Sunday, February 27, 2011

I can't believe I'm being paid for this..

Is this paradise or what? I considered calling this post: "Busselton-the time an emu snatched my ice cream! and finally, some KANGAROOS!", but I thought that the current title is more appropriate. I just can't believe that I was paid for last week.

Busselton is a beach town that is an approximate 2.5 hour drive south of Perth. The family shares a beach house there, but we had it to ourselves for the week. The house is maybe 1/10 of a mile from this gorgeous beach.

On Tuesday morning, we packed up the cars and drove south to Busso. Immediately, we threw on our bathers (bathing suits) and ran to the beach. It was unbelievably perfect seas and the sky was unreal. This was the pattern for the next 5 days-ridiculous weather and calm seas. They say there are usually zillions of flies down south, but this time there were very very few. (They said that I must be good luck, because the weather forecast for the week had been rainy, gray and generally yucky weather!)

After beaching for a while, we went back to the house to relax, unpack, grocery shop and cook dinner. We made leek risotto and grilled barrumundi (I think?) and called it an early night. Bella wanted to have a sleepover and a midnight feast, so we ate some smarties (which are like M&Ms) at 7pm and then she crawled into my bed and fell asleep. She was so cute and excited when she woke up the next morning and saw that we did have a sleepover. I love that little girl!

The plan for the day was beach and then for me to get to see my first kangaroos. We headed out to this place that they had gone to for years and found out that it had recently shut down! I was disappointed, but the parents were way more disappointed for me. They assured me that they would not leave Busso until I saw my first kanga. Anyway, we went to this famous ice cream farm called Simmo's, which makes fresh ice cream from local dairy. I had some white chocolate ice cream, but I'm really not an ice cream fan (unless it's Larrys!!!). The rest of the family loved it as usual. I was still eating my ice cream, when the family was reminded that there is an emu enclosure at the back of the property. Since everyone else was finished, we walked back there and a giant emu was standing by the fence. (FYI: it's e-myou, not e-moo) I walked up close to the fence to take a picture and all of a sudden, with a neck movement like wildfire, the emu SNATCHED MY ICE CREAM! The girls thought they had never seen anything more hysterical in their lives and we all had a great laugh. It actually just stretched its neck 2 feet through the fence and grabbed the cone! Unreal! When the mom gives me a disc of her photos, I'll add them on here. Anyway, by now it was later in the afternoon, so we played on the playground and then headed to Dunsborough to walk around. A tourism bureau told us of a different place to pet kangaroos, so we made plans to go there the next day. We cooked dinner again and had another early night (the girls wake up before 6am, so we are totally knackered by 9pm). The two year old, who looks and talks like an infant, learned to say "Poor Yaya" (which she thinks is her name). It is so adorable!

We woke up and had breakfast at this really cool outdoor gallery, Goana Galleries, and played around there for a while. Such a delicious breakfast of amazing toast, poached eggs, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, and served with pesto. So so so yummy. Then, it was time for the dad to head home with the 2 year old, and we went on a Mommy, baby, Dana day (which we do every other week or so). We were off to some wineries in the region, which are gorgeous and plentiful. There are probably a few hundred wineries off these 2 winding roads. But first, before the wineries, it was KANGAROO TIME!!!! We went to this cute farm, where we met goats, horses, cows, ponies, llamas, emus, alpacas, bunnies, birds, chickens, AND KANGAS! We first met a wallaroo (wallaby/kanga mix) who was so sweet. We fed all the animals carrots, lettuce, bread and seeds. We also saw a joey and its mom, as well as a bunch of other kangaroos. We rounded the corner, and a little kangaroo was just sitting on the path-not in an enclosure!! I cuddled it for a while and we took a million pictures, and then it was time to go. I loved the kangaroos, but I was pretty excited for wine tasting and for the Berry Farm. The Berry farm cultivates its own jams, chutneys, relishes, pickles, ports, wines, olive oil, vinegars, etc. We got to try everything and also shared a tasting plate of olives, Turkish bread, feta and amazing olive oil with balsamic. Everything was phenomenal! It was such a great day, but of course, we had to head back to the baby and the dad. The parents got ready to go on a date. I watched the girls and went to bed pretty early.

We woke early to go to the beach and then out to brekkie at this place called the Goose, which overlooks the longest pier in the southern hemisphere. We then went to the park next door, which was AMAZING! They had this awesome tireswing that is probably 6 feet off the ground and spins so fast and swings you really high. Me and the 4 year old were dying of laughter the whole time, but then I was super nauseus for a few hours. After we relaxed for a bit, we went down to the beach. Then, the dad wanted to take me to all these breweries, which Margaret River and down south are famous for. We did a bit of a pub crawl and tried some really interesting beers at some beautiful breweries. We came home after a few hours and it was time for me and the mom to go get manicures. We got the gel-ish ones that are supposed to last 4 weeks, but mine had something wrong with them, so I have a voucher for a free mani when we come back to Busso in March. The manis were like 70 each, but the mom wanted to treat me! Then, we picked up fish and chips, then scooped the girls and the dad, and went for an evening picnic on the beach. It was gorgeous and fun and we swam in the ocean until nearly sunset.

Saturday we went to the beach and then met up with Granny, who was down for the weekend with her boyfriend and his friend (they are both vice presidents of Yankee Candle!!!). They were staying at this gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous resort. I watched the girls and swam in the incredible infinity pool while the parents and granny went to a winery for lunch. When they came back we went back to the pool and then had cheese, jams, wine and crackers before heading home with the girls. Another good day.

On Sunday we woke up and packed, then headed back to the Goose for brekkie. The two year old woke us all up by saying "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!" She must have learned that phrase from me, because people don't say that here. Adorable! Then we hit the road!

Every day I was going on great beach runs, which I loved. I wish my house in Perth was a bit closer to the water so I could do that more often. Overall, an incredible week. I still can't believe that I was paid for all the fun I had. I am really living a hard knock life down here. Poor Dana..

Friday, February 18, 2011


Hi! So life has been so busy and fun lately, but I haven't done anything so out of the ordinary (hence the lack of posts).

This past week or so I have been babysitting a lot at night, so they let me sleep in in the morning which is nice of them. They treat me so much better than I would expect to be treated. They ask "if its okay" that I come at 7am for example, even though that is what my roster says and what I would expect as the nanny. Its pretty funny and we always joke about how easy I have it. For example, last Sunday we went to an engagement party (for one of the daughters that we do Shabbat with each week), and the girls needed to go home at like 6:30, so instead of me taking them home, the dad took them home and I stayed at the party. Or, if the girls aren't feeling well, he will stay home from work and help me play with them because he doesn't think its fair that I, the nanny, should have to take care of them alone. I think this is hilarious, but I also appreciate how considerate they are!

Last weekend was really social and a great weekend. I went out with that bike riding girl to an Indian restaurant with 6 of her friends. It was good (not as good as Royal India!) and the friends were all so nice. My friend had to leave after dinner, but her friends insisted that I go to a bar with them-so I did. It was a really fun night! I have since hung out with one of the girls that I met at dinner, and we clicked really well. Its so nice to have people to call to hang out/go out with.

Last Sunday morning, I went out with this guy that Granny set me up with. He took me to Swan Valley, which has tons of breweries and wineries. We went to his friends birthday lunch at this German brewery and it was broiling out. The sun is SO INTENSE! Its not awful since there is no humidity, but the intensity can really wear you out. Anyway, it was a nice arvo (afternoon, in Oz speak).

We are going down to Busselton on Tuesday for a week. I am so excited!!! Margaret River is nearby, and there are so many wineries, berry farms, etc. down there that they are taking me to. The four year old is thrilled that I am going with them, and she says we are having sleepovers every night and even a midnight feast (she is basing this on her favorite TV show, Charlie and Lola-which is actually a really cute British cartoon). She is such a little cutie and last week the mom straightened her hair and she looked like she was 7. Every day she greets me with a huge flying leap and a cuddle (hug). The two year old is naughty as ever, but she is so cute that its hard to reprimand her. The other day she was so knackered (exhausted) that she snuggled on my lap for 4 hours while I was watching her. She is the best cuddler in the whole world.

Last Wednesday a sleep magician came over to their house because the girls haven't been sleeping through the night basically since New Year's. The lady came in and psychoanalyzed the 4 year old for an hour and then came and spoke to me and the parents. She told us that the girls are exhausted and should be fed by 5pm, bathed at 5:30 and going to sleep by 6pm. She said to draw the line and be very firm about giving in to the girls, and to not tolerate tantrums, pleading, etc. For example, they now get 2 bedtime stories each, no exceptions, and if they complain they get none. Saying "but I'll be good now" doesn't redeem them anything, you just have to explain that they have choices and they can either have good or bad choices. It was pretty interesting; I thought it was really hoak-y and I was very skeptical, but the girls have literally slept the whole night through, every single night since then. It is so weird how quickly and amazingly the girls have picked up on the good choice/bad choice option!

Okay, I think I have written enough. I have been good about drinking water, but obviously really bad about updating! It's so much more interesting to write a long post, then a short post about each day. I'm getting nervous about making the big law school decisions, but hopefully some scholarships will come through and it'll make my decisions a bit easier. Anyway, hope all is well and everyone had a happy Valentine's Day and a lovely week.

Kangaroo kisses (I'll be seeing kangaroos in Busselton!!!!!!!),
Dana xoxoxo

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I am the worst at updating!

Hiiii! Happy February! I am so sorry for slacking on the blog. My New Years resolution is to update more often! And to drink more water..Better late than never on the resolutions, I guess!

Anyway, life here is great. Time is FLYING by. I can't believe I flew out 45 days ago; it feels like only a week.

The weather is gorgeous. Today I was riding my bike to the gym and actually was astonished at how blue the sky was. It startled me and I removed my sunglasses to see if it was actually that intensely blue. It was! I need to start carrying my camera everywhere with me so I can show you the sky. I am probably so annoying to everyone around me, because it is pretty much a guarantee that I will comment on the color of the sky and lack of clouds. K, enough about the weather-I know a lot of you are miserably cold right now!

I have been learning my way around Perth, mostly by wandering around and biking up and down the streets. I am finally getting a feel for where things are in relation to my house. I am so happy that I am walking distance to so many things. It makes it so easy to get around and explore. I always try to walk down this one street, because there is this one house that grows FRESH FIGS!!! Every time I pass it, I snatch a fig or two and eat them on the spot. The owners apparently don't mind, and I often see these elderly Italian women wandering through people's gardens, picking their lemons, tomatoes, figs, olives, grapes, etc. I often use the lemons from my tree in my cooking, and yesterday we realized that there is a massive grape tree dangling next to the family's dining room window. We picked off a few bunches and enjoyed delicious grapes straight from the tree! I promise to take pictures of all the fruit trees-I love searching for them!

In other news, I FINALLY DROVE!!!! On the wrong side of the street! And the wrong side of the car! It is so weird and the first day I totally kept drifting left and nearly hitting the curb. It is such an odd sensation being on the other side of the car-not so much the side of the road. Anyway, since then I have gotten loads better. The day after I first drove, they let me drive the BMW to take the 4 year old to circus (mcgurkus) school. Personally, I wouldn't have let myself, but the parents thought I was ready. It is so much fun to drive!

I went for a really amazing bike ride the other day with that girl I met a few weeks ago. There is an incredible path that follows the Swan River, so we looped around for about 16K and then stopped for "morning tea" aka french pastries and a cappacino. It was a really nice morning and its fun to have a good friend here. I also went with this girl out on Australia Day on January 26. We went to a bar with some of her friends and watched the fireworks.

Last weekend I went to a 30th birthday party with the aunt  (the one who I babysit for) and uncle. It was at another cool bar and I had such a fun night. Of course, this was the only day of humidity in Perth ever, so I was sweaty and gross, but it was still a great time. All the bars I have been to here so far have been fun and trendy and really much nicer than any I have been to in the states. They all have huge outdoor sections so you can enjoy the weather-which is a plus except for the random once-in-a-year humid nights!

The other day I met up for lunch with this girl from Georgia. It was funny to hear an American accent again and we talked about all the differences we notice between Oz and US. I didnt even realize that I was noticing these things until she pointed some of them out. For example, people here don't really say "excuse me" or move aside if you are walking toward each other. They kind of just bump into you and grumble as they push you aside. It's so weird, because I find the people to be really polite and friendly otherwise! Also, people don't like to stop for pedestrians, allow people to cross in front of them or cut in their lane with traffic. Its a bit weird, really. It was a good brunch and another new friend to hang out with-though she lives about 40 minutes north of me.

The family is still amazing. I have such a good time being with them. The girls are precious and the 4 year old calls me her big sister/magical nanny. They both say "love you" to me when they go to sleep and it just warms me up that they like me so much after only a month. The other day the 4 year old tells me that she is planning a going away party for me for when I leave in 6 months. It was funny and she is just a really clever girl with the best memory ever. She literally remembers every single thing anyone says. The 2 year old is such a little nugget-she could pass for 16 months, she is so teeny tiny! They call her "buggy" or "the menace" because she is SO NAUGHTY! But she is also so freaking cute, so you can't really scold her. She loves "lippy" and paints it all over her face and arms and everything around her. She would happily be covered in lipgloss all day every day. And, she happily tells you exactly what naughty things she has done, with the most coy smile on her face. I can't get enough of the girls!

I've finally been cooking a bit. The ingredients are really fresh here, so its enjoyable to make food. They have incredible dairy products from Margaret River, which is about 2 hours south of here. I will be going to Busselton, which is near Margaret River, in 13 days! I am so excited for my first trip down south. I discovered this bulk food store near the CBD (central business district-about 30 minute walk from my house) and it has a vast array of grains, flours, nuts, dried fruits, spices, etc. I bought dry roasted peanuts, and have been experimenting with different peanut butter flavors. They really only have 1 brand of peanut butter here, which is depressing compared to the US. So, I figured I would just have to make my own gourmet PB! I also made carrot cake granola a few times-it is amazing. You actually add freshly grated carrots into it, and it so works! Very healthy and delish:

-1 1/2 cup oats
-11/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
-1/4 cup walnut or pecan or nut of choice pieces
-1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
-diced dried apricots, raisins, or dried fruit of choice
-1/2 cup or more shredded carrots
-1 tbsp milk of choice
-2 tbsp flax seed or chia seeds or wheat germ or omit entirely
-heaps of cinnamon
-1 egg white

What to do:
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl (all except egg and milk)
2. Whisk egg white and add it and milk to the dry ingredients.
3. Bake at 350 until desired level of done-ness (30ish minutes)
We all have been sick this week-starts out with a tickle in the throat, next day sore throat, next day slight congestion, and then a few days of all out sniffles and no sore throat. We've all been sluggish, but the girls are extra-cuddly when they are sick. It's not too bad actually.

I joined a gym that is like an 8 minute bike ride from my house. I did BodyPump today and am going to be so sore in the morning. It's hard to get on a bike after a tough workout, but I am too lazy to not bike there, so I suck it up on the return trip. Yesterday it was so so so windy on my ride that I was going downhill and actually pedaling so hard to keep moving. The wind was refreshing, but it was a tough ride.

So yeah, I think I am all caught up. I will update more often, put some pictures online, and talk to you all soon!

BHAPpy and heaps of kangaroo kissies!
Dana xoxo