Friday, December 30, 2016

New Zealand South Island


The most gorgeous wildflowers on the way to Queenstown.  They were especially abundant along riverbeds and streams. 


The Shotover River 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Jacaranda Trees in Sydney

It's Jacaranda season and I am in heaven.  I have been waiting for this ever since we arrived last february.  The city is dotted with gorgeous purple flowering trees and some streets are lined with them.  They are stunning and it makes me feel like I am in a fairy tale land.  I have never seen so many gorgeous flowering trees and bushes of bright pinks and purples.  

And a few of my favorite flowering foliage!

 I love Spring, and I am in Heaven with Spring in Sydney!

Halloween in Sydney

Halloween in Sydney was a success.  I wish I would have known how great it was going to be a few months ago so I could have saved myself a lot of stress! We got to trick or treat twice, once in Chatswood a couple days before Halloween at the outdoor food stands, and in Mosman with our new friends the Larsen family that just moved in a few weeks ago.  We also had a Ward Halloween party, and Liam's little love Charolette had a costume party a few weeks ago so our Halloween costumes definitely got used quite a bit.  I was so happy when even Liam's little pre school said they could dress up, and the teachers went through a lot of work to teach the kids about carving pumpkins. haha something most of them had never done! 

Sydney has never been safer with these two crime stoppers on the go!

Ward Halloween Party! Gui and Luisa were awesome enough to come as the cutest nerds I have ever seen.

We went trick or treating in the Mosman suburbs because I read online that they are more likely to have the most houses participating.  It was definitely different in the sense that about every 5th house was handing out candy and you could tell if the outside of their gates or fences were decorated. 

There was also a lot of stairs and steep drive ways!  So we got a ton of exercise!
With it being Spring pumpkins are not everywhere and are more expensive so this family got creative!  I have to say the strangest part about Halloween here was that it was really hot, and beautiful spring flowers, trees and bushes are blooming everywhere instead of fall leaves and colors. 
Thanks to the awesome Larsen family for letting us tag along in their hood. 
Mikey started looking for anywhere to take a break and rest, after he found this bench he was officially done and  I had to carry him the rest of the way. 
and of course the best part of trick or treating, dumping it all out, trading, organizing, binging, hiding... whatever your style it brought back so many memories!
Happy Halloween!

Favorites from Sculpture By the Sea

Sydney is always having some cool event going on and this is one of my top favorites! Sculpture by the Sea just finished up last week and I wish I would have gone a few more times to really see and enjoy everything.  It takes place along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk and is littered with amazing pieces of art.  These are a few of my favorites but there were so many more! I am already anticipating next year!

Liam was struggling along the walk but as soon as I gave him his own small camera he perked up and couldn't wait to see what was next.  He usually gravitated to the natural beauty of the walk.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Port Stephens Adventures (Dolphin Swim, Beaches, Sandboarding, and Tomaree Head)

I have been so excited to blog about this experience but have been waiting for the boat footage from Dolphin Swim Australia, and it just came yesterday!  Such a blessing for me on a sobering election day.  
The first time we tried swimming with Dolphins in Port Stephens I talked my mom and Jason into it last minute and we all went up for the weekend to do it.  This was last April and I was ecstatic.  I have always been incredibly excited about seeing any animal in their natural habitat but the idea of getting to swim with them blew my mind.  We got up at 5 am with both kids and headed towards the boat. It was a beautiful morning, I was so excited.  As time went on searching for a pod I started getting antsy, then desperate.  Minutes kept ticking by, then a few hours.  After a while it became sadly clear we were not going to find a pod to swim with that day.  I was absolutely crushed.  I felt so bad for forcing my family all out there, and was truly devastated. 
5 AM so happy and unaware of my future heartache. 
Incredible sunrise on our way out.
Since moving here and being on various boats we have discovered our sweet Liam is incredibly prone to sea sickness.  Poor guy. 

The Trip was not a total loss. Port Stephens is incredibly Beautiful and has some of my favorite beaches.  It made it extremely easy to know we wanted to come back.  
Fingal Bay
The company is kind enough to offer a discount if you choose to return and try a second time so we rescheduled for the next season.  
A few months later we had everything booked and were lucky enough our friends Luisa and Gui said they would come so that we didn't have to try and handle the kids on the boat again.  It was such a blessing.  So we were off for our second try.  I was so nervous we would have a no show again.  On our way out we spotted a few whales and of course had a whale that I wrote about on my previous blog post.  After that incredible experience it was only a few moments later we found a pod of willing dolphins that wanted to swim with our boat.  
It was incredible!  Below is the video from the go pros under the boat and it also includes some footage from our amazing whale interaction!  

I am so grateful for this experience and that I got to share it with Jason.  It is surreal being this close to wild dolphins in their natural habitat.  I love that the dolphins are not forced in any way to participate and it feels so much better and more natural.   I am also grateful that we didn't see dolphins the first time so we could go back and have an even better experience.  Life is crazy like that.  
Port Stephens also is famous for their large Sand Dunes and we got to experience sand boarding for the first time with Port Stephens 4WD tours.  I have run down sand hills at Lake Powell, and played on small ones in St George, Ut but this was a new level of fun. 

Sadly not everyone thought it was super fun.
But Liam thought it was the greatest thing ever!!!
Before heading home we hiked to Tomaree Head and admired the gorgeous 360 degree views of Port Stephens.  It was also a fantastic place to Whale watch and see them breech and slap their tales.  

As you can see its hard not to fall in love with this place.  Can't wait to go back again!