Them new place feels.

We are coming up to two months in the new place since moving from Sydney to Brisbane over the Christmas period. And as usual, with a military move, nothing runs smoothly. The prepack and uplift in Sydney was pretty good, and we headed out on the drive up without any dramas. Doctor Who, our now senior guinea pig, survived the drive up and seemed to enjoy it. The kids had fun and it was an easy move up.

The down lift into the new house was quick. By mid afternoon we had all our belongings in and ready for us to start unpacking and sorting. This was the easiest, drama free move we have ever experienced. For me, growing up an Army brat, we had many a move with dramas – car breaking down, interesting accommodation stops (un-flushable poos in toilets, mounds of pubic hair in the shower drains, neighbouring guests playing the Lost Boys soundtrack on repeat as they sat outside and downed can after can of beer – just to mention a few), myself or one of my three brothers getting sick, my mum suffered hyperemesis gravidarum on our posting from Darwin to Sydney – she was so sick in the temporary accommodation in Sydney as we waited for our house to be ready for us to move into.

The first afternoon in the new place we went and picked Ripley and Dwight up from the pet resort where they had been enjoying their own little holiday as the rest of us drove up to Brisbane. Dwight was quite confident exploring the new home, for a cat he is very un-catlike. Ripley lost her cool when she saw her new massive back yard (our place in Sydney had a yard the size of a postage stamp – it was really small). So, to watch her take off and do zoomies around the big space was awesome. She trotted to the back door, tongue hanging out, tail wagging – a very happy German Shephard!
We had the house sorted out quick, and Mike and I were stoked at how smoothly this move had gone and how nicely we were settling into our new place. We had gone out and bought the school supplies, high-fiving each other at how great this was all turning out.

Then Ripley started scratching at her ears. She started shaking her head a lot. Her head then remained tilted. We took her to the vet where it was discovered she had a severe ear infection in both ears that would require her ears to be flushed out and treated. Okay, nothing too major. We booked her in for the day procedure and the week leading up to it she was on a course of steroids to help open her ear canals in preparation for the procedure. The morning of, I took her in and filled out the paperwork. The vet explained exactly what they would be doing and what the after care will be. Easy. They then took her into the surgery to get her ready and I went back home to wait out for the call to say she was ready to come back home. I got the call, but it wasn’t to say she was ready to come home. Whilst cleaning her right ear, the vet found a large haematoma that would require draining. Alright, drain away. Later that evening we were finally able to go and bring her back home. She was groggy but her ears were now clean, and her right ear had a collection of stents in them to help with the draining out of the haematoma. On the way out of the clinic, the nurse gave us a cone to use on Ripley if she started scratching at her ears – we didn’t want her to pop the stitches in her ear.

Turns out Ripley was the best patient; not once did she scratch at her ears. Dwight on the other hand was proving to be the difficult one. He was determined to get at Ripley’s stitched up ear, and this is where we put the cone to good use – not on Ripley, but we placed the cone over Dwight to contain him – stop him from trying to help clean out Ripley’s ears. It worked!

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The only way we could keep Dwight away from Ripley’s ear.

So, a minor blip on the road to settling in. No big deal. We moved onwards. The kids started school, and as expected there were tears and frustration at missing their friends and school from Sydney. To help them adjust, Mike took them over to a co-worker’s place for a swim in their pool and a barbecue lunch. The co-worker’s son is in the same class as Mish, and his daughter was attending the same high school as Tilly. I stayed at home in order to get the school lunch baking done and to catch up on an assignment. I was going to go out later that night to meet some other military wives, hoping to make some new friends.

I missed the dinner.

Instead I was sitting with Tilly and Mish at the ER waiting for Tilly to be seen.

Whilst at the barbecue lunch, Tilly had managed to face plant the pool wall when she swam right into it. When they walked through the door, I was greeted with my daughter sporting a massive purple honker on the middle of her face, followed close behind by Mishy, whose face had been char grilled as a result of not applying sunscreen. As I was grabbing ice packs, slathering aloe gel onto my son’s face, arguing with my daughter that she will be going to the hospital to have her nose checked out, I was gathering my handbag and googling the address of the local hospital. Less than a month in the new place and we were checking out the emergency department.

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Marcia Brady – Tilly channelled this look following face planting into the swimming pool wall.

Diagnosis: Soft tissue damage, and a slightly crooked nose that will need to be checked out by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist; we were cleared to head back home to rest. She had a night ahead of her of ice packs and Panadol. When we got home, I remembered that she had her school photos coming up that week too. I looked over at her, her mashed up nose, panda eyes, relaxing on the couch watching You Tube. Next to her was Mishy with a painful looking face – shiny from the layers of aloe gel I kept applying to stop his face from cooking.

Two days later, following our trip to the ER for Marcia Brady and El Scorcho, I sat with what was going to be my first of many coffees for the next few weeks, and watched my husband pack his gear into his car and head off on tasking. No sooner had he driven off, Ripley got up and walked over to the dining room and vomited.

Oh boy. Here we go…

I cleaned up the vomit and put Ripley outside where I then watched her. She wandered around the yard and then went and laid down on her bed. Maybe she overindulged in the kitty litter? Whilst she relaxed outside, I got the kids up ready for school. When I returned from school drop-off, I brought Ripley back inside. She seemed flat. Missing hubby? I offered her one of her favourite treats, she turned her head away and rested her chin on her paws. I called her over to the other side of the room and I noticed she seemed really slow to stand. This wasn’t right. I called the vet (who had only a week earlier taken the final stent and stitches from out of Ripley’s inner ear) and I explained what was happening. They booked her in for that afternoon. In the meantime, I washed her mouth out and thinking to myself could it be she has licked a cane toad? She was drinking water, but not enough.

By the time I got her to her appointment, she was flat. The vet was going to take her in for the afternoon and run bloods and to get her on a drip for hydration. Half an hour after admitting her, I got the call to say Ripley had pancreatitis. This is the first (and hopefully now the last) time this has happened, and my head was spinning. Of course, something like this would happen when my husband is interstate and I am in an area I am not familiar with. Ripley ended up spending two days in hospital undergoing treatment. By the Friday evening, despite her latest test showing her pancreas was still giving her grief, she was stable enough to come home for the weekend. She had a pain med patch on her back leg, and she was much brighter and excited to see us and be back at home than she was when we brought her into the clinic on the Wednesday.
My job over the weekend was to keep her fluids up and serve up several small portions of either boiled chicken breast or specialised dry dog food throughout the day and on Monday morning we would be back for another test, and if still positive, we would have to discuss further testing and examination by a specialist. My mind was trying to work out how I would juggle things if I had to drive across through Brisbane to the specialist with the kids in school – would I have to take them out of school for the day because of appointment/driving times being outside of school hours? I played nurse over that weekend, determined to get my best friend better. The thought of not having her kills me, and when she was in hospital, I felt lost without my side pup.

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Back at the vet – this time with pancreatitis.

Come the Monday morning, after I got the kids to school, Ripley and I were back at the vet for the next blood test. As I sat and waited for the vet and Ripley to return, my stomach was in knots. She had been doing so well over the weekend, I would be gutted if I couldn’t turn it around for her. Eventually Ripley and her vet returned, and the news was the best – NEGATIVE! We did it! We got her pancreas back down to normal levels. We could go home and get on with things – and with a specially modified diet. That afternoon she came with me to pick the kids up from school so she could give them the good news.

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So for the weekend leading up to the final blood test on the Monday, I had to serve up several small portions of boiled chicken and special dry food throughout the day for Ripley. Dwight was so incensed that his sister was getting “special treatment” he decided to protest – refusing to eat his “blah” food in order to get what Ripley was getting. So I had to make up a Dwight-serving (plate on the left) so he felt he wasn’t missing out on what poor Ripley had to eat (bowl on the right).

They say things happen in threes. Since moving in we have had ear surgery, busted nose and sunburn (which cleared up without blisters or peeling) and then pancreatitis. The kids and I have been housebound as Ripley recovered from her ear op and then pancreatitis, and the kids from their own injuries. We have not had a chance to get out and explore the area. This last weekend was the first weekend we were able to go out because Ripley was okay. Saturday, we checked out Springfield and enjoyed a nice long lunch, making the most of the slightly cooler weather that has come over. Yesterday (Sunday), we got up early to check out the local show ground market for breakfast and a scout about. The kids were happy to score a collection of 90’s era Yowie figurines. I enjoyed a fantastic coffee and stocked up on some soy melts from Violets Gifts and Treasures – as I type this I have Lolly Shoppe in the burner and the house smells like a candy store.


It finally feels like everything is now starting to settle (touch wood!) – the kids have made friends and are loving their new schools, and Ripley is back to normal. Dwight is still annoyed I am enforcing his diet, and Doctor Who shows no signs of slowing down despite his age. As for me, I am looking forward to eventually making friends and establishing myself.


This will be a good posting.

A New Adventure for Team J – Coffs Harbour, NSW

So after a good nights rest in our lovely room at the Charlesworth Bay Beach Resort in Coffs Harbour, we were up early to embark on a full day of activities.

Coffs Harbour is one of the largest urban centres on the North Coast of New South Wales. Situated 540km north of Sydney and 390km south of Brisbane, Queensland Coffs Harbour is our favourite holiday spot to relax and unwind. It is probably most known for the tourist attraction and amusement park, the Big Banana – a massive banana, the first of Australia’s Big Things it was built in 1964 on a banana plantation. You can walk through the Big Banana, pose for photos out the front too. It is a popular item on the Aussie tourist to do list. The weather in Coffs is always lovely – even in winter, and there are plenty of accommodation options available.

Up and ready for the day ahead, we started off by grabbing breakfast (and a coffee for me) at the Coffs Central Shopping Centre. Whilst there, I popped in to some shops for some bits and pieces for the day’s activities, and Mike bought the kids a Play Station VR set for Christmas. Whilst walking about the shopping centre we came upon Santa who was handing out candy canes. Caffeine hit, new swimmers (bathing suit), sunscreen, batteries for Tilly’s camera and the first Christmas gift sorted, we set off to our first activity for the day – checking out the Clog Barn Holiday Park.

 

 

This is a cute little attraction and accommodation option, that Mike and I have stayed at previously (December 2004 on our first posting from Sydney to Townsville). Back then the accommodation was clean and comfortable and unique. This time, we took the kids in to walk through the clog shop and model Dutch village before grabbing an ice cream each from Big Oma’s Coffee House (the morning was warming up quite quickly). Whilst eating our ice creams we met a lovely little pup by the name of Katherine who was enjoying her breakfast next to her owner. She had finished her breakfast before him though – for a tiny dog she could eat like Flash Lightning! Meanwhile, her owner was enjoying his big breakfast serving from Big Oma’s and holding conversation with Tilly and Mish. The staff there were all lovely and super friendly. At certain times, they run a clog making demonstration – we were too early for that, but you can still check out the workshop and look at clogs that have been made and are available for sale.

From there the Team headed to Dolphin Marine Magic. This is a fantastic education centre for young and old alike. The team there run shows daily to educate visitors on marine life and the conservation and preservation of our oceans. We arrived in time to catch the dolphin presentation which had a cameo by the lovely sea lion Adelaide. The dolphins, Zippy and Bella flipped and splashed, jumped and called out to the audience. The children were all enthralled by the experience. After the presentation, everyone was invited to come down to the pool where Zippy and Bella were doing the rounds for belly rubs (the LOVE their belly rubs). If you have not had the opportunity to pat a dolphin, they are very soft and smooth. Round and round they went, lapping up the attention. Then it was off to look at the other animals. We hung around the pool for a while, watching Zippy and Bella swim and play. They would come up to the sides to look at people, checking everyone out. Sometimes they would grab one of their balls and push it to the side to who ever was standing there wanting them to play. Mish was one of the lucky ones to be chosen by Zippy to play fetch – and he absolutely loved every minute of it.

Whilst we were still with the dolphins, Mike had snuck off to organise for the kids to meet Ozzie – a great big and beautiful sea lion. Last time we visited the park in 2009, the kids had their photos taken with one of the seals, and here they were going to get to do it all again. Ozzie, as you can see in the photos is a great big beautiful sea puppy. The kids were smitten with him, getting the chance to give him pats, toss the ball with him and feed him. For the photos they decided to poke their tongues out instead of getting a fishy, whiskery smooch from Oz.

Following the meet and greet with Ozzie, we headed up to see the Little Blue Penguins get their lunch. Initially we thought it was to watch the handlers feed them, but they had it all set up and visitors were able to line up and feed the penguins. They were so funny to watch, huddled up waiting for the handler to open the gate. The little wings and tails wiggling in anticipation for the big bucket of fishies. A few of them tried to climb off the little platform to dive right into the feeding bucket, the handler would gently set them back on the platform. They were adorable little characters, and oh boy can they put away their food!

 

The whole experience at Dolphin Magic centres around conservation and preservation of these wonderful creatures and their habitat. They are running an awareness program called Experience. Discover. Act. You can become involved in this program by simply snapping a selfie of you out and about picking up rubbish and tag on your social media it to #EDADMM – in doing so, they hope to spread awareness of the plight our marine life are facing due to pollution.

 

Before we knew it, it was coming up to lunch time and we were heading over to the next attraction – The Big Banana.

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Tilly and Mish letting me take a nice “normal” photo of them…

I don’t think a visit to Coffs Harbour is complete without a visit to the Big Banana. It is a large amusement park, spread out through a banana plantation. Right up behind the Big Banana is the café where you can enjoy coffee, cold drinks, cakes, hot meals and frozen bananas. There is a kids arcade next to the café, and out behind is the ticket counter for the other activities that are on offer. You can choose from tours, theatre (4D experience is coming soon), mini golf, laser tag, tobogganing, and if you are brave enough, you can try the Racer Slide. There is also a water park too cool off in, a cheese shop (for blessed are the cheese makers!) which not only have all things cheese, they run cheese making workshops and have a selection of amazing handmade chocolates to choose from. There is also a candy and opal shop on site too. We bought tickets for the Racer Slide and the toboggan. First up, the Racer… Holy cow it is a big, long slide! The hike to get up to the top can rattle you if you are not a mountaineer, or just fit in general. Mish made it to the top, but upon looking down the slide he went pale and shaky and decided he wasn’t dare devil enough to give it a go. Mike went down the slide twice, I had one go and that was enough for me – self preservation kicked in as I felt my bum lift only so slightly off the slide. I didn’t see anything other than my life flash before my eyes as I screamed all the way down, clutching the carpet sack I was sitting on for dear life. Tilly on the other hand, first go and she was wild about it.

We gave her all the remaining tickets, and she would bolt up the steep incline, carpet sack over her shoulder – without breaking a sweat. She would then take her spot on one of the lanes and as soon as the light turned green, she was off like a shot, arms up in the air and whooping it up in adrenaline. Mike had over estimated our eagerness for the slide and as such had purchased a heap of tickets for it. So much so, that Tilly befriended two other young girls and was only too happy to share the remaining slide tickets with them (we didn’t mind, and we could see the girl’s parents were grateful for the chance to be able to get off their feet and have a cold drink and a rest whilst the kids wore themselves out).

Slide tickets finished, we headed up past the water park to the toboggan ride. Mish was apprehensive about it, but I managed to convince him to come with me on my toboggan. First round, he loved it – I put him in control of the brake, so he felt comfortable. Second go, he wanted to remain with me. The third round and he was ready to take the ride on his own and he and Tilly set off to do the toboggan track with the parentals watching on.

It was getting late in the day, so we wrapped up our visit to the Big Banana with a stop in at the cheese shop to sample some cheese and buy a box of handmade chocolates (yum!). We decided it was time to head back to the resort where we would finish the day with a swim in one of the three lagoon pools at the resort and then a wander down from the resort onto the beach for a spot of shell collecting. Unfortunately, we had to be on the road the next day to head to the next stop in our road trip, so the quiet swim and beach combing was a lovely way to finish up our fleeting visit.

Some other places we wanted to check out but didn’t get round to seeing was the Bunker Cartoon Gallery and the National Marine Science Centre. This just means that we absolutely must and will go back to Coffs!

To be continued…

We were also sad to learn of the passing of a wonderful man, Coffs Harbour local and Australian surfing legend Scott Dillion. We had the absolute honour of meeting him during our 2009 holiday when he was running the Legends Surf Museum. He passed away on the 12 December 18 at 90 years of age. I will always remember our meeting him – he absolutely adored the kids and took us through his museum, finishing with us all sitting on the porch and chatting and goofing around, and before we left, he had gifted us with an autographed poster. A very down to earth Aussie bloke. 

May he rest in peace.  

 

A New Adventure for Team J

Things are starting to settle down on what has been a month of big changes for our family. As I sit here typing this, we have just clocked up our first week in our new place. So, where will I begin? Last month was crazy. We were packing up our home in the lead up to our posting interstate, I was also trying to continue with my university study and working full time right up to our pre-pack day. Our daughter Tilly was closing the chapter on six years of Primary School, graduating year six and also saying goodbye to all her friends as she was getting her head around the fact that she will be starting her high school journey in another state, away from the friends she has made over the last four years of our posting to Sydney.

The day of her graduation was surreal – I could not link the Tilly standing next to me, holding her graduation certificate with the tiny Tilly who walked through the gates of the school on her first day of Prep, with such swagger and sass. Her school bag was bigger than her, and now she stands the same height as me, and is on the cusp of her teenage years. I sat through the graduation ceremony, in a daze, but holding it together. I cried when the Principal dismissed the year six students from the hall “for the very last time.” The teachers were all wiping away tears…so were all the other mums in the hall.

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Tilly on her first day of school with her cousin Em and little brother Mish (2012) to last month’s graduation with her dad Mike and little brother Mish

That night she had her formal, so we made a big fuss about it for her. She had picked out her outfit two weeks earlier and now she was excitedly getting dressed. I let her wear a little mascara and a touch of tinted lip gloss. When she came out of her room, myself, Mike and Mish all were caught off guard by just how grown up she looked. The little Prep Tilly was well and truly gone. She was driven to her formal in a Corvette –owned by my boss’ husband. Tilly loved it, she could not stop talking about how great the car sounded and all the attention it got when she pulled up the front of the venue. The boys in her class were pretty impressed by her ride.

All the year six kids looked so different now. Like young adults, they were ready for a night of good food, dancing and cake. Parents were not allowed, we had to go off and do our own thing, and this was just for the kids. Mike, Mish and I enjoyed a dinner with some friends before we went in to get some quick photos, have a dance with the kids and then head home. It was a fantastic night for Tilly – she had so much fun partying with all her friends. I exchanged numbers with other mum’s so our kids can all stay in touch. Then that was it.

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Last day of school.

The day of the removal up lift was the kids last day at school. They had their shirts signed by friends and teachers, exchanged Christmas gifts and cards with friends and come the final bell, it was hugs and final goodbyes. Tears and more hugs. I grew up an Army kid and we moved every two years. I hate this part of the life – it never gets easier and I felt so sad for my kids and their friends.

That was that. The next morning the cars were packed, we checked out of the hotel and we started our journey to the next posting. Dwight our cat and Ripley our dog were already in the pet resort in our gaining location of Brisbane. They were flown up the day before the up lift. From all accounts of the pet transport company and the pet resort, they were doing just fine. Our guinea pig, Doctor Who was going to travel up with us – he rode shotgun in Mike’s car. Doctor is 5, almost 6 years old, so in guinea pig years, he is a little old man. He handled the trip really well though. We had a comfy travel crate for him and a portable pen for the hotel stays.

The drive out of Sydney was surprisingly really smooth considering we were heading out on the very first day of school holidays. Tilly and Mish rode in my car and we had it stocked with lots of snacks, cold drinks and audio books – the kids LOVE the Tree House series by Andy Griffith and Terry Denton. We were on the first leg to Brisbane – Sydney to Coffs Harbour. We love Coffs, it is our favourite little family get away spot. So we were all pretty excited to be going back there for a two day mini-vacation. By 3pm that day we arrived in Coffs and checked into Charlesworth Bay Beach Resort. We quickly unpacked and set up Doctor by the big double doors so the cool ocean breeze could cool him down. No sooner had we unpacked, I was running the kids down to the little beach – the very first beach Mish was taken to when he was seven months old (we had stayed at this resort back in 2009 when we had a little family vacation upon Mike’s return from deployment). It was really surreal watching him running into the waves. Last time he was at this beach he was not too thrilled by it.

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We finished off the long day with Thai from a great little place called Memory Thai (Tilly highly recommends the Pad Thai and Mish and I love the Yellow Curry).

To be continued…

 

 

I am still here!!!

Me: I’m going to sit down this morning and catch up on some writing.

Dwight: What’s that? You’re going to feed me?

Me: No. You have already had two packets. I am going to do my wri…

Dwight parks his crunchy cat butt down, right on my laptop keypad and he stares straight at me.

Dwight: What’s that? You’re going to feed me?

Before I can push him away I hear a loud BANG from the lounge room. I run in to see Mike is playing the PS VR, twirling about with his “gun”. He stuck it up in the air right into the ceiling fan WHICH WAS ON!

I have turned the lounge room ceiling fan off for Captain Oblivious’ safety, made it clear to Dwight he is not getting more food, fixed breakfast for Mish while he gave me a run down on Xenomorph aliens; now I just want to sit and write.

Tilly is still passed out in bed. She is my favourite human in this house right now.

Dwight’s Day

Me: “Hey Dwight, why are you looking so glum?”

Dwight: “First up, I only got ONE PACKET of food this morning. Then I was jammed into a carry cage. Then I got the worst Uber lift to my medical appointment. The guy drove like he was flying an old RAAF aircraft. Both the driver and his mate decided to stop for breakfast at a cafe. They left me in my cage at the table whilst they ordered food and they had the audacity to get annoyed when I voiced my opinion, declaring I was not going to be paying the fee for this pit stop. They put me back in the car, continued to eat their food in the car IN FRONT OF ME – I WAS STARVING! Finally I reach my appointment only to be violently shaken out of the cage, poked, prodded and man handled. To top it off, I get told I am too fat and I got stabbed in the neck when I was distracted by the smell of fear coming out of the room next door. THEY FRICKEN STABBED ME IN MY NECK! I COULD HAVE DIED! Apparently it is a booster vaccination, and now I am sore, snuffly, cranky and starving. Oh, and if you think of taking the Vet up on her recommendation of a feeding chart for me, I will eat you. Not a threat. A promise.”

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The Latest Fad…

Mish has a new obsession. Aliens, or to be more specific, Alien. It is all I hear about now. Friday night whilst trying to piece together my critical reflection piece for my uni subject, I was given the run down of the entire Alien franchise and cost comparisons of Alien figurines. I am pretty sure the odd reference to a xenomorph has made it’s way into my now already submitted piece. 😖

Yesterday the discussion continued as I dropped Mike off to meet up with his coworkers, did a quick grocery shop, and then tried to catch up on tutorials. Aliens, aliens, aliens. I could not catch a break – even when I went to the bathroom, Mish stood outside the door and demonstrated his Alien and Predator sounds. Nice. Meanwhile, Mike was partying up on a boat in the Sydney Harbour and Tilly had barricaded herself in her room to avoid the Aliens obsessed brother of hers.

It was relentless. By the time he went to bed my brain went into survival mode and shut down. Anything I had wanted to work on that day was now not going to happen because my brain could only muster enough cells to enable me to sit and stare at the tv as The Christmas Prince movie played (don’t ask me what it was about, I just saw blobs of colours and spent the movie preparing to scream at the first sight of a xenomorph).

I wake early this morning to fix myself a coffee and to sit and listen to some podcasts in peace and quiet as the family sleep in. I am excited. A break! I let Ripley out (the dog, not the Alien killer) and walk into the lounge with my cup of coffee. My eyes on my phone with the first podcast up and ready to play. Then I saw him. Mish was up. Bright eyed and sitting on the couch, looking at me. I just about died.

Me: “uh…good morning son.”
Mish: “good morning mum.”

I pause and wait for it… nothing…

Me: “would you like some breakfast?”
Mish: “yes please.”

Breakfast made, I sit down with my coffee. I turn the podcast app off because I know my fantasy of alone time whilst still coherent, just like my fantasy of Prince Harry leaving Meghan Markle for me, is never going to happen.

He swallows his first mouthful of cornflakes…

“Mum did you know that the protomorph is bigger than the xenomorph? I also think my request for a twenty nine, ninety five dollar Alien figure is more reasonable than Tilly’s request for the larger Queen Alien figure which retails for over one hundred dollars. Hey, do you know where the eyes are situated on the Alien’s head? Do you know the speed of which the Alien can project out it’s second mouth? Like, this fast…” he swings his arm out to demonstrate.

Oh boy. It is going to be another long day for me…

 

Memories of the Happiest Place on Earth Pt 5

California Adventure is a step back into the California that Walt Disney arrived at when he first set about his path to Mickey Mouse. Stepping back into 1923 Los Angeles with buildings and characters of the like Walt encountered when he stepped of that tram. It is this side that you will encounter more recent Disney characters along with a theatre, animation studio, at the time of our visit the Tower of Terror was still operating, Cars Land and Bugs Land. Mish was a huge fan of the Cars movie so for him to see Lightning McQueen, Mater, Luigi, and the others driving around and posing for photographs was more than his little heart could bear. The first time he saw Lighting as he slowly drove by, he burst into tears “because he is REAL!” When we went to get our photo with Lightning, Mish slowly approached, gave the car a pat and then a hug. During the day we went on Lugi’s tyre ride, through the underground with the bugs – the 4D Bug’s Life theatre was so much fun. You get sprayed at by termites, “stung” by wasps and have roaches run under your bottom!

There is a water park feature which was fantastic in the Californian summer heat. The kids got absolutely drenched and loved every moment of it. We saw the performance of Aladdin at the theatre, which was AMAZING! The actor who played Genie was so very much like the late and great Robin Williams, he would have been proud of this actor. He had everyone laughing and cheering along. Over near the massive Mickey ferris wheel we jumped on the Little Mermaid ride (located in Pacific Pier) before making our way to meet up with Woody, Buzz and the gang from Andy’s room in Toy World. Jesse spent some time with Tilly and Mish as we waited to meet Woody and Buzz, she took them over to look at the water and the roller coaster that would whoosh past, filled with screaming laughter, and ironically the ride is called California Screamin’.

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Eventually they got to meet and have photos with Buzz and Woody, Mish was a little nervous at first. The Toy Story ride/shoot em’ up laser game is a lot of fun. Mike and Tilly versus Mish and me, we jumped into our carts and made our way through the course, hitting our targets, getting sprayed with water and cold air. Very competitive and the kids got right into it. We stopped for lunch, some more gift shopping and then more rides. We finished off the night with the Radiator Springs Racers ride. Out of all the rides, this one had the longest queue time, and by that stage Mish had fallen asleep in my arms as we slowly made our way down the line to the ride. It was worth the wait though – like Space Mountain, it is a fast ride and it is incredibly fun (all rides as Disney Land are fun). Afterwards we walked through the neon-lit Radiator Springs towards the pier for the World of Colours show. Wow. Absolutely stunning and a spectacular way to wrap up our short stay. Disney never does anything by halves, and I have not seen a light show that comes close to what we watched that night.

At the end of the night, as fireworks lit up the sky, we said goodbye to an amazing experience. A final photo with Pluto, and we walked out of the park. The kids loved every minute of it. Mike and I loved every minute of it. It was definitely money well spent. The memories will last a lifetime. Growing up on Disney movies, as a kid I was forever drawing the characters – telling myself that one day I would be an animator for Disney. Well, I never achieved that, but I did get to go and spend some time at the Happiest Place on Earth, and that is just as good for me. Mike and I have made a vow that we will return one day, and now that the kids are older we will be able to stretch out our visit, taking in more of Anaheim and surrounds.

If you ever get the chance to visit Disneyland I highly recommend it. Especially if you have kids – you get to live the experience through their eyes and it is like reliving your childhood all over again.

Remember:

*Space Mountain is a very fast ride!

*Get a photo pass card. As you go through the park there are photographers with the characters. The photographer scans your card, and takes your photos. At the end of your visit you can log onto your account, select the photos you want and download them or have them sent to you on a CD (this is what we did).

*Hug as many characters as you can!

For more information check out: http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com

The End 🙂