October… the countdown to Christmas begins…

16 Oct

Wow, there must be some hormone that kicks in around mid-month that causes me to try and post something here.

I am knee deep in course work for my library certificate. It is stimulating and interesting but there just aren’t enough hours in the day are there folks… I actually just managed to skype with the rest of the students who are meeting today in New Hampshire, that was exciting, it is strange to be doing such intimate thinking with people so far away but that is the way things go these days.

Mum has been here for nearly three weeks and we are trying to make her time her as exciting as possible. She is out at Tommy Emmanuel now, went to the tennis masters last week and had a day at Suzhou with our friend Sandra too.

We have begun thinking more about Christmas and are really looking forward to catching up with a lot of different friends and family while we are back there for three weeks. Our week in Apollo Bay will be a highlight and we hope to actually have a bit of a holiday down there, that would be nice! I hope the weather agrees with us and we just get to spend some time doing not much at all…

Thanks to Mum for many of the photos below. I know the first one isn’t of October, but I really love it and as (for a change) Mimi doesn’t feature so much in this album, I thought it was only fair!


Posted in Family


August and September in the Power House

16 Sep

I can’t believe we’ve been back in Shanghai for eight weeks… every day brings us one step closer to the next holiday!!! Roll on October break… roll on Thanksgiving…roll on Christmas…I’ll stop there, the aging process and all!!!

Simon and I went to Bangkok last weekend and spent two nights in a great hotel with our friends Jenny and Tom who were there for a week. It was our first flight together without the kids, our first time overseas together without the kids and we all survived and thrived! School has been hectic this September however the happy group of students I have and the great teachers Hannah and Mimi have this year make it all worthwhile.

Last night we got to go to Mimi’s Open House at the Wonder Center… I love that place almost as much as my friend Amy Hossack loves living at the Links… We were amazed by the school’s set up as always and loved meeting with the four teachers who get to spend 5 days a week hearing our talkative child tell stories and make jokes; apparently her favourite things. We were saddened and surprised by how seriously some parents take the education of their 2-5 year old and it has given me a real insight into the mindset of many of the parents we have here at S.A.S. later on who are so concerned about pushing their child and keeping them busy-busy; that pressure sure starts early. We are just happy Mimi has a lovely safe place to play, be engaged, be stimulated and is learning to love to learn… isn’t that the most important thing? There are some great photos on Sue’s site and heaps of solid information about the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.

Hannah has her first swim meet this Saturday and will be competing in the 50m breast-stroke and free-style. We are excited to be there to cheer her on and then celebrate the day with a b.b.q. after wards. We have a day off next Wednesday for a Chinese National Holiday which will break up the week nicely and then we get to hear Jane Goodall speak on Friday which should be amazing, I am so excited I get to meet this amazing woman, it is her second time here but the first time I will see her at a small lunch and book signing event for 60 people…

Simon is continuing to look amazing and fade away…(not necessarily at the same time) and we celebrate 12 years of wedded bliss this Sunday…Yeah for us. Enjoy 20 short and sweet shots of the girls from the last month or so, no pics of Simmo, he won’t be photographed until he is in the B.M.I. normal range!!!

This week I started my course to become a librarian/media specialist through the same University I completed my Masters in last year, Plymouth State University. I have some work to do this weekend, and every weekend for a couple of month to complete the first course for three credits but it is something I’ve toyed with for awhile, so, onward and upward!

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Posted in Family


Mimi’s about to start school…Hannah began today!

17 Aug

Mimi has her two orientation days at the end of this week and begins school at The Wonder Center from 8-2 on the 24th of August. We are so excited she has the opportunity to experience an amazing bi-lingual experience at a location so close to home. Here are some snapshots my friend Jenny took at Mimi’s last day of school in June. Thanks Jenny, I know it was hard work for you with the children climbing all over you, not to mention the temptation of all of those cakes!!!

Meanwhile it was Hannah’s first day in Grade 4 today; also the first day of work with the students for Simon and I, it is great to have kids back in the classroom and see what you are in for for the rest of the year. It looks like my class are going to get along famously but the thrill I get from seeing how happy Hannah is in her new class is so exciting… She has a new teacher, Ms Lau and I think her year is going to be her best yet. Check out what Hannah is up to on her teacher’s class blog.

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Posted in Travel, Uncategorized


Mimi and the Big Blue Hat

12 Jul

What else does one do when one is watching the World Cup and NO GOAL HAS BEEN SCORED at the 89 minute mark!!!

These photos of Mimi were taken by me in Savitaipale, Finland at our friend Raija’s place in July 2010.

Just for fun…

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Posted in Mimi



28 Jun

We are in the South now, by a tiny little beach area called Vale de Centianes. We are eating lots of sardines and drinking red wine, eating sorbet and gelati and swimming swimming swimming. Today Han and I woke at 10, then we ate, we swam, we watched Get Smart, the soccer, swam, ate, swam and that was about it. Life is lovely here in the south of Portugal! Mimi is loving the pool, swimming naked and running around naked and even sleeping naked… we are all pretty much naked (much to Hannah’s dismay!)

Tomorrow we head here for some fun in the sun, Hannah and Simon style!

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Posted in Travel


Portugal… the first visit of many…

18 Jun

We’ve been to Spain, briefly to Barcelona in 1996…We’ve had four visits to France since then and consider Paris to be one of the most amazing cities in the world and we pretty much have an ongoing love affair with the south of the country, but this is our first trip to Portugal.

The Lisbon streets have more graffiti than perhaps any other city we’ve ever visited, we have trouble with communicating as we don’t know any Portuguese and the kids are going a little ‘stir-crazy’ in our small local apartment…BUT it is official WE LOVE PORTUGAL!

The sky is so blue, the air is so pure, all of the buildings have so much character and did I mention the food? Holy Mama, so delicious!

The best news is we still have two weeks to go!
Here is where we are off to next after our 12 days in Lisbon and Porto.

Three cheers for Portugal!


Posted in Travel


The Wonder Center

27 May

Yes Yes I know, sorry Aussies but really have to say Center not Centre when that is the name of the actual place!!! We are so lucky that I used to teach Izzy Leary and therefore met her Mum Sue who started this place back in March.
The Wonder Center is only two blocks from our house and ayi enjoys taking Mimi around there in the morning and bringing her home in time for her to enjoy lunch. Once school starts back in August Mimi will not only make her snack everyday, (the tortillas she made yesterday were amazing) but she will also make her lunch; sometimes using the ingredients from the garden she has grown with the help of the compost she has collected! I love it!

I had been feeling a fair bit of the old ‘mother guilt’ that I was now the only family member who hasn’t spent time there so I took the day off work yesterday and I am so glad I did. I was able to just go with the flow and get a really good look at all of the activities I have heard Mimi talking about for the last ten weeks. I always knew Early Childhood Workers had a tough job but wow, they just never stop, those little kids just really suck the life out of you with their contagious energy and thirst for knowledge.
Mimi moved from activity to activity so smoothly and knew what to expect every step of the way.

If you are unfamiliar with the Reggio Emilia Approach in Early Education you might want to read this article to find out more, Sue does an amazing job of never speaking down to the children and “The learning menu is highly diversified, ranging from dancing, coloring, painting, shaping clay, discovering one’s shadow, role playing and a whole host of stimulating experiences, such as helping one another, sharing a game, making friends and analyzing how things works so the child can find an appropriate comfort zone, which would allow optimum levels of expressions.”

It certainly eased some of the guilt seeing we have made the right decision to send Mimi along to a place where she is happy and safe as well as nurtured and loved.

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Posted in Mimi


May in Shanghai

16 May

Well, we have reached mid-May, and you know what that means?

We are 26 sleeps away from June 12th when we take off for Portugal, Finland and Sweden for 7 weeks of Summer, hooray!

There is a lot to accomplish in that time and friends to farewell however the general feeling in the air is a buzz and excitement over long summer days at the beach, playgrounds, sorbet and amazing European tapas and fresh seafood. We will be spending time with Raija, Jussi, Matias and Johannes in their new apartment in Helsinki as well as their Summer cottage that we were so fortunate to enjoy last year; we are very excited about returning there and about seeing Hannah’s friend Johannes that she went to school with for years in Shanghai.

Speaking of friends from Shanghai, as I sit typing this, Hannah is by my side on Simon’s laptop writing her own blog post on the new blog that has been created for her and her best friend Sydney to communicate to the world about their travel experiences, book reviews and whatever else takes their fancy. Their blog is the culmination of a five year friendship that has seen them visiting with each other in Thailand, America, nearly Abu Dhabi and this Christmas, Australia. They have written letters, skyped and e mailed and as parents we see as a great way for the two of them to continue their relationship and encourage each other with their writing, reading and technology skills.

May has seen Mimi in the second month of her schooling at The Wonder Center. We are so impressed with the work that Sue, her teacher, is celebrating there and feel very fortunate to have this sort of opportunity for Mimi just around the corner. She currently attends 5 days a week from 8.30 – 12.00 and come August this will increase for another couple of hours each day with her making and eating her own lunch there. So far she has cooked her own peanut butter, bread and muffins and has a lovely time each morning with the close-knit group of ten students aged a year younger and older than she is. If you are family or just a fan of cute Mimi… click on the link to photo pages and you will see what amazing facilities this place has and why we are feeling so fortunate, it is an early childhood centre’s dream come true.

Enjoy some of our photos and please take some time to check out Sydney and Hannah’s blog one of these days. It is a very exciting project for them and for their parents.

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Posted in Family


Hannah Turns 9

11 Apr


The Longest Home-Made Water Slide in the World…

02 Mar

This is the best fun ever ever ever. Over the Christmas holidays back in 2008 we stayed at Miranda and Andrews a fair bit and one fine day Andrew woke up and decided to make a water-slide and Simon decided to make a movie about the making of a water-slide. I don’t know who had more fun, the grown ups or the kids, well actually, yes I do, it was the grown ups for sure!

As always, wait for the video to load for maximum viewing pleasure and be sure to leave a positive and friendly comment to encourage Andrew for his next big project… surely a go-kart track is needed at Donald Land???