Happy Birthday Daddy!

So blessed to be with my dad on his 75th birthday!

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He’s been the Mayor of Zelienople Pennsylvania since 1996! And for years prior to being elected Mayor, he served on the town council. 100% volunteer, no perks, no benefits. For a few years he was President of the Pennsylvania Mayors Association. He knows everyone in that state, oh yes he does!!

Here’s my sweet momma selfie, because behind every great man, there is a great woman!

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Of course we spent a good portion of the day at a swim meet.

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This is Shane in 60 years …

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!

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Dengue Outbreak

Despite all the mosquito fogging, dengue is a very real problem in Singapore. It rains here nearly every day. It’s humid, all the time. Perfect conditions for mosquito breeding. Fogging cannot possibly control all the mosquitos.

And the numbers of reported cases of dengue fever are on the rise.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/dengue-cases-on-the-rise/1208520.html

http://www.dengue.gov.sg

http://www.dengue.gov.sg/subject.asp?id=74

There is one cluster outbreak near our home in Singapore, I noticed this sign as I was riding my bike home from the market one morning.

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The next week I rode by again and
noticed that there were now 10 cases of dengue in this area near our home.

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Dengue is very serious, and can be life threatening, so each of us must do our part to stop the mosquito breeding by eliminating any standing water around our homes.

Here is a link to a very popular Singapore blogger, Mr. Brown. He wrote and composed “The Mozzie Wipe Out Dance!” Check it out, it’s a super cute video of Mr. Brown and his family!

http://www.mrbrown.com/blog/2014/05/do-the-mozzie-wipeout.html

Fogging for Mosquitos

When we first landed in Singapore, we knew that mosquitos might be a problem. I mean, it IS a tropical climate, its hot, humid, and it rains nearly every day. Perfect for mosquitos.

Except that Singapore has it completely dialed in on how to handle the mosquito population. It’s called “fogging”.

It’s done in public places, each condo does it, private landed houses do it. Most on a weekly schedule, that is never missed. Our condo, Gallop Green, does it every Wednesday at 10:00 am.

What is fogging? These mysterious men show up, and they literally fog the place with mosquito-killing chemicals. It gets so foggy, it looks like white smoke, until it evaporates. It’s terrifying to me. I know to stay inside with windows shut when this goes on outside. And I know not to go into the pool for a few hours afterwards, as it only took one time for me to realize that you can literally taste the chemicals in the water.

This is a picture from my living room window, looking down at the pool.

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What is so astounding to me is that many of my neighbors do not shut their windows as this goes on, and some have their laundry drying on racks on their patios or balconies. I am terrified of the chemicals, and will avoid it at all costs.

I ride my bike all over Singapore, and as I am riding, I can see the white fog all over. I zig zag across streets to avoid these spots. Who knows what the longterm effects of the chemicals used are?

However, as a result, while there ARE still mosquitos, the population is drastically reduced. Oh, yes, I have been bitten by these tropical blood suckers .. and they leave an itch like nobodies business. It’s a persistent itchiness that lasts for weeks, at least on me. And nothing takes it away. I have scars on my legs now from this! Such a lovely tattoo of sorts to remind me of my time living abroad? Is that a good way to spin it?

And Shane had a bug bite that became weirdly bubbly and infected, and even after a course of antibiotics, it took about a month to resolve, and has left a nice scar on his wrist.

Sydney Australia in April

Okay, I’m a bit behind on my posting. I’m only up to April!! Yikes! I am going to do my best to get caught up, so in the next few days, you will see lots of new blog posts!

Our flight left Singapore at 2 am on a Saturday morning. Which to the kids, is really just very late Friday night. They had school all day, then swim practice, then the boys had a friend come over to the house. We left our condo for the airport at 11 pm. Needless to say, the kids were exhausted. After fueling up on a last minute footlong from Subway

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and yes, I threatened Shane with his life if he dared to stow some of that sandwich in his backpack and try to bring it into Australia. Don’t know what I am talking about? Then see this post from December:

https://blinkmanbuzz.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/watch-list/

The kids were out cold in the airport while waiting for that flight.

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Sydney in April, it’s everything we could have dreamt of. Our first night in town, we were lucky to stay in the Harbour. We were on the 33rd floor of the Shangri La Hotel, and we had the most awesome view of the harbour. I could have sat at the window all day looking out at this view!

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Isn’t it gorgeous?? Well, the sun didn’t last long, because that afternoon we were on an America’s Cup Sailboat cruising in Darling Harbour, and it was overcast, cold and raining. It rained the entire time we were on the boat. We all had a blast anyhow, a little rain doesn’t’ get in our way of a good time.

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We cruised right past the Opera House!

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I kept thinking about Finding Nemo, isn’t that just crazy?? I was thinking about all the little fishes in the water, and of course I asked my new friend Captain Peter ( pronounced “Pete-ah” ) and he told me all kinds of stories about sharks in the harbor. One story was about a Navy diver who was cleaning up and working on the props on one of the military ships and he was attacked by a shark, it bit his leg clean off. Another story was that there was a study launched to see how many sharks were actually in the harbor, they were given two years to catch and tag sharks, and they were shocked to be able to finish the study within only two months, because they actually caught their quota that quickly. So yes, there are sharks in the Harbour.

Here’s a selfie of me and Pete-ah

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This was our only true day of sight seeing, because the next day the Australian National Swim Meet began, and we were staying in an apartment that we rented for the week.

The same time of the swim meet, the Royal Easter Show was also occurring, all at the Sydney Olympic Park. We had heard that Prince William and Duchess Kate, and Prince George were all in Australia for the week, and were expected to make an appearance at the Royal Easter Show. I was so excited, I really wanted to see the royal couple. When the day came, however, I chose to stay at the swim meet, sitting around for hours and hours to see Shane swim about 3 minutes. Maria and Cale, however, walked over to see if they might be able to catch a glimpse of the pair. Keep in mind that the Royal Easter Show is HUGE, comparable to a State Fair in the USA. I thought that there was no way my two kids would get lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, and be able to push their way through the crowds.

Well, I was wrong.

They did in fact see Prince William and Duchess Kate. Here is a video they were able to take.

I nearly cried when I saw this, Maria and Cale were so excited, but very casual, when they told me about their adventure. I was so happy for them, but so so so sad for myself. It IS after all, about me. And I missed my opportunity to see the Royal couple!!!! I’m still kind of mad about this. Wouldn’t you be too??

Later in the week, we were able to take an afternoon that we were free and we made the quick trek to the famous Bondi Beach. It’s pronouced “Bond-I”, not “Bond-E”, by the way.

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This place is known all over the country for how gorgeous this beach is, and also for the show on television “Bondi Rescue” where the lifeguards are constantly saving really dumb beachgoers who are completely unaware of what rip currents are. It’s quite funny in fact, and if you ever get the chance to watch it, you must.

http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/bondi-rescue

Here is a picture of Maria with two of the guards who are on the show.

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It was very windy and kind of cold, but Cale braved the weather and did some body surfing. I was terrified the entire time, never took my eyes off of him, because the week prior to our visit, a lady was attacked and killed by a shark on this very beach!!!

http://www.closeronline.co.uk/2014/04/woman-killed-in-shark-attack-whilst-taking-daily-swim-across-bay#.U6JQMRZsoTM

After surviving his swim, we took some photos in front of the famous lifeguard station, watching this artist spray paint the wall, bought some souvenirs, lost Trents credit card (which we were able to get deactivated before it was even used), collected some sand in a gatorade bottle for our sand collection, and made it back to our rented apartment without missing a beat.

We all totally loved our visit to Bondi Beach, and highly recommend taking the time to visit this iconic beach.

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Lastly, I have to say we LOVE the birds in Australia. The lorikeets and white cockatoos make such a racket beginning at 4:30 am, it’s unbearable. And I absolutely loved it.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulphur-crested_cockatoo

And here are a couple pictures of some other crazy looking birds! How can you not love them!!

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This was our third visit to Australia, and it was just as amazing as our first two visits! We love the Australians, they are warm and welcoming, with their no-worries laid back attitudes!

http://www.shangri-la.com/Sydney
http://www.sailingsydney.net/Sailing-Sydney-Americas-Cup-sailing-experience.html
http://www.eastershow.com.au
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bondi_Beach,_New_South_Wales
http://www.bondivillage.com

The Easter “Scoot” home from Sydney

Our return home to Sydney fell on Easter Sunday. Trents flight left two hours earlier than the kids and I (he met us in Sydney as he was already in Australia for work the week prior to our arrival).

Sadly, Trent’s flight didn’t have the Easter entertainment that ours did, and being so quick with my iPhone (even though I was in a deep sleep with eye mask & ear plugs, I was able to record this for him. And for you, of course!

I really wanted to get up and dance with them, I had an aisle seat and was ready to jump up and boogie. I wanted to wave orchids, wear rabbit ears and grin with my buck teeth too. But the look of horror on Maria’s face stopped me dead in my tracks. She knew what I was about to do, my daughter knows that there isn’t much I won’t do, I’ll never miss an opportunity to have some fun. She was terrified that I would embarrass her on a plane full of strangers. But I think she also knew that a video of me dancing on Scoot would go viral, and haunt her forever.

Well, this man beat me to it, and it looks like he was having a great time. I missed out on my opportunity to dance on a plane. You can be sure that next time I will be right there, dancing in the aisles!

On our way out of Changi airport, I not only got this great selfie of me and the Easter bunny, but that rabbit also gave me a piece of chocolate.

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Australian National Age Group Championships

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What an adventure in swimming Shane is having. In April he was scheduled to swim in Sydney in the Australian National Championship meet. Cale and Maria didn’t qualify for this meet, but they managed to convince us that they should take a week off from school so they could support their brother. Trent was scheduled to be working in New Zealand the week before, so he met us in Sydney.

The meet was to take place at SOPAC, Sydney Olympic Park, site of the 2000 Olympics.

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It was so inspiring to walk down the Hall of Fame, and see some of the memories, and all the records set in this pool.

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Shane qualified to swim in 10 events throughout the six day meet, so with preliminaries and finals he had 18 races. He did quite well, as he wasn’t tapered for this meet, and this was by far the biggest competition he’d ever participated in. Swimmers from all over the world were here to compete, including teams from South Africa, Great Britain, Greece, Guam, New Guinea, Peru, Thailand, Zimbabwe, the Canadian National Youth Team, the New Zealand National Team, along with 281 Australian teams.

It was pretty neat to see our home team from Hudson Wisconsin represented at such a big meet. Shane was able to swim for HASA (Hudson Area Swim Association) with special permission granted by USA Swimming. Since he was a visitor at the meet, he was eligible for medals, but the Aussies would still get their medals.

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Shane’s best events during the week were the 100 meter Breaststroke, where he took 1st place overall, with a time of 1 minute, 9:04 seconds, and also the 200 Individual Medley, were he placed second with a time of 2 minutes 14:29 seconds, and the 200 breaststroke, where he also took a second place, with a time of 2 minutes 16:52 seconds. Shane was so excited to be awarded his medals on the podium for all three of these events, that none of us will forget how thrilled we were for Shane.

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He made so many new friends this week, including his “mom friend” Veronica, Elijah Winnington, and of course he reconnected with our Perth friends Brody and Raiffe. Shane and Elijah are close friends after only knowing each other a week, and I have a feeling they will be lifelong friends.

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By the way, Elijah broke a couple Australian national record during the week. Shane was so happy for his new friend! Also at this meet we watched Kyle Chalmers break several national records held by Ian Thorpe! What an exciting week!

A big thank you to the West Brisbane Swim Club for welcoming Shane into their team for the week!! You guys are awesome!!

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And yes … Shane ALWAYS wears a bandana. He’s been doing this for nearly two years now, and it’s become his “thing”, it’s what he is recognized for and known for. It’s so fun to see him develop his own brand! It’s brilliant! And even more fun to see kids copy him and emulate him! In his first meet back in the states, (next week, June 8th) Shane will proudly wear his new Australian headband given to him by his mom-friend Veronica!

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