Thursday, September 30, 2010

beautiful western australia

We have had a wonderful week in gorgeous Western Australia! What a pretty place. It's been so special to spend time with U. Dave and A. Christine and Katie. We are loving staying at their the country surrounded by green hills, cattle, wildflowers and trees. So peaceful.

We've been enjoying the beaches with their white sand and turquoise water. The kids have enjoyed building sandcastles and running in  the waves.

We did a day trip down to Mammoth Cave near Margaret River. There are lots of caves in the area with just a few open to the public. We each had an MP3 player and earphones and went on a self-guided tour. It was a huge cave where they had found bones of all sorts of creatures....huge mammoth wombats, giant kangaroos and many other prehistoric type animals. It was all good until we had to climb 160 stairs to get out. Not the best when the kids are tired and hungry! But we survived!

On the way to the caves we stopped at a place called Channel Rocks. The ocean pounds into a little pool between some big rock outcrops. It was beautiful!

Zara and Katie out on the rocks.

We found a HUGE playground in a little town called Donnybrook - a beautiful little town full of apple orchards. Everything was in bloom and so pretty. We all loved this fun merry-go-round... spinning fast and getting dizzy!

Uncle David has been very generous in lending us a car to use. We drove this fun little mini for a few days while Katie was working. I'm really enjoying driving on the "wrong" side of the road!

Yesterday we saw dolphins.....LOTS of beautiful bottlenose dolphins!! First we saw them right near the beach. We were standing in about thigh deep water and just watching them swim around nearby. Then we went out on a boat tour and had a wonderful time. It was dolphin soup out there! We were watching them feed in an area where the river was flowing into the ocean. There were lots of nutrients coming out of the river that the fish were feeding on, then the dolphins were eating the fish. We learned lots about dolphins and were thrilled to see so many of them. Thor's hat blew off in the wind and by the time we got the hook out to grab it, it had sunk. Thor and Bella had a big cry and then the guide said "Tomorrow if I see one of the dolphins wearing your hat, I'll try to get it back for you!" Thor burst out laughing and they were fine after that!

A dolphin bow riding right below us!

I wondered how long it would be before the kids "played"wedding after seeing Sally and Lachie get married! We bought this pretty white nightgown for Zara at A. Christine's shop and she gave Bella this bouquet of flowers....a perfect combination for a wedding!  Katie raided some wisteria flowers off A. Christine's vine and hung some lace....voila...the stage was set! They practiced their lines a few times and then called us out to be part of it. Bella and Zara walked in to some pretty music, then when Katie asked Thor if he would be Zara's husband he said "NO WAY"! and threw the ring at her! So Zara and Bella got married instead! 

We can't believe how quickly time is flying by. Zara is very distressed that our time in W.A. is almost up - she's not ready to leave! So we are trying to stay in the moment and just enjoy every minute of it. Zara has spent some time with A. Christine in her shop, putting shop stickers on bags and helping her unpack boxes of new merchandise. We're all having a lovely time and enjoying being with family that we don't get to see very often!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

5 days in Melbourne

The day after Sally's beautiful wedding, we packed up and flew to Melbourne. My cousin Tathra (aka Tad), lives there and it was wonderful to spend 5 days with her. We stayed in a motel near Princes Park, looking out at a pretty pond and a huge green space. It was a 15 minute tram ride into the heart of the city and just 5 minutes to busy Sydney Rd where we could buy food and anything else we needed!

Tad took us to Hanging Rock - an amazing volcanic outcropping of rock in an otherwise quite flat area of countryside about an hour from Melbourne. We hiked up near the top and enjoyed playing in the rock and taking in the views.

Afterwards Tad took us to her friends place nearby, who has a lovely acreage with an apple forest on it. Not an orchard with trees in a line, but a forest with the trees planted randomly. On the property there were also some lovely mud-brick cottages and buildings as well as a dam for watering. This property was a great example of permaculture....neat to see.

Alice, Tad's friend, had introduced her a few years back to an author named Robin Grille who's written some amazing books: Parenting for a Peaceful World and Heart to Heart Parenting. I'm about 50 pages into Heart to Heart Parenting and just loving it. It's not so much a "how-to" book, but rather about trusting our own parenting wisdom and connecting with our children with compassion and empathy by remembering how we felt as a child, and trying to see the world from a childs perspective. I feel like I'm not describing it very well, but can certainly say it's worth a read!

On our last day in Melbourne we visited Healesville Sanctuary about an hour from Melbourne and saw lots of neat animals. They had just acquired 2 wild baby dingos. Apparently there are only about 40 pure bred wild dingos left in Australia. All the rest (and there are thousands I'm sure) have been crossbred with domestic dogs. This (non-breeding) pair are from a breeding program that is attempting to increase the number of purebred wild dingos, or at least save them from being wiped out completely. They were cute little things and we enjoyed getting to see them close up and petting their soft fur.

We also got to see platypuses - very cool. Such amazing little creatures. They were at the top of Zara's list of things to see in Australia so she was thrilled! There were huge ibises walking around the park, scavenging like seagulls. They have big long black beaks (see photo below).

Bella was sitting in her stroller eating a muffin and one came up and pecked it out of her hand. It just sent her into a panic and she was quite fearful for the rest of the day, freaking out anytime a bird came near us. Two animal sanctuaries and two scary experiences for Bella!!! Oh, I hope it doesn't turn her off animals for life!

After the sanctuary, we headed back into the city to an area called St. Kilda's - a beautiful area right on the harbour. We walked out onto a long pier and then walked around through Luna Park. Tad and Emma hung out with the kids while I did a quick walk down the main shopping street. Fun to see all the beautiful things!

We had such a good time in Melbourne.The only thing we didn't love was the weather! It was pretty chilly much of the time. But we loved spending time with Tad and Emma. Also went out for dinner with Mike and Troy (Tad's dad and brother). It was really nice to reconnect with them all.

Good bye Melbourne..... Western Australia, here we come!

(I have some other photos I wanted to post, but blogger keeps flipping them sideways - they are lengthwise photos...anyone know how to prevent that?)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a beautiful wedding

My beautiful cousin, Sally, got married to her sweetheart of 8 years, Lachie, on September 18th. It was so fun to be in the midst of wedding preparations and to help out where we could. It was a backyard, black tie wedding and it was magical! This post will be mostly photos as my internet time is limited!

Sept. 18th was also John's 40th birthday. We celebrated with a delicious brunch, compliments of Holly and Jeff! A. Marti got a delicious cake and we all enjoyed it outside in the sunshine.

The girls with curlers in their hair...preparing to get gorgeous! Sally with her rose colored glasses on!

Waiting for the ceremony to begin.

Here comes the bride!!

The kiss

Zara LOVED hanging out with Sam

Old friends!

We took the kids back to the hotel about 6:30pm, got them to bed and they stayed there with a babysitter while we went back to the wedding and enjoyed the night "kidless". We danced, laughed,and visited and had so much fun!

life down under

I have so much to post about, but will start at the beginning! After 15 hours on an airplane, we were so happy to arrive in Sydney. My aunt and uncle picked us up at the airport and took us downtown to the Opera House. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and a wonderful way to start our trip. I love the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. They are such amazing landmarks of this great city.

The next day we went to Koala Park - a wildlife sanctuary - near my aunt and uncle's place. I have so many memories of visiting this place as a kid. It was so fun to take my own kids there and see it through their eyes. We saw wombats, dingos, lots of beautiful birds, kangaroos and koalas.

Everything was going well.... we were feeding the kangaroos crackers and just hanging out with them. There was a group of Chinese tourists in with us and one guy squatted down beside a kangaroo to have his photo taken. All of a sudden another roo came up and leaned back on his tail, and kicked the guy with both feet and knocked him into the fence. The poor guy jumped up, brushed the kangaroo poo off his designer pants and the whole group out them were out of the kangaroo pen in 2 seconds flat. We giggled about that for awhile. Then.... out of the corner of my eye, I saw that feisty little roo stand up and put his front paws on Bella's shoulders. Next thing I knew, he leaned back on his tail and started kicking her in the stomach! I lunged over, gave the roo a huge shove and picked up Bella. She was freaked out and crying. I immediately lifted up her shirt to check for damage and thankfully, they wasn't even a scratch. Those roos have HUGE front claws and have been known to use them to rip open a dog or an animal they are fighting with. It could have been really bad, but thankfully, it wasn't! Just a bit scary! I have to admit that after that happened, we got out of that roo enclosure pretty quickly too!!

The rest of our first week in Sydney was spent getting ready for my cousins wedding, and hanging out with other cousins that had arrived for the wedding. We spent a fun morning at Collaroy Beach in North Sydney, collecting shells, jumping in the dunes and enjoying the sunshine!

We are all having a great time so far!!