Saturday, April 30, 2011

We're back!

We have returned safely from our journey to Middle Earth! What a great trip! Even more fabulous, what amazing little travelers we have! I don't know how many families with children under 6 can shrug off a(n almost) seven hour flight each way, three internal short flights and five different locations in two weeks, but I'm guessing not many. These girls are wonderful! We are so impressed and amazed and blessed (though of course we also already knew and felt that, even before we went).

I am thrilled we made it to New Zealand. If we had left this part of the world without it, I would have felt the loss. We were so close to not going. The day we intended to book our trip was the day the world learned of the Christchurch earthquake. Eventually, logic forced me to concede that New Zealand was never going to stop being on a fault, so if I wanted to go, I had to just risk it and go. Apparently, there was a little earthquake our first night in Wellington, but we were all so exhausted from the travel that we didn't notice. Thankfully, there weren't any more to report. There was, unfortunately, quite a bit of rain...

Not that it dampened our spirits much.

At the moment, we're all a bit jetlagged. While the girls are truly amazing travelers, they aren't big on sleeping in transit. There is a 4-hour time difference between Perth and New Zealand plus that 7(ish)-hour flight, leaving us all a bit fried today. I will work up some posts on the different places we visited (Wellington, Nelson, Auckland, and the Bay of Islands) to share over the coming week.

We hope you enjoyed your Easter weekend and, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, the start of spring!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week round-up and off we go!

It took all the restraint I could muster not to drive over to peek at Ellie before 12:30 on Friday, but I managed it. When I arrived to pick her up, she was fine, 100% fine, totally happy and herself. WHEW. I know I'm a worrywart and I should be more excited for her than nervous, but it's a mama-thing to fret. She did very well. She assured me that she even ate dinner although she didn't like the food (wish that happened at home!). Of course, exhaustion didn't take long to rear its ugly head. She walked into walls and cried. She colored, didn't like the outcome and cried. After dinner, she picked up a different color marker than she had intended and...CRIED like her heart was broken. We carried her to bed, and she slept quite well through the night. Poor kiddo. But she was one very proud kiddo, proud of her big accomplishment of making it through the night without us to brush her hair or brush her teeth or read her a story. We're proud of her too.

Next up: NEW ZEALAND! We are off to New Zealand tomorrow (HOORAY!) for two weeks! I think Markus and I have been itching to go to New Zealand since we first saw Lord of the Rings (gorgeous locations!), and now we are going! Ideally, we'd go when the girls are older, but we imagine that we will live much further away then. Relative to the US or Europe, New Zealand is right on our doorstep from Perth. Now that we are beyond diapers and daytime naps (ok, I still like daytime naps), we decided to just go!

Tomorrow night, we'll take a direct flight from Perth to Auckland, arriving in Auckland just before 6am their time. We'll fly on from there to Wellington, stopping over for a few days to check out the city. Then, we'll fly to the top end of the south island, spending a few days in and around Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. From there, we'll fly back to Auckland, hang out for a couple of days and then drive up to the Bay of Islands at the top end of the north island for four days. I am so excited!

If you know New Zealand, you know the south island is where it's at for action and adventure, but our reality with two young children is more observation and play. One very clued-up guide book suggested young families bypass the south island as not to tease the adults. We accept this wisdom and will try to limit ourselves to some form of reality around Nelson. As it is, this is the first holiday we've taken with the girls where we'll move them around so much. I tried to book accommodation carefully, always providing us with a kitchenette and sometimes with a nice little cottage so we can keep it simple when we want or need to do so. For now, I'm off to start organizing our packing. It will be quite the temperature change for us, and I'm guessing we will be quite cold after our record-hot Perth summer. Today is another debilitating 36 degrees. In New Zealand, the highest forecast is 18. Big change! Hooray! I'll post and share when I can.

Want a postcard?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Growing up!

Try as I might to deny it, our Ellie is growing up. The fact that this is completely unauthorized does not seem to deter her (nor should it). Sigh (sniffle).

Tonight, she will have her first-ever sleep away from us. There is a sleep-over at school for the kids who are transitioning up to Middle Primary (the next age group, 6-9 year olds) next term. This morning, we packed according to the list the school provided. I made her a little zippered pouch to keep her toothbrush and toothpaste in, and she's very proud of her packing organization. Ellie is very excited, and we've done all we can to talk it up and express great enthusiasm...but on the inside, EEK! My little (big) girl, away from us for the night. I miss her already, and right now is just normal school time that she's always away...except I know I won't pick her up today. I won't see her again until tomorrow at noon! EEK EEK EEK.

My biggest consolation is that the school does this for everyone every year, and many kids experience this sleep-over as the first night away from parents. Those in charge know how to handle this, so I must have faith. I'm sure Ellie will be fine. She'll probably have a blast! It's me who will have trouble sleeping, wondering...until she's back with me again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paging Dr. Stephanie

Our sweet Stephanie has the gentlest little hands you can imagine. She is very tender, and her empathy and concern for others is astounding. This week, Markus has been sick with a cold. Although it is thankfully nothing more than a cold, it's been a bad one and has knocked him for a loop. The girls, however, have been thrilled. Instead of our normal weekday routine that has us all rush from 6am to snap up whatever time we can with him before he's off to work super-early, he's been in bed, ready to be snuggled and climbed upon and to read stories before anyone is out of pjs. Stephanie especially has been enjoying his time as an invalid.

On the morning he announced he was too sick to go to work, she immediately offered to give him a check-up, did so quite thoroughly, gave him (pretend) medicine and decided he needed more rest. She checked in on him throughout the day, very quietly and with her tender concern so that he was so touched I'm sure the extra warmth radiating from all that love made the cold go away faster.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Now with Crimplene!

Yesterday afternoon, I scooted over to Freo for a little me-time. Just an hour and a half, scooting around, poking around in some shops...and I came home with this:

It's a mint condition '60s turquoise dress with three flamingos appliqued on the left front. It still had the original tags on it, for sale at Boans for $57.50 in who knows what year. I have no idea why the air hostesses for Flamingo Airlines didn't snap this baby up!
Made with the miracle fashion fabric Crimplene!

I know you are jealous.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Family portraits

On Saturday, we had our first-ever professional family portraits made. Yes, I had previously attempted those mall portraits when stateside, but unless the subject was only a tiny kiddo, the result was pretty yuck. Quality professional portraits are super-pricey, and I often find I can beat the image by doing it myself. For family photos, we usually just don't.

I kept seeing work by Blue Lily crop up on blogs I enjoy. Most people shared because they will shoot a video during your photos as well, and it's really cute behind-the-scenes type stuff. The images are great, very natural, not overly contrived and the color boosting is fantastic. Back in September, I read on NieNie that Blue Lily would be coming to Australia, so I signed us up!

On Saturday afternoon, we drove out to Roleystone in the Perth Hills for our shoot in an orchard (orchards seem to be Blue Lily's signature scene). Of course, both girls fell asleep in the car. Crankiness reigned supreme. Ellie was soon coaxed out of it by Wendy's expertise, but the first half of our shoot was somehow done with a completely unamused and uncooperative Stephanie. Eventually, Wendy won her over too. She was genius! She lay flat on her tummy in the tall grass, popping up with a silly face and making puppy noises to get their attention and giggles...worked every time! We had a lot of fun. It will be hard to wait 2-3 weeks for the finished work!

We have to laugh that the portraits will be keeping it real. First, there's the impossible to hide cranky factor. Then, there's wardrobe. Both girls were dressed just fine until Markus told them we were going to have photos made. Then, they went and changed. Ellie inexplicably donned winter wear and Stephanie put on her purple fairy dress that she has never before wanted to wear out of the house and now would not take off. We did make Ellie change back to what she had on before (it's just too hot for pants and long sleeves!), though we did let her wear her chosen outfit in the car. There was no reasoning with Stephanie, and we figured we didn't need to anyway. None of us dressed up (though I did curl my hair), the girls quickly discarded their shoes, and it's all a good reflection of us on a normal summer day here in Perth (except we're in an orchard, where we wouldn't normally be).