Mom arrived a day before Dad, and my mom's trip was made more comfortable by business class reclining seats and a United-issued down comforter that she may or may not have "accidentally" taken with her as she waved to the flight attendant and left the plane. Does my witnessing her snipping off the United tags to destroy evidence make me an accomplice after the fact? I'll have to dust off my criminal law textbook.
Alleged theft aside, it was fun meeting Mom at the airport. On the way back, the bus driver insisted upon stopping at the Bulli lookout. You can't see the ocean in the picture, but take my word for it that the view was lovely. I'm grateful to the bus driver, because this is now my favorite picture of us.
As soon as the school bell rang, the older boys ran out and leapt into her arms...
...and she received the same warm welcome upon arrival at Kenyon's school.
My parents' visit coincided with their 40th wedding anniversary. When I married Sam, I thought it was a good sign that we both came from families with strong marriages; I'm so thankful for how they've modeled what it means to be a partner through life.
|just like newlyweds!|
My dad, as my brother once noted, is the Mick Jagger of journalism; he's pretty well-known in his field. While he was here, he spent some time speaking at the University of Wollongong as well as some media organizations in Sydney and Melbourne. During one interview, he discussed computer-assisted reporting on a television program called Planet America. Of course I'm a bit partial because he's my dad, but friends from Miami and others might be interested to hear him talk about Hurricane Andrew; he begins a bit after the 24-minute mark found here.
Between Dad's speaking engagements here in town and their weeklong trip to Melbourne, the month flew by and we all soaked up the inevitable spoiling that is synonymous with Nana and Papa. Since their visit also coincided with the school drama coming to a head, they were also a welcome distraction as Jackson struggled to deal with his frustration.
One day with the kids in school and husbands working, Mom and I drove to Bundeena and took the ferry to Cronulla. Walking around, having a coffee at a cafe, and exploring the cute little town was a perfect way to spend the day together.
One of the best experiences my family has had in this country has been seeing the unique wildlife actually in the wild. Seeing koalas up in the trees at Raymond Island and the wombat(!) nibbling on grass at Wilsons Prom are memories that I will never forget. Neither of those places are close enough to show visitors, so we settled on Wildlife Sydney during a long weekend outing. Koalas are pretty darn adorable wherever you see them, and I think Mom would have stuffed a koala into her purse if there were any eucalyptus trees growing back at home in Arizona.
I never tire of taking ferries around Sydney--it's a gorgeous city to explore.
|Dad and I with the Harbour Bridge backdrop|
My parents were good sports and agreed to go stay in a cabin at one of our favorite places, Murramarang National Park. The 3-hour drive in the drizzly dark night in a minivan full of children surely isn't the way they usually travel, but it was undeniably well worth the trip to wake up in the morning and see this:
The Depot Beach cabins are just a 2-minute walk from the beach, where kangaroos graze on plants and grasses right on the sand. Rainbow lorikeets, galahs, and king parrots are also everywhere.
I think hanging out with the kangaroos and gorgeous birds at the cabin as well as exploring the seaside outcroppings was the highlight of the whole visit for us all; well, except of course, the outing to Birdland Animal Park to see visit my soulmate, the illustrious Bubbles the Wombat!!
I mean, HONESTLY. She is just so darn adorable. That right there, that wombat snuggle, is worth braving the flight across the planet in itself.
The folks at Birdland take in orphaned wombats and raise them until they can be released into the wild a few years later. The baby wombats go home with their caregivers each night. Yes, I'm telling you there's an actual career where one of the responsibilities is wombat snuggling. Man, I missed my calling bigtime with this whole law business.
It sounds overly simplistic, but family is good; I like these people and I'm glad I don't normally live across the world from them. Love you, Mom and Dad!