A HIDDEN GEM NEAR BRISVEGAS

***** PHOTOS TO BE UPLOADED WHEN MY INTERNET BEHAVES***

Imagine closing your eyes for just a moment and as you take your first bite of the food on your plate you are transported thousands of kilometres away to Greece, or Italy, or Spain…..

Today was such a day. We live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and we headed off this morning to Brisbane to deliver a training session for my Certificate 4 in Fitness. It was a great morning, although by the time we had finished training and chatting the day away it was well after 1pm and the natives were getting restless. It would have been easy to pick up something less than ideal at a take away store or service station but we all knew we would hate the dismal choice of vegetarian food and regret how it made us feel afterwards.

Instead we headed for Mt Gravatt Westfield Shopping Centre and headed to the food court outside. There were choices beyond belief – Italian, thai, burgers, mexican, the list goes on, but if we were paying for lunch out we wanted something fresh and delicious to make it worthwhile. Miss 16 went looking at menus whilst we did the same and she came scurrying back to tell us about a funky looking mediterranean restaurant serving some pretty delightful morsels.

We were greeted with impeccable service immediately and shown to a great table that backed on to the new fountain area in the outdoor food court area. The décor made us feel like we were far from suburbia and the energy was classy and relaxed (despite us being donned in workout gear), and no one could feel out of place. Our drink orders were taken and filled promptly, but we didn’t feel pressured to order quickly and make rash decisions.

The menu was spectacular and well-priced, with plenty of choices for all dietary requirements. The tapas menu was extensive and quite well thought out we felt. Our mouths were watering before the food was even chosen and served. We ordered 6 tapas items which for $45 we found well priced, and the serves were quite reasonable in size. We ordered Arancini Balls, Haloumi, and Breads with Dips and each were made with unique flavours leaving us wanting to just have more of the same. For mains Kevin and I shared a delicious salad with buffalo mozzarella, a chicken and salad (yes rare for us as we have been vegetarian for 3 years now, but decided to have this today – lovely meal but meat won’t become a staple in our house for the foreseeable future…content for another blogpost). Mackenzie had a pasta dish that left her very quiet and very content, and after a taste I understand why – it resembled much of the delicious pasta we had in Italy. Lauren had a pasta and scallop risotto that had a similar effect on her, she is quite the seafood lover and although I would love to try it, I am horribly allergic. The wine I had was a delicious Rose from France and worth every cent! So delicious was everything I recommend the food without hesitation!

The owners both work front of house and we found out that the chef is well trained in his art, and that this is definitely not his first rodeo – definitely evident in the food. The owner even took the time to sit by us and get to know us, telling us about the restaurants origins and the vision they had for it. I like when you get to know who you are supporting and it’s even better when they take the time to get to know their customers, something I feel is missing in so many venues now and definitely play a role in where we choose to spend our money.

Not once did we ever feel rushed the whole time we were there, which is a particularly European and Mediterranean way of eating and serving others. If you ask me these beautiful people have all aspects very very right and we will definitely go back again not just for the service and food, but for the sensational and artistic desserts we didn’t have room for (and for the really interesting dessert cocktails more appropriate when we don’t have kids with us). If you are ever down that way, definitely pop in and see them, or make a special trip – you won’t be disappointed.

Do you have a favourite place to eat that is just like you are overseas? Please tell me about it, I would love to hear.

ARE YOU ALL IN?

I don’t know about you but I am totally into podcasts and those awesome little videos on you tube designed to give you a motivational boost or help you see something from a different perspective. I used to think of these methods of learning as totally outrageous in that it felt like you weren’t connected to the people delivering it, but I look back now and realise that mostly I felt un-tech-saavy and far too distracted for such pursuits. I soon came to learn however that these tools just had a different look but had the potential to help me move through different situations in life with new and fresh perspective. I began with podcasts from people who lived on the coast but were well known further afield, but after a year or so I found their messages to lack a certain ‘realness’ that had been there in their early days, leaving me feeling disappointed. I realised though that it was my needs that were changing, so I began to listen to podcasts like Rebelology, Straight & Curly, and Happier with Gretchen Rubin and watching You Tube clips from people like Prince Ea, Alexi Panos, and Preston Smiles, and it has got me thinking about whose dreams I’m chasing.

20160810-235158.jpg

Alexi Panos did a fantastic (and very short so its nice and bite-sized) video on commitment, and the difference between having a really good idea and the actuality of actually committing to it. The point she made was that often we get stuck in the planning phase, analysing the processes, the what ifs, the weaving of the safety net in case it all goes wrong and you fall on your face. We get so stuck in this phase though that we completely miss all the opportunities that are in front of us because we are frozen by the things that scare and challenge us. Brene Brown has also made an entire career out of the research of people who are ‘in the arena’ as opposed to judging from the sidelines.

I must admit that for quite some time now my life has cascaded into this Grand Canyon of beautiful chaos, which has meant that I am painting about 5 or more different pictures with no focus on any one potential masterpiece. That is to say that my attention is split in too many different directions and instead of being all in, I’m all in tangles, and I must say I don’t like it one little bit. My mojo is far more Chill 101 than it is Hyperzone 4000!. I’m proud to say that I have been letting go of alot of distractions that no longer serve me or the people I am trying to help because I don’t have a passion for it, but there are lots of areas I can improve upon.

You cannot be ‘all in’ for something if you are splitting your attention 5 ways, you have to get to a point where you choose – and thats exactly where I am headed. It helps to have a clear plan. Particularly when your clear plan is to move overseas away from everything familiar, so here it goes, this is my commit-list.

Complete my Certificate 4 in Fitness
Complete my Diploma in Nursing Specialisation
Develop my website for our 2 year overseas adventure for 2019
Grow my Health Program business

The great thing about the items in my commit-list is that they all culminate in the creation of what I am truly passionate about – health plans that put the planning back in the clients hands…empowering self choice and decision making. Its my “top pot” – my one big thing that I am ALL IN on. You see the difference between a great idea and the outcome of that idea is ACTION.

20160810-235403.jpg

IMPERFECT PARENT

I approach school holidays each time with grandiose expectations of being a super balanced mamma by ensuring I get time off, and devote all that time off to super-mumming with baking, teaching those important life skills (don’t ask, I still haven’t figured out exactly what those are), and generally doing things that make me more like all those “normal” mums out there so my children can grow up well adjusted and without too many psychological scars needing therapy later on. Then every school holidays I fall flat on my arse because I haven’t lived up to these expectations. Instead I end up with no holidays per say, spend my time doing chores, running the kids to the stuff they want to do without me because they didn’t realised I had a day off, and of course like many other Nurse mums (as in the medical kind not the breast feeding kind – that horse bolted after 9 months of all-day-sickness) I spend some of that time catching up on sleep that ran away and hid on those work days I needed it most.

20160708-013641.jpg

Lets be real though, although many of us feel we have some standard to live up to, most if it is either in our own heads, or is laid out by someone who really has no weight in your life. Either way it’s pretty fucked up and serves no purpose whatsoever. The only thing that comes out of paying attention to it is a whole lot of self loathing, self reprimand, and disappointment. Life isn’t meant to be evenly balanced, and postcard perfect. It’s messy, late, painful and so much more that comes with the good. So I’m beginning to be more understanding of myself and accept that I am still enough, even when the picture in my head doesn’t match up. A good point to make is also that I am a complex being with complex needs and desires in my life, and they don’t all revolve around my children.

20160708-013837.jpg

I love my kids dearly and both my daughters know that, on the other hand I am an individual with goals and dreams and aspirations and they understand that too. They have a deep respect that I choose to get p every day and dedicate a significant amount of care and emotion and time to my patients. My kids have seen me in action and they tell me often that they live and respect me for what I do in my work day, and although I do it because I love it, the honest truth is that because I work hard at what I do it allows us to have some amazing experiences with our girls that a tight budget wouldn’t fit.

20160708-013608.jpg

So these holidays we haven’t done heaps with only having a few consecutive days off, but I’ve packed in plenty I think. So the first week of the holidays we decided we would do some stuff close to home (aka no further than Brisbane since we live on the Sunshine Coast). One one day I took the girls in to Brisbane to enjoy The Science Centre (yes we are science nerds in our family), and found that for a small amount more we could also go into the Interactive Dinosaur display. If course that was after spending well over an hour looking for a parking lot with spaces – no one told me “Out of the Box” was on and all I wanted was someone to get “Out of the Carpark” before I became manic.

20160708-012749.jpg

We chose the Sciencentre first and the kids love it every time we go. My mum joined us for a girls day out and also loved it, getting in and exploring the experiments with us. Mackenzies favourite thing is the “Speed Challenge” where she has to try and beat the speed of a super fast sprinter. Lauren’s favourite I’m sure is the “Illusion Room” where the room appears normal but is sloped and makes you appear to be growing into a giant. My favourite one is the “Giant Table and Chairs” that let you experience what life must be like for a toddler. Of course everyone loves the “Human Head for Dinner” that makes your head look like its the main course, of course it’s just an optical illusion but a really cool one at that. At the moment they have a theme going about weights and measures so if you are a home schooler or have children learning weights and measures at school, then it’s a great place to o see it in action.

20160708-012759.jpg

It’s a great place where kids can really be kids without anyone rousing on the for exploring their environment in a very hands on way. My little sensory kiddo coped pretty well too being able to touch everything, run around, and explore – although we did have the issue of noisy experiments at which time we just had one of us cover her ears. I do find though at the end of these sensory filled days she kind of has a melt down at the end of the day, but we deal with them in our own ways. Afterwards, we went into the museum and went into the dinosaur exhibit and wow how cool is this place! Life size moving dinosaurs so plate with interactive components to learn interesting facts.

20160708-012815.jpg

We decided to surprise the kids with something fun and frivolous too for the holidays, so took them to Gold Class! Going during the day is great because its way cheaper than at night with the same experience. Really who cares…it’s dark in the cinema anyway. We saw The BFG and loved every minute of it, although I think I might need to read the book again because I don’t remember parts of it (dont worry no spoilers here). The kids also loved it so I’m really glad hubby and I took them, and because they sat n front and he and I sat together it was almost like a date!

20160708-012659.jpg

20160708-005324.jpg

I managed to get three days in a row so we headed to Harvey Bay and dropped our pooch at her second home – my friends house – before heading to our resort. We stayed at Oceans Resort and Spa overlooking Urangan Pier area, and enjoyed beds made and dishes done by the staff, massive spa bath, beautiful organic toiletries, and heated pool.

20160708-012737.jpg

20160708-012714.jpg

It was great to have a BBQ with our friends on the first night and we enjoyed a day of sleeping in, breakfast at the restaurant, and zipping down the waterfront on an electric bicycle – such fun!!! Coming back to work after a pamper morning of massage, facial and foot treatment was really tough…shouldn’t nurses get a pamper every week???? In all honesty though it was a wildly relaxing few days that we enjoyed tremendously.

What have you been up toon our holidays? We are looking forward to our next big holiday though of Hawaii – Oahu and Maui. If you’ve had some great experiences in Hawaii please share so we can create our own awesome experience when we go.

20160708-012836.jpg

20160708-012826.jpg

EVERYONE IS OKAY

DISCLAIMER: If you are easily offended by cuss words then you should probably turn around now.

USELESS INFORMATION: I wrote this a few weeks ago when I was super pissed off but decided that editing it just takes away from the authenticity (aka realness) that I wanted to be in my blog.

Let’s get real here, I have body fat and I’m well aware of it. What I am also aware of is the endless comments and discussions about fat and health like they can never be together in the one sentence. Why does being thin necessarily mean you are healthy then? I get up and eat a healthy breakfast of egg and greens, fruit and salad for lunch, and wholesome veges for dinner, I have the occasional treat, I move my body and have a pretty balanced life with love, experiences, and great relationships…but I still have fat and I’m frowned upon.

20160620-005257.jpg

Then the next person sits eating crap food after crap food because their metabolism makes it possible to hide the shit they put into their mouths on a daily basis, and because you can go and exercise that shit off right? Wrong. You can’t out exercise harmful toxins in the shit you’re eating. So whilst you look thin because of calories in vs calories out, you’re sitting there sporting a hidden cesspool of toxic waste inside each and every cell in your body.

The laughable thing is though that none of this matters. None of this is worth the fucking drama and hate that comes from these debates filled with venom and judgement. It screams of dissention and fear and an I’m right your mentally insane kind of attitude.

To be honest, I don’t give a flying fuck about what you eat and how many calories you can burn off in an exercise session. You see your way of doing things is not the only way, sure it might work for you but that shits actually your business to file the fuck out of. In the same sense, my way is also not the only way and wont work for everyone, and that’s my business.

This was an eye opener

I long for a day when every human can appreciate the skin they are in, so that my children and grandchildren can make choices in life based on what feels right for them instead of what makes them feel less shameful, more loveable, and more accepted by the screwed up society they live in.

20160620-005450.jpg

This is the exact reason I want to do healthcare differently to everyone else. There are lots of different ways to get shit done. And the health training I plan on doing in my business will focus on them and what they enjoy, things that they like, timing that works for them, methods that are outside the box. I also plan on doing body-shaming differently…by not allowing it in the first place.

Masculine Husbands

Shit is getting real today and no apologies.

I work. I have kids. I study. I train. (Okay these days I sometimes train). I have a busy-ass life.

I have a husband. He works. He has kids. He studies. He trains. (Wait, no he doesn’t, the man is naturally fit – insert eye roll).

So who does the work at home? We all do!

I clean. I cook. I garden. I tend to the kids. I discipline. I love.

Hubby cleans. Hubby cooks. Hubby gardens. Hubby tends to the kids. Hubby disciplines. Hubby loves.

I’m certain by now you are thinking what the fuck is she on about!!! To be totally honest my husband does do a bit more than me at home, mostly because he is the one that is there in sociable hours and I am not. He works less than me so gets in and does what needs to be done. So why is it that people in 2016 still throw about the terms “emasculated” “unfulfilled” “not a real man”? To be honest it baffles and angers me just as much as the terms “a womans place is in the kitchen” “women should put their careers on hold” “women should act ladylike”.

I’m going to share my take on what my husband is.

My husband is manly because:

***He can soothe the tears of our children
***He can chase the fears from their dreams
***He can calm even the scariest storm on their faces
***He can make them food that nourishes their bodies
***He can clean up after spilt milk and spilt tears
***He can make our girls feel like the princesses they are
***He can make math homework exciting and fun

He can do all this and still make me feel like nothing can hurt me when he is around. He cooked for me when I could only throw up (preganacy), soothed my fears when the words cancer and brain surgery were bandied around like a play thing, held me when my sobs had no end, encouraged me when my dreams felt too far away, stood firm for me when others tried to tear me down. I love him for this and so much more.

What’s so emasculate about that?

PLAIN FACTS

Sometimes I wonder why the hell I continue to keep my blog, particularly when it appears that my thoughts rarely make it past the ever greying matter I call my brain and onto the computer screen. There you have it folks, sums up what shitloads of bloggers and vloggers think but never say, least of all to their audience. Then again as the greying matter turns silver I lack the ability to apply a filter and since that probably isn’t going to change any time soon I guess you will either love this new take or find your way to some love, light and mung beans.

I had a temporary thought of catching you all up with some purple-shaded, meditative-sounding, flower-encrusted story of how life sometimes sucks but nice things do happen to good people but I don’t want to. Simple. So instead here are the plain facts.

Life has handed hubby and I some low blows, some that we thought would keep us down for good and some that still make us doubt our own resolve. If you have been here before you know it already but if you haven’t let me spell it out for you simply. LOTS OF SHIT. The details aren’t really that important, we all have it but some of it gets stuck on your shoes and follows you around.

We don’t make friends with all this crap but we do say hi and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t set up house in our backyard. In fact, we have been hinting at the crap in our lives that maybe it’s time we saw other people and by geez I think it might have gotten the message. Finally, some great things have happened in our lives. We do believe in some of that love, light and mung beans, more than a little faith, and lots of hard work. I don’t exactly know what happened, maybe the balance turned, but we have had a week to outstand all weeks.

Firstly, hubby got a full month of work after what was an eternity of nothing much, he was scheduled for surgery to fix his sinuses, the tax office decided to give me a tidy sum back, and my husband is getting surgery to fix his wrist using a very forward thinking method in the next month.
All I have to say is thanks for the great shit that happens when you least expect it.

Chat soon – I have a rant on my mind and I’m not afraid to use it!

LETTING GO

20160309-114232.jpg

20160309-114221.jpg

I know this might seem like a no-brainier to some, but just recently it occurred to me that my children are in fact NOT my children. Imagine going sixteen (and nine for the youngest) years thinking that the tiny baby you carried inside your tummy for nine months, the baby you have nurtured now for all those years, really was yours only to have one of those knowing moments when you truly realised that they were in fact NOT your children after all. I know, OUCH right? But there it is, something I have known all along, something I take into account when I make decisions about my child, but something I didn’t really feel deep down in my core until recently. Is this revelation because I now have a child in grade 11 and a child in grade 4? That’s interesting – you could be right…

When we went to Europe late last year we took our children with us, 2 daughters aged 15 and 8. My beautiful 15 year old was pretty independant but still her mothers daughter in the sense that we were unbelievably close and I honestly couldnt really fathom her ever leaving home, along with the fact that so much of what I thought played a role in what decisions she made. I feel like a lioness protecting her cub after almost losing her the year before last when she collapsed in the shower and her heart and breathing stopped. My beautiful 8 year old was both shy and very hard work with her having a myraid of challenges we have lived with over the years…both my girls experience OCD, but Mackenzie also has auditory and sensory processing challenges too which have filled our days with meltdowns and 2hr long mealtimes and bedtimes and to be frankly honest I was more than a little scared of what would happen taking her into overcrowded, touristy places with unfamiliar spaces and food and cultures. What happened next really shocked both my husband and I.

Let me tell you what we saw with our almost 16 year old Lauren. Not to be misunderstood because my daughter is exceptionally more mature and forward thinking than many of her peers and I am immensely proud of how she is progressing (no she isnt perfect by any means and still has her moments of being a pain in my arse – she was never meant to be perfect), however my daughter became even more individual in her own right in Europe. She began thinking way bigger than I had ever instilled and showed a passion for experiencing life in a big way, much bigger than I could have ever imagined for myself at that age. It was as though everything became possible and nothing (not even her mother) could stop her. I have realised through this that when our children reach this time in their lives where they are starting to rebel against our ideas and wishes, and we become frustrated parents of teenagers who long for a weekend off, this is our weaning time to move through what could be a very embarrassing case of seperation anxiety and empty nest syndrome that occurs if they suddenly break free from the nest. I can only imagine the heartbreak I caused my mother by leaving suddenly at the age of 16 to go live and work out on my own – honestly I’m surprised she is still talking to me.

Im still struggling a bit with this new found individuality Lauren has found and riding the rollercoaster of emotions we are both experiencing is what I would call ‘interesting’. (Now Lauren if you are reading this, it by no stretch means I am going to suddenly change my mind about not letting you go to a house party filled with alcohol and no supervising parents – non negotiable). My husband and I have begun to talk about the possibility of Lauren going on ‘dates’ with boys, but we are undecided as to whether we are okay with her getting into a serious teenage relationship when we know she really wants to travel and experience so much in her early years, not to mention the decade of university education she is about to embark on in the very near future. I do know that she is happy at this point to wait until marraige to have sex and is in no hurry to get married and have children so we have breathed a sigh of relief on that front. I guess the jury is still out.

What I am proud of is that this new level of kick-A independence has seen her crave to work and earn her own money, she is dedicated to her studies and is working really hard at that and achieving what she wants, and is taking charge in the changes she wants in her life. I am proud – if not a little sad – that my baby is not my baby…she is an individual in her own right.

Now let me tell you about my little Indigo baby Mackenzie. Mackenzie has been a delightful handful since the day she was born and although I wouldnt change it for the world, I would be lying if I didnt say it has been an exhausting and frustrating ride for all of us – including Lauren as she has had to make adjustments and show great patience with our littlest one. Her sensory processing disorder has meant that textures, touch and experiences are a constant onslaught to her system and her only task each day is to fumble through the best she can. Sometimes a hug from mummy is just not enough, sometimes there is no solution to her troubles but to let her vent and cry, and sometimes she just wants to be like all the other kids. Her auditory processing disorder means that people misinterperet her brains inability to decipher and seperate and process all the input, for insolence and misbehaviour and distraction. She has been called naughty by teachers and family and friends, but when you try to explain it they think that she has trouble hearing so they speak louder which then sets off her sensory issues. Despite this Mackenzie is an amazingly bright, cheery girl who just wants everyone to be happy, and who never wants to disappoint anyone. You can imagine that a 6+ week trip to Europe would have been a struggle for this little one and although it was, something quite extraordinary and unexpected happened during that time. Instead of going into a permanent meltdown as any parent of an SPD kid would expect, she did the opposite! Although we had a few meltdowns and struggles, Mackenzie began talking to people, even in other languages. She climbed a volcano, jumped off a boat and swam to a hot spring, climed the top of the Eiffel Tower, ate strange foods, rode the underground, revelled in the cold temperatures in Switzerland, coped with 10 flights…and began to break the emotional safety straps she had built between her and us.

Now back at home Mackenzie is doing acrobatics, classical ballet, coping with her homework, eating new foods with only a little resistance, speaking up, making new friends, standing up for herself, carrying her school bag and……walking herself into school on her own with us just watching. She is excited about being able to do things for herself now rather than shying away from it and relying on us to be her safety net. Its amazing to see her growing up even though I long for my baby girl who ‘needed me’, but she still will occasionally ask to hop into bed with mummy and have hugs so I can deal with that. I am proud – if not a little sad – that my baby is not my baby…she is an individual in her own right.

I feel good that I have raised individual angels, and although I can feel the shift in the relationship I have with my girls, I know that this is how it is meant to be and that we are not growing apart but are growing – as mother, as daughter, as sisters. This is how it should be – they are not mine, they are just my responsibility to love, nurture and guide.

20160309-114355.jpg

CHILLIN IN SYDNEY

20160124-174658.jpg

^^^^^^^^^^^BONDI BEACH^^^^^^^^^^^^

After an appointment with my doctor filled with lots of tears and an hour long massage at our local Salt Caves, I’m ready to revisit and share with you our trip home and time in Sydney at the end of our European vacation. I will start with our flight home from Abu Dhabi since we have already talked about the business class bliss from Athens to Abu Dhabi. So we board the plane and end up delayed on take off, which wouldnt have been so bad had it not have felt like a sauna in the plane for the whole time. The flight home was relatively uneventful and we were well looked after the whole trip (I will do a post later about the good bad and ugly of international travel at a later time). Our late departure meant we risked missing our transport to the hotel, especially when the lines to get through border security were horrific!!! Hours!!! Turns out however it really didnt matter because the transport company didnt seem to make their customers a priority and we sat waiting what seemed an eternity til near midnight. Considering I had an early morning conference the next day we decided to catch a cab to the hotel….ahhhhhh – yeah we got done and they over charged us and tried to scam us to call them for our transfer back to the airport.

20160124-171635.jpg

We were so grateful to arrive at our beautiful and very luxurious hotel “The Menzies” complete with bell hop (is that even a real title or just in the movies?), indoor heated pool, massive breakfast restaurant (that cooks your eggs to order yes thankyou), and THE most amazing customer service I have ever experienced. Seriously, after the very hard mattress beds in Europe we were very happy to have a few nights in a lovely soft mattress in Australia! Our breakfasts were divine, although we didnt really give a thought to dinner and just bought something close by (in fact I think I even had a vegetarian burger at Hungry Jacks one night – I know….shock horror!!!). Lunches were just something from wherever we were but we did have lunch at the base of the opera house on the waterfront, and another at the RSL at Bondi Beach (not on the same day of course lol).

20160124-172805.jpg

20160124-174812.jpg

I had an absolute blast at the Ignite Tour with Emazon. Seriously folks if you have never heard of this woman check out my blog posts about her workshops, and head over to http://www.emazon.tv or http://www.rebelology.com.au – my whole way of thinking has changed and she is such a catalyst for a better future…words really dont do it justice. I was blessed to be able to go with my beautiful teenager who also swears by what she has learnt with the help of Emma. This was the main reason we came home earlier and had a few days in Sydney, just so we wouldnt miss the event since we missed the Brisbane one whilst we were in Europe.

20160124-171553.jpg

We also spent a day just exploring what Sydney has to offer but if I’m completely honest Sydney just didnt excite me at all, but I made the most of it because it seems my kids love Sydney. We did get to do all the musts whilst we were there though – we finally saw the Sydney Opera House in its enourmous beauty, we ate lunch at the Opera House boardwalk restaurant, and travelled around the harbour on a ferry. We decided after all the stairs we did in Europe we would not use this trip to do a bridge climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge however, and a smart decision that was I think.

20160124-171648.jpg

20160124-171604.jpg

20160124-171613.jpg
<br /

The thing we loved most from our little recovery in Sydney was our day trip to Bondi Beach with my sister in law that lives not far from Sydney. Bondi is just as beautiful (if not more) than we had seen on television. Its beach stretched before us golden, and surrounded by beautiful views. We enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the beach before letting the kids have a swim – Lauren in the beach and Mackenzie in the little beach pool – whilst my sister in law and I explored the rocks.

20160124-174804.jpg

20160124-174756.jpg

20160124-174746.jpg

20160124-174734.jpg

We enjoyed a little Max Brenner before a good sleep to prepare for our trip home to the Sunshine Coast. We really were looking forward to going home to our pooch Bella, our comfy beds, and our beautiful beaches.

20160124-174819.jpg

We arrived home to my parents and my brother in law waiting to pick us up from the airport…their help was very appreciated. Because our poochy wasnt coming home til the afternoon, we dropped all our stuff at home before heading straight to our favourite place One on La Balsa for lunch and a little walk along the waterfront. This will always be home for us no matter where we have been.

20160124-175534.jpg

^^^MOOLOOLABA BEACH

20160124-175526.jpg

^^^OUR FAVOURITE VIEW – ALEX HILL

20160124-175500.jpg

20160124-175452.jpg

^^^LA BALSA – POINT CARTWRIGHT

Stay tuned for another post – I will do one on the best and worst of traveling internationally with our musts and must nots for every country, and another covering how we dealt with travelling overseas for 7 weeks with a child with APD AND SPD AND OCD and how you can make travel happen with your sensory kiddo.

20160124-180946.jpg

ACROPOLIS NOW

Acropolis Now….totally love that old television show! But this isn’t about that, this is about our little visit in Athens.

Well HELLO! As you know I am home sick (although officially this is one of my days off) and clearly my body is wearing thin of my long hours, lack of sleep, and whatever bug little miss 8 passed along to me. My old friend dishydrotic eczma has come to play with a few blisters now burst – I’m not sure what this means for my job but I am hoping that the antihistamines and vitamin e cream might do the trick but I will make a decision this afternoon. The last time I had this my hands ended up covered in blisters making nursing impossible, so fingers crossed and prayers to the heavens this will just go away. So where were we? That’s right, we were on our way to Athens!

20160121-110358.jpg

After just a short flight, and by short I mean less than an hour, we landed in Athens and taken to our hotel by our driver which was good because to be honest the centre was ages away from the hotel and the streets really confused us. We were happy to check in and found we were staying in a very lovely hotel with very comfy amenities. We went into the main shopping district and enjoyed having a look around the vast multitude of shops before heading to a restaurant for the most amazing dinner.

20160121-110345.jpg

20160121-110327.jpg

After dinner on our stroll back to our hotel we stumbled across an art shop filled with exquisite pieces of artwork. Talking to the artist we found that the economy in Greece meant that art prices had fallen so low that famous artists work were going for peanuts (still more peanuts than we could pay for), but we found a piece that we loved and bought – even the girls bought a small piece.

Back in hotel we fell asleep very quickly and woke the next day ready to explore all the ancient sites that filled Athens with history and wonder, particularly for my teenager who being the drama buff she is, just loves greek mythology.
20160121-110407.jpg

We spent the day travelling by tourist open air bus to the major sites including Temple of Zeus, Theatre of Dionysus, the ruins surrounding the base of Acropolis, and although we were too buggered (after all this was the last stop on a very big trip) to walk up the Acropolis, we did take in its views from the Dionysus restaurant nearby.

20160121-104704.jpg

We took the bus also to the seaside which to be honest was not the highlight we thought it would be and paled in comparison to Santorini. The one thing we did notice is the vast amount if stray animals in Athens…however they all looked extremely healthy and well looked after, which was explained by on of the nearby vendors…that the city and the people in it took it upon themselves to care for these animals and in fact one of them had to be put n a diet as it was so fat and they seem to stay close to particular vendors.

20160121-104837.jpg

20160121-104828.jpg

Our highlight for this day was going to a greek theatre show called “Hamlet, That Punk”, a modern take on Hamlet performed by a small greek theatre company. When trying to organise the tickets with my terribly limited greek language, the Director and lead of the performance private messaged me on facebook asking why we were so keen to come to a show we wouldn’t understand the language of. When I explained my daughters love for greek theatre she asked to meet us after the show, and the welcome we got was amazing! They were so excited someone from Australia came and enjoyed their show despite the language barrier, and it appeared the entire cast knew we were in the audience. It was a great show, although probably a little too adult themed for my 8 year old but only in one part of the show where we just covered her eyes lol. When it comes to theatre, language doesn’t have to be a barrier if you are paying attention, and we all understood the storyline. Apart from wanting to be a doctor and forensic psychiatrist, Lauren wants to act…and seriously if you lived with her you could see she has the dramatic makings of a superstar.

20160121-104648.jpg

20160121-104636.jpg

So the next day we woke with hubby and I leaving the girls to chill out whilst we went out for a bit of a stroll and a shop. Then we were off to the airport to say goodbye to Europe and finally travel home to Australia for a 4 day relax in Sydney before returning to our home life…and when we got to the airport that’s when things got interesting!!! Read my post “The Business of Flying Home”. In our next instalment we have our stay in Sydney.

Where is your favourite part of Europe and why? Share your stories and links below…

20160121-110311.jpg

20160121-110335.jpg

Ps…I wanted to add more photos but my computer is throwing a tantrum.

SWEET SWEET SANTORINI

With the sneezing setting in on my sick day, lets continue on our European vacation before I bore or sleep myself into oblivion.

After a short flight to Athens and an even shorter flight over to the Greek Island Santorini, we were welcomed with a super helpful driver happy to tell us about the local sights and give us a quick lesson on how to say thank you and please in Greek, all thanks for it being organised by our amazing Travel Agent Dane. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel complete with glistening pool, beautiful white and blue décor, and a wonderfully friendly welcome by reception, who at this terribly late time at night made us hot chocolates and brought us water to help us settle in. After being in the country for less than an hour we knew it was going to be an amazing little stay of only two nights.

20160121-013043.jpg

Because we only had one full day in Santorini we got up super early and had a lovely breakfast in the hotel before heading out by cab to the local town of Fira. We really couldn’t believe our eyes as we took in the breathtaking scenery that was hidden from us in the darkness of night when we arrived (although I must say that as we rounded the bend toward out hotel on arrival, a cascade of fireworks lit up the sky in the background making us feel even more welcomed). The jagged cliffs in some parts, the high hills in other parts, and really looking down from the top to see the town splayed before us was beautiful. The cab prices were pretty reasonable and a good option considering we didn’t want to waste time waiting for a bus and figuring out where we were going, so we were taken straight down to Fira in very little time.

20160121-013027.jpg

As we strolled down the streets and looked at all the little shops that were now not so crowded since the summer rush had gone home, we really felt like we were on holiday. We all spent some time (and some money) wandering in and out of shops buying a few pieces of clothing, some local craft, and a delicate Greek Christmas bauble (now in pieces after being dropped when being placed on our Christmas tree – boo!). It was odd to see people swimming at the beach there (hot grey rocky sand) when we dipped our feet in and found it to be FREEZING!!!!!!! I’m sure it would be beautiful in summer though. We considered going to the town of Oia (family for the blue and white churches and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants), but we decided that maybe we would do an early morning trip there the following day before checkout and our flight out to Athens. Instead we decided to go on a high seas adventure!!!

20160121-012945.jpg

20160121-013005.jpg

Hubby and I booked us and the kids onto an afternoon/evening sailboat trip to visit a volcano, swim in hot springs, dinner, then sunset over Oia from the perspective of the Aegean Sea. We had enough time to go and enjoy a beautiful lunch and a watermelon juice overlooking the ocean, and a yummy greek salad was exactly what I needed after weeks of pastries, chocolate, cheese and pasta. The flavours in all of our dishes were out of this world…we never knew fresh produce could taste so freaking amazing – seriously fresh, full of flavour, fabulous. Then we were ready to board for our big adventure after being driven to the boat by the tour company’s driver.

20160121-012923.jpg

20160121-012936.jpg

We boarded the most beautiful sail boat with polished wood and beautiful fixtures, not to mention the good looking lads that caught my teenagers eye! I had never been on a boat quite that far from shore before so of course I felt a little bit nervous about getting vertigo – or the ship sinking…take your pick. But as we pulled away from the dock I felt a little excited for this new adventure we were taking. The first little while was amazing just chilling out at the front of the boat, wind in our hair, excited children running back and forth, and our first stop was an active volcano. The boat docked and we set off with the rest of the passengers to explore. Now keep in mind it was hot, we wore thongs, and we thought the brochure said 1.6 km return…it was 1.6km each way – up – in the heat – on a very hot active volcano – and an easily tired 8 year old that required some carrying! Yes it was worth it when we got to areas that sulphur was smoking out the rocks and the girls being able to learn about volcano eruptions and formations, but it was certainly was good to get back on the boat with our new type of sunburn – volcanic heat burn.

20160121-012721.jpg

20160121-012734.jpg

Our next stop brought us to the hot springs and although I was super proud of Mackenzie for going over in a floaty ring with her Dad, I did have a little disappointment in myself for chickening out of the 50m swim to get there. I let my fears overtake me once again and it really made it clear that one goal for this year is overcoming my fear of deep ocean water. Lauren of course was one of the first to jump off the boat and swim over, she is such an adventurous soul willing to try any new adventure in life. They all had a great time though so I was really pleased with that and it wasn’t long before we headed of again to find a spot to anchor for dinner. Dinner was fresh, amazing, and we enjoyed a lovely wine followed by Greek dancing with the rest of the passengers on the ships deck. One thing about Europe is that they are more relaxed about teenagers drinking alcohol with their parents and Lauren had the opportunity to have two half strength strawberry daiquiris under our supervision. It really was a non-event, and with her turning 16 this year I know it wont be long til alcohol is in her peer group. Although I know she makes very smart decisions for someone so young I know she is still human and I am glad that her first experience of alcohol was one that was social only, measured, and of course in the presence of her mother – not her peers.

20160121-012634.jpg

20160121-012614.jpg

20160121-012756.jpg

After dinner we sailed off toward Oia and we were horrified to realise that the total sum of blue domed rooves were 4!!! Four!!! Yes that’s right! The only buildings with a blue domed roof are churches. But still, the sights were amazing, but not as amazing as the sunset over the Aegean Sea as we were anchored right near Oia. Wow is an understatement. Being on the east coast of Australia means that the sun rises from our beaches but sets over the mountains, so this experience was amazing for us all. The only thing I must say that put a bit of a dampener on the evening of dancing and company, was the Aussie girl who was loud, obnoxious, and had the filthiest mouth I have heard in a long while – seriously folks…can we not present ourselves as bogans – not just when we are overseas, but ever!?!?!?

20160121-012549.jpg

20160121-012436.jpg

20160121-012657.jpg

We arrived back late but feeling fulfilled, and when we woke the next morning we decided we were going to just explore our immediate surroundings. We walked up and checked out some local shops near our hotel, posted a parcel back home, and looked for somewhere to eat. Its amazing that it is not uncommon to see people drinking wine early in the day, and really the Europeans don’t get publicly wasted like us westerners…they just seem to know the benefit of moderation. So we found an amazing little bakery that had spinach and feta pastries, and great coffee, so we stopped and enjoyed. As we left Mackenzie went inside to say “afgaristo” which is thankyou, and the lass behind the counter was so overwhelmed by her speaking any amount of greek (I am told there are lots of westerners that don’t bother), that she rushed around the corner exclaiming words like “parakalo” and “princess”, holding Mackenzies face and kissing her cheeks – all we could do is giggle…Mackenzie has sensory processing disorder but took this very well probably due to shock lol. She promptly got a “well done for dealing with that situation so well honey”.

So off we trotted and although we didn’t want to leave we boarded our plane in the tiny little airport in Santorini and headed for Athens for a 2 day exploration of mainland Greece. Although grateful for the adventure we had experienced, our hearts sank that it was almost over.