Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ad in CINEFEX

The people at Lightstorm took an ad out in a special effects magazine to thank everyone in the virtual lab. It took me a minute to find it, so I highlighted my name (They decided to alphabetize by first name.)
I'm glad AVATAR is doing so well this holiday season.


Thanks for praise Lightstorm!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dr. D Christmas Party

(John) The Dr. D Christmas Party was last Thursday. It was at the Cruise Bar, located right on the water across from the Sydney Opera House.



It was a great chance to see everyone from the studio and sit and chat with everyone. Here are a couple pictures of us from the event.

 
Of course we ate WAY too much, drank a lot, and had a nice walk down by the water after the party.
All in all a great night out.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Our First Lay-on-the-Beach Day!

(Kitty) It's funny how quickly your attitude can change from one day to the next. Yesterday - not such a great day for either of us. Today - heard it was going to be in the 90s/30s, so we decided to go to the beach, early to avoid the crowds. Got there about 11am (which means we left our place about 10:45am and had a very pleasant walk), and then walked along the water's edge till we found a place we liked. We set up an umbrella because I would be crispy without one, even with excellent sunscreen.  {grin}

It was a very pleasant two hours - lying in the shade for me, sun for John, reading, then had calamari and chips at noon. Shared our shade for an hour with a little girl next to us who wanted to take a nap. Then we walked through the water on our way home - got nice and wet in some big waves. Bought an ice cream sandwich each on the way home. Threw our clothes and towels in the washer as we walked in - have I told you lately how much I LOVE owning laundry machines??!! Took a shower and now John is playing a game over the Internet with some friends from the US, and I'm watching Grosse Pointe Blank on cable. (I love that movie!)

This must be part of what God meant when he said His mercy is new every morning. No matter how bad a day can be (or just not great), tomorrow always has potential for something better - like a day at the beach. Or even better - a day at the beach early enough in the day to beat the crowds! LOL!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Interested in a Story?

(Kitty)  I've been thinking and wondering on and off for several years if I'd enjoy writing a newspaper column. The biggest drawback to getting started is that I probably wouldn't be paid a dime, and I'd have a weekly deadline anyway. I'd also thought about writing a serial - a story that is published a scene or a chapter at a time. Again, potentially a lot of work for little reward... even though I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy doing it.

Lately, I've been thinking that allowing money to rule every career decision is not necessarily a wise career decision. This morning I read in Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." So I started thinking, well, why not? I'll be working at my writing with all my heart, and you can't "practice" enough in any form of art, so I only had one more question:

Are you interested in reading a weekly or bi-weekly serial? If so, I need to hear from you here or by email.

I would probably start at the beginning of January - a good time for new beginnings. I could test out a few ideas I already have, or you could give me an idea here. I'll choose whichever sounds the most fun and get started. So would you like to read about:
  • angels and demons
  • elves and fairies and dwarves in a modern setting
  • superheroes in a modern setting
  • fairy tales re-imagined
  • young adult fiction (like Harry Potter or Twilight or Inkheart)
  • something else
  • OH YEAH - Ann just reminded me - something set in Sydney (duh!) LOL!
I'm not going to write/post something that I intend to send to publishers, so it needs to be something I find fun enough to write knowing I'll never get paid for it, and not epic in length. If you don't care what I write, but you'll still come read it, let me know that, too!

If no one responds, I may take that to mean no one will want to read it, and I may decide not to do it. So let me know!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Forced to Clean

(Kitty) How can so much time go by between posts and we don't notice it? Is life going that fast? Sheesh! Well, I'm going to a Hen's Party tomorrow, so I'll take pictures and post them and tell you what a Hen's Party is later.

Today I'm just writing to say hi - HI! - and tell you we have a reason to finish getting unpacked stuff up off the floor. We're having company Sunday! I found a box of office supplies with file folders and last night while watching TV I took the dozens of pieces of paper lying around in piles and organized them into different folders - "do now", school, receipts, file, etc. The floor near the end of the couch where I sit hasn't looked cleaner/neater since we moved in! LOL!

Today in between writing spurts I'm going to take all the pots and pans from the floor and the kitchen table and figure out where to put them. I'm going to clean the cupboards before I put them in because I'm not thrilled with the quality of work the professional cleaner did before we moved in. (Why can't I find a "Monica" from Friends to clean? I'd pay her well!!  LOL!) Because it's a big project, I haven't done it. But maybe I can do it in pieces and still put my writing first today.

The third thing that will make the place look more organized is to take the new shoe rack John just put together and put it in the laundry room and put our shoes on it, and to take the little three-shelf table/cart some friends gave us and use it, at least temporarily, as bathroom storage. Right now all our toiletries and personal items and cleaning products are still in boxes stacked next to the bathroom sink, with a few things on a tray on the floor. The bathroom was remodeled to be cool looking, I think, and it is, but it has NO PLACE to put stuff. No under the sink cabinet or anything. I looked at buying a bathroom cabinet and it's about $100. That's not gonna happen right now! (Maybe ever.) So we'll try this table/cart and see how it works. At least we won't have boxes sitting on the floor. That'll be a step up.

John and I have said this ever since we got married - if you know you need to spend some time cleaning your house, or putting things away better, or straightening, or whatever - just make a date to have guests over later. Then you have a deadline! LOL! So - thanks Andrew and Mel for wanting to come to our house for dinner Sunday! LOL!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sculptures by the Sea

(John) This weekend Kitty and I went with a co-worker, Greg, to an art event called Sculptures by the Sea. It happens at the beginning of November every year where local artists in Australia set up their work on the footpath from Bronte Beach to Bondi Beach. There was work done in every medium and size and place. It took us about three hours to see everything and experience the best art of Australia. I will include some here and some some in the slideshow. Click on the image to see the bigger size.


 



 

Friday, November 06, 2009

First Week of NaNo

(Kitty) One week of novel writing down, three to go, and I'm really happy with how it's going! I've written 7386 words this week, about 30 pages. Yay! I'm about 5000 words behind in where I wanted to be, but on the other hand I've never written so much in the first week!

The story is a fun one for me, so I'm happy to be working on it all the time. Problem is I can't work on it all the time! I have to get groceries and eat and go out with friends and sleep and shower and all of those things. So...

I'm going to spend the weekend doing fun things with our friends like going to see Sculpture by the Sea on Saturday. But whenever someone isn't talking to me or keeping me focused on something else, I'm sure I'll be thinking about my book.

Let's just hope I don't run into any light poles while my head is in the clouds.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

(Kitty) November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I'm participating once again. It's a worldwide challenge to write 50,000 words - about one book - in 30 days. Writing every day of the month, that's 1667 words per day. But I am going to write Monday-Friday, so I have to write 2381 words a day to make it.

Today I wrote 2651 words! That's 2719 total since I wrote 68 words after midnight on Saturday. Hurray!! So on the first day, I'm already ahead of where I needed to be! Let's see if I can keep it up! LOL!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Colleen Westcott

 Picture of our friends Ray and Jessica Wescott's baby daughter.
She is a real heartbreaker :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Night Noodle Market

(John) Last Wednesday night a couple of people from work and our spouses went out to The Sydney Night Noodle Market down at Hyde Park. I was a chance for Sydney's asian  restaurants to show off all their food and give the city a chance to sample local fare (think Taste of Chicago.) Noodle, dumplings, buns, chinese rolls, and calamari rings were everywhere. There were entertainers and dancers sprinkled throughout the event and even had a large photo exhibit leading to the market hosted by a local art festival Art & About. We all had a great time and got to sample some great food. I'll include a couple of pictures here and the rest can be seen in the slideshow (click on any pictures if you want to see a bigger version.)


 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Running Again

(Kitty) Now that the dust storms, wind storms, and rain storms are over, John and I finally got back to running again on Monday. When we lived in Santa Monica, we ran to and then up and down the beach. Since we moved back to Sydney, John has preferred to run to and around Centennial Park. He's right - not worrying about cars and stoplights makes a difference in enjoying the run.

Of course, actually staying on our feet while running would be helpful in enjoying the runs! On Monday, I tripped over a curb and went splat onto the sidewalk. Thank goodness I landed with most of my weight on my water bottle! Brushed myself off, took a few testing steps, decided I was okay, and started running again.

Then Wednesday, we decided to try running the dirt trail because it's supposed to be better for your joints. You have to pay more attention because it's just uneven enough that you can lose your footing. Sure enough, John said he started looking around after a while, enjoying the scenery, and twisted his ankle. He walked for a few minutes and it started feeling better, so he ran a little more to the end of our lap. (We're running 3 miles a day, 3 days a week right now.)

Friday - and the third time is the charm! LOL! We decided to forget the dirt trail (and later learned the paved trial is made with materials that "give" for runners, far better than concrete, etc.). We did our usual lap and both of us got our best times since moving to Sydney! Yay!

In case you want to see where we run, I pulled some pictures off the Internet. I guess we should take some of our own sometime, but so far we really only go there to run, which makes picture taking inconvenient. LOL! Anyway, the first one is a picture of the interior of Centennial Park. The second is the trails and stuff - we run that outer circle, about 2.3 miles, and it's 0.7 miles to run there from our place. The third picture is the entrance from near Fox Studios, where John used to work. The trails are packed every day with runners, walkers and bikers. It's a gorgeous way to exercise - you can see why everyone goes there.



 
 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Almost Like Home

(Kitty) After two nights in our own bed, I've never felt so much at home in our apartment. It's wonderful! We've already emptied four large boxes, and cooked in our kitchen now that we have our pots and pans. (Dinner was delicious tonight!) I bought two little nightstands at K-Mart a couple days ago and just finished putting them together. We have John's drawing desk up, too. He's really happy about it now that he's been going to a drawing class every week.

My goal for tomorrow is to get our office desks up so that I can start working in the office on Monday. I can hardly wait! Of course, in order to get Internet access in there I have to get the wireless part set up for our modem. (Too busy to get around to it yet.) On the other hand, I may get more writing done if I don't have Internet access where I work! LOL!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our shipment and capsicum spray




(John) We finally received our household items that we shipped from L.A. about three and a half months ago. As many of you might have heard, our items were held up in Australian Quarantine and Customs Department for about a month and a half. As the movers unloaded our items Kitty struck up a conversation with one of them about our shipment. He told her that the main reason our items were held in quarantine was that they were busy looking for "capsicum spray." Now in Australia, "capsicum" is another word for "pepper," so our items were being searched for a container of "pepper" spray. Kitty was bewildered and asked the mover why they were searching for this "pepper spray." He said that it was written on the shipping list as items that we had shipped. Kitty looked at him and said "I never wrote that down, we don't own pepper spray. On the list I wrote down a couple of knives that John owns (one which was confiscated,) and a replica of a medieval..." and then it dawned on her! She wrote down replica medieval MACE! They misunderstood what she had written and was looking for mace (pepper spray) and not mace (medieval weapon.)

*sigh*

So needless to say, several of our boxes were opened and our items siffted through due to the misinterpretation of one... little... word...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great News!

(Kitty) I am soooo excited! The movers are delivering our stuff tomorrow!! At 8:30 Thursday morning they are going to be here and start unloading!! Our bed! Our desks and chairs! Our dishes! I am so, so, sooooo happy!!!

Meanwhile, we have been getting a few other items here and there. Yesterday I bought two little bedside stands (only $12 each! Yay!). Last Saturday Mel and Andrew sold us their gliding rocker. I love gliding rockers! We had one in Burbank that I sat in all the time and I was so sad to have to sell it when we came here the first time. (This one's even nicer, too!) And on Sunday, our friends Luke and Ruth met us at IKEA with their car and we shopped for a dining room set. (It's the biggest IKEA in the southern hemisphere and, while it was obscenely busy, we all enjoyed being there. LOL!) They drove us and our purchases to our place, then we put the table and chairs together and ate dinner together! I swear, the pizza tasted even better sitting at a real table. :)

I have been doing a load of laundry almost every single day since the new washer and dryer were delivered. I told you about them before, but now we have pictures, along with the new table. I am so happy with them! At $8 a load at the laundry mat, I did as little laundry as possible while we waited for them to arrive, so there was a massive pile in the bedroom! But not anymore - I'm on my last load! Whew! Just in time for our 162 pieces of household goods to be delivered. LOL! Oh, this place is going to look like it's been hit by a cardboard cyclone! LOL!

Other interesting things - John found a great life drawing class every Monday night downtown at an artsy place, I forget the name. He's been enjoying it with one or two of his friends. I am going to a beginning drawing class for four weeks at church. One of the members is a cartoonist and he offered to teach drawing to anyone who was working with children's ministries, or who just wanted to learn to draw. It's really fun, and it helps me get re-involved in church here again. Also, different kinds of creative activity help your other creative arts to improve, so that's why I'm doing it. It's actually good for my writing. :)

Last night I went to my first official meeting of the Romance Writers of Australia. It was AWESOME!!! There were seven of us, and we met at one of the member's house. Tons of laughter and talking about writing and the industry, and each month one of the group gives a writing lesson. This is only the first or second time I've met them all (I met a few of them last month), but I already just love them! I'm also getting a lot of writing done, especially considering all the other things I have to do, and how long it takes to do things without a car. But I've written 16 pages in the last 9 days, about 12 more than I'd written in the many months before! LOL!

Speaking of things taking a while... I printed a bus schedule for the three buses that are close to us, so I can get to the bus on time, knowing when it will come and not standing around for half an hour. I was feeling bad that we haven't been running for a couple weeks because of the weather, so it was ironic that I missed THREE buses in the last 24 hours. Twice I walked or was running for the stop and watched the bus pull up and away - at least a minute or two early!

Once, I got to a bus stop and the schedule said a bus had come through 3 minutes ago and another one wasn't expected for 25 minutes. Well, I can walk home from where I was in less than 25 minutes, so I waited two more minutes in case it was just late, then started walking. I walked into a bottle shop nearby to get a bottle of wine for dinner with friends later, and as I was walking out - there goes the bus! It was almost 10 minutes late, but I missed it because I expected it to be on time! Can we get these drivers to synchronize their watches please?? LOL!! But I remembered I'd felt bad about not exercising and had to laugh. I was getting exercise now!

That's most everything interesting for now. Once all of our stuff gets here, we'll have to take pictures of the piles of boxes! LOL! Then eventually - Thanksgiving time? Christmas? - we'll be all settled in and we'll take pictures of our wonderful home to show you. Maybe even create a video and post it on YouTube. :)

Hope you guys are enjoying this. Let us know if you have any questions you want us to answer!

Our beautiful new wood dining room table with red cushions - in our red and wood dining room! It looks even better in person!


Our energy efficient front-loader washing machine. It takes forever, but our clothes are clean and unmangled. I can hardly believe I don't have to go to the laundry mat any more!


Our condenser dryer sits on top of the washer. It sucks the water out of the clothes into a bin in the bottom. Then I empty the water out every other load or so. We bought a condenser dryer because there is no vent to the outside, and no way am I leaving the window open to vent the dryer and let bugs in! LOL!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Our First Guest

(Kitty) Hotel Bucholtz - Sydney had its first guest this week! Our friends Glenn and Linda added little baby Luke to their family (along with Kristy age 4) and Glenn's sister Belinda came to help out. So that Belinda could sleep the night through without the baby's crying, she stayed with us at night. We only live down the street, so it was pretty convenient for everyone.

We had fun, watched movies (including the new Stargate Universe and The Tale of Despereaux), and ate way too much chocolate and other snacks! Not only was Belinda a fun guest we'd be happy to have again, but we have an invitation to stay with her sometime and see Brisbane! Cool! We've never seen Brisbane.

One thing John and I did decide after Belinda left today, we're giving up chocolate for the next week! We ate more than enough already! LOL!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The First Time in YEARS!

(Kitty) Twice someone told me that Daylight Savings Time begins here in Australia next weekend. Wrong. It began today. So for the first time in so many years I can't even remember it, we missed church due to the time change! Just chalking it up to part of our adventure. LOL!

To make matters worse, the time change isn't until November 1 in the US, so I'm going to be far more confused about what time it is when calling the States this month! And of course, we moved forward and our friends and family in the US will be moving back, so I'm sure as soon as I have it figured out for October I'll be totally confused again for November! LOL!

On the other hand, another part of our adventure seems to be turning toward the good. On Friday, we heard that Customs is done with their inspection of our belongings, so it looks like we may be getting our stuff this upcoming week! (Maybe, no dates have been set yet.) I haven't slept on our bed since May 27, over four months ago. I cannot tell you how I am looking forward to it!

Friday, October 02, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
John's birthday was yesterday here in Australia, and today in the US. It's funny, that means John and David are celebrating their birthday a day apart even though they were born only four minutes apart. :)

We had a good time! Had a little birthday party dinner with Mel and Andrew and Sarah the night before, then John and I stayed at home all day on Friday (John got the day off work, and now we have an additional three-day weekend - yay!) and we watched TV and movies for the whole day. He got the first season of The Sopranos so he's introducing me to the show. It's... interesting. :)

Now we still have three more days to do whatever we want. But it's supposed to rain on and off all weekend (welcome to spring!), so I don't know if we'll go out much. John got plenty of TV and movies for his birthday to keep us entertained for most of the weekend though!

Hope you all are having a great weekend!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Checking In

(Kitty) Just wanted to tell you we're doing well, if in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to our belongings. Customs still has custody of all of our stuff, so we're still sleeping on a mattress on the floor and eating off borrowed plates. But... it's all part of the adventure, right?

I co-hosted a baby shower for our friend Rachel yesterday. (John works with and is friends with Simeon, her husband.) Everyone had a good time - the ladies painting baby clothes, and the men out in the park grilling sausages and drinking beer.

You've probably all heard of the crazy dust storms here. Someone told me yesterday that we haven't had this kind of weather in 50 years! Another bit of the adventure. And personally I'm happy to have a few days of cooler temps again.

Tomorrow I am going to an open house for the postgraduate program at University of Technology Sydney. I hope to decide for sure then if I want to apply to their Master of Creative Writing program.

John is doing well, enjoying his job. He is going to an open life drawing class on Monday nights. And I'm going to go to a free drawing class at church Monday nights in October. It's for people who might want to learn to draw better for teaching children and/or Sunday School, or for anyone who just wants to learn to draw. I firmly believe in cross-pollinating one's creativity! LOL!

Speaking of creativity, I met with a group of romance writers on Saturday. Awesome crowd! They're going to vote on whether to invite me for a trial period, see if we all work together well. (It's looking good that I'll get an official invite.) I'm quite excited about getting back into my writing again finally. It feels like I'm beginning to breathe again. Ahhh... :)

We'll post again when something interesting happens, or when we have time, whichever comes first. PLEASE pray Customs lets us have our stuff this week. I'm tired of trying to plan my life around the waiting. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Red Dawn

(John) I had heard yesterday that we were in store for a windy day today, but WOW, I was not ready for what Sydney had in store for us early this morning. Here are a variety of pics from around Sydney...


We are not sure where the dust was picked up from, but it hit All of Sydney and surrounding cities. The dust has settled around 12:00pm, but the winds are suppose to continue through the day. One quotes from an Australian news web site had the photographer saying he was "Expecting Martian war machine to lurch into view any minute."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CHANGES

(John) As some of you might have noticed, we have made a couple of changes to our blog. I have added a new graphic and a slide show of all the latest pictures of our adventure in Sydney. I have also added a gadget to let you subscribe to our blog (I think.) I will keep fiddling with things off and on so keep checking back form more stuff. Amid these changes I accidentally deleted a post of Kitty's. Sorry about that!

Thanks for sticking with us and checking our blog for our latest exploits!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

PONYO

(John) A dozen of us from Dr D. went out last night and saw Hayao Miyazaki's latest film, PONYO. I had wanted to see the American dubbed version of the film at a local theater, but found the experience of the undubbed version of the film a unique experience. It was subtitled in English, but did not find the subtitles distracting or taking any of my attention off this wonderful film. This film reminds me more of Kiki's Delivery Service in it's artwork and style and not the detail of films like Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke, but this did, in no way, make me enjoy the film any less. Once again, Miyazaki fills his story with his wonderful imagination and unique characters, and while the story is based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," Miayzaki gives his story his unique and updated twist. You could not help but laugh and cheer along the little mermaid "Ponyo," in her quest to become a human girl so she could spend time with her new love, Sosuke. Every adult there loved the film, but it could easily be a real film that a whole family could go see.
No matter what version of the film you see, I recommend you go see it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another Update

(Kitty) I made a note on my to-do list to post again on our 3-week anniversary here. But then we found out we got the apartment we wanted and I got busy and didn't have time to post. The same item was on my to-do list for our 4-week anniversary, too, but between my limited Internet access and all that had to be done to move, I didn't have time for that either! But I wanted you all to know I have been thinking about you, and thinking you might want to hear more! LOL!

The shorter version is - we are officially moved in and pretty darn happy with our new home! I didn't anticipate all the expenses we've had, so our priorities ended up a little lopsided. For instance, we have no furniture but we do have our very own (and our first!) big screen TV! LOL! It's a Samsung 37" HD TV for those technogeeks who want to know. :)

For those of you who are dying to know the answer to the question - yes, it turns out we do have cockroaches. Sigh. I killed one a couple days after we moved in, then four more in the last 24 hours. Someone hypothesized that the recent ones might have come with the used fridge that was delivered a few hours before I saw the last four. Sigh. But I got a quote from a pest control service and I'm going to make sure they all die!

We now live across the street from a nature reserve. (I keep wanting to say "preserve" as I would in the States, but the sign says "Fred Hollows Reserve.") It's great to live in the city and have the sounds of the country. But do the birds really have to start singing so loud and so early?? LOL! At least I guess we'll be getting up early enough for our morning runs before work!

Since we live quite close to the beach and the coastline is a bit hillier, we have to walk up a short but steep hill to get from the bus stop to our home (then up two flights of stairs). We have to walk up a medium sized but steep hill to get to the beach, and we have to walk up a long, curvy, steep hill to get to downtown Randwick (where Mel and Andrew live, where church is, shopping, and for changing buses to go other places). So unlike those old-timers who made a joke of it, we can truthfully say, "We have to walk uphill both ways!"

That's all I can think of for now. There are a few other things mixed into a blog I wrote for my writing site - Routines for Writers - if you want to peruse that as well. Hope you're all having a nice summer. It's been the hottest winter on record here! Drat! I was sooo looking forward to WINTER! LOL!
Appliance Update!

We now have a refrigerator! Our friends Mel & Andrew just bought a new fridge because they needed the room now that they have Sarah. They were nice enough to give us their old one! We can now have cold food and perishables! Sweet!
Tuesday should bring internet too.

P.S. I have dubbed our new place Ch√Ęteau Rose after the numerous stained glass windows that all have roses on them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekend Shopping

Well, we spent the weekend going out and buying some of the essentials for our new apartment. O.K., essentials might be pushing the definition of the word. Our "essentials" included a TV, VCR, stereo, sandwich press, microwave oven and a shower curtain. We still have to pick up a vacuum cleaner, kettle, and toaster. Now that we have those things, we plan in a couple of weeks to get a couple more things, like a couch, chair, and a shelving unit or two.

Our items that we shipped (our bed and other items) should get through customs/quarantine in the next couple of weeks. We estimated that we should have everything set up and ready for guests in October if anyone wants to visit.

We also just got our home phone hooked up and should be getting sim cards for our cell phones in the mail very soon. We will have our internet set up in the next week or two.

Pictures of some our day trips will appear here as soon as Kitty can get them on a flash drive for me to post.

STAY TUNED!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Praying for Friends

(Kitty) Just another day of furniture shopping for me, and working for John. But when I finally got an Internet connection late on Tuesday, I found out that one of our friends' mother died, and one of our friends' friend died. Please pray for them all.

Love and Hugs to all of you! Thanks for commenting on our blog and on Facebook. It sure makes you feel that much closer!!

Love, Kitty :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Expensive Stuff, Nice People

(Kitty) We spent the weekend window shopping for furniture and appliances. Shocking prices. Of course, we've bought almost nothing new ever except refrigerators and lower priced items like microwaves and other small appliances. Oh, we bought a new mattress and box spring 8 years ago, that's it. So, wow, the prices are really eye-opening.

Most of our friends say eBay is the way they buy used items here. So maybe we can get some things that way. I have a "thing" about where I'm sitting or sleeping. I want to know the cushions or whatever are truly clean, no baby pee, no beer spills, etc. So we're seriously considering getting new couches from IKEA. I don't mind a used fridge or dining table or washing machine. Still time to window shop though since we don't get to move in until Friday 28 August. Shopping is exhausting, but it's also exciting trying to decide what we want our new home to look like!

Remember how we're always saying what great people we meet in Sydney?? Well, Sunday morning we were waiting for a very late bus, patiently, even though we were going to be quite late to church. A car stopped near the bus stop while the stoplight was red and the woman driver called out to John. Next thing I know, John is motioning me over. This very nice woman around our age, Pauletta, and her incredibly cute and sweet 9-year-old niece Laura Ann were on their way to a cousin's birthday party and thought they'd offer us a ride! We were amazed! They were both so nice and we had a fun conversation for the brief ride. Pauletta dropped us off in front of our church and waved and drove on. Wow! Even our friends at church were surprised!

The other nice thing that happened over the weekend was that we finally got to meet the couple from our church in LA who gave us the plane tickets. The four of us had lunch at Pancakes on the Rocks restaurant. They're famous for - obviously - their pancakes, so we all ordered some. But were they breakfast or lunch or dessert?? John and I had chocolate pancakes with fruit with a dollop of chocolate ice cream on top. Kevan and Debbie had regular pancakes with fruit and vanilla ice cream. (They had cool names for each item - Chocolate Suicide or something, Blackforest Cherry or something, I just can't remember them! LOL!) The four of us had a wonderful lunch and a great time together!

God is so good!! Amazingly and wonderfully generous and good!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pictures of our new apartment!

Hey everyone, here are some pictures of our new place. These were the pictures posted on-line to help sell the place. It is a spacious 3 bedroom, 2 bath place in Randwick. It's in an older building, but one that has been well kept and meticulously maintained.
The place is unfurnished and we plan on going to start furniture shopping soon.
We met with the owner who was very nice and wanted to meet the people who were going to rent their place. We had a nice talk about ourselves and we all got along very well. She seemed very happy with us and we put down the deposit yesterday. As soon as we move in, we'll start accepting reservations for
HOTEL BUCHOLTZ.

(First two pictures are of the living room from different angles.The third is the kitchen. The last is from the balcony.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Housing Update

(Kitty) Heard back from the owner of the flat - she wants to meet us tomorrow/Thursday. The realtor says this is unusual, but not a bad sign. I think the place must be owner-occupied, so it makes sense you'd want to know who is living in your home while you're not there. Sure hope they plan to be gone for a couple of years though!

Nothing much new to report except that. John and I ran again today. We were in awful shape two weeks ago, but walking miles and miles really makes a difference! This was John's third run since we got here and my second, and we already did significantly better than the first run last week. We're doing pretty well, all things considered, and we're happy with our progress so far. We were going to go to the gym tomorrow, but like the other days we didn't exercise, we are instead going to meet the apartment owner. We're soooo hoping this place becomes ours for the entire time we're here!!!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

So Much Going On!

(Kitty) Wow, there are so many things we’d love to share with you! Life has been a whirlwind of activity since we arrived. Let’s try to catch you up. I put everything in subcategories, but I put in EVERYTHING, so feel free to skim! LOL!

House Hunting

We arrived on Friday 31 July (as Aussies write it) and started looking at apartments on Saturday. We saw two that looked okay but weren’t really what we wanted. Monday I went to John’s work and was welcomed to use the Internet to search for apartments while John worked. The last time we were here, there were seemingly more people than apartments and John and his co-workers had a difficult time finding a place. This time I was surprised to find a LOT of apartments that fit our initial requirements – about 3 dozen!

Monday I found “the perfect place” and emailed some of our friends back home to pray for us. But the first showing for the apartment would not be until Friday, so we made plans to see several others. Every day we rushed to take the bus to an apartment for its 15 minute inspection. You have to have seen the apartment in person in order to apply for it, and you have to get there during the 15-minute window when the realtor is showing it. Many of the places we saw were “okay” but I wondered if they were the best we would be able to find.

One was so bad looking, when we were out of sight of the realtor, John looked over his shoulder and started running! It was just to make me laugh, but also to make a point – we could NOT live there! Sadly, I saw one more that was so much worse than the one we saw together that I had to hold my breath as I walked around, then left quickly because it smelled so bad. I don’t understand the reasoning behind not cleaning the apartments before they’re seen. Seems like more people would want to rent them. But maybe you just get used to imagining what it will look like after it’s cleaned. I don’t know. Apparently our imagination isn’t quite that good. LOL!

Thursday I saw an apartment near Coogee Beach in a building of six. All six had been completely renovated and the place was really wonderful! I made a second appointment with the gracious realtor – whose name is James Cameron! – for John to see it Friday morning. We filled out all the paperwork on this one just in case the pictures for the “perfect” place didn’t prove to meet reality. I also saw a GORGEOUS 3-bedroom “executive” apartment Thursday that I fell in love with. Unfortunately, the price is well above our price range.

Finally Friday afternoon arrived and John and I were the first ones to show up at “the perfect apartment” for the inspection. Immediately we noticed the first imperfection – the place is about a block (an American block!) from the bus stop and up what surely must be a 30 degree incline hill! My legs and lungs were working hard to get me up there, and all I could think of was, “How will I make it with two sacks of groceries?!” LOL!

Nonetheless, we barely walked into the apartment and knew it was everything we wanted! It’s three bedroom, two bath, with a large living room, a large kitchen with dining room area, and a good-sized laundry room, on the second floor. The floors are mostly carpeted (I think it’s just the kitchen and laundry room that are not), and most rooms have slatted wooden doors. Above the doors are stained glass. It’s so beautiful! There is a large balcony overlooking a small nature preserve, and a large garage with a car space for each apartment.

I hadn’t even seen the whole thing before John and I were sitting down filling out the application. Since we had filled out one the day before, we already had all the information we needed – a Godsend. We talked to the very nice realtor and told her a bit about ourselves and why we were here, etc. I even told her that, just like the current resident who asked that everyone take off their shoes before coming in, we also don’t like shoes on the carpets. She said that actually might affect the owner’s choice! {grin}

So right now we sit and wait. The realtor and owner will go over all the applications and the owner will decide. We’ve been told by several people that because we aren’t uni students (uni = university) and we don’t have kids, that will push us way up the list. Yay!! We’ll let you know – we should hear today or tomorrow. (By the way, when you see I posted on Sunday, according to Blogger, it’s really Monday here.)

Oh! And one of John’s co-workers is probably lending us a car! More about that when we know more.

Exercise

As most of you know, John and I ran a half marathon a mere six months ago. But we lost nearly all of our gains during our pre-move, move, and post-move. Well, there were “gains” but they were the fat kind! LOL! So after the miles of walking we did the first weekend we were here, we felt motivated enough to try a run on Tuesday. It was quite funny! Or sad, depending on how you look at it! LOL! We did mostly 2 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking, over and over until we circled the golf course. I’m embarrassed to say that according to MapMyRun, that’s only about 1.55 miles! Eeek! LOL!

But we are determined to persevere and get in shape. Wednesday we went swimming in the pool at the apartment complex. I’m not sure, but I think the smaller pool we were in was a salt water pool. I was very buoyant, and I usually half-sink. LOL! Thursday, we overslept and only got up in time for John to get to work, but we stopped at a gym and got information on joining. Friday, we had to leave at 7:30 to get to an apartment inspection. Saturday we went down to the Farmer’s Market, then took the Ferry to Manly and walked around – much more fun than running! LOL! Today, Monday, John got up and ran twice around the golf course while I slept. Tomorrow we plan on going to the gym at the apartment complex. We’ve only been here 10 days, but all the walking is already showing changes in how we look. Enough to be encouraged!

Cockroaches!

You waited for it. You’ve been wondering if I’ve seen any yet. And the answer is – yes! And no. I saw some, but not in our apartment or John’s work or church or anywhere they REALLY SHOULDN’T BE! (Thank you, God!!) But I was disgusted by where I did find them – at the pool. I went into the women’s locker room for the required shower before swimming and immediately saw two. I placed my clothes on a dry area of the counter, showered, saw another one, went back for my clothes, and saw two ON THE COUNTER. I prayed and prayed and prayed none were in my clothes as I hurried out!

I was so glad that the custodian was cleaning the floors when we arrived. But cleanliness doesn’t necessarily keep out cockroaches. (Like ants, they’re often looking for water.) While I was swimming, I saw two more. One was two inches long!!! Again, many prayers and much begging that none were on or in my clothes as I dried off and put them back on. I loved swimming there, but I don’t know if I can deal with the cockroaches and return. We’ll see.

Food and Friends

All of our Aussie friends have been laughing and teasing me about Thai food since we arrived. If you remember our stories from before, there are a TON of Thai restaurants here and it seems nearly everyone eats at them. It wasn’t until our goodbye lunch last time that I told our friends I really didn’t like Thai food – after nearly a year of eating it with them! So last Friday Mel and Andrew treated us to Italian food (wonderful!). But Saturday I’m almost sure (I was so tired that first weekend!) that we ordered Satay Chicken at a Thai place – the one Thai dish I like. (Satay is a peanut sauce, so peanut butter-loving me really likes it!)

Last night Steven and Kate treated us to an Indian food restaurant and we had a couple different kinds of curries with rice. Delicious! (I think John and I will have to return to that place!) But on the way walking to that place, Steven made a game out of counting how many Thai places we walked past – nine! In just a few blocks!

Yes, I bought some vegemite and have had it on toast, on sandwiches, and as a snack on buttered bread. Mm, yum!

I’m finding more and more herbal teas I like – the ones that don’t actually have tea in them, but are fruits or mints or whatever. John found one that is blackcurrant and tea that he loves.

We’ve eaten a few times at our favorite chicken place – Chicken George. And we bought a loaf of delicious but expensive bread at our favorite bakery – Brumby’s. And we drank one and a half bottles of our favorite alcohol – Maxwell Mead.

And we’ve already eaten FOUR packages of our favorite cookies – Arnott’s Tim Tams. (Regular and caramel for John, dark and mint for Kitty. YUM!) John calls them the devil’s cookies now. LOL! We also are on our second box of Arnott’s pizza-flavored Shapes crackers. I think they’re coated with crack cocaine because you can’t stop eating them. John says Arnott’s is the devil. But we still buy the devil’s food. LOL!!

Actually, no more Tim Tams for a while – need to watch what we’re eating. We’re doing pretty well, actually. I think we’ve split our meals every time we’ve gone out except that first lunch here. (The wait in Customs was long and we were starving by lunch time. Note if you travel here – make sure the bottoms of your shoes are clean! We used to run down a street in Santa Monica that had trees with some kind of berry that fell to the sidewalk all the time. Customs pretty much steam cleaned our running shoes before letting us in the country, and asked us to make sure the shoes are clean next time.)

Oh, I did have an off-the-wagon moment Saturday night. Kate picked me up to go to a woman’s event at church called Chocolate, Stress, and God. It was so fun! There was one moment when I thought I was in the middle of the “Calendar Girls” movie – all those great accents and the funny things we talked about. LOADS (as Aussies say) of chocolate, chatting, and then a great speaker discussing stress and how to handle it and how chocolate fits in.

Did you know that four squares of dark chocolate (less than half a candy bar, the darker the better) per day has the same affect on your blood as half an aspirin? So if you need to thin your blood, eat dark chocolate! Also, there is a chemical in chocolate that is the same one women produce when they first see (or kiss or fall in love) with “the” man. That’s why women associate chocolate and love together. I’d always thought it was a myth! The great part of that night was that the speaker, a medical doctor, encouraged us for our good health to have planned down time. Guilt-free down time! Woo-hooo!!!! The affects of stress can last up to six months or a year! It is NOT good to ignore the signs, not even from "good" stress like getting married or having a baby or getting a great new job. If you want to know more, let me know. Especially, you Los Angelenos out there!

What’s Next?

Today, Monday, I’m doing a bit of waiting to hear from people – the realtor about the apartment, the finance person at John's work about the bank form for direct deposit, etc. – so today I may go window shopping for furniture and appliances. We need a refrigerator and a washing machine (I’m so excited! My first washing machine purchase!) and a microwave, as well as a couch and a TV, etc. Most things are a bit more expensive here, but some things surprise you at how much or how little they are. I was thinking of getting a $60-100 microwave – here that will run us $190-250! But at the farmer’s market there was a custom furniture maker offering a mission style, sleigh bed looking bedstead with two matching night stands for $1190. That was much less than I would expect to pay.

So some window shopping, checking out how to get to Sydney Uni from here. (I’m almost certainly going to apply to University of Sydney to get a master degree in creative writing!) Go back to the apartment and wash the dishes and finish the laundry. Send my sister and mom a birthday card. Do some writing. You know, all the other stuff I wasn’t doing when I was running around looking at apartments! LOL!

John is enjoying his job. He is working with many of the same people as he did on Happy Feet 1, and he likes them. After the crush of working 7 days a week, 12+ hours a day at the end of AVATAR, he is feeling very easy-going only working Monday through Friday 9 to 6. I’m thinking of applying for some part-time work on the film, if they’ll have me. The people are great, and it will make me happy to be involved in a film again. Plus it will be extra money for school tuition and books and stuff.

Hope you’re all well and happy and healthy. We’ll write again as soon as we can.
God bless you!!!
Love, Us

Sunday, August 02, 2009

We're Here!!!

(Kitty) We made it! We're "back home" in Sydney! The plane ride was so much fun that it seemed too short! LOL! There were so many movies we still wanted to see! John's co-worker Greg picked us up at the airport, his eyebrows raised in shock at how much we'd brought with us!

Friday we spent a good portion of the day at John's work. I got to tag along and meet people and see people we haven't seen for a few years, so I very much enjoyed it. That evening we caught up with our fabulous friends Mel and Andrew and met baby Sarah - who's hardly a baby anymore! We had dinner together, tried to catch up on "everything" but John and I were nodding off early in the evening and Mel drove us back to the corporate apartment we're in. We were both in bed and dead asleep by 8:30.

Saturday was a fun day. We woke up after an incredibly restful night's sleep and started walking all around. We saw a LOT of our old favorite spots, ate at Chish and Fips on Coogee Beach - our favorite fish and chips shop - and met up with Mel and Andrew again to go see some apartments. Mel was a huge help, and we closed in on figuring out what we do and don't want. Then we joined up with Andrew and Sarah playing in the park, and talked and soaked up the warm winter sun. (It's been mostly sunny with highs in the 60s, overnight in the 40s, and looks like another week of the same coming up!)

Saturday night we again had dinner with Mel and Andrew and Sarah, but we were even more tired. Or just STILL tired. Mel laughed at me falling asleep a dozen times during "Finding Nemo" and took us home at about 8pm. We promptly fell asleep and slept all night again.

Sunday we went to church at our old church, Randwick Presbyterian, and saw a BUNCH of old friends! Even made some new ones. It was a great morning. We bought some groceries (we're staying in a corporate apartment for a month, so it has a kitchen) and lugged them home, partially on the bus, partially walking about a half mile. We had the most relaxing lunch of fried chicken from Chicken George (another favorite), read our books for an hour, then took the bus downtown - it's called the CBD, or Central Business District. We wandered around some more of our favorite shops till our feet were killing us, then looked for a bus home.

And looked...

And looked...

And couldn't find one! We are staying in an area we're unfamiliar with, so we're also unfamiliar with the bus lines going to and from that area. We finally decided to take a bus back to Randwick since that's where we used to live and we know how to get there, then take a bus from there to where we're now staying. Thankfully, we recognized a street about halfway to Randwick, Anzac Parade and the Fox Studios where John used to work, and John remembered how to get to our apartment from there. Unfortunately, it was by WALKING MORE!

We were so sore and tired when we got home we couldn't think of anything we wanted more than to soak our sore feet. John filled the tub with icy water and we put our feet in - yelling and laughing the whole time! We heated up some soup for dinner to warm up, then decided to read some more... while it lasted. John fell asleep just before 7pm, so I nudged him to go brush his teeth and get ready for bed. While he did, I started nodding off, too! So by 7:15pm, we were both sound asleep again. And stayed that way until nearly 5am!

That brings you up to date to today. Got ready for work, I walked John over so I could use the Internet and look for apartments, and no one was here! Turns out they come in at 9am, not 8am! But all day everyone has been WONDERFUL to us. I've been looking online for apartments while John gets back in the groove. Several of his co-workers have given us all kinds of advice, which makes the whole thing easier.

I'll write again when I can and let you know how the apartment hunt goes. There is a "perfect" place that we're trying to get in to see on Tuesday or Wednesday, and another nice place we'll probably see Tuesday. When the apartment hunt is over, my next task is to apply to university!! Hurray!!

Hope you're all well!!! We'll post pictures when we can. We have lots of them for you!!
Love, Kitty & John :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Almost There!

(Kitty) It's amazing how much work it is to move to another country. There are phone calls, problem solving, emails, brainstorming, phone calls, crisis management, more emails, and then a few more phone calls.

It's Monday night and we're staying up waiting to get confirmation that we have tickets to fly out on Wednesday night. (We're staying up because Monday night here is Tuesday afternoon in Sydney.)

While there is still several big things that need to be completed (getting the tickets, getting the motorcycles prepped for storage, figuring out how to get us and all of our stuff to the airport and then getting our car to a friend who will sell it for us, packing the last few things and weighing the suitcases for the last time), the bulk of it all is done.

And thank goodness for that... because my brain is almost totally fried!

We'll write again when we can find an Internet cafe in Sydney! Love to you all!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Traveling All Around

(Kitty) We've been traveling all around Michigan for the last month, with a couple quick trips to Ohio and Chicago. It's been a GREAT time - saying goodbye to people, seeing our favorite old haunts, and experiencing the wonderful Michigan weather - from lows in the 40s and raining to highs in the 90s with high humidity. Good thing we packed a little of every kind of clothing!

We've seen almost all of our family - which is awesome - and a lot of our friends and sights we wanted to see. It's been an adventure - sometimes not a good one, but mostly good - to be sleeping in a different bed/hotel what felt like every night. We had a wonderful motel on Mackinac Island! What a blessing it was to be able to fall asleep in the dark and quiet of an island that doesn't allow cars. We rode bikes all one day, trying to dodge the occasional piles of horse manure on the roads. And we walked a lot, sometimes in the rain. It was pretty wonderful.

The whole trip has been pretty wonderful, even though we're tired. There are still several things that need to be done in Los Angeles before we leave for Sydney, but God has blessed us with so much that it's pretty easy to believe everything else is going to turn out just fine. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

AVATAR: The Game

Well folks, for all the time I've not been writing on the blog, I've been working on a movie. The movie, as many of you have already heard, is James Cameron's AVATAR. While I can't show you anything about the movie, this article shows you images from the game that will give you an idea of what is in the movie.

>>>>SPOILER ALERT<<<<
If you guys don't want to see anything about the movie, I would stay away from the article :)

>News of the game and screenshots<


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Amazing Grace!

(Kitty) Our trip to the Bay Area was wonderful! I'm not sure how it could have gotten any better unless we stayed longer. The drive was long (about 7 hours) but not awful. We got to spend three days with Myk and Annie and Grace, and then we finally got to surprise Annie on the last day - when Jill and Dwight arrived for the day! (Jill and I are co-godmothers, and Dwight and John are co-godfathers.)

We all walked to the park to play and hang out for a while, had a barbecue on Myk's new grill, played some Guitar Hero, and thoroughly enjoyed catching up with each other. (We all used to be in the same Bible study and something happened there - we just became family.)

And our little Grace amazed us all with her incredible talents! She only just turned 13 months old and she says so many words so clearly that you can actually communicate with her! She knows some of her letters, lots of shapes/pictures of animals and bugs, and she dances to the theme music for "The Sopranos." (Yes, that last one is disturbing. LOL!)

Here she is:


And here are all of us together:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For the Love of Grace

(Kitty) So excited! Tomorrow morning we leave for the San Francisco Bay Area to visit our awesome friends Myk & Annie and our beautiful goddaughter, Grace! I can't wait. It's going to be a blast.

Things are going well with the moving - the movers have our stuff and have been paid, so it really will be in Sydney in a few months. LOL! We now are needing to sell our car, visit a ton of people, and try to relax despite the busy schedule. Altogether, God is very good!! :)

P.S. Anyone know of someone in the LA area who wants to buy a 2005 Dodge Neon?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Writing Retreats Rock!

(Kitty) My four-day writing retreat is over halfway done and I am soooo happy and relaxed! Ahhhh...

Going to see if we can get the DVD player connected to the TV here so we can all watch AUSTRALIA together. Woo-hooo!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

BIGGEST LOSER

(Kitty) We had the most delicious meal yesterday - big meaty sandwiches, micro-brewed beer, and later a brownie for dessert. Mmm...

Then we weighed ourselves this morning as we do every Monday. Eek!

So today we decided to have a weight loss competition! We are both going to try to lose 22 pounds by July 2, a little more than 2 pounds per week. Eek! The person who loses the most weight gets $50 to spend however they want. If the runner-up reaches at least 75% of their goal, they get $20.

I don't care that much about the money, it's the competition that is making this fun! All I can say is - the game is on!!

P.S. Vote for ME!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

37 Days and Trying Not to Count

(Kitty) Only 37 days till we'll be moving out of our apartment. EEK! Sooooo much to do. So I guess I'll get back to it.

Wish us luck!!! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Busy or Boring?

(Kitty) I have a reminder message that pops up twice a week reminding me to post here. Yet it's been five weeks without a post. Granted, we are SO BUSY getting ready to move. But maybe we just lead boring enough lives that I can't think of anything you'd be interested in knowing.

In fact, I don't know if anyone reads this at all! :) Most of our friends seem to have gravitated to Facebook and I've been caught up in that pull.

I don't know, but in my mind I still can't think of what you would find interesting to read. So I thought I'd post that thought here and let you know. Tell me if I'm wrong!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I Love Surprises!

(Kitty) Thursday John sent me an instant message asking if I wanted to pick him up for lunch on Friday. It's been weeks, maybe months, since he was able to leave during his lunch so I was happy to change my plans.

Friday morning we woke up early (as usual) and watched an episode of TV. I was watching the clock when it was about time for John to get ready for work - when he turned to me and said, "What if I told you I don't have to go to work today?"

I shrieked and starting kissing him dozens of times! LOL! What a GREAT day we had! And it ended with John's company treating the employees (and spouses!) to a night at the movies seeing WATCHMEN.

The day was so relaxing, such a great change from our normal life, that we both slept so great for the first time in weeks. Ahhhh... Thank you, God! :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Book Progress

(Kitty) Hi guys! I just found this awesome little graphic on the Writertopia site! Here is my current book progress for my brand new book. I'll try to keep this updated so that I can get encouragement and/or a kick in the pants from my friends! LOL!

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Update

These are some of the things Kitty has been doing lately:
  • Spent 12 hours driving to San Diego, meeting with a Harlequin romance editor, getting encouragement, and driving home last Saturday
  • Spent 4 1/2 months putting off sending my hero book to an author I'd won a critique from in October
  • Spent 15 minutes writing an email and sending the book to the author yesterday
  • Spent undocumented hours getting tax information together, drove it to accountant today
  • Spent undocumented hours getting information for Australian immigration, not done yet
  • Spent 5 hours Wednesday with writer friends brainstorming on our books and eating chocolate - the books are all the better for it
  • Spent 5 minutes today trying to think of something funnier to write here
These are some of the things John has been doing lately besides working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Writing Opportunity

(Kitty) Tomorrow, Saturday, I am driving to Escondido to the Romance Writers of America San Diego chapter's monthly meeting. Mary Theresa Hussey, an Executive Editor at Harlequin/Silhouette Books, will be giving her feedback on what an editor sees when they read the first couple pages someone sends them.

The great part is that everyone attending the meeting has the opportunity to send in their first two pages for her to look at. So tomorrow maybe I'll hear something great about my work... like, "Hey, I like this, send us more!" LOL!!

Hey, a girl can hope...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good People

(Kitty) Driving John to work this morning through the morning rain, suddenly our conversation was cut short when the car in front of us hit a pedestrian!

John jumped out immediately to help the woman, while I turned on our hazard lights and reached for my phone. I noticed the driver was already out and on the phone, so I started praying for God to be with us and help the woman. I remembered we had a thick beach blanket in the trunk, so I grabbed it and wrapped it around her. Another pedestrian had already stopped and was holding the woman's head in her lap so she wasn't lying on the cold wet pavement. Another pedestrian helped find the husband's number in the woman's Blackberry. Yet another stranger stopped with a medical kit and started examining the woman while we waited for the ambulance.

I looked around and noticed the woman's belongings were scattered around the sidewalk so I gathered them up, turned her umbrella inside right, and moved to hold it over people. John was holding another umbrella, and another woman stopped and held her umbrella. When the EMTs showed up soon after, they saw a rainbow of people colors and umbrella colors working together to help protect a stranger.

When we were back in the car and on our way to John's work, all I could think about was how awesome God made people. Given the need, more of them are likely to step up and help, than not. And that is a really wonderful thing!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Fun Times

(Kitty) Some days just make me laugh more than others. Today I was washing the dishes and a commercial was playing on TV. I was thinking, funny, that guy sounds like my friend Haynes Brook. Just as the commercial ended, I looked and - hey, that looks like Haynes! The second best part about having DirecTV is being able to rewind live TV - so I did. And it was Haynes!

Same thing happened during the Super Bowl. Our friend Richard Clarke Larsen from church was on the (Nextel?) commercial - "if Roadies ran airports." Richard is the pilot if you ever see it. Very funny! And then we started talking with Cristine Rose at church who is in Heroes, so I enjoyed the funny Heroes commercial that played during the Super Bowl, too.

Seeing people you know on TV is one of the fun things about living in LA. :)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

We Did It!

(Kitty) Two days later, and we're still pretty darn tired but on Sunday, February 1, 2009, John and I ran our first Half Marathon! Yea!!! We ran the Surf City (Half) Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA. It was a beautiful day, cold and foggy in the early morning (much more comfortable for running!) and then clearing up with a light breeze later in the morning.

There were something like 15,000+ runners between the full marathon, the half marathon, and the 5K Fun Run! John was sick with the flu for three days before the race, so he was sweet enough to choose to run with me for the first 9.5 miles. But his knees were hurting from running "so slow" and I told him to go stretch his legs. :) John finished in 2 hours, 58 minutes, and I finished in 3 hours, 9 minutes. Slow, but John was getting over being sick and had been working so much overtime he had hardly any training in the last several weeks. For me, though, that was my best long-run time! I was VERY happy! And this is the longest run we've ever done, longer than any of our training (which topped out at 11 miles a couple of times).

Still tired, still craving meat (protein rebuilds the muscles), but I'm already getting excited for the next race - the Pasadena Half Marathon on March 22! Woo-hooo!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Little Earthquake

(Kitty) We had a little earthquake last night. Pretty cool. Apparently the epicenter was only 1-2 miles from our home, so here it felt HUGE but it was only a 3-point-something on the Richter scale. Like our friend Ray said - it felt like a huge dump truck fell from the sky into our yard!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I LOVE WRITING!!

(Kitty) I am on a writing retreat this week with my friend Shonna, and I AM GETTING SO MUCH DONE!! I am sooo happy!!! I have a fun idea, a solid outline, and pretty soon I'll be seeing the snowball effect of pages piling up! Wooo-hoooo!!!

I hope you're having a great week doing something that gives you joy, too! :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Finally of Age?

(Kitty) Can't help it, gotta say it - today is the 21st anniversary of the day John and I met! I know, mostly only girls care about this sort of thing, but still, I think it's pretty cool. :) John says he thinks it's weird that I think he's better than ever. But secretly, I think he loves it! ;)
Ignore This Story!

(Kitty) When you're looking at your calendar and monitoring the airfare from the United States to Sydney, and trying to decide when you're going to come visit us, don't go looking for stories like this. You just don't want to know. Come visit us anyway. Really, it's safe. (Maybe consider life insurance and be sure to say your prayers first, but... come visit us anyway.)

Click here if you just can't help yourself. But don't say I didn't warn you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's a Small World

(Kitty) Below is a message I got from my friend Juli in November that I've been meaning to share with you. Juli and her husband Alan and their three sons are missionaries in Russia. The stories they tell are always so interesting, but this one I found interesting because I have a lot of friends who have deaf friends and/or are interested in sign language.

No matter how big or small our family or community or the world, it seems bigger when you feel alone, and smaller when you find ways to communicate and make friends. I hope you are finding yourself in a small world today. :)


ANOTHER GLIMPSE FROM RUSSIA

Both of the translators did a nice job at the church service this morning. At the church we are attending now everything is translated, but the only language spoken is Russian. Can you guess what the translation is for? Yes, roughly half of the people attending are either deaf or hearing impaired. So everything that is spoken is translated into sign and everything signed is also translated into spoken Russian.

Today two young ladies stood in front of the congregation and signed a duet. Their feet moved slightly to a soundless beat and the joy on their faces reflected a music that no one could hear. A translator read the words into the microphone, but the nonverbal communication seemed much more poetic.

One of the most remarkable things about attending a "deaf church" is the warmth. Eye-to-eye people greet one another. A quick handmotion indicates gladness that you are there. Cheek-to-cheek women embrace. Men and women shake hands. And everywhere you look conversations are bursting out of people's hands. Those who don't speak sign are in the minority. I find myself gesturing and using animated facial expressions to communicate. Several of the deaf people can also read lips, but sometimes I wonder if my accent gets in the way. Still, we communicate.

In Russia, to be deaf is to be practically unemployable. Yet many of the people in the congregation have found work in some form or other. I can only imagine the struggles they have faced. Sunday mornings with them I see their joy. They don't come to the service just because it is Sunday morning. They come because they love God and want to worship Him. They are hungry for the sermons, singing, and prayer times.

At first, our boys weren't too sure about all the hand language. They swung their hands and arms around a bit, especially during singing. But now they are beginning to pick up some of the signs. Eric and Darin are attending Sunday school, which seems to be almost exclusively hearing kids although many know sign because their parents are deaf.

Last summer we met several of the deaf believers at camp. The church operates the camp on Lake Baikal where we held English and Family camps in July. The friendly smiles we saw everyday on the wooded paths, in the open air cafeteria and around the camp fire are there to welcome us on Sundays at the church service.

Perhaps you are wondering why we are attending here? It is where we fit for now. We continue to work with College students through Compass and desire that many of these students will come to know the joy that our deaf "Family", as well as our hearing "Family" has come to know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Tried Something New

(Kitty) John went to work early this morning and I didn't want to run in the dark alone, so I decided to do work until the afternoon and run then. I've never run in the afternoon, but because it's winter I thought it might be nice to run down the beach around sunset (which is pretty much late afternoon! LOL!) It was a beautiful 5-mile run! But there are two reasons I probably won't run in the afternoon very often. One, Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach where I was running had too many people in the late afternoon. Seemed I was always dodging around someone. Two, by the time I got home and took a shower it was nearly 6pm, and I was ravenous so I made dinner and watched an hour of taped TV while I ate. (The Mentalist, I love that show!) Now I'm so totally absolutely tired, I don't have the energy to do much of anything else! LOL!!

Sunday morning, I'm supposed to run 10 miles! Woo-hooo!! (Standing during the singing at church is going to tap me out energy-wise after that! LOL!) John has to work the weekend again, so he'll run whatever he has time for before work. Three weeks till the first race!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(Kitty) Today was a long-run day, so I decided to run 8 miles. That's the most I've run since the Pasadena Marathon was canceled on November 16. What made me so happy about my run today (just me, John was sick) was that I felt sooo good that I ran the whole way. Usually John and I do the Galloway Method - run for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minute - when we do our long runs. But it was so much cooler than it's been since my last long run in early November that I just didn't want to stop. I actually ran the entire 8 miles non-stop except for red lights on the mile to the beach and the mile home. It was absolutely awesome! I practically can't wait till next week - 10 miles on Saturday! Woo-hoo!!

I know a lot of people are thinking about New Year's resolutions right now. Let me just remind you - less than 9 months ago I couldn't run to the end of the block. Make a big resolution and keep working on it, slow and steady. You'll make it!! :)