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Brisbane: My Second Home

We made it to the warm part of our trip…Brisbane!  The best part though is getting to hug my Aussie family’s necks!  I love that my kids also love and get so excited to see them as well.

That’s what this leg of our trip is all about…visiting with people we don’t see every day.  We have been fortunate enough that we have seen them a couple times in the last four years.  Let me recap as to how I have an Aussie family.  Fifteen years ago, I interned just south of Brisbane and I was luckily enough to stay with the Schaers.  Now they’re family!  Sharon, the mom, Hans (the dad) and Kelsey (the youngest daughter) still live here.  The oldest daughter, Jess lives in Switzerland and we got to see her there a few years ago.  Now Kelsey has a family of her own…Shane (dad), Harlow (3.5) and Mia (newborn).

Cory is also in Brisbane but for work.  Somebody’s got to pay the bills, right?  Unfortunately, he’s still not feeling well!  However, his symptoms have changed (which it took a couple days to realize) it was due to the medicine the Sydney doctor prescribed.  Glad we figured that out!

Today we got to meet Baby Mia!  She is the newest member of my Aussie family at only two months old.  We are so pumped and Bea said she wanted to hold her for hours!  We had a relaxing day visiting and eating lunch on the coast.  The major cities in Australia are all located along the coast and Brisbane is no different.  During lunch, we laughed as Bea doesn’t love birds especially big ones including the ibis (aka bin chickens to Aussies).

We woke on Friday to Cory feeling much better!  Thank goodness!  Sharon off to work again so kids and I off to Kelsey’s to play again.  I made the kids nap today as we had a fun evening activity planned.  After work, we drove downtown to pick up Cory and go to Eats Street Market.  It’s an old dock area that the docking containers have been converted into food trucks.  There were all kinds of different ethnic foods available; this is right up Cory’s alley!  Plus, they had live music which we enjoyed especially the Geed Up.  It was such a cool Brisbane experience.  The kids did great having had a nap and enjoyed their evening….allowing us to enjoy our evening as well!

We had a leisurely Saturday morning with the kids enjoying some Aussie cartoons.  We met Kelsey and her family at Fun Fit Play, aka an indoor play area with a ninja warrior course and rock-climbing wall.  The kids got nice and sweaty!  Then take away lunch to have a picnic and play by the shore.  We even saw a sea turtle swimming at the end of the pier!  We had a bbq at Kelsey’s tonight and by bbq I mean, we grilled.  In Australia, anything on the grill is considered a bbq.  It was a lovely and somewhat late evening so we tossed kids into bed at the end of the day!

Unfortunately, Cory’s and my evening didn’t end here.  When we got back to Sharon’s, Cory could barely walk up the stairs.  We called the International SOS insurance number and they sent us to Mater Private Hospital.  Australia has public and private healthcare so we were fortunate enough to not wait in a long line since we were at a private hospital.  We walked straight in and they immediately did an ECG on Cory.  Within minutes, the nurse said the doctor thinks he knows what it is but we’re running some bloodwork to confirm.  Sure enough, this ER doctor got it quickly that Cory had pericarditis which is inflammation of the sack around your heart caused by a virus…by complete fluke!  Cory hadn’t even had any virus symptoms.  At this point, we were just so thankful there was a prognosis of some kind so the medical staff would know how to treat it.  The doctor wanted to do an echocardiogram to reaffirm it was only pericarditis and it would be easier if he was admitted.  That took a while but before day break, we got to a room to get a few hours of sleep.

Whew, we have never had anything like this happen on an international trip before but praise the Lord we were in Australia where they have top notch medical care.  And that we had our Aussie family here as we knew the kids were in good hands with Sharon so we didn’t have to worry about them at all!  As you could imagine, there were lots of prayers going up to Cory’s healing and thankfulness for everyone around us helping.

While Cory rested in the hospital, Sharon, the kids and I had a sleepover with Harlow which was just so fun!  They’re all at such fun ages to play together and I love that they all know and love each other!  Thanks to Kelsey for talking to Harlow about Bea and Teddy so often between our visits so they’re not strangers to Harlow.

Sharon took off on Monday to play with us and Kelsey brought the girls over to join the fun!  The Aussies love their morning (and afternoon) tea; so, first things first, we headed to the coffee shop for morning tea.  I love this tradition!  Plus, Australia has some of the best coffee in the world!  Long black for me, please.  We strolled to the park to enjoy the playground equipment as well as the small lake filled with ducks and an Eastern Water Dragon.  Teddy loves to find unexpected animals in nature!

Cory was dismissed from the hospital after a clear echocardiogram and sent home to rest.  Rest he did!  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him take it quite so easy.  I’m glad he’s taking care of himself!  The kids were so glad to see him.  Sweet Sharon fixed supper for us (as she has most nights which is so lovely especially when you’re on an extended vacation and no access to a kitchen).

On Tuesday, Cory rested while the kids and I plus Kelsey and her kids drove down the coast a bit to see Nana, Sharon’s mom.  She was so sweet to welcome us into her home for morning tea and let the kids play.  What a lovely time catching up with her!  It’s wild to think I’ve known everyone for fifteen years now.  We have all grown up a lot!

Cory had gotten stir crazy being in the house all day today so we went out for supper to *Chickpea.  It did not disappoint!  It’s a Lebanese restaurant in Coorparoo and they rivaled the food we had in the Middle East.  Yum!  Each night after we put the kids to bed is special adult time where we get to chat away without any interruptions.  Tonight, was no exception and I loved every minute of it!

The weather in Brisbane has been beautiful!  It was forecast to rain the majority of our visit but we didn’t get much so we took advantage of the warm weather and sat outside the next day for morning tea before heading to the park.  Andana and Co had amazing atmosphere but even better food including all the bakery items, aka works of art, we saw…and tasted some!  The kids were so great to allow us some relaxing time before Minnippi Parkland.  It’s a lovely park (with no sand….those are hard to find) with a few different play areas; the kids ran wild touching every piece of equipment.  Cory joined Kelsey, me and the kids for the day.  It was nice to have him along!  Sweet Kelsey cooked supper for us tonight to get us all together one more time as we head out the next morning.  It was such a sweet time with everyone that it’s never easy leaving.  Kelsey and I both ended up tearing up (as always) when we left as we don’t know the next time we’ll see each other.  I feel so fortunate to even know these people.  They were truly a God-send all those years ago to take care of me when I flew half-way around the world by myself.  As a a parent now, I know how truly grateful my family was knowing I was with the Schaer’s.

Sharon and I enjoyed another (way too long) night of chatting!  We called it after midnight as it was still a school night.  It sure was hard driving away the next morning.  Sharon has become such a special member of my whole family.  She and Kelsey even came to Cory’s and my wedding almost fourteen years ago.  SO special!

Since Cory hasn’t felt well this week, I’ve been driving which was been fun and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with it.  I might have to focus a bit driving on the right when we return home!  Next stop, a new country for Go With Daddy!

Eats Street Market

Manly Beach

Mini ice cream cones with Sharon

Teddy entertaining Baby Mia

Sharon, Millie and Kelsey

Daddy’s Packing List – 6 Weeks in Europe in 2017

In a few days, the family is heading out on a 6 week long trip to Europe where I am going to tackle a ton of great conferences, customer meetings, and trainings for our internal teams at Dell EMC (for more info on that part of the trip, check out Big Data Beard). The trip is mostly work related with 5 of the 6 weeks of this trip are packed work weeks. However, this is a Go With Daddy trip, so we naturally we do have a nice long week for us…in this case it is in Greece, split between Athens and the island of Corfu.  We are super excited to be in Corfu with some friends from Birmingham where the husband is actually from Corfu and we are going to be in town with them for their baby’s baptism.  A beautiful Greek island in the Mediterranean with some lovely local friends…does it get better?!?  And along the way we will pack each of the weekends in between work weeks with all sorts of fun activities…stay tuned for much more on that shortly. So here’s the challenge:

Pack all the clothes needed for work and play for 6 weeks abroad in one suitcase…and hope it weighs less than 50 lbs.

I am pretty excited for the challenge for one giant, hard plastic reason…my new Pelican Air suitcase.  Oh, and cause it is a six week trip to Europe, but I digress.  I need to get my large-man-sized clothes and shoes to cover work and play all in one bag.  Here is my plan:

Work clothes:

  • Sport Coat – super versatile blue tailored fit in a tropical weight
  • 4 – dress shirt
  • 2 – dress slacks
  • 2 – smart denim jeans (my brand is Blue Delta and these can go casual too)
  • Brown dress Oxford shoes
  • Brown dress belt
  • Black casual shoes
  • Black belt

Weekend/Vacation Clothes:

  • 4 – Eddie Bauer Henley t-shirts (versatile, nicer than a regular t-shirt)
  • 3 – lightweight casual shirts
  • 2 – khaki shorts
  • 1 – lightweight chino
  • 2 – swimmers
  • 2 – athletic shirts
  • 2 – athletic/trekking shorts
  • Training shoes (which can double as trekking shoes for adventures)
  • Chaco sandals
  • Casual fabric belt

General stuff:

  • 9 – Under Armour boxer jocks
  • 4 – Ex Officio under shirts
  • 6 – pairs dress socks
  • 6 – pairs athletic socks
  • Tolietry bag – I can buy everything abroad except my beard products…so that’s the only thing stocked up in the bag.

There are a few big picture concepts that make this plan work, which I feel necessary to explain:

  • Because this is a business trip for the majority of the time, I expect that each week I will have the hotel or a local shop clean my work clothing for me, which is an appropriate business expense.
  • For the casual clothes and all the stuff for Millie and the kids, we will have to do laundry roughly once every 10 days.  It is an un-sexy reality of this sort of trip, but we make the best of it…and have some funny stories from doing it in the past, so we embrace it.
  • All of my casual clothing and especially my under garments are all pretty easily washed in a sink and hung to dry in the instance that we are not able to make a laundry stop in the time my consumption of clean clothes dictates.

Packing starts tomorrow, so here’s to the the best laid plans!

Cory