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Home Sweet Home

6 May

Wow. I can’t believe we have been home almost three weeks and I am just now getting around to posting about our return journey. In my defense we have been really busy, with two trips out of town (and another one coming up tomorrow), and a visit from Matty’s family. Also, while readjusting to East Coast time, Ruby decided to start climbing out of her crib, so we have moved her to her sweet toddler bed. Thus, our two year old has been getting up in the middle of the night and wandering into our room, and then I sit with her until she falls back asleep. Oh, and I was sick with a stomach bug all last week. And I am now 34 weeks pregnant. So yeah, we’ve been pretty busy here.

Ok so for the trip home. It actually went really well–much better than I had hoped. It was so hard to say goodbye to Matt and Rachel after such a wonderful visit, but thankfully we get to see them again in December, with their new baby!

We flew out of Brisbane at 10:30 on Tuesday morning, so Ruby was well rested. I had reserved our seats, leaving middle seats open between us in the hope that they would remain unoccupied. My plan worked and the five of us (my mom and dad, my sister Elise, Ruby, and I) had seven seats, which made the 13 hour flight much more comfortable and enjoyable.

Upon settling in, Ruby promptly spilled water all over herself and then insisted on being naken for a few hours. Of course I had extra clothes on hand but wanted to pick my battles very carefully in such a confined and crowded space.

Ruby only slept for about 90 minutes total (not continuously), but everyone helped keep her entertained. She fussed a bit here and there, but really was very very good.

We finally arrived in LA feeling quite exhausted and all went through customs together. This is a terrible picture of Elise (sorry!) but it pretty perfectly captures how we were all feeling at LAX:

After customs we all had breakfast together, then my parents headed over to Southwest to catch their flights home. Elise helped Ruby and I walk over to Alaska Airlines and get checked in for our (direct!) flight back to DC before leaving to catch her train back to San Diego. We had a long layover (so hours total) and Ruby passed out for about two hours on a chair on the terminal–she was seriously dead asleep!

Our final flight was the fastest I have ever flown across country–I think we were only airborne for a little over four hours. A lovely woman sat in our row and was super sweet and helpful with Ruby. We finally landed at Reagan at about 8:30 at night and were both SO THRILLED to finally see Matty. We had both missed him so much, and there is nothing like 28 hours of international travel to make you really appreciate being home with your family.


Breathtaking Byron Bay

15 Apr

For our last day in Australia Rachel and Matt drove us down the coast to an absolutely beautiful spot–Byron Bay. For once I actually got pictures of the scenery rather than pictures of Ruby that could have been taken anywhere! The weather was perfect and the views from the lighthouse lookout were sublime:











We also got to splash in the Pacific Ocean at the gorgeous beach. Ruby was SO excited to go to the beach that she refused to wear anything but her bathing suit when we left the house this morning. The water was nice and cool but the waves were a little rough so we held on tight to our sweet girl.




Here is, quite possibly, the only picture of all eight Atwood/Shellock/Jensen family members in Australia:


Busy Sunday

14 Apr

We had a really fun, busy day today, so standby for tons of Ruby pictures. First we went to church, where we heard an exceptional sermon on grace by a visiting pastor. Ruby remembered the playground from the previous two weeks and was desperate to play on it after the service:


This afternoon we went to Newfarm Park, which has possibly the most awesome playground I have ever seen. There were tons of kids there, and Ruby decided that she wanted to play barefoot like the majority of the Aussies. We all really missed Ruby’s cousins Megan, Ricky, Jenna, and Ben–the day would have been even more fun with them!








Even PopPop, Auntie Elise, Uncle Adam, Auntie Rachel, and Uncle Matt got in on the fun:



This evening Matt’s parents hosted a wonderful barbecue with both sides of his family. It is so very nice to meet everyone and see how much Rachel is loved and has been taken in by everyone halfway around the world. Everyone has been most gracious and welcoming to us, and I hope we can return the favor sometime soon. Sadly this is the only picture I got tonight, but you can see how much Ruby has taken to Matt’s brother-in-law, James:


Baby Shower!

12 Apr

Back when our trip was in the initial planning stages, when I realized that Rachel’s mom, mother-in-law (Ros), sister-in-law (Courtenay), and two of her three sisters would all be together with her in Australia during her first pregnancy, I decided that a surprise baby shower was definitely in order. I had grand plans but then time got away from me and before I knew it we were here, with no means of transportation other than Rachel, no phone, and fairly helpless in general. Thankfully Ros and Courtenay are beyond wonderful and put together a great shower with lots of family and friends. Rachel was fairly surprised, although she did suspect that something might be going on.

It really was a lovely time together celebrating Rachel and her new baby. We played games, including “The Price is Right:”
and baby food tasting:
Ruby helped Rachel open lots of beautiful gifts to choruses of “oh how precious/cute/sweet!”

Ruby practiced her piano-playing skills:

It is so wonderful to spend time with Elise and Rachel, but we all really missed Rebecca, Megan, and Jenna today.


Mt. Coot-tha

11 Apr

While chasing after Ruby at South Bank yesterday, Mom injured her left heel fairly severely, so we have been taking it easy today. It has also been very rainy, so staying close to home has been rather nice. We did venture up to Mt. Coot-tha today for some spectacular views of Brisbane, and the rain obliged us by pausing long enough for us to take some pictures.

Ruby is loving having her Auntie Elise close again:

She also loved the view:

and splashing in puddles:

Ruby enjoyed ice cream at the cafe:

Dad and Rachel relaxing:

Pretty Mommy-to-be:


Splish Splash!

11 Apr

We had so much fun at South Bank the other day that we decided to take Ruby to “the beach” again today. Elise arrived this morning and Ruby was so happy to see her and have her along for another adventure.

Rachel took all but the first two pictures today–I was too scared to have my phone anywhere near the water, and Rach captured Ruby beautifully, as usual.

We started off at the lovely Gaythorne train station, which we are all becoming quite familiar with. Luckily it is a short walk from Matt and Rach’s house, and then we have a nice ride into the city:


It was a little chilly at first so we persuaded Ruby to try playing at the playground for a bit instead of swimming straight away:


Even though it never really warmed up, there were tons of kids enjoying the water and Ruby was desperate to join them. Of course she had a fabulous time splashing about:





After a wonderful time in the water Ruby finally gave into the cold and let me snuggle her and then dress her to come back home:



9 Apr

Yesterday we had a fabulous time in downtown Brisbane and I got a bunch of great pictures. At our last stop, as I attempted to capture Ruby frolicking in a water park, I dropped my phone. In the water. My dad shook as much of the water out as he could and it has been chilling out in a container of rice since last night, so I am praying that it works when I turn it on tomorrow. For today, my mom let me use her phone so that I could take pictures and post.

Well then. Today. Rach and Matt took us on a beautiful drive up into the mountains to a gorgeous little town called Montville. We meandered about, looking in shops, and eating delicious fudge. It is SO GREEN here and everything feels fresh and new. We are all just loving Australia.

Here is a vi

Ruby walking with Rachel:

and Adam (I am always behind because I am now pretty unbearably slow):

Mom, Ruby, and Rachel at a cute little cafe where we had lunch:



4 Apr

Today Mom, Dad, Rachel, her sister-in-law Courtenay, Ruby, and I all headed into the city of Brisbane for some sightseeing. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and we had a fabulous time.

Ruby enjoyed the train ride in:

I love this picture of Mom and Dad in front of a very pretty casino downtown:

Ruby spotted the “Wheel of Brisbane” and desperately wanted to ride:

Rachel, Courtenay, and I decided that was a good idea so we took Ruby up for a beautiful (if slightly scary!) ride:



All in all a really fun day with lots of pretty scenery and great company!

Crocodiles and Koalas and Kangaroos, Oh My!

1 Apr

After a fabulous brunch with Matt’s family this morning we headed to the Australia Zoo. The zoo surpassed all of my expectations. It is beautiful and full of a plethora of Australian and foreign animals. My favorite part was all of the interaction with the animals–we actually got to touch plenty of koalas and kangaroos! Ruby of course had a blast, and I am so grateful that Uncle Matt, Auntie Rachel, Mama and PopPop were happy to chase her around because I am slowing down big-time.

Ruby napped in the car on the way there and was fairly dazed and confused upon our arrival, so Auntie Rachel got to practice her baby-wearing skills:

Ruby was much braver than her mother and actually got up close and personal with a huge Burmese python:

At the petting zoo Ruby told a sweet little girl that she could pet the goats:

We ran into this nice koala handler as he walked across the park and he let Ruby pet his charge:

Uncle Matt introduced Ruby to a kangaroo:

and a pademelon:

Ruby wasn’t sure about this gorgeous tiger:

but she had a whole conversation with this lizard, who was also meandering about the grounds:

At the end of the day our girl was exhausted so PopPop carried her to the car while she snuggled him:

We really did have the best day. Ruby was so interested in the animals and was always concerned when she saw “babies” without their mommies. I will leave you with this last picture of our sweet girl:


Mama’s Knee and Ricky’s Birthday

17 Feb

Matty is en route to Australia for work in Sydney this week and a quick trip to visit Matt and Rachel in Brisbane next weekend, so Ruby and I came down to VA Beach for a week with family. We’ve had this planned for awhile, but on Friday my mom hurt her knee very badly. She is recovering really well and isn’t letting her knee get in the way of Ruby time. Yesterday they read together…
…and today Ruby got a ride down the chairlift at church, which she found super exciting (really!).

Today was Ricky’s ninth birthday and we got to celebrate with him. After a delicious dinner and cake,

Ruby’s cousins taught her “ring around the rosy.”