Saturday, March 31, 2012

Working Woman

Well, I got bored. After nearly a year living as a "Lady of Leisure," I ran out of things to occupy my days. I found myself some days with literally nothing to do. So I got a job. I interviewed with a teaching agency, and now I'm a "CRT," which stands for Casual Relief Teacher. Basically, I'm a substitute teacher. So far I've been in a Prep classroom one day up in Richmond, with a Year 6 class for three days at a school in St Kilda, and with a Year 3 class the next day at the same school. It's been pretty good, though it's hard not knowing the kids' names by heart or developing any sort of real rapport or relationship with them. But I don't have to do any lesson planning or grading (hooray!), the extra money will be nice, and I only have to work on the days I want to work.

Here are some differences I've noticed so far between American and Australian schools:

1. Popular names are different here. I've had more than one Henry, Harry, Jack, and Hugo. Yes, Hugo!

2. Math is called maths. That's not plural. I can't get used to saying, "Get out your maths book" or "After lunch, you have maths." Very strange.

3. Students are required to wear hats when they go outside. Because the Australian sun is so strong, this is ingrained in kids from a young age. They automatically put them on when they go out to recess.

4. Apparently peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are distinctly American. Kids thought it was weird that I brought one for lunch one day.

5. Allergies are a big deal out here. I guess lots of Australian kids have them-to food, insects, etc. I even had to go to anaphylaxis training and learn how to use an Epi-pen.

6. There doesn't seem to be a class called social studies. One school calls it T.I., and I forget what that stands for. Science is definitely not a big part of the curriculum, at least in the classes I've seen.

7. Kids don't learn Spanish as a second language. Japanese and Italian are the ones I've encountered so far.

8. Kindergarten is what Americans would call preschool, and what we would call kindergarten is called Prep here.

9. Primary school includes everything up to eighth grade, and secondary school is high school. You call it Year 6 instead of 6th grade.

10. The school year has four terms, and all schools in Victoria are on the same schedule. There are two-week breaks between each term, and a long "summer" holiday in December/January. We're coming to the end of Term 1 right now.

11. My accent is definitely a novelty. Kids have no clue where Colorado is, though to be fair, I had no clue where Melbourne was until about a year ago.

12. I have to be especially careful with how I spell words, both for the students and in my notes to the teacher. Behaviour, favourite, colour, realise, centre, practise, etc.-I will never get used to some of these!

13. Student planners are called diaries. Waldo is called Wally, so they have Where's Wally books instead of Where's Waldo.

14. I read aloud a short story where the sun was compared to a penny. The kids didn't know what a penny was. Whoops!

15. Kids are the same all over the world. Some of my Year 6 students the other day were basically the Australian versions of some of my sixth graders back in Colorado-looks, personality, everything!

I'll try to be good about still updating the blog, even though I'm now a working woman. In other news, the Tough Mudder race is this weekend, so we're off to Phillip Island to torture ourselves. Here's hoping we don't die!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ironman Outside Our Door

On Sunday, the Asia-Pacific Ironman Championship race was held, and it finished out on St Kilda Beach. We could see it from our balcony, but we went downstairs to get a closer look at the action.
We got down to the beach in time to see the third place guy go past us. Then we hung out near the finish line for a little while, cheering for all of the athletes running by.

Caroline Steffen (pictured below) was the female winner. She's from Switzerland but trains in Australia for half the year. Her partner got 5th place among the men; can you imagine what that household is like? "Hey honey, did you run your fifteen miles yet today?"

It was pretty inspiring and emotional to watch these athletes come across the finish line. I also felt like a lazy bum when I thought about what I had been doing for the last eight hours (sleeping, eating, playing on my computer, etc.) while these people had swam over two miles, biked over 100 miles, and ran a marathon! It sort of made me want to do an Ironman, until I remembered the torture of training for "just" marathons and that this would be three times as bad. No thanks for now.

Finish Line

Later on Sunday night, I went back out to the beach to watch some of the people who were still finishing (in the dark). This lady is over 65 years old! Now I really feel like a slacker. People were still finishing up when we went to bed that night. Quite an accomplishment!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Slurpee Tram

Trams in Melbourne often have ads plastered on them for various things: shows, clothing, anti-smoking, festivals, etc. They are usually small placards, but sometimes the whole tram is one big ad. Last footy season, there was a St Kilda Saints tram that was pretty neat. But my favo(u)rite one by far is the Slurpee tram-how cool is this one? And in Australia, you can get a ginger beer flavo(u)red Slurpee, which kind of tastes like ginger ale. 7-11s are quite common around here, so I've definitely had a few Slurpees since moving Down Under!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Goodbye Grampians-Other Random Pictures

Well, I already posted about our Mount Stapylton Loop hike and rock climbing days in the Grampians, but there are some other random pictures and stories I wanted to share, so this post is for that stuff!

Here is a cool plant, which Google tells me is Banksia spinulosa. I took this picture on our hike on Saturday.

We stopped at the Ngamadjidj (meaning "white person"-don't ask me how to say it) Shelter to see some aboriginal rock art. These drawings were done with white clay.

Mackenzie Falls is one of the most visited places in Grampians National Park. It's a pretty huge waterfall, and you go down a decent number of steps to get to the bottom of it. We enjoyed cooling off our feet in the chilly water after our hike.

There were lots of kangaroos around our campsite, especially early in the morning and at dusk. This one let me get pretty close before hopping away.

There were also a ton of kangaroos on the roads in the Grampians. Emily, our expert driver, was able to maneuver around them. We had one close call with a little brake screeching, but no animals (or humans) were harmed! They were gathered by the hundreds out in the fields, and we had several hop across the road in front of us.

Zack still remembers how to make an awesome campfire. This picture is from Saturday night after our hike. We drank some ciders and made S'mores, which is very un-Australian. We used graham crackers sent by my mom from the US; I never knew that was just an American camping tradition! We played a game of Rummikub with Emily and headed to bed in our tents. In the morning, the birds were SO loud and woke us up pretty early!

Check out my hunky husband!
We drove by this giant koala on Sunday, and I just had to get a picture for Morgan, my koala-loving sister. Anybody who knows her and is reading this should tell her to get the working holiday visa and get out here for a year!

Anyway, we had a wonderful weekend in the Grampians, and we'll be back for sure! Yes, our zip-off pant legs are around our ankles in the picture below, and it looks dorky. Don't judge us!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rockin' Rock Climbing

On Sunday in the Grampians, we all went rock climbing with a 3/4 day group lesson. I had only done it a few times before and never on real rocks...just in a gym or on a wall at a camp with my students. I was definitely not very good at it, and I was SO sore for a few days afterward. The hardest part was not using my arms to pull myself up; you're supposed to use your legs to push yourself up. It wasn't easy for me, but I did three climbs and conquered each one (though it took awhile!). It was pretty cool to be outside and enjoying the beautiful view from the top of a rock face you just climbed. Below are some pictures of each of us:

I'm pretending to know what I'm doing here.
Zack is almost to the top.

Todd was a natural.
Alena uses the corner to her benefit.

Emily's done this before-she was good!
It was interesting to note the differences between the (limited) climbing I'd done in the US versus how things work here in Australia. I'm used to the knots in the rope being triple checked and all sorts of verbal commands being required, such as "belay on," "belay off," "climbing," etc. Not the case here! The instructor double-checked our knots, and we did have back-up belayers, but we were pretty much on our own for most of the time. I never felt unsafe; it's just strange how lenient things are outside of the United States. I guess the fear of lawsuits isn't so high!

After we took some turns going up different routes on the rock, the instructor took us abseiling. It was scarier than I thought it would be, but once I got going, it was super fun. Basically you step off a cliff backward and "zip" down the edge of the rock. You let a rope slide through your gloved hand to determine the speed that you go down. I went a lot faster than I intended, but that made it exciting!

I'm having fun going fast!
Zack enjoyed the view on the way down.

Bring on the Tough Mudder race!
Rock climbing is something I probably never would have tried, but I'm glad I did. It was a great way to spend a day with friends in the Grampians!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fun at the Formula 1

The Formula 1 Grand Prix race took place around Albert Park in Melbourne, which is just a couple of miles from our place. We got some general admission tickets, Zack scoped out a good viewing spot to set up our chairs and blankets, and several of our friends joined us to enjoy the beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Porsche Carrera Cup
I thought it would be a fun thing to experience just once, and we figured we'd might as well check it out while living here, but we actually both really enjoyed it and would think about going again next year. There were all sorts of things going on other than the car races: carnival rides, display cars, motorcycle daredevils, sailboats and jet ski tricksters in the water, and flyovers by stunt planes, a Qantas jumbo jet, and military aircraft. The pictures below show just a little bit of what we saw.

There were other car races throughout the day, but the main event was the Formula 1 race at 5pm. The Formula 1 series is held in various cities around the world, but the one in Australia is the first of the year. Drivers who place earn points toward winning the eventual World Championship. At the Australian Grand Prix, the race is 58 laps long, which takes about 1 1/2 hours. It's a total of 191 miles, and the cars sometimes go as fast as 220 miles per hour. And wow, they are SO loud! We definitely had to wear earplugs. This year's winner was Jenson Button. He drives for McLaren, and he's won this race twice before.

We walked down to Turn 10 to get a good view of the cars maneuvering around a sharp curve.
Close up of a Red Bull car.
Below is a video of me standing by an opening in the fence near where we were sitting. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Acting Irish Down Under

For St. Patrick's Day in Australia, we put on our green shirts and met up with some fellow American expats at an Irish bar in the early afternoon. We enjoyed some drinks, and with the purchase of a Guinness beer, you got these fun hats (Zack gave me his-I hate beer!).

Me, Alena, Emily, Adam, and Todd (Zack took the picture).
After leaving PJ O'Brien's, we went to a nearby restaurant with some Irish food and drink specials and live music. I enjoyed my beef and Guinness pie (it didn't taste like beer) with chips (fries), and we taught the others how to play six-handed euchre. The girls won!

Outside on the sidewalk (for $10) you could try to win $50 by riding this bike from one line to the other. The trick was that the handlebars were backward, so when you turned one way, it went the opposite way. We chipped in to let Adam give it a go, but sadly he only won some stickers. Oh well!

This shot was taken a few days before St. Patrick's Day, but I thought it was appropriate to include at the end of this post. Hopefully you all had a good Irish celebration and found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! 

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about more fun in the Grampians and our day at the Grand Prix!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grampians are Great!

I will fully admit that we are total Colorado snobs. Australia is gorgeous, but in a completely different way than our old home. We used to spend our weekends mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, whitewater rafting, snowshoeing, and camping among some of the most beautiful 14,000+ foot mountains in the world, and it was amazing. So we sometimes find ourselves snickering at the so-called "hikes" here in Australia. Mountain biking among the kangaroos is a unique experience, but the word "mountain" is a rather inaccurate term. And we won't even go near the overpriced bunny hills they call ski resorts out here. But you know what? We went to the Grampians last weekend, and we were truly impressed!

Zack had this past Monday off from work, because it was Labour Day. We took advantage of the long weekend and drove about three hours outside of Melbourne to camp in Grampians National Park. Emily came along with us (Adam had to work), and we met up with Todd and Alena as well.

On Saturday, all five of us did a beautiful hike called the Mount Stapylton Loop. It was 12.2 km, and it took us about five hours to complete. But we stopped a lot to take pictures, eat lunch, fool around, etc. The hike was awesome: great views, some rock scrambling, cool formations, perfect weather with bright blue (dare I say Colorado-ish?!) skies, and fun friends. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

Boy shot-Todd and Zack ride the "camel" rock.

Girl shot-Emily, me, and Alena-sitting pretty near the top of Mt Stapylton.
We attempted several times to get a decent jumping picture with all of us in it.
This was the best one. We had fun trying!
We definitely want to go back to this area of Victoria. Zack and our friends were musing about how the Grampians is what they pictured Australia would be like when they came over here. For me, it just reminded me of Colorado, and that made me happy! I'll have a couple more Grampian posts coming up about camping, the waterfall, and our day spent rock climbing, but for now, I'll leave you with a picture dedicated to our Colorado roots...Zack doing the Tim Tebow pose!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Bounty of Balloons

Check out all of the hot air balloons that were over Melbourne the other morning! How many do you see?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So Long Summer? Hello Sunsets!

The weather seems to be starting to cool off a little bit. We've been getting some rain, and it actually felt like fall the other day. I don't feel like we've had nearly enough summer yet, but alas, it is March in Australia, and that means the start of another season. 

But the sunsets continue to be beautiful. Here's a random phone shot I took while walking home the other day; I was right by Luna Park and liked how the palm trees were silhouetted as the sun went down:

There is one positive thing about the change in seasons. It means that we get to see sunsets from our balcony again! The other night was the first night in months where I could see the sun as it went down without leaving the comfort of home. I don't think I will ever get sick of this view!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Goodbye Grandpa Schultz

I don't usually post personal stuff on here, besides "here's what we did today" type of things, but I found out that my grandpa died a few hours ago, and he deserves a blog post more than any of the frivolous stuff I usually write about.

Dancing with Grandpa Schultz at our wedding.
Grandpa Schultz was a farmer, hunter, and fisherman. He played a mean game of euchre; I still remember him calling trump on basically nothing ("right-nine all the time"). He and my grandma had seven kids and were married for over fifty years before she passed away ten years ago. My grandpa could build and fix anything, and he worked for General Motors for several years. He was the most helpful guy in the world, and he loved his kids and grandkids like crazy (he always cried when we said goodbye). And he liked to talk and tell stories-sometimes very long ones!

Goofy Grandpa Schultz-I love this picture of him!
Up until a couple of months ago, my grandpa was super healthy. He even had a full head of dark hair at age 90! But about six weeks ago he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos (from all the years working with GM), and he'd been declining ever since. Lots of the family was able to be with him in Michigan over the past week, and he's been under Hospice care in his own home for the past few days, so things went as "good" as they could have considering the circumstances. But I sure will miss my grandpa.

Video of Favorite Memories of Grandpa Schultz

Above is the link to a video my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) made last week for his 90th birthday, which was just a few days ago. They played it for him yesterday, and my mom said he was able to hear everyone's voices and feel the love. You're welcome to watch the whole thing if you want to, but I'd at least check out the first few minutes, because my brother made a really awesome intro using his bouncy ball collection!

Goodbye Grandpa Schultz-I love you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cricket with Kris and Kevin

Kris was my roommate in Farley Hall during my freshman year at Notre Dame, and in August, she married a guy named Kevin. I couldn't make it to their wedding, but they took a delayed honeymoon to Australia! After visiting the Great Barrier Reef and before heading to Sydney and then New Zealand, they stopped over in Melbourne for a few days. We didn't have the greatest of weather over the weekend, but we made the best of it.

One thing we did was go to a cricket match at the MCG on Friday night. Australia was playing Sri Lanka. The match started at 2:30pm, but we just went for a few hours in the evening. We must have looked like total dorks reading the rules of the game on Wikipedia on our phones while watching the game, but once we understood it a bit, cricket was much more fun to watch! The main thing I didn't know is that there are two batsmen at one time, and they score points by running back and forth between the wickets after hitting the ball. I won't go into all of the other rules; if you really care, check out this link.

Only certain sections of the stadium were full, but there are apparently tons of people from Sri Lanka living in Melbourne, because there were lots of spirited fans cheering for the Sri Lankan team! Australia ended up winning in the end, but only by 15 runs (which is not a lot). Check out the picture above with Gatorade guys on segways!

Kris and Kevin in front of Flinders Street Station on a cloudy Friday night.
On Saturday after a nice breakfast at a cafe, I took Kris and Kevin around the city on the free city circle tram, with a stop at the Queen Victoria Market. They enjoyed the ever-interesting meat hall (tongues, cheeks, livers, etc.), some souvenir shopping, and a few yummy macaroons. Unfortunately, it rained all day! In the evening, we played some euchre at our place before heading to the Fitzroy area and Brunswick Street for drinks and dinner. Good times! It was awesome to finally catch a cricket game and show an old college pal around my new home. Happy honeymoon Kris and Kevin!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Words With Friends

I love the app called Words With Friends. It's basically Scrabble, but you can play with anyone in the world. You just take your turn when you have time, so the games take at least a few days, especially when you're playing against someone who's awake while you're asleep (everyone in the US!). Anyway, I'm addicted. I usually have at least five games going at once, and if I'm on my phone, that's probably what I'm playing. Some people put up a good fight (namely my dad). And some people cheat (there are websites to do this-so unfair!). Apparently most of my cousins refuse to play me because I'm "too good"?! I'm pretty decent, but I definitely don't always win. A lot of it depends on what letters you're given. Anyway, below are screen shots of two moves in recent games. I'm rather proud of these; anything over 100 is pretty rare (at least from my experience). If you want to play against me, my username is AubreeK...if you dare! :)

Highest one word score of my career.
How ya like that Daddy-o?