Back on the Plane Gang

Our post office in Phoenix managed to screw up our mail hold again. Yes, they held the mail while we were in Australia, the problem was they kept holding it after we returned. No mail was delivered Thursday or Friday, so I got to start my morning with a trip to the post office. Not something I wanted to do, especially on a travel day. I really hate having to run errands on a travel day. I’m always paranoid that something bad will happen – flat tire, car accident.

Well, nothing like that happened, of course. But the trip turned out to be a total waste of time. Turns out, our regular carrier was off the last two days and the sub didn’t delivered the held mail. So by the time I arrived at 9:30, our mail was already out on the truck for delivery today. Hope it gets here before we leave for the airport at 2:00.

Further contributing to my foul mood is that I got absolute shit for sleep last night. Probably partially due to lingering jet lag and partially due to the lump of deep dish pizza clogging my digestive tract. (Yes, I know I swore to clean up my diet upon our return – consider it one last indiscretion) I also woke up constantly with hot flashes, the worst I’ve had in quite a while.

Bottom line, I am happy, happy, happy to be heading back to Minnesota this afternoon. I need the routine to get me back on track. Yes, we are going to have a million decisions to make regarding the house. Yes, I’m going to freak out about the costs and whether or not we should even proceed. But I’m going to be doing that from the comfort of my home base with no big travel plans on the horizon.

One Binge Ends, Another Begins

I kept myself semi-functional yesterday by unpacking as soon as we got home and doing 3 loads of laundry. We stuck it out until about 5:00 last night and then crawled into bed. I wish I could say we slept for 12 hours, but if I’m being honest, I can only say we were in bed for that long. I even resorted to getting up and taking a sleeping pill just after 10:00. Being back in a comfortable bed felt like heaven.

Now that we are back, my eating and drinking binge has to end. Instead, we’re embarking on a TV watching binge. We’ve got four weeks worth of shows to catch up on in just two days. The only interruptions to our viewing so far have been to go out for haircuts and food. Not at the same time, of course.

In addition to watching recordings non-stop, I reviewed all of my photos from the trip. The total was just under 2500, about 70 of which were taken by Nola when she commandeered my point and shoot. She is fascinated by cameras, so I let her use my rugged little waterproof one, at least until she deliberately dropped it. I’m already contemplating buying her a cheap kid’s camera for a future birthday.

I identified about 500 images for processing. I’d like to say some of them were amazing, but I wasn’t really wowed by any of them. Hopefully they’ll look better after some Photoshop magic. That probably won’t happen for a few weeks, given our schedule once we get back to Minnesota. But it gives me something to look forward to.

Heading Home

The long day’s journey into day. The weird paradox of leaving Australia and arriving back in the US earlier then you left. The 13 hour flight where you get no sleep because it’s daytime and then you land at 6:30 in the morning and you’re totally exhausted because your body thinks it’s after midnight and you should be in bed sound asleep. Call it what you will, it sucks.

We finished checking in for our flight from Sydney just after 7:30. We then proceeded to waste nearly 30 minutes finding the lounge due to the really poor directions from the trainee who checked us in. We could tell she was a trainee because it took her three tries to correctly print our boarding passes.

I watched 4 movies on the flight, which I’m pretty sure is a personal record for me. We also had our first ever male flight attendant on Virgin. He was fabulous. But not sleeping just sucks. We had about two hours to kill in the Delta lounge before boarding our flight to Phoenix. We had two celebrity sightings there – Chris D’elia and Greg Grunberg. Okay, not super big names, but still pretty exciting. Greg Grunberg actually ended up sitting near us for a few minutes and I talked to him. Just normal traveler conversation.

When we landed in Phoenix, I ran for the bathroom while my husband waited for the luggage. When I returned, he had one bag and was waiting for the second, along with another man from our flight who had received two of his three bags. We stood there long enough for me to get nervous, then I got paged to the baggage office. Turns out, one bag had been loaded on an earlier flight. Something I would have known if I had turned on my phone after landing – Delta had sent an automatic email right after our flight took off. Home safe.

Melbourne May 10

Our somewhat late night (Nola’s dad drove us back just after 9:00) meant that I didn’t get anything in the way of packing done last night. Fortunately, I had organized and packed most of my stuff on Sunday, so I only had to get my husband’s stuff packed. The morning was once again stormy, but by the time we walked over to the house at 11:00, the worst of it had cleared. We paid for the apartment through tonight, so we didn’t have to get our bags until it was time to leave for our flight.

My sister-in-law needed to pick up some things from the wedding venue, so we decided to have lunch there and save her from making a trip later. Nola cadged dollar coins from her uncle so she could ride the mechanical horse and car several times. She is still trying to drive to the South Pole. After lunch we walked back to our apartment and finished the last bit of packing before heading to the airport.

Nola accompanied us on the ride to airport and even got a ride on the luggage cart from her uncle while I was getting us checked in for the flight to Sydney. Then we said goodbye. I can’t think about that too much right now. We landed in Sydney just after 6:00 and took the bus to the international terminal, where we would be spending the night at a hotel.

After checking in, we trolled the airport, scoping out our path for the morning and picking up a bottle of wine and a package of TimTams. My husband had dinner at McDonalds, but I was holding out for the hotel restaurant. That turned out to be a mistake. The service was terrible and the food was mediocre. It was after 9:00 before we got back to our room, where I consoled myself with the red wine and salted caramel TimTams. Tomorrow we fly home.


Melbourne May 9

So, this is it, our last full day in Melbourne. I’d like to say we had some fabulous day planned, but that would be a total lie. It didn’t help that the day started out rainy again. We were able to get over to my sister-in-law’s house during a break in the weather. Our sketchy plan for the day was to take the train downtown for lunch and then wander around.

We caught another break by getting on the train just befor the skies opened up again. By the time we got downtown, it was only drizzling. The lunch part worked out well, we had a great meal at a restaurant overlooking the Yarra River and by the time we left the sun was shining. The wandering part wasn’t so successful, but to be fair, it’s tough to ramble with six adults and a toddler.

We ended up at the war memorial adjacent to the Royal Botanic Garden. At this point the grey skies and strong winds had returned. We had trouble rounding everyone up for the trip home. I huddled near the perpetual flame just to keep warm. While we were waiting for the stragglers to return, Nola entertained herself by pouring water on the ground and lapping it up like a feral child. That girl seriously gives me pause sometimes.

We spent our last night drinking, eating Chinese takeaway and batting balloons around. Many balloons were broken in the process, each one causing Nola to shriek with laughter. At one point she brought me the pieces of a balloon and said, “It’s broken. Can you fix it?” No baby girl, I can’t fix it, anymore than I can fix my broken heart after we leave you.

Melbourne May 8

I was feeling pretty rough this morning. Even though I stopped my champagne guzzling right after dinner and stuck to water for the last two hours, it was an epic binge. We walked back to our apartment last night, which would have been great if I wasn’t wearing heels. I was feeling pretty crippled after the 20 minute walk.

There was a family brunch this morning. My husband begged off, but I managed to put in an appearance. Of course when I was getting dressed I realized that my makeup, hair gel and deodorant had all been left at the house when we went to the wedding. Plus my shoes, clothes and camera. Ugh. So I would have needed to stop by regardless.

As usual, it was chaotic, with 6 kids running around and about 15 adults crammed into a tiny house. I passed on the mimosas, but managed a fried egg and a piece of bacon. I hung around for 2 hours and then gathered my pile of stuff and headed back to our apartment. We hit the store for more water and picked up a couple of steaks for dinner.

I need to do a couple of loads of laundry and start organizing things for our departure, as tomorrow is our last full day here. I’m sure the sadness will hit me when we actually leave, but right now I’m feeling like I’m ready to go home.

Melbourne May 7

We’ve finally reached the main event for our trip – today is the big wedding. The plan is to leave from my sister-in-law’s house. She’s asked me to take some photos before we head to the venue, so I’ll be heading over early and bringing my wedding clothes for a quick change. Let’s hope the cheeky monkey is in a good mood and doesn’t trash her princess dress before the family photos are done.

I arrived just after 1:00 and was surprised when no one answered. So I retrieved the key from the lockbox and opened the door. I make it sound easy, but it was a struggle to get the lockbox open and a bigger struggle to get the door unlocked. By the time I got inside, I was sweating. I also startled my sister-in-law, who had finally come downstairs. The hair appointment had run late and her sister was still there.

Then Nola and her dad came home, followed by my other sister-in-law and it was a mad rush to get ready. Part of the getting ready included hooking up a new printer so the groom could print out his vows. I took photos as long as I could before I needed to throw on my own clothes and makeup. I dressed in Nola’s room and she barged in on me while I was putting on my tights. She loudly demanded that she wanted to wear tights. When her mom told her she didn’t have any, Nola shouted that someone must have stolen them.

I went downstairs to try and put on my makeup and keep Nola busy while her mother dressed. Utter chaos. We all ended up leaving 10 minutes late. I took a cab to go pick up my husband, who had wisely decided to stay away from the madness. The cab driver didn’t know how to get to our apartment or the venue and required turn by turn instructions. I guess punching the address into his GPS would have been way too much work. Then he talked on his phone for the entire trip.

We ended up arriving at the venue right behind the rest of the family. The flowers and decorations were gorgeous and the weather was stunning. Nola managed to (mostly) keep her shit together for the endless rounds of family photos. The ceremony was beautiful, the food was excellent and I drank way, way too many glasses of champagne. Pretty much a perfect evening.

Melbourne May 6

Our girl’s lunch out turned into a girl’s lunch in. The house was eerily quiet when I arrived, as Nola was out with her dad and her cousins. We had a lovely lunch on the deck. Nola came home with her dad just before we left for our mani/pedi appointment.

When we showed up for our appointment, there were 4 clients and 3 technicians. First bad sign. They had obviously accepted walk-ins that were running in to our scheduled appointments. We sat soaking our feet for 15 minutes before our pedicures started. If that weren’t bad enough, they took more walk-ins after our appointments started.

Two technicians alternated working on the three of us, while the third juggled all of the walk-ins. I felt bad for them, they are obviously under pressure never to turn anyone away, but there are at least 3 other nail salons within 2 blocks. I couldn’t believe the walk-ins wouldn’t just look at the the number of other clients waiting and go elsewhere.

So I found the whole experience to be completely irritating. We all requested French manicures, which are pretty fussy and the technicians tried to do them at a blistering pace. My sisters-in-law had a more skilled person who managed to do a nice job, but mine was a disaster. She butchered my nails, leaving them rough and uneven. It was the shittiest manicure I’ve ever had, by far. I took off the polish and filed down my nails soon after we returned.

I consumed a considerable quantity of wine and dessert, which took the sting off. I also washed all of the dishes, since I no longer needed to worry about protecting my nails. On the plus side, the whole thing only cost $50 and I got a nice pedicure, which would have cost that much by itself in the US.

Melbourne May 5

Happy Cinco De Mayo! Well, not really, since it’s still May 4th in the US and they don’t really celebrate Cinco De Mayo here. So instead of Mexican food, we went back to our favorite Thai restaurant. They had reopened, so the trip was not wasted.

We headed over to Nola’s house at 3:00. She was taking a nap, as we have the wedding rehearsal and a family dinner this evening, so it’s going to be a long night. The relative peace and quiet lasted about 15 minutes. Once Nola was awake, her other Aunty made the mistake of offering her a brownie from a box of desserts. The brownie was huge, so the intent was to cut it up and give her a piece.

The second Nola saw the brownie, she snatched it up and would not let go. She didn’t end up eating it all, but she made sure to mark it as hers by taking bites out of every side. Meanwhile, her grandparents had arrived and her Nana had the dress she’d made for Nola to wear at the wedding. Nola’s hands and face were covered in chocolate, which had to be wiped off before she could put on the dress. She screamed as if being dipped in acid.

Once she had the dress on, she didn’t want to take it off again. Her Nana finally wrestled her out of it and then Nola proceeded to prance around naked in her “twinkly” shoes. We finally got her dressed again and headed off to the wedding venue. It was on the beach and as soon as Nola saw the sand, she stripped off her red cowboy boots and socks and went running.

At least the beach provided a distraction for her while her mom dealt with wedding details. Afterwards, we all walked to a nearby Greek restaurant for a big family dinner. My husband and I walked back to our apartment after dinner. The wind had died down and it was a beautiful fall evening. It was a welcome respite after a chaotic evening.

Melbourne May 4

My knee seems to be reasonably functional this morning.  I was hoping to get a play session in the park, but I’m guessing Nola’s being fussy. Her mom said she was exceptionally clingy yesterday and based on Facebook, my other sister and brother-in-law took the dog out by themselves. It looks like Nola will be going along to her mom’s hair appointment this afternoon, rather than letting her Aunty watch her at home. That makes me sad.

Toddlers are mercurial that way – one day they love you and the next they can’t stand you. I try not to take it personally. So my husband and I were on our own for lunch. We tried to go back to the Thai place, but they had a sign on the door stating they were closed due to an exhaust fan issue. Huge bummer. We went back to Lava, where I had the first disappointing meal of the trip so far – barramundi drowning in cream sauce on overcooked vegetables.

After lunch we went over to Nola’s mom’s house to retrieve my brother-in-law, who had been abandoned by the girls all heading out for the hair appointment. We walked around for awhile, showing him the neighborhood, before heading back to the house. It was just after 4:00 and we were expecting the girls to be back from their 1:30 appointment.

The hair appointment turned into a marathon and by 5:30 it was clear we were on our own for dinner, so we walked to a local pizza place for takeout. When we returned, Nola’s dad was home from work. We had devoured about half the pizza before the girls walked in. Nola was super amped up – a combination of spending 4 hours at the salon and coming home to a house full of people. We spent time playing upside down and hiding, so I guess I’m back on her good side.