Archive for February 2012

Our Australian Adventure: Day 2...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Before we headed to the airport, we got to take Grace to school and then go to Lance's swimming lessons.  One thing I have always been jealous about is that Raquel finds the coolest swimming places for her kiddos to learn how to swim...this place is devoted to swimming lessons and had a little kid pool.  Lance was in a class with 1 other boy...he is quite the swimmer (as is Grace!).  After the lesson, we had to head home so Josh (our amazing chauffeur for the week to and from the airport - thanks for doing that!) could take us to the airport.  We were bummed to leave the Malin's so soon but we wanted to leave them sooner than later so we could enjoy the rest of the time with them.  We were headed to Cairns (pronounced "Cans") in North Queensland on the northern tip of Australia, home of the Great Barrier Reef.  One of the 7 wonders of the world.  You can't go to Australia without seeing it but what many people don't realize about Australia is that it is the same size as the USA so you have to fly everywhere because of the vast distance.
Flying in Australia is an entirely different experience, you don't have to take your shoes off, Qantas gives you a loaner stroller, no worries about liquids, can get through security in about 5 minutes.  They always board families first, serve you a meal on all flights including our 3 hour flight to Cairns and show a movie!

Our kids are old pros at flying at this point but Solon was still super duper excited...he loves flying on airplanes!  Vera (as you can see) was a little more sober about the whole thing!).

The time change was catching up to us by the time we got to Cairns and we nearly all fell asleep at dinner so Scott ushered us all to sleep at about 7pm Australian time (and 2AM our body time)...after all we had a big day on the Great Barrier Reef the next day!

Our Australian Adventure: Day 1...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Once we showered we headed out to the Malin's backyard (which is out of a magazine - just beautifully decorated and complete with a pool).  The boys enjoyed playing with their backyard toys and we all enjoyed catching up....Auntie Raquel snuggled Vera for the 1st time and we all enjoyed the beautiful Australian sunshine.  Before we knew it, it was time to go pick-up Grace from school.  Part of visiting another country that I think is cool is seeing how the day to day looks.  We were pumped to see Grace and Lance's school!
Grace was SOOOO excited to see Solon and meet Vera for the 1st time - of course after millions of hugs we went up the outdoor stairs to see her classroom. Much of the school is open-air but the inside looks just like an American classroom - I guess teachers are teachers :)!
Her class eats lunch right outside of their classroom door.  The sun is very intense in Australia (as I now know after being fried but that is another story).  The playground is even under cover and they have a "no hat, no play" policy and part of their uniform is a school-issued sun hat.  All kiddos in Australia have a uniform, Grace goes to Pacific Hills Christian School.
We walked in and picked up Grace but the other days we picked her up in what they call "the kiss and drop" line - the same as here but a much cuter name in my opinion!  Grace even takes mandarin chinese and violin in the 3rd grade!
All of us at the school entrance....
After picking up Grace, we headed to their grocery store.  It is styled a bit differently with a fruit and veggie stand with EVERY type of fruit known to man and a butcher with a wide variety of meats.  After the store, we headed home to hang out and make dinner. 

Grace and Vera got along famously....

For dinner, we grilled out on the barbie in good Aussie fashion and talked the night away (sure that surprises no one). Solon crashed around 8pm (he was very entertained) and we stayed up until 10PM before crashing but we were was about 5am our body time - yikes!

Over the Ocean and to the Bush to Auntie Raquel's we go...

Monday, February 27, 2012
Well I figured I should get around to blogging about this amazing trip - we have just been trying to fight off jetleg and get into a good routine again (still a work in progress) but so much to share I wanted to get started....
This was the scene as we departed Des Moines.  The one and only major snow storm we have had in 2012 happened the day we left.  Luckily for us they de-iced our plane and off we went without a delay - Praise the Lord.  The only casualty of the trip was that we had to check our double stroller and they would not let us use it in the airport - BOO!  But another praise God took care of all of our gates and made sure they were all within close walking distance.  AMEN!
Our friends, the Murrays, did not fair so well their flight to Disney World was cancelled.  They went out after us so our kiddos played together while we all waited which was a bonus for Solon!
Skip to 2 flights later (DSM-O'Hare and O'Hare to LAX) and here is Solon at 11:30PM (his body time) eating funyons and juice - I guess we we are on vacation.  Vera had passed out by this point but Solon was still SUPER excited!  They both did STUPENDOUSLY for being 2.5 and 5 months!
Loved this sign because we sure did "enjoy the journey" and I just couldn't believe we were really flying to Australia.  This is one of those places you say "Yeah I would like to visit" but it is REALLY far away - so so so happy we went and I highly suggest going to everyone we meet!
This was Vera's ride aka "the bassinet" kind of freight-like but a true life saver.  Drum roll please she slept 11 of the 13.5 hours of this flight so I highly suggest reserving this!  We also got the bulkhead seats which was a bonus for my tall husband to stretch out!  Qantas is the most kid-friendly airline with little activity packs for each kid, movies and shows on demand that they like, and super friendly staff that come by and ask what you need and they let us board first...

Here was our "Sleeping accomodations" for the night and all of our "stuff".  The guy sitting next to us moved shortly after take-off (not because of us - his TV was broken - he was moved to business - nice).  SO we had 4 seats to ourselves so we could spread out a bit (the arm rests didn't come up in the bulkhead which was a bummer but alas good leg room!).  Solon slept 6 of the 13 hours and Scott and I probably about 5-6...

Overall it seems like a LONG flight and it is but when you are fed 2 meals, go to the bathroom, watch a few movies and sleep - it does go relatively fast.  PLUS we were so excited to see The Malin's it was SO worth it!  Josh picked us up at the airport at about 9:30AM (but I remember telling Scott it felt about 4ish to me - sure enough that was our body time!).  We went over the Harbor Bridge, took in a view of the Sydney Opera House and saw the skyline all on our way to the Malin's house just 20 minutes outside of the city center :)!  We were to their house by 10:30AM and greeted with an amazing brunch and a much anticipated shower for these STINKY travelers (and I am not just saying that).

Vera is 5 months old (a little late)....

Thursday, February 23, 2012
I will apologize for the multitude of pictures but she is just getting so fun to photograph and her little personality shines I just couldn't choose :)!  (Spoken from a smitten mom)
Both of my kids smile with their WHOLE mouth :)
Seriously mom isn't that enough pictures?
Trying to sit up - so close!
....and tumbled over but still SO happy!

With working last time I feel like this time around I am just trying to enjoy every single moment which is impossible I know!  But I just love being with these 2 everyday and am SO thankful I can be home to watch them grow....Our life is simple, ucomplicated, slow-paced (as possible) and that makes me SO happy!  Okay enough of that - on to what Miss V is up to these days!

  • She now not only likes her rice cereal, but at about 5 pm she starts wailing and eats it up like a little up green veggies!  She eats her cereal only at night so far.
  • She is getting up 1 time at night pretty regularly and if I am feeling strict I rock her to sleep without feeding her but sometimes I just feed her - she will learn and they are only small once, right?  She generally wakes up at 3:30AM but goes to bed around 8:15PM and sleeps until 8AM.
  • She wears size 2 diapers and her poop is not so liquidy anymore (she will kill me someday for telling you :)
  • She wears mostly size 3-6 month clothes but can still wear 0-3 month dresses but she is long so she is starting to have to wear 9 month PJ's (tear :).
  • She takes a good afternoon nap from about 1-3pm (coincides with Solon - sound the cheers!) and 2 catnaps in the morning and an early evening catnap.
  • She is attached to her polka-dot pink blanket and pacifier.
  • She loves bathtime and while on vacation swam for the 1st time and LOVED it.  She was iffy about the ocean water and sand in her toes (she will grow to love it I know)
  • She now grasps at things and loves her floor gym and jumparoo but still prefers to be held
  • She likes to grasp at hair and Auntie Raquel's earrings (this mama doesn't wear them)
  • She likes to "sing along" or coo when we sing
  • She will "talk" to you and babbles a lot
  • She likes to read stories with Solon, mommy and daddy
  • She discovered the TV and is mesmerized (don't worry we don't sit her in front of it but she finally noticed it :)
  • She likes playing with baby toys now and EVERYTHING goes in her mouth!
  • Still likes to be rocked and will occasionally sleep in my arms (generally her evening nap - I don't mind one bit)
  • Still a mama's girl (we never had this with Solon because he was in daycare but she definitely wants MOM).
  • We go through about 5 diapers a day
  • She can now roll from tummy to back and back to tummy....and she is always scooched a different direction than where I layed her down
  • Still prefers to sleep on her back in the crib
  • SO close to sitting up but falls forward but tries her best to keep her head up
  • Took her 1st plane ride and international trip to Australia - 1st vacation as a family of 4 :)
As you can see we are smitten with this beautiful, smiley, social and totally sweet baby girl!  She makes us smile and I just kiss her and snuggle her as much as possible - slightly spoiled I am sure - oh well.  You can't love babies too much!  We are so blessed and she has been extremely healthy which we don't take for granted!  We love you baby girl!

We're back and the pictures are downloaded...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
In Front of the Sydney Harbor Bridge (spanning 1 KM and longest steel bridge in the world)
We are a bit jetlegged and on a vacation hangover...this might be the best vacation to date and we have taken some memorable ones - not just because of the unbelievable location but because of our AMAZING, out of this world, fabulous hosts that treated us like gold for 2 weeks.  We were not sick of being away from home, in fact I would go back tomorrow if I could.  I HIGHLY suggest visiting Australia, it far exceeded my expectations.  The people are amazing and super kid friendly.  We did some fun, wild and wacky things and I can't wait to share but until then...I will leave you with some of our favorite sayings and noteable quips from down under...

Shark Biscuit - Novice surfer
Take a wee - use the restroom
Gorgous flesh - beautiful
Nappie - diaper
Uni - College/University
Ute - El Camino type truck that run rampant there
Cheers - could mean good-bye and all sorts of other things
Pram - stroller
Grocery cart - trolley
morning and afternoon tea - morning and afternoon snacks

They have the worlds best coffee - simply delightful
They only serve tea hot - no iced tea
Amazing fish and seafood and love their lamb :)
Everything has an -ie and normally abbreviated on the end like you hear BBQ as barbie :)
A big melting pot but many Asians, some Middle-Easterners
Kind of pricey - probably because they import a lot (dinners at a normal place ranged about $20-$30)
Lots of bugs - you are in the rainforest after all
HUGE spiders (but those are the harmless ones :)
Qantas airlines is the most friendly child accomodating airline - they let us board first and every airplane they had a bassinet for Vera (even within Australia), handed Solon an activity pack, and had free MEAS on every flight and movies - CRAZY!

We absolutely fell in love with the country and its people, don't get me wrong, we were proud to walk back into the US Customs and come home to the country we love but the Malin's are in an amazing place!!!!

More to come soon - I filled my memory card and deleted along the way - I think I took a total of 1,000 photos - just you wait :)

Our big jumper is 5 months old today....

Sunday, February 12, 2012
Happy 5 month birthday Vera Ann - you are such a sweet, smiley, happy, social baby girl and all Daddy and I ever hoped for in a daughter.  You and your brother are the light of our world and we Thank God for giving you to us to raise and disciple!  We love you so much....what better way to celebrate your 5th month birthday by hanging out at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia :)

The 1st and ONLY time we have shoveled this year...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Yep - as I type we have only shoveled ONCE this year.  Hard to believe we are in to February and there has only been 1 opportunity for Solon to wear his snow gear and help Daddy shovel the 1-2 inches of snow we got.  He had so much fun, we thought he would last 5 minutes and want to come in but NO he came in kicking and screaming an hour later (because Scott was freezing).  He remembered his Lightning McQueen shovel from the summer and so Daddy (such a good guy) went and dug it out of the stored away summer stuff so he could "shobel" with daddy!  It was fun to watch from the comfort and warmth of the indoors!


Saturday, February 4, 2012
Little lady is growing like a weed - CAN-NOT-BELIEVE-she is almost 5 months old (gasp, tear, regrouping here....)  She is such a cute little thang (If I do say so myself) and full of spunk and personality....she can now self-soothe (cue the applause) and is working on only getting up once at night...I always had an opinion on sleeping and babies but she has taught me so much about mommyhood I didn't know before - like not all babies are created the same (enlightning - no?) and she justl likes to be awake and be part of the party at our house!  Love you my almost 5 month old Vera Ann!  Thanks for teaching your mama so much about life and the words "Go with the flow"...

Beating the winter duldrums again...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I feel funny posting these pictures given the recent weather but they have been on my camera (and um we are slightly behind because well frankly we have been busily preparing for our trip...) are some ways we have gotten creative when stuck indoors this winter - who knew water, a $1 can of shaving cream and a little snow on a cookie sheet could bring such enjoyment....

What do you do to keep the winter duldrums from knocking on your door?

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