USA – Our Final Week…

It’s done. It’s finished. Our holiday to the U.S has officially come to an end. All the months of saving and planning, all the time I spent organising stuff, buying gear, making lists, packing to a fine art so our luggage wasn’t over weight has all been done, experienced and lived, but what an amazing time we had with memories created that will last forever!!! As I lie here on my bed trying to keep my super heavy jet lagged eyes open, I have the fondest of memories this last week. It’s been a huge week. We’ve been to the bay of San Francisco to the snowy mountains of Tahoe back to the beaches of LA – amazing is an understatement!!!!

When we arrived at San Francisco I was super excited as I’d never been before and always wanted to go and see the Golden Gate Bridge. We got there mid afternoon the Saturday before Christmas and what I didn’t expect was herds of people and traffic so bad it felt worse than New York. It was busy, shoulder to shoulder people lining the streets, horns beeping – I don’t know why but it wasn’t what I’d expected. The drive on the way to where we were staying was an interesting one. We saw people dealing on the corners when we pulled up at a set of lights, streets seemed dirty and I just wasn’t feeling it. It was my choice to come to visit San Francisco and I was beginning to think I made the wrong choice.

Our motel was nice but the smallest one we’d stayed in yet. It was older and darker than the places we’d stayed at before and I just didn’t get a good vibe. The volume of homeless people were somewhat larger than what we’d seen yet and they were vocal, more vocal and in your face than what we’d ever seen. So far this had been my least favourite place. But the next day my sister and I decided to do a bus tour of the city. The girls had woken up sick and the boys wanted a break from sightseeing so we took the opportunity to see the real San Francisco and why it’s on the map of places to see.

Our tour was awesome we saw all the hot spots – Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, zig zag street, steepest hill, China Town, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge…what a site!! It was such a memorable moment driving over it and seeing it for the very first time! San Francisco was awesome to see, has lots to do, plenty to eat – particularly a little diner we found Lori’s Diner. It won our hearts over and would have been the best place we ate at over the 3 weeks we were in the States!

But I was happy to move on and would be content to only see it once. After our two nights were up in San Francisco, the kids we so happy as we were finally road tripping to the snow!! Mia had been bursting to see snow since we left Disneyland so you can imagine how pumped she was. The drive was amazing. 4 hours of beautiful scenery where we looked at snow-capped peaks for half the drive before we actually got to them – it was awesome!! Bailey saw the first sighting of snow on the mountain tops and as we followed our trail the green slowly turned to brown then to white and oh my how surreal!!!

As we drove closer to our destination of Lake Tahoe the snow became more prominent and thicker on the mountain sides and ground. But then all of a sudden it disappeared the closet we got to Tahoe. We were a bit underwhelmed as 5 years ago when we were in Tahoe, we drove through a blizzard to get there!!! When we checked in, the hotel receptionist said they hadn’t had a good snowfall in ages just rain!!! What??? Where is our white Christmas?!!!

The disappointment of this was quickly patched over with our rooms. They were beautiful. There was a bedroom and a kitchen and two bathrooms and space – dear lord space!!!! We felt at home:) The first thing we did was grocery shop lol – it was awesome lol! It was so nice to cook and clean and not eat out!!!! When we got up the next morning, I loved getting the kids their cereal and washing the dishes like I would at home – strange but true:) The kids were so disappointed not to have snow to play in, so we drove 15 minutes up the road where the snow was just so they could touch it! It was so worth the priceless looks on their faces! We had a ball that afternoon…little did we know what we were in for over the next two days!!!

As we followed all the news reports they kept consistently saying that a snow fall was coming in Christmas eve. We didn’t get too excited. It’s like that comment of ‘possible rain’ yeah right what rain!! Christmas eve we decided to take a gondola ride up to Heavenly mountain. When we arrived to buy our tickets, the gondolas were closed due to the windy conditions and the predicted snow storm. So we were advised to check out Adventure Mountain which is a place 20 minutes out-of-town. I’m so glad we weren’t scared off by the weather as it was the best day in the three weeks we were away. We all went sledding and tubbing for the morning and half way through our time on the mountain it started snowing – what a moment!!!!

We were so hoping by the time we returned to Lake Tahoe it would be snowing there to! It wasn’t it was raining…but not long after lunch it turned to snow and snow it did!! It continued to snow on and off for the next 24 hours – we got our white Christmas, was the best gift we could ever receive. Waking up to a town covered in snow on Christmas morning and seeing the kids faces when they saw Santa had found them and left a note in the snow for them – absolute priceless!!!!!!

We spent Christmas Day up on Heavenly mountain after finally getting our gondola ride – yet again another blissful moment. The views were exquisite, completely breathtaking – a moment I will never ever forget! But it was officially the coldest we have ever felt! I couldn’t feel my feet or hands even though they were covered, but so worth seeing such a beautiful site – all while it snowed:)

Our time at Lake Tahoe would have to go down as the most memorable moment in any holiday that we have ever had. Everyone was happy and enjoying themselves and we saw things that everyone in the their life time should see – I even ran for the first time in the snow…now that was a priceless moment!!! It was sad to let go and move on from here, especially knowing that our trip was coming to an end. But what a finale!!! Our last two days spent at Santa Monica beach was also awesome!! What a great place to holiday. There is so much going on down at ‘muscle beach’ with all the swings and rings and different walks of life, we literally spent two days at the beach playing and watching everything that was going on around us!

We spent our last night at the famous Santa Monica Pier where the kids rode ride after ride – but it was freezing!!!!!!! The days were beautiful in the sun, but once the sun went down and the wind came off that water, it became an uncomfortable coldness – but we survived!! My last run for the journey was spent running from the Santa Monica Pier to the Venice beach Pier and back. 10k of water front views and front row seats to a lot of homeless people and someone being arrested. This was all happening while hundreds of people kept living – running, walking, bike riding…it was so bizarre! It really made me appreciate even more what my life holds and how lucky I am!

And so our trip had to end:( not before one last dash to the shops – 8 items purchased at GAP for $100 – crazy!! and dinner out. We caught our last shuttle bus to LAX and thankfully by me asking to fly straight to Brisbane (originally we had to fly to Sydney then get a connecting flight) we were booked on the Brisbane flight which we boarded at 11pm and were off on our way home! Two 13 hour flights in 3 weeks, four internal flights and two road trips and I must say the kids really did so well!!

Would we do it again? Hell yes!!
Would we do it differently? Always!!

5 years ago we went with two babies who were pushed around in prams the whole time – we saw lots but didn’t do a lot. This time only one child in a pram, three kids is completely different to two, kids who argue (normal sibling rivalry) and by the end didn’t want to walk another step, but we did way more this time! It was a massive effort taking three kids around America. There were many ups and downs but that’s life with kids anyway isn’t it?? It was great having family this time to experience it with – we really loved having my sister, brother-in-law and nephews and the kids loved having their cousins to hang out with! What an experience though. We covered so much in the three weeks we were there. Geographically the kids were interested in everything and Bailey in particular loved the history behind things. The kids really learnt a new appreciation for how lucky they are – seeing so any homeless people showed them the real values in life. It was quite sweet in the end they wanted to give a dollar or left over food to each one they saw. I know they will have the fondest memories and many stories to share with their friends when they return to school!

But for now as this year comes to a close, we will focus on the good things that have happened this year and our trip being one of the biggest highlights!

Happy new year to all my family and friends who have followed our journey this year…here’s to an awesome 2015 that brings us all lots of peace, happiness, good health, love and joy’!

First stop for 2015 for us…a week at our favourite beach – Burleigh!!!!

Highlights of our last week….

San Francisco…

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Lake Tahoe…

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Santa Monica…

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Finally The Time Has Come…

The day has arrived…..

Finally after months of planning, saving, organising, buying and packing our holiday to the States is awaiting us!!

It only seems like yesterday that we went for the first time…that was 5 years ago!!! So much has happened in that time – another baby has been born for goodness sake!!! This time we will be traveling as a family of 5 and with my sister, brother-in-law and nephews. It still seems so surreal!!

This past month has been one of the craziest months of my life. Between the end of year demands at work, finishing off everything for our holiday and celebrating the spirit of Christmas, what I would normally do at this time of year in 6 weeks, has been crammed into 2!!! I’m feeling a little fragile but I know this next month of holidaying in the US and our week at Burleigh when we return will be so worth it!

When I finished work on Tuesday the realisation of being on 7 weeks holidays was bliss. I woke on Wednesday morning and I had a three-day plan to enable me to be completely ready for our trip…that was short-lived as Bailey woke up with a leaking ear and Mia had told me the day before her ear was sore! A trip to the doctors and $82 spent at the chemist was not in my plan, neither was all the little mishaps that happened along the way this week!! But I will not be defeated. I’m happy to say that no tantrums were chucked or no tears were shed…and we WILL have a great time lol!

While I’ve been packing for our trip and celebrating Christmas with loved ones of late, it makes my heart ache for the people who will face this Christmas for the first time without their loved ones. That was us this time last year – even though we will continue to uphold our family Christmas traditions, there will always be a void on Christmas Day without nana!

Although the festive season should be a happy time, I always struggle emotionally at this time of year. This has been a challenging year for us with the kid’s health and has seen many of our family and friends experience heart ache, but it signals the end. The end of memories made, the end of another school year – the kid’s teachers have yet again been amazing and the thought of saying goodbye makes me sad. It means we are all another year older, but hopefully wiser. It means Mia starts preschool so soon – now where did that time go! I’ve never liked changed and always resist it to begin with but I will endeavour to enjoy what’s left of 2014!!!

I think I have everything sorted:
Passports – check
Travel documents – check
Money converted – check
Snow clothes – check
Beanies, scarves and gloves – check
Jackets – check
Clothes and shoes for 3 different climates – check
Toiletries – check
Medication in case ears go pear shape – check
Entertainment for the plane – check
Chargers – check
Camera – check

Our itinerary for the next 23 days is as follows:
*7 days in LA – Disneyland, Universal studios, San Diego
*Drive to Vegas for 2 nights – shopping!!!
*5 nights in New York – my favourite place!!
*2 nights in San Francisco – I haven’t been there before and am so looking forward to it!!
*Drive to Lake Tahoe – Christmas in the snow!
*Our last 2 nights are spent at Santa Monica – tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills!!

As I board the plane I’m feeling happy, excited, nervous, cautious, but so very grateful that we are able to provide such an experience for our children. Yesterday when I felt like I was never going to be ready I had a sudden feeling of – why are we doing this?? But now that the stars finally aligned and we are ready, we are going to enjoy every moment of what this trip will bring to us!

As Americans would say…Happy Holiday everyone!!!

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Trew’s Christmas Traditions #5….White Christmas!

Since experiencing a ‘white’ Christmas in America, when Movie World started their White Christmas show, we jumped at the chance to go. We’ve been for the past couple of years now and we just love it. Between the million of beautiful lights that line the Main Street, the fake snow that falls down over you and the fantastic street parade, it is definitely worth a night out each festive season.

The kids love it! Sienna sings and dances to the carols, Bailey loves the ice skating and Mia just loves the sight of everything! It’s credit to Movie World how awesome they make it look! Between the lights, decorations and beautiful Christmas tree, it really adds a fantastic dimension to Christmas!

We much preferred last year though. This year we went on a weekend and it was so busy! Last year we went on a week night and not as many people, which is always more pleasant! Even though the rides are open, because we have annual passes, next year I will be declaring it a no ‘ride’ trip to Movie World as you waste too much time in the line ups and there is plenty to do without going on the rides!

I would highly recommend going to Movie World White Christmas….we have made it one of our Christmas traditions!

Highlights from our night:

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Beautiful big Christmas tree!

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Snowing!!!!

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Bailey finally getting the courage to ice skate…it’s the bravest he’s ever been…clumsy but brave lol!

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Getting the hang of it!

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Mastering it on his own…with ballerina arms lol!

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Millions of lights…so beautiful!

The parade…

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The kids loved it!!!

End of the night photos….

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