Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays

Hi All,

Just popping in to say I have been so busy that my blog has taken a back seat for a while. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and that 2012 brings much joy and happiness. We are due to fly to Orlando on saturday New Year's Eve which is exciting.
I hope to find some time to come in and write.
I have been very busy also with my work. Its been great to get so much business lately!! So I am having a blast planning some great Vacations.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa Photo 2011

Today we decided it was going to be our annual Santa photo day. For years I always do it very early in the season however just didn’t get around to doing it this year. Isabel and I were planning to go ice-skating however I knew we would miss out if we didn’t do it today. I know to some it may seem silly however its one of the few traditions I do maintain.
We decided to head into Macy’s early however when we arrived we realize we were not the only people that had the same idea. We lined up literally around the whole 8th floor of Macy’s at Herald Square. If you don’t already know Macy’s is the largest department store in the world! In true New York style it was efficient and actually quite fast considering the amount of people waiting. Lucky for Hugo and I the girls were quite well behaved. It’s a lot to ask of children to line up for so long but parents do including us. Finally after a 45 minute wait we got to Santa. Macy’s have the most amazing “Santa-land” display that is simply breathtaking. The girls were filled with such anticipation and rehearsed simultaneously what they were going to say to Santa when we finally arrived to our designated “Santa”.
We waited and then finally it was our turn. Isabel approached first and then on queue Annika refused to approach Santa. She insisted I accompany her and once again I was going to be featured in the annual Santa photo. After a brief but exciting conversation with Santa our annual Santa photo day was done. Let hope next year it’s just the two of them LOL

Monday, December 12, 2011

Magical Manhattan this time of year.

Yesterday finally Isabel and I went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I was sort of expecting a pretty amazing show however what I experienced yesterday far exceeded my expectations. Radio City Music Hall is an amazing venue. On entering you are initially mesmerized by an amazing chandelier. Then as you continue in you are welcomed by a grand old theater that seems so spacious and full of charm.

We had great seats and Isabel and I were so excited and prepared ourselves for the next ninety minutes. We were handed some booklets which enclosed had some 3D glasses. The lights went down and the music commenced.

The next ninety minutes I can only truly described Spectacular. I cannot recommend this show enough especially if you want to have a true New York experience. It had such an old fashion charm with the Rockettes dancing with such precision that it’s just mind blowing. I felt I was taken back to a place when Fred Astaire and all those celebrities from way back had lived and performed in. It was like nothing I have ever experienced and in true New York charm bigger and better than anything I have ever seen.
Hugo and I had planned after the performance to meet and take the girls to finally see the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center. It seemed us, the rest of New York and every Tourist in town had the same idea. It was a sea of people and really challenging to get through with Annika in the stroller. Also to add to the “holiday Magic” the cold has finally arrived so we and everyone were very rugged up. Regardless of the “Human traffic” we followed the sea of people to see what we could of the tree. They had a special Christmas Carol performance so a very magical feeling with “jungle bells” playing in the back ground.

After navigating our way out we headed down to 5th Avenue. I wanted the girls to see the decorations on the amazing designer’s stores. Again very difficult for them to see however with the darkness setting in the streets are just breath taking. I have taken some photos however it was difficult to manoeuvre my iPhone and the stroller at the same time.

My favorite was Tiffany’s and I managed to see the amazing displays. The doorman at Tiffany’s said hello to Isabel and she wondered what was in that store. I responded by letting her know that that was Mommy’s favorite store! You get magical blue boxes with white ribbons!! Let’s hope she reminds her Daddy about that!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Great Wolf Lodge

Today I dropped Isabel off to her friends place for her first official sleepover. I have never seen here so excited. She has been invited for an overnight visit to an indoor water park in Pennsylvania. She also has another friend from her school going too. She was so excited she could not even eat breakfast and declined a hot chocolate from Starbucks!

Naturally as a mother there is always the apprehension you feel when you allow your child a freedom they have never experienced before. I see this as the beginning to many more experiences in her life she will do on her own now.
It’s a difficult process I suppose all parents go through were we protect them so intensely and then comes a time we have to release the grip. I have spent all afternoon thinking about the last 8 years and where have they gone?
Isabel is really growing up and making these amazing bonds with friends that I know will last a lifetime. I feel that this New York environment is just such a wonderful one for her as she has truly blossomed. She has become some confident which is just so reassuring for me as her mother.
She will return tomorrow afternoon and I am sure with some amazing stories to tell.
Sunday her and I are attending the New York famous “Radio City Christmas Spectacular”.

It’s something she has wanted to do for a long time and finally the wait is over. I hope to take some amazing photos and be sure to post here to share with you all.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Its begining to feel a lot like Christmas.....

We got our Christmas tree tonight. This year being more settled we have had time to really take in the Holiday Spirit. I have started my Shopping as my gifts need to make their way to Australia in time.
The streets here in the Upper West Side look magical. The lights are just spectacular. Hopefully this Sunday we will go over the Fifth Avenue to take the girls to have a look over there. I will take photos. There is nothing quite like the Holidays here in New York.
I also got to meet some of Hugo’s Cousins from Sweden on Sunday. It’s been amazing to meet the Swedish side of Hugo’s family. His cousins seemed so warm and inviting which explains why Hugo has such fond memories of this side of the family. They were here for her 50th birthday. I felt an instant bond with them and was delighted at their invitation to visit them in Sweden. I have decided that is now on our bucket list.
My work has started to pick up to and I really enjoy putting together trips for families. I am currently working on a few family reunions which are just amazing. I seem to be finding that perfect balance between family and work. The only thing is looking at these amazing Cruises and destinations make me want to travel even more. We are currently looking at options as to when we will do our next vacation. It seems surreal to be able to get to so many places in the world at a fraction of the time it would take from Australia. Will also keep you all posted.
Also if you have not already done so I suggest entering our XBOX contest!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Irish Night and some Paddy dancing

Last night I had the funniest night with some friends. We have started a bit of a “Cultural Exploration”. We have decided to choose each other’s cultures and choose a venue here in Manhattan for our “girl’s nights” that have become a permanent fixture on my social calendar. Last night it was Ireland.

We caught a cab from the Upper West Side and headed to the east and down towards midtown. We noticed that there was an Irish area here in Manhattan that we didn’t know about? Its definitely one of the many alluring qualities of Manhattan. You are always discovering something new. We arrived to a pub that was small but full of Irish warmth and hospitality. I would not exactly say this is a very upmarket type venue. However on the flip-side it was a warm and an inviting place to sit, have a few beers and a good laugh. It was a Thursday night and that was Irish Music night. We were entertained by a solo dancer who seemed to maybe either work or own the establishment. My friend who is Irish also treated us to a bit of her own “Paddy Dance”. We were actually surprised as she definitely puts Michael Flattery to shame with her outstanding moves.
Looking forward to the next culture!!! And the next night out too ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ultimate Gamer Package Giveaway!!!!

Well it certainly has cooled down here in Manhattan. What better to keep you entertained in home but a magnificent Ultimate Gamer Package? This is the next giveaway which will commence December 1.
Thanks to “Mom Blog Society”,” Mom Does Reviews” and some other very talented bloggers we have once again come together. I wish all that enter the best of luck 

The Xbox 360 250GB Kinect Holiday Bundle

Enter to win one Xbox 360 Kinect Holiday Bundle via Rafflecopter from December1st to December 15th

Sponsored by Mom Blog Society , Mom Does Reviews and Alyson Britten's adventures in mommyland

The Xbox 360 S is here with its sleek look and powerful features in Happy Holiday Bundle. Featuring a glossy black finish, a 250GB hard drive and Wi-Fi capability, the Xbox 360 250GB console brings you to the brink of innovation and the future of gaming. The exciting Kinect sensor lets you literally climb into the game and control your entertainment with the wave of a hand using advanced motion-sensing technologies. Built-in Wi-Fi provides a faster and easier connection to Xbox LIVE to stream HD movies and TV shows or download games. The internal, removable 250GB hard drive offers plenty of space to save games, HD shows and movies and more.
The Xbox 360 250GB Kinect Holiday Bundle offers you everything you need to start gaming right away. Your body becomes the ultimate controller as you jump off of the couch and into the game with Kinect. With no other remotes or accessories, your every movement translates on the screen to give you total control of the action — and it all starts right out of the box with the included Kinect Adventures and Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do games. If you're in the mood for more traditional gaming, this Holiday Bundle includes a wireless controller that lets you control the action of your favorite games from up to 30' away from your console. Your gaming and entertainment world expands online with the included three-month Xbox LIVE Gold membership. Engage in global competition, and download movies, games and sports. With its sleek new black design, this super-quiet model of the Xbox 360 console delivers a wide variety of entertainment options and the intuition of the future.
  • Xbox 360 S console, Kinect sensor, Kinect Adventures, Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do, 250GB hard drive, One Xbox 360 wireless controller and three-month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership.
  • Xbox 360 S consoleRuns quietly so you can play games or watch movies without distraction.
  • 250GB hard driveInternal, removable hard drive offers more storage space for games, music, HDTV and movies and other Xbox Live content than previous Xbox 360 models.
  • Kinect sensorLets you literally jump into the game with revolutionary body-tracking technologies that capture your movements and translate them to the screen.
  • Integrated Wi-FiEnjoy a faster and easier connection to the world of entertainment on Xbox LIVE, where you can stream HD movies, TV shows and live sports.
  • Three-month Xbox LIVE Gold MembershipGives you access to friends, games, HD movies and more (other subscriptions and fees may apply).
  • Wireless controllerOffers precise control from up to 30' away.
  • Kinect AdventuresGets you into the action as you navigate through space, feel the roar of rushing rapids and tackle mountaintop obstacle courses — using your body as the controller.
  • Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey DoOffers 20 controller-free games and attractions, from practicing your swing in batting cages to outrunning twisting tornadoes, to allow you to jump into the full-motion gameplay

Great Features:

  • Jump, dance, and get your whole body in the game with the unique experience of Kinect. Or use your controller to play the blockbuster games your friends can't stop talking about.
  • The spacious 250GB hard drive gives you the space you need to store arcade games, movies, demos, and even full Xbox 360 games.
  • The complete Xbox 360 experience, including the controller-free fun of Kinect, and now for a limited time get two free games and a 3 Month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership.
  • With Kinect, play, pause and rewind the action with your voice. When you are the controller, there's nothing between you and the fun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NEW exciting contest!

Well after the overwhelming success if the iPad 2 which ends soon. I have again decided to take part in yet another awesome giveaway. It is not due to commence till December 1. Here is a picture of the prize!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Last night I caught up with an old Colleague who was in New York for a visit. It was so nice to show her around my "neighborhood". I am so fortune to have worked with some amazing people back in my Ansett Australia days. We caught up on the last 10 years since Ansett's collapsed over dinner and two bottles of wine. I have to thank Facebook for allowing me to maintain contact with so many of my old Ansett buddies. Its been amazing to have caught up here in New York with so many.

And on the subject on Facebook I am also now running another contest and this time its for a $25 Amazon gift voucher. I have had such an overwhelming response to the ipad 2 giveaway I have got into the spirit of things. I do also have ANOTHER wonderful giveaway coming up which I am sure many of you will really be excited about. I know I sure am!!!

Visit my Facebook Page to enter!

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Expedia CruiseShipCenters

A while ago I wrote about my constant dilemma about working or not. I decided to start up my own Travel Agency as it was a way to have my work and balance my home life effectively. I absolutely LOVE what I do mainly because I love planning perfect vacations. The majority of my Clients are parents. It's been an absolute pleasure to deal with the lovely people I have. I always email or call my Clients on their return to make sure all had gone well. I also always look for feedback and see what I could do better next time. Because I have my own business I am able to go that extra mile as I have such a personal bond with each and every client.
A few days ago I made contact with a Client who I had arranged a Cruise to Alaska. I remember researching quite a bit as one of the passengers had quite a few health issues. When I called her I was so happy to hear all had gone so well and in fact had exceeded expectations!! She also sent me all her photos to view. It is moments like this I am so fortunate to have been able to start my own business and to create these special moments for people. Its one of the amazing opportunities that I have been able to take full advantage of here in New York. I also am amazed at how supportive the community is around me.
Its a very rewarding feeling to know that when people around me think of a vacation they turn to me.
My wonderful and extremely talented cousin also designed some amazing ads for me so I will share my favorite :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day 2011 (our second one here in NYC)

Well I am glad to say this second Thanksgiving was again a lovely experience. The morning started with a sleep in well if you call 7.00am a sleep in. Hugo took Isabel down to the bottom of 70th and Central Park West to watch the parade. I saw people heading down there so early too! Of course we are so close we tend to leave it to the last minute. I stayed back and went down there later with Annika.
In typical New York fashion the parade was spectacular. Also I was surprised to see how much was actually open too! There were people everywhere so after a stroll to get a latte we head home.
I cooked a beautiful pork roast as I don’t eat Turkey. Long story however as I always tell my friends I simply don’t eat anything that flies. Regardless the pork came out spectacularly and we feasted on all the sides I prepared.
I also need to admit to an addiction I have developed since relocating to New York. PUMPKIN PIE!!!
Back home in Australia pumpkin is a vegetable and we make soup or we roast it like potatoes. I have adapted to the American way of having as a sweet now too. I am totally and completely addicted to pumpkin pie and these Starbucks pumpkin and cream cheese muffins. These are definitely delicacies we don’t have back home down under!
At this time during this special holiday I take time to reflect on what exactly I am grateful for.
I am grateful for my family, friend,health and my life here in NYC.
I also feel extremely grateful to all of you that actually read my blog. I feel privileged to be able to also share my experiences here with you all.

I have another surprise contest coming up very soon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (the day before)

Thought I would share some photos I just took after collecting Isabel from school. It was amazing to watch them blow them up. Its very exciting and cannot believe I live so close to all this. Its moments like this I pinch myself! There was such a large crowd that had come from all over the city. We just walked a few blocks home after. I plan on going to the parade as its only a block away also.
How lucky we are!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vacation Booked!!

I just booked our first vacation here in the USA. We have decided to go to Orlando and do both Disney and Universal Studios. I would have loved to either have done a Cruise as I would find that perfect for resting and just relaxing. When Hugo changed jobs he had to have his Visa reissued so that is when he went to the Dominican Republic to do it. I stayed behind with the girls and opted to submit for an extension. It would have been a lot faster had I gone with Hugo to the DR. I submitted my paperwork in July and I am still waiting. It unfortunately means that if I leave the USA at the moment I will be denied entry. It looks like it will be ready around February. Unfortunately Hugo's work has told him he needs to take his leave by the end of December.They have extended it to the first week of January. Had we known this we would of planned this well in advance. Being the winter break here hotels and flights are very difficult. I have managed to book us for 7 days leaving December 31.Its times like this I am so glad I am a Travel Agent!!! Isabel is beside herself mainly as we are going to visit the new Harry Potter exhibition at Universal Studios. She has become the huge Harry Potter Fan that many children her age seem to be. I do feel very fortunate that its only a 3 hours flight from here. I know many Australians including my sister make the huge trek over and its a very long one!!
I now need to start thinking about the next vacation. This time it wont be as rushed and having to just accept what ever flights or accommodation is left!

Also any followers with suggestions to Child friendly Restaurants please just leave them in comments. We are staying in the Disney Downtown area.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A perfect Fall Day in Central Park

Just wanted to share some photos of my girls in the park today. We met up with friends and had a wonderful morning. This area is called the Sheep's meadow and it's perfect for active kids. Fortunately their is a cafe Le Pain Quotidien that serves latte's and pastries near by. The park is spectacular at the moment with the colors of Fall.


Isabel is currently studying about Immigrants that arrived here to the USA. She went on a field trip (excursion) the other day to Ellis Island. Hugo and I have been meaning to get out there as it seems like such an interesting place. We did go past it initially when we went to visit the Statue of Liberty which is now a year ago.
Ellis Island was a processing center for Immigrants and it was their first port of call before being accepted into the USA. At this center they would be checked for diseases and other factors before determining if they were allowed to start a new life here in the USA.

Both Hugo and I are children from immigration and we both have very different experiences. Australia is also a nation that opened up its door to and influx of immigration decades ago. It’s been very interesting to learn about the Immigration process here and especially during such a dark period in history when the Jewish in Europe were being persecuted. It has been a very interesting yet quite sad learning experience for Isabel
The school held an “open day” where for one hour the parents could observe the lesson. Isabel’s teacher was reading these 8 year olds a book telling a story of a family emigrating from Russia to the USA. The story progressed into the reason why they were leaving Russia and in a delicate and childish manner explained that if they did not leave they would be put in a concentration camp and would probably be killed. I stood in that classroom with Annika on my hip feeling my eyes start to well up with tears. I cannot explain why this moment affected me the way? Many of the children in Isabel’s class are Jewish and obviously descendants of immigrants that also fled to the USA. I felt so much sorrow for the people that were so unjustly affected by what was a very dark period in our world history. On the bright side they made a new and wonderful life here in the USA where they were free to be who they were.
It’s a magnificent thing that my 8 year old is constantly teaching me about life here in the USA. I look forward to her enthusiastic recall of what she learned in her glorious and uniquely enthusiasm every school pick up.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Well with much excitement I would love to announce that we are giving away an iPad 2. I have teamed up with Mom Blog Society, Mom Does Reviews and some other very talented bloggers to offer some lucky person an iPad 2.
I decided to joint this group of wonderful women as they have been very inspirational to me with their passion for blogging. I have learned and continue to both learn and grown from my association with them.
Please feel free to spread the news about this giveaway!!!

Make sure you follow me on Twitter and Facebook too!!

iPad 2 Giveaway: Win it!

Sponsored by Mom Blog Society and Mom Does Reviews

Capacity: 16GB | Connectivity: Wifi | Color: White


Thin. Light. Fully loaded

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core A5 chip. 10-hour battery life. Over 200 new software features in iOS 5. And iCloud. All in a remarkably thin, light design. There’s so much to iPad, it’s amazing there’s so little of it.


Technology so advanced you'll forget it's even there

When you pick up iPad, it becomes an extension of you. That’s the idea behind its innovative design. It’s just 0.34 inch thin and weighs as little as 1.33 pounds, so it feels completely comfortable in your hands. And it makes surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, and reading books so natural, you’ll wonder why you ever did it any other way.


Two cameras. And a big hello to FaceTime for iPad.

You’ll see two cameras on iPad — one on the front and one on the back. They may be tiny, but they’re a big deal. They’re designed for FaceTime video calling, and they work together so you can talk to your favorite people and see them smile and laugh back at you. The front camera puts you and your friend face-to-face. Switch to the back camera during your video call to share where you are, who you’re with, or what’s going on around you. When you’re not using FaceTime, let the back camera roll if you see something movie-worthy. It’s HD, so whatever you shoot is a mini-masterpiece. And you can take wacky snapshots in Photo Booth. It’s the most fun a face can have.

Dual core A5 chip, it's fast times 2

Two powerful cores in one A5 chip mean iPad can do twice the work at once. Multitasking is smooth, apps load quickly, and anything you touch responds instantly. And with up to nine times the graphics performance of the first-generation iPad, everything on iPad 2 is even more fluid and realistic, from gameplay to scrolling through your photo library


Multi-touch, everything's at your fingertips

With iPad, you use your fingers to do everything. And thanks to Multi-Touch technology, everything you do — surfing the web, typing email, reading books, swiping through photos, and switching between apps — is easier and a lot more fun. When your fingers touch the display, it senses them using electrical fields. Then it instantly transforms your taps, swipes, pinches, and flicks into lifelike actions. Just like that.


Battery life keeps on going. So you can, too.

Even with such a thin, light design, iPad has an incredible 10-hour battery life.1 That’s enough juice for one flight across the ocean, or one movie-watching all-nighter, or a week’s commute across town. Because iPad hardware and software are made for each other, the power-efficient A5 chip works with the iOS software to keep battery life from fading away.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Essential Baby Followers!!

Just thought I would make a quick post to and let you know how ridiculous that website is!!

I have just been notified that if my blog link remains in my signature I need to remove the banner at the top of my blog. Hell this is my blog!!!
I have just had such a good laugh about it as its seems "Freckles" may be leading a some what ho hum life??

Well I wont be removing anything from my blog, its mine :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I have a suprise!!!

Well I cannot say too much however on saturday I will announce a contest!! I have decided to take part in a give away for all my followers and readers :)

I am so excited!!

Rain Rain go away!

We had one of those soggy rain days that make the simplest of tasks so much harder!! We do everything by foot so when it rains we have to adapt to the conditions. Strollers get their rain covers on. We all get out or rubber boots because simply its the only way to keep your feet dry. You need a good wet weather jacket that is waterproof. And an umbrella is optional however you need to watch out for the "Umbrella Rage" that can creep its ugly head out!
Lucky for us we are on the Upper West Side so not as chaotic like midtown. You imagine the masses of people rushing to get somewhere with a huge umbrella. There is bond to be many collisions!

We have adapted and it does become a routine sort of thing. Annika has discovered a love for her rubber boots. She loves to "jump over muddy puddles'' to quote her beloved Peppa Pig.The only problem with that is she tends to wet me and any unfortunate bystander that is standing by. We are working on her NOT doing this.

Peppa Pig

I honestly dont understand why the drainage is so bad. It does not have to rain for very long and the sidewalks all get so full of water. You cannot help but get wet shoes hence the rubber boots are mandatory.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rest In peace Robin

Today I had a friend call me from Sydney. She told me the very sad news that an old friend has passed away. I want to write a blog entry about Robin and I would like to dedicate this in his honor.
I met Robin when I was a Flight Attendant back in Australia. Robin had had HIV however that was never going to stop him from being the wonderful person he was. He had an amazing sense of humor even when he was obviously in pain or suffering with a reaction he was having to the treatment he was on.You knew at times he was suffering as he would need to sit and catch his breath at times on the aircraft. He would then get up and just smile as is to reassure us he was ok. It must of been so hard for him poor guy.
We particularly did a lot of the Auckland flights we loved. We would both laugh and enjoy the different type of passengers on board. We enjoyed the fact they were mainly Latin’s so he with his Portuguese and me with My Spanish would have a ball. He would be so proud of me now if he could see how much my Spanish has improved over here in New York.
I remember Robin loving art. There were a few times where I went to his apartment in Potts Point and he would boast about his new masterpiece he had acquired. Robin also loved wine. Robin loved life.
I lost touch with Robin when Ansett collapsed and I knew he had moved to Cairns. I remember trying to contact him when I was up there one time but it seemed he had become somewhat of a recluse. I did respect his privacy.
Robin I want to thank you for all those wonderful nights your smile got me through some of those long flights. I always admired your strength and courage in what seemed such an unfair battle you had with this horrid disease. I wish I had of seen you in the years after Ansett but I understand. We were all so busy finding our ways and fighting our own personal battles.
I hope you are sitting somewhere fabulous with masterpieces surrounding you. Good bye old friend you are gone but will never be forgotten.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Into my second year now....

Well now that I have lived here for a year I can look forward to Holidays that I enjoyed so much again. Thanksgiving was my first and this time around I am preparing for this event. I am going to attempt a Turkey even thought I don’t eat Turkey. Hugo and the girls love it so I figure I will enjoy all the other foods like my first New York obsession pumpkin pie. I love the whole idea of Thanksgiving. A celebration about being grateful for what we all have and NO PRESENTS to worry about.
This year we may be going away probably Upstate however we will see what happens this week. Isabel desperately wants to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. This year we will walk down the street earlier to get a better vantage point. The parade last year marched down Central Park West which is one block away from us. It seems like only yesterday Isabel and I were mesmerized by the huge displays.
The weather has been rather warm considering this time last year I was already in a heavy coat. It may mean this winter will not be as brutal. It’s actually quite nice to now be anticipating events and seasonal changes rather than waiting for new experiences.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One year tomorrow living in New York

I cannot believe tomorrow it will be a year since I landed at JFK. I still have nightmares of the actually flight with Annika as you all remember was exhausting.  I have such wonderful memories of when the girls and I saw Hugo waiting for us in the terminal. Today as Isabel,Annika and I walked to Annika's Preschool we walked past "The Milburn" we we first stayed.
The Milburn Hotel

I told Isabel that tomorrow it was one year since we arrived and she just gave me such a reassuring smile. Isabel has really blossomed here and that makes both Hugo and I very happy. I have no doubt in my mind that Hugo and I deciding to move here was the best choice for us. I feel that as a family we have grown so much closer to each other in a way I dont think we would have done back home.  Annika also has grown however she was so young that really the only change I see in her is an American accent.

With Hugo the change I have seen in him is he seems happier. I know at times he missed the ocean and probably the space we have in our house. However I think because he sees me and the girls so happy it makes his life a lot happier. We all know the saying "Happy Wife happy life".
How I have changed is probably more complex as its hard to analyze myself objectively. I think I have learned a new and more physical way of life which I find great. Without a doubt my Manhattan lifestyle keeps me fit. Another wonderful thing is I have made so many friends and I love it. I am surrounded my some amazing people who have enhanced and also enlighten me in ways I find so refreshing. I love this adventure as much as I did on the day I landed here. Not one day goes by I am not grateful to be living here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Driving to New Jersey

Well finally after almost a year of living here and NOT driving I drove yesterday. I don’t include the two driving lessons and the exam for my NYS license as true driving experiences here in New York. They were in a controlled environment and generally in little or no traffic.
Hugo and I decided that we would hire a car and take the girls to a farm. We decided on going on the Sunday of the New York Marathon as we figured it would be good to get out of the city.
We picked up the car and the excitement on the girl’s faces was truly priceless. However that excitement soon turned to boredom not too long after. We thankfully had a GPS system in the car. I did feel somewhat confident however having the children in the car did probably intensify the nervous energy that later on in the day would reach full intensity.
We drove over the George Washington Bridge which would have been spectacular if I was able to enjoy the view. I was so focused on the lanes and the turn offs that the GPS kept “telling” me to do. Driving whilst being guided by a GPS is not exactly easy especially when you are driving in a totally different environment!
It was lovely to be behind the wheel of the car. We actually were a bit disappointed with the farm so we decided to head to Ikea and do some shopping. Unlike back home where you take having a car for granted its something you take full advantage of here. We headed to Ikea and spent some time there.
We had an hour to go till we had to return the car. You have a few companies here that do car hire by the hour. The hourly rate included gas and insurance so perfect for day trips.
Hetz on Demand
We loaded the address into the GPS and again followed instructions. Not being familiar at all I did as I was “told”. After driving for some time I realized that we were not heading in the direction I had thought we would have been heading. Instead we were heading toward Staten Island from Elizabeth, New Jersey. I had to face my worst nightmare. I was heading into full NY traffic and a lot of it as there was so many road closures due to the Marathon. One thing I observed and also applied to my driving technique is an aggressive style of driving. There was very little indicating, manners or room for error if you miss a turn. It’s pretty much every man for himself! The journey should have probably taken 45 minutes to get home instead it was close to 2 hours!
The GPS for some reason had taken us a different way and we had no way of turning back! We followed and by now we were late for the cars return. Finally in the distance I could see the Empire State Building and all I kept thinking was if we got onto Manhattan I felt confident to navigate myself. Finally after much anxiety we crossed the Queensboro Bridge and I felt a HUGE sense of relief. I was on my “home turf”.
I navigated around the road closures and did my best Manhattan aggressive driving I could. I even crossed before the pedestrians which is something we NEVER do in Australia. I did it and I did it well!
I can laugh about it now but it was definitely not for the faint hearted!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Norwegian “Jewel”

As part of my business now as a Travel Agent I need to keep up to date with the vacations I sell. Today I was off to the Terminal near us to inspect Norwegian Cruise Lines ship “Jewel”. The ship itself was lovely not too big. The staff were very friendly and accommodating. We did a tour of the different types of staterooms available. I know we will be doing one in the next few months so I was very excited.
It took me 10 minutes to get there from our apartment. So the idea of starting my vacation pretty much as we board the ship is just so enticing. We were invited to a tasting menu lunch and it was superb. I took some photos as per request by Isabel of the slides and pools.

I cannot think of a better value and convenient vacation for families here in New York. Plenty for the kids and parents to do together or not.