Looking Forward to 2019

What a year 2018 was- we honestly never stopped to catch our breath, phew!  We were busy doing BIG things all year and feel so blessed by all that has happened in our family.  We are looking forward to more adventure and some down time in 2019.

Our hope for 2019 is to experience more of our corner of the globe and enjoy the place we’re in.  Emmylou is growing and changing so quickly, so we look forward to soaking in each day and new experience with her.  We hope to take lots of walks with Penny out bush, camp out, take in more Outback night skies and go fossicking.  As for travel, in the coming year we have planned a South Pacific cruise (we set sail in just a few days!), trip to Adelaide, weekend with family in Alice Springs, trip back to the States and have some other trips in the works.  We’re looking forward to it all!

This year has been busy but I’ve enjoyed documenting our adventures and look forward to writing more updates in 2019.  We appreciate you following along!  Although this blog mostly serves as my diary a great log of this time in our lives, it’s nice to know others are enjoying it too.

May your new year be filled with adventures, big and small.  We wish you all the best in 2019!

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

Thank you Hannah Millerick for the beautiful photo!

Bondi Beach- Sydney, NSW, Australia

When Jon’s parents visited we showed them around Alice for a few days (you can read all about our time here) and then flew to Sydney with them to hit Bondi Beach before they flew back to the States.

We had a great visit and Emmylou was a great traveler.

Jon’s face is too funny in this picture- we were saying how different she was on the plane this time- she was SO busy! She loved exploring everything and quickly wore herself out.  She ended up napping most of the flight.

So long as we had her bunny along, she was a happy and easy traveler (don’t worry, she was not moving when this picture was taken).

When we arrived, Sydney was expecting an unusual storm the next day- heavy rains and strong winds were predicted for our first beach day!  We arrived at our apartment and hit the beach right away to enjoy the last bit of sunlight and dry weather before dinner.  It was a beautiful first impression but the beach only got more gorgeous as our trip went on.

You can see the storm rolling in.

The next day the weather was terrible, as predicted.  We hunkered down and relaxed for most of the day, which was nice after traveling the day before.  We did get out and do a little shopping and eat dinner.  Bondi has fantastic shops and resturants!  These were our favorite places: Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta took us right back to Italy and was SO good!  North Bondi Fish was great at sunset and had yummy and creative dishes.  Macelleria had the best hamburger and was super casual- it’s actually a butcher shop/restaurant where you choose your meat and they cook it for you. We ate lunch at Fish Bowl multiple times- think Asian-style Chipotle bowls with fish- so yummy!  The best ice cream was at Messina– we would know since we had gelato every night…We loved Le Paris Go Cafe for breakfast; I had the typical Australian breakfast of poached eggs on smash avocado and it was gorgeous (and delicious)!

Once the stormy weather cleared out, our days on the beach were perfect.  The weather was beautiful and we all enjoyed swimming and playing with Emmylou in the sand.

She ate SO much sand and loved the beach!

She was also really easy-going the entire trip.  Whether we were on the beach or at a meal, she would hang out or pass out, as needed.  It was so nice!

Because the sun is so intense, we used all of the SPF gear- her bathing suit, hat and blanket were all SPF 50.

One of the best parts about Bondi Beach is the coastal walk!  We did just a small portion of the 6K walk but it was breathtaking!

You begin and end the walk going past the Icebergs pool, which was absolutely beautiful!  We didn’t end up going to swim because the waves were pretty rough (they crash into the pool) and it didn’t exactly look baby-friendly, but someday I will swim in that pool!

It’s a very prestigious swim club- to join you have to swim 3 Sundays a month for 5 years- no matter the weather.  Sydney gets pretty cool in the winter and the pool is filled by the ocean- so it’s chilly!  They call the members “icebergs” because of that.  It’s right on the south end of Bondi and overlooks the beach.  If you have to freeze to join, at least it’s so beautiful!

The walking path goes along the rocky coast and is filled with amazing views.  It’s a must-see in Sydney, if you ask me!

We all really enjoyed our walk (Emmylou napped)!

 On our last night in Bondi, we went out on the beach before dinner to take some pictures.  They turned out so well!

We had such a great visit to Bondi.  Experiencing the waves and sand with Emmylou for the first time was so much fun; we had a wonderful time together on the beach!

We were so sad to see Tom and Linda go but are so grateful for their travels and spending time in both Alice and Bondi with us!  We would not trade our time with them for anything and we’re looking forward to their next visit!

Happy Trails,

J, K, EL & P

Tom and Linda’s Visit to Alice Springs

We were thrilled to host Jon’s parents as our very first visitors to Alice Springs!  They spent a few days with us, exploring the Red Centre, before we all headed to Sydney together.  You can read more about our time at Bondi Beach here.

The weekend Tom and Linda came to Alice, there just happened to be a lot, “On,” as the Aussies call it.  We had a busy and fun weekend showing them some of our favorite things to do and see around our new home!

On the day they arrived, we hit the ground running and headed out to the Kangaroo Sanctuary at sunset.  This was a must-do so we made sure to get them out to experience it!  It was a beautiful evening, despite being warm, and we all enjoyed it so much!  Having just arrived, Tom and Linda did seem torn as to which baby to snuggle, the roos or Emmylou! Haha!

We did get to see Roger, who sadly passed away a few days after our visit, and enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful roos at the sanctuary.

It’s such a beautiful and special place- truly a unique experience.

The next day, we hung around town and took Tom and Linda to the pool so they could swim with our Little Fish.  She loves the pool and they loved swimming with her!

We also saw water running in the Todd River, which is usually a dry river bed.  We had a very rainy November and water slowly filled the riverbed at Telegraph Station.  This was cool to see and Tom and Linda were lucky to visit during this random occurrence!

We had a blast seeing the water and dipping Emmylou’s toes!

It was a hot weekend, so the boys enjoyed a couple of cold Iron Jacks while we were at the Todd Mall Markets.

We also went out to beautiful Ellery Creek Big Hole and it was a great trip Out Bush!  It was HOT, so we enjoyed cooling off in the watering hole.  Tom and I were extra brave and swam across it!

The water was a bit chilly for Emmylou, so she hung on the “beach” while we swam.

After a picnic lunch we headed home to play.  Emmylou had such a great time with her Grammy and Gramps visiting!

Tom, Linda and Jon all drove out to Tin Can Hill to soak in an Outback sunset, while I held down the fort at bedtime.  They had a fantastic ride in the Cruiser (Jon drove extra wild) and the sunset was gorgeous.  It was the perfect finale to their time in Alice.

We loved having Tom and Linda visit and look forward to more visitors.  They even said they would love to come back- we can’t wait until next time!

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

Merry Christmas 2018

This Christmas season has been special in so many ways.  Experiencing the holidays through Emmylou’s eyes has brought us so much joy.  She loves and appreciates the most simple things and reminds us of the reason for the season- celebrating God’s greatest gifts.  We have enjoyed seeing her eyes light up at the sight of the Christmas tree, watching her play with bows, read Christmas books, shake her jingle bells and add to her advent calendar each day.  We feel so blessed this holiday season.

It was also our first holiday season so far from home.  We missed our family terribly but found great joy in experiencing a warm weather Christmas with Alice friends who have quickly become family.  Alice is a very special place and we feel so blessed to live here for a short time.  This experience will leave a lasting imprint on our hearts and lives.

Here are a few pictures from December!  We found joy watching Emmylou experience everything Christmas:

Each night Emmylou read the advent ornament with Daddy before bed.

She got a musical instrument set from her Uncle Davis and it was a big hit!

Her favorite part about the presents was playing with the wrapping paper and bows!

We read a lot of Christmas books together.

She really enjoyed the Christmas tree and even met Santa!

She was most impressed with his beard.

In addition to decorating, listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies (our house has been in full-on Holiday mode for weeks), we have done a few things around Alice Springs to celebrate the season.

We went to a Christmas Carnival in 100 degree heat…It was a little too hot and close to bed time so we called it a night before the tree-lighting but look at Alice’s tree!

I hosted a little holiday party with all of my favorite Alice girls.

We also enjoyed celebrating Christmas Eve with our sponsors and dear friends.  The girls get along SO well together and were too cute.

And Christmas Day was filled with so much, simple fun!  We opened presents with family (via technology), enjoyed homemade cinnamon rolls and, like true Aussies, took a dip to cool off from the 105 degree heat!

Christmas morning was pure JOY!

Santa even spoiled Penny with a new collar and lots of bones!

  

What a Merry (first) Christmas it was and we are looking forward to all that 2019 will bring.

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

Make Things Co. Watercolor

I am SO excited to share our new custom watercolor illustration by the amazing, Riley Sheehey of Make Things Co.  Once we arrived in Alice Springs, I wanted to commemorate this special time in our lives with some artwork for our (very white) walls.  I chose Riley to illustrate our first picture in front of the Alice sign.  This moment was so special- we had just picked up Penny and Emmylou was only 3 months old (and such a peanut!).  We were finally all together and kicking off our exciting time in Alice.

Not only is this artwork so accurate, beautiful and special, but Riley is seriously amazing- she is SO talented, professional and kind (follow her on Instagram and you’ll see just how sweet she is)!  I knew Riley in college so I’m not surprised by and am so happy for her amazing success. Check out her website or follow her on Instagram @cestriley- she’s incredible!

Thanks for the beautiful painting, Riley, it’s proudly hanging in our kitchen and we will treasure it for years to come.

Happy Trails,

K. J. EL & P

Kicking Off the Holiday Season- Family Photos 2018

Oh. My. Word! These pictures captured by the sweet, Hannah Millerick are so beautiful. We wanted to take a few family photos for our Christmas card and also capture this sweet time with Emmylou.

She’s now 6 months old, sitting up and eagerly exploring her world. We’ve watched her blossom over the past few months and are constantly amazed and entertained by her growth. We wanted to get some sweet, smiley photos while she is still stationary- we know this phase won’t last long and she’ll be on the move before we know it!

We took these photos right behind our neighborhood and love that the backdrop reveals the beauty of springtime in our new home. We’ve gotten a fair amount of rain this spring, so the Bush is bursting with new growth. The greenery is refreshingly beautiful!

The holiday season has arrived and we are embracing the Christmas season early- since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, there’s nothing stopping Aussies from kicking off the season in November.  We’ve gotten a kick out of the Christmas clothes they sell in stores- we’ve traded our Christmas sweaters for Santa swim trunks!

We’ve had total mixed feelings about this holiday season…we ache to hear the leaves crunching under our feet and to smell the crisp air. The landscape here mimics the colors of fall but feels completely different. I keep saying that I feel like we live in Florida (always sweating and smelling of sunscreen). We don’t mind it (and are enjoying it!) but do miss the traditional experiences we associate with the season.  We’re excited to celebrate the holidays here with friends.  We are looking forward to some new, holiday traditions but are truly missing our holidays at home.

Most importantly, we have 2 family visits/trips coming up! Jon’s parents will come right after Thanksgiving and we will explore Alice together for a few days, then fly to Sydney to hang at Bondi Beach. In January, my parents will cruise with us around the South Pacific and Eastern Australia. Both visits/trips are all we want for Christmas this year and we can’t wait!

Things have been busy around here; I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  Thanks for following along with our family as we grow and experience this little thing called life. It’s truly an honor to share it with you!

Happy Trails,
K, J, EL & P

Life Lately

I figured a little update of what’s going on in our corner of the world is due. Although we’ve had lots of great adventures, we’ve also settled into a routine. We’ve been in Alice for almost 2 months, so here’s a look at our life lately.

The Cruiser has become a new hobby and project for the man of the house.  Jon’s enjoyed adding lights, a roof rack and other accessories to our bush vehicle.


We’re antsy to get our camping gear to really test it all out! In the meantime, he’s enjoyed taking it Out Bush with the 4WD group and to Tin Can Hill.

We’ve also taken a few trips to the local hardware store- Bunning’s- and they have a sausage cook-out every weekend.  It’s a totally Aussie thing to get the sausage, which comes in a slice of bread instead of a bun.  We had to indulge during one of our trips!

Jon continues to enjoy his new job and went on his first TDY (temporary duty) to Melbourne. He spent a couple nights in the city and this is the only picture from that trip, so cheers!

Clearly work trips aren’t all that bad in Australia! 😜 On that note, the biggest difference Jon has noticed with work down here is how dedicated the Aussies are to their time off. He’s enjoyed adopting that mindset and “leaving work at work.” It’s also been a nice culture shift with the evenings at home being much busier with our girls!

Speaking of our girl- Emmylou is growing like a weed! We just went to her 4 month check up and she’s doing great- she continues to top out the percentile charts for height (no surprise there) and hold steady around the 50th percent for weight.  She’s already outgrowing her 6 month outfits!

She’s officially sleeping in her own room and we have been in serious sleep training mode (hello, 4 month sleep regression).   She’s loving bath time and going on walks with Penny in the pram.

She’s also become a true, Aussie baby- she wears a Wondersuit most days (because they really are better than any American onesie!) and doesn’t leave the house without her sunhat.  We’ve hit some tougher weeks since we arrived with teething and growing pains, but overall she’s very happy, healthy and spirited!

We joke that she “woke up” at three months from her sleepy, newborn days. She’s a great baby but isn’t as laid back as originally advertised. 🤣 She loves to chat and is very good about using expression to communicate- she clearly knows what she wants and how to get it. It’s pretty entertaining but we’re surely going to have our hands full with her- she’s a ham! 😋

She continues to love being outdoors, has learned to enjoy her car seat (with the help of all the toys), and thinks Penny is hilarious. They are really an adorable pair.  Penny and the robot vaccuum are Emmylou’s favorite tummy time entertainment.

Penny has adjusted well to life Down Under and loves her little sister. She sniffs her diapers/whines if they are dirty, kisses her face, lays with her while she plays and barks if we don’t respond quick enough to her cries.

She’s patient, gentle and the sweetest big sister! We sometimes feel as if we have 2 babies when they’re both whining, though. 😛

Penny has definitely missed chasing squirrels and frequently dreams of them during her naps. She’s taken to chasing birds and it’s pretty hysterical. She seems to get great satisfaction from running them out of our yard and I don’t miss the crazy hound barking up a tree. It’s a much quicker and quieter process!

Speaking of the yard- she LOVES it and spends most of the day outside! She moves back and forth between sunbathing and napping in the shade. It’s totally her happy place.  Clearly I woke her from a good nap to snap this picture.

She’s also (finally) figured out that the yard is a great place to go to the bathroom. 🙌 After avoiding messing her outdoor space for a month, she has discovered the joy of going in the privacy of her own yard. I gave her treats and photographed the first one! #proudmama 😂

I have been enjoying the many playgroups, a newborn parent support group and a couple of girls nights. The women and families here are so wonderful. Emmylou and I are never short on a friend to play/chat with, walk with or go to Target with (somehow it’s not the same but has the same dangerous effect #buyingallthewondersuits 🙄).  The weather has been so nice, we have enjoyed getting a cuppa with some other mums and bubs in town.

I’m adjusting to and enjoying being home with Emmylou and have found mothering to be the hardest and most rewarding job there is. I have been getting out of the house and working out most days, which helps me feel engaged and accomplished. I am taking a few graduate credits this fall to maintain my teaching license back home and also began tutoring a sweet Year 1 student in reading.  The days fly!  I’m also enjoying finding activities to stimulate Emmylou’s development. #teachermom #sensoryplayforthewin

Our weekends are usually pretty busy so we’ve made it a point to relax (sleep regression and nap boycotts hit us all hard). There’s always something to do so we’ve enjoyed being busy and but also slowing down after a crazy 4 month stretch . Finding a balance between social time, family time and down time has been important.

We usually video chat with family on weekend mornings and find those slow mornings to be the best! We share happy hour and coffee, which works out well with the time change and Emmylou is awake and engaged. Using our EchoShows has been the best; it’s almost as good as being together.  Emmy is really starting to interact and “get” that her Grandparents are in the box.  They are starting to get some of these faces and we all melt!

We’ve got an exciting September ahead with the ball (Mommy and Daddy’s first big night out!), Jon’s birthday and a family day event at work. We are also working on planning a fall trip, so there’s lots more to come! My next post is about our trip to the Kangaroo Sanctuary, so stay tuned.  As always, thanks for following our #upwardhoundadventuresdownunder!

Happy Trails,
K, J, EL & P

Tin Can Sunset Picnic- Alice Springs, NT

For our 3rd anniversary, we chose to keep it simple.  Since Emmylou was born, we have been going non-stop (moving, visiting Sydney, new job, new home); a simple picnic at sunset seemed just right!  So on 8/8, we packed up the baby, dog and some food and wine for an evening Out Bush.

On our wedding night, we snuck out with our photographer to take a few pictures at sunset.  It is really a sweet time to reflect and it’s becoming a tradition (see the post on our 2nd anniversary sunset picnic here).

As a couple, we have been blessed and challenged so much this year!  I would say year 3 had both the greatest risks and rewards for our marriage and we are a stronger couple because of it.  It was also the year we became a family instead of a couple, so we had lots to celebrate!  Soaking it all in over a gorgeous, Outback sunset was absolute perfection, if you ask me.

We had a magical evening together and enjoyed spending time with our little family outdoors.  Before we left Virginia, I had secretly gotten a wedding album from our amazing photographer.  After 3 years, we have the most beautiful book to savor that perfect day!  We enjoyed looking through the album and reading a few, sweet cards while the sun set.  We even spotted a few roos!

If you haven’t done a sunset picnic near you, I really hope you will.  Jon and I so enjoyed the peace and quiet time away from the usual nightly chores.  It turned out to be a pretty awesome and romantic date (even with the baby and the dog along)!

Here’s a video of our celebration, which I think captures the magic of the evening, perfectly.  Cheers!

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

Tin Can- Alice Springs, NT

During our first weeks here, we quickly decided that the car we originally bought was NOT going to be big enough to get Out Bush the way we hope to while we’re down here.  Most places you visit within driving-distance require 4-wheel drive and a higher clearance because most of the driving is on trails/off-road.  Jon ended up buying a Land Cruiser from one of our neighbors, and now we are SET!  It is a great vehicle to take out Bush and is in pristine condition…to say Jon is happy is an understatement- here he is giving a Cheers to his new toy!

Our first trip Out Bush with, “The Cruiser,” (as we are affectionately calling it) was with a few families to Tin Can.  This is about a 10 minute, trail drive from our neighborhood.  Although you are within miles of home, you feel like you are far from everything (which you kind of are).  It’s totally my kind of hang out- there’s a fire pit and the perfect spot to watch the sunset.  Here’s a picture looking down on our set up for the evening.  Clearly white SUV’s are a thing down here. 😛

Our first ride Out Bush made sweet Penny so nervous!  She was so confused why it was bumpy and literally glued herself to the back seat.  Once we arrived, she realized it was a pretty sweet spot and she was jazzed for the rest of the night (as you’ll hear and see in the video).

Emmylou managed the ride just fine in her car seat, but we’ll have to hold off on some of the more intense trails until her neck support is fully-developed.  (Jon went out on a trail the following week that he said was much more bumpy and that he wouldn’t take the baby or dog out there.)  We were so excited when we arrived to find this view!

Some of the kiddos took me to the top of the hill and soon I learned why this place is called, “Tin Can.”  There’s a flagpole at the top of the hill with a tin can on the top.  Unfortunately, the tin can had fallen down but we got the idea.  The 360 views are just incredible.

Did you spot the tin can on the ground?

Penny enjoyed soaking in the views!

We all brought something for our fiesta and, of course, the evening ended with s’mores.  It was a blast to all hang out, watch the gorgeous sunset and see the kiddos enjoying the evening.  This introduction to Bush life was seriously all I needed to love living here!

Here’s a video of our first trip to Tin Can; surely there will be many more to come!

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

 

 

 

Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm- West MacDonnell Ranges

Our first outdoor adventure Down Under was to 2 spots near Alice Springs: Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm.  Both are just out of town (30ish minutes) and are just the intro to all there is to see and do nearby.  This was our first trip, “Out Bush;” a term that we’ve picked up quickly and describes the wilderness perfectly.  I used to say, “In the Bush,” or, “In the Outback,” but true Aussies just call anything out of town, “Out Bush.”

Some friends graciously offered to tour us around these two local spots and we had a great time with them and their sweet kiddos!  Emmylou was a little cranky on this day but we still had a great time seeing the sights, despite the usual baby party fouls (crying, pooping, etc…).

Simpsons Gap was absolutely gorgeous!  We even saw black-footed rock wallabies (which look like tiny kangaroos).  We didn’t get any pictures or videos because we had to leave the Gap very quickly…a certain baby was screaming her head off and scaring all of the wildlife away- hah!

After hanging at the Gap for a bit we headed to Standley Chasm.  We hiked in to the Chasm (very short walk) and finished off the day with lunch at the little cafe in the park.  We didn’t take many pictures that day but I did get some good video- enjoy!

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P