Category Archives: Children

Around the World:Days 3 and 4

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I’m going to do a brief recount of these two days for the sake of getting caught up. We stayed at Middleton Beach in a place booked via Airbnb (Albany B adhesive Apartment). It turned out to be a brilliant accommodation for us. There were three bedrooms with ensuite in all of the rooms. The owners lived across the hall in the adjoining house. 
The first morning we got up and had our breakfast and readied ourselves for the day. On our way out the door we ran into the owners who recommended a couple of parks for us. We first walked over to a small park with beach access (Middleton Beach) and had a walk on the beach down to the larger park and cafe (Three Anchors). Tom got us coffees and a snack while the kids played. Once we finished up our coffees we took the kids over to the newly renovated EyrePark. The kids had heaps of things to choose from. I left them there with Tom and took Serafina back to the house to eat and change her nappy. 

Once they all came back from the park we had some lunch and packed up to go on a drive. As we started driving out of Albany I started getting a very familiar migraine aura, flashing lights on the right side of my vision. I hadn’t had this in years. Worried about getting a terrible migraine, Tom dropped me, Sofia and Serafina back at the apartment and took Alex out for a while. They visited the TV tower on top of the hill and then ran some errands before coming back. I never did get a migraine, only a slight headache and I felt very tired from taking a Valium. Sofia watched a movie quietly in the bedroom. 

We had a quiet evening, the kids watched another movie together, Tom made dinner and I looked after Serafina. The kids got to bed fairly late. We have been pretty lax with bedtimes as they will be jet lagged often on this trip. 

The next morning we got up and got ourselves ready for the day and took a drive over to the town of Denmark. We had some lunch at Mrs Jones Cafe. Alex had a cheese toastie and chips, Sofia chicken skewers, salad and chips and Tom and I shared Kashmiri chicken (mediocre). We returned home midday and started to get ourselves organised for departure the next day. Tom and I did some laundry, the kids played imaginary games, etc. we made sure everything as organised to make things easier to pack up in the morning. The kids were ready for bed much earlier tonight because they were tired. Off to the Margaret River area on Tuesday.

Around the World 2016: Day 2

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The family woke quite early considering our bodies are two hours ahead on Sydney time. For some reason it took us hours to get out of the house. All four of us showered which took some time. Everything takes twice as long for me with a newborn, even with family help with her. We had no breakfast so after packing up the car we stopped off for Egg McMuffins at Maccas. Today we drive from the outskirts of Perth down to Albany on the south coast of Western Australia. 

We got a long stretch of driving done first thing after eating. The kids begged to watch shows on the iPads so after their loud talking and asking a million question drove us to insanity we caved. They ended up doing who knows what on them. Games most likely. Sofia has a propensity to have motion sickness so she had a motion sickness pill. Out of the blue Alex mentioned that he didn’t feel great. He often says this when he wants to stay home from school. We didn’t know if he really meant it (The boy who cried wolf) or not. He did. He vomited all over the floor mat, his booster seat, the seat in front of him and his jeans and jacket. This happened not long after I changed Serafina’s nappy and managed to mess that up s badly that he clothes were covered in wee. Back to the car. It smelled BAD. Tom did the best he could to clean up in the middle of nowhere while I got Alex into some clean clothes. Back on the road with no iPads.

It was 1pm when we got to Katanning to find some lunch. After doing a quick scan of the town we settled on a corner cafe. As we all piled out of the car I watched the last two staff members walk out and lock the door. On to something else. Luckily in the distance I could see another cafe sign so we walked down to see what we could find. We ended up at The Daily Grind for lunch. Tom and I shared a Caesar salad with chicken and beef rashers (it was Halal) and the kids had fish fingers (fish don’t have fingers) and chips. We passed through Katanning a few years back and had a destination in mind. There is a place called the All Ages Playground with oversized structures for playing. The kids had a blast last time so we were off to revisit. Last time Alex was scaring me to death with his climbing. He was so little and had no qualms about climbing the highest structures so I had to follow him to help. Luckily the highest one was partially disassembled this time, but the kids went crazy for the rest of it. It looks like it belongs in a deserted Soviet town.

After burning some energy we hit the road again as we still had a while to go to get to Albany. It was an uneventful drive into the town. We did stop for groceries on the way to our Airbnb apartment. Tom and Alex dragged all of our bags into the house and I unpacked us so we could settle in for three nights. Tom cooked some dinner while I dealt with little miss fussy Serafina. The kids worked on their journals and watched the iPad before bed. Tom did a load of very smelly laundry (from Alex’s mishap earlier in the day). The weather outlook for the next few days looks grim!

Around the World 2016: Day 1

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17 June 2016

The family was up early with the nervous anticipation of starting this long holiday. The kids will be out of school for two weeks before school holidays and two weeks after school holidays so they are thrilled with our decision to pull them out of school. We spent a few hours finalising packing, refereeing the big kids, keeping baby Serafina happy, fed, and feeling loved as well as attempting to get everyone ready for the day. 

We attempted to pack light. With five of us travelling it isn’t easy, especially since we have a week in Australian winter. Our winters are mild in comparison to some, but we still needed warmish clothes as wind and rain was forecast. We also had to worry about Scotland; who ever knows what sort of weather you are going to get up in the Highlands, even in summer. Most of the other places we will visit need warm weather clothing. Our main luggage consisted of two medium-sized roll-aboards. Along with our luggage we have Serafina’s car seat with base and pram as well as a booster for Alex. Three backpacks and a carry on for spare clothes, nappies, etc rounds out our haul. 

Our taxi van arrived to pick us up around 11. After the standard drive to the airport with two very talkative and loud children and very quiet baby we unloaded at Qantas domestic and checked in for our Business Class flight to Perth. Once the rest of our luggage was offloaded in oversized luggage we were off to the Business lounge for some lunch and drinks before taking off.

All in all our flight was uneventful. We were downgraded to an older plane instead of the nice business class seats we had expected. It was all good, though. There was a bassinet for Serafina (she spent very little time in there). Alex and Tom sat together by the window and Sofia and I sat together in the middle section. All three kids were very good on the flight. The big kids glued themselves to iPads and Serafina did her part to catnap and be cute. Several flight attendants had a cuddle with her so I could have a break. She only made a little bit of noise when she was hungry. She had a very successful first ever flight.

Out flight was slightly delayed on departure but that time was made up in the air. We landed in Perth, collected our luggage and then picked up our Nissan Pathfinder. Arguments happened because both kids wanted the third row of seats. Ultimately Sofia won out because there were no Isofix points for his booster seat. Poor Alex was not happy. It took ages to get everything arranged in the car, car seats installed, etc. Our accommodation for the night was a 3-bedroom Big4 cabin in the Swan Valley. It worked out to be a decent place to stay. We were all pretty exhausted and soon got off to sleep trying to adjust ourselves to the two hour time change from Sydney. 

This Expat’s Life

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It’s been quite some time since I have written anything here. Time for a quick catch up. 

It was 14 years ago, the weekend of 1 June 2002, I boarded a flight to London to start, unbeknownst to us, our expat adventures. Tom was already in England covering a maternity leave for 4-6 months. After 3.5 years there, we went on to Hamburg, Germany for a short stint and then back to the north of England from 2005-2010. It was late in 2009 we got the call that landed us in Sydney, Australia. It was a quick, but rough transition with me being pregnant, Sofia being 2, and Tom whisked away to work in December/January. Tom has been with his company since 1999. We were lucky to travel and move around as we did with the company as they also went through several transitions.
In December 2015 we found ourselves in an interesting position. Tom was told his job in Sydney would be done at the end of March (which eventually got pushed to end of June). Sydney had been our home for six years and we needed to decide if we wanted to make it our home for a while longer. In the end we decided going back to the US to live in Chicago wasn’t what we wanted to do and the job Tom was offered there wasn’t exactly what he wanted to be doing. Tom resigned from his company and finished up 31 May. We are staying in Sydney as locals. No more expat benefits (sniff, sniff). We’ve had a good run of being expats with his company but now we are planning to become Permanent Residents and eventually get our citizenship. Our children will be able to decide where they want to live and go to school with two passports–American and Australian.

So, what to do with some time off? Travel, of course. Tom busied himself with booking us around the world tickets. We will be spending the next six weeks travelling. I will attempt to update every day with our adventures. We are travelling with our daughter who is 8, our son who turns 6 a week into our holiday, and the newest addition to our family who is coming up on 2 months old. 

Itinerary: Sydney-Western Australia (Perth, Albany/Denmark, Margaret River)-Singapore-England (East Yorkshire, Northumberland), Scotland-Denmark (Copenhagen, Island of Fyn), Germany (Munich), USA (Charlotte NC, Wake Forest, Hampton VA, Minneapolis MN, Grand Forks ND, Minneapolis)-Sydney.

Oahu Adventure: Day 6

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Each day I am waking up earlier and earlier. Today? 5:30! I was much happier seeing 7 or 8. The kids slept until after 7 this morning. After breakfast I let them have iPad game time for a while while I showered and booked tickets for Kualoa Ranch, a 4000 acre ranch and tourist park on the Windward side of the Island. Kualoa Ranch

Sofia has been in charge of the fish pond since we have been at the house. The fish need to be fed twice a day. She also keeps tabs on the frogs and snails. She is truly in her element. There are also crabs living on the edge of the property that she checks on all the time. We haven’t had any luck with fish in the ocean in front of the property but I think the water may be a bit too rough.

We took the 15 minute drive up to the ranch and collected our tickets. By now the rain was coming down and I wondered how this was going to go in the rain. It turned out to be ok. It rained for only part of the tour and then picked up again once we were done. 

The guides loaded about 24 or so of us into three Swiss Pinzgauers for our tour. 

 
Our guide took us all around the ranch on dirt roads, up and down hills stopping every now and again to explain Hawaiian Gods, taro plants, the islands, ancient fishing pond, etc. there were two amazing viewpoints over Mokoli’i Island and Kāne’ohe Bay. During our stops Sofia and I made sure to check out vegetation and ask questions about animals we saw or other things along the way. The guides were very knowledgable and were very happy to answer questions. 

  

Because of the rain we didn’t spend much time exploring the area. An obligatory stop was the petting zoo to see the turtles, pig, goats, horses, etc. From here it was a grand tour around the gift shop to pick up a few things. I got a dress, Sofia a shirt and Alex a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. The kids also got gummy bears for their classrooms and a few more miscellaneous items. 

   

We left the ranch and headed toward The Shrimp Shack. My kids don’t like shrimp, prawns, seafood in general unless it is fish so I didn’t have high hopes that they would eat anything. I ordered coconut shrimp and we all ordered floats with ice cream and fruit juice. I had a scrumptious guava and strawberry float, Alex ordered orange passion fruit and Sofia pineapple orange. They weren’t too fond of theirs at all. Happy they are trying new things though. I did manage to get Sofia to have one bite of coconut shrimp but she didn’t like that either…
 
Tomorrow we need to drive down to pick up Tom at the airport in Honolulu after his jaunt over to Los Angeles to see U2 for two nights with a friend. Tonight I read a book and the kids worked on their school journals. Only a few more days to home….

Oahu Adventure: Day 3

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Another night of messed up sleeping. Kids didn’t roll out of bed until 10 again. I think they had a better night of sleeping though. While they were still asleep I went through the room and got most of our things packed up into bags. For the next week we are staying at Hau’ula up on the Windward coast (NE of island) in a beach house. The kids had their heart set on swimming in the pool one last time before departing the hotel but there was no time since we had to be out before noon.

We packed up the car and set off. Another glorious day with a million people everywhere. After a drive past Diamond Head crater we planned to stop at Hanauma Bay for the incredible snorkelling. Nope. You couldn’t even get in there because it was too full! We continued up the coast and arrived at the house 2ish. After checking out the fish pond, hammock, and views and getting our bags up it was time for food. Only a couple of miles up the road is the famous North Shore Tacos. The kids actually ate something different. Yay. After eating we popped into the market next door for some necessities for the week. The market turned out to be a very interesting adventure. There is unbelievable diversity in types of food here. There may not be a huge selection but I know I can get kimchi, chicken feet, octopus, pigs ears, and so on. Back to the house to settle in.

I finished washing and drying all of our dirty and new clothes. Tom needed to work on packing a few things since Monday he is flying to Los Angeles to meet a friend for two nights of U2 shows.much of the evening was spent relaxing and hanging out and getting the kids much needed showers. Alex played musical beds again. He was meant to sleep in the top bunk bed but got out probably six times. Then he went to sleep in between us but then Tom couldn’t turn over because Alex was snuggled up. I ended up putting him in the spare bed by himself. Kids!

Tomorrow we will drive Tom down to the Honolulu airport for an afternoon flight and pick him up again on Thursday.

Oahu Adventure: Day 2

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Tom and I aren’t adjusting to jet lag very well, both keeping strange hours. And the kids are going to bed late. We do better going around the world for some reason. 

Three of us were up at a decent time this day. Alex slept and slept and slept. He needed it! We were all eating when he finally came rolling out of bed. He was so out of it and didn’t want to eat or even talk to anyone. 

As Americans living in Australia we are sometimes out of touch with American holidays. Tom booked this trip and neither of us realised it was Memorial Day weekend. Fail. It is busy everywhere. 

We went into Honolulu to have a walk and see a few of the sights. We walked around the ‘Iolani Palace but found it to be quite expensive to go in and not very interesting for the kids so we didn’t go inside.

From Wikipedia: “The ʻIolani Palace was the royal residence of the Kalākaua Dynasty, which included King David Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. It is located in the capitol district of downtown Honolulu in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi. It is now a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kamehameha III, IV, V, and Lunalilo had their official royal residences in this location as well. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the building was used as the capitol building for the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory, and State of Hawaiʻi until 1969. The palace was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1978.”

We also wandered around the grounds of the Kawaiaha’o Church, also known as The Stone Church. It is referred to as the Westminster Abbey of Hawai’i as it was the site of royal coronations, funerals and christenings. The churches an interesting story. It was built between 1936 and 1942. Some 14,000 thousand-pound slabs of coral reef were hand-chiseled down 3-6 meters and brought up to build the church.

These landmarks are in the Capitol district of Honolulu which also has the State Capitol as well as senate and house buildings. Banyan trees, prevalent on the islands, dot this district as well. I would also like to note the abundance of homeless people in the area. The state library and archives building was lined with homeless people lying all around it.

By now our tummies were growling so we made a quick stop at Subway and then returned to Waikiki. Because of the Memorial Day holiday, Waikiki was heaving with people and cars. The kids asked to go to the aquarium but there wasn’t a parking space anywhere. We returned to our hotel room for a break after all of that walking with hopes of visiting the aquarium another day. The kids had been asking about the hotel pool so we took them up for an hour swim and soak in the hot tub. It was dead quiet up there and we had it to ourselves for most of the time. Back to the room again for a rest since we still had several things to accomplish.

Kuhlo Beach, just in front of our hotel, was our next stop. Tom and I opted out of another swim but the kids had about 40 minutes of running around and wave jumping before we got changed for dinner. Tom and I had both read reviews about Eggs n Things restaurant which is just in front of our hotel so we went for it. Bad idea. Tom ordered Eggs Benedict, I had a Portuguese sausage omelet with a pancake, Sofia had banana pancakes with whipped cream bigger than her head and Alex ate waffles. The kids seemed to enjoy their food alright. Tom and I were sorely disappointed. I have nothing nice to say about the omelet. The pancake was ok only because I got the chance to try Guava syrup and coconut syrup along side the usual maple. Back upstairs. We had planned to go to a hula show on the beach at sundown but the kids were worn out. But, we had a crazy idea for later: Target. I won’t even discuss what we ended up spending. I miss having a proper Target so much. It was 11:30 by the time the kids got to bed.

Tomorrow morning we check out and head north to the Windward side and visits to the north shore. Goodnight.

Oahu Adventure: Day 1 Again

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Because we crossed the International Date Line on the way over we got to have another 22 May (Left Sydney at 9pm on the 22nd and arrived in Hawaii at 11am on the 22nd). 

Tom travelled here last year so he was familiar with the airport, car rental, etc. Instead of waiting ages for the Avis shuttle to pick us up we spent five minutes walking down to the end of the terminal and crossing the street to get to the rental area. We got a behemoth of a vehicle, a Ford Explorer. Off to find our hotel for the first two nights, the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower. Because our room wasn’t going to be ready for a couple of hours we upgraded to a room on the 29th floor instead of our 7th floor room. Worth it! 

Everyone felt tired, out of sorts and hungry. We got ourselves settled in and then went to find some late lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise. None of us had a cheeseburger. Tom and I shared fish tacos and coconut prawns. The kids had macaroni and cheese. I also had a piña colada and we shared a mojito. Yum.

Back at the room Alex fell asleep on the sofa so we went and had a nap. Sofia said she wasn’t tired and watched iPad shows while Tom snoozed off and on. After our siesta we needed to go out for food again. Our hotel has a McDonalds right outside the front so we took,the easy option with the kids since they were still quite out of sorts (or completely foul, something like that). Next stop was the local ABC shop for yogurt, juice, smoothies and apples for breakfast. 

Thinking back to last night it is all a haze. No idea where all the time went. Sofia went to bed ok at 10pm but Alex didn’t fall asleep until closer to midnight. (Naps aren’t always a good thing). 

It is Memorial Day weekend in a very touristy area and it shows! Excited to be heading up the Windward (East) coast on Sunday for a week in a beach house. Photos and more later!