She’ll be right…

Ok… We are lousy bloggers. But! It’s a new year and with new years come new year’s resolutions, so there!  That’s my new year’s resolution. To become a better blogger! I feel better already…

Let’s see… what all has happened in the last month and a half. I think we had wrapped up the last post at the tail end of our amazing stay at the Sunshine Coast. It was such a nice way for Britt and Beck to unwind from the travel and it was awesome for all of us to get to experience the Aussie beaches first-hand together. We reluctantly said our “goodbyes” to the beach and packed up the car and headed for Sunny Toowoomba as the locals call it.

Farewell Friend!  We'll see you soon!

Farewell Friend! We’ll see you soon!

There are several routes from the coast back to T-town, some are more appealing than others as we would soon find out. We opted for the most straight-forward path and it wasn’t too long until the coastal scenery began to turn into heavily treed rolling hills, massive farms, and “fruit and veg” stands that would make any 50-something stop on a dime. It’s funny… In my mind I had already started to worry that Britt might be “underwhelmed” considering her first exposure to Australia was the beautiful coast.  As it turns out I had nothing to worry about and honestly I had forgotten myself just how amazing the drive up the “Range” truly was.  As you are driving in to Toowoomba there is an uphill climb that cuts back and forth through a mountain side.  It’s awesome!  Once you crest the top of the mountain you are straight into the “Garden City”. This is Toowoomba’s claim to fame here in Queensland. Many of the streets are completely tree lined and canopied over the top by vivid blooms of purples and reds. It’s a great first impression. Britt was stunned, and although I had only been living here for a few weeks I actually felt proud of our little town in the mountains.

Look at this stuff!

Look at this stuff!  It really is the Garden City!

So we made it over the first hurdle.. getting the family back to Toowoomba. The second hurdle was rapidly approaching and would prove to be a bit tougher. When we were at the coast I told Britt that the temporary place in Toowoomba was “a little cozier” than what she was used to. Those that know me best might say this comment would be a red-flag of sorts… 🙂  I can’t help it, I try to sugar coat things. Now back to that imminent hurdle.  We get to the apartment and begin to unpack and get settled in… I’m paying close

Our wee tiny apartment...

Our wee tiny apartment…

attention to Britt during this time and, to her credit,  she was trying to be very positive about the place.  I chalked this up to jet-lag and what I call “new-country syndrome”.  We pretty much went right into to ‘regular life’ mode at this point with me going back to work the next day, trips to the market, buying groceries and making meals, etc, etc. It really wasn’t all that bad for a short stay, for two people, without a little one. By the end of the first week we realized that this was a difficult situation. I had already been looking for homes and even put in an application that I expected to be approved shortly after B&B had arrived. Unfortunately that didn’t work out. So at that point we both went full force into house hunting mode and thought that in no time we would soon be living in a place of our own right here in Toowoomba Australia!  We were wrong.

House Hunting Adventures!  Beck has a sharp eye for good deals.

House Hunting Adventures! Beck has a sharp eye for good deals.

If there is one complaint I have about the way things work here this is it… Well, this and the ridiculous amount of space that one is given to park his or her car.  Anyway, the process is extremely difficult. If you want to even consider putting an offer on a place that is for rent you must do the following things:

1. Fill out a unique multi-page application for each member of the household and send it to the agent for approval. We’re talking 100 points of ID by Passport, Previous Utility Bills, International References that THEY ACTUALLY CHECKED!! Who does that??? (Thank you to all of our friends and family of whom they contacted – your actions may have saved lives!!!)

2. Schedule a viewing of the house BUT you must first drive by it in person and look at it before you can schedule a viewing. Most of the time they wait until there are 4-6 people who would like to see it and they then schedule an all-at-once viewing which makes you feel like you are in a battle royale with a bunch of other similarly desperate folks that want the place as much as you do.  And to top it off the market here in Toowoomba is currently one of the most aggressive housing markets in Australia.

3.  Once you have seen a house and you like it, you then make an “offer” on what you are willing to pay per week for the house. They do have an asking price, but apparently people will offer more to increase their odds of getting the place. It’s like a secret-auction with a dash of bribery and the offers are first come first serve. Also! You are not dealing with the property owner. You deal with an agent that has no idea who the owner is!  OMGWTFBBQ!!!!

This part is a little intense so here are some cute pics of Beck to lighten the mood!

This part is a little intense so here are some cute pics of Beck to lighten the mood!

You can understand that this process is mind crushingly painful… especially when you go home every day to a wife and son that are bursting at the seams. So we went through around 6 or 8 unsuccessful viewings/applications/rage inducing offers and finally got to the point where we were literally out of options. We had been notifying our current land-lords week-to-week on how long we would be there, in the meantime they got an offer for a 10 week stay on our apartment and they accepted it… we were to be out by Monday and it was Wednesday. Boom. We had seen two “units” on that same Wednesday and put offers on both. I called the agency and explained the situation something to the affect of  “Hi, I’m a desperate American trying to find a place to live while simultaneously trying to avoid assassination attempts from my wife, we’ll be kicked out of our place on Monday and will then come to live in your parking lot.  By the way, my son is 15 months old and poops a lot”.  They accepted our offer on Friday.

Oh what a relief it is!!  It’s the little things in life you know… we went from a 5 Bed 2 Bath home with a massive yard, a pool, and a park, and, and, and you know what?  This smallish 3/2 unit was the most wonderful place we’d ever stepped foot in!!  It’s called perspective people, check it out. Two hurdles cleared!  Marriage intact!  Beck is dancing everyday!  In the epic words (err… word) of Charlie Sheen I’d say we were “winning”.

Real Nice...

Real Nice…

We really like our new place!  We have a nice little yard and patio, and we can watch the sun set in the evenings. There’s a lesson or two in here somewhere..  There will always be ups and downs and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but they all wash out in the end and if you look hard enough you’ll see the things that really matter. That brings us back full circle to the title of this post.  “She’ll be right” is a phrase the Aussie’s use to basically say; No worries, it’ll all work out.

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The Sunshine Coast

Our long weekend at the Sunshine coast felt like a dream…in more ways than one! The days were long and drawn out, everything seemed a bit blurry and it was as if time was standing still. I was just taking in everything my senses would allow. For once, my camera had taken a back seat and we were truly just living in the moment. Collin had pretty much gotten adjusted to the time change and the ‘ole ‘early to bed, early to rise’ routine. But I was getting my days, nights, direction and basically my whole existence confused (which I am just now getting used to). Beck on the other hand adjusted so much faster than we had expected. This boy was doing great!! Little man had a few early morning starts but it all worked out ok. He was just so happy to be back with his ‘da-deeeee’, and it truly showed! He was glued to Collin for the first few days, which, shoot, I was totally fine with! Hey, I did the 16-hour flight with him so it was daddy’s turn! Ha-Ha!

O.k. o.k. you didn’t really think I wasn’t taking pictures did you??!!! IMG_5621 IMG_5614                  Beck laying on “Big Al’ and snuggling with his dad. A rare occasion for this kid. This was one of his 4:30am wake up calls, and yes the sun was that bright at 4:30 in the morning! 

Our long weekend at the coast felt like a week’s time with everything we managed to fit in. We didn’t let the jet-lag get us down! How could we?? We were in heaven!! We seriously got more done in a couple days time than we would have in a few weeks back home and we were loving every minute! From what I remember, our first day was soooo relaxing. We immediately got to our hotel, changed clothes and went for a nice, long stroll along the coast. Although the scenery was breathtaking, my mind was having a hard time figuring out this ‘new land’, as the people looked similar to us, the language was just about the same, the scenery was fairly alike in certain parts, but yet, it was all SO VERY different.photo 2 photo 1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                             Just a few pics from our first stroll along the ‘Sunny Coast’. 

After our first day of taking it all in, trying to get adjusted and doing some serious relaxing, we caught a major case of the adventure bug!! We visited a few ocean-view cafes and enjoyed some variations of fish & chips, sandwiches, sushi and of course, if you know us at all, a bit of Aussie beer and wine! Again, everything seemed familiar to what we have at home, but at the same time it was all so different. We have even developed a running joke, that at times we feel like we are living in a Dr. Suess book, with all of the strange-looking plants, trees, animals and buildings. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish…Wallaby??  “Oh The Places You’ll Go” is right! And off we did! We went all over the place, and every new outing was truly an adventure! Even going to the market was (and still is) fun, new and exciting!
We also took many long walks around town and along the beautifully, ‘different’ coastline. Not only did we see the usual tropical flora of palm trees and lovely bright-colored flowers, but also there stood these massive pine trees! It was breathtaking! And the beach itself, lets not forget the beach!!! It was amazing!!! The sand, water, waves and ocean breeze were all indescribable. Beck was a little unsure at first, as he had only been the beach one other time back in October to meet my mom’s family in person. We had a blast then, so we didn’t think anything of it heading to the beach in Aus. But once he remembered how the sand felt on his tiny little toes, and how the waves felt when he would run into them, it was like riding a bike, a very salty- tasting bike! He was LOVING it! He would get going so fast across the sand trying to get to the water, that he would fall face first and then pop right up with a PRECIOUS “S#&% eating grin” or in this case, sand eating grin, and want to do it all over again. Collin and I really enjoyed those moments together, as we had never been on a vacation with Beck just the three of us, so we thought it was pretty special.
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At this cafe’ we had sandwiches, ‘chips’ (french fries) and some cold beers. Beck LOVED the fresh avocado and chips! 
Sushi Rest.IMG_0130
Doing a little playing while we waited for our table at the sushi restaurant in the marina. There were kiddos everywhere at this awesome playground. It was in the center of a bunch of al fresco dining. GENIUS IDEA!! Best edamame ever! And Beck’s new fav. thing to do is SLIDE!!! 

2photo 2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pine trees at the beach!! 

Beach-1                                                              Our first trip to the beach, Beck had forgotten what the sand felt like and was checking out his toes 🙂

IMG_0123 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                          Beach Days!!

We also got to have some fun at ‘Under Water World’, which was attached to the marina in town. Back home we had been to the Fort Worth Zoo and Dallas Aquarium about a million times with Chaya which has always been a lot of fun, and are some of her favorite places to go, but once you’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all, right?? …WRONGO!!                               I wasn’t expecting to see so many new, amazing, little creatures! It was fun watching Beck check out all of the sea life, but let’s get real, Collin and I were having a great time exploring too!

aqu.photo 2                                                                               Beck was checking out the seals. He loved them!

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAaqm 2photo 3WWWEEEEIIIIRRRRDDDD little dude!!!! (on the right, not on the left of course!) 

After we toured the park, we strolled around the marina to check out the shops and scenery, and once again just take it all in. We came upon a cool little shop, which had tons of vintage American “lollies”, which is what the Aussie’s call candy. We saw candy there that we hadn’t seen in the States in ages! And guess what else we saw?? STUBB’S BBQ SAUCE!!!! We couldn’t believe our eyes! Did we buy it you ask?? Hell yeah we did!! We also noticed a “bottle shop” (liquor store) on the way out of the marina, so Collin stopped in to grab a few beers and a bottle of Chard for yours truly, while Beck and I waited out on the sidewalk. I happened to glance over at an advertisement on the side of the store building that read “HUGE SALE! TWO CASES OF CORONA for……..$90”                     Um….What the what???? I had to do a double take on that one. I seriously just about passed out!!! Guess we’ll have to start brewing and bottling at home if that’s what they consider a ‘huge sale’! Ha! Just another thing that we’ll have to adjust to here in beautiful Australia!

stubs_photo 5                                                                                 WE HEART STUBB’S!!!

 photo-7                                                                    WHAT!!!?? For those of you at home who may not know the price of a case of Corona,    we could get one case for about $30.00 at our Tom Thumb in Grapevine, TX.                 You do the math! 

After all of the fun exploring, I couldn’t help but think a little deeper about what exactly we were doing here. I had come to the decision that I didn’t believe I’d ever felt like an outsider my entire life, but something was definitely different here. We weren’t just on vacation this was our new home, these people were now amongst our new community, but WE were the different ones who looked slightly unusual, had funny accents, and were not holding both our fork and knife in each hand during our meals (more on that later).  It was truly a mind-boggling, feeling. But with every new step, we just kept telling ourselves ‘what a blessing this is!’. ‘What an amazing opportunity God has given us’!  We are here!         We made it! We ARE doing this!!

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Obviously our quest to get you all updated to the present time still continues. Stay tuned….. 

G’Day Mate!

Buckle up folks!  This is going to be a big one!!

So, here we are. Almost a month into our Australian journey and we’re just now getting to our first post-move blog post! Some might say that makes for a couple of lousy bloggers. The fact is what we have just done is completely insane and it takes discipline to sit down and write when you have a whole new world right outside your front door. You just can’t prepare yourself for something like this. All the nights in Texas we sat up talking about what it would be like and how we would do this or that really just all goes out the window the minute you step foot off that airplane. So… here is how our adventure began…. ImageYes…. it began with a lovely little pumpkin filled with goodies that my sweet wife made for my flight 🙂 

ImageA quick picture with my in-law’s, Pammie and Kent before heading to the airport. A bittersweet moment for sure.

ImageA pic with Beck just before heading to the airport, a new fav! It was hard to think I’d be leaving this little guy for a few weeks. 

ImageOne last pic with the awesome Miles crew! We certainly couldn’t have made this move without all of their help! Love you gals and guy!! 🙂 

ImageAnd last but definitely not least, a pic with Britt at the airport before boarding the plane. This was such a surreal moment for us, as the moment we had been waiting for, for six months was finally here! 

And here’s where the adventure truly begins…. My plane landed on October 22nd at 5:00 in the morning.  The flight was a long one, but all in all not that bad.  They keep you very entertained with movies, music, and all kinds of other distractions with the in-seat entertainment system.   I slept as much as I could but being over 6 feet tall and planes don’t compliment each other… there was an option on the screen to watch the plane in a Google Maps style setup and it showed our exact location in relation to the world.   90% of the 16-hour flight was over water… Wow.  Makes you realize just how big this world is… Anyway, I found myself watching this a LOT.  It was a bit like a dream… doze off, wake up, look at the screen, have some water, change the music I was listening to, do it again and again.  The excitement started to build once I could see Brisbane on the map and I really couldn’t sleep much after about 2AM.  As we got closer I noticed the sun beginning to rise and was thinking it sure was early to see sunlight.  That’s the way it works here.  Sun up is at about 4:45AM.ImageNot long after I landed I had an email message from my new boss that he was on his way to pick me up.  Whew, what a relief!  So here I was, a guy with two massively over packed pieces of luggage, a guitar, and some golf clubs sitting in the airport in Brisbane Australia on a Tuesday morning waiting to start a new life.  Surreal is the only word to describe that situation.  I sat down, got a coffee, and waited, and waited.  There is currently a lot of roadwork in between Toowoomba and Brisbane so it took awhile for Graham to get to the airport.  The good news is I had plenty of time to sit and watch all of these new people that I would be living around.  There were a lot of similarities, and a lot of differences.  Perfect! ImageImageThis is the beast of an airplane that delivered me to the land down under!

The next two weeks was a whirlwind of me adjusting to the time change, adjusting to full on sunshine at 5AM, adjusting to an office full of people that I’d never met, adjusting to blah blah blah… you get it.  A lot of adjusting!  But it was all very welcome and it was a lot of fun and only occasionally did I have the “OMG WTF have we done!?!?!”  panic session.  Ha!

Things were going smoothly at this point and all that was missing were Brit and Beck (Roxy and Chaya too, of course, but we’ll get to that later)!  We had been making the best of Skype video calls, but long distance communication is not the best, especially when there is a mind bending time difference involved as well.  Usually the calls were at 6AM my time which would have been 2PM Texas time… not ideal.  Anyway, we got through it and counted down the days until their departure.  So on November 5th the day had finally arrived.  We spoke as much as possible but it was a very hectic time for Britt trying to get everything sorted, finalized, and ready to go.  We did get to speak as she was boarding the plane and I could hear the dread in her voice, as she was about to embark on a very long flight with a very awake and impatient little guy…   I could only imagine what the next ¾ of a day would bring her way.

ImageBritt and her family before her and Beck boarded their flight. I knew this was going to be one of the hardest moments of her life, or their lives for that matter. 

I didn’t want Britt to have to wait on me to get to the airport so I decided to book a hotel in Brisbane the night before their arrival so I could be there first thing in the morning to scoop them up.  This worked out well because it also gave me a little time to spend in Brisbane, which I had not done yet.  I stayed in the CBD (central business district) or what we would call “downtown”.  It was remarkably affordable and was in a fantastic location.   The room had a nice view from the balcony so I enjoyed a few beers while taking it all in and then decided it was time to find some good Sushi.    Urbanspoon to the rescue!  That’s one thing we are very happy about… a lot of the same apps and online tools we used in the states are also used here.  I found a place in short order and walked there in about 20 minutes.  Even though I only spent a short time there, I concluded that Brisbane is an awesome place… it’s like someone put San Francisco, London, and NYC in a blender and out came Brisbane.  So… a nice walk through the city led to a small little place near the bay called Bishamon Sushi.  It was fantastic!  I took a different route on the way back that passed me by a huge, inviting park… I would have explored more, but the sun was sinking and I was getting tired anyway.  I made it back to the hotel, had one more beer on the patio of the hotel bar while thinking about Brit and Beck flying halfway round the world.   I worried for Brit and hoped that the flight was not as horrific as we both imagined a 16-hour flight with a one year old would be.  I had no idea what to expect when they came out of the customs area, would she be a mess of tears and exhaustion, would Beck be covered in bits of mum-mums and juice stains??  I would be finding out soon enough!ImageView from my balcony in downtown ‘Brissie’ImageTempura ‘prawn’ roll….. DELICIOUS!!

My alarm went off at 5AM but I was pretty much already awake anyway… I packed up my bag and headed down to the lobby.  The maids got a nice tip of 4 beers I forgot about and left in the fridge.  Doh!  There was a nice guy at the lobby desk and I mentioned I was headed to the airport to pick up my wife and son… he asked if I knew where I was going….  I thought about that for a second.  I have NO IDEA at all where I’m going, or what am I doing???  Ahhh, Siri knows where I’m going.  My great friend Siri has my back.  While I was thinking about this, he began rambling off directions and street names I could never imagine being used anywhere else in the world, “turn left here, and right there”, he said.  I just smiled and nodded and said thanks.  Siri… you better have my back.

I hopped in the car and setup my destination in the phone.  Off I went…  The car I’m driving is literally covered in Ambush Security logos and stickers and designs, which normally I wouldn’t care a bit about… However, when you are a new driver in a strange place and driving on the other side of the road with round-a-bouts and all kinds of other new things you aren’t familiar with, you don’t want any extra attention drawn to you.  Driving this car feels like driving around in an ambulance with the lights and sirens on at 3AM in a quiet neighborhood.   All eyes are on ME!  Luckily Siri did have my back on this day and I made it through to the airport without any issues.

I arrived about 5:45 AM and found a parking spot… no big deal.  I went into the lobby and checked the arrivals.  QF8 from DFW – Arrival – On-Time.  Good news!  It wasn’t too long after that I received a text from Brittany that said ‘G’day mate!!  We have landed!’.  This was great news!  It wasn’t “Dear God we are still alive, but get me off this plane”, or “Beck has killed and eaten one of the crew members” or any of the million other things I was thinking the night before.  Things were sounding positive!  She text me back that the plane was being fully unloaded before she and Beck could exit… he was sleeping anyway so it wasn’t a big deal.  I sat there in front of those sliding glass doors for what felt like forever.  It was like there was a magic people dispensing machine behind those doors that spit out people of all shapes, colors, and sizes.   Finally… I see a familiar red stroller coming out of those doors and in it was a little guy that didn’t look all that bad!  Britt looked great as well!  It was a miracle.  What followed them was a sight to see.  Three Qantas employees were pushing baggage carts behind Britt and Beck and yes, all those bags belonged to us.  So many bags… We had a quick hug and a kiss and were ushered out to the pick up area because the Qantas folks had to get to the next plane.  It was a mad dash for me to get back to the car and bring it around so that we could cram all the bags in and hit the road.  I didn’t tell Britt about the part where I accidentally exited the airport completely, did an illegal u-turn and crossed five lanes of traffic at blinding speed just to get back into the airport and around to passenger pickup…  We’ll talk about that one later. ImageBeck looking through the great family album his cousin Lori made for him. Britt said he LOVED it! ImageBritt and Beck selfie!!Image

ImageMy new ride with ALL nine of our bags!!! 

ImageHere’s a better shot of the bags in my father-in-law’s SUV in the states. Thanks Kent!! 

It was only a little over an hour after I picked Brittany and Beck up from the airport that we were strolling along the Sunshine Coast, one of the most prized beach areas in Australia.  This has been quite the eye opener and a very impressive feature of the area we are in… Southeast Queensland has every kind of landscape you could imagine separated only by a few hours in the car.  There are mountains, rainforests, metropolis (Brisbane), and world-class coastlines.  And did I mention we live here?!  ImageThursday November 7th – Sunshine Coast – Our first stroll along the BEAUTIFUL Aussie beaches. 

*This concludes part one of two of our extensive update, bringing everyone up to speed on ‘The Keetons Down Under’.

Part two coming soon! 

The Adventure Begins!

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TheAdventureBegins

Well, I guess it’s time to make it official and share some big news!! I attended a security industry trade show in Las Vegas back in April and Brittany joined me for the weekend after the show. We had a fun Saturday night and ended up back at our hotel playing some blackjack when a friendly bloke from Australia sits down next to Brit and starts playing at our table.

The drinks were flowing and so was the conversation which ultimately led to us finding out that he owns and operates a security integration business in Queensland Australia that is much like the company I work for here in Dallas. As we were parting ways at the end of the night he tells me that he would be keenly interested in offering me a position if we were up for it…

So… After many conversations about driving on the wrong side of the road, dodging kangaroos, the metric system, being on the opposite side of the world, Christmas in summer months, shrimps on the barbie, and many, many other things we decided that we most certainly would be up for the challenge. So with God and the Australian government willing (still waiting on the visa process) we will be heading to the land down under this fall!!! Krikey mate!!

– Collin