Cottesloe, Perth

Our last afternoon in Perth,  we totally enjoyed this beach.  The kids new Aussie friend Brody recommended Cottesloe Beach, said it was one of the nicest around.  He was right.  This beach is famous for it’s terraced lawns overlooking the Indian Ocean.   The water was crystal clear, the powdery sand had a few shells, and the waves were gentle.  What a beautiful place to live!!

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There were many people at this beach, but most were hugging the shoreline, not going out far, despite the smooth water and lack of riptides.   We did notice a couple of swimmers who were getting in their workouts, swimming horizontal to the beach, swimming their freestyle in the ocean.   It was so peaceful, we just wanted to stay.  I could live in this beach town happily.

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On our way out, we stopped at a small general store across the street from the beach, looking for any type of souvenir, when I just happened to see the headlines in the newspaper.   The article was about how there is this group of senior citizens who brave the ocean every single day at dawn, to get their exercise in.  They call themselves “the chorus line” .   The article was about how most locals do not go to the beach as they used to, because recently there was a great white shark attack at this very beach where a swimmer was killed.  They knew it was a great white because they analyzed his speedo that washed up on shore.

What???  Right here on Cottesloe Beach?!?  A quick scan of the article and I read that there have been 11 fatal shark attacks in as many years right there in Western Australia.  Yikes!!   Holy smokes, that is really scary!

And my girl Maria, you know how crazy she is, she’s afraid a shark is gonna attack her in a swimming pool, this was too much for her.  She was done, no longing looks back at the ocean, no asking to stay just a few minutes longer, she was ready to go, she was done with the beach.

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UPDATE:  My sweet Aunt Vera sent me a note about the recent protests on this very beach.  I am posting a link to the news article.  It’s a must read!

 http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/21207700/wa-shark-cull-thousands-gather-at-cottesloe-beach-as-catch-and-kill-protests-ramp-up/

 

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Western Australia Long Course Swimming Championship

Last week I took the kids out of school so that they could compete in Western Australia’s Long Course Swimming Championships.

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All three kids qualified, and since I am THAT mom, you know, the one who thinks swimming is as important as school, (if not more important)  we took off Sunday morning for a 5 hour flight to Perth Australia.  Trent couldn’t make the trip because he was headed to Hong Kong and then Bangkok instead for work.

The kids haven’t been training regularly, as they missed 12 days of practice for our Christmas vacation,  they weren’t tapered, and honestly, I wasn’t even sure if their coach here in Singapore knew they were competing, so I wasn’t expecting too much at this meet as far as times go.  I was hoping that the kids would gain valuable racing experience, and make some new friends along the way.  When we lived in the states, I could say that we were in a swimming routine.  We knew most of the kids at the meets, we were familiar with the pools, were feeling pretty comfortable.  I was thinking that this would be a great learning experience for Maria, Shane & Cale, by getting them out of their comfort zone in a foreign country, where they don’t know anyone, are unfamiliar with the Australian rules and ways of doing things, didn’t know the pool, etc.

To say this experience far exceeded our expectations  would be an understatement.  My kids stepped up to the challenge, and loved every second of this adventure.

Cale is the only one who was nervous, which in turn effected his races.  But while he didn’t have any standout swims or massive time cuts in any of his six events, he was right on where he should have been, at or about his previous times.  Couldn’t ask for more!!

Maria had three events and cut time in two of them!  But only having three events over a four day meet meant that she had a lot of down time, where she was just sitting around, waiting for her brothers to swim.  At first, she used this time to do a little homework, do a lot of reading, do a little people watching, and do a lot of boy watching.  Everyone knows swimmers have the best bodies, but add to that the bronze tans, the highlighted hair, the accent, and super casual, laid-back attitude, and wah-lah, you have the Australian swimmer.

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On the third day she realized how nice the kids were, and began to make friends.  And since all the kids were interested and curious about the Americans at the meet, it was easy to make friends.  She left that meet with many new friends, and I am confident that she will continue to keep in touch with them.    And now I have a bargaining chip with her, since she desperately wants to return to Australia in April when we go for the National Championship meet.  She hasn’t qualified yet, and might not since she’s thinking of dropping swimming for a bit to try out for a school play.  Should I bring her with? I will use this April meet and work it best that I can, and then yes, I will probably take her with.   Remember, I am THAT mom, who believes that not all learning happens in the classroom.

Shane had 9 individual events to swim, and he swam fast enough in the prelims in the morning to qualify for the finals in the evening.  We would try to rest in the afternoon, between sessions.  He was pretty amped up, he was cutting time and doing well.   He quickly became the swimmer who everyone was watching, the 13 year old from America who swam fast.  The fact that he always wears a headband also makes him stand out, and at one point he was being interviewed for live streaming on the internet, and he was asked about those headbands, and why he does it.  He said, “Well, Ryan Lochte has his shoes, and I wanted something of my own”.   Love that!

Shane cut time in every event, achieved two more Speedo Sectional times (bringing the total to 4) and he broke a Western Australia All Four Corners Record in the 200IM.   He ended up with four 1st place finishes, two 2nd places, and two 3rd places, all in the 13 year old age group.  His 50 Breast stroke was classified differently since it was only a 50, and he made it to #14 overall, from kids aged 13 to 22.

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An unexpected bonus for us was that we got to meet James Magnussen, Australian Olympic swimmer and the current world champion in the 100 Freestyle.  Remember at the 2012 London Olympics when Nathan Adrian won the Gold medal in the 100 Freestyle?  Well, James Magnussen took the 2nd place Silver medal, he lost to Nathan by .01 seconds.  Yes, that’s the swimmer we met.

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Maria and I met him while the boys were swimming, literally in the water swimming.  Most of you know that at swim meet you will sit for hours and hours, waiting for a 30 second or 1 minute race.   Then you will wait hours and hours more for the next 60 second race.  Well, after waiting and waiting, my boys were finally up next, and heats right after each other, and I had to make the choice to watch my boys swim OR meet James Magnussen.   What do you think I did???

Of course, I met James!!  I was so excited and frazzled, feeling guilty for not watching my boys, that I completely forgot that I wanted to get a “selfie” photo, and instead got this one:

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Nice mention about Shane!
http://wa.swimming.org.au/article.php?group_id=546&id=2

“Watch List”

Christmas 2013 … we were so lucky to spend Christmas and New Years in Australia. We had a fabulous vacation .. that started a bit rocky.

By “rocky” I mean we almost spent our holiday in jail. I want to journal all about our adventures in Australia, but I must start at the beginning, when we first landed foot in Australia’s Gold Coast Airport.

We were scheduled to leave Singapore at 10:30 pm, and fly all night to Australia. We chose an airline that gives you the option to purchase their food, and since we all know what airline food tastes like, we opted to not eat it. Instead we hit up a Subway while still in the airport. We each ordered a foot long. Maria and I did not eat an entire 12 inches of sub, instead we wrapped up our remaining sandwich with the intentions to eat it on the plane, or to give it to Shane and Cale, our ever growing and always hungry boys. We specially ordered our sandwiches without veges or condiments so that it wouldn’t get mushy or icky.  It was just sub and turkey.  Plain Jane.

So, with said sandwiches in our bags, we boarded Scoot airlines, and all five us fell asleep almost immediately, awaking when our plane touched down on Australian soil. Trent woke a few minutes before the rest of us, and he filled in the mandatory immigration forms. No big deal, right? Except that he forgot we had sandwiches in our bag, and checked off “NO we are not carrying any food into the country”.

Shaking the sleep from our eyes, we went through the immigrations line, where we were asked if we had any food with us, and we all replied that we did not. We go through to the baggage pick up area, and another officer is asking everyone if they had food with them, and again, we said “NO”.

We completely forgot our half uneaten Subway sandwiches.

We gather up our bags, round the corner, where we are told to stand in a line and drop our bags. Then comes a drug sniffing dog, who sniffs our bags. The kids and I were oohing and awing, such a cute little beagle, who I see sniffing Marias bag, then sit down.   That dog was signaling that there is something in Maria’s bag!   My heart rate soars, I’m wracking my brains, terrified that someone put drugs into her bag when she we were all sleeping. The dogs handler grabs Marias bag and accuses her, “You have meat in there, don’t you”.

Maria and I remember at the exact same time … our Subway sandwiches!  Dear Lord.  Yes, we have meat in our bags!   We have food in our bags!!

My heart is pumping so hard that my vision is effected, I’m literally seeing white. The dog then sniffs my bag, sits down, and now Maria and I are pulled out of line.  We are in big trouble. Trent and the boys follow us, all of us unsure of what will happen next.

An immigrations officer then pulls out a scale, takes our subway sandwiches and weighs them.   I am not kidding, he weighed our sandwiches on a little food scale, one that he pulled out from underneath his counter.  He weighed them!   You cannot make this stuff up, really.

We each were subject to a fine of $66,000 and/or 10 years in prison! TEN YEARS IN PRISON!   For a half-eaten day-old plain Subway sandwich!   Maria would be 24 years old  by time I would get out. My boys will be 23. Oh my word, I’ll be nearly 60 years old! Who would take care of the kids for the next ten years? What about our dream of holding a koala bear? Would the kids stay in Australia and wait for us? Go back to Singapore? To America? Hudson? Pittsburgh? To Zelienople to my aging parents?  To Iowa to live out the next 10 years with my sister, her husband and their five boys?  To my sister-in-law, who is now an empty nester and happily working on building up her business?  Oh my gosh, I’m going to jail.  So many thoughts going through my head at one time.  Oh my gosh, I’m going to jail.  I’m going to jail.  Jail. Jail.

He then very seriously tells us that we are lucky that the sandwiches are half eaten, because if they weighed much more, the penalty would be the highest possible for us.     He then hands us a piece of paper, where he circles the penalty we are really facing,   a $340.00 fine.   Because Maria is a minor, Trent and I would be receiving her penalty as well.  My thoughts were jumbled, hitting my brain at warp speed. I looked at my dear husband, who was trying to explain to the officer that we just forgot, we literally forgot we had those sandwiches. He was taking the blame for filling out the forms wrong, saying that the rest of us were sleeping when he did so. But we each had signed off on our immigration cards, and yes,  we had technically lied. We lied three times about not having food with us, when in fact we did. I looked at my sweet boys, who were clearly confused at the situation, not understanding the seriousness of our predicament. I looked at my beautiful daughter, hair still messed up from sleeping on the plane, arms crossed and looking pretty mad at this delay. In what seemed like slow motion, I took in the faces of my sweet sweet family, and did what I had to do: I cried.

My eyes glassed over and a big tear rolled right out, down my cheek. Shane looked at me, shocked to see his momma cry, Cale looked concerned, and Maria was in complete disbelief. Oh yes, later I would be teased mercilessly about my tears. I had seen enough late night episodes of “Locked Up Abroad” to know that I was in big trouble. I was terrified. So yes, I own it. I cried.

I am not sure if this helped or not, or if it was Trent’s apologies, but before we knew it, we were given a severe warning, a virtual slap in the face, told we better not ever ever ever lie to customs officers again, enjoy your holiday, bye bye.  Oh, and from now on, you are on the “Australian Watch List.”

The five of us grabbed our suitcases and bags and took off so fast, fearing that he would have a change of heart and make my kids orphans.

When we rounded the corner, safely out of danger, we all looked at each other, giggled a little bit, laughed a little bit, all in complete disbelief at what just happened.

And we have this little souvenir too!

Australian Immigration

And that my friends, was the beginning of our Australian Adventure, Christmas 2013 & New Years 2014.

Crazy for Cronuts

Ever hear of a cronut? Well, a cronut is only the most delicious pastry you could ever taste. Its a croissant donut mix, and it’s heavenly. Fortunately for me, they are sold at a nice Italian bakery not far from our place. Unfortunately for me, they must have about as many calories as a big mac.

The first time I went to this bakery, with my friend Scott and his mom who was visiting from Richmond Virginia, I also ordered an iced tea to go with my Nutella cronut. They asked, “with or without ice cream?” I’m thinking, ice cream?? In my iced tea? Well, that’s a no brainer, of course WITH the ice cream! I was a little unsure about this, but always ready to try something new, I was excited to find out what this “ice creamed iced tea” was all about. Well, it was a normal iced tea, with a large scoop of lemon ice cream, and as it melted, it sweetened & flavored the tea! Fantasic!!

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So if you live in Singapore, you must search our Brunetti’s in Tanglin Mall, and get yourself a cro-nut!!

Link to Cafe Brunetti in Tanglin Mall: http://www.brunetti.com.au/Singapore
Here is a link to read more about Cronuts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronut

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The Buzz is Tops!

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I won!!  I won!!  The Blinkman Buzz blog won the gold medal!!  I have the #1 blog in Singapore!!  

 

This is a really big deal in this country, because every expat has their own blog.  I’m not kidding, when you meet someone, it comes up in your first conversation.   

“How long have you lived in Sing?  Is this your first deployment?  Where are you from?  Where do you live?  Do you have a helper? Where do your kids go to school?  Who does your husband work for?  Oh, my blog is …  ”  

My submitted essay had the most comments (104)  and so I won the honor of being the Top Blog in Singapore!  Second place had 98 comments … it was close!  Thank you everyone who took the time to leave a comment!  It means so much to me that you would do that.  It really does!  

If you didn’t have the chance to read my essay, you can link to it here: 

http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/791/top-10-things-i-miss-the-most-from-america-perfect-singaporean-substitutions

I didn’t win anything but the honor of putting that gold medal my front page of my blog.  And it also put my blog at the top of the list of Singapore blogs listed on the ExpatsBlog website.  So it directs a lot of traffic to my site.  Kinda fun to watch the hits counter go up.  

If you wish to leave a comment about my blog to keep me the top blog for 2014 … click on the following link.  Scroll to the bottom of the page, below all the comments already there, and then write your own comment.  I think right now I have 19 comments.  

http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/3107/blinkmanbuzz

Thank you so much!!  

XOXO from Singapore

 

 

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