Dane's DanceSport awardDane represented Living Waters Lutheran College as he participated in the Dance Sport Competition today, 11 November 2009. Living Waters had almost 40 students in Years 4 & 5 (4th/5th grade) participating along with nearly 1,000 students from 20 other schools. He loved it and had been looking forward to the day!  He had a big smile every time he was on the dance floor.

LWLC DanceSport teamHe competed in 3 dances: Year 4 Square Rumba, Year 4 Slow Rhythm, and Year 5 Cha Cha Cha. He did the best in the Cha Cha Cha, making it to the final round! The competition started with 140 couples for this dance and he & his partner were chosen 5 times to move onto the next round. There were 8 couples in the final round and 4 of those couples were from Living Waters! We are very proud of him and the whole school as the school came in 2nd place overall with their team points.

Now we just need a wedding to go to so Dane can keep practicing his new skills.


View the video of Dane and his partner performing the Cha-cha-cha in the final 8.




Dane dancing the Cha-cha-cha with his partner in the DanceSport final 8 on 11 November, 2009.

Read more about Dane's DanceSport experience in Lanette's blog.


WA War MemorialToday, 11 November, was Remembrance Day in Australia.  In the United States it's marked as Veteran's Day.  It's a significant day for Australians in that the original Armistice Day was held to honour soldiers from World War I which was Australia's first war following their federation.  Australia's participation in the ANZAC Corps (Australia and New Zeeland Army Corps) in World War I had much to do with establishing their identity as a nation as the "diggers" so well represented the Aussie concept of "mateship". Learn more about Remembrance Day here.

At school today we followed the tradition of honouring the fallen soldiers from all wars.  At 11:00am, all classes paused for a brief programme led over the PA system:

The Ode, taken from Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen" was read.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

War Memorial in CanberraBugle played "The Last Post," traditionally marks the end of the working day.

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(Read more about "The Last Post")

One minutes silence: sign of respect and offers time for reflection on the significance of those who gave their lives in wars.

Bugle played "The Rouse," signifying the waking up to a new day.

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A couple of weeks ago I posted a news story that mentioned Karl and Dane's baseball endeavours, so now it's only fair we post Peter's mention on this week's local sports page.  We traveled up into the bush in the hills east of Perth to Roleystone for this most recent game for Peter's under-17 team.  As seems to be the pattern, the Rockingham team gave up heaps of early inning runs.  However, with Peter and another pitching mate coming in to stop the bleeding, their offense got on track to score 6 runs in the second to last inning.  They came up short at 12-9, but it was good to see them in a competitive match.  Here's the story as posted in our local paper along with a summary of the other Rockingham club's teams (Karl and Dane's team would be the Rockingham Reds which beat the Whites).

Baseball news story


With baseball being a minor sport in Australia, it sometimes takes on vocabulary from other Aussie sports.  In the paragraph above, I had to go back and take an "s" off of the end of  "inning".  In cricket, they talk about "an innings" as a singular occurence.  So, in baseball, we often hear the coach calling out as they come off the field, "That was a good innings, boys."  And sometimes I catch myself saying it, too, now!

iPod touchWe're keeping up with the times here with our family website.  I've found a service (Osmobi) that "mobilises" websites, that is, it makes a website much more friendly for viewing on the smaller screens of a mobile device like an iPhone or iPod touch.  If you want to view it from your mobile, the service will automatically re-direct you to the mobilised version of the site.  Let me know how it looks and if it needs some tweeking.

Murchison River Gorge - Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia, 30 September 2009


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Kalbarri National Park

It's been a couple of months since I returned from the Pedal Prix human-powered-vehicle race in South Adelaide, but I finally got around to putting together a video to share with all of our students that went along.  We had our Pedal Prix Celebration night tonight with awards, thank you's, slideshows, etc.

Murchison River Gorge - Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia, 30 September 2009


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Kalbarri National Park

The Pinnacles National Park, Western Australia, 3 October 2009


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The Pinnacles

A headline on the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper website today read, "Australia 'wonder from Down Under' after jobs rise".  Some interesting quotes from the story:

  • "The jobless rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 5.7 percent in November" (I'm not sure it ever cleared 6%, while the US has gone over 10%)
  • "The economy may not yet be going gangbusters but Australia clearly has the strongest economy in the developed world."
  • "Australia was the only advanced economy to avoid a technical recession during the global slowdown..."
  • "I think the figures today are further evidence of the impact of stimulus in the Australian economy. If it was not for stimulus Australia would be in recession right now."

I can't say that the strength of the Aussie economy in the midst of the global crisis has directly effected us in great ways.  For example, food prices have risen significantly since our arrival here.  Teachers did receive significant raises in February and July this past year and the new agreement will bring two more raises during 2010 (Lutheran teachers are unionised in Australia).  We don't really know that many people who have lost jobs in the past year.

But one direct connection we have to the quotes above is the economic stimulus package that is bringing great benefits to our Living Waters Lutheran College.  The college is getting very close to breaking ground on a new gymnasium.  The $2.5 million cost is being funded totally by the federal government.  Altogether, the Lutheran schools in Australia will be receiving over $38 million for new buildings from the stimulus package.  That kind of funding for Lutheran education from the federal government never happens in the US.

In addition, the college is receiving significant funding for technology from the federal government as part of the Digital Education Revolution program.  This past year, we used this funding to purchase 148 laptops.  Now we're making plans for spending several hundred thousand more dollars for IT that we'll be receiving in 2010 and 2011 as part of the same program. (I know a more exact estimate of that number, but don't want to publish it here - but it's mind-boggling.)  As a result, my role at the college is being tweaked to work more with preparing teachers for integrating technology in their classrooms, which I'm looking forward to when our new school year begins in February.


The Pinnacles National Park, Western Australia, 3 October 2009


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The Pinnacles

As I write this, in 30 minutes it will be Christmas Day Down Under!  We didn't send cards this year and we didn't post a family video either.  So, this is my last chance to do something... I think I'll write a bit about how we celebrate Christmas here.

Dane Christmas 2009

Christmas preparations here mingle with end of school year things.  It seems odd to have classroom parties that combine both celebrations.  Dane participated in a junior school (K-5) Christmas concert which they did outside on a beautfiul sunny evening earlier in December (photo above).  He also was in the Christmas play the kids did at the Christmas Eve service tonight (playing Isaiah and a shepherd).

We all went to the "Carols by Candlelight" event held outdoors at our church's other campus a couple of Sunday evenings ago.  Peter played trumpet at that event last year, but he's not getting much sound out of his trumpet these days due to his braces.  Again, another outdoor Christmas event that's a new idea for us.

I didn't put lights up on the house this year.  Being the peak of summer with longer days, it's not dark enough to see outdoor lights until about 8:30pm - though there are some who do some mighty displays.  We do have a tree in the house with lights and decorations on it, but it's not real as those are harder to find here.  We never had an artificial tree until coming here.

We had a very nice Christmas Eve service tonight at our church.  I was asked to prepare the lyrics for "Silent Night, Holy Night" in the various languages spoken by people in our church.  So, we ended up singing the first verse simultaneously in 12 languages: Afrikaans (South Africa), Arabic (Sudan), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, German, Indonesian, Latvian, Maori (New Zealand natives), Norwegian, and Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea).  The church kids had fun with the play they performed during the service.

Tomorrow we'll continue our Christmas celebrations.  After opening "prezzies", we might sneak off to the beach for a swim before a late morning Christmas Day service at church.  Then we'll spend the remainder of the day at our pastor's house with several other friends.

Saturday is also a holiday here - Boxing Day.  Boxing Day is a big shopping day, but also known for viewing two major sporting events: 1) Aussie national cricket team kicking off a five-day test match at the MCG stadium in Melbourne in front of 90,000+ fans, and 2) the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race, which crosses the often dangerous Bass Strait and finishes in Tasmania.  Last year, the shark attack happened on our beach on Boxing Day.

We're seeing the forecast for Christmas in the US midwest with anywhere from 1 to 2 feet of snow coming (that's according to the reports I'm hearing as I listen live right now to Denver's country music radio station on my iPod touch).  Quite the opposite here as we should top out at about 95° on Christmas Day (and sunny, like most every summer day here).  It might top 104° or so on Monday or Tuesday, just in time to welcome Mike & Lori and the girls who will be arriving in Perth.  There's no rain in the forecast for the next month, and may not see much of it until March or April.  It's bushfire season now, and we've had a number of days with hazy skies and the smell of smoke in the air.

Aussie's generally dream of white Christmases even though it's not a real possibility to experience such an event here.  The traditions here are a mix of British, American and some homegrown bits like their uniquely Australian Christmas songs.  Last year I posted "Aussie Jingle Bells".  This year I'll share the lyrics from another Aussie classic: "Christmas in the Scrub" by Leigh Newton.  You can get a sample of the audio for this and hear several other Aussie Christmas songs on this website.

At Christmas time the birds all sing
The rabbits jump, the lizards crawl
At Christmas time the outback rings
All for the birth of God

For the birth of God, the wallabies hop
For the birth of God, the cockatoos squawk
For the birth of God, the platypus swims
For the birth of God, the kookaburra laughs
For the birth of God was such exciting news
They'd never heard before
They came from all the land
To see this baby in the straw.

Aussie manger scene


And if you were there you would have heard
The wise old kangaroo
"Oh, I've starved in droughts, I've swum the floods,
"I've hopped around, both up and down,
"Through hills and plains I've never seen
"Such a baby in the straw."

And if you were there you would have heard
The wise little bandicoot.
"Oh, I've snuffled and fossicked the midnight scrub
"I've been in logs and fogs and bogs,
"Well bless my days, I've never heard
"Of a baby in the straw."

And if you were there you would have heard
The wise old noisy crow.
"Oh, I've flown this land, seen many a baby
"Born in burrows, trees and furrows,
"Yet this one outshines them all,
"This baby in the straw."


Indeed, for the birth of God outshines them all.

Merry Christmas from Down Under!

Family at Kalbarri

Each Wednesday after school for the last few months I've taking our Pedal Prix team on bike rides by the beach for training. (We leave for the big 24 hour race in South Australia on 15th September.) Not paying attention, I hit a curb and "stacked it" over my handlebars. After a week of tolerating shoulder pain and not sleeping, and not being productive at all, I finally went to the ED ("emergency room") 8 days later. Torn rotator cuff. I'm on codiene now, arm in a sling, and will see a physiotherapist beginning Monday. Artwork created on my iPod touch using the Brushes app. Story posted from my iPod touch using J Admin Mobile!