Sunday, May 28, 2006

Anna's School Photos - Year 1

This is Anna's school photo for Year 1 photo (first grade). Notice she's proudly wearing her Student Council pin!

A few weeks ago, Danny was ill, so I had to help her get ready for school and get her there. Her and Dad have their routine down, and I'm pretty much out of that loop. I was trying to get everything going that morning and Anna said to me, "Dad doesn't do things all mixed up. He does it in the proper order." Then she started to recite what the proper order was, but I had to interrupt her to say, "Let's just do the best we can. We're running late." Her response? "Dad and I never run late!"

This is Anna's class. She loves all her friends and teachers. They're all so cute, aren't they?

(Like any of the photos here, you can click on it to see a larger view.)

Chad on wheels!

Chad passed his driving test with a perfect score and was very excited to get his own car! It's a 1990 Ford Falcon. It's amazing that a 1990 is considered an *old* car. Where has the time gone?

By the way, you may notice he has dyed his hair black now. He would probably go for a bolder color if his school allowed it!

He's really on the go now! He gets up at 6:00 am to go to the gym, then to school, then to work most evenings, and to boxing class two evenings a week. When he gets home, he usually has homework and spends some time working on his music. Whew! (BTW, he works at Subway and Baskin & Robbins. They're owned by the same people, so he works at both places.)

He's really proud of his car and independence, and we're happy for him.

Western Australia - Perth Zoo

We had to go to the Perth zoo while we were in the neighborhood. It's a big, nice zoo that we highly recommend. They have all the usual animals that everyone has seen, so I'm only posting a few photos.

They have a very nice environment set up for the fairy penguins.

Aw, aren't they cute?

Anna's favorite animals are tigers, so we had to get this photo! (I'm thinking I should go into business creating these zoo photos. I could do a much better job, ha!)

This was the highlight of our visit to the zoo. We had been watching this mum and baby orangatan swinging around, way up high on the equipment they have in their area. Then the mum decided to bring the baby down right in front of us!

"Mum, that carrot sure looks tasty. Could I have a bite?"

"No, sorry. I don't think you're ready to handle this big carrot. I better eat it myself."

"OK, I'll just chew on this piece of straw." We were really glad we got such a good view of these two!

Western Australia - Adventure World

Adventure World is a little amusement park. This ride was real high and went all around the park. It has to be pedaled! Chad was a good sport to take Anna for a ride. She didn't help peddle much!

Here's a view from a castle overlooking the park. The kids rode on a lot of rides, but I didn't get very good photos of that. Oh well.

Water toys are always fun. Kids should never go anyplace in Australia without their bathers (swim suit)!

Yikes. Look at this big dragon! This was a nice pool for playing, not too deep with lots of slides and things to climb on.

Western Australia - Dolphin Watch

The old man and the sea! Looks like a natural, doesn't he?

Heading out for the dolphin watch. We were hoping to see some wild dolphins (not captive).

We all enjoyed the boat ride.

Ooh, look! There's one!

There's a mum and baby. Wait! Let me get a better photo!

There they go on the other side of the boat. I still can't get a good shot. Slow down!

This is fun!

There goes a couple more. I kept trying to catch a photo of them with their heads out of the water, but they wouldn't cooperate. It was cool to see them anyhow.

Hey, there's our condo! The houses on either side are huge, single family homes. Wouldn't it be nice to live in one of those?

Western Australia - Marapana Wildlife World

We can't go on a holiday without visiting at least one wildlife park. This was a small family-operated place that was really nice.

Everyone loves the koalas. This is their normal snoozing position. They always look like they're about to fall out of the trees.

Check out this laid-back guy! We've seen lots of koalas over the years, but we've never seen one laying in this position before.

"What'cha lookin' at? Can't a guy relax without people staring and pointing? Jeez!"

The animal handler lets Anna pet a koala. Notice the two thumbs (on the koala, not the employee)?

Of course, there are always plenty of roos to feed.

Isn't it cute the way they hold the human's hand? I've never seen one bite the hand that feeds it - they just hold on so you won't take it away until they're done.

OK, so this is a basic deer, not that exotic. Anna loves feeding them, though.

Chad thought the llamas were funny.

"Gangsta Geese", as Chad called them. They followed us around hoping to get fed.

A pretty little parrot minding his own business.

There were two groups of dingos. They can't put too many in one enclosure or they will fight. This is the top dog in his group.

There is a hole in the ground between these two. It's a dingo den and is fairly deep and wide. At one point, there were three dingos in there, apparently fitting comfortably. We expected to see/hear a big tussle when the 3rd one went in, but it never happened.

Chad has always loved dogs of every kind and they seem to "take" to him, too. He was glad the animal handler brought one of the dingos out for a visit.

Anna enjoyed petting the dingo, too. This one is the top dog and when he left the cage, the other two immediately got into a fight. Yikes!

"Sure, boy, you can taste my soda." I was afraid Chad might find this little wildlife park boring, but he enjoyed it. It was a nice day for the whole family.

Western Australia - Rockingham

We had a 2-week holiday in Western Australia in March-April, which was fantastic! We stayed in this condo in Rockingham, which is about 1 hour south of Perth. Lovely, eh?

We love these beveled windows across the front. We thoroughly enjoyed this view. It's a bit different from home where the view is our fence and the neighbors' roof!

This is the scene looking off our balcony. Notice the lovely little play area and gazebo. It was very peaceful there and never too crowded.

A beautiful place to take a stroll with the kids and dogs. I wish we could have taken Samson!

Like a lot of kids, Anna loves playing on the stairs. Easy entertainment!

Of course, we have to take the laptop wherever we go.

Chad is saying to me, "What?! Haven't you ever seen a guy using a microwave before? Do we really need a photo of this?" I think it's a good picture of him, though. So there you go.

A diverse area in Rockingham called Shoal Water Marine Park.

Interesting coast line here...

FYI, this is the INDIAN Ocean (for those who may not have pieced that together)!

Of course, they have all the necessities in Rockingham, including McDonald's. Anna is pretty low maintenance. She's quite happy with McDonald's Happy Meal toys!

Penguin Island. You can walk out to it or take a ferry. The penguins that live there are the little fairy penguins, about 1 foot tall. Those are sea gulls in this photo, though! (Remember the "mine mine" birds from Finding Nemo?)

"Natchel born" beach bum!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Anna Begins her Political Career

Anna started Year 1 (first grade) about 3 weeks ago. They recently voted for student council representatives at her school - a girl and a boy from each class. Anna won the vote for her class! She hadn't mentioned it and we saw it in the school newsletter. We asked her if she realized she had received the most votes and she said matter-of-factly, "Of course. We had to vote for the person that we thought would do the best job, so everyone *had* to vote for me. I even had to vote for me!"

Time for some fun after all that hard work at school!

Relaxing on the garden swing. Life is good!

Meet Stephanie

This is our 3-year-old granddaughter, Stephanie. I know it's hard to believe that I, Ellen, could be a grandmother. I'm so young and vivacious and... well, OK, I *am* old enough to be a grandmother, but enough about me! Stephanie is the daughter of Danny's son, Geoffrey, and his significant other, Gina. (By the way, Gina not only plays bass in her and Geoff's band, she is also pursuing her degree in Computer Science. What more could anyone ask for?)

OK, back to Stephanie. She's not only adorable, but also very clever. It seems she has already made her first purchase on EBAY! Her dad, Geoff, had purchased some knobs for a guitar he was working on. He left the page up (big mistake) and later, Stephanie apparently got on the computer and saw a list of "other things offered by seller". She chose a lovely telecaster body and clicked on "Buy it now"! So there you go, her first ebay purchase - a nice little gift for Dad!

Here she is with Santa, looking less than impressed. Who is this guy?

Who could resist those beautiful eyes?

Anna loves being an aunt and can't wait to see Stephanie again. In fact, last Thanksgiving we went around the table, each saying what we were thankful for. When it was Anna's turn, she just said, "I'm thankful for Stephanie and everything else!"

For those of you who didn't know/see Chad when he was a toddler, this is him at age 2. Why did I stick this in here? Only to point out that Stephanie's curly hair reminds us a lot of Chad's when he was young. (He probably wouldn't like having this picture put on the net, but I doubt he'll ever look at our blog, so I'll probably get away with it. Mmwa-ha-ha-ha!)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chad's Year 10 Formal

Chad is ready for his big night of dining and dancing - the Year 10 Formal, which marked the end of year 10 (10th grade). He takes a moment here to pose with Dad.

This is the car Dad organized for Chad's big night. It's a Ford Model A, completely restored (obviously). The owner was nice enough to chauffeur Chad and his date, Jennifer, to the dance in this car. All he asked was that we make a donation to the cancer society, which we gladly did.

A professional photo taken at the formal. The boy cleaned up pretty good and Jennifer looked stunning!

Anna's first disco

Anna went to her first disco, a school-sponsored event. We were a bit surprised to learn that the younger kiddos were allowed to go, but they were happy to be included and had a great time! This is Anna with her friend, Nicola. Most of the girls in Anna's class are about Nicola's size. You'll probably notice that Anna is quite a bit taller and more filled-out. Unfortunately, this causes some of the girls to call her "big and fat"... it starts in Kindergarten!

Here she is with her good friend, Luka, who is always entertaining. Anna is quite a bit bigger than he is, and unfortunately, this angle exaggerates that even more!

Jemma is one of Anna's best friends. They go all the way back to preschool!

"Knotty" Boy

Chad let his hair grow last year so he could get dreadlocks. He wanted them for several months, so it wasn't an impulsive thing. He knew about the required maintenance, etc. and still wanted them, so we agreed. (I have no problem with my kids altering their appearance in any way that is not permanent. I was surprised to find out that -in this day and age- friends and coworkers expressed disbelief that I would let my son get dreadlocks! C'mon, it's just a hair style. What's the big deal?)

Anyway, he got the dreds and was really pleased with them. We (his parents) even thought they looked good. Unfortunately, something Chad wasn't prepared for was the scratchy feeling they created. He said it felt like sleeping on a bale of hay. He tried for a few months to get used to it, but never could. So, he cut them off. (He literally cut them off himself and didn't want to bother with having a professional trim. Oh, to be that self-assured.)

Who is Larry and why is he so happy?

Some folks may be confused by the title of our blog, so I guess I should explain it. "Happy as Larry" is a British-Australian catch phrase that simply means "extremely happy" or "very pleased with the way things are going." The rural-American equivalent of "Happy as Larry" would be "happy as a pig in mud." There are a few theories about where/how this phrase originated, which I won't go into here. If you're really interested, you can always google it.

Fortunately, we are all pretty happy and content with our lives here in the Alice, so the title seems to suit us.

Having a go

Um... hello? Is this thing on? Testing, testing... OK, off we go!

Since our web site has been pathetically out of date for most of the 8 years it's been online, we decided to get with the program and try a new approach to keep it more current.

I was discussing the time and effort involved in keeping a web site up-to-date with a good (and smart) friend of mine, Tony. He suggested trying a blog, which is much quicker and easier to maintain... so here we go. (Bonus: other family members can write their own stuff to post!)

Now, I have to admit I initially spent a few hours designing my own blog skin (template, design, look-n-feel, whatever you want to call it). The design was coming along great - themed around the song "Imagine" by John Lennon, colors I really like, etc. But then I stopped and asked myself, "What the heck am I spending time on this for?" I'm not taking advantage of the convenience of using a blog! I should be spending time on the content, not the design. Who really cares that I could make the thing look nicer? (Granted, very few people will care about the content either, but I digress...)