– the land down under –

I know, I know either you’re ready for more trip details or you wish I’d forget about it and move on……even though I just learned the service I’ve used for the past 5 years to print my blog to a beautiful book to give to each of my children is no longer compatible with wordpress.com, I am going to plow forward and hope they decide to make that an option in the future.  World’s longest sentence.

Spending a week in NZ with Dave’s parents was so wonderful, but we were excited to have a week to ourselves in Australia where it truly is summer — beaches, sun and heat!

Monday, January 5:  Took the quick 4 hour plane ride from Wellington, NZ to Sydney, Australia.  At the last minute we decided to rent a car.  Our hotel was actually located in Manly Beach which is about half hour north of Sydney and we had planned to just take the ferry.  Getting a car was the right move, it gave us more freedom and was certainly more entertaining.  They drive on the wrong side of the road you know :).  We made it safely to our hotel, took a lovely walk on the beach, discovered we were way overdressed for this much hotter place (even in the evening), and ended the night with some Mexican food.  I’d had a hankering for a while.
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Tuesday, January 6:   First whole day in the land down under.  In NZ we had left all the activities and entertainment up to the parents which was so great!  We were just excited to be with them and knew whatever they wanted to see or do, we did as well.  For Australia, Dave and I had researched lots of things that we could do but also didn’t want to be super scheduled.  This was a beach vacation after all!  That first morning we decided to walk a beach trail we read a lot about.  It ended up being longer than we thought but took us past several beaches and through the Australian outback (sort of) where we saw lizards we knew Conner would be excited about but sadly they were too quick for our camera. Oh, and we also saw the world’s biggest spider webs with hugemongous spiders in them – yuck!
We spent the rest of the day on Palm Beach.  I even went out into the ocean for a quick “swim” with Dave.  This is not something I enjoy doing – the ocean is too unknown, you don’t know what might be out there and you have no control.  It was a wonderfully relaxing day ending with more, you guessed it, Mexican food 🙂 and fro yo while watching the moon rise over the ocean, instead of the sun setting as it does on the other side of the world.  Oh, and I may have driven.  I refused to drive in NZ but decided to give it a try and it was nerve-wracking for sure.  I did ok, just ok and was not anxious to do it again.
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Wednesday, January 7:  This was the day that Dave needed to go to work in Sydney so he was gone and I was left to my own devices.  Dave took the ferry and I told him to keep his eyes closed so we could experience the first look of Sydney Harbour together…..his eyes stayed closed while his camera went into overtime ;).  I was looking forward to a leisurely day of shopping and beach sitting.  I managed to visit all of the stores near our hotel in the first 2 hours, so I ventured farther out but didn’t find any good shopping.  I was quite bored after 3-4 hours which really surprised me and I was not about to get in the car by myself.  I managed to stay entertained until Dave returned and he was surprised that I didn’t enjoy my day more.  He thought having a day where I didn’t have to talk to or think about anyone would be refreshing.  I guess it was, but since I was already homesick it just sort of amplified that.  We had one of the best dinners we had the whole trip that night at the Skiff Club (a sailboat racing club that is also a restaurant) right on the water!
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Thursday, January 8:   Dave had to do another half day of work today, but this time I joined him on the ferry to Sydney.  While he worked I made my way to an actual mall for some more “real” shopping.  That was actually fun!!  I found lots of great stuff for me and the kids.  After lunch Dave and I began our sight-seeing of Sydney.  For as cool as NZ was, Australia was rather toasty & humid so it was not super fun being outside.  We did visit the Maritime Museum and then walked toward the water and boom! there it was, the infamous, iconic Opera House.  It was sort of surreal to see the thing that you see in movies and such!  We strolled through The Rocks, and then made our way up 166+ steps to the Sydney Harbor Bridge!!  Successful day in Sydney ending with a delicious French dinner.
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Friday, January 9:   With all the sight-seeing done and since it was so hot and since we decided we didn’t want to drive into the Blue Mountains to hike in the heat or go to the zoo, a beach day was in order.  And it was the bomb.com!!!  I read an entire book while lounging on the beach under an umbrella.  Dave got in the water and got us the pizza he’d wanted all week for lunch.  We talked, made fun of the Asians taking selfies (seriously for like an hour), watched the surfers, and enjoyed being together with no responsibilities!!  That night we drove north a little bit to see a local market and found some beautiful views.  A favorite day for sure!
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Saturday, January 10:  This was the day Dave had been waiting for the whole trip.  He had scheduled us to go sailing on an America’s Cup racing boat.  That is all the info I have about that, but I’m sure Dave can fill us in on the details.  Before boarding the ship we walked through the Sydney Botanical Garden which is huge and would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn’t miserably hot and humid.  It was an overcast day and that just made it unbearably muggy.  We couldn’t wait to get on the boat and feel a breeze.  The sailing was a lot of fun!  We became part of the crew and got to help the process.  Dave got to really help and got quite a workout.  That was definitely the highlight of Dave’s trip, and also his early birthday present.  It was a beautiful end to a beautiful trip to a beautiful place!
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Sunday, January 11:  One of the longest days of my life.  Literally.  14 hour flight to LAX.  4 hour layover.  1 1/2 hour flight home.  Somewhere in there it was night I’m just sure of it, and I didn’t get any sleep.  I was a walking zombie by the time we got home but it was AWESOME to be in our house with our kids again!!!  They loved their treasures we brought them and bam, just like that we were parents to 4 kids again.  And yes, Audra loved all the many seashells I carefully packed and brought home.  Too bad they were sort of smelly so I soaked them in vinegar and they lost their luster – so bugged!!
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I still can’t believe that less than 2 weeks ago we were on the other side of the world having the vacation of a lifetime.  This trip was such a pinnacle in our lives.  I put everything off until “after the trip” and now it’s over and I have to get back to life and plans.

I’ve already mentioned what a blessing I feel like this trip was.  I am grateful we had the opportunity and means to make it happen, I am also grateful for an incredible family.  I also have to mention how grateful I am for the power of prayer.  Every year my kids get sick the week following Christmas.  It is the time we are at the InstaCare – like clock work.  I started praying in November that the kids would remain healthy for the duration of me and Dave’s absence.  My prayers were answered.  My kids have never been this healthy during the Winter (I’m sure I just jinxed myself).  I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who created such a beautiful, diverse world and also watches over my family.

And that’s the end of that!!  Back to life…..

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