Tag Archives: travel

All those Christmas toys

5 Jan

As usual, the kids got way too many presents from everyone, which means we had to cull lots of their old toys to make room.  And luckily for me, ToyTainer sent me a bunch of their products just before Christmas, which means extra storage places for all those Christmas toys.

For every day use, this is our favourite ToyTainer

For every day use, this hang on a door ToyTainer is our favourite.  As you can see, there is no room IN the closet for toys….

The princess castle (picture above) is a great space saver since it goes over the door.  It also has adjustable height straps, which is super awesome.  I put it on it’s very lowest setting so that Hannah can see in the mirror from the ground (which she loves), and reach even the highest toys with her stool.  Most importantly, Rosie (our new puppy) can’t get any of the toys in it, which makes it a great place to store all of Hannah’s enticing, chewable, puppies-like-to-rip-the-hair-off dolls.  When we travel somewhere that doesn’t have any toys, we can fold up the princess castle, with all the dolls and things in it, and take it with us.  Easy, and perfect for holidays/vacations.  Daniel got the boys version, called games centre, which has a basketball hoop at the top.  Hannah likes using the hoop, but Daniel is a bit too small for it.  He will appreciate his games centre when he is a little older.  And taller. For now though, it’s great for extra toy storage.

The hoop makes cleaning up super fun.

The hoop makes cleaning up super fun.

We also got a shoe box for each kid.  Hannah decided immediately upon opening hers that it is called a “Caravan Bag” and likes to take it in the car filled with my little ponies and other girly things.  Daniel likes to drive his cars and trains around on his and then put them away through the little opening at the bottom.  I like how they are portable storage, but also a toy in themselves.  We had to go on an unscheduled trip over 4 hours away to attend Aaron’s Nanna’s funeral and the kids piled their caravan bags with chosen toys.  Daniel’s fit heaps of Thomas engines, train tracks, cars, dinosaurs, and the mat I talk about below.  Hannah’s fit ponies, books, play jewellery, and her play mat.  I was surprised at how much stuff can actually fit in them, and they were perfect for taking away with us.

aka "Caravan Bags"

aka “Caravan Bags”

Another easy clean up and travel item is the EZ-mat.  There is a pink one with dirt roads/trails, and a blue one with roads.  The kids can play on them and then use the cord to turn them into a bag with all the toys and cars inside.  Brilliant for travel.


The blue version

The blue version

There is also the pink ice cream truck which Hannah absolutely loves because it’s fun to push around and unlike most cars and trucks that size, is not made with boys in mind. She loves that it’s pink.  Open the top of the truck and it’s completely hollow, designed for storage. Hannah stores all of her little toys that Daniel is not allowed to play with due to their choking hazard.  They are now all in the one place, and easy to store away from Daniel’s prying hands when Hannah isn’t playing with them.

Finally, a pink truck for girly girls

Finally, a pink truck for girly girls


If you would like to win over $150 worth of ToyTainer products, leave a comment below and I will pick a winner using a random number generator from random.org.  For an extra entry, like the Mommy Adventures Facebook page (click here to go there).  I will assign each new like a number (in order of the like, starting with the number that immediately follows the number of comments), which will then be included in the random number generator.


The winner is Hazel.  Thanks everyone for entering 🙂

*Entries open to U.S. residents only

*Competition closes 11:59pm 12 January 2014

*I received ToyTainer items in exchange for my honest opinion about them, I did not receive any money for writing this post.

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27 Sep

I’m back.  Actually, I’ve been back for 3 days now, but the first day I was so jet lagged that just trying to stay awake was difficult, and the other two days I was busy playing with the kids and catching up on house stuff and university work.

Hannah had all these plans of fun things to do with Aaron while I was away, but she was sick almost the entire time.  The first night I arrived and FaceTimed (video chat on the iPhone) with them, I could tell just by looking that she wasn’t well.  She only ended up being able to do one thing from her list.  Then when she started feeling better, Aaron got sick.  And then when he started feeling better, Daniel got sick.  Someone was sick the whole time I was gone.

Lucky for me, I didn’t get sick.  I was able to savour every moment there.  I sat at the breakfast bar in Jennifer’s house when I ate my breakfast, reading something or watching something on my iPad whilst enjoying a whole cup of tea.  Jennifer and I were able to take our time when we went shopping and not have to worry about kids running off, having tantrums, or anything of the like.  We got to hang out, talk, watch movies, and make wedding decorations  without interruption.

But I missed them so much.  I wanted to reach through the phone and give them a cuddle every time I saw them.

I had a great time in Minnesota, catching up with Jennifer, whom I haven’t seen in almost 5 years, and seeing my mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, two of my aunts, and even Jennifer’s dad, whom I haven’t seen since I was about 12 years old.

Jennifer’s wedding was absolutely beautiful.  Her dress was the probably the prettiest wedding dress I’ve ever seen, and the reception looked stunning, but more importantly, was very fun.  I danced for about 4 hours and clocked up over 20,000 steps on my fitbit, the most I’ve ever done in a single day.

Now I need to get over my jet lag, catch up on my uni work, finish unpacking and try to make a whole raised garden bed before it’s too late for spring planting.  I don’t think that last one will happen in time, but I can hope.

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Oh, and if you’re like me, and get constipated when you’re travelling, or away from home, I have found the cure!  On my third day over there, I went for a morning run with Jennifer.  usually my short runs are at least 3 kilometers, but I had to walk and squeeze after only 1k so I didn’t poop myself.  I went for another run the next morning and from there on out, I was fine.

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The big trip

11 Sep

Tomorrow, I have a test.  The very first one for my Food Science class.  I’ve been studying, making notes, and trying to ingrain all the stuff we’ve learned so far into my brain.  I also have a group assignment due for my Quantitative Thinking class, which is my online, “external” class.  In the internal version, the groups meet up and work out the math problems together.  They even have to take minutes during their meetings and submit them with the assignment.  But online?  We can’t do that.  We don’t live near each other, or have any sort of face to face contact.  There are 5 people, including myself, in the group.  Only one other person has bothered to check the group discussion board to get the ball rolling on the project which is due next week.

5 days ago, I wrote on the board that we should divide up the work, then put it on the collaborative file, check each others work, and then turn it in.  We have to turn it in as one.  We are supposed to have a group manager who takes on the turning in and filling out the cover sheet jobs.  The other girl wanted to get started but didn’t want to be manager or be responsible for dividing up the work, so I took charge, divided it all up, and am now crossing my fingers that the other three will actually do their work.  I would be manager, but I’m going to the U.S. on Friday. By myself.

Yes, BY MYSELF.  As in no kids.  No Aaron.  All by myself.  Aaron will be at home doing Daddy daycare whilst I fly to Minnesota for my cousin (who’s more like my sister) Jennifer’s wedding.  Can you feel my excitement as you read this?  Did I mention I’m going by myself?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my family more than words can convey, and I’ll miss the like crazy, but I’ll be able to go to the bathroom with the door shut and no one will bang on the door and scream because they want to be where I am.  Who am I kidding, I don’t even shut the door anymore, it’s just easier to leave it hanging open so the kids can come in while I do my business.

I can drink a cup of tea without having to put it up high in between sips so curious hands don’t burn themselves.  I can go to the shops without having to constantly tell anyone to stop running off, stop touching everything, stop jumping in the cart, stop trying to jump out of the cart, stop throwing things, stop sitting on the groceries, etc. etc., followed by tantrums on the supermarket floor with everyone looking at me.  I don’t have to worry about mountains of laundry and dishes, toys everywhere, poopy nappies, or overnight wake ups due to teething or a blocked nose for 11 whole days (including the flights).

I had grand plans of finally finishing the book series I’ve been reading for the past two years, but never get time to sit down and read, watching movies on my iPad or the screen on the back of the seat in front of me, or even catching up on sleep during the plane ride.  Instead, I’m going to write my orange juice report for food science. Maybe I can do all the leisurely things on the way back.

So if I don’t write for a while, it’s because I have a test, an assignment, an international flight, and then bridesmaid duties.

And all the while, I’ll be missing Aaron and the kids like crazy.

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Go west – sightseeing in the Western Algarve

15 Aug

For many people, holidays in Portugal mean heading to the main Algarve tourist hubs of Albufeira or Vilamoura. Guest author Katie, a food and travel blogger from the UK, believes that while resorts have their considerable charms, getting off the beaten track is one of the pleasures of travel. She has put together a few highlights from her trip to Portugal earlier this year where she did exactly that.

To borrow the words of the Pet Shop Boys, I decide to take some time to Go West and experience some of the lesser known parts of the Algarve. Loading up the hire car, I head off as far west as you can go without falling into the Atlantic.

Laid back vibes

Sagres has the same sort of end-of-the-world feel that you get when looking out from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. So, I had been expecting a landscape that was wind whipped, dramatic and barren.

And, while there’s certainly no shortage of windy weather and spectacular scenery, Europe’s most southwesterly point also has something of a bohemian, laid-back vibe thanks to the surfers who flock here to ride some of the best waves in the world. Surf and gift shops line the road leading into Sagres and I stop to pick up some skull-and-crossbones pirate t-shirts for my nieces and nephews before continuing to Sagres’ imposing fortress.

Simply dripping in maritime history, Sagres is the place Prince Henry the Navigator built his famous school of navigation. And, his legacy still lives on with the Fortaleza de Sagres. Originally constructed in the 15th century, it was rebuilt in 1793 after being destroyed by Sir Francis Drake.

As soon as you enter, you come across something of a mystery – a giant stone circle which some believe is an ancient compass rose, but which others think could be a form of sundial.

Further in and ancient canons provide photo opportunities as children climb astride these once defensive weapons. But, the real attraction is the view. Visiting slightly out of season means Mother Nature is at her most ferocious, hurling huge white breakers against the cliffs.

But, despite the wind, the early spring sunshine is beating down. So, I take advantage of the warmth to eat lunch outdoors, finding a seat on the busy terrace at the D’Italia, which overlooks Sagres’ pretty square, the Praça da República. I opt for fettucine frutti di mare from an extensive menu that includes stone-baked pizza, pasta and salad, along with a piccolo menu for the little ones.

It’s the ideal spot to take in Sagres’ low-key feel and, afterwards, I take a short stroll to the Praia da Mareta, the closest beach to town and the most sheltered from the westerly winds, to watch the brave souls who have braved the Atlantic in March, before heading east to Lagos.

Chattering monkeys and charter yachts

It takes me around half an hour to drive the easy route along the coast from Sagres to Lagos, which, sitting along the banks of the Rio Bensafrim, is probably the western Algarve’s biggest tourist draw. The car parks are busy even in low season. But, I find a spot beside the harbour and cross the marina bridge to a promenade lined with stalls offering family fishing and dolphin-spotting boat trips.

I stop for an espresso at the Oasis snack bar, indulging in a bit of fantasy about which luxury yacht I would choose in the event of a lottery win – a catamaran, I decide, with a crew and plenty of sunbathing space.

Slightly more affordable, however, is my next port of call. A short drive inland to Barão de S.João and I arrive at Lagos Zoo. Open all year round, it’s not one of those big commercial zoos you struggle to get around in one day, but more of a cross between farm (with goats and ducks you can feed) and zoo. It costs around 14 euros to get in, but under fours go free and there’s plenty of shade for hot days.  I arrive at primate feeding time and watch as one of the keepers dons waders before setting off across the moats which separate the enclosures to give the lemurs and monkeys fruit.

Castles and carafes

From here, it’s around another half-an-hour’s journey – an easy trip on the A22 (although be warned, the Portuguese authorities have recently introduced tolls) – to Silves, which boasts the best preserved castle in the Algarve.

There’s a light drizzle that’s unlike any rain I’ve experienced in Portugal – I’m more used to heavy downpours that are over almost as soon as they begin. But, it doesn’t mar the trip. The entry fee is cheap – I pay around 2.50 euros for my ticket into the castle. And, you can walk around the thick walls, marvelling at the views over the village and surrounding countryside. There aren’t any safety railings though, so parents visiting with young children are keeping a tight grip on their little ones’ hands.

With red-stone walls, an abundance of citrus trees and winding backstreets, the rest of Silves is pretty sleepy. But, it’s perfect to get away from the crowds if the coastal resorts are busy and I happily stay for an evening meal at O Alambique. It was recommended to me by the girl on the ticket desk at Silves Castle and, I have to say, she was right. As dusk falls, there’s a roaring fire to keep diners cosy and I can imagine eating on the terrace will be a delight during summertime. Unusually for Portugal, there’s a good vegetarian selection so, despite being a committed carnivore, I opt for the pumpkin ravioli, washed down with a carafe of red from the neighbouring Alentejo region.

Even more food

I know I said exploring off the beaten track was one of the best things about travel, whether you’ve arranged everything yourself or you’ve booked a trip to Portugal with Jet2holidays, or another tour operator. But, one of the others is definitely sampling some of the local cuisine. So, the next day, I double back on myself a little, heading back to the coast and one of the Algarve’s most spectacular beach resorts.

Still a working fishing village, I find I take most of my holiday snaps here. Whitewashed cottages tumble down to the harbour, cobbled streets are packed with family-friendly shops and restaurants, and Alvor’s main beach is nothing short of breathtaking – mile-upon-mile of pristine white sand, backed by dunes that wouldn’t look amiss on the Northumberland coastline. At one end, the beach is wide and windswept but I walk towards Vau, where there are caves and coves explored by children playing at pirates.

Even this vast beach, however, does get busy in high season. But, you can find your own private spot by walking across the wooden promenades which have just been built over the dunes, to the estuary side, which tends to be visited by locals rather than tourists. Here, the water shelves gently, so it’s safer for children. And, if  the wind does pick up, you can watch kitesurfers being whipped across the waves.

The beauty about Alvor, I find, is everything is within 10 minutes walking distance. So, I head back into town for a shopping trip, passing by the blink-and-you’ll miss it entrance to the kids play park, which is in the old castle walls, before visiting the municipal market for some fresh fruit.

There are plenty of restaurants in the village, including two of my favourites – the tiny Piccolo Mondo which serves the best garlic bread I’ve ever had, and the non-flashy O Arco Da Velha, which has delicious prawn curry on the menu.

But, I decide to round off my road trip back at the beach. At the 5 Quinas, or 5 Crowns, the waiter brings me the fish-of-the-day to look at before it’s expertly grilled and brought back to my table to be filleted. Bay-leaf infused olive oil is then drizzled on my seabass, which I accompany with a crisp glass of Planalto.

It’s the perfect spot for families as it’s right on the dunes. So, while I’ve pushed the boat out with my last meal, there’s also a snack menu for little ones and, parents are able to dine in peace while they watch their children playing on the beach. There can be no better way to end a holiday than sitting here, watching the sun go down over the headland.

*This post was sponsored by Jet2Holidays

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29 Nov

I’m back from Adelaide! I could have done some blogging when I was over there, but I couldn’t be bothered. Sorry. I didn’t even check my emails. I was too busy spending time with Jess and the kids.

We walked around the airport before departing to expend some of the seemingly endless toddler and preschooler energy. Both kids LOVED looking at all the planes.

“Is that our plane? Is that our plane? Can we get on it now Mommy?” Hannah kept asking me.

Hannah was very good on the flight. She ate her snacks and looked out the window. Only at the end did she start with the “are we there yet? Are we there yet? Mommy when are we going to be there?” questions. Daniel on the other hand….

Daniel was quite tired. I got the flight that departed just before his bed time, if you remember. Unfortunately, he didn’t sleep a wink, and instead was very grumpy. Luckily though, he didn’t scream. As long as I was rocking and/or bouncing him. The. Entire. Time. Sigh. My back was killing me by the time we arrived, but at least I didn’t have a screaming child and all of the plane staring at me with annoyance.  Although I’m sure the poor lady who got stuck sitting next to us must have been annoyed with all the bouncing. And with Daniel reaching behind himself to push buttons on her keyboard without my knowledge. Cheeky monkey.

I’m so glad the flight was pretty fast. It even arrived 10 minutes early.

Getting off the plane

We were going to ride the bus everywhere during our stay, until we found out that the bus to the zoo cost $20 per person per direction. Hiring car seats cost $35 per seat for a week.

Chasing Meerkats that were running from side to side in their enclosure was a favourite activity at the zoo. Apparently Daniel LOVES animals. Even the cardboard cut outs of animals.

The meerkat was not very cooperative with the camera, but the kids were running after it as it ran from one side of it’s glass sided enclosure to the other.

We went strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm where Daniel tried to eat green strawberries and had tantrums when I wouldn’t let him.

The Jess, Me, and the kids strawberry picking

The Jess lives in a swish new apartment in a brand new building right across the street from a beautiful beach. Daniel had a blast chasing seagulls back and forth along the beach (hmm…I sense a pattern here) and playing in a tide pool while Hannah enjoyed making sandcastles and collecting sea shells.

Daniel playing in the water

The Jess and I even got a couple of runs in whilst the kids were asleep (don’t go calling CPS/DOCS, Jim stayed in the apartment with the kids). I think I’d go running everyday if I lived at the beach. Beach runs are awesome. 

The view from our run. This photo was taken while I was running….

The Jess’ apartment is crazy long, so the kids had a ball running up and down the crazy long hallway, chasing each other and giggling. She had her birthday while we were there (the purpose of our visit) and Hannah and I made her a super delicious black forest brownie cake. My own creation.

The Jess blowing out her sparkler candles

The one day The Jess had to work while we were there, I took the kids on the bus to a shopping centre. I got their hair cut (Daniel’s for the very first time!), and then took them to the little playground inside the centre.

And then this happened:

The egg on his head.

Daniel was so excited about the little toddler sized slide in the play area that he would go up the stairs, down the slide and then run around to the stairs again. On about his 10th pass to the slide, he tripped and went forehead first into the pointy end of the wall on the side of the slide stairs.

I had to find a doctor, convince him to see us even though they didn’t have any free appointments, and pay some money because they didn’t bulk bill.

Then, because I had to take Daniel to the doctor, my two hour bus ticket expired and I didn’t have enough cash to pay for another ticket.

“I’ll just go to the ATM and get the next bus.” I told the driver.

But everyone is nice in South Australia (everyone I encountered at least), and he let me ride the bus for free.

The Jess sometimes refers to Adelaide as Radelaide. Because you know what? It’s pretty rad. People are nice, it’s clean, there are really awesome parks all over the place, great beaches, etc., etc. I really like Adelaide. Maybe I’d be singing a different tune if I’d visited in the height of summer where they have heat waves for days on end with temps over 40 degrees (104f). Ick.

Hmmm… WordPress seems to have changed their media uploading page. I can’t find the slideshow button, so you get a gallery instead. It’s so annoying when they change stuff and you have to relearn how to do everything. Humph.

Anyway, the verdict on flying at bedtime or when fully awake? Fully awake hands down. On the way home, we went to the airport straight after Daniel’s nap. He sat in my lap nicely the whole time, eating snacks, playing with his dinosaurs, and watching Peppa Pig on the iPad. Not a whinge was heard, nor was he at all restless. I didn’t even feel bad playing Peppa Pig without headphones because there was a family sitting in front of us, and guess what their kids did the entire flight? Yep, Peppa Pig on the iPad.

Sorry if there are spelling mistakes or sentences that don’t make sense. I’m tired, so I’m going to bed without proof reading it. Oh well. Also, please click the banner and vote for me. My rank is falling since I haven’t been posting. Pretty please? Thanks.

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Planning European Holiday Adventures

15 Nov

If you were to head on a big European adventure, where would you go? Would your chosen destination differ if you had the kids in tow? Europe, and Britain in particular are perhaps destinations that are creeping more firmly up people’s ‘to-do’ lists after the recent Olympics. But if you are going to trek all that way, is it better to hit multiple destinations, or to try and pack in as many adventures as possible? Here are a few ideas for those considering hitting three of the region’s top tourist destinations; England, France and Spain.


The Olympics placed London firmly in the spotlight, but there’s plenty going on in the North of England too. If your little ones are Harry Potter fans, you should consider checking out Alnwick Castle in Northumberland where many of the scenes from the movies were filmed. It’s a lovely, scenic town near the coast and the perfect antidote to a busy life. However, if you are planning for far off in the future and it’s an action-packed holiday you are after, you might be interested to learn that Paramount pictures have unveiled plans for a new theme park in Kent (see, here). This would be very conveniently placed for anyone who fancied doing a double destination trip and hopping over the channel to France.


Visiting as a couple, Paris is usually at the top of people’s to-do list, along with a trip up the Eiffel Tower and a look round the Louvre. Of course, the capital has plenty to offer families too, and Disneyland Paris is an adventure in itself. That said, for a longer but still fun-filled break, there are cheaper options. Camping holidays in France can be very rewarding – particularly in the South, where the combination of good weather, good wine and family oriented holiday parks is a winning combination.


Spain is a well-trodden path for package holidays, but there is also a wealth of culture to be explored. If you’re thinking of having a family holiday in Spain, a trip to the Catalonian capital of Barcelona has something for all of the family – good food, great beaches, beautiful architecture and of course, lots of opportunities for learning – like a visit to the Picasso Museum.

This guest post is published in association with www.keycamp.co.uk, the family holidays and camping holidays specialist in the UK.

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Maybe I’m crazy

5 Oct

I’m excited and terrified all at the same time.

The kids and I are going to visit The Jess. You may remember The Jess is my sister in law, who also happens to be my best friend (besides my cousin Jennifer, but I haven’t seen her in 4 years). I used to see The Jess at least once per week. Her husband thinks we’re co-dependant. At least he did. Before they moved to Adelaide. Sigh. I miss The Jess.

It’s been a couple of months since she moved. I haven’t seen her since. At least I’ve been busying myself with going to the gym and bible study, and junior jivers (a playgroup), and kindy gym.

The Jess’ birthday is in November, so it’s the perfect time to visit. She lives across the street from the beach by the way.

I’m terrified of the plane ride. Ugh. Visions of flying with Hannah by myself to the U.S. are filling my head. I had nicely repressed those memories for the last year.

She hardly slept the whole flight, we spent half of it walking the aisle, and she wouldn’t eat anything. On the way back, she vomited all over me during turbulence, and everyone spent the rest of the flight smelling it and wondering loudly where the smell was coming from. As if I was going to tell anyone it was me. How did I not write a blog post about that?

Anyway, that was hard enough with 1, but now I’ve got two. Daniel doesn’t like to stay put for 2 seconds and I can’t exactly walk the aisles on a domestic flight. People don’t really do that.  Even if I could, what would I do with Hannah? Leave her by herself at her seat watching cartoons? Make her follow me up and down the aisles? What if Hannah has to pee? We’ll somehow all have to fit in the tiny bathroom as I try to make sure Hannah doesn’t fall in the toilet at the same time dissuade Daniel from shoving his hands in the bin, unrolling the toilet paper, banging on the door, and causing all sorts of mischief I haven’t even thought of.

What if he won’t hold still and spends the whole flight screaming and writhing around in my lap, kicking and pushing on my hands that are trying to keep him from getting off of my lap? What if they both decide to be cranky and scream the whole time?

I guess then I’d be that mom. That person that everyone looks at with disgusted looks on their faces, wondering why, OH WHY did she bring 2 little kids on their flight?

I think Hannah will be easy. Just give her the iPad and let her watch Mickey Mouse. She’d love that.

But if Daniel sees Hannah with the iPad, he’ll want the iPad. Because, you know, computers, iPads, and phones are like the best thing ever when you’re 1. He will whinge and point and throw himself towards that seemingly magical iPad that he so badly wants to poke. When he isn’t allowed to have it, he will throw himself backwards, bashing his head against my face, whilst screaming. Seriously, that is what he does.

So yeah, I’m sure we’ll have a great time in Adelaide, but getting there (and home again)…. Sigh. Maybe I’m crazy to even try.

How do you fly by yourself with 2 little kids? What is your secret?

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“Mommy poop!”

4 Apr

I was really surprised with our flight from Seattle to Los Angeles.  Hannah confined on my lap for 2.5 hours, not being allowed to walk up and down the aisle like we do on the long haul flight….  I was having nightmares just thinking about it.  Our LA to Seattle flight was after the long flight from Sydney, so she just slept, buggered from sleeping only 2 hours the whole flight.  This time though, the flight was at 5:30pm.  Not time for sleep yet, just time for play.

Luckily, a lovely lady from my women’s bible study group suggested I bring Play-Doh.  I hadn’t actually considered bringing Play-Doh before that, but I went out and bought some the day before we left on our big trip.  As soon as we reached cruising altitude and the seat belt sign was switched off, I got out that lovely little jar of blue Play-Doh.  Hannah sat on my lap, poking, prodding, and squishing the Play-Doh on the tray table.   She played with it for an entire hour.  I don’t think one single thing has grasped her attention for one whole hour ever, in her entire life.  Apart from sleep of course.  And rough-housing with Daddy.

When we got to L.A.  I had to…um…go….  What can I say, when you are going to be travelling for 24 hours door to door, you are bound to have to poop sometime.  Ugh.  I hate pooping in public.  When I was little, we’d go camping and I couldn’t poop the entire trip.  An entire week.  I’ve gotten much better since then, but still I have issues pooping in public.  Having Hannah makes it easier of course.  If there is a smell, no one knows it was me, people assume it was her.  It’s one of the many benefits of being a parent.  If I accidentally break wind in public, loud or not, I can blame Hannah, and no one will ever know.  And being a pregnant woman, by the third trimester, I’m sure this will not be an unusual event…

I do prefer to get one of the one room only toilets so there aren’t a million people waiting in line, knowing how long you’ve been in there, possibly hearing the plop, knowing what I am doing in there.  No.  Thank.  You.  I found a parents room.  A one room, one door, lock when you go in, parents room.  It was occupied.  Humph.  We waited.  And waited.  No one was coming out.  Maybe they had a public poop phobia too (yay, I’m not the only one!).  I waited some more.  Nothing.  I waited for almost 10 minutes.  Hannah kept saying very loudly “someone in there!  Someone in there!”

I gave up.  We went to the normal, a million stall, way too many people waiting in line, knowing how long you’ve been in there, women’s bathroom.  We took the disabled stall, the only one I could fit in with the pram.  All was well, it was loud in there, toilets flushing every 2 seconds, hand dryers and water taps running all the time.  No one could hear anything.  I still didn’t feel too comfortable, but you know, it wasn’t as bad as those 3 stall toilets where you can hear the person next to you breathing.

“Mommy pee.”  Hannah said.

“Yeah, mommy’s peeing sweetie.”

But then I was still sitting there.  Going in public makes it harder to actually…go.

“Mommy poop!”  Hannah exclaimed loudly.

Oh. My. Gosh.  I nearly died.

“Mommy going poo-poo!”  She wouldn’t stop.  She seemed super-excited that she knew what I was doing and that she could vocalise it for all to hear.

“Shhh…”  I said to Hannah to no avail.

I couldn’t do it.  How could I possibly poop in public when my cheeky little daughter was actually announcing that fact to the world?  Sigh.  I was about to have a toddler sleeping on me for many hours on a long flight, not to mention a little boy baby who enjoys kicking my insides.  Add to this a full intestine, and I was going to have a very uncomfortable flight.  Humph.
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Pike Place market with a toddler

31 Mar
Pike place market sign

another sign shot with the sun behind it

Pike Place Market is a busy place.  My Dad, Mom and I took Hannah there on Friday.  Since we’ve been here, she hasn’t wanted to be strapped in anything. Not shopping trolleys, car seats, the pram, or otherwise.  But there were so many people and so much to see that she happily stayed in her pram and took everything in.  No cries of “Mommy up!  Mommy out!” or anything of the sort were heard.

Vendors were everywhere, selling everything you could think of, from flowers to hot fresh apple cider (which is delicious, and only $1.50 a cup!) to t-shirts.  There were tons of flower vendors.  I’m not sure how all of them possibly made enough money, but I suppose they somehow did or they wouldn’t be there.  We saw the famous fish throwers, and tried some chocolate pasta (tasty, by the way).  They had all kinds of fruits and vegetables, spices, hand made trinkets, clothes, and jewelery.  People were wandering about everywhere.

It’s kind of hard to manouvre a pram through the large crowds in the small aisles, especially if you are there with other people,

tourist taking photos

Dad taking photos

but that’s part of the fun. Often, I lost my parents in the crowd.  Hannah and I would just stay put, taking photos while we waited for them to find us.  It was easier for them to look for us, since they didn’t have to negotiate foot traffic with a pram like I did.

There isn’t really a lot for a toddler to do at Pike Place, but seeing everything seems to be enough amusement.  Plus, I bought Hannah a punnet of fresh blueberries which she happily munched on while we slowly looked at everything.  There is a grassy bit of land just outside the market that overlooks a freeway and the Puget Sound, where you can see ferries coming in and out and let rambunctious toddlers go for a run.

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Travelling is hard

17 Feb

So, as I told you before (well, I think I did, I do have baby brain, so I can’t really be sure), Hannah and I are going to the U.S. so she can meet my family for the first time.  I know, you’re thinking ‘but you’re pregnant, shouldn’t you wait until after you have the other baby so they can both meet your parents?’  Yeah, that seems like a good idea, BUT, then we’d have to pay 2 adult fares (because there is NO WAY I could handle 2 kids on a long flight and through airports all by myself), and a 75% child fare because Hannah will be 2 by then.  This way, we can get over there before the magical no-one-will-sell-you-travel-insurance 26 week mark, and it will be my parents turn to visit us next, so we’ll have many years to save up the enormous amount of cash it costs to fly a family of four overseas.  Hang on, it’s my parents turn to visit this time.  Hmmm….

Before we can travel, there were a few things we needed to take care of.   First off, I’m allowed to stay in the country, but I wasn’t really allowed to return if I left.  My visa expired….  Sigh, that means a trip to immigration, and a rather steep fee to get a Resident Return Visa.  Humph, I guess I should have just gotten my citizenship ages ago when I first took the test.  Oh well, live and learn.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so cheap.

I also had to get Hannah’s birth certificate so I could get her a passport.  Yeah yeah, I should have ordered a birth certificate when I registered her birth (as most people do), but that cost money, and I didn’t need it at the time, and I couldn’t be bothered filling out all the paper work.

Lucky for me, both the Births, Deaths, and Marriages, and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMIA) offices are in Parramatta.  I decided to get up early, and get to the BDM at opening time, 8am, then walk to DIMIA.  I was going to bring Hannah, but it was supposed to be ridiculously hot that day, so I left her at home with Grandma.

Getting the birth certificate was easy, I had it in hand by 8:10.  I walked to DIMIA, only to find that it had moved.  3 years ago.  Sigh.  Found the new office and discovered it didn’t open until 9.  Humph, I thought it opened at 8:30.  There were already 4 guys sitting in the only chairs available, waiting for 9am when we were allowed to go up the lift up to Immigration.  A security guard sat at a portable desk next to the elevators reading a magazine.  I assumed he was there to keep us foreigners out of the lifts before 9am, ensuring all the people who actually worked in the building could get up to their floors.  Not that he did a very good job.

A pair of immigrants came in and went in the lift.  I knew at a glance that they didn’t work there, but did the security guard say anything?  Nope, he was busy, reading his magazine.  They went up the lift and came back down a few minutes later, to loiter around with the growing number of the rest of us.

By quarter to 9, the lobby was pretty full of us immigrants.  I felt rather out of place being the only caucasian person, as well as the only person under 40ish in the entire room.  At 8:55, everyone suddenly made a mad rush for the elevators.  Not that we could go up yet.  There was nothing said.  It was just like BANG, and everyone rushed in.  I, of course, ended up near the back of the orderly-ish line, since I had been sitting near the chairs, not obstructing the path of the office workers getting to the elevators in any way.  A whole bunch of people were standing at the sides of the line.  The men who were there before me were also at the back of the line.  Seriously, what are these people thinking?  Why do they think they have the right to go first when some of us have been waiting for half an hour?

The security guard didn’t say a word.  His magazine was obviously very enthralling.

9am – the doors to the lift opened.  It was like there was a million dollars in the elevator and only one person, the first person in there, could have it.  Or maybe like a mosh pit when the band comes on stage.  Everyone surged forward.  The people at the sides of the line rushed in front.  Still, the security guard said nothing.  Instead, he started packing up, completely ignoring the chaos that was right in front of him.  All the foreigners were allowed upstairs now, there was no need for him, he could be on his merry way. What the heck did they employ him for?  He did nothing!  I wanted to yell at him.  I wanted to yell at all the rude people cutting in the line, pushing and shoving, desperate to be first to get up to immigration, to get in line there to take a number and do more waiting.

“Seriously people, I have been here for HALF AN HOUR!  And those guys over there?  Yeah, those ones.  They were here before me!  What makes you think you can waltz in here 5 minutes before opening time and shove your way in?”  Of course I didn’t say that because a) I’m a wuss bag b) I’m pregnant and didn’t want to be punched in the stomach, and c) they probably didn’t speak english anyway.  I HATE it when people cut in line!  It’s so rude!  Like when you’re at the bus stop and then the bus comes and a person who just got there jumps on the bus as soon as the doors open.  They of course get the last seat and you have to stand.  RUDE!  Lines people, it’s called a line for a reason. WAIT YOUR TURN!

Anyway, the immigration people were super nice to me and didn’t even look at my application form, opting instead to look at my passport, take my money and put in the new visa.  I was out of there before anyone else.  Haha suckers!

Then I had to fill out Hannah’s passport application form.  That was going well until I accidentally wrote my name instead of hers after filling it half way out.  Humph.  I traipsed all the way to the post office to get another one.  That one was going extremely well (haha, name box, you won’t get me again!) until the very end, when I witnessed Aaron’s signature and he witnessed mine.  Then I read that the witness has to be someone not related to the applicant, and not living in the same house hold.  Snap.  Guess I should read things before signing them.  I went all the way to the post office again to get a new form.

Third time lucky.  Finally, I got it right.  I went to get Hannah’s photo taken.  It looked pretty shocking, but whatever.  I went to pay. I rummaged through my purse.  Sigh, I forgot my wallet.  I told him I’d pick up the photos the next day and pay for them.  When I got home, I had a look at the photo guidelines.  Mouth must be shut, eyebrows must be showing.  Humph, her mouth was open, and her fringe was over her eyebrows.

The next day I went back.  I told them my concerns about the photos and the lady looked pretty annoyed.  Not at me, at the person who took them.  “You told him it was for a passport?”  “Yeah, I said ‘Hi, I need a passport photo for my daughter.'”  New lady was really nice and took better, acceptable photos of Hannah.  She had me put a little piece of food in her mouth so it would remain closed while she took her photo.

Phew, sent off the application.  I got it back today.  Yay!

I booked the e-tickets online.  When they hit my inbox, I nearly died.  Ok, not really, that’s an exaggeration, but you know.  The ticket said we get 3 pieces of luggage Sydney to L.A., but then none from L.A. to Seattle and Seattle to L.A.  What, was I supposed to haul everything all that way and then ditch it at the airport?  Sure, I used to work as a travel agent and know all about interline carriers and whatnot, but V Australia wasn’t around when I was a travel agent, and I remember clients coming in and telling me that they had to pay extra for bags in the U.S.  I’m pretty sure that those were separate flights, not all one ticket like mine, but I can’t remember, that was so long ago, and I have baby brain!

Many calls to V Australia later (they don’t seem to believe in holding until someone is available), and they told me it was a mistake, lucky I called otherwise Alaskan airlines might not have accepted our bags, and that they’d send me a new, correct ticket.  Awesome.  Still annoying though.

When I got Hannah’s passport, I had to apply for the visa waiver program for her.  Yeah, yeah, she could be a US citizen, but you know what?  That would mean I’d have to buy another passport, register her birth with the U.S. government, and get more photos taken (because the U.S. and Australia don’t use the same size photos for passports.  Annoying.).  Too much effort, too much money, no thank you.  She can do it later if she needs it for something.  The option is always going to be there.  Unless the U.S. suddenly hates Australia or something, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

We now have all of our documents taken care of (well, I do need to actually print some things out, but I’ll do that later), and we will be on our way in less than a month.  Watch out Washington (state, not D.C., they are, in fact, different places, contrary to popular Australian belief), we’re coming for you!

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