Days Until Christmas....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Volcanic Valley and A Dent!

In one of my earlier posts, I blogged that we went to Australia in March.  We decided then that since we were already across the globe, that we'd check out New Zealand, too.  

In Australia, we had issues with full hotels or overbooked hotels.  In New Zealand, we decided to kill two birds with one stone.  We wanted to avoid the full hotel issue, and cross camper-van off the list of things we would like to try.  We saw camper vans (or motor vans, as they call them) all over Australia and wondered how difficult they could really be to drive and live in.  We found out in New Zealand!

We arrived in New Zealand, and got the last camper van they had!  Luck was with us!  (Most of them had been pre-booked or transferred to the other island for the use of aid to earth quake victims).  We watched a movie at the rental place on how to drive it, use all the equipment, unfold the beds, refill the water tank, and power up! (It had no bathroom, so we didn't have to worry about that issue!)  We signed paperwork for the rental, agreed on a reasonable, but not full level of insurance coverage, and we were off!  The kids were giddy with excitement at the thought of "camping" in New Zealand.

Keeping in mind that we needed to drive on the opposite side of the road, and our chauffeur, (my brave Hubby) was sitting on my right side,instead of my left, in the driver's seat, we made some pre-travel plans.  We were going to park far from everything the entire time, to avoid backing up or being in a tight parking space.  We weren't going to use the stove at all so we didn't have to re-fill the cooking natural-gas.  For the few days we were there, we didn't want to mess with cooking inside.

We went to the Glow Worm Caves first.  They were fun, and a once in a lifetime experience.  We took all of our own extra vehicle precautions, and did great.   It was raining and parking was on a hill, but we did it!

That night we found an RV park, but it was full, so we went to another one and got the last spot.  It was not easy to get into, but we made it. We parked at our first RV Park for the night.  Getting tucked in the first night was not ideal.  I had to figure out the table and beds for the first time.  Tom (Hubby) kept banging his head when the bed was folded down.  I am only 5 feet tall, and the kids are shorter in height (yet), so the rest of us didn't have that issue!  It was pouring down rain, and the vent let in too much water to leave it open, which meant a hot, steamed up van!  The Robin William's movie "RV" was playing in my head.  It rained all night.

The next day we folded up, unplugged, and headed out.  We went to Waimangu Volcanic Valley where we saw lots of hot pots and geysers.  It was beautiful.  It rained a lot but with such beautiful views, it didn't matter.  We kept going!   We also visited the Buried Village at TeWairoa Village near Mt. Tarawera.  An Indian Guide gave a spectacular tour of the village showing where a nearby volcano had spilled ash and lava down a mountain and into the village.  His Grandmother had been in the village the night of the volcano.  She helped to save many of the tourists from the lava flow.  Years later they dug the village out to show what the village had been like.  It once had a beautiful terrace of mineral waters nearby. Indians from the local tribe hosted tourists from around the world on tours of the area, and to bathe in the  natural minerals at the terrace.  All this changed when the volcano erupted one night.  The last sign we saw in the museum at the end of our Buried Village Tour said "Will it happen again?"  The answer was YES!  History noted that Tawawera had erupted at least five times in the last 20,000 years.  Wow!  Okay, time to be leaving!

By the end of our visit in New Zealand, we were old pros at refilling the water (for the sink) in the camper van.  We knew how to quickly fold out or fold up the beds and table.  We were still parking as far as possible from everyone everywhere we stopped, and Tom was doing a great job navigating our Camper Van Beast on our "wrong" side of the road!  No problem!

Finally, it was time to fly home.  We dropped the van off at the rental place, proud of our accomplishment.  Then they told us, after their inspection, that we had a dent!  WHAT!?  We worked so hard and were so careful!   We were stunned.  When they showed us, I was amazed.  Someone must have doored the vehicle somewhere along the way.  I took pictures.  Had I known, I would have cleaned the black mark off with a rag and it would have been invisible, but they considered it an incident and filed the paperwork for repair.  They would get back to us in a few months, but in the meantime, they would hold the $2500.00 NZD deposit.  We'd hear from them in a few months.  Sigh!
We just recently received the return of some of our deposit.    

The results: 
-Trip to New Zealand?     Less than Australia, but definitely not cheap.     
-The tiny black marks on the Motor Van Beast?      $400.00 NZD!
-Adventure in New Zealand living in a vehicle, and so many bruises, long walks from parking, fun experiences and silly moments with the family?      Priceless!

The next trip will be in a few months and will be Ireland.  I'm voting to sleep on something without wheels this adventure.  Tom and the boys are crossing their fingers that we can stay in a castle!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Christmas In July

A bit of Patriotic-Christmas-in-July!
Happy day to you all!

As I blog today, it's very hot outside in the Panhandle, but inside the Christmas music is playing, the air conditioner works hard, and I am designing new ornaments.  It's that time again to start creating ornaments for Christmas In July, and for the upcoming holiday season in my etsy shop.  I've got lots of new Sugar Plum Ice Cream Cones in the works.

My little guys love to help out when I get out my ornament supplies.  I've learned to give them a tray of extra items of their own to work with.  If I don't, they are going to be getting into my decoration supplies.  I love that they want to be involved and creating though.  They add their own "boyishness" to their own creations, and we initial and date them, then add them to the tree each season.  Their progress shows in their ornaments as their eye-hand coordination and maturity grows, and our tree has become similar to a special type of scrapbook of ornaments that only comes out during the holidays!

This year I've tried to make ornaments in many different colors.  The green is selling out first, and I'm out of green, so will be making more soon!  Green is a traditional Christmas color, but it doesn't stand out on a tree as well as other colors often do, so selling lots of green this year surprised me, but there is a lot to say about tradition!  I still love to decorate a majority of my home in shades of red and green for the holidays.  My favorite holiday decoration is holly and ivy.....a fine example of traditional holiday colors.

Until next time!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Love Drawings!

My dear friend, Brenda, is celebrating her 100th post by holding a drawing.  She has some pretty things that she's giving away.  Just drop her a line and follow her blog.  She's a decorative painter, and a blogger.  She does beautiful painting.  (You should see the recent painting she did of a beautiful heron standing near the water!  I keep telling her to blog about it, because it's an amazing piece of art that she created.  It makes me feel tranquil just to look at it).  Well, anyway, check out Brenda's blog here and get your name in her drawing!   She has two etsy stores, too.  You can find out more about them on her blog.  It's almost that time to start thinking fall, and then holidays again.....and her hand-painted Christmas ornaments are something to be cherished!  And Brenda, if you're reading this, congrats on your 100th Post!  Here's to many more! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day....

Hello and Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

This week my boys worked hard to create handmade Father's Day cards.  They also picked thoughtful gifts.  The most adorable though, was watching them sneak around and hide their gifts and cards when their Daddy was around.  When Tom opened their gifts today, he was touched by the care they took. He loved the items they made and chose for him!  It's been a relaxing day of church, going out for lunch, a mid-day nap and then steak on the grill this evening.  Does life even get better??  My boys and I are so thankful that we have Tom.  He's an amazing father to our two children.  He was happy to change diapers and push the stroller when the boys were small.  Now, as they mature, he continues to love them, encourage them, spends hours teaching them new skills, telling them stories, and being our lead tour guide as we experience other cultures and traditions in our travels!  He's the one that is happy to drive the car on the opposite side of the road from what we're used to while I try to get the GPS working.  He willingly rents and drives a big motor camper when I suggest it might be fun.  (That's an adventure I'll blog about soon!)  Tom is our entrepreneur, to make sure I get my cup of coffee ordered just right in Germany, (he speaks 3 languages).  He Tom is always up for a new adventure, and for this, we are thankful!  Because of Tom, our life is entertaining, unpredictable, and full.  He keeps life interesting and as we celebrate Father's Day today, we know we're very blessed.  We love you, Tom!

Beautiful Australia 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

I can't believe I haven't blogged since January 1st!  The time has gotten away from me and I promise to do better!  I have thought of it, but getting it done is another story.  It seems like since January, we've packed and unpacked, and caught up on school work, and then repeated the process!  It's been such an life really should be, so I can't say I'd do a thing differently!  We homeschool so we can travel. The trick to our adventurous travel is that we're an airline family.  That means "Standby" travel! We can't get anywhere when the flights are full during the holidays.  When the holidays are over, it's packing time though!  Now that the traditional school year is over, we'll be home more, because flights are full of whole families on summer vacation!

We started the year with a trip to Australia.  We loved it.  We flew into Sydney and went up and down the coast.  Everywhere we went took a long time in our little rental car. (No major interstate systems there!)  We worked that car really hard going up and down the mountains and hills of Australia!  It was fantastic scenery though.  Unforgettable.  The kids loved the kangaroos, dingos, wallabies, and all the other things we don't see in the United States!   We spent one late evening watching the small Fairy Penguins leave the sea and go to their nests.  They cooed and called to their mates.  The kids sat in complete quiet to watch them in amazement!  Nature at it's best!

I have many more trips and photographs to add to the blog as I organize again.  It's also time to will start back into the Christmas creating mode for Christmas in July at my etsy shop!  I can't believe half the year is gone.  I say that with many happy memories behind me from this year, and am still looking forward to the rest of what this year has to hold!

I've attached a few photographs of our visit to Australia!  A lovely spot!  Highly recommended!

Happy Summer!


Olive Trees on an Olive Farm.

Queensland Flooding!  The GPS really wanted us to take that route!

Tourists fed these cuties snacks in a cone, and then the whole cone too!  They seemed to enjoy it!

Fairy Penguins

Bird of Paradise!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas!

As we greet the new year, I realize that the time has flown by and even though I felt so busy all year, there is so much more that I wanted to squish into 2010 before it ran out!  Besides being a fast year, it really was a delightful year for us.  I savor a feeling of contentment!  We are truly blessed with our two boys, who are growing like weeds, and making our days merry.  They amaze us every day with the way they are maturing, and we look forward to spending 2011 as we continue to see new adventures just around the corner.

It's late as I blog this evening, but I did want to participate in Beverly's Pink Saturday over at HowSweetTheSound.  I love her Pink Saturday!  Go on over and check out her pink this week.  In the meantime, here is my pink item for the week.

Happy New Year!  Here's to many wonderful days to come in 2011!


Cottage PInk Winter Poinsettia