Winter wonderland

Looking at my header photo it confirms to me how quickly the seasons change here. We’ve had our first proper dump of snow, with snow angels made, snowmen built and lots of skidding on frozen patches of ice. We’ve had to put the scooters away, which made a 20 minute walk to yoga with Meema the other day take 45 as she and Woo insist on stopping to sample the snow on each street corner.

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Then with a day of rain, all the snow was washed away.

We’ve enjoyed the cold for the most part, though without a car it does make our world feel that little bit smaller. The effort to get everyone dressed and out of the house as well as walking rather than scooters has meant fewer excursions, but now we’re in holiday mode with Hutch around too, we’ll be going out each day exploring some more parts of Boston. The children’s museum is apparently great and is somewhere I’ve saved for a cold day. There are snowfields less than an hour’s drive away, and ice skating rinks all around town.

Having Christmas Day just us was brilliant, possibly my best Christmas ever. The kids were so excited in the morning, they were thrilled with their presents and just full of joy. Pancakes for breakky with ice cream (only because it was Christmas), then more playing with toys and off to the playground to try out Meema’s new skipping rope and Skets’ baseball set. The snow having melted was blessing in disguise as trying to find a white baseball on snow would have been nearly impossible. Woo got a big blue sled and as the most patient of our three he’s quite happy to wait for the snow to try it out, though we have had to discourage it from being used down the stairs 😦

Home for a roast turkey with the best gravy I’ve ever done (I like to cook, but gravy has always been my nemesis) Jamie Oliver’s get-ahead gravy was the base plus a couple of secret ingredients from my mum made it delicious with plenty left over.

I had a moment of homesickness watching this, but remembered that just having the five of us together with no pressure to be anywhere made it such a special day, and a cold Christmas is such a novelty.

We spent the afternoon watching a movie, then wandered down the street to have a drink with some other Aussies. Eight kids aged between eight and three and they were all fabulously behaved, thanks to Polar Express. The adults actually had a chance to talk nearly uninterrupted!

Home again to speak to families back in Melbourne and some very happy but tired Hutchies tucked up in bed last night.

As I write this the snow flakes are falling thick and fast, I think Woo’s sled might get a run tomorrow!

I hope you had the perfect Christmas for you, with whatever it was to recharge your batteries and have a smile on your face.

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Exploring the countryside

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Last weekend we decided to explore New Hampshire, about two hours drive north of here (if you know where you’re going) to see the gorgeous colours of the changing Autumn leaves.

We found a much better car hire place than we had in LA, and they even pick you up if you need them to. Good service offering if you ask me. We hit the road about 230 on Friday afternoon, Hutch’s last class for the week was cancelled and the boys finish school at 140 so we thought we’d head straight out of town. Of course, with me navigating on a phone rather than with a GPS, meant we went the scenic way through Cambridge, instead of straight onto the interstate, and the traffic was quite heavy so it took a little longer than we thought.

We had a plan for a few activities, but nothing set in stone so we waited to see what the weather was going to do before we committed to anything. The kids are at quite a good age in that they go along with our ideas, no teenage eye rolling yet, they are happy so long as they’ve got full tummies and a little bit of Gorillaz and Gotye to listen to.

Saturday morning we decided to check out a ropes course about 10 min drive from where we were staying in Laconia. I always like the idea of ropes courses, I loved them in high school and quite enjoy the zip lines (flying foxes). Meema was too small to go, so Hutch stayed with her while the boys went through the kids’ course and I navigated the adults’. The boys got the knack of the safety really quickly, six point harnesses and two ‘monkey paws’ that had to be attached to the lines at all times. They hooned around their course very happily, with some lovely team work along the way, finishing off with a little zip line at the end.

I could see all this happening because I got up to the top of the course at the beginning of a zip line and had to ‘rest’. I sat there for quite a while, way too long really cos I couldn’t convince myself to step off the edge and go. The top platform was about four storeys up, attached to a pole which swayed a little as people tugged on the lines. The course staff ended up coming up to check on me. We had a lovely chat, (turns out he’s a twin who works with his brother and they’re very close, I found out quite a bit, anything to distract me from what I had to do) and he gave me the sensible advice of looking up not down. I was quite happy with that, I trusted the monkey paws to hold me up, I just didn’t like the stepping over the edge part. Choice sucks really, I mean I’ve jumped out of an aeroplane before and LOVED it, but then I was attached to someone who wasn’t going to kill himself so it was much easier. This time I just had to distract my brain and latch onto something that made sense. So I wriggled to the edge of the platform on my bottom, looked to the sky and slipped off. It was a lovely ride, over a pond and came in gently to the other side where I had to do it over again. Was much easier the second time once I knew what I had to do.

I never used to be afraid of heights and there really hasn’t been an occasion for me to develop one, but it seems here to stay as I had the same issue back in January with Tough Mudder.

We did some more touristy things and went back to our accommodation where Hutch and the kids spent the late afternoon in the indoor pool, with two little waterslides.

On Sunday morning it was very drizzly (or sprinkly as they call it here) so we set off for home via Walmart (they don’t have a Walmart in Boston, apparently the wages are really bad or something) and a short walk through the state park which was luckily not affected by the government shutdown. The boys had to collect Fall specimens for school so we gathered a bag full of pine cones, acorns and leaves for them to take home.

Another stop at LLBean for some winter clothes, Meema looks way too cute in a snow suit, and we hit the interstate and were home very quickly.

We were supposed to have a block party that afternoon but it was bucketing so we thought it would be called off. It was for most people, but our new friends from Sydney and one of the boys’ classmates had pulled out the BBQ and were having a party anyway, so we took the scooters, umbrellas and some beers and let the kids cruise around and we had a very relaxing end to the weekend.

It was quite a different weekend than what we would have done if it was just the two of us, but we all had a great time and I think that’s mostly because we didn’t try to do too much. In April it’s Maple Syrup harvest in Vermont so we’ll definitely have to go to check that out, and do some tasting!

We are all very happy here, and will definitely do some more weekends away. Hutch is loving learning in an environment broader than medicine and hopes he can share those skills and knowledge through uni when we get home.

Moving to the US – part 2 Legoland

We arrived at Legoland around 7 o’clock with three hungry and hot kids. They’d snoozed in the car, but it had been a long journey and they were over travelling. As were we! We’d been given token directions to the hotel, i.e. get off the Interstate 5 at the Palomar Airport exit, but nothing more than that and there weren’t any signposts. For anyone reading who might be going, you need to turn left off the interstate, not right like we did.

We pulled up at the hotel entrance and Woo was suitably excited, but Skets burst in to tears. Poor boy, he was so hot and hungry and not as much of a fan of Lego as his brother.  We’d kept it all as a surprise so I had to manage him a bit and talk up the water slides etc. Once we got to our room which was themed as ‘Kingdom‘ so had knights and castles and cool shields.

We headed straight to dinner, which is a full buffet, with kid specific bain maries. A reasonable range of food including the usual spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese. There was also a mexican stand, roast, pasta, salad and dessert bar. With the obligatory soft serve machine the kids were in heaven! Oddly you had to ask a waitress for a glass of cold water, but apart from that it was just what we needed. Kids under 3 go free so poor Meema had to cope with us saying she was nearly three everywhere we went. She wasn’t happy about that at all!

Everyone slept really well both nights we were there, I think being out all day in the sunshine helps with getting acclimatised, and the flight over was mostly night time so the jet lag wasn’t bad.

We spent the first day on the left side of the park, going through the junior driving school, up in the Sky Patrol (stationary) helicopters and the Splash Battle. It was hot and our kids aren’t great at walking so we rented a stroller for $11. Well worth it, definitely saved us carrying Miss M. A friend had warned me to wear our bathers as some of the rides you get very wet and I’m glad we took her advice.  At the back of the park is the Water Park. You have to pay extra to get in which we did as part of our accommodation package and do need to pay $3 for the under 3s and the queue was massive. Saying all that though, we spent a good three hours there, with the kids very happily playing in the pools and on the water slides. Hutch took the boys up onto a bigger water slide and they loved it. They were tall enough to go down the rest on their own; poor Hutch was hoping he’d be needed for a few more years on water slides, but it was great to see the boys wanting to spend time together and racing off to go down again. Hilariously, the pool was closed for floaties (of the stinky kind) twice.  Yuck!

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Back to the hotel pool for the end of the day for more swimming, and an early meal and bed.

On Sunday we tried to get up early and use the priority queue for hotel guests, but again were too slow off the mark. The boys were desperate to go on a roller coaster that we’d said no to the day before because the queues were too long and of course when we got there on day 2 the line was even longer. Luckily there was a sandpit next door for Meema and I to hang out in while the boys waited. I was a bit nervous for them, I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters, but they loved it! I see a trip to the Gold Coast in the future, well, the next 5 years.

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This time I hired a double stroller which took me back to the days when the boys were small, that was $17 dollars I think and they all squished on at various stages. We went right in the park after the roller coaster and saw the Star Wars X-Wing model which had 5 million pieces in it. Fairly impressive.

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The boys then spent some time in the construction zone, building cars to race against other down a short track. I think I could have left them all there for at least an hour, but M and I were ready to go. This side of the park was geared to older kids with some bigger roller coasters, so we wandered through and had some ribs and chicken for lunch. The food options weren’t great, everything came with fries and a soft drink, but I guess that’s fairly standard for theme parks. The kids had a great time in the massive Hideaways fort, it was huge and gave them a chance to run around in the shade and for Hutch and I to chill for a few minutes. We ended up at the Pirates Reef, a splashdown rollercoaster in which you were guaranteed to get soaked. Of course we all went on and realised afterwards that perhaps it was a bit much for a three year old. whoops. She’s ok though. The rides were all clearly marked with the height restrictions and did have fairly long queues but they moved quickly and the kids didn’t mind too much.

The kids had some birthday money we said they could spend in the shop on the way out. needless to say, Woo suffered from buyer’s remorse and ruined the family photo on our departure. You may see him as extra elbows by Skets’ head below. Oh well, a funny story for later.

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We left for our drive back to LAX giving ourselves plenty of time after the bad experience picking up the car, and had a relaxed arrival at the airport ready for our red eye flight to Boston.