I can write about this now because it is over a week since we left. And I needed a week to get some distance and perspective.
Photos will follow when I learn how to download my waterproof camera (yes - I used to know how, now I can't find the connection thingy).
We flew during the day to Aus - that is a first and absolutely not the last. It felt very short and the kids were great (couldn't eat the rubbish kids meals, but we were prepared this time with sandwiches and snacks).
Got into Melbourne to the hotel without complaint (Brighton Savoy). Chose that because near the in laws - although never been to Brighton before. My trustee navigator (C girl) was excellent and we got a quiet room.
On Thursday morning we had breakfast by the bay (at 10am (7am Jakarta time)). Then went to the "big" shopping centre of Chadstone (not very big in comparison to Jakarta shopping centres - but things we were interested in - ie. home /craft stores, not versace, chanel etc).
At 3 we had finished our list and headed to the kids Grandfathers house. He is married to J's stepmum and the whole dynamics is a bit arkward. We have set names for them, but the kids don't see them often and they forget regularly. He has serious alzeimers, so he didn't have a clue who we were or what the connection was. I showed him photos of our holiday and he was kind and friendly towards the kids and I. He even told us some stories about his travel (20 years ago) through Canada - all of which were correct.
J's two half sisters were there, one with her brand new 3 week old baby Matilda. Beautiful little baby. She is 24 and has landed on her feet beautifully (it may not sound it being 24 with a baby, but trust me - she is doing fantastically). Our nephew was there also - hadn't seen him for 1 1/2 years - so he is 2 1/2 now. Bubbly little kid. Very happy and inquisitive (the kids liked him big time). We went out to dinner in the famous Lygon street with their partners. It was great - first to think my kids are old enough to go to a nice resturant and behave - second to company that was related (I've known them since they were 5 and 9) and third, to be in Aus at a resturant - J was very jealous when I told him where we were.
We got home at 10, a man walking down the hall HAD to comment that it was very late for kids - I HAD to comment that it was only 7pm where they had been yesterday. When we got to our quiet room - guess what - there was a wedding directly below - and I could hear every word of the music and speeches.
The kids went to sleep. I lay there listening to iconic Australian songs. Typical wedding speeches and more great Australian songs. I couldn't decide whether to ring and find out what time it was all going to end, or to get changed and go join them. I did neither - it finished at 11:30 and I think I heard every Aussie song that has ever been written.
At 6, I awoke to VOMITING. Poor C girl was having a shocking time. We moved to Imi's house (J's step sister (NOTE - he has 3 sisters - all are awesome, strong, smart, hardworking, caring mum's who it is a pleasure to be related to). C girl went to bed for most of the day and vomited EVERYTHING she was in contact with. The other two went to the park, went fishing and generally had a fantastic day with their two closest cousins (age wise they aren't exactly close, but they just all get along brilliantly and can't get enough of each other -it's been that way for the last 4 years)
The next day C girl woke up as good a new. Easter Saturday. We went to Flynn's house - their 2 1/2 year old cousin, where they played and ran around outside with him. We went for lunch to a playground pub, where the kids grandparents and J's other sister and family came as well. The kids had a great time. I got my roast lamb I had been wanting for the last 6 months.
At about 3 we went to an inner city playground with Imi and her kids (Chelsea hadn't seen anyone the day before and Flynn needed to have his afternoon nap) - St Kilda Adventure Playground. It was excellent. We had fish and chips for dinner (with a fried dim sim and a potato cake) - it was one of those dinners that I had dreamed of (sad isn't it when you miss certain foods - but in this case - glad I don't get it often).
Easter Sunday started fantastic. Easter Bunny had been busy and there was a major easter egg hunt throughout the house and backyard. My kids taught their cousins how to play on the trampoline - Jakarta style. So at 8am on a frosty Melbourne morning - 5 kids were bouncing on a wet trampoline with the hose going - in their undies (jocks for bear okay J?). It was freezing. But they didn't care - they stayed that way for 1 1/2 hours - until I had packed the car. A warm bath later and we were on our way to Ballarat.
I had misunderstood the invitation to J's Aunt and Uncles in Ballarat. I didn't realise it was for lunch - and I didn't want to turn up at lunchtime hungry. So I spent an hour trying to find food on Easter Sunday that fitted Fusspot C girl (grilled chicken was the order of the day). Thankfully, after buying some buns from Bakers Delight, Lynn rang to say they were just about to have lunch - where were we????? Being 5 minutes away we got there in time to devour yum steak and sausages, and of course - salad. It was delish - C girl had four helpings.
We got to catch up with our flower girl from our wedding (she grew a foot in the year from being selected to when we got married - she was at least 5 foot tall when we got married) - but she was someone we saw every week (we were very close to J's aunt/uncle/grandparents when we were at Uni - we visited them weekly (if you met them you would know why - they are awesome). She had been to London to live since we had seen her last (almost 7 years ago). She now had 2 children (2 and 6 months). Still incredibly close to her parents and the whole place is just one full of love and appreciation. Uncle Malc had an electric train system that took up half the garage. It was fantastic (and exactly what J is hoping to achieve one day).
Our time there was too short. We headed for the deep south - 3 hours - to my hometown..........