Sunday, November 15, 2015

Our Australian Adventure - A Post by Lily

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Getting told:

We were sitting in the kitchen when we found out. Dad walked in and the room became still; you could hear a pin drop. A layer of frost covered the counters and a tumbleweed rolled across the room. Well, not one even saw him come in. He cleared his throat a few times until we finally looked up from what we were doing and gave him our upmost attention (except for Simeon who was still quite focused on his bowl of yogurt).

He fleetingly glanced at Mom who had a sort of nervous expression on her face. Dad grabbed a stool and looked us in the eyes.

"Guys, me and Mom have been thinking for a while, and we have decided that we are going to move to Australia. We've arranged it with QTC, I'm going to be a lecturer at the college. We are moving next June, so you guys have lots of time to say goodbye."

For a moment you could hear nothing, but then tears started rolling down Simeon's cheeks like Niagara Falls.

"B-b-but Dad!" He sobbed, his yogurt forgotten, "What about my friends?"

"And our family." Evelyn added quietly.

And our life. I thought. Tears threatened to leak down my face so I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath.

"How do you feel about moving Lily?" My dad's voice broke through my thoughts.

"Great!" I lied, "It'll be fun."

The Next Step:

The next few months passed in a blur of goodbyes, prayers, spending a lot of quality time with loved ones, and boxes. Lots and lots of boxes.

I liked cleaning out the house as I secretly disliked the old things we had ("They're antiques!").  I was hoping to get to have a sleek, modern home in Australia and was warming up a tiny bit to the idea of moving.

My friends threw me a going away party and gave me letters spelling out LILY that had little notes written all over them. I loved the gift and as we were driving home from the party I felt the overwhelming urge to cry. I was so thankful for all my friends and I was going to miss having water balloon fights with them and taking crazy pictures. When we got home I went into the bathroom and cried silently to myself for a good twenty minutes. Everything that I had was being taken away from me. Why is God doing this to me? I thought, What good will come out of all of this?

My episode in the bathroom I never really forgot, but the farewell party that the church gave us will stick in my mind forever. The entire service I was biting my lip and pinching myself to keep from crying, but then I thought to myself, what do you have to lose? You're moving to Australia, you idiot. Tears shot down my face like rockets of grief that had been waiting to take off, but I wasn't the only one. All my friends were hugging me and sobbing and people who I barely knew were wishing me good luck. Soon, I started smiling through my tears. My friends and I stood in a circle sharing memories and funny stories. At the end of the day, I felt much better.

The Last Week:

The last week before we left was sad, but I felt light and almost happy because I knew I would keep in touch with friends and family and I knew that God had a plan, even if I didn't know what it was.

The Airport:

We were driven to the airport by our family and we were all teary-eyed when we hugged them goodbye. We went to grab some Starbucks and then we waited. We waited, and waited and waited and waited. After that we decided to wait some more, and then to finish off our day we - get this - waited. Chaos, seriously. Fiiiiinally, the speakers announced our flight and we hurried over to the walkway that would lead us to our plane.

Arriving in our Texas layover, the O'Donnell kids decided that waiting was wayyyyy too mainstream so we fidgeted instead. We begged for expensive candy, comfy head pillows, thai massages, and iPhones (still shocked that I didn't get one - crazy parenting, I know). Eventually, after our pockets were stocked with goodies (haha just kidding it was all wrappers - RIP sour patch kids), we boarded the plane for Brisbane. (Drumroll, please....)

Well, after the initial shock that we would have to wait approximately another 45 minutes for the plane to take off, we settled down in pleasure to the hundreds of movies and T.V. shows that were at our fingertips. The plane took off, and we hardly bothered to watch the gorgeous view out the window. Soon, it got dark and the plane lights got dim to signal sleeping time. But HOW, I must ask, are you supposed to sleep when you are moving to Australia and you are cramped in a airplane seat and you have no space and it smells bad and you want to puke and (*takes deep breath*) Well I decided to pray. I had stopped watching movies so the reality that we would be in Australia in 12 hours was setting in fast. My dad and sister were both asleep next to me, and the next thing I knew I was crying. Silently, but there were tears sliding down my face slowly but surely. I was very very VERY scared. What would Australia be like? Would I make any friends? Questions swirled around my tired mind and I breathed one word. "Please." I whispered into the dark silence. I lifted my tears stained eyes up to heaven and said it one more time. Then, finally, I was able to sleep, and thank God for that.

The Outback:

Well, let me just tell you Australian stereotypes are wrong. I mean, maybe the stereotype of someone with a big straw hat waving an Australian flag while saying "Put another shrimp on the barbie, mate" may apply to some Australians, but no one I've ever met (it would be quite entertaining to meet someone like this though). But my dads stories of walking into a shop, being greeted with a friendly "G'day", and squawking back an awkward American "Hello!" are quite true.

People in Australia act just like Americans. With a few differences that have to do with accent and culture, they revolve around American television programs, celebrities, music and take after America like its younger sibling. Well, beautiful younger sibling that is. Australia is gorgeous. From its breathtaking beaches to its majestic mountains, its proud land brings in all the tourists.

Back to the story.

We were off the plane! We skipped over to the baggage claim and found our suitcases easily. Then we went through security and met a cute dog whose name was Wolf. As we walked out of security, I saw a crowd waiting for us. Well, hardly a crowd, but there were a few families waiting to greet us once we got off the plane. I smiled when I saw a girl about my age come up to me and say "welcome to Australia!" I already felt that this place was starting to become my home.


Quick rant: okay so you know how in America summer starts in June? Yeah well NEWS FLASH Australian schools are still in the middle of the school year at that time. We move to Australia in June. So guess what lucky person got no summmmmmerrrrr? Me. Okay rant over.

So I know there has been a blog post about school so I'm not going to say the exact same things but can I just say my teacher shared that blog post with my class and she ranted about "how true" it was and no swearing and blah blah blah. It was very awkward. That is all I must say.

I started high school a few months ago and it's really great. My school is huge and I'm lucky to have an awesome group of friends. School is school in every country though. Homework. Tests. Friends. Teachers. Yay.


Other than friends and family, the thing I miss most about America is the church we went to. I loved the songs, the preaching by my own Dougie Fresh, and the people. The church we go to here in Australia still has great preaching but doesn't really have anyone my age there which makes it hard. The little kids are really cute though so I help out in Sunday school a lot. Just trusting God that the right people will come.

One year:

There's this funny little thing called procrastinating. This blog post is an excellent example of it. Itwas originally meant to be posted a year after the day we moved, but I just "forgot" and had a few notes written down.

Okay, so I feel like life hasn't really changed that much since the one year mark but can I tell you something really weird and unexpected? So you would think that you would still be at a somewhat awkward stage in friendship if you've only known each other for a year. No. This is very untrue. I can't explain how weird it is to think that I've known my friends here for just over a year! I'm really close to them and moving back to America now would be harder than you might expect.


Christmas! Yayyayyayayayayya! Words can't explain how excited I am to see my family in America when we visit (even a new addition!).

Our family here in Australia has been excepted by many other families and we feel like we have really close families we can sort of adopt ourselves into, especially when we are missing our family back home. It's never going to be exactly the same though. (Ps. Come visit us!!)


I highly recommend searching up "Australian slang" and watching a video on just how shortened Australians make words. All I can say is I love choccy. (Look it up). Also, I feel like I can't hear a difference between American and Australian accents anymore. Help. I SWEAR CHARLOTTE IS GETTING AN ACCENT THOUGH AND ITS REALLY WEIRD. Help.


Our Australian adventure. That's what my mum (GUYS YES ACKNOWLEDGE I JUST WROTE MUM) always referred to our trip as. At first, (as you know if you've been reading our old blog posts), it felt like a long vacation. We live an hour away from gorgeous beaches and a place nearby us called Southbank is like some resort type of thing, so I guess we are sort of living a vacation.

It's been very different in some ways, but in some ways it has been the same. I used to go to a Christian private school with my sisters in America, and moving to a public school in Australia was a big change. But, I made friends the same way and some of the friends I've made in my year and a half in Australia are life-long friends. I've already graduated from primary school to high school (which starts in year 8) I have actually never tried vegemite in Australia (go me).

To me, Australia is starting to become my real home. I really wish everyone I knew in America would just come on over and live here with us. That would be the dream life.

I guess I sort of have my own fairytale moving to Australia. It started out scary; tears, goodbyes, leaving special things (and humans) behind. But it was all in Gods hands. Through everything I prayed and I prayed and I prayed hoping that our move would be okay. And it was. Through Gods miraculous plan I've laughed with people I didn't even know existed before the move, I've tried Freddo Frogs and fed Kangaroos. I've seen my little sister pronounce 'h' as 'hayche' instead of 'ayche'. And best of all, I've learned to completely trust God with everything, no matter how big.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why, Hello!

Since last I posted anything on this sorry excuse for a blog, a few things have happened and a few months have gone by--but who's counting?!? First, a few pictures:

Stunning fireworks by the river with the city as the backdrop. Absolutely, breathtaking!

Simeon and Charlotte were paid by a neighbor (there should be a 'u' in that, but I'm holding on to my American identity) to watch their chooks (chickens) for a week.

We nicknamed one 'Clucky' and she refused to get off her eggs (even though they'll never hatch since there's no rooster about) unless we picked her up (which involved gloves since she tried to peck us to get us to stop). Her real name is apparently Omelette. We all enjoyed the experience (and the eggs which taste delicious fried over a hamburger in case you were wondering). Speaking of hamburgers, Australians like to top their burgers with beets, pineapple, fried eggs and onions. And ketchup is called tomato sauce. They do NOT put pickles on their burgers. But I digress... more pictures:

We visited Sea World and hung out with sharks and starfish. This was over their 2-week school holidays (NOT They have two weeks off after each of the four terms (actually after Term 4 they have six weeks off which corresponds with Christmas and New Year's). In this picture they are sporting their sunnies (sunglasses) and the need to stay cool amidst the hot weather that is only just beginning (this is early Spring here). The sun here is HOT. Skin cancer here ranks among the highest in the world (I think). So, they are required to wear hats whenever they are outside at school. Just thought you might want to know.

Ready for more?

A couple food-related pictures--the first is of my attempt to roast pumpkin with some yummy spices (I loved it--the kids turned up their nose). Australians love eating pumpkin--one of the first homes we ate a meal at served pumpkin wedges, skins and all. They just slice, bake and eat! To use them as decoration would seem like a waste, I think.

The second picture represents Morning and Afternoon Tea which is a daily occurrence here--the kids have it at school, and Douglas does at QTC. It just means snacktime at their school, but it usually means coffee/tea and refreshments of some kind--fruit, rice crackers and dip (they love rice crackers and dips here and are so creative with them--sweet potato and cashew, beetroot and harissa, spicy pumpkin, etc.), cookies, scones, etc. Really anything snacky could be served--I'm trying to slow down and enjoy tea especially in the afternoon before the kids head home from school. It's a delightful way to pause in the middle of the day.

And a few last pictures:

A few more things we've enjoyed here in Australia: beaches (this was taken in winter folks!), wild kangaroos (in other words, not just found in zoos), braiding hair (the girls have been practicing all types on my hair), reading (lots of trips to the library--this happens to be one of my favorite new reads and technically a book for tweens/teens that isn't (!) about vampires, magicians or a dystopian future--highly recommend).

I'm hoping to write more in the coming days--thanks for stopping by!!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Inspiration on a Windowsill

These pictures reflect my latest sources of inspiration for setting up house & feeding my family.

I found that quirky ring awhile back, packed it on a whim along with handmade scissors from Japan (a gift from my mom), a hand-embroidered piece of art from the amazing Angela Walters (for my birthday), a vintage mint vase from Jill DiCicco as a surprise Christmas gift, my very-much loved birds from my sister Abby, and a card (the first I received in Oz!) from my sister-in-law Karen.

These treasures have become my design inspiration--the mint green led me to purchase a mint leather couch which I LOVE. And the creams & browns & golds in the birds & ring were echoed in the rest of the items we purchased to furnish our living space.

More about cooking inspiration in my next post...

Monday, July 7, 2014

'Have you been to Hollywood?': a post by Lily

Hats. Big, blue hats. Uncomfortable, big, blue hats. Uncomfortable, big, blue SCHOOL hats. I cannot remember ever wearing a hat (other that a winter hat) in my entire life. I strongly dislike hats. Their feel, their look, EVERYTHING! (I know, I know, right now you are thinking that you have a comfy, cute hat sitting in your closet at home. Well, sorry to break it to you, but I don't). So, I start a new school, in a new country, in a new neighbourhood, and we have to wear hats. The hats are supposed to be worn when you are outside, or you will be SEVERELY punished. (I'm totally kidding, but ya never know😜). When I sent a picture of us in our uniforms to my school friends in America, one texted me this, "I love the uniforms. All of it is awesome except i have one question... Are u required to wear the hats... They are just a little bit... I don't know... Weird." Another said, "Its like a safari".

On Monday, school started, I was ready: safari uniform on, weird hat on head, and backpack in hand. When we arrived at school, my mom had to go to the administration, so the kids followed. We walked into the office, and there were three girls in my grade waiting for me. They introduced themselves, and then took me on a helpful tour of the school. They also introduced me to the other kids in the class, whose names I promptly forgot (I have a horrible memory). All the kids were really friendly and kind and helpful, which was fantabulous! I felt comfortable. The rest of the week I made new friends and had fun. Now I am on a two week holiday from school, because their term just ended. I will now list some things from some categories about my new school (Vague, I know, sorry).

 -Friendly kids

 -Small School

 -Kids I can be myself around

 -Kids swear, A LOT (I am not used to this, but I can survive)

 -My teacher is very strict (to other kids, but she is kind to me because I'm the new kid :)) 

-That's all!

 Random Questions Kids Have Asked Me:
 - "Did your parents vote for Obama or the other rich guy?"

 - "Do you like Obama?"

 - "Have you met anyone famous?"

 - "Is Chicago anywhere close to New York?" (For some reason they know a lot about New York)

 - "Have you been to Hollywood/ L.A./ Washington D.C.?"

 - "Is the Golden Gate Bridge really golden, cuz I heard it was red?"

 - I really do not have the answers to any of these questions except no and I don't know.

 So, that's my life right now. Thank you to anyone and everyone who has set aside time to read this. Bye!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Different, but the Same: A Post by Evelyn

WOW!!! I cannot even believe I am in Australia.

Here in Oz, it is different but the same. For example, it's different because, well, none of my friends and family are here, and because of the different food, animals, weather, plants, birds & accents. I do love the accents they have.

And it's the same because I'm still sharing a room with Lily, I'm still enjoying a fun life, and the kids in our family still fight with each other (but I mean not me of course, right?).

I think Australia is simply amazing (if you have been there, you understand). I wish all of you could be here with me so I could show you around and still be with you. I have made three different movies about how our move to Australia has been, and if you haven't seen them yet, you should.

I feel like I should be crying since, well, I mean c'mon, I just moved to Australia! But the weird part is I haven't cried. I really miss all my friends from church, from the neighborhood, and from school.

Lily and I share a room (as I said before) and we have totally redone it. We both bought bulletin boards (they're called something different here) to put up pictures and notes and other things from people in the States so we could remember them (not that I wouldn't remember all of you).

I have made a great friend here in Australia already. Her name is Sophie (and she has two sisters that are almost the same age as Lily and Charlotte). Here's a picture of us all at a dinner from last week.

She's short like me; she's also funny and kind. She's my new BFF. My family is still getting a few more things for the house and Lily & I want to finish designing our room, but then I think we will be able to relax...for a bit.

The kids in the family are finishing 2014 at Dutton Park State School. Then in 2015, Simeon and Charlotte (and probably me) will stay there, and Lily will go to high school at Brisbane State. I might go too, depending on which grade they put me in. Our first day of school is this coming Monday!

Please continue to read my family's blog. And enjoy your summer while it lasts :).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Unreal: a Post from Lily

Unreal. That's how moving to Australia feels. It isn't a "dream" unreal, but ifeellikeiamonanawesometriptoaustralia unreal. I feel like I will be back to America in a week or so. Maybe this is because I am not in school yet or even because it has only been a week.

A couple days ago, one of my new friends asked me, "Does it feel like you are on a long holiday to Australia?" When I responded with, "Totally, all the time!", she said, "And then you ask, 'when are we going back home?', and you realize that you are not going back..." Silence followed until I changed the topic, but her words lingered in my mind the next day, "you realize that you are not going back", " not going back", "not going back..."

 I still think that I am going back, but in the back of my mind I know we are not leaving. It is really hard- REALLY HARD to believe that this "new world" is real. It seems like a fun and expensive tropical vacation that goes on for a while. But it's NOT!!! I cannot believe it, really, I can't. And I don't know when I WILL believe it.

I haven't cried once since we moved here, but before we moved I cried a couple times. Why? I have no idea! I confuses me too! I am glad homesickness hasn't hit me yet, but as I was hanging up some items on my bulletin board, I felt a wave of sadness. I missed my friends soooooo much! I emailed them and texted them and FaceTimed them, but I still felt so far away from them.

Why can't they be here with me on this adventure? I don't know, but God does, and he has a plan, so no matter what that plan is, I will try very hard to stick with it. And I hope and pray that I will succeed, and I hope that you will pray for me and my family too. I love you all! Thank you for reading this😊.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

An Interview with Simeon

How has Australia been different than you expected?

Well, it doesn't seem different. The only thing different from America is the birds.

Is that different than what you expected?

Well, I didn't thing the birds would look THAT different. I mean, like, they're hilarious. I didn't think they'd be black & white with an orange beak. Then, I didn't think there would be a lot of turkey's. The only thing that's weird is I thought there would be a lot of lizards. I've been here 4 days and I have only seen one!

Tell me about your house. What do you like about it?

I like that it has an empty room in the basement so we can put toys there. And the basement is as big as our house.

I like the yard--the back has a lot of Palm trees. I like to look at how huge they are--cuz some are big and some are small. There's one that's only a foot tall.

Thanks, Simeon!