Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What a year!

After some big Aussie kangaroo hugs, Chris left for the airport on Monday to officially end our exchange. Hard to believe it's over. We traveled across as much of Australia as possible and enjoyed every inch of it. The trips were a time for us to bond as a family while absorbing and learning about a beautiful country. More importantly, we made some wonderful friends in Australia and will miss them dearly.

A special goodbye to the Betchers! It's strange how we got to know them so well without really being in their presence. We communicated frequently and openly all year long via computer. We saw them on their blog hanging out with our friends and they saw us on our blog hanging out with their friends. Their friends told us stories about them as I'm sure our friends told stories about us. After a year, we feel like we know them as life-long friends. We couldn't have asked for more compatible exchange partners. Thanks Chris, Donna, Alex and Kate - we've had an incredible year!

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home early Saturday morning (Charlee's Birthday!) and the first thing the kids wanted to do was play in the snow.

Later in the afternoon, Charlee and Dave decided to play some shinny on the pond.

Later that night I joined Chris at the Niblick with some Holy Trinity staff that wanted to say goodbye.

I hope this pic doesn't get Chris in any trouble ;)

Goodbyes are always hard

After two days of packing and cleaning it was time to go home. We said our last goodbyes to some special friends and headed for the airport. The plane took off and travelled along the coast of New South Wales for about 10 minutes giving us time to reflect on the beautiful coast we spent so much time enjoying this year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

One last trip to the beach!

I whinged until Heidi said we could go to the beach one last time. The waves at Coogee were a blast. Everyone enjoyed one last splash!

Adam's Farwell Party

Charlee couldn't get away with a party without Adam getting one so Harry, Lachlan, Liam and eventually Ethan came over for a boys' bash!

A Goodbye Barbie!

We wanted to say thank you to Donna Betcher for the wonderful year in her home by inviting her to dinner. One thing led to another and next thing you know we had 17 people over for a barbie! The Salemes and the Weeks joined Donna, Alex and Donna's mom Nancy for a relaxing evening.

Beth Weeks is a cutie!

Anne Weeks made a Lamington cake for Donna's birthday and a Canadian cake for Charlee's birthday! (Oh ya and a sticky date cake for me! Yum!)

Alex Betcher had no problem making himself at home - wait a second, he is at home! Joined by Kevin Weeks and Adam.

Bernadette Saleme, Nancy Uren, Heidi, Donna Betcher and Anne Weeks gabbed all night long.

We've made some wonderful friends in Australia and the Weeks and Salemes are no exceptions. From talking to other exchange teachers, I think we were lucky to get to know the Betchers as well as we did. Communication was the key and the exchange was a perfect match!

Sydney One Last Time!

We love walking Sydney. As usual, we took the train to Hyde Park where we walked through the war memorial at one end to the Water Fountain at the other end.

The DiNuccis were in town so we decided to catch the ferry to Manly Beach which gives amazing views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and all the inlets in the harbour itself.

One last look at the Opera House!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Fomins get a pool!

Alyssa, Adam, Alexander, Sophie and Charlee chowin' down.

Nick and Mara enjoying their new pool.

Heidi and Mara taking a dip.

Charlee and Adam's last Nippers!

What a fun Aussie experience!

Charlee hanging out with Sydney, Kiley and Morganne (from Seattle).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jamberoo Waterpark

We travelled to Jamberoo Waterpark 1.5 hours south of Sydney on Saturday for Harry's 8th birthday party. The Fuellings, Mackys and Graces had a fun and wet day.

Rupert enjoying a dog!

Cool dudes - Luke, Harry, Adam and Ethan.

Brittany, Charlee, Ebony and Kate had a blast.

Birthday cake!

Dave, Leanne, Harry, Ebony and Rupert Fuelling
Andrew, Natalie, Brittany, Ethan Macky
Kate Betcher
The Graces

Friday, January 12, 2007

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Charlee celebrated her 10th birthday a bit early so she could party with her Aussie friends. We're actually scheduled to leave Oz on her birthday. She figures she can scam two parties this year as she's expecting one back in Canada too!

Jessica, Charlee, Kate, Brittany, Sophie and Alyssa enjoy some watermelon on a hot summer day!

We had to serve the ice cream cake quickly!

All was good until trouble showed up!

With the boys gone, the girls could settle in for a chick flick!

The morning after.

Pancakes with Canadian syrup for brekkie!

Happy double digits Charlee!!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nelson's Bay

We headed north to Nelson's Bay (Shoal Bay actually) to visit with the Weeks and their extended family and friends. There are now about 5 families that rent houses in the area each January. The spend all day at the beach and often get together for drinks or dinners in the evening. A fun bunch that we enjoyed meeting!

Phil Weeks takes the kids out for a raft ride.

Brigit and Charlee had fun riding the whale!

In the evening we went for dinner at the Nelson's Bay Yacht Club where their was heaps of entertainment - dog tricks, balloon man and a guy on electric guitar!

Brigit and Charlee hanging out.

Beth even got in the action.

Adam, Paul and Tom had fun with the balloon man.

All these folks in the picture are somehow connected to the Weeks!

Shoal Bay

Beautiful beaches everywhere you look!

Spiders from mars!

Possum taking a nap!

Adam spotted this guy!
The kids also swam with Fairy penguins and near the end of the day a stingray crossed by Dave's feet. Another wonderful trip to add to the photo album. Thanks Anne and Phil!

Wouldn't want to miss this turn on the way back to Sydney! The highway cuts through massive rock as you near the city.