Monday, December 28, 2009

Fa La La La La

Here are a few pictures from some of our Christmas festivities!


Toby immediately took all his gifts to the couch to hide/hoard them! ;)

Mom got a new pressure washer...she's ready for spring! ha

I got some Steeler gear! :)
[yes, I'm a huge Colts fan, but Steelers are my #2 team]

Jenna got a Garmin! Now she doesn't have to borrow Fei's every trip! :p

Menchhofer cousins playing euchre - Sara, E2, Jacob, Andy, Zach

Playing Mexican trains - Roni, Simone (exchange student), me, Monica

more euchre players - Jason, Kevin, Owen, mom (Joan)
*this year mom got to go to Menchhofer Xmas because dad was stuck out west
due to snow and his wife was sick*

hanging out with my buddy, Ethan

Miss Callie Lynn

Mom played some Christmas music for us...Callie decided to help Aunt Joanie! :)

Jenna giving Aunt Roni & Uncle Kevin an impromptu swing "reminder" lesson

Grandma & Charlie

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Look

As you can see, my blog is in the process of getting a new look! Hopefully it will be completed later today! :)

I have figured out how to do this on my own. I know several people are interested in this...and if you attempt it yourself, I will try to help! ha If you are interested in having it done for you, I may be willing to take on some side projects for a minimal fee. I definitely am not a pro! :p I do not have Adobe Photoshop, which is my biggest hindrance at the moment, but luckily my sis is a pro and she is working on my blog header.

As the new year approaches, take on a challenge and redo your blog look! ;)

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Toby checking out presents under the tree!

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Holiday season! It doesn't look like Indiana will have any snow (at least not southern IN), but it will be a wonderful holiday spent with family and friends! :)

It appears Santa visited our house already, so tonight I'll be opening presents with mom, Jenna, and Toby! ;)

Then Saturday will be the Menchhofer Christmas! I always look forward to time spent with my cousins!! It's truly a blessing growing up with cousins that are as close as brothers and sisters to me. :)

Have a Happy Christmas Eve and a Merry Christmas!!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thongs & Piss

Well, the title was supposed to be funny, but after reading it...I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea! ha

Thongs are flip-flops
Piss is beer

hahahahaha...not so bad now, huh?

And here we go...the last few days of my trip!

Sunday, Dec. 13th
-My last FULL day in Oz! :(
-Today we woke up and get ready, then waited for Gab to have her morning nap before checking out of the apartment.
-We ventured to Carillion City (another mall) in the main area of Perth. I found a few more souvenirs and we had lunch in the food court.
-Then we decided to make the trip up to King's Park again so I could take pictures in the daylight! ha :) The sun was SOOOOO hot, it felt like it was cooking us on the spot. It was about 110F that day.

view of Perth from King's Park during the day

-We made one last stop at Woolworth's for some snacks and then it was time for me to check in at the hotel.
-I hated saying goodbye to my dear friends, but it was that time! :( We said our goodbyes and I watched them drive off.
-I spent the evening at the hotel...packing, resting, surfing the internet, etc. I had dinner at the restaurant there on the property and attempted to get myself to sleep EARLY. I didn't sleep well, but it was a nice thought. ha

Monday, Dec. 14th
-Today my journey home begins....*sigh*
-I am sad to leave this beautiful weather, but am looking forward to being home in my own bed!
-Checked in bright and early at the airport. A lady doing marketing research came around and spent 20 minutes asking me about my trip. She was quite excited that I was American because she said they don't see many Americans at the Perth airport. (Most people fly into Sydney.) The flight wasn't full, which was really nice! I must be getting used to the long flights...this one went more smoothly! :)
-I arrived in Hong Kong and made it through immigration. It was a long line, but per usual they moved us along fairly quickly.
-I finally figured out where to store my luggage at the airport so I didn't have to drag my carry-on suitcase around with me. Then it was quite a process to figure out how to get to the ferry station for my tour. Goodness! It gave me a headache trying to get directions, but after many conflicting comments...I made it there!
-Symphony of Lights Harbour Cruise
  • so worth the hassle to get to the ferry station!
  • rode a boat around the harbour and watched all the buildings light up, some in time to the music played on the boat
  • open bar on the boat was nice too! ha ;)
  • HK is such a pretty place...and I can only imagine the electric bill! :p
our boat

views from around the harbour

-I came back to the airport and had dinner. Managed to find an open lounge (a few hotels have rest lounges in the airport) and got settled into my own little suite with a daybed and bathroom/shower. It was well worth the money (cheaper than 1 night at a hotel) since I got to sleep in an actual bed and take a shower/change clothes before the next long leg of the journey!

Tuesday, Dec. 15th
-My "partial" Groundhog Day! :p
-I got ready and had a hot breakfast in the lounge. I've never had baked beans with eggs for breakfast, but it was good. hahaha
-I had some time to waste, so I searched the airport for a few elusive souvenirs and managed to find them! It's been nice walking around all this time since I'll be stuck in a seat for 15 hours!
-Plane was supposed to board early, but of course that didn't happen. I also got stuck by a window this time, so I'm not sure how well this flight will go (still ended up being okay). At least this flight was shorter than the last flight between Newark and HK! Why didn't they take this route on the way here? :p
-We landed in Newark and I made my way through customs one final time on this trip! They definitely should have checked my bags, but the goof working the line taking the customs slips didn't read mine or didn't care. haha So I had a shortened trip without getting my bags scanned! ;)
-I took the monorail from Terminal B to Terminal A and once again made it through security. It's always an experience in New Jersey!
-I had to wait several hours for my flight to Indy and once again dealt with flight delays. We left an hour late, but luckily the plane was practically empty. I slept all but about 20 minutes of the flight! ha I was asleep before we took off, woke up long enough to hear the captain say we were cleared for departure, and fell back asleep before we were off the ground. Think I was tired?!?
-We made it to Indy 45 minutes late and I made my way to baggage carousels. With so few people on the flight I figured it would be easy to grab my luggage, but wait...where is my luggage?? Argh!! I take a deep breath and march over to the Continental office and thankfully, I can see my polka-dotted suitcase sitting there through the glass window! I walk in and say, you have my luggage. :) The guy says, yeah it's been here awhile. Somehow I just knew that would happen since there was an Indy flight that left right after I got through security (I wanted to get on that flight, but they didn't have any open seats). All I cared is that my luggage did make it back!
-I walked outside and woah!!! The cold air took my breath away! Thankfully Jenna was quick making it to the pick-up area from the cell waiting area. Hard to believe my trip is now officially over.

**For more pictures, check out my facebook albums!

Thank you Pete, Karissa, and Gabriella for letting me come visit! Hopefully I'll be back one day! :)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No Worries!

Another fabulous phrase that you hear CONSTANTLY in Australia. No Worries!

Well, we're now in the home stretch of blog posts! ha Only 2 more posts concerning my weekly adventures.

Sunday, Dec. 6th
-Today was a sleep-in day...Gab slept until 7am! ha
-P & K have been busy bees today. Pete's family is coming over for Gab's birthday dinner. He was going a little overboard on things, but K seems to have reigned him in! ha There are salads and cupcakes everywhere.
-P's family came over for a late was mass chaos! So much fun! :) His dad, Ray. His mom, Carol. His mom's mom "nan", Josie. His sister, Rebecca. His brother-in-law, Kurt. His nephew, Stewart. His niece, Adelaide. It made for a full house, but one full of love and laughter! Gab seemed to enjoy herself. She wasn't too sure of her birthday cupcake. It was funny to watch her hesitation. ;)

Gab trying to figure out her cupcake

the family-Bec, Kurt, Josie, Carol, Ray

more family - Stewie, Karissa, Gab, Pete

-After all the presents were opened, everyone cleared out and we cleaned up.
-To finish the evening, P & K & I watched the other 2 movies we had hired. The Hangover and Four Holidays. You must see them if you haven't! You will not stop laughing!! ha Four Holidays is such a sweet movie too. I've added them to my list of "need to own."

Monday, Dec. 7th
-Today after Gab's morning nap we had to head to the doctor's office. Miss G had to get her 1 year needles (shots are what we would say in the states). I sat in the waiting room while P & K went back with G. I could hear Gab scream all the way out front! K didn't take it so well, so it was a good thing Daddy P was there to help hold her down. It probably wouldn't have been so bad, but she had to get 3 shots and she twisted her leg on the 3rd one, so it didn't go in straight.
-It was a quiet day after that...just taking it easy. Miss G not only had to deal with needles, but it appears she has a few more teeth preparing to make their grand entrance. Needless to say, she hasn't been feeling all that great. Do you blame her?!? :p
-I did manage to make it down the beach today! It was a short 1/2 mile walk from P & K's house. If that was all the farther I lived from the beach...I'd be there all the time! ha

beach :)

-Dinner was Bombay Chicken. Yum! If you've never had it, it's chicken stuffed with cream cheese and ham. Quite delicious. Add in a bunch of fresh veggies (another thing I loved about staying with P & K!) and you've got yourself a fabulous and quick dinner.

Tuesday, Dec. 8th
-Happy 28th Birthday Karissa (aka Peanut)!!
-In honor of the birthday girl, I treated K & G to lunch at The Dome. It was a beautiful day for eating at the cafe near the waterfront. After lunch, we decided to take a short stroll around Marlston area. The homes in this area are really beautiful and they all have a great view!
-In the evening, Pete had planned a surprise night out for Karissa. Of course, the one flaw in his plan was not telling her until he was getting out of the shower that she needed to change! hahaha Such a man. I kept waiting and waiting for him to say something so she could get ready, but nope...nothing like last minute. ;) Pete's mum, Carol, came over and P ordered us a pizza for dinner. So Carol and I enjoyed an evening in chatting about everything under the sun (literally) while Pete took Karissa out to a nice little restaurant in Bunbury. They enjoyed swordfish for dinner and returned home to a quiet house!

Wednesday, Dec. 9th
-This morning K & I are doing laundry and packing things up to spend a few nights in Dunsborough. Pete's Nan owns a house just off the beach so that is where we are headed! :)
-Dunsborough is only an hour drive from Bunbury...although it took us a little longer via a stop in Busselton.
-Nan & Pop's house is straight out of the 70's! Furniture and all! ha It was fabulous. It's a neat house and everything has been taken care of so well. The house definitely reminds me of my grandparent's homes growing up.

Nan's house

me on the beach in Dunny

-During Gab's afternoon nap, I took a stroll along the beach and then decided to walk into town. The house is really perfectly located! It's a stone's throw from the beach and a short 5 minute walk into the city center.
-After P got off work and made the trek to join us, we played with Gab and then had dinner once she was in bed for the night.

Thursday, Dec. 10th
-Karissa, Gab, and I walked into town to have breakfast at a little cafe this morning. You could smell the freshly made pancakes when you walked through the front door. HEAVEN! ha I had pancakes with bananas. Karissa had pancakes with strawberries. Very good!
-K stayed home with G while she napped, so I decided to take advantage of the beach. I walked out onto the sandbar, which is really still part of the beach. The water never got higher than my knees! It was fabulous!!!! The sun was bright and hot, there was a nice breeze, and it wasn't too busy. :)
-We also went for a short drive to see some of the local scenery. K took me to see the Canal Rocks. There's a big tidal pool there and you see crabs crawl up on the rocks. We also saw a poisonous snake while there...yikes! :p Some nice gentlemen offered to take a group picture of us, but as you can see, it didn't turn out that well! ha

Canal Rocks...the tidal pool

we attempted a pic together! ha I'm tucking my hair, K is grabbing G's hand, and G is trying to touch my shirt (she loved the shiny vinyl horseshoe)

what a gorgeous view! lookout a little ways from the Rocks

-When Pete returned again after work, all of us walked into town to get groceries for dinner. I'm telling you, it's no wonder people flock to Dunsborough for weekend getaways! It is a super little town with a lovely beach.
*It's also no wonder that Pete's family keeps talking Nan into keeping the house despite unbelievable offers on the property! :p

Friday, Dec. 11th
-Got an early start today. Making the drive back to Bunbury so that Gab can take her usual nap. She's not a fan of the porta-cot either! :p Poor thing, hopefully she gets a good rest in her own bed.
-On the way back home, K drove through Dalleyup so I could see a block of land they just sold and another they had for sale. Dalleyup is a community that is growing like weeds! It is pretty quickly becoming it's own city, it even has a school and doctor offices! ha
-Karissa had her Christmas lunch today with the bank (where she works), so I opted to check out the town on foot while she visited with co-workers. I walked around and bought a few last souvenirs. Then I made the hike up to the Lookout Tower so I can take some pictures of the surrounding area. It was tiresome getting up there, but so worth the view!!

a view up the tower from the middle level of the tower

view from the tower

-For dinner, we went to a local Chinese restaurant that everyone loves. It was very good! Authentic Chinese. :) Because I have such amazing friends that wouldn't let me pay for anything while I stayed with them, I insisted on them letting me treat and finally won out! ha

Saturday, Dec. 12th
-Happy 25th Birthday Zachy Dale! Happy 2nd Birthday Toby!! :)
-Swim lessons today for Miss G...she seems to be doing much better with being dunked under the water. She's a cute lil fish! ha
-We were already packed up, so after swimming, we stopped for takeaway lunch at KFC and hit the road to Perth.
-After driving for 2 hours, we checked in to the apartment we had reserved. That is definitely the way to go if you are traveling with a little one! We had a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment for the night. Very convenient.
-While G napped, P took me to Garden City (one of the malls) to buy some chocolates from Darrell Lea's.
-That evening, we drove to Fremantle (aka Freo) for my last fish 'n chips at Cicerello's. Freo Wharf is an interesting place. P & K used to frequent this area when they lived in Perth.

sunset at Freo

Freo Wharf

-After dinner, we decided to take a walk into the main part of town and had gelare. Yum! We figured we had partially worked off the calories from dinner on the walk to get ice cream and worked off the ice cream on the way back to the car. hahaha Good thinking anyway! ;)
-We made it back to the apartment in time for Miss G to hit the hay, only about an hour later than normal.
-After G was in bed, P took me up to King's Park so I could see a different view of Perth. It was one of the spots K said I had to visit! I can see why!!! Wow, great view at night. The city was all lit up and it was just tolerable in the darkness. ha It had been about 100F that day, so night time brought relief to that heat.

view of Perth from King's Park at night

-I took some pictures and then we decided to drive through the city (one of the few times there wasn't mega amounts of traffic) to see a few other sights. During the drive I saw the newly renovated St. Mary's Cathedral. Stunning! Wish I'd had time to see the inside of the church, but it was all over the news, so I did get to see a fair bit of it. Check out the website I linked if you have a chance.

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Where to Start

Make sure you scroll down to "Crikey!" and work your way backwards if you want to read the Australia trip posts in order!


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Brekkie & Sunnies

The Australian slang never ends! ;)
Brekkie - breakfast
(I've found the Aussies enjoy shortening most'll see more as the posts continue)
Sunnies - sunglasses

You definitely need your sunnies by the time you're up for brekkie! The sun is unrelenting in Oz. :)

And the weekly segments continue...although that last weekly post was LONG. Maybe I'm just really long winded?!? I won't be offended if you choose not to read all of this rubbish (the only word you'll hear for garbage/trash in Oz).

Sunday, Nov. 29th
-remember from previous post: I'm currently in Sydney!
-I actually got a notice via phone about the flight change this time, so I had time to change my plans since my flight left 2 hours later than originally scheduled.
-I took the shuttle to the airport; CRAZY Indian driver had to deal with roads being closed that morning and some really rude Americans yelling at him because they were going to be late for their flight. (Um, hello!? Maybe you should have planned more time to get there! The guy picked me up 20 minutes early!)
-I made it to Auckland without any problems and got checked into my hotel. It's swanky in the lobby, but it's a little lacking. I'll survive. :p
-Auckland is really hilly (aka STEEP). I walked to get dinner on Queen Street which is the city business district (CBD is common term here in every city).
-Stopped in Albert Park on my way back to the hotel to sit and eat my dinner. It was fantastic! The weather is a little cooler here at about 70F; that's a big change from the 110F weather in Australia.

the spot in Albert Park where I ate dinner

-Spent the rest of my evening watching TV and checking email. There is no washer & dryer in my room as promised by the front desk people when I confirmed the hotel reservation, so tomorrow morning I have to pack everything up and leave my bags with front desk...when I get back from the tour I can move into the new room. Hopefully this one has air conditioning as well...pedestal fans just don't cut it! ha

Monday, Nov. 30th
-Stored my luggage at front desk for the room switch (and yes, this one did have A/C!).
-Auckland City Tour
  • Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium
  • Devonport (small city you have to take a ferry to across the harbour)
  • Mt. Eden (dormant volcanic cone)
  • Parnell Village
-The tour was actually quite short today, which was okay because I am starting to tire of the on/off bus routine! ha Plus, it is gray and drizzly today.

Emperor Penguins being fed at Kelly Tarlton's

the Ferry Building in Auckland to go to Devonport

view from the top of Mt. Eden

-Walked back to the CBD and found a small grocery store. I am getting tired of the expensive food prices, so I bought some bread, lunch meat, chips, and yogurt for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.
-It's a good night to do laundry so I have clean clothes for the rest of the trip...only problem is...this is a washer/dryer combo unit! And it left a stain on some of my clothes (luckily, I got the stains out later).

Tuesday, Dec. 1st
-Holy cow! How did we get to December already?? It really seems strange since I missed out on Thanksgiving as well.
-Waitekere Ranges Tour
  • seem to have made a Canadian friend today...haha...I'm his daughter's age so I must seem familiar to him (he's an interesting fella! ha)
  • Waitekere is the Maori (those are the aboriginals of NZ) word for "cascading water"
  • stopped at the Arataki Visitor Center
  • got my first ever view of a black sand beach and walked along it, or as we were told, iron sand (it's metallic in nature due to it's ash component)
  • walked in the "bush" (forest) of Pahi
  • had our afternoon tea...common in Oz & NZ...tea/juice and biscuits (cookies)
  • walked down to a waterfall just a short distance from the road
  • beautiful, lush country!!

a waterfall in the Ranges

black sand beach

the Christmas bottle-brush in NZ, it's orange in Oz

-Feeling worn out from the trek today, so spending evening in hotel. Ordered room service. Early to bed tonight since the shuttle will be picking me up at 3:30am to go to the airport! Yikes!

Wednesday, Dec. 2nd
-Another on-time flight without any problems! Yay! :)
-Made it to Melbourne and had no problem using the SkyBus system to transfer to my hotel.
-The hotel actually had my room ready (they thought I'd have to store my luggage until later) when I got in well before the check-in time, so I got settled in right away.
-I'm staying in the best little area of Melbourne, at least I think so. Southgate is such a convenient place! There are restaurants and lots of pedestrian places (bridges, walkways, etc) to get you where you want to go. It sits on the Yarra River and there is stuff to do nearby!
-I walked down to the Southgate Food Court for lunch at an open-air McD's. Very strange. Not totally crazy about all the birds that just fly around and try to beg food from people, but it was convenient and cheap!
-I still had a little time before my afternoon tour, so I walked around the plaza taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful day.
-Melbourne City Afternoon Tour
  • short city tour (not nearly as informative as I'd have liked)
  • Dandenong Mountain Ranges
view across the Yarra River from Southgate

the Dandenongs

-It was still fairly early when I made it back to the hotel, so I decided to walk across the Southgate area to the Crown Casino. I donated my $15 to the slot machines (haha) and took a leisurely stroll through their complex. It's quite a massive place and really expensively done! It's a must-see if you go to Melbourne.
-Tonight is another upload pictures night! It takes so long to do this, but it's easier to do it as I go along (while I remember everything) than waiting until I get home.

Thursday, Dec. 3rd
-Another meal at McD's for lunch! I know I'm overdoing it...but I can't get enough! The big differences between home and here is that they put BBQ on every sandwich (of which I'm a huge fan) AND their bacon is really like a slice of ham. Wonderful! :p
-It was nice chatting with mom on messenger this morning since I had some free time.
-Phillip Island Tour
  • Warook Cattle Company - got to pet kangaroos and see lots of regular livestock
  • Koala Sanctuary
  • dinner at a restaurant called Hotel in Cowes - wonderful fish 'n chips!
  • Sunset Beach for Penguin Parade
  • I did the Private Penguin Parade Experience and had a tour guide lead us through the evening's events. There were only 7 of us. We each got headphones so the guide could talk only to our group, plus binoculars and chair mats. While everyone else had to sit on the bleachers, we sat down on the beach in the sand. Phillip Island is home to the Little Penguins. Each night the penguins make their way out of the ocean (from finding food for a day or two) and onto the beach. They then make the sometimes long trek back to their burroughs. They go back to the same burrough each time. If you ever make it to Australia...this is a MUST!! Karissa told me about this and I'm so glad I experienced it! I saw penguins feeding their chicks after making it back to the rookeries (the burroughs). Amazing. Amazing. Amazing! The only downside to this experience is that you are NOT allowed to take pictures. :(
kangaroo at Warook

koala having a scratch at the sanctuary

view from The Nobbies near Sunset Beach

Friday, Dec. 4th
-Early flight to Perth this morning! It was not full, so plenty of room to stretch out and relax.
-Karissa and Gabriella picked me up and we made our way back to Bunbury. Poor Miss G does not sleep in the car seat, so it is usually a long drive to and from since it was during her naptime! I'm so thankful they love me enough to make the drive instead of taking the train (which only leaves at certain times and it would have been late getting in to Bunbury).
-Had my first meal from Chicken Treat today (one of the many chicken based fast food chains), but it was really good!
-We enjoyed a relaxing evening at home. :)

Saturday, Dec. 5th
-Happy 1st Birthday Gabriella!!
-We got ready for the day and hung out at the house. Gab is so much fun. She's really gonna be on the move soon...she's trying to walk and does quite well with help, but hasn't made the jaunt on her own yet.
-Miss G had her swim lessons again. Such a joy to watch!
-BLT's for lunch at the house. YUM! Aussies really enjoy fresh bread, so they go to the bakery fairly often, buy a loaf and have it sliced there. (I am already missing this aspect of Oz!)
-K and I went shopping in the afternoon. My first experiences with Big W (much like Wal-Mart) and Woolworth's (aka Wooly's which is like Kroger). We also went to the local Farmer's Market for some fresh veggies. And let me tell you, it is a much different experience than in the states! The Farmer's Market is it's own store that purchases local produce to sell to the public. So you aren't dealing with the farmers themselves at a road-side stand. It is very nice.
-We "hired" (aka rented) movies from Civic Video. We only managed to watch 1 of the 3 tonight...Bruno. This movie is soooooooo wrong. Funny, but wrong. Pete thoroughly enjoyed it while K & I just shook our heads in disbelief. ha
-Tonight we had takeaway (aka carry-out) for dinner. You just can't get fish 'n chips at home like you can here! P warned me that I might never be able to tolerate the seafood in the states again...and he may be right! :p
-I'm a little more exhausted now that I've come back to the western side of Australia. Jumping ahead all those hours didn't bother me, but adding them back to my schedule seems to be messing with me. Good thing P & K are early to bed...9:30pm sounds good! ha

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