Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Last Trips

Before we ditched town, we each indulged in a little trip. A Last Hoorah sort of thing. Darren and some work buddies spent a week in Queenstown, New Zealand. And boy did it look gorgeous. They had some good, manly adventures (and injuries) biking, hiking, zip-lining and boating in that other-worldly beautiful land.

(I'd let him fill in the details, but this post isn't high up on his to-do list at the moment, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.)

The Three Amigos

                                                                                    Not a bad view for breakfast on the balcony, eh?

A week later, Sara and I took a 3 day camping/canoeing weekend down the beautiful river that cuts through Kangaroo Valley. It was with a little trepidation that we embarked seeing as we had just switched the destination the night before (as opposed to a backpackers trail through the Blue Mountains) and neither of us had ever taken a canoeing trip, let alone one so long or isolated. But we shoved our backpacks full with the appropriate backpacker food and fuel and said some good prayers on the way down. It turned out AWESOME - an unforgettable, adventurous weekend with one of my best friends.

The first day was a bit rainy, but we found some cool dead trees to canoodle through and trucked our way up a leach infested forest to reach a pretty nifty cave we had our eye on. We felt like warriors.

admiring our totally impressive boat knotting skills (not)

It was kind of a risk of life and limb as the climb was slippery, then the floor kept breaking away from underneath us, and we each acquired a few little hitchhikers that kept us bleeding a while (the leaches were as long as my finger and EVERYWHERE!) But my was it pretty.

never has food tasted so good
It didn't stay rainy forever. We got some gorgeous blue skies, some good climbs, some good swims and a whole lotta stories in. Even listened to a bit of LDS General Conference as it was broadcasted that weekend, too. Listening to inspiring leaders while gliding through the water, without another boat/swimmer/house/soul in sight for days at a time was seriously kind of amazing.

our campsite
Up a small inlet and around a few corners later, we pulled up to our very private campsite - a little secret the boat owner had let us in on - with its own little lagoon. I've never felt so removed from civilization.

This is where we got to really test our skills. Tired and hungry, we set up camp and were ready for some grub. Unfortunately, with the light waning we quickly realized neither of us brought matches. Oi! With all the wood being wet, my cheap lighter broke within minutes so we were getting a bit desperate. Luckily our little emergency kit had some flint and steel. Voila! About a half hour and 20 pages of Sara's book later (the only dry kindling we had~) we got our stove working and a small fire to boot. It was HEAVEN I tell ya. We lounged and read and drank cocoa and talked into the dark until the rain picked up again.
Look at us hard-core campers - purifying our own water and everything! We had a visit from quite a few snuffling wombats rooting around our tent (at least they weren't dingos) but slept pretty well.

The next day we enjoyed ample sunshine, lunched on a green little island where a ginourmous goana welcomed us, and set up camp on a gorgeous property with friendly horses and beautiful morning views.

Sore arms but feeling awesome.

Our final day we traded in our canoe for some kayaks to take down the small rapids. As luck would have it, the GoPro didn't charge properly so we didn't get any shots of the active wombats, "white water" rapids (good to get the heart pumping but nothing too crazy), and gorgeous wonderland we happened into on a hunch that that little waterfall held more promise. Hiking up through the stream that fed it was honestly, so breathtaking. We kept shouting "HOW ON EARTH DO WE NOT HAVE A CAMERA TO CAPTURE THIS?!" It will remain our special spot forever.
where we carried the kayaks down to start out
I'm not one who does "Girls Trips" very often, but this was the ultimate goodbye. Adventure, challenge, alone time, no concern for anything but survival and communication. Nature is good and trips with friends are an incredible way to get out there and enjoy it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Well, Hello There!

Wow. So it has been three months since I logged into this dusty old blog here. That's a long time! Many sincere apologies to my vast and loyal readership (yes, you - all 5 of you.)

Hello, from America!! We are here, we have landed and we are digging our feet into the warm, summery soil of my youth. Ah, it feels good. So good! I do love my country. And man, do I adore my family. And what a royal reunion we were treated to. These last three months have been good to us. And it continues to be a wild ride. I've kept a pictoral diary of sorts on Instagram, but I'd like to document the whirlwind properly here, in chronological order if I may. So be patient with me. It may not truly happen until some of these monkeys are back in school in another month, but this is a first step.

And to my friends back in Australia, I miss you something fierce. Writing here somehow helps me not feel so terribly far from you. So, I'm determined to carve out some windows in which to do it - even if there are children crawling all over me as I type!

Stay tuned, my lovelies.

The Mitchells

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Winding Down

With less than a month left in this great country, we're doing all the requisite prepping that an across-the-world move for a family of seven entails. It's stressful. And sad. Tears keep slipping out of my eyes. But we're Focusing On the Positive here and so let me take a break from the madness that is my house (perpetual-cleaning/purging/organizing-frenzy-zone) and share a few glimpses of the last couple of months. All these moments stacked up over our time here, as captured in photos, hold the promise of more tears as we reminisce and look back on this blessed little chapter in our lives.

a promising support team

Seriously, we need to get Miss Kenna into some gym classes, right?

Will got voted Class Captain this year. Funny guy got sort of pressured into it last minute and credits his win to a cool, smooth speech (didn't have time to get nervous and prep for it like the other kids!)
The Three Stooges. They like to copy everything he does (pb on the face - some sort of Instagram silliness). And recently he discovered that magic that is a CAKE MIX. Easiest gig ever! Been spending plenty of time soaking up the last rays of summer in the neighbor's pool and having dance parties on their drive. Got real acquainted with this water scorpion that wouldn't leave and the blue tongued lizard that lives in our back yard wall.

Cockatoos at Eddison Park
Enjoyed a few friends' dogs lately. The littles are completely enamored with Kathryn's pups and I nipped my dog craving by watching the Swann's dogs over one weekend. (Sidenote: trying to walk three large dogs and a toddler, alone, with a baby on  your back is no bueno - especially when the "naughty" one wriggles out of its leash. Now that was a shot of adrenaline! I haven't run that fast in a decade.)

Kenna also got a surprise 2 minutes into another walk when running the same one downhill in the bush (she's fast!) as a sharp stick skewered through the sole of her shoe. (Also no picnic treating a bloody emergency while trying to wrangle poor dogs back inside their fence with scared toddler in tow!) Great dogs though - we had fun. Just not ready to take that kind of crazy on at this stage.

The little kids so desperately wish they could ride to school with the bigs. Sending them off is freaking adorable.

And ample Sorenson dress up (or undress) time galore!
St. Patty's Day snuck up on me and I didn't notice until my Instagram feed lit up a half hour before the kids returned from school. Luckily Summer had dozed off so I scrambled around throwing out rainbows and clovers, dying milk and hiding treats and clues just in the nick of time. Phew!

Did a impromptu and memorable game of Truth or Dare one night with the older kids. Dad came up with some good dares (raw onion, soy-soaked rice bubbles, or spoonful of vegemite, anyone?) and they learned a few things about us old folks!

Had angels watching over us one day as I accidentally bumped on the burner on our way out the door (melting the blender cord and a bag of granola) then had a near collision with a semi on slippery roads in a round about. It's shocking how such harrowing experiences can happen in mere seconds.

"Family #2" is in that wonderfully magical stage of discovery these days. Constant heart-melters.

Easter is celebrated with a four day weekend in Australia, which is a delight. We got a lot of move stuff done but also enjoyed ample Dad time. Even enjoyed a feast and game night with the Sorensons (our virtual "cousins" here.) I was a bit distracted to pull off our week long celebrations but we did cram in the Jerusalem dinner, empty tomb cookies and some Messiah music along with our Easter discussions. We've done it enough years now that things are really starting to stick - they get the true meaning and enjoy reviewing Christ's last week. I love this holiday! We use THIS BOOK but I'm sure there are many beautiful resources out there.
Easter Bunny had Des: totally traumatized, Sum: in ecstasy, Annie: excited, Kenna: chill, Will: seriously, Mom?
 Puddle jumping gone wild after school one day. They were in Heaven.

 Daddy's morning goodbye committee. (I don't know how he ever leaves.) And yes, the mullet. It must be documented. It's amazing. I just can't bring myself to cut those golden baby curls off!!

I attended my last Stake Relief Society Camp and went out with a bang. Honed some new archery skillzzzz and snuck out for a midnight dip with besties.

 I tell ya, every Stake around the world should be in on this, such a great idea. Not just for bonding, good food and late night games/talks, but the classes Saturday are so enriching. My soul friend Kristin, professional life coach extraordinaire, ran one and had us write our faults/regrets/insecurities on tiles then put us all in goggles, and let us hammer them to smitherines!
 Will has enjoyed his own camping/kayaking/hiking adventures with this fantastic Scout Troop. I wonder if he'll ever be in such an intense and accomplished troop again. As the only American participants, these guys even won the Cotter Shield, a weekend competition between the many scout troops in the whole ACT - they are hard core!

 Dad took the kids on a bike/hike up Mount Taylor on Easter Monday and what a view! Sounds like I better sneak over there myself early some morning and check it out before we go.

These gum trees have climbed right into my heart and will stay there forever.
 I tell ya, we're having a hard time letting go of this place...