Moving Part 5: Home Sweet Home, Alice Springs

G’Day!  We’ve made it and begun settling in to Alice Springs.  We flew from Sydney to Alice Springs on Quantas Airlines (Australia’s airline) and they required Emmylou to buckle into my seatbelt.  We thought she looked so cute wearing her first airline seatbelt (and I swear she’s saying, “I got this, Mama!”)

From start to finish, this baby was a SUPER traveler!  She slept through a fair amount of our travels and adjusted to the time change in a few days (just like us).  She was seriously perfect and we couldn’t be more grateful!  Here’s a bit more baby travel spam for good measure. 🙂

Stepping off the plane was SO exciting…we I took all the pictures to commemorate the moment.  It was also a bit surreal to arrive in the place (I’ve never even visited) that would be home for the next few years!

Our first week here has been busy (unpacking and gathering necessities) and exhausting (kicking off the new normal with jet lag in tow).  It’s also been exciting and a lot of fun!

Jon got right to work on Monday and has been really enjoying his new position.  He is loving the laid-back atmosphere at the site and happily traded his suit and tie for blue jeans and hiking/work boots (he was even given a hard time for wearing khakis on his first day on the job 😜).  Here he is with Emmylou one afternoon after work.

Emmylou and I have been trying out the many playgroups in Alice Springs.  Every day we are out and about with other mums and bubs (Aussie terminology is my new jam).  Even if EL sleeps through the playgroup, I am SO appreciating the social time and getting to know other moms.  Everyone has helped us to acclimate to the social scene in Alice- both base-related and local- and we couldn’t be more appreciative of their warm welcome!  I am looking forward to watching Emmylou learn and grow in such a wonderful community. ☺️ Here we are at Tiny Tots playgroup this week.

In addition to our new routines, there were some other serious adjustments to navigate right off the bat- a new landscape and climate, new (and dangerous) wildlife/pests and, of course, driving on the other side of the road.  I would say Jon took all of these new realities in stride, while I made a spectacle of each and every one of them. 😬

Landing in Alice was such a novelty for me (the red mountains, the bright blue sky) and I took to taking pictures like a tourist…Jon was embarrassed but I really couldn’t help myself! 🤣  Here’s a peek at our house, car (with a roo-rack) and neighborhood:

The weather every day is pretty much the same- cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon and not a cloud in the sky (I literally haven’t seen a cloud since we landed here…not one little cloud).  Talk about vitamin D, there’s no lack of sunshine here!  We definitely need to up our sun protection but I don’t think I will miss the dreary/rainy east coast days!

We came home to find a hilariously Australian (blunt) letter from the pest control company wishing us luck with the local pests.  Essentially, anything is sprayed will be “bug-proof” for 6 months and everything else is fair-game for (poisonous) spiders and other pests to make their home.  Looks like we’ll wait to get outdoor furniture and a sand/water table until just before the exterminators come!  It also warned that insect sprays will not kill bugs on the spot, so not to freak out if the giant cockroach you just sprayed continues to crawl or fly around for a while…So far we’ve only seen the webs of redback spiders but they are around.  As for snakes, we have not heard too much about them but the “Snake Man’s” phone number is on our fridge so if I see one, I’m calling him!  (Somehow this feels like Ghostbusters). 😳

Although this sign is right across the street from our neighborhood, I am VERY disappointed to report that I have seen NO kanagroos or wildlife, with the exception of birds.  I was pretty jealous when Jon came home from work and said he saw 2 kangaroos at the site.  For now I just have to enjoy the local bird-watching…this bird was so brightly colored and beautiful so I had to snap a picture.  Someday I will look back on this post and laugh at myself for taking all of these goofy pictures.  😜

Penny is going to be heartbroken to find there are no squirrels and really no critters to chase…perhaps she’ll settle for birds in their absence?  We’ll see!  Speaking of Penny, she has been released from quarantine in Melbourne and flies to Alice Springs tomorrow!  We can’t wait to get her home!

The last major learning curve of the week (for me, at least) has been driving.  The first time I was behind the wheel was a terrible flashback to my driver’s ed days…which is a time I NEVER wanted to revisit.  I am a good/cautious driver, but let’s just say it took me a while to get the hang of driving.  Flipping to the other side of the car and the road has sent me right back to when I was 15.  I would say our marriage hit an all time “low” when I was behind the wheel for the first time.  Jon suddenly morphed into my dad, slamming his non-existent brake and clenching his teeth as he muttered, “You’re VERY close to the curb over here,” and, “You’re doing great…?”  😬 We all survived (Jon’s blood pressure eventually returned to normal) and our marriage is unscathed but it was truly a humbling experience! 😂

I am happy to report that after just a few days here I was able to drive myself and Emmylou to the Tiny Tots playgroup and even shuttled a friend and her bub there later in the week!  🙌 Luckily the learning curve at 29 is quicker than when it was at 15!

So far we are really enjoying Alice Springs and our new home.  The best thing so far has been the wonderful neighbors and people we have met.  We’ve been showered with welcome treats, cups of coffee, beer, visits and so much more from the families here.  It has truly been a warm welcome and made us feel at home right away.

I will post pictures of the inside of our house as soon as our shipment comes with our things (in a couple months) and we are settled in.  For now we are exploring our new area and are so excited to welcome Penny home! 😊

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

Moving Part 4: Welcome to Australia!

We made it into Sydney bright and early. It took a while to collect all of our bags and get through customs but it was still before 9 when we got out to a taxi.

Our first impression of Australia was: BRRRR! We had to quickly unpack Emmylou’s warm jacket because it was cold! We weren’t expecting that but also may be in shock since we left a heat wave in Virginia. Emmylou didn’t seem to mind the cooler air (40’s in the morning with highs in the mid-60’s during the day) and seemed to love snuggling up in her fleecy coat and hood. 😍

We took a cab into the city and checked into our hotel to get ready for the day. We were tired but the second we got into our room and saw this view, we knew we had to get out and explore!

Sydney is a beautiful city! We stayed in Old Sydney in a section of the city called, “The Rocks,” which was perfect to walk around and had lots of great little restaurants and shops. It’s also right between the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, so the sights are unbelievable.

After showering, we walked around The Rocks, bought Emmylou some Australian animal art (she finally gets a nursery when we arrive in Alice ☺) and ate pancakes. (Just a tip, when jet lagged you have to really convince your brain it’s morning and pancakes definitely helped 😜)

Once we had some pancakes and caffeine we were ready to take on Sydney! We walked down to the Bridge and enjoyed the gorgeous views. (Obviously we were not up for the bridge climb with Emmylou in tow, but perhaps we’ll give it a go when we come back someday?! Jon was up for it but I was less enthused with the idea…😬)

We figured Emmylou would fall sleep while we walked around but she hung in like a champ! She took a few, short naps in the stroller (pram) but enjoyed the sights along with us (she’s seriously a dream baby). She LOVES being outside, so a walking tour was right up her alley (and fresh air definitely helped keep Mommy and Daddy awake)!

After gazing at the Bridge we headed around through the wharf and to the Opera House. It was a sunny, cool afternoon so it was perfect walking weather. We shared a champagne toast next to the Opera House and enjoyed this view. 😍

It felt like the perfect welcome to Australia!

Sydney is filled with people from all over the world and everyone is very friendly! We feel like it’s a combination of European/Scandinavian and American…but totally has a unique feeling. It’s also an eclectic blend of old and new architecture, which we enjoyed.

After our toast, we went into the Opera House and scoped it out as much was open. We would love to come back to Sydney at some point to come to a performance- the Opera House is so beautiful!

We were dragging a bit at this point in the afternoon, so we grabbed a cappuccino and walked back towards The Rocks. We ended up eating an early dinner at a German restaurant and enjoyed their biergarten. Sweet baby girl was SO tired, she couldn’t hang in any more.

After dinner, we headed back to the room to crash. We all slept from about 6pm-3am, which is typical with jet lag. Emmylou ended up sleeping a few hours more while Jon and I blogged. 😊

Day 2 in Sydney was met with a beautiful sunrise (talk about room with a view)!  We headed to breakfast at The Rocks Cafe and enjoyed some delicious food and a dreamy cappuccino! The food in Sydney has been so fresh (similar to eating farm to table in the US).

After breakfast we headed to the wharf at Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Bangaroo/Darling Harbor.

We enjoyed the Darling Harbor area but I thought it was a bit too touristy. We ended up having a yummy lunch and going to the Australian Maritime Museum to see an exhibit on James Cameron (which was fascinating). We saved the zoo and aquarium for when Emmylou would appreciate it (and not sleep through it).

Someone was very sleepy…jet lag definitely got the best of her!

On the ferry ride back we caught these views and the sun was beginning to go down. Days are short here, just like they are during winter at home!

Once we were back at Circular Quay, we enjoyed the Bastille festival that was going on. We ate crepes and a stroopwaffle (I was obsessed with this food truck and had to have one). YUM! The festival scene was perfect because we were tired and didn’t want anything fancy. We even bought some fun art for our new, Australian home!

Even on our sleepy walk home we enjoyed the magic of Sydney!

We loved our time in Sydney so much and look forward to exploring much more on another visit. Penny has safely arrived in Melbourne and has begun her 10 days of quarantine. 🙏🏻 Thank you all so much for your prayers and well wishes! It has meant so much to our family to have so much love and support as we kick off this crazy tour!

Happy Trails,
K, J, EL, & P

Moving Part 3: And They’re Off!

We’re (finally) off to Australia! This day has been a long time coming and I think everyone is ready to get this part over with! We spent the weekend with both sides of our family and it was wonderful but we all dreaded the final goodbyes. We’re very excited but sad to be so far from family. We plan to visit home as soon as possible since Emmylou’s growing like a weed!

We arrived at the airport with 5 suitcases, 1 duffel bag, 2 tote bags, 2 backpacks, 1 purse, a stroller and a car seat. We also carried on Emmylou’s SnuggleMe cushion and SwaddleUp to sleep in. I tell you, that kid is a lucky traveler! She’s also really easy/portable at 10 weeks so we’re super grateful for that. She was ready for her adventure (complete with her themed outfit)!

On another note, many have asked about getting Emmylou’s passport photo…it was as challenging as you can imagine 😜 We took her at 4 weeks and thanks to a very patient employee, we ended up with this adorable keepsake.

For our flights down, we ended up with 2 seats (Emmylou as a lap child) to Houston and 3 business class seats to Sydney 🙌🏻. The flight left late in the evening so we treated it like normal bedtime for all of us. Emmylou was already fast asleep when we boarded; sweet girl was SO tired from a busy day of travel. She didn’t know we were just getting started…

We set up Emmylou’s seat just like her crib and she ended up sleeping through the first half of the (16 hour) flight!  Jon and I got cozy in our jams and we all settled in for some sleep. 😬 It wasn’t a full night of rest but worked out pretty well!

For the second half of the flight we alternated between playing with her in her seat, changing diapers and her napping while we watched a movie.

She also woke up in time to catch the last few scenes of Star Wars with Daddy 🤣.

She was a dream traveler! The toughest thing was knowing we’re leaving behind her consistent nighttime stretches of sleep due to the time change (somehow Emmylou was born knowing day/night and has been a super sleeper). Surely we’ll all get back on track within the first couple weeks here.

We’re excited to land and explore Sydney for a couple of days before making our final flight to Alice Springs. We’re also thinking of sweet Penny, who takes off about the time we land. We will hear updates about her trip and quarantine soon!

Happy Trails,
K, J, EL & P

Moving Part 2: Ready…Set…

Penny was the first to kick off our move, heading to LA for a weekend before flying to Melbourne for the 10 days of quarantine. She traveled well (via Minneapolis) and managed to “hold it” the whole way. We seriously can’t believe how disciplined she is and we pray that she will let herself go on the way down to Australia (and not feel like she has to hold it). Don’t you wish you could talk to dogs and explain to them it’s ok?! Upon arrival she was a bit wide-eyed but has settled in well at the kennel.

Penny has been boarded while she awaits USDA approval and her flight to Melbourne. According to the fantastic staff at The Kennel Club LAX, she’s been enjoying snuggles during her stay 😍. I’ll be sure to post all about her trip in its entirety once she arrives in Alice.

We have spent the weekend with both Jon’s family and my parents. We had such a nice visit with everyone and so appreciated all of their travels to see us off. There was a final crunch of packing, changing our address, porting our phone numbers and many other tasks. It was SO nice having family there to support us and love on Emmylou (and us) before we headed down.

Next up are the final goodbyes and big trip! See you Down Under!

Happy Trails,
K, J, EL & P

Moving Part 1: Let’s Get This Party Started!

As we transition out of the townhouse playground of Northern Virginia, Jon and I feel excited and ready…there have been definite signs that it’s time for bigger and better things. For example, our favorite Mexican restaurant (the place that put me into labor with its spicy salsa bar 🤣) is relocating and shut down! I don’t know about you, but no tacos= no bueno for me! Also, our AC in our house has broken twice since we brought Emmylou home (in swampy, hot summer weather, of course). Although these are small hurdles, we are taking them as a sign that it’s best we just move to Australia. 😜

Packing up was fairly uneventful- we took the minimalist approach and are only taking that which we need and storing the rest.   The movers came to pack and move us out in 2 days.  We did have 600 pounds of air shipment to pack and mail down on our own, which proved to be more work than we anticipated.  We ended up air-shipping down a lot of our things…which will be nice when we arrive but was overwhelming at the time (those customs forms are a bear)!

The most dramatic reaction to a box being packed was, not surprisingly, Penny’s! As we stuffed her food bowls, bed, toys and beloved blanket (binx) into a cardboard box, she looked on with concern. She sniffed the box as we loaded it up and went back inside to pout (laying on the carpet just isn’t the same)! I suppose moving affects us all in different ways. 🤣 We reassured her the box would meet her in Alice, but we’re not sure she got it…

Jon has been the hero of this move; managing the coordination of paperwork, scheduling and planning, while I have been the captain of the home front; keeping the 2 month old alive (and flourishing, I might add) and packing during nap time. Penny has been working hard to decrease the squirrel population in our neighborhood and keep all delivery trucks far from her baby sister. If our mailman is reading this, we’re SO sorry you were never able to become friends.

Thanks to the packers/movers, moving day was a breeze (thank goodness it was breezy because the AC was out and it was 100 degrees) and the girls seem to be coping with the transition just fine! #allthenaps

After moving out, we have been in a (not-so-pet-friendly) hotel.  Penny and Emmylou have been real troopers in the small space and dealing with the heatwave.  Jon and I have been so grateful for our family and friends for their support (texts, visits and encouragement) as this transition phase has been a bit more stressful than we anticipated.

Penny departed this morning and flies through Minneapolis and LA to Melbourne (more details on her trip to come).  Please keep her in your prayers the next couple weeks as she travels and is quarantined.  We can’t wait to see her in Alice in 14 days!  Our last few days here will be spent soaking up time with family. 😊

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P

We’re Headed Down Under!

No really…

It’s been far too long since our last post, but let’s be honest, there’s been LOTS going on in our corner of the world. First, and most importantly, meet the newest member of our pack, Emmaline Louise!! Born on April 28th, this dream baby has made us parents and Penny a big sister! We’re all smitten with sweet Emmylou and, yes, Penny is the best with her! Here’s some photographic evidence/baby spam…

In addition to our new addition, we will be embarking on a new adventure as a family. We are headed Down Under for a couple of years, as Jon will be working new a position in Alice Springs! We know the question on all of your minds is: will Penny go?! And, YES, of course (it wouldn’t be an Upward Hound Adventure without her)! She’s set to depart in a couple of days and we’ll meet up with her, post quarantine, in Alice.

To say that we feel blessed would be an understatement. We plan to share our many amazing adventures with you through this blog! We’re calling it, “Upward Hound Adventures: Down Under,” and think it has a nice ring to it (thanks for the idea, Linda)!

We look forward to sharing this amazing and unique opportunity with all of you and encourage you to get out of your comfort zone along with us- head to a new place or take on a new challenge- life is too short to pass up a new adventure.  And to channel my inner-elementary school teacher:

So really, in a week we head Down Under to begin this amazing adventure as a family of 4.  I usually wish you all, “Happy Trails,” at the end of my posts, but, this time, I’m wishing it to ourselves…traveling with a 9 week old and dog, we’ll need all the help we can get. 😜 Follow us as we embark on this great opportunity and please keep our family in your prayers as we transition to the land Down Under.

Happy Trails,

K, J, EL & P