I love summer and I love Christmas so having them at the same time this year was a real treat. The lights of Christmas shone beautifully on St. Mary's Cathedral. We enjoyed viewing the nativity, listening to Christmas carols, watching the puppets in the windows at David Jones and eating ice cream.
I have to admit, I haven't been much in the Christmas spirit this year. Maybe it's because I'm in Australia and it's the middle of summer. Maybe it's because I'm so far away from my family and friends.
But finally tonight, on Christmas Eve, it hit me. We went to church and listened to the beautiful Christmas carols and heard the story of the first Christmas again. And it finally felt like Christmas when I realized that tomorrow morning, no matter where you are, the whole weary world rejoices.
I'm re-posting these two videos that have been floating around the internet this week. The first I found on Natasha's blog. It's such a beautiful version of the Christmas story presented by the children of St. Paul's Church in New Zealand. I first saw the bottom one on Erin's blog. It's a cute modern-day take on Christmas. Both made me smile while reminding me of the real meaning of the holiday. I hope you enjoy them!
Since I slacked off and didn't organise a get-away for us while my sweetie is off work this week, we decided to holiday at home and do some of the things we've always wanted to right here in our own backyard.
This morning we got up bright and early and set out to walk from The Spit to Manly. This is an ambitious bushwalk- about 10k-and we had all three kids in tow.
About 2k into the walk we came to a lovely little beach called Clontarf. And- BONUS- it had a playground we've never been to. Summer mission #3- check!
After a bit of a play we were back on the track, heading past Castle Rock Beach and Grotto Point. The views were typical Sydney views- which is to say they were absolutely stunning.
The track was pretty challenging; especially since I had the bubby on my back and the little buddy spent most of the walk on his dad's shoulders. Did I mention there were A LOT of stairs. Yes, there were.
As we made our way up to the Dobroyd Scenic Lookout I began to think that 5.5 km was plenty for one day. The kids agreed. And wouldn't you know there was yet another playground behind the reserve. Make that Summer Mission #4!
While the kids played we grownups decided to call a taxi to take us back to our car. The rest of the Spit to Manly walk would have to wait for another day.
But when you're a family of 5 taking a taxi isn't as easy as it seems. The cab company had a bit of trouble locating a seven seat taxi with an infant capsule. We waited, and waited. Finally I made an executive decision. Send the dad back to the car in a regular taxi, and he'd come back and get the rest of us.
So off he went. Of course, when he arrived at the car he quickly realized he didn't have the keys with him! So, back to the playground he came, picked up the keys, took the taxi back to the car, and finally, came back to retrieve us all.
Now you'd think that would be enough of an adventure for one day. But no- there's more. I had arranged for my hubby and I to take sailing lessons this week, and today was the first one.
We were both a bit surprised when we showed up at the sailing school and met our instructor who appeared to be a 13 year old Justin Bieber look-a-like.
But, I'm happy to report he was actually quite competent. The lesson went smoothly, we didn't damage anything, and they said we could come back tomorrow for the second installment.
Whew! Next time I plan a holiday at home I think we will just make plans to plop ourselves on the beach. In fact, I think I'll pencil that in for next week.
If you're a mom, you've probably experienced something like this. You're driving along on your way to someplace very important (a doctor's appointment, the airport, or IKEA) with your preschooler in the back seat. As you zoom down the street he catches a glimpse of some primary coloured playground equipment in his peripheral vision. He pleads from the backseat, "We've NEVER been to that playground!!! Can we go there now, PLEASE?"
This scenario repeats itself over and over. I always have to turn down his requests to stop and play. There are just more important things to attend to.
But not today. Today is the first day of summer vacation. And I have made it my summer mission to visit as many "new" playgrounds as we possibly can.
This one is in our own neighbourhood. The huge "fallen down tree" has been calling out to him for months. Today he finally got to climb it.
Way back in February, the Little Princess decided she wanted to join the Australian Girls Choir. But, like most things in Australia, there was a waiting list. (Have I mentioned the waiting list issue before? Waiting lists for playgroups, waiting lists for preschools, waiting lists for sports classes, waiting lists for doctors and so on and so on and so on).
So we waited. For months. And finally they called. So for the past 2 terms, the Little Princess has been singing her heart out every Saturday morning in preparation for the big Annual Concert. At the Sydney Opera House- in the Concert Hall no less.
She dreams of being a pop star someday and who knows if that dream will ever come true. But she sang on stage at the Opera House- and that's more than most wanna-be pop stars can say.
It was a day she'll never forget. And neither will I.
Not your typical Thanksgiving to be sure, but it was a wonderful celebration. This year we gathered with about 20 other American families for a huge potluck on the beach. Some were my closest friends in Oz, some were friends of friends and some were cyber-friends I met for the first time that day. But all of us had something in common. We may be living on the other side of the world, but we're still Americans. And I'm so thankful for that!