Thoughts on Leaving

Originally Scott and I decided that on this trip we wanted to stay in each country for a month at a time so we can get to know the place better, experience what it’s like to live there (public transportation, grocery shopping, working, attend play groups, etc), see as much as possible without rushing around (since we have a baby and we understand that some days we need to take it slow), and, honestly, because the phrase “Twelve Countries in Twelve Months” was catchy. 😉

Having spent a month in New Zealand (and now a month in Australia), I know that a month is not enough time to do all those things.  So how much time would be enough for us?  I have no idea.  Scott and I find ourselves asking this question quite often, especially at the end of each month.  We look back at the previous weeks and wonder if we did all the things we wanted to do and if we spent our time wisely.

At this point we always wish we had more money and more time.  More time in the day so Scott can get at least 6 hours of work in and we can make good use of the day exploring.  More time than just a month so that bad weather doesn’t hold us back.  More money to get everywhere we want to go and do everything we want to do.

We also find ourselves yearning for roots and stability to continue in building the relationships we’ve established in our short-term homes.  My favorite thing about visiting these new places is meeting new people.  Carter is the best ice breaker for conversation, and its been so fun to have people open up to us because of him.

Whether it’s meeting an amazing family of six kids who instantly take on the role of Carter’s siblings, a wise Japanese woman on the train who made him an origami crane, the young adventurous couple who approached us about the “mystery gel” on the beach, the Maori family that shared their culture with us, the aging mother and her daughter enjoying a beautiful afternoon walking along the river, the fun, new couple at church with a son the same age as Carter, the family we barely knew who took us in at the last minute when we were stranded, the man at the LDS Temple that gave us some advice of things to do, our hosts who enjoy their time as an interim grandma or grandpa for Carter, the Vietnamese woman who randomly gave us Carter’s fortune based on his physical appearance… the list could go on and on.

All of the people we’ve spent time with, whether for a moment or several times over the month, they are a part of us.  They are our friends and they have a place in our heart.

Meeting people is what make this trip the most that it can be.  Our friends are what makes it hard to leave each place.  Our friends are what helps us make such beautiful memories that we’ll get to share with Carter as he gets older.

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whakatu marae - Nelson, New Zealand

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Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower

After getting lost for the first time (that’s a story for another day!) while using the public transportation system here in Brisbane, we finally made it to Brisbane CBD.  We were so excited to be off of a bus that we took a picture on an elevator!

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We had already spent a day in Brisbane CBD, but we really wanted more gelato so we took a trip to the Brisbane City Hall clock tower to justify our cravings.

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At the entrance to the clock tower, there was a museum and we decided to have a look while we waited for our clock tower tour.  In the museum there was a station where you could make your own paper hats and telescopes.  Next to the station was this elaborate back drop so we assumed we were supposed to take pictures!

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He didn’t really like having a paper hat on his head (he’d rather eat it) so I had to crouch down behind the boat and place it on his head as soon as Scott said “go” and he’d take the picture.

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He was really annoyed that I kept putting the hat on his head but I wouldn’t let him have it so he decided to start eating the boat… I’m guessing from his face in this picture that he didn’t quite like how it tasted.

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It was a beautiful museum with an several exhibits, some including Aboriginee culture and the value of the Brisbane River.

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Next was the Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower tour!  It was actually pretty cool.  We rode on the original elevator (circa 1930) that is hand operated.  It was fascinating to see Brisbane CBD from this vantage point.  Carter liked looking down at all the people, who looked so tiny from how high we were, and yell at them.  Needless to say, it echoed in the tower…

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Tim Tams

You might think it odd that we’re dedicating a whole post to a chocolate cookie (they call it a biscuit here), but if you’ve ever had one, or when you do have one, you will understand.  The packaging even says, “The most irresistible chocolate biscuit.”  These things are amazing and they keep getting better and better.

The first ones we tried were the Originals.  They were incredible!  And again, I am not a chocolate person, so either the chocolate here is 100 times better than in the states, or my tastebuds have done a complete 180 overnight.  Personally, I think the chocolate is better.

The next ones we tried were the Chewy Caramel.  (Side note: It seems as though people here don’t know what “carmel” is, you have to say “caramel” for them to understand what you’re referring to.)  These were exponentially better than the Originals and we didn’t think that could be possible.

One time at the grocery store, we happened upon a giant display of Tim Tams advertising that they were 50% off.  I think I peed my pants as little in excitement. We limited ourselves to 6 packages and we got a couple different flavors to try.  Double Choc Vanilla and White were good flavors, but not worth trying again.

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A new discovery, and our new absolute favorite flavor is Double Coat.  I don’t know why or how it is better than the Original (they look very similar to me), but the difference in flavor is obvious.  The Double Coat Tim Tam is… well… its just better.

We thought we were consuming the Tim Tams properly by eating them right out of the package, but our new friends here opened our eyes to a new way of eating them.  It’s called, “Tim Tam Slam.”  You nibble off a little bit of each end of the Tim Tam so as to expose the chocolate biscuit on each side.  You then pour yourself a cup of milk**.  You hold the Tim Tam so one end of the biscuit is completely submerged in the drink and the other is completely in your mouth.  You then drink the milk through the biscuit until the biscuit is saturated and milk doesn’t come through any more.  You then bite down on the hardened chocolate to experience a beautifully melted mush of chocolate biscuit and chocolate cream.

When we get back to the US from our Twelve Countries trip, we’re going to have Tim Tams shipped to us.  Our goal will be to always have Tim Tams on hand.  We’re excited for our children to grow up eating Tim Tam Slams!

**We were told that you’re supposed to use a hot cup of Milo (a version of hot chocolate, but less chocolaty and hardly any sugar), but we didn’t have any so we just used whole milk and it was still wonderful!

Brisbane CBD

Since our trip to Sydney and Melbourne fell through, we’ve tried hard to get to know Brisbane as much as possible.  Today we spent our time exploring the Roma Street Parklands, Queen Street Mall, and the ferry on the Brisbane River.

We left the house in a hurry to catch the train and Carter was having a bit of a hard morning so we were all a little stressed.  We really didn’t know what we were going to be doing today, we just knew that we needed to get out of the house before we went insane.  We were all feeling a bit better after leaving.

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We decided on a whim to go to the Roma Street Parklands thanks to a Lonely Planet review.

The park was beautiful!  There were ponds and fountains, fields of grass, mounds and mounds of flowers, a children’s park, and all sorts of Australian native plant species.

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The worst thing about the park were all the spiders… eek!  I felt like there were hundreds of them in packs just hovering above the sidewalks.  It was disgusting.  I did my best to duck and run to get passed them.

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After the Roma Street Parklands we went into the Brisbane CBD (Central Business District) and wandered around Queen Street Mall.  We had lunch there and even got some amazing gelato for a killer deal (thanks to groupon.com).

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The streets were busy with crowds of people walking around and everyone seemed in a hurry.  It was definitely easy to feel in the way with our giant stroller.

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We then headed to the ferry.  This was our first time riding the ferry since we’ve been here in Brisbane.  Carter absolutely loved being on the boat and feeling the rush of the wind.

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It was fun to see the city and the parks from the river.

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South Bank Streets Beach

The other day we visited Streets Beach in South Bank, Queensland.  It’s a man made beach in the city with sand and everything!  We spent most of our time at the kid area with several splash pads and shallow water.  Carter had a BLAST in the water!  He was hilarious, “ooo”-ing and “aaa”-ing at all the different fountains.  He especially liked watching some of the older kids run through the water shooting up out of the ground and getting splashed.  I really hope we can spend more time here even though we only have a week and a few days left!

South Bank Streets Beach Pool

South Bank Streets Beach Pool

South Bank Streets Beach Pool

South Bank Streets Beach Pool

South Bank Streets Beach Pool

When we got to the kid area a group of girls approached us and asked if they could get their picture taken with us.  We chuckled and obviously said yes and they were surprised when we asked if we could have a picture too!  The experience made Scott and I laugh quite a bit because we feel like we’re always the ones asking to have our picture taken with people, but we’ve never been the ones to be asked.

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

My chubby baby!  (See mom, he is healthy!)

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach

South Bank Streets Beach