick smart.  The three girls at the back hardly made a dent in theirs LOL.  My four definitely have huge appetites.

We went home later that evening after another quick trip to the markets for The Thinker to get some morish nuts (nuts covered with caramel).  This was a very close to perfect day.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Adventures with Hiro - part 1

On the day Hiro arrived at the school we were to collect him from the library at the end of the school day.  The students had spent the morning on a bus tour of the city and a visit to the beach for lunch.  We arrived at the library and all the host parents were standing around looking nervous and the students were sitting quietly in the library with their teachers looking terrified.  Hiro was sitting at the back sharing a joke with a friend.  He seemed a smiley sort but very shy.

When we arrived home The Extrovert did the tour of the house with Hiro as they were sharing a room and The Extrovert was his official buddy at school.  As I already said we probably frightened the life out of him with Mexican for dinner but they all settled in quickly and everyone adjusted to the additional family member.  He may also have been wondering why we were all home in the afternoon on a weekday as The LOML and I had arranged to have that afternoon and the next one off just incase things didn't go so smoothly.

Each day the Japanese students did intensive English lessons at the school and spent their breaks socialising with their buddies and their friends.  This made them very tired as they had to concentrate almost every minute!  It became a normal occurrence for Hiro to fall asleep in the car on the way home, or on the couch before dinner.  Needless to say he didn't stay up late very often!  Normally at home it would have been normal for him to stay up until at least 11pm.

In our house everyone cooks, but The LOML cooks more regularly than anyone else.  Hiro thought this highly amusing, in his house ONLY his mother cooked :-)  In our pre-visit information book it said that in Japan it is considered very rude to enter another person's kitchen.  Only on the last night did Hiro set a foot in the kitchen, and only to very quickly put something in the rubbish bin.  We did find this very difficult at times as Hiro wouldn't even go in the kitchen to get a drink and we had to remember to keep asking him if he was thirsty.  Next time we will get a water dispenser and put it on the breakfast bar so that anyone could get a water without having to go into the kitchen.  Hiro poured his cereal each morning from the non-kitchen side of the breakfast bar, the kids just placed everything he might need on the counter each morning and then cleared it away after he had eaten.

One night The Thinker had to cook diner for the family for his B&V (Beliefs & Values) homework.  We had sweet and sour pork Jamie Oliver style and he had to take a photo as proof for his teacher.  They are blurry photos but here we are about to eat dinner ...

Sweet & Sour Pork
Everywhere we went Hiro took photos of the food.  The weekend he was with us both boys were supposed to be away at a cadet camp but only The Thinker went as one had to stay with Hiro.  On the Saturday evening we took Hiro out to a local Italian restaurant.  He ordered the same as The Extrovert and they each had a HUGE wood fired pizza.  Hiro ate it all, after taking a photo :-)

He fell in love with Milo, an Aussie chocolate drink which is also now made into cereal and bars.  We gave him a box of the Milo bars to take home with him.  When he saw them he lit up and said "I like very much!"  He certainly got a food cultural experience with us!


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Mini Album for Hiro

You may remember that we were having a Japanese exchange student stay with us for 10 days in July. I was excited and petrified all at the same time but knew that this was an experience that the kids would never forget.  It would also have the added bonus of helping The Extrovert with his Japanese.  As the arriving students were closer to the ages of our boys we knew that we were getting a boy.  It turned out to be a very lovely young man named Hiro.  I believe he had recently turned 17 but his English was very minimal and so I am not 100% sure :-)

Here is the mini album I quickly made for him as a going away present.  I need it to be easy for him to put photos into and so I chose to use 6x4 page protectors and make a chipboard cover.  I covered the front of the chipboard with some Ranger Sticky Back Canvas so that I had a good surface for painting.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it turned out pretty close to what I had imagined.   First I painted a sunrise using Twinkling H2O's, Glimmer Mists, Ink pads, and Distress Pens (these were the things I had in the right colours).  It is actually quite shimmery.

That is our city skyline.  I found a photo online and printed it out in black and white.  I then cut out the skyline and used it as a template to draw around and filled it in with black paint.  Perth sits on a river and so I used Tim Holtz Crackle Paint put on thickly so that I could get some texture.  However it was really the wrong colour blue so before it was fully dry I painted over it with a dark blue October Afternoon Sprinkler.  It turned out quite textured and I like the slight two tone effect.  Hiro LOVED it!  It took me a while to come up with an idea that wasn't girly :-)

I then made a few header pages for some of the places he had been.  By now it was 11:30pm and so these were done quickly! LOL  Here are just a few of the better ones ...

I printed off some of the photos that we had taken and inserted them in the album and left plenty of blank spots for his own photos taken at places that the school took him.  As it turns out I am really happy that I made this for him as we received an email last night asking for any additional photos we might have as Hiro lost him camera during the trip home.  I wish now that I had asked him for copies of his photos too :-(  He is quite distraught about it.  I am going to try and get any other photos that people may have and send them off to him.

He was a very polite boy and he tried all of the food we usually eat.  If he liked it he said it was good, if he really liked it he said "very delicious"!  On his first night he must have really wondered what he had gotten himself into ... we had Mexican burritos!  We had also just bought ourselves a pie maker and so we had apple pies for dessert.  Some of the other meals he enjoyed were roast lamb with all the trimmings, sweet and sour pork (Jamie Oliver style), sandwiches for lunch, and fish & chips.

Hiro was quite a bit more relaxed around the kids than with us, so we encouraged the four kids to do stuff together.  The Extrovert and The Princess taught him how to play Monopoly (a staple in our house!) which he won.  They took him down to the park to play basketball.  The Extrovert got his butt kicked playing Chess on numerous occasions (this is NOT a staple in our house!).  The Thinker had finally met his match and was beaten in every game of table tennis they played.  All three kids thought it was wonderful having him here and we thoroughly enjoyed it too.

I will share more of our experiences later, but this is definitely something I would recommend to other people.  I am not sure if I could cope with a long visit, but anything up to two weeks would be a breeze.  We will definitely be putting our names down again the next time they come.  The Extrovert is really hoping to be chosen to go to Japan next April and they will be at the same school that Hiro goes to.  Hiro hopes to host him at his house.  It will be interesting to see if they continue communicating.