Thursday, 19 May 2011

Onward to Brisbane

The next thrilling installment in my saga is our drive from Sydney to Brisbane. We thought that it would be easier to drive a couple of hours north to visit my Dad, stay there overnight, then continue the rest of the way the next morning. I don't know that it was any easier in the end, but it was great to catch up with my Dad and the rest of the family.

We ended up getting away from Sydney a little later than I had wanted (story of my life), but only by an hour or so. We still managed to get out before the Friday exodus hit the F3.When we got to Dad's place, we were greeted by him, my sisters and my Grandma. Dad's wife, The Fitness Junkie, was at a Step Into Life fitness class. Technically, The Fitness Junkie is my stepmother, but she doesn't like being referred to as that because it makes her think of the evil stepmother out of Cinderella, so if I'm not referring to her by name, I always describe her as being Dad's wife. I have always gotten on really well with The Fitness Junkie (which surprises a lot of people) - she makes Dad happy and that's all I have ever wanted for him. It helps that she is also a really cool person with a good sense of humour. The Fitness Junkie started going to Step Into Life classes a bit over a year ago and has lost a shedload of weight since then. I'm actually finding her to be a bit of an inspiration to make more positive changes in my own life.

Anyway, we decided to go to the local bowls club for dinner. Once The Fitness Junkie was home, showered and ready, we all loaded up in our various cars and headed out. We spent our evening eating Chinese for dinner and watching the royal wedding on the TV's around us. Dad had set up the VCR to record the wedding for us at home, but the channel he had it set up for cut over to the football halfway through. The boys had a great time spending the evening with their aunties. To be honest, I love that their aunties love spending so much time with them because it means that I get to tune out for a bit. My sisters are much younger than me - 11 and 9 years old. I love getting to catch up with them and it's great that they are still young enough to want to play with Seagull and Wombat without thinking that it's uncool. I'm going to lap that up for as long as it lasts.

We set off the next morning via my Aunty and Uncle's place. The last time I had seen them was when Seagull was about 6 months old. It was only meant to be a very quick stop, but my cousins and aunty love babies and little children so much that an hour had passed before I realised. Funnily enough, it's my 16 year old male cousin that loves babies the most out of my three cousins. The one that wants to be an infantry officer in the army. Go figure.

Once we got on the road again, it was only about another hour until we had to stop for lunch. While we were stopped, Thunder Maker pointed out a "huge truck" to Seagull. For the rest of the trip, every truck we saw was a "huuuge truck".

That evening, in the middle of nowhere, Wombat decided that it was dinner time for him. Unfortunately for him, we made him wait another 20 minutes until we got to Ballina. Of course, it started pissing down rain the instant we pulled up in the McDonald's car park, so I had to get Wombat out of the car whilst trying to keep us both as dry as possible. As soon as we got inside, it settled down again. Seagull had had a gutfull by this stage, so I told Thunder Maker to take him outside to play in the play area while I got some milk into Wombat.

Fortunately for us, both boys were getting sleepy by the time we got back in the car. I called my friend that we were going to be staying with to tell her where we were and she told us that we were still about 3 hours away. Given that we weren't going to get to her place before 11pm, I told her that if she wanted, she could go to bed and we'd call when we were about 10 minutes away.

The last time I'd been in a car that was driving up that way was about 12 years ago, so I was really freaked out that there is now a bypass from Tweed Heads South into Queensland, so that you don't need to go through Tweed Heads itself or Coolangatta. In fact, the motorway was a really nice drive at the time we were doing it - hardly any traffic at all. I was operating the GPS setting on my phone and it ended up working out quite well. It helps that all the exits off the motorway were conveniently numbered.

We spent the next two days visiting our friend. She is originally from Sydney, but moved up to Brisbane at the beginning of this year. We had all been lamenting that we wouldn't get to see each other very much any more, so she was really thrilled when we asked if we could stay with her for a couple of days. We all had a great time catching up and Seagull had a wonderful time playing with her dogs.

While we were there, I decided that Seagull needed a pair of sandals. It was way too warm for the poor child to be running around with socks and runners on (it was getting up to 27 - 28 degrees during the day) and he had outgrown the pair of sandals he'd worn through summer, so I set out on a mission to find weather-appropriate footwear. After much searching, I found a pair of sandals at Payless shoes. He will have outgrown them by the time it gets warm enough to wear them again, but I figure that for a pair of shoes that got worn for two weeks, Wombat can have them when his feet are large enough to fit in them.

By the way folks, if none of this is making much sense, I apologise. My head feels like it is stuffed with cotton wool at the moment - all fuzzy around the edges. Stay tuned for the next thrilling installment of our trip - Brisbane to Rockhampton.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sydney or bust

You may have noticed that things have been very quiet in the Mother Moments corner recently. Maybe noticed some tumbleweed rolling past, that sort of thing. The family and I have just returned from a holiday/my uni residential. Normally we would fly up to Rockhampton, but as my res school was so close to Easter and Thunder Maker wanted to go to Sydney to spend some time with his Mum, we decided to just continue driving.

Our three week sojourn started with a drive from our home in Victoria up to Sydney. We've done it in one go a few times before and it normally takes us about 10 hours. I had a very carefully arranged schedule of everything I wanted to get done in the lead-up to going away. I did not take into account the fact that I always get very stressed out prior to leaving home and my usual mode of operation in these situations is to go into ostrich mode. Long story short, I left everything to the last minute and instead of getting away at 7am, we finally pulled out of our driveway at about 11am.

We stopped for a few hours on the way at my Mum's place. It was great for my Mum and stepfather to see the kids - they last saw us in January and Wombat has grown a lot since then. It was also great that the kids got to spend some time with their Granny and Pop. Mum cooked us a really awesome dinner - we had a combination of cold prawns and chilli and garlic prawns for starters and salmon on a bed of cooked tomato and some other veggies that escape my memory. We discovered that Seagull is a big fan of cooked prawns. Leaving Mum's place coincided quite nicely with when the boys would normally go to sleep, so they slept for most of the way up to Sydney, only waking briefly when we moved them from the car to inside.

When we stay in Sydney, we stay in a really nice two bedroom unit that is owned by my mother-in-law. We're very fortunate that she has decided not to rent it out and it stays empty except for when she decides to stay there or we are up in Sydney. Thunder Maker used to live there and I moved in with him when I moved to Sydney. It's always nice to go back there, especially with our boys. It's especially nice to have our own space when we are in the area. We would drive my MIL absolutely batty if we stayed with her for a whole week. As much as she loves to see us, especially the boys, she really likes her private space and we are the same.

 This is the view from the lounge room of the unit.

We spent most of the next week visiting my MIL. The boys really enjoyed spending time with their Omi. My MIL is from Germany, hence why she chose to be called Omi. We have all been pretty worried about her, as she was really sick at the beginning of the year. After a couple of weeks spent in hospital, the doctors worked out that she has Wagner's granulomatosis. Basically, it's an auto-immune disease that attacks the lungs and kidneys and the diagnosis is determined when a whole heap of other stuff is ruled out. Sometimes it only affects the lungs and that's what we were hoping for at first, but it became evident a few days after the diagnosis was made that my MIL's kidneys were affected too. She was on dialysis for a few weeks, but has since been taken off it and seems to be coping quite well without it. Anyway, we are now more aware of the need to make sure that she gets to see the boys as often as we can manage it. It's hard, given that we live so far away, but we would really like to make sure that the boys have as much of an opportunity as possible to develop a relationship with their Omi.

While we were visiting my MIL, we tried to show Seagull the little ring tailed possum that had taken up residence in the wisteria vine covering her tennis court fence. I'm not too sure that he could really see it, even though it woke up and looked at us all. Our dog certainly noticed it though. Fortunately, it was up too high for her to get at. We also had a surprise visit from the boys' aunty and uncle. They are both teachers and were supposed to be away on holidays, but they decided to come back home early and dropped over to my MIL's place one day to catch up with us all. The funny thing is that Seagull was saying their names that morning, even though it has been ages since we have mentioned them to him. I was telling him that we wouldn't see them while we were visiting, then they just happened to be there that day when we got to my MIL's place.

We also decided to take the boys to the Sydney Aquarium. As you may be aware from one of my previous posts, Seagull loves "fishies". He was very excited to see all of the fish at the aquarium. He especially loved going through the walkways where the roof and walls are all part of the tank. He loved it when the sharks and zoom fish (sting rays) swam overhead. I loved it when the dugongs swam overhead.

At the end of our week in Sydney, we started to make our way up to Rockhampton. Over the next however many days it takes me to get around to writing it all down, I'll write up more about it, including some classic one-liners from Seagull during the drive.