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.


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

(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.


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!


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 :)