Category Archives: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Things I Love About Australia

1. Hands down the people are the thing I love the most, specifically our family and friends in Australia. I could miss out on everything else on this list and just see the people and be a happy person.
2. The food, which I’ve already outlined here, but aside from missing genuine Mexican food we love the food options down under. Highlights include: spinach rolls, fish and chips, sushi, Peppermint Magnum bars, kebabs (at the mall!), Thai and Indian food in Forster/Tuncurry, flat white coffees and Christmas pudding.
3. Chocolate – yes, technically a food but this needs its own line item – the chocolate in Australia is just delicious, mostly because it’s not filled with wax and is made with copious amounts of cream. Plus it comes in fun flavors like honeycomb, cherry/coconut and caramel/nougat.
4. Use of electric teapots and having a cuppa – anytime you go to someone’s house, you can expect to have tea (or coffee) with them. Everyone has an electric teapot on their counter and in five minutes you’ll be having tea and maybe a snack. The instant coffee is delicious and convenient. I wish this was something we did more in the States, it’s just a nice aspect to any evening to sit down and have a cuppa with people (of course we do it our own way with pod coffee brewers and Diet Coke).
5. Road signs and billboards that provided me with endless amusement. Admittedly these can be amusing in the States as well, but since I was a passenger for all of this trip and we did quite a bit of driving, I got to pay more attention to them as we passed. I’ve already mentioned how I love to make fun of the warning signs in Australia in a previous post so I’ll leave that as it is but this time I noticed more billboards, my favorites were those warning against things: [to paraphrase] “Being five minutes late or paralyzed – you decide” or a series talking about skin cancer (which is very serious and prevalent in Australia) but the signs were EVERYWHERE and some would show a woman in a bikini with the tagline “A perfect spot for melanoma” or “There’s nothing healthy about a tan” something along those lines – totally Debbie downer billboards. But the best was a series of three billboards along a 1km stretch that were promoting regular pap smears all with cheeky taglines “Pap tests. A little bit of awkward for a whole lot of peace of mind.” This again, is for an important thing, but these billboards are so frequent and intense something about it struck me as amusing, probably because most of our billboards related to healthcare are advertising hospitals and insurance companies rather than specific problems.
6. The shops close up at 5:30 (the grocery stores are open later) but the mall areas just close up and at first I found this off-putting but really, it shows a general prioritization that Australias have in putting living life AHEAD of working. In the US, we’re all about convenience and getting things when we want them but realistically, nothing is so important that I can’t wait until a later time to pick up. Instead of running errands all over town in the evenings, we should just be home with our families or out doing things together. I like that idea.
7. Being about to see kangaroos and wallabies in the wild – so cool.
8. The gorgeous scenery that is found everywhere – I love driving around New South Wales (the state we were in) – it’s like driving around up north, more towns and way less cities. It’s hilly and lush with the ocean never far away (at least where we were).
9. Their money is just way cooler than ours – isn’t it so pretty? Plus they use $1 and $2 coins. Now if only the American dollar was stronger because the cost of living in Australia is way higher but our dollars are about equal so to us, everything seemed to cost so much more. For example, we’d pay $2.22 for two 20-oz. bottles of Diet Coke here in the States but in Australia we’d pay $3.50 for ONE half liter of Diet Coke and $24 for a 24-pack of cans.
australian money

10. The general laid back attitude of the people. “No worries, mate.”

Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.


Top Ten Things I Love About the Christmas Season

1. The requisite get togethers with all the different groups of people in my life. I love parties, hanging out and laughing, things I’ve had plenty of this month.
2. Reading The Advent Book with my kids. This was a recommendation from my friend Kim and totally worth the cost, I’ve loved the time we’ve spent reading it each night, reminding them of the real reason for the season.
3. Waking up to a snow-covered world. Alas, this hasn’t happened yet this year, but since I’m in Michigan this is usually a given (not that I’m complaining or asking for a blizzard).
4. Most clients don’t start new projects at the end of the year, this is a lovely respite that allows for a natural year-end wrap up and wind down (plus vacation time).
5. Making and giving away  yummy treats. Plus, you get to sample all the goodies without the guilt (Christmas miracle – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
6. White Christmas lights (though I rather like all Christmas lights, except those that are still up and lit in February. Neighbors, I’m talking to you.)
7. Giving gifts. And I’ll be honest and say I like getting gifts too, but I enjoy giving so much more. Especially when you know you’ve given the perfect gift.
8. Getting to experience everything with my kids. Christmas is magical and it’s such a treat to get to see it all anew with Liam and Jack.
9. Remembering what Christmas is all about and celebrating the little baby who was born in Bethlehem. What a gift we were given.
10. Family time in Lansing with my side of the family, I love, love, love our traditions. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, breakfast the day after Christmas and a movie. All great times!

Forgive any typos, after a day of moving I’m too tired to go get my laptop so I typed this in my phone.

Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Lessons Learned While Packing an Office

So, our office is moving locations in a week… I’m the only full-time person in our office, plus I’m a partner so it means along with doing my regular job, my mom job and my life “stuff,” I’m also the main move coordinator.
1. When you’re downsizing from 1,900 to 1,300 square feet, purging is a must.

2. Related to the above, if you find things you haven’t used since you moved to your current space 10 years before this, you can safely THROW IT AWAY.

3. Even if it doesn’t look like it, you are a pack rat.

4. Office supplies and books take up a whole lot of boxes.

5. You reach a point in packing where you just think, we can leave that here, or consider inviting the public in to help themselves.

6. Shredding paper is quite relaxing and mind-numbing.

7. Coordinating the logistics of a simple move can be a headache and a half. So when your dryer decides to throw a fit, you buy a new washer/dryer set online without even comparison shopping because the price is right and you don’t have to leave your home. If someone has an easy solution to any problem I have right now, I will totally take them up on their solution – you’ve been warned.

8. Moving during the holiday season is good from a business standpoint because your clients don’t typical start projects during the holiday season.

9. Just because clients don’t typically start projects during the holidays, doesn’t mean they won’t and you will question your sanity in making the decision to move at all when you are starting three new projects in the week before your move (but then you will remind yourself that the ultimate cost-savings make it all worthwhile; also, you start talking to yourself a lot as a coping mechanism).

10. Other things must be sacrificed because all you think about is the move and the logistics of the move… therefore your creativity (and free time) when it comes to blogging is taken over by the move. Sorry…

Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Things I’m Thankful For (This Year)

It seems only appropriate that today’s Top Ten blog would be on thankfulness, but I thought I’d be more specific and talk about things from this past year – and let’s just assume I’m most thankful for the things I listed on Friday (family, friends, jobs and health).

1. Jack’s surgery – a year ago Jack had just had surgery to take a bone from his toe and put it in his thumb and to have his “finger” nubbins removed. I’m thankful that surgeon was skilled, the surgery itself went off without a hitch and the recovery was uneventful – as uneventful as an almost-two-year-old in a cast for six weeks can be.

2. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital – this was the hospital that took such good care of Wesley when he was first born – our community is so blessed by this hospital and its wonderful staff and Sarah and Brian were so blessed to bring Wesley home much sooner than expected – their little Wesley was quite the NICU rockstar!

3. Weight Watchers and – my two secret weapons (along with exercising) that have helped me along the journey towards the new, better me.

4. Blogging – I’ve been reading blogs for what seems like ages but just started mine at the beginning of 2011 (thanks to more than a little prodding from a certain loved friend named Heidi) and I love it – I’ve always been a journaller just like my sweet friend, Kim, and this is really an extension of that past-time, albeit one that is way more public than the ramblings in my journals from high school and college (those have never been viewed by anyone else’s eyes, you’re welcome for that). Plus, it’s helped me grow a wonderful friendship with my dear friend (and fantabulous walking partner), Sandy.

5. Sugar Momma’s Bakery – though this is in direction competition with reaching my healthier-living goals, I love that this place is near my office (probably good that we are moving) and even though I don’t know the woman who started it, I am so proud of her because she is younger than me and has started her own business. I hope she has great success because her baked goods are AWESOME!

6. Our road trip with the boys to Texas went smoothly and the time we spent there was so very enjoyable! Hopefully we didn’t use up our good travel karma and have some left over for the upcoming trip to Australia.

7. Sunday night date nights – I’m so glad Simon and I have made extra effort to spend time together, just the two of us. I think we can all agree that one-on-one time is key to helping any marriage.

8. Jack’s daycare teachers – we’ve been blessed by all three daycares we’ve “used” since Liam was born but our current home is just perfect for Jack, our into-everything kid. At least once a week I pick him up and he’s in different clothes because he soaked through what he was originally wearing at the water table and they just laugh and tell me how much fun he had that day.

9. Kindergarten – Liam loves it and I’m so glad we got into the district we did with our county’s schools of choice program; we only wish it was full day every day – Liam would love it even more then! But he has nothing but good things to say about every aspect of his day and he adores his teacher – on the weekends he draws her pictures and practices whatever he’s been working on to give to her on Monday.

10. A new church home – after years at the same church, we made a switch in April to the church where I’d been going to MOPS for the last five years. I miss much of our old church, but this new church is smaller and more suited to where we are as a family right now. I wish we could go to both… but am so thankful to be blessed where we are at in this time.

What are you thankful for?

Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Things I Learned on My Weekend Off

When you’re a parent, you’re always on so the only way to get time off is to escape your family (it sounds much more dramatic than it actually is). This is what I did this past weekend – I escaped my reality and my family and headed north with one of BFFs. She had asked for the weekend off as a birthday present from her husband and I got to tag along for the ride (since I got my lovely birthday Kindle a few months ago – thanks, honey)! To say I was looking forward to the weekend would be an understatement.

Here are ten things I learned on my weekend off:

1. A three-hour car ride without kids seems to go way faster than a 30-minute ride WITH kids. I believe that is a scientific fact.

2. I have lost my ability to nap, even after a relaxing bath with a side of beer. Wah, wah. Poor mommy problems.

3. I’ve also lost my ability to truly sleep in… the moment I heard Tracey stirring downstairs, I was wide awake – the same reaction I have when I hear Jack coughing in the monitor. Kids have ruined me for sound sleeping; even when they are miles away, I sleep with one ear open.

4. I would happily give up seeing a movie in the theater for a margarita and good Mexican food – in the olden days, I would have done both.

5. Getting some Christmas shopping done over the weekend makes me feel very accomplished.

6. Diane Keaton’s character in Because I Said So is SUPER annoying. I hope I am never that kind of overbearing parent.

7. The stepdad-stepson relationship between Liam Neeson and the little boy in Love Actually is so sweet, and so much more interesting to me now that I am a parent. And I was reminded that Hugh Grant is unbelievably dreamy in that movie – you know I love an accent.

8. Tracey and I can handily put away a bottle of wine. And we find each other hilarious when this has happened.

9. When you’re a grown up, you bring sensible things on a weekend away – food like hummus and vegetables, quinoa and curry; bottled water and coffee filters; probiotics and digestive enzymes; three months worth of unread magazines and of course, lots of Diet Coke (that’s never changed).

10. A weekend off can completely replenish my patience levels, lucky for all of the boys in my life.

I’m happy to say I didn’t learn that my husband can handle the kids by himself for the weekend, but that was something I already knew! He’s a great dad and a great partner in our life together! Thanks for the weekend off, my sweet, I appreciate it more than I can say!

Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.