USA – Week 2…Vegas to New York!

I’m writing this blog on our 6 hour flight to San Francisco! It’s been another early start to the day in order to fly from one side of America to the other to see out our final week. We are tired and starting to miss some of the comforts of home, but the kids are super excited because it’s only a matter of days now and we will be playing in the snow…that’s all Mia has been asking for since we left Disneyland!!! We started this week with a road trip to Las Vegas! I always find this trip an easy and fun one to do – especially once we are out of the city of LA and its billion of freeways that intertwine with one another. Now I can easily say this as I’m never the driver and am so grateful that my husband always braves it for us! It means one less flight and we get to see some of the outback of America! Once you hit highway 15, it’s all the way to Vegas baby!!! On the way to Vegas, in the middle of no where are little townships that exist with nothing but dry barren land around them. We stopped at one town for lunch that had a huge outlet centre and a variety of restaurants to eat at. Lunch was lovely and so was my purchases at the Guess outlet store…this was not planned but such a great find lol! I was supposed to be waiting to shop in Vegas itself!! Due to our little expedition, we arrived at Vegas in dark, but oh what a sight. You literally drive for miles and then in the middle of the desert is big bright lights and a city that never sleeps! It’s a great place to visit and so many things to do other than drinking and gambling, but we never stay long enough to check everything out! But we always stay long enough to shop like there’s no tomorrow, ride that massive roller coaster and see the big and bold sites downs the Vegas strip! It was short and sweet but we had fun!

20141222-123156.jpg

20141222-123207.jpg

20141222-123220.jpg

20141222-123239.jpg

20141222-123314.jpg

20141222-123327.jpg Our next stop for the duration of the week would be New York, one of my favourite places in the world but of course not without drama!!! Our flight for New York was at 7am which meant we had to be up extremely early to be at the airport. We were up and out and at the airport on time. We checked in and got to security where everything went from bad to worse…. When we went to check in, we were going to be charged $25 per bag we were checking on…$160 later!!!! This was a surprise to us as we never paid any of these fees on our last trip and thought this was included in what we had originally paid (will be following this up with our travel agent on our return)! We were advised that we could take some of our check on bags on a carry on to save some of the cost, so we did…but I forgot my toiletry bag was in one of them! Of course I went through security and too many liquids later, they were going to make me throw out half my toiletries and the kids water bottles. I was going to until the lady said I could check my bag in. I asked if I had time and she said yes! What seemed like was going to be an easy task turned into a nightmare! I tried and was knocked back as there was no time!!! Which then I had to throw out my stuff anyway to get back through security!!! I finally made it through security to find myself waiting for a monorail to take me to the section I had to go to…why do people not tell you these things when you are checking in!!!!!!! I kept telling myself you’ll be right you won’t miss this flight, how could you miss this flight! As soon as the monorail stopped I ran with three bags in toe as fast as I could to our gate number which was deserted. There was no one around other than a lady who I asked so desperately “please tell me I can get on that plane!!” Rudely she shook her head and said “no!” It was 6.55am the plane wasn’t due to leave until 7am and it continued to sit there for the next 15 minutes until it took off. As much as I was pleading with the staff that I had checked in ages ago and was told I had time to check one of my bags in and that I was travelling with my family – no one cared! All I was told is that the doors are shut and you can catch the next flight out to New York at 11.45….5 hours later!!!! I was numb. I was upset, angry, mad. Mad at myself as I felt like I brought this on myself. When I watched my family fly away without me, my babies gone, it felt like I was never going to see anyone again. My heart was ripped right out of my chest for a moment. I sat and didn’t speak to a soul until I pulled myself together and kept telling myself it will be ok. I just had to get through this next 10 hours and I would be back enjoying our holiday!! That I did and after being separated from my family for 10 hours, we were reunited and so so happy again!! All was good in my world. We were in New York and about to embark on the awesome adventures this city has to offer and that we did! In the five night stay that we had there, we fitted in almost everything we wanted to. We watched the New York Knicks play the Dallas Mavericks in a NBA match. This has always been Kane’s dream and it was great to see him with his family for full this. We visited ground zero and saw for the first time the memorial garden that has been created in remembrance of the terrible tragedy that took so many innocent lives. This is always an emotional experience – I can’t even imagine what the city went through on that day. We saw all the favourite hotspots…Time Square, Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, State Library, Macey’s, 5th Avenue and all the exquisite window displays and I couldn’t leave without a little purchase from Tiffany and Co:) My sister and I did the Sex and the City tour…this was fantastic!!! We got to see so many of the major spots that were used to film the show and we got a photo outside Carrie’s apartment building! My favourite show was being lived out – LovEd it!!! But our highlight for the week, which we always love, is our time at Central Park. We love it there. Kilometres of open space with playgrounds, walkways, park benches and hundreds of squirrels running around. Last time we were in New York it was covered in snow, so it was really nice to see the green grass and fallen brown leaves that covered so much of the park. It’s just such a pretty site and I was fortunate enough to run 10k through the park – was the most blissful run I’ve ever run! It was such a special moment ice skating in Central Park with our three babies. Last time Bailey put one toe on the ice and didn’t attempt anymore, Sienna was a baby and Mia wasn’t even thought of. This time both Bailey and Sienna didn’t give up until they mastered it and Mia loved it!! With the help of Kane and I she went round and round several times! It’s one moment in time I will cherish forever!!!!

20141222-123545.jpg

20141222-123604.jpg

20141222-123621.jpg

20141222-123631.jpg

20141222-123645.jpg

20141222-123742.jpg

20141222-123733.jpg

20141222-123720.jpg

20141222-123807.jpg

20141222-123758.jpg

20141222-123818.jpg

20141222-123842.jpg

20141222-123829.jpg

20141222-123859.jpg

20141222-123906.jpg

20141222-123920.jpg I love New York!!! It’s a place I wouldn’t put my children through again though. It’s very very busy, I mean so busy that unless you experience it you just don’t understand busy when I say it’s busy! And it’s freezing!!! When we got up to leave this morning it was -2 degrees. The first couple of days we were there it was quite bearable, particularly the first day when it was 8 degrees. But by the time we left Central Park yesterday afternoon it was 1 degree and we ended up catching a cab back to our hotel as Mia was turning blue!!! But Kane and I will return one day when the kids are older and can fend for themselves! One week to go…the time is going steady and so much has been done, with still so much ahead of us! Fingers crossed we wake on Christmas morning to snow falling – that would be the icing on the cake for this trip! Merry Christmas to all my readers…I hope it brings you lots of love, joy and laughter xoxoxo!

20141222-124703.jpg

Advertisements

USA – Week 1…LA!

I’m writing this as my two baby girls are latched to me asleep while we are a road tripping to Las Vegas!!!

This past week has been amazing!!! 7 nights in Anaheim, LA, staying at the Howard Johnson which is across the road from Disneyland!! We love California and when we visited America last time, California was great but this time I really fell in love. The weather, the theme parks, the beaches…it’s all sounding a little bit like home, which is probably why I love it so much!!

20141215-091751.jpg

This week we have spent 3 massive days at Disneyland, a day at Universal Studios, a couple of days shopping oh and it wouldn’t be a holiday if we didn’t end up at the medical centre!!!! Yes that’s right!!! Our baby girl learnt the hard way that no more monkeys really shouldn’t jump on the bed – 4 staples in her head later and she was good to go again!!!! I managed to sneak in a few runs and Kane finally got to see an Ice Hockey match!

20141215-091859.jpg

20141215-091914.jpg

20141215-091951.jpg

20141215-094301.jpg

20141215-094307.jpg

Disneyland…what a truly magical, spectacular, amazing place! It really is the happiest place in the world! Between the endless amount of rides, entertainment and characters walking around, there is never enough time to do everything. We did far more than last time as the kids are much older, but it still didn’t seem enough. But the most important things were done especially getting the kids favourite character signatures and photos…this is always my favourite thing to do to!

20141215-092101.jpg

20141215-092129.jpg

20141215-092200.jpg

20141215-092228.jpg

20141215-092248.jpg

20141215-092305.jpg

20141215-092314.jpg

It’s become a tradition now that on the last day we wear our Disneyland gear and get a photo with the one and only Mickey Mouse!!!

20141215-094003.jpg
This was our first photo 5 years ago!

It was really nice having my sister, brother-in-law and nephews there to experience it with us this time. They loved having their cousins to go on rides with and it also meant we were able to enjoy some rides too! One of the most memorable moments is always watching the castle light up. The Disneyland castle would have to be one of my most favourite things in the world and at night when it’s shining with millions of fairy lights…just exquisite!

20141215-092514.jpg

Universal Studios is always a great day out!! The detail of each ride that has been put in to make them so spectacular is amazing and wherever you turn there is always a character to get your photo with. Our favourite for the day was Scooby-Do he was so funny! The Back Lot Tour was yet again unbelievable. I find movie and show making so interesting…I always wished I was a Hollywood star…clearly that will never happen lol! Another massive 12 hour day was enjoyed by all, particularly as it involved a tour of LA and we got to see the Hollywood sign…although low lying clouds meant the photos weren’t very clear!

20141215-092613.jpg

20141215-092630.jpg

20141215-092641.jpg

20141215-092654.jpg

We don’t usually shop much in LA, but this time we bought almost a suitcase worth of stuff lol! We came across a TJ Max, Walmart and Shoe City not far from where we were staying…many, many bargains later and everyone was pleased! Oh and you can never ever go to Disneyland without buying a shirt or two or ok we bought many things this time but we LOVE Disneyland!!!!!!

20141215-092751.jpg

20141215-092807.jpg

20141215-092822.jpg

We only touched the surface of LA this week. You could easily spend a good couple of weeks there, as there is so much to do, so many places to visit and things to see. We are fortunate enough this time to spend our last couple of nights in Santa Monica in a couple of weeks time…I’m really looking forward to that!

20141215-093010.jpg

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!!!

20141206-100126.jpg

20141206-100136.jpg

Our Christmas U.S.A Vacation!

3 years ago, my husband and I packed up ourselves and the kids and set on an adventure of a life time to the States!

It was something we wanted to do for a long time and financially for us the timing was right as well as the cost of everything. Our flights were cheap and the dollar was about 93cents. I was quite apprehensive about traveling with a 3 and a half year old and 18 month old baby, but they were super excited that they were going to see Mickey and Mini!!!!!

When we decided to go, we went to a travel agent to help us plan our holiday as we had never travelled overseas before! We had three months to organise ourselves – travel insurance, pass ports, cash passports, flights, accommodation, converting money, packing….there was so much to do, but like everything it got done and we managed to get ourselves ready for a November 27th take off !!!!

The morning we arrived at the airport, I still remember it like it was yesterday! It was so surreal….I couldn’t believe we were finally going to America!!!! We just couldn’t wait to get there and get settled! We had a direct flight to LA – 14 hours and the kids slept for 8 of them! They were so much better than we thought they would be! We kept them entertained with food, DVDs, colouring in and lots of stories!

That moment when we stepped off the plane was also surreal….we were in Los Angeles USA!!!!!!!! I was like a kid in a candy store! For the first 24 hours (ok the whole 4 weeks lol)…it was exciting!!!! Their accents were so strong and seeing the driver on the opposite side of a car and driving on the opposite side of the road was so weird! The kids napped on and off a bit that day but we managed to work our way into their time quite nicely without too much back lash! Even though it’s an English speaking country, so many things were different! The toilets, the money, tipping….we had to learn fast!

We went for four weeks…
We spent a week in LA, 3 days in Las Vegas, 5 days at Lake Tahoe in the snow, a week in Pittsburgh (with our beautiful friends), 2 days in Washington and 5 days in New York which included a white Christmas!

We had the best time! Disneyland was magical, the snow was like fluffy powder, Vegas was bright and colourful on so many levels, Pittsburgh was awesome thank you to our wonderful friends, Washington was pretty and New York – well what can I say other than it is simply the best!

We created the most wonderful memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives! Between driving in snow storms on both sides of the country, being stopped by homeless people, losing Sienna’s teddy (twice), missing trains, being in Washington at the same time the city was closed and hadn’t been in 30 years and spending a white christmas in New York, we definitely had a whirlwind holiday…but it was sensational! And the kids, well they were awesome!!!!! 4 weeks was plenty long enough for them though, but what an experience for them…not many children can say ‘I’ve been to Disneyland!’

These are some of the fond memories that we will always be able to look back on……

Disneyland:

20121126-202153.jpg

20121126-202159.jpg

20121126-202204.jpg

20121126-202216.jpg

20121126-202224.jpg

20121126-202229.jpg

20121126-202238.jpg

20121126-202256.jpg

20121126-202302.jpg

20121126-202310.jpg

20121126-202317.jpg

20121126-202323.jpg

20121126-202329.jpg

20121126-202335.jpg

20121126-202340.jpg

20121126-202354.jpg

20121126-202349.jpg

20121126-202416.jpg

20121126-202426.jpg

20121126-202433.jpg

20121126-202438.jpg

20121126-202454.jpg

20121126-202515.jpg

20121126-202521.jpg

20121126-202527.jpg

20121126-202534.jpg

20121126-202539.jpg

20121126-202544.jpg

20121126-202549.jpg

20121126-202555.jpg

20121126-202604.jpg

20121126-202620.jpg

20121126-202630.jpg

20121126-202643.jpg

20121126-202650.jpg

20121126-202657.jpg

20121126-202704.jpg

20121126-202710.jpg

20121126-202716.jpg

20121126-202723.jpg

20121126-202731.jpg

20121126-202743.jpg

20121126-202749.jpg

20121126-202755.jpg

20121126-202801.jpg

20121126-202811.jpg

20121126-202818.jpg

20121126-202827.jpg

20121126-202838.jpg

20121126-202848.jpg

20121126-202854.jpg

20121126-202902.jpg

20121126-202911.jpg

20121126-202920.jpg

20121126-202931.jpg

20121126-202938.jpg

20121126-202948.jpg

20121126-202957.jpg

20121126-203006.jpg

20121126-203014.jpg

20121126-203023.jpg

20121126-203034.jpg

20121126-203044.jpg

20121126-203053.jpg

20121126-203106.jpg

20121126-203117.jpg

20121126-203136.jpg

20121126-203144.jpg

20121126-203154.jpg

20121126-203205.jpg

20121126-203217.jpg

20121126-203228.jpg

20121126-203239.jpg

20121126-203250.jpg

20121126-203258.jpg

20121126-203311.jpg

20121126-203324.jpg

20121126-203333.jpg

20121126-203342.jpg

20121126-203353.jpg

20121129-054310.jpg

20121129-054332.jpg

20121129-054344.jpg

20121129-054358.jpg

20121129-054405.jpg

20121129-054418.jpg

20121129-054425.jpg

20121129-054433.jpg

20121129-054440.jpg

20121129-054449.jpg

20121129-054457.jpg

20121129-054505.jpg

20121129-054512.jpg

20121129-054519.jpg

20121129-054539.jpg

20121129-054554.jpg

20121129-054601.jpg

20121129-054608.jpg

Not for one second do we regret taking the kids while they were so young. In fact we are busting to go again. Things will be quite different this time though as we have an extra child, but our first two are much older and the beauty of going again now is that they will remember it! I recommend anyone to go to America…it is a great place to holiday!