The heart of Melbourne city is where we were based for the entirety of our trip. This was very exciting for my non-city living boys, but for a parent its very stressful. Cities are busy, cities have lots of traffic, higher crime rates and an overpopulation of rude, hurried people ready to bump and body check, then yell obscenities like “watch where your going asshole“ should you get in their way. But not wanting the boys to miss out on new adventures and experiences that are part of visiting a new city in a foreign country, on our second morning there I fought the urge to keep them safely enclosed in the hotel and instant put my momma bear fears aside to cruise the Melbourne streets in search of a nice little place to grab breakfast and then do some exploring.
Straight away the vibe in this city was different. Firstly there wasn’t the mad rush of too many people hurrying and jostling for space on the path/sidewalk. Everything felt more casual, friendly, strangers actually smiled, made eye contact and said “good morning“. There wasn’t an overabundance of traffic, which meant there wasn’t a lot of car fumes polluting the breathable air or loud ridiculous horn blowing. Most people get around by foot, bike or by using the free tram system. Yes, FREE tram system. You can literally move around the city using the public tram system for free. Once you leave the city and head out to the suburbs, thats when you need to start buying your tickets. There were also these filtered water fountains at the end of every 3rd street or so for people to fill their own personal water bottles, the goal being to cut down on the amount of plastic bottles being bought and discarded into the environment. Plastic utensils are not provided with takeaway meals, instead you get utensils made from some kind of wood that can actually be broken down and consumed by dirt living creatures. I mean, just those few things I noticed, gives you an indication of the thought process of Australian people. Considerate, conservative, thoughtful and forward thinking. For the life of me I can’t figure out how the rest of the worlds cities hasn’t picked up or adopted any of these completely doable ideas. Simple changes that have a massive impact on your immediate environment. Liter was another thing that was seriously lacking. Certainly the people of Melbourne take enormous pride in their city. You can see it and you can feel it as you walk around. All of this and suddenly I was liberated of the feeling of wanting to tether the boys to each of my hands and our morning of exploration became a to more relaxed and enjoyable.
Travel buddies always take care of each other.
Walk along the Yarra River.
Pause for a typical tourist shot.
Hooray! A city playground. You can never pass up an opportunity to play.
Cullen fell, but big brother Keane is on it to make sure the damage is not serious.
The real purpose of our trip was business, for Daddy mostly, and the night before the first track meet, we took a visit to the stadium to make sure everything was being set up right and so some of the athletes could do a little shake out prior to competition. The boys test drive the starting blocks.
And make sure the track surface was good and fast.
On the back straight some local boys and girls track club were lining up to do some sprints, and they invited the boys join them.
The lads had a slight delayed reaction to the gun.
There they go.
First Doyle boy home.
Not least, the youngest Doyle boy.
Cullen is not done with his practice.
A lot of room for improvement on his starting technique.
But he’s got his finishing lean nailed.
The big boys are out getting some strides in. Anybody recognize this fella?? Yep, Usain Bolt.
In field fun with Daddy.
Pole vault mats never fail in their fun levels.
Daddy catches up with good friend and former Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker.
Keane, in desperate need of a post workout massage.
Cullen too if he could just get himself up on the massage table.
Team Jamaica in da’house.
Finally, here we go, we’re blogging all things Australia for the next however many posts it takes to share all the adventures we undertook over our 10 day trip. I still can’t believe we went. A little piece of me feels like we might have imagined it. I mean, these are the kind of trips bucket lists are made of. So its not lost on me how fortunate we are that The Husband is in the business of track & field and has to travel to some pretty cool places, and that sometimes, we get to tag along. But these are the opportunities sport can provide. Opening you up to experiences you never even dreamed possible. So stay in school kids, and play sport, coach sport or be an agent in sport. You just never know where your door of opportunity lies.
But back to Australia and the logistics of getting there. As you read in my last post prior to travel, I was very concerned about the kids ability to tolerate the long hours of airplane entrapment it would take to reach our destination. So I had mapped myself out a survival plan. The first leg of the journey was Atlanta to Houston, Texas and everything there went fine. The kids were excited to finally be on the way to Australia and snacks, coloring, puzzles and books was all the entertainment/distraction needed to survive that flight. From Houston it was onwards to LA, and thats when things started to get a little hairy. It didn’t really help that it was a night time flight, cos now tiredness was becoming a factor. I was hoping to save the tablet surprise for the longest flight, LA to Melbourne, but shit hit the fan hard less than half way though the Houston to LA flight so it was time to bring out the big guns. Truth be told, I was actually looking forward to the part of the journey when they lost their shit, only because I knew I had my badass secret supermom tablets all charged up and ready to go. So when the tears and frustrations started flying, out of the back pack came the 2 new tablets. And suddenly, in row 26 A, B, C & D, it was fecking Christmas. Just like that the tears were gone and there was nothing but high pitched joy and excitement. Momma was a hero and the rest of the trip was now survivable.
The next challenge we faced once we got to Melbourne was timezone adjustment. Jet lag had us wide awake at 2am Australia time, trying to entertain ourselves within the confines of the hotel room. When that got boring we decided to go on a stroll around the hotel like a bunch of nighttime creepers. We headed down to the hotel lobby where the staff I’m sure passed many judgments and had ample questions spinning around their heads in regards to our parenting style. So of course we sheepishly tried to explain the situation with just one word, “jet lag”, sorry, two words. Anyway, the lobby had an interactive game table that kept the boys busy for a good hour and a half, and somewhere between 4 – 4.30am, we headed back to the room and managed to get everyone off to sleep for a few more hours. The next morning we decided the first thing we needed to do in Australia was hit the beach. Melbourne is a coastal city, so a short 15 minute drive and suddenly you’re exactly where you need to be to overcome 20 hours of travel and the fogginess of jet lag.
So the beach is where our Australia adventure began. I’m not going to give a lot of commentary on these photos, cos theres only so many times you can state the obvious, “Keane taking a dip in the ocean”, “Cullen also took a dip too and enjoyed playing in the sand”.
The shot to prove that momma was there too.
So the boys started this game of chasing seagulls on the beach. Here they are discussing the tactics of their next attack.
And there they go!
“Cullen go left, go left”
A beachside playground.
I promise I’m getting ready to start the over sharing of photos from our Australia trip, but 1 very important thing needs to be addressed before I do that. Cullen’s 3rd birthday. Yes, my baby turned 3 on the exact day we flew home from Australia. So for the entirety of his special day, he was stuck on an airplane. But yesterday we put all that right by throwing him a joint truck-dinosaur themed birthday party.
A little personal note before we get into the photos. Turning 3 has been a turning point for my youngest boy. Not to wish his life away, but honestly, it feels like he’s been 2 FOREVER. 2 has been a challenging age. Challenging for me, the momma. Cullen is so smart, so funny, with the cheekiest sense of humor. He is full of opinions and experiences emotions in the extremes. He knows what he wants and is determined and stubborn in his approach to get it. Attributes that will stand to him later in life yes, but wow, if it doesn’t make for some challenging parenting. But this little boy, flaws and all, is my world (before I’m accused of playing favorites, Keane is too, obviously, this post just happens to be about the birthday boy). I get him. I get his stubbornness, I get his extreme emotions. I understand his reactions, I understand his humor, cos he is exactly like me. Life with him is never dull. When he’s happy, his whole body reflects it. He bounces, skips, claps and throws his head back in deep bellied laughter. His excitement for life is contagious and can instantly turn any bad day around. He’s still young enough to always want to be close to me, held by me or hold my hand. He adores his big brother, following him everywhere, copying everything he does and says. Keane is the first person he looks for when he wakes up and he misses him terribly on the days he’s in school. They are the best friends I’d always hoped they would be. As with both of my kids, I could talk about them all day and I write about them endlessly. They are the reason for everything. Life without them is just unimaginable. Cullen, today we celebrate you. 3 years of you. Happy Birthday little fella!
Of course I had to get a few portrait shots to mark his 3 year milestone.
It takes some intense concentration to get those 3 fingers up, but he nailed it. Hooray for 3!
Onto party day!
Several months ago I asked Cullen what kind of birthday party he wanted. Without hesitation he said “trucks!”. Fast forward to 3 weeks ago when we went to order his cake, suddenly he was saying. “Dinosaurs, or maybe trucks, or maybe dinosaurs“. Trucks has always been his thing, recently however, he’s started transitioning to dinosaurs, but can’t seem to fully let go of the trucks. So my solution was we have a cake with both. And that made him bounce, skip and clap happy.
As a result of the double theme, we had double birthday banners.
The boys “helping” with the set up.
One of the cupcake got a little smashed during set up, so I let the lads eat it.
Can’t stop staring at his cake.
I let them taste some of the dirt (chocolate pieces) from around the base of the cake.
Cake time for the birthday boy.
Some extra wind needed from Daddy to blow out those candles.
Its cupcake time.
Time to open some prezzies.
Since our return home last Sunday, I’ve been trying to make a start on sharing some of the photos from our amazing trip to Australia, but the readjustment back to normal life has been rough. Keane has decided he is never sleeping again, and this is having a knock on effect for the rest of the household. An ugly knock on effect. The sleep deprivation he is indiscriminately inflicting has us all looking like complete shite, our brains functioning, or barely functioning on “foggy” mode and our temperament is one of snappy and irritable. I swear, I’m surveying solely by alternating between cups of coffee and tea, as well as tears and laughter. Not happy tears or happy laughter, but rather the laughter of a psychotic women on the edge of losing her mind. The only person who is unaffected by Keane’s insomnia, is Cullen. Cullen loves his kip and will not have it interrupted or cut short by anyone. He is usually fast asleep minutes after his head hits the pillow and we hear not a peep out of him until the morning. Oh how I wish he and his big brother shared this deep love of sleep. I know just one night of more than 2 hours of rest, would be enough to help turn everything around. To have us all looking and feeling happier, shinier and more positive. Fingers crossed this is the night.
As you can imagine, this trigger happy momma has shot a ton of photos on our trip and hopefully over the next few days I can make a start on the sharing. Until then, here is a family photo with Koala bear Benny, taken on our day trip to an animal sanctuary. Cullen and I pretty much nailed the smiling tourist pose, Keane and Daddy, didn’t.
So I thought I’d better get a blog post up before we leave next week for Australia. Wait, let me say that again, my approach was very causal and you might have missed it. Next week we leave for AUSTRALIA! No, not kidding. And very excited. Not about the flight, but we’ll talk about that in a minute. Its a work trip for The Husband, he has a bunch of athletes competing in a series of track meets in Melbourne, but its an adventure for me and the boys. I’ve been to Australia before, anyone remember the Sydney 2000 Olympics? Well I was there, competing. Almost 17 years later, here I am, going back again, a very different person to the girl I was then with a very different life.
But first we have to get there, me, The Husband, 2 little boys and 20 hours of flying. Yes, 20 HOURS. I have anxiety at the thought. I’ve had anxiety for the past 2 weeks, since we decided to go and I’ve been consumed with designing our survival plan. And that survival plan consists of tablets. No, I’m not planning to drug my kids (although I did wonder what the legal amount of Benedryl was to give a child), I’m talking tech tablets. I’ve done a lot of flying with the boys, but never used any kind of iPad or tablet as part of their inflight entertainment. Our entertainment was always very old school, books, coloring, drawing, play-doh, snacking, napping and walking laps. And this was good enough to survive 7-9 hours. But 20 hours?? Fu#k that, the kids are getting tablets. So I sourced us 2 Amazon Fire Kids Edition and have spent the past 2 nights loading them up with games, books, movies and cartoons. These tablets are the sh#t bar none. So inexpensive ($80) and built exclusively with kids in mind. But the best part is, the kids don’t even know they have them yet. My plan is to start the flight doing our usual inflight activities, see how long we can get out of that. Then, when they start losing their minds, which they will, BAM! out of the bag, like some kind of badass super hero momma, I produce the 2 new tablets, filled to data memory capacity with nothing but digital fun. I think its bloody genius and I’m pretty confident this will bring so much joy and excitement that the rest of the flight should be cake. So bring on the 20 hours, cos bitch, we got this. This trip does mean there’ll be no blog action for the next 2 weeks. But think of all the fun stuff I’ll have to share upon our return. I’ve no idea what we’ll get up to, but its sure to be fun.
And cos blog posts are always better with photos, here’s some pictures of how we spent our Saturday morning, at Keane’s swim class.
Cullen snacks while Keane swims. And yes, it was very foggy at the pool this morning. The pool is actually an outdoor pool, but gets tented during the winter. So when its cold outside, but warm inside, it creates that steam room effect, which is great for the pores.
A little back stroke action from Keane.
Cullen is beginning to cross over to the dinosaur world. He hasn’t let go of his truck obsession completely, but he’s close.
And cos he’s 2, sitting poolside watching your brother swim is only fun for the first 15 minutes. Then you want to do something else. So while big brother continued with his class, Cullen and I went scooting.
The faster the better for Cullen. INTO IT.