Friday, January 21, 2011

Where did I leave off?


So rather than try to come back with an accent, I have been accumulating a list of phrases that are commonly used in the land of Oz. Sometimes I unknowingly use them and it makes me laugh. One thing that I notice Ozzies do is make every comment into a question. Some examples:

Me: WOW! The sky is so gorgeous, I can't believe there are never any clouds in Perth!
Oz: It is gorgeous, isn't it?

(sorry to any of you experiencing winter right now!)

Me: Wow, this beer is so much better than American beer.
Oz: It is good, isn't it?

(Little Creatures, a Western Australia beer..yummmm)

Okay, back to what I've been doing..

The last few days have been mostly relaxing and fun, though we haven't gone on any real excursions lately. I took the 4 year old to SciTech-a kind of Museum of Discovery and Science, which I obviously loved more than the little girl. I dragged her into the Planetarium against her will and she LOVED IT! The next two days she kept reciting all the things she learned to anyone who would (half) listen. She kept asking me if we were seeing "real" outer space/stars/planets, so I said yes. I'm not sure why I said yes, but I figured it was easier than explaining that since it was noon, it was highly unlikely that the sun would just shut off to show us the stars/planets.  She was very cute and is such a clever little girl. And she is so so so silly. She makes up jingles and dances and goofs around a lot, so I am always very entertained by her. At SciTech, she kept singing "lavender's purple, just like me". We don't know where it came from, but there is a very cute dance that goes with it. She also tells everyone that will (half) listen that my favorite color is purple. Soon all of Perth will know!

I saw Sarah's Key at this small theater the other night with Granny, her friend, and the aunt that I babysit for on Mondays. It was AMAZING and everyone in the theater was crying. Its based on a book that I read last year and could not put down. I highly recommend you all reading the book immediately and then going to see the movie. It is truly an unforgettable story. READ IT. NOW.

Granny and Zay Zay separately want to adopt me. I love this extended family. I feel so comfortable with them all and they honestly treat me like one of their own. I am really excited for Shabbat tonight at Granny's house. She asked me to make Mommy's kugel. I just hope its as delicious as usual-we kinda burned the top while watching a puppet show put on by the kids. We also used "egg noodles" which somehow ended up being tagliatelle noodles. We'll see! I'll probably preface the serving of the kugel with a warning, just so people don't think this is how it usually tastes (if its awful). Most of you can attest to the amazingness of my mom's kugel.

I think the last blog post had me about to go to a meetup with some random Perth girls. It was interesting to say the least. The best part was the great beer at the great bar it was held at. Otherwise, the girls were SO WEIRD. The night was truly a waste of an outfit I'd been wanting to wear for a long time. Boooo.

Today I met up with one of Granny's best friend's, best friend's daughter (are you still following me?). She was so nice and her friend also came along. I loved them and spent a few hours eating and walking around with them. I will definitely be seeing them again soon. Every single Jewish person I meet here is from South Africa. There is a huge community here and its so interesting to hear why they came over and when. The accent is also really nice.

I think that's pretty much it. I've just been cooking with the mom (made roasted Pumpkin risotto the other night!!!), swimming in the pool, walking around Perth, playing with the family, and loving life.

The family, every single day, suggests that I invite all of you to come visit me in Perth. DO IT.

That's all!

Kangaroo kisses,
Dana xoxo

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sorry for the delay!

The last week has been busy and so much fun. I can't remember exactly what I did each day, but I will give you some highlights..

Today in Hyde Park (where I go running) I saw two black swans! The 4 year old was probably thinking what a weirdo I am because I was pretty excited over it. The mom told me to take her to this cute cafe that was called gelateria or something like that and they didn't even sell gelato! How weird! They had a million Italian pastries, so the little girl got 2 little frosted dough thingies. She is a sweet fiend! She absolutely HAS to have at least an ice cream and an "icy pole" (popsicle) per day. Her punishments when she is 'naughty' include no ice cream and no tutus. Since she slept through the night last night, her ice cream and tutus have been reinstated. She was allowed to watch "sad girls" (America's Next Top Model) as well. When she was little, she always saw the contestant at the end crying when she was eliminated from the show, so she called it sad girls and it stuck.

Last week in King's Park (which is enormous and gorgeous and overlooks the Swan River) I saw the Australian Prime Minister (Julia Gillard) and the old Australian Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd)! We were walking along and we see 2 police officers and 2 cameramen pointing up to the fancy restaurant at the top of the park. I made a joke about who it could be and then realized who it was. Pretty exciting! King's Park also recently created a boardwalk that takes you through all the different ecosystem types of Australia. They had huge boab trees, gum trees, etc. I obviously loved it.

They took me to Cottesloe Beach which is GORGEOUS. I'm pretty sure that was the color of the water. They don't develop right on the beaches like they do in Florida, so you get much more of a pristine feel. While we were swimming in the Indian Ocean, a man was pulled out of the water by several lifeguards. When he was able to stand he made a beeline right for the water and face planted into it. They pulled him out again and realized he was "off his face" (as they say here for really, really drunk). He was putting up a fight and so the police came to arrest him. Soon there was an ambulance, 6 police men, 10 lifeguards and an entire beachful of people watching this spectacle. In the U.S. I think they would have handcuffed him as soon as the police arrived, but here, they waited a good 45 minutes to put them on.

Shabbat here was great. The family gets together with the mom's two sisters and families, their mom and her boyfriend, and a family that they have known forever. I felt like I was at home and they thought it was so great that even though I am from 11,000 miles away, Shabbat is still Shabbat. The Challah here was ridiculously delicious. SO light and fluffy. The granny made kugel for me as a surprise (she had asked me the week before what my favorite Jewish food that my mom cooks is). It was really good, but different from Mommy's amazing kugel (send me some please!). I told them I would cook my mom's recipe soon.

A few nights later the mom's dad (Zay Zay) had all of us over for bagels. The bagels here are also much lighter and really delicious. Apparently South Africans eat a lot of dried meat, which is considered a delicacy. The whole family wants to convert me into a meat eater, because they say Australian meat (and South African meat) are particularly good. The mom used to be a vegetarian, so they have been very accomodating to me, and always just cook the meat on the side instead of in the dish. I am very lucky!

The parents pretend that I am their daughter and they just waited 18 years to have other children. They are only 10 years older than me though, so they like to take me out for drinks. I have tried so many craft beers here. Beez Neez and Little Creatures Brewery are probably my two favorites. The Little Creatures Brewery is in Fremantle (30 minutes south of me), so they have planned a day trip for us to go. There are also some really good wineries in the region that they are excited to take me to. I tried a cheese from one of the wineries and it was amazing. I can't wait until we go down there!

I also got a job at this italian restaurant called Monte Fiore. The owners are straight from Italy and the food looks so good. I haven't tried it yet, but I will soon. They pay $20 an hour for servers! I work a few hours a week for extra cash, which is always nice. The other servers are mostly the daughters of the owners-16, 18, and 19 year olds. Boo. I'm going to apply to other places with people more my age.

The mom's sister has a 10 month old baby and he is such a nugget. Michelin Man legs and arms-love it!! Anyway, apparently he hates being separated from his mom, so they never really have had anyone watch him that wasn't family. I babysat him on Monday and he was great. The mom was shocked and thrilled and now she loves me.

Anyway, the rest of my days are spent swimming with the girls, crafting, playing with dolls, playing at the parks and watching Australian kids television. The shows are hysterically bad but the girls love them. I now know the words to all the theme songs.

I've pretty much given up on the accent-Perth accents aren't as stereotypical and thick like Sydney. I fact, I think the children sound British. Whenever I imitate the kids, the dad calls me Kate Winslet because I sound British. Oops! I am compiling a list of the funny phrases and words that they use, and the dad is very excited. They all pick on me for what I say and I laugh at all of them for what they say. I'l do a post soon on that.

I love that I feel so comfortable with the family. The other day I heard Zay Zay and the aunt say something along the lines of: if they love Dana so much already and she's only been here for a week, what will they do after 8 months?   It made me feel really good. When I flew here, I had no idea how it would go, and it is absolutely better than I could have imagined.

Alright, now that I have written a full-on novel, I will go. Tonight I am going to a "meet up" for young 20s in Perth. I hope its not lame; it would be nice to make friends that aren't related to the family!

Love you all heaps and heaps (which is what they say instead of lots and lots!),
Dana xoxo

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Settling in and loving it!

Yesterday I woke up at 6:30 and went for a great run in the park nearby.  Then I went with the family to the dog beach nearest their house. It was a bit cloudy, which is a nice break from the incredibly intense sun. I am tanner than I usually am, but I am trying to be really careful about getting burnt. It has been like 35-40 degrees Celsius which is 100+ degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a pretty dry heat, but the sun blazes down intense heat from 6am until almost 8pm. It’s still better than Florida heat, since there is no humidity, but man is it broiling.
I swam a bit in the INDIAN OCEAN and we played in the sand before returning to their house to swim in the pool. The people here absolutely live in their pools. They bought me a mobile and we walked around the city area for a little, then I went home and had a relaxing night. I think jetlag is finally catching up with me, or else the sun is just taking a lot out of me. Anyway, I was “nackered” and fell asleep early.
Today I woke up again at 6:30 to go for a run. I love that it’s light really early here so I don’t mind getting up for an early run. I’m also really glad that my running trail in the park is very well shaded by huge, leafy trees. There are also kookaburra, swans, and ducks in the park! After I showered, I went with the dad and the girls to this place called Hillary Marina, which has a nice swimming area “beach” parallel to the boats, waterslides, little kid carnival rides, and a climbing trapeze area. The girls love it there.  The little one got tired around 11am, so we drove home and while she napped we swam in the pool (of course).
Now we are about to go buy a modem so that I have wireless internet in the house and then the dad is going to help me find a part time job. I want a casual job where I can meet people and make a little extra money to travel. I have heaps of free time during the day 9am until 5pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, as well as all day off on Sunday. I also have most nights off and bits of free time on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. It’ll be good to have a life outside the family so I don’t go stir crazy from not being busy enough.  I am so glad that my house is within walking distance to 2 major streets of shops, restaurants and pubs, and only 1 mile from the city center. My bike should be fixed up by next week, which will be good, but the distances are pretty short so it’s no big deal walking.
Alright, time to go find a job! I’ll have much more regular contact once my modem is up and running on Monday!
Kookaburra kisses,
Dana xoxo

So behind! PERTH!

New Year’s Eve was fun. It was really crowded, so I didn’t get a great view of the fireworks. We only got to go on one ride, but I still had a good night. Leaving the park to get back to Randwick took 3+ hours!!! It’s typically 25ish minutes, but it took forever because of the amount of people in the harbor area. I spoke in accent the whole night, and even Australians said that I was very good!
I arrived in Perth safe and sound after a pretty uneventful flight. I lucked out with my luggage debacle, because a nice check-in girl at the airline allowed me to put my second bag on under someone else’s name, and she didn’t charge me for excess weight on my bags! She probably saved me 300+ dollars, so I was very very thankful! The father of the family I will be an au pair for picked me up from the airport. He was so nice and I was really glad to finally be in Perth. My house is so cute—old, small chandeliers hanging in each room, a really large antiquey mirror in my room, etc. Its not fully furnished yet, and I won’t have wifi until next week. The Australians get off most of this week as public holiday, so a lot of shops and services aren’t open, unfortunately.
I woke up and walked over to the family’s house. It is a tiny block away, so I think it may take 1 whole minute to get over there. Their house is BEAUTIFUL! So modern, but the front yard is like a very cozy English garden. Beautiful trees, a cute play house for the girls, a swing set, and a “fairy garden”. The two girls (ages 2 and 4) think they are fairies. When I arrived this morning, they were both wearing tutus and fairy wings. Cutest girls ever. They took a few minutes to warm up to me, and then then the older girl did not want to leave my side. The two year old trades off being terrified of me when her parents leave the room, and then wanting to play with me exclusively.
We ate brekkie (croissants with cheese and tomato) and then walked over to Hyde Park, which is just down the road and absolutely gorgeous. It’s like a miniature Central Park-very shady trees, a nice pond, ducks, benches, playgrounds, and a great jogging trail. Then we walked back and went in the pool for a bit. They have a pool in their back garden, and the mum’s sister came over for a swim also. Then we ate lunch (tuna and a shredded carrot salad), and went to the grocery store. They stocked my kitchen up, but they told me I am more than welcome to eat with them every day. The older girl was so hyper in the market and we kept pretending to take pictures of each other (she kept saying “cheese!” “cheese!”). Then we went to King’s Park for a few minutes to look at the Swan River. The family seems very excited and keeps telling me all the places they want to take me!
I went home after that to unpack and set up my room. I then walked back over there for dinner and playtime. The minute I walked in the older girl kept taking pretend pictures again and didn’t leave my side for the few hours I stayed. The girls put on puppet shows and dance shows for me. I met their little 9 month old cousin, who is such a little chubby baby, and their granny. We then ate delicious homemade spanakopita which was amazing and then I came home and am about to go to sleep. I already really like the family. The parents are so so nice and young (32) and I think I will enjoy my time here so much. Hopefully everything continues on this great track! And with that, good night!
Dana xoxo