San Diego

21Ks Done!

I have made a promise to myself to make sure this blog gets updated more regularly – and not have a month between events happening and me blogging! So this is my first attempt! This time I am only 9 days overdue… so thats an improvement isn’t?

Over the last few months I have really begun to enjoying my running and pushing the distances that I have been doing. I am certainly not too serious about it, but I do get a real buzz out of setting new distance and time challenges. So since we have arrived I have completed a 10k and a 15k, so the obvious next step was to do a 21 k/half marathon. I have to say that half marathon sounds so much further than 21 ks!

In April, I decided to sign up to San Deigo ‘Rock N Roll’ Half Marathon (http://runrocknroll.competitor.com). In my usual way, I didn’t really look at the date – except that it was in June. That seemed ok, until I realized that it was the weekend after we returned from the UK! Certainly not ideal training for such a long run! Anyway, it was too late by then. Before I had signed up for the run, I set myself the aim of running 18ks. A couple of my friends who have run half marathons said that in the lead up to their runs, they did not run pass 18ks. I decided that if I could run 18ks in a reasonable time and not feel too horrible afterwards I could do a half. So early one Sunday morning I set off while the rest of the house was still asleep. I surprised myself in running the 18ks – it was a nice cool and cloudy day and I was done by 8:00 am. So that was it… now I had to sign up!

After a couple of short runs while we were in the UK (another blog post follow sorry!) and one longer one a few days before the run, I felt that I had done as much as I could before the event – certainly not ideal though! I was thankful that I was also going to be meeting my friends Sarah and Claire at the start. Sarah and I had decided that we would try and run as much of it together as we are of a similar pace.

It was such a great atmosphere – as the name suggest (http://runrocknroll.competitor.com) there were bands every other mile of so. There were also so many people lining the streets supporting everyone as they ran past. I have to say though… 21 ks.. or 13.1 miles, is quite boring, even with a friend running with you! Sarah and I ran together until the 10 mile mark where I knew I had overdone it. I had to stop and have a minute to recover. But the strange thing was that my body wouldn’t let me! After over and hour and a half of running my body still had the running motion – similar to being on a boat for awhile! I was so determine to keep going though – this was such a goal for me! So I got back up and slowed myself down a little and kept going. The course was similar to the 15 k run I had recently done – except there were thankfully less hills. It was a relief to know at the 11 mile mark there would be nice long down hill run to the finish line.

Finally the end was in sight. I have to say that it took all my will to keep going. It was certainly one of the most challenging things I have done. Once I finished I have to admit that I found a piece of ground and just sat down had to have a few minutes to my self before I found Anthony and the boys. The whole experience obviously did not traumatize me enough.. as I have started thinking about the next half marathon – but I have also had the realization that I have absolutely no interest in a marathon!

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ANZAC Day 2014

Each Anzac Day becomes more poignant to me due to Anthony’s 3 deployments to the Middle East in the last 9 years, and my own grandparents (on both sides) involvement in World War II. Our family involvement extends back to World War I as well. Anzac Day provides me the opportunity to reflect on the contributions others have made to enable my family to have the amazing and fortunate life we lead today.

Due to the number of Australian and New Zealand contingent based in San Diego, there is an Anzac Day Service held each year which is organised by the service members in San Diego and the Consul Generals for both Australia and New Zealand.

It felt like a cold spring/winter Melbourne morning on the flight deck of the decommissioned (now museum) Ex-USS Midway where the service was held (http://www.midway.org) . It was honestly one of the coldest days we have had since we arrived in January. It was very different to see all the men in their white uniforms instead of the usual black that they would be normally wearing if they were home in Australia. I have to say that white ceremonials are certainly the smartest of the their long list of outfits!

Each of the families here had contributed to the day, whether it have been through baking ANZAC biscuits, making rosemary pins for each person attending through to men who marched and formed the guard at the bow of USS Midway. I felt very honored to have been asked to read at the ceremony. Overall it was a wonderful day. The guys were able to head out after and enjoy some of the more traditional Australian ANZAC Day activities.

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A boating life

We have a guest blogger!

Ant here with details on ‘the boat’! Coupled with a lifetime dream of owning a boat, I chanced on the discovery that boats are roughly half the price here when compared to prices back home. After much research and driving Clare to the brink of insanity with trips intothe suburbs to view various boats, we settled on a 20 foot Maxum bowrider with a 5.0 litre Mercursier V8 inboard (yes gas is cheap here!) and stern drive unit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKPsdjGLjPM). This particular boat also happened to come with an upgraded stereo and wakeboard tower. :+)

We have discovered a program set up by the San Diego Port Authority called Dock and Dine (http://www.portofsandiego.org/recreation/go-boating-on-the-bay/97-boating/695-dock-and-dine-on-the-big-bay.htmlwhich provides 17 odd spots around San Diego bay where a free dock is available to tie up if you eat at the local restaurant. We are aiming to work out way through all 17 spots before our time here is up! Joes Crab Shack seems to be our regular so far due to the family friendly nature of the restaurant and undercover dock.

I have tested out the wakeboarding with a couple of mates including the resident Finnish military family and we are planning on taking the boat to the local reservoir (http://www.sandiego.gov/water/recreation/reservoirs/elcapitan.shtml) in search of some flat fresh water. I haven’t yet got Clare behind the boat but I am sure when we have visitors, the inspiration will be there to get everyone up behind the boat. I am super happy that the boys enjoy getting out on the water and love going to see the seals that laze onthe navigational markers in the shipping channel.Sam slowly beginning to enjoy the ride

Happy !

Jack loving the excuse for a cuddle with Granny The New Toy

Granny and Pa come and visit

I would like to blame Mum and Dad for my lack of blogging over the last 6 weeks – but considering they were here for two weeks of the last 6, it does not seem right! I have just been lazy! It is actually very tough living in paradise, trying to find time between the beach, exploring San Diego and boating (will get to that later).

We were so fortunate to have my mum and dad stay with us at the beginning of April. We had a huge list of things to do while they were here. Apart from seeing the usual San Diego sites, we wanted mum and dad to get to know our new home town. It is now Spring here and Coronado knows how to turn it on. Each year at this time, they hold the Coronado Flower Show – Home Fronts awards. Judges literally walk up and down every street here and award the best houses in each street. It must be a very challenging job as the gardens here are amazing. Ours was a little less impressive, so we had to fly in Dad to sort it out! However, the
day we pulled everything out was the day we were judged… so we will have to aim for next year to reap the rewards
(http://coronadoflowershow.com).

Thankfully the boys were able to pull through for us. Unbeknown to us, they had been entered in the ‘preschool’ category at the flower show by their teacher at the playgroup/preschool they attend each Monday morning. I went to pick them up this week and Sam had been awarded first place and Jack second place! We now have their plants and hand painted pots very proudly displayed on our outdoor table.

Award winners

Anyway, back to Mum and Dad’s visit. Mum and Dad arrived on a Saturday morning after leaving a cool Melbourne morning. It was perfect for us as we were able to take the boys in to watch the planes arrive. It was very strange seeing Mum and Dad as it certainly did not feel that it had been three months since we had seen them last in Melbourne. I am just thankful for things like FaceTime and Skype, as the boys knew exactly who they were, and I am sure that it why it does not seem that long since we saw them last.

We spent a lovely weekend just catching up (me especially on the Australian food magazines Mum and Dad had brought over) and exploring Coronado, especially the Hotel Del Coronado where Mum and I had a lovely morning at the day spa! We decided not to venture to far from San Diego as Mum and Dad wanted to have some down time and just spend the holiday with the boys. This was fine with me, as there is still so much we are yet to do here. So Mum and Dad tagged along and became involved in my very Californian life, with preschool drop offs, walks and trying to find good coffee.

In between all of this, we brought a boat (more details to follow). Dad and Ant had lots of fun getting the boat sea worthy – with a couple of boys trips to Home Depot, West Marine and Joes’ Crab shack to test the boat. We had a fantastic afternoon out on the boat all together. After the boys initial hesitation, they were hanging off the back asking for the boat to go faster.

Between trips to the Zoo, games of Ice Hockey, ferry rides, a visit to the new Children’s’ Museum, swimming lessons, too much yummy food, wine and shopping, it was sad having to say goodbye. It is lovely knowing that Mum and Dad now know where Jack and Sam go to preschool, how close the beach is to our house, where Ant works and how he gets there via the ferry, where the good coffee is on the island and had the opportunity to meet some of the wonderful people we have met since we have arrived.

We only have another 8 weeks to go until they arrive again- and then 12 weeks until Robin and Carolyn arrive. We are so fortune to have parents who love to travel and are healthy enough to do so.  Mum and Dad were totally amazed and fell in love with Coronado as we have. Dad has many more streets to explore over the next three year on his early morning walks. However next trip we are heading to Sequoia National Park.

Hi Pa!  Mum enjoining her belated birthday present New toy Dinner time! Seeing the seals at La Jolla La Jolla Balboa Park

Hot Chocolate… Run?

This running business is getting quite serious.. I never really understood the fascination that people have with running and what would motivate them to run for hours or even days at a time. I am still not entirely sure what the driver is, but I am certainly becoming more and more interested in it! It may be driven by the increase food and sugar I have been ingesting since I have arrived… Peanut Butter Cups are now my enemy. I am only allowed them on weekends! But, also, it is an exercise I can do any

So, since my last blog about my running, I have completed a 15k run with my friends Michelle and Nerys.. named the ‘Hot Chocolate Run’ after the bowl of hot chocolate we received at the end .. the last thing we all wanted after the end of the race. We trekked into town (all of about 10 mins away) and met at the starting line at 645 in the morning! It was a grey morning and my first thought was from where I was standing at the starting line, there were a lot of hills! Anyone who has been to Coronado can confirm that there is a distinct lack of hills! So this run would be my first time having run 15 ks… and at hills. Well, I have done the City the Surf a couple of times, and honestly I just walked the hills.

Anyway, I have decided that if you are going to run these types of things, you should always run with friends. It certainly keeps me going.. instead of the internal dialogue I have to motivate myself from stopping, friends help pass the time and comment on the others running by.. oh and also where the best cinnamon buns are. it was wonderful to run down that last hill to see Ant and the boys waiting for us. The run was so well organised with a kids designated area where there were jumping castles, this country certainly caters really well for kids.

So, with 15ks done, the logical thing would be to do a half marathon. I think that if these runs only referred to the distance, I may be less concerned, but as a half marathon has the ‘m’ word in it, it seems more scary. So the it has taken me over a month to decide to join up for a half marathon in June! Can you believe it, me.. doing a half marathon?!! I can’t really believe it myself.. see you at the finish line after 21 kms!

Done  15kms!

Done 15kms!

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With our pretty unimpressed support crews

 

 

 

The Farewell and The Arrival – January 3rd

Farewell Australia

Farewell Australia

I am going back over old ground here, but before I completely and utterly erase the flight from my living memory. Well, I am exaggerating slightly (see the memories are fading already0. Normally there is a sense of excitement when embarking on a flight… well that was before the boys and also I have never been on  flight where we are leaving the country for a long period of time.

We had had a wonderful evening the night before we flew out with our parents and our sisters (minus Jen, Den and Airely) at Robin and Carolyn’s house. It was very strange having to say good bye to our sisters and little Olly… but I know that we will see them before we know it (well I hope so).

I was very surprised, but I actually slept relatively well the night before. With our 7 bags, the kids back packs, we needed two cars to get us to the airport.  It was completely hectic at the airport with people either flying home or heading on holidays after the Christmas and New Year break. The grannies’ were in fine form watching their boys race all over the place, it meant that we could check in and get organised without having to worry about them jumping on the conveyer belt. By the time we got the tickets I was desperate to go through the gate.. as I knew that I would start to loose my composure. I was dreading having to say good-bye.

Anyway, we finally walked through the gates after lot of tears – and a quick rush back for a final hug and kiss with the parents and Joanna and Bas. The boys were getting a bit overwhelmed by this stage as they obviously had no idea what was going on. So we headed to the windows to check out the planes which helped distract them. Once we were called for the plane the boys were getting pretty excited … which was a worry as we were hoping they would start to calm down! As we were sitting towards the pointy end of the plane, we were quite apprehensive about how disrupted the boys may be on the flight. However, once we got our to our seats we realised that the majority of the people were under 16! So we could breath a sign of relief!

Well, I can’t speak highly enough of the flight attendants, they were fantastic with the boys. The boys were pretty impressed with the buttons on the chairs so that filled in hmm about 5 minutes every hour. We honestly did not get too much sleep. We left Melbourne at 11 am and the flight was for 14 hours, so not really the best time for the boys to fly. They had a 2 hour nap at the 4 hour mark and they kept them going until about 11 hrs…. where they starting getting a little more restless! Anthony was great with taking them up and down the aisles. But we had to laugh as we would see them same people walking up and down aisles with their kids, so at least we did not feel like we were the only ones. We had to wake the boys when we finally arrived in LA.

We had a quick change over to the domestic terminal once we arrived. We had requested assistance with our luggage and the service was fantastic. We were able to walk through to the domestic terminal and it was fantastic to get some very fresh cool air. We boarded the next flight and as we were taxi’ing out to the run way we could see one of our bags sitting on the tarmac! Ahhh by this stage we were all pretty exhausted. I don’t remember much of the fight to San Diego, as I think we all just passed out with exhaustion.

It was amazing flying into San Diego, I really had not realised how close we were to the Mexican border and also how arid the land is around the main city. Again we had to wake the boys when we landed. We were very kindly met by the family (Kirsten and Brad) who we were replacing. It truly made such a difference to see two smiling and welcoming faces after our trip. It was such a thoughtful thing to do, as trying to get the luggage and find the car hire place may have pushed things to far! With all our luggage we would not have been able to fit it in one car anyway!

We then went to our temporary accommodation. Kirsten had been shopping and put together an amazing hamper of things to get us through the next few days, including an amazing dinner. All these little things made the transition here so much easier. We finally got all our bags into the apartment and we agree to a 1 hour nap before getting out and finding out where we were!

So, the 14 hour flight was not great, but then I keep thinking of my friends who have flown back to the UK a number of times with younger kids.. the thought of another 10 hours was enough to keep me grounded here for a little while. The boys were overall very good, for two little active kids they behaved exactly as expected. I can highly recommend stickers and iPads!! Oh and the Planes movie… not that I have watched the whole thing yet, I can confirm the first 20 mins were great.. I have watched it about 10 times now.

 

Jack

Sambo enjoying the movies

Our First Visitors

We have now had a our first visitors! It was wonderful to see Anthonys’ Aunt and Uncle, John and June here in San Diego last week. We always have such a great time with them, however, things have quietened down a little since the boys. We received an email from June at the end of January letting us know their plans. They flew into San Francisco and then travelled down to San Diego.

I have to say, it was quite strange to see them here. We kept referring to San Diego as if it was Sydney which confused us many times. John and June very wisely stayed in Point Loma, for some reason they wanted to miss out on the 5 am wake up calls when Anthony leaves for work, followed by the 515 (if we are lucky) sound of the boys opening their bedroom door which has this tricky handle on it.

John and June being in Point Loma, forced us out of our little oasis of Coronado to do some more exploring of San Diego and the surrounds. Near their accommodation in Point Loma is the Cabrillio National Monument, (http://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm). We all piled into our 7 seater (proving why it was such a good buy), and headed 5 minutes up the road to the national park. As you drive towards the main gate of the National Park you travel between the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The cemetery is for US veterans and overlooks San Diego, the North Island Naval Base – Coronado. It is incredbily beautiful and I hope to visit one day without the boys to look a the headstones properly.

As it was Presidents Day weekend, we did not have to pay, however we made a donation. Being a long weekend it was so busy and we had left our run a little late, and we were unable to visit the tide pools and had to settle with a walk around the main information area – and a walk towards the main lighthouse. It was just nice to catch up with all the news from the families and swap photos and videos of the new grandchildren and cousins. The boys loved seeing John and June and when we left that night Jack pronounced in the car, “June, a bit like Granny!”. Oh and John was renamed Papa John.

John and June then joined us in Coronado on the Monday of the long weekend. After getting slightly lost in Coronado (which is actually quite an achievement considering alpha numeric grid style street naming convention here), John and June arrived for lunch and an afternoon of exploring our local area.

To make up for missing the tide pools, we headed back over to Point Loma one afternoon during the week. We unfortunately did not time it well again as it was high tide. But this did not detract from the beauty of the area. They boys had a wonderful time scaring June and I half to death with their scrambling over rocks which were very close to the coast. We then headed back to the main car park for a bigger walk towards the lighthouse.

The views are truly breathtaking – we were there on a particularly clear day so we could see across San Diego, towards the North Island Naval Base and down to the Mexican border. We even spotted a submarine heading out to sea – it was rather interesting trying to explain to the boys what it was. The history of the lighthouse is very well set out within the walls of the lighthouse – it is quite scary how isolated they were and how critical their role was in protecting the ships as they passed. We are hoping to get back there later this week to coincide with the tide and explore the pools properly. We were able to spend one last afternoon with John and June before they headed back north to San Francisco. It was so wonderful to see them, we always have such a wonderful time together, and we hope to see them in either the UK or back here soon.

Sam having a ball

Sam having a ball

Exploring the available rock pools

Exploring the available rock pools

Boys scaring us!

Boys scaring us!

A bit of submarine spotting

A bit of submarine spotting

Postscript… in actual fact our first visitor was our wonderful nanny, Lisa from Sydney. She was very timely in the US when we first arrived. We had not seen her since November when we left Sydney. Lisa has play a huge part in our lives since the boys were 6 months old. She was my sanity while Anthony was away. The boys absolutely love her as well and still talk about her. As you can see in the photo below, Lisa is clearly not forgotten by Jack (or Sam). Lisa stayed with us the third week we arrived, and the third day we moved into our house. She was fantastic and amazing as she has always been and it meant we could get the house sorted, preschools booked and even a dinner out. We miss her very much, and finding someone to babysit the boys is always so challenging as she has set the standards so high! Come back!

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