Sunday, September 15, 2013


So- I get the comment frequently 'Do you even know how lucky you are? You get to just pause your life and go live somewhere super cool and then go back.' Or.....'I'm so jealous that you get to live in Australia.' So in answer to these I have to say- YES. Yes- I do know I am lucky. Really lucky. Even though it was really hard to leave and even harder to adjust- I knew that from the beginning. I have days that are still mundane. We get up- make lunches-eat breakfast- get the kids to school- workout- buy's just that I happen to be in Australia and on the lunch menu it's sushi not pizza so I don't even get one day free of lunch making! However- there are a few days a month that we go explore and do something totally new and it feels amazing! I have had quite a few experiences here that have brought me to tears and humbled me with gratitude for these once in a life time experiences with my precious family. I have thought several times- this has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world! Here are a few of these spots:

This is the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia. Our family along with Kevins' parents and some friends went zip-lining through the trees from several platforms. This is the only spot in the world you can see two world heritage sites at once: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. 
This is Carson- 5yrs old. I was completely in awe of how awesome my kids were that day. 

This is on the beach in Port Douglas, Queensland. It was the day we were going to fly home and I got up early to walk the beach. We were supposed to be packing but I had to go back and get the family to watch the sun rising and to check out this cool dead jelly fish. This photo still gets me teary. 

This is from the Eureka Skydeck- the tallest building lookout point in the Southern Hemisphere- overlooking Melbourne. We went to a footy game in the MCG- the bright stadium in the top mid-right of picture. 
This last picture was on top of Mt. Wellington in Tasmania in Feb this year. The few months before this picture was taken I was in a rut. It was summer- beautiful in Melbourne and I felt unhappy. I knew I was lucky to be where I was but felt like I wanted to be Idaho. It was our first day in Tasmania and I was on top of this mountain overlooking this beautiful sight and I had an overwhelming but calm feeling that spoke to my heart and said 'BE GRATEFUL FOR WHERE YOU ARE- YOU WILL NEVER BE HERE AGAIN.' I took that literally as in- I most likely will never be in Tasmania ever again. I also took it looking at my life as a whole- my kids, will never be this age again.....our lives will never be exactly this way again. And something clicked in me- I was once again grateful for exactly where I was standing- physically and spiritually. Each of those pictures are of places I thought were among the most beautiful places in the world and when I was in Idaho in April I had the same feeling about this place-
I realized that where ever I am and have gratitude in my heart for all of my blessings- that is truly the most beautiful place on earth to be. I have had a fear of coming home and leaving all of these new and exciting adventures behind- I have worried that life won't feel as fun. When I realize that it's more about gratitude/attitude than it is the physical spot I am in- I feel like I may miss the times we had but where ever I am at can be just as amazing! I write this in hopes to remind myself in the cold days of a 9 month long winter.....

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Warm Christmas & Tasmania!

It was so fun to have mom and Todd here- they left the 15th of December. That was hard for us- right before Christmas. However- it was kindof good that it didn't really feel much like Christmas- it was still great and really fun but different. The day they left was the ward Christmas party so that was a nice distraction. Crazy though- it was in the outside court yard of the church- it was nice and sunny. There was roasted chicken and lots of summer salads and treats. None of the usual Turkey, mashed food. This is the primary kids and a few of the missionaries in our ward (we have 5 sets for our ward) singing for everyone. 
We also had some friends over- they are from Utah! We had a bbq and a Christmas pinata! Later Carson told Kev that one of the boys talked weird. Kevin said "Well bud- he talks like an American." Carson then replied "Oh man- I wish I spoke American!"
We were invited by a few families in the ward to a bbq a few days before Christmas and then breakfast on Christmas morning. It was fun and nice to enjoy the holiday with them. On Christmas eve we went to Rise of The Guardians and then came home and made sugar cookies. Kev's was my personal favorite. He made himself. :)
After we got home from breakfast on Christmas we let the kids discover another one of their gifts- a swimming pool.....for Christmas! Totally not what we were used to. We just stayed home the rest of the day and relaxed, played with gifts and put puzzles together. I have never made Christmas dinner and so I didn't break tradition this year. We ate spinach artichoke dip and chocolates! We've never not been with family on Christmas- but we were feeling pretty blessed to have eachother.
The next day is Boxing Day and Kev had the day off so we went to the beach! It wasn't super warm but we had to go. Santa hat and all.
I built a sand-snow man. It was fun- the kids had even more fun destroying him.
It felt really strange to have summer break right after Christmas. It was only for 6 weeks so we tried to do some fun stuff. Kevin planned a trip to Tasmania for us but the price dropped by almost half if we waited until school started so we went two days after school started. The island of Tasmania is only an hour flight from Melbourne. We flew into the capitol of Hobart. This is the top of Mt. Wellington at the look out point- pretty amazing views and a really beautiful place. It was good to go during summer because it's colder there.
We had a lady take us around to a few of the fun local spots- this is the fresh water spring on the side of Mt. Wellington- the water was great and the kids loved her special way to collect it.
One of the best parts was going to a U-pick fruit farm. Brooke was in heaven and the fruit was so delish! We picked lots of strawberries, cherries and some nectarines.
Nectarine trees....
In Hobart there is a Saturday market- it was great. After the market we went to this little floating fish and chip shop on the pier- it lived up to the rave reviews! The boys were loving chasing the seagulls. 
On our way to Port Arthur we came across these Tasmanian Devil signs- it's still crazy to see the Aussie road signs- I always do a double take. Notice the burnt land behind the sign. Just a few weeks before we arrived there were some bad fires in the area. We didn't realize we were going to travel through that part- it was sad to see. Alot of burnt bush land and quite a few houses that were burnt to the ground- only thing still standing were the brick chimneys. 
The same day we found a little Tasmanian Devil sanctuary so we decided to stop. It was the best decision of the trip! The Aussie zoos are awesome but if your wanting some really unique adventures they are at these little privately owned sanctuaries that aren't crowded. We saw these cute little Devils and they had such fun personalities. They were scheduled to be fed so we headed over to their enclosure and they perked right up when we got there- we were the only ones at first. They started running around and coming right up to the glass- being quite playful. 
When the carer came to feed them he told us it can be gruesome so we may not want to watch. He said they were eating Wallaby that day- he pulled a portion of the animal out of the cooler- still containing the fur and bones. He threw it in and these cute little creatures turned into beasts....or little Devils! The crush through everything- they eat every bit of it. In the wild they aren't good at hunting but they will finish off anything that has died or anything that was previously hunted and picked on by other animals. We honestly were in a bit of shock- they were stealing the food from eachother and basically beating one another up. You can see him clawing his buddy here. We now understand how they got there name- we were thinking it was a bit of an exaggeration at first but guess not! 

That sanctuary had a Kangaroo and Wallaby enclosure- it was huge.  When we were first in there they were all just laying around relaxing- they are obviously used to having people around because they were quite chill. We still tried to walk slow and not be too loud. 
This is Brooke with a Wallaby. They are smaller than Kangaroos, they don't have as long of noses or ears. This little guy was so adorable. He liked the kids.

Our baby with a baby roo.....precious. 
Once the carer got there with the food things got a little wild. The Kangaroos weren't shy. However there were a few big bully ones- like the ones with Kev. They would push the others out and get to the food so the kids and I went around to all of the ones that were chased away and fed them. I guess it's a motherly instinct to want to care for the ones who get bullied :). Notice their claws holding on to Kevins hand. At one point these guys had my hand like this and one claw was stuck on my ring- I was beginning to think he was going to get that too. You can sometimes feed a few in a big zoo but nothing as cool as this. We honestly LOVED it. A few people asked if this was our first time seeing We just get excited. 

We continued on that day to Port Arthur. It is an old convict town. Australias history goes way back with England sending prisoners over in the 1800's. Many buildings in Hobart, Tasmania are build by the convicts. This area- Port Arthur is where many of them lived. This big building below was a prison.

Wouldn't this be a funny wedding announcement picture idea.....'He asked me to be his ball 'n chain....'

This is the church in Port Arthur- it was build by the convicts and the finish work on the top and inside was done by the boys from the boys prison that held 9-17 year olds. 
This was such a beautiful area. However, it was humbling and a bit eerie to read about the prisoners in the 1800's that were sent here for around 15 years for even a small theft. In 1996 a man came and did a mass murder here- killed 35 and wounded 23 people. It's an awful story and is the reason for what started the strict gun laws in Australia. 
This was part of the old hospital for the convicts.

Our last day in Tasmania we took a drive up into the mountains to a cave. It was a limestone cave and we were able to tour it. It was quite a site.

After seeing how vicious the Tassie Devils were what else could my boys do but become obsessed? Kevin even says they are now his favorite Australian animal.
As you can see- we have had some great holidays here. The Tasmania trip really was awesome. It revived me and I know that we really have been blessed this past year. When we are in the thick of everyday life sometimes I forget what a great adventure this is. However, when we get to go out and explore and learn about Australia I am reminded of the fact that we are so lucky and this is temporary. We will always have a special place in our heart for Australia and our time here will one day be just a sweet memory. That's why I'm really trying to focus on the 'now' and not the when. Because if I miss the 'now' there's no going back!

December- first month of Summer!?!

When we first came here I will admit- I was lonely. I was used to having so many wonderful people around me all of the time. I came here and had to hang out with my self- BORING! Kevin and I had both prayed that I would find some  friends to help lift my spirits- and as always- it worked! I have met some really wonderful people since we have been here. One of them is this beautiful girl- Megan. She made it her mission to show me fun new places to explore and introduce me to all things Melbourne. Most importantly introducing me to my new love: Dumplings! Because of her efforts I have really grown to love and appreciate Australia! This is us after she showed me how to make a Pavlova- a great Aussie dessert!

This is Megan and her cute baby girl Andie! I just love this baby- she is so adorable and I love to kiss her. 
The sad part of this story is that Megan and her family moved in December- to the opposite end of AUS. I was feeling bad for my self one night and said to Kevin "I feel like when I finally get this great friend and feel happy and more at home here that Heavenly Father says 'Oh no- we can't have her comfortable- better send her away!'" Kev just replied "Maybe you should just be grateful that he sent her in the first place- he didn't have to do that." OK. Point taken. After that I tried to just be grateful that our paths crossed and that I made a forever friend. If I could I would honestly pack her and her cute family and take them home with us when we go! It's still comforting to have her in the country and know that I can text her at 10pm and that it's not the middle of the night. She is also my great source for understanding all things Australian!

On a happier note- we have done some fun exploring the past few months. Our first trip was a quick one to Sydney! It was awesome and very surreal. And if your wondering- the address 42 Wallaby Way doesn't exist. We checked. Anyway- seeing the Opera House was really great- it's the Australian icon! However- it wasn't quite as mind blowing as I had expected. Probably because we climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge the night before and that....was mind blowing! Did you know that the Opera House roof is made of triangle white tiles? Me neither. Makes sense though with about a million seagulls flying over it a day- hides the droppings. Also looks nice and shiny in the sun!
We started the bridge climb just before dusk so we started in the daylight and ended in the dark- it was amazing and a memory that will probably go on my Top 10!
That little flag on top of the bridge is where the previous picture was taken. Largest bridge in AUS.

December 1st was a long awaited day in our house. We got our first and possibly only visitors that day and we were in heaven. We are still so grateful for Mom and Todd to have taken 2 weeks off and paid a lot to come see us! It was so fun to show them where we have been living and let them experience some of the great things we love about Australia. The day after they got here we took a drive on the Great Ocean Road- along Victoria's (the state we live in) coast line. It was beautiful and we saw some awesome wildlife. We fed various birds, saw an Echidna (sortof like a porcupine) and about 5 wild Koalas!
    This is a cockatoo- we love them. They will sometimes imitate you- Carson likes to have a yelling match with them. He was showing off his mohawk.
These rocks sticking out of the water are the 12 Apostles- there used to be 12 but some have fallen. Windy much? The waves were so huge that day. Thanks to Grandpa Todd for saving Andrew just in the nick to time before one wave took him out to sea. It was close- and scary. I'm glad I didn't witness it.
We went into downtown Melbourne to do some exploring. This is in front of the Christmas tree and maze they have for the kids. It was so beautiful and green out!
We got to see this cute little Penguin off the pier in St. Kilda- downtown Melbourne. He came in as the sun went down from a day of fishing :) 

On our list of top Australian must dos is the Great Barrier Reef.  We decided the four of us would head up to Airlie Beach in Queensland and take a 3 day sailing adventure on the inner reef and islands. This was our boat- Pacific Sunrise. It was a rustic boat with lots of character- only 16 passengers and 4 crew. It was awesome- taking a boat like this has been a dream of Kevins for a long time and it ended up being cheaper than staying on the mainland and booking tours so it was great. My mom and I felt like we were still on the boat for 3 days after and I had a killer seasick headache but it was worth it. 
This is Whitehaven Beach- part of the Whitsunday Islands. It is incredible and I still can't believe we were there. The water looks like that because of the different tides- the sand was so white and perfect! I also can't believe that the handsome guy in the picture is mine!

Kevin was one happy guy that week- I haven't seen him that happy in a long time. On a sail boat- diving on the Great Barrier Reef- gourmet food (that was already paid for so he didn't have to get annoyed with the cost)- and jumping off the top deck of the boat. Priceless! I'm just glad he took me along for the ride.

In the past year we have had some pretty amazing experiences and learned some valuable lessons that I hope to never forget. Some of them have been more difficult - like realizing that I could have reached out more to my friends and family when I was closer- but was often caught up in the rush of life.  Life is simple here- I don't have a lot going on. It's an extremely helpless feeling to know that and all I want to do is go hold some babies, take family members dinner after surgery or losing a loved one or just drive the 30 minutes to see my grandparents. But  now I am on another continent. I actually hope to never forget this feeling of helplessness. It has caused me to reach out to people I don't even know- to step out of my comfort zone. It has caused me to realize that when 'life' gets in the way of me giving love and service to those important to me- that 'life' gets to slow down. That helpless feeling has increased my testimony of the power of prayer. It's made me realize that I truly am a child of God- and by being that WE will never be helpless! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Getting back to reality after 5 weeks of vacation. Well....,.it's been rough. I'm sure everyone feels really bad for me. Kevin tells me that I am turning into a true Australian with that long of a vacation, I have yet to hear of someone taking just a week vacation here- the least I usually hear is 2 weeks! I like that about this culture :). At the end of June Kevin and I took off for a cruise to the South Pacific- we went with some Melaleuca Marketing Executives that won a contest. It was great- lots of fun to meet some of the business builders here. The weather wasn't fabulous but the food was.....enough said. We went to New Caledonia & Vanuatu. I came home from the cruise a few days early to pack and get ready for the next trip- on to Idaho! I had never thought there would come a time where our family was sooo excited for a vacation to Idaho- little did I know our future held living half way across the world.
 Me + 3 kids + 4 airports + 3 planes + 17 hours in the air = an exhausting SUCCESS!

We were so lucky- it honestly couldn't have gone any better. To say the least our trip to Idaho was great. More than ever it has made me so grateful for the wonderful family and friends that we have- that continually show up for us no matter where we are! I didn't fit everything in but it was comforting to know that we still have our house and that will be a reality again- probably before we know it. So Carpe Diem - right?  Just for the record- no matter how old I get I think I will always enjoy hanging out at my moms house- taking care of me....even doing the laundry! Last but not least- then we were on our way to Hawaii! It was Kevin and my first time being there- it was honestly amazing and so good to see Kevin's parents. It had been 9 months and who knows how long until we see them again. They showed us a great time- all of the tourist spots and some of the local secrets. Coming home at night to hang out in their little beach house overlooking the ocean made it feel like a 5 star holiday! 
 Kevin buying a drink from the local school....the kids were trying to save up to earn a trip to Australia. 
The coolest Banyon tree I have ever seen- this village in Vanuatu considers this tree it's protector- if a storm comes they gather inside the roots. 
The first plane ride- 14hours from Melbourne to LA (tail winds cut off 2 hours from this direction).
Watching the fireworks with my adorable nieces and super cool nephew.....

This picture holds pure joy for Brooklyn- her 3 cousins that make her happier than anything........

                                     50 ft water slide provided by the Andersons.....

         Saying goodbye to cousins.....Carson is the one on the grass refusing to participate.

I was in Idaho 3 weeks out of an entire year and was lucky enough to be here when these two precious babies were born- Kate, my eternal bff had her 2nd set of twins- Caroline and Colter.
Kiwi Loco with Jakie and Ty.....good times!