Christmas in Texas: Part Two

When I left off we had just celebrated Christmas in Victoria with Trav’s family (our fourth city on the tour of Texas).

The next day a lot of us piled in the cars/trucks and headed out to their family ranch. We hadn’t been out there since last Christmas when Leighton was so tiny.

This time she was much more excited about seeing the cows and feeding them.

I can’t believe next year we will be showing another Alkek babe the ranch!

Travis ended up working out there most of the week, so Leighton and I did lots of relaxing with his mom which was just what we wanted. One day we went up to the Children’s Museum with my sister in law and her two kids.

The weather has been so much colder than our Texan bodies are used to, so it was nice to find some indoor activities for the kids.

That weekend we packed up and headed back to Houston to celebrate New Years with our friends. Unfortunately Leighton decided to end our two hour drive puking all over her car seat (she gets motion sickness), so that was fun.

We went to dinner with three other couples and then rung in 2018 at a local bar, while Leighton hung out with her grandparents.

We spent the rest of the week catching up with friends and spending time with Trav before he left Friday. One of my favorites was going to lunch with my group of teacher friends. Only half of us still work at that school, but we all keep up in a group text/snap chat group.

So many babies, plus two on the way and one not pictured. In case you are wondering, I didn’t realize I was matching Leighton until we were walking out of the door.

Leighton and I spent the last three weeks of our trip in Houston (Travis had to go back to work after a week). I’m pretty sure Leighton’s favorite part about staying at my parents house was hanging out with the dogs. I think it’s safe to say they were ready for her to go home by the end.

We had lots of playdates since most of my friends are also moms now. I can’t wait until they are older and can really play together.

We also had a blogger baby date with Ashley from the Wandering Weekenders. It was so fun to her tiny, precious twin girls. We spent a few hours chatting, chasing Leighton and feeding/rocking the babies. I can’t believe next year when we see them all three of the girls will be running around (and there will be another baby to rock).

Before we headed back to Australia, we took a quick trip to New Braunfels to see one of my best friends and her son. Last year when Leighton and I were there she was about to pop and we were anxiously waiting to see baby Reed would make an appearance during our visit.

Unfortunately we had to cut our trip a day short because of some crazy weather coming in. Since the road were going to be icy and pretty much all of Texas was going to shut down, I hit the road late Monday evening.

Since it was soooo cold and icy we spent our last week laying low and keeping warm. I also had a prenatal massage courtesy of my brother and his girlfriend (my Christmas present). It was amazing to be pampered and I could definitely get used to it.

Friday evening Leighton woke up with a cold just in time for our trip back across the world. Poor girl projectile vomited all over me within the first hour of our 15 hour flight. I wasn’t sure what to do but luckily I had spare clothes for both of us and we chunked the clothes we were wearing away. After we (and our seats) were cleaned up, she fell right asleep.

Enjoying a smoothie (her fave) on our layover in Auckland.

The rest of our journey was pretty painless and she was a really good traveler, earning compliments from lots of fellow passengers. Even though the journey wasn’t as bad as I thought, I still will not be attempting it solo with two kids next year.

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Christmas in Texas: Part 1

Hello from Houston!

We have been in Texas now a little over three weeks. In that time we have covered over 1,000 miles and visited family in four different cities. Travis is now back in Brisbane and Leighton and I will be joining him on the 19th.

Here’s a little recap of our trip so far…

The journey from Brisbane is a long one, three hours to Auckland and then 12 hours to Houston. Don’t less this picture fool you- this lasted a good ten minutes.

The real winner of the flight was putting pom poms in her old formula container. I got the idea from Emi (she used a blender bottle instead) and it seriously kept her still and quiet for sooo long.

Getting her to fall asleep on the long flight was not easy at all, and when she finally gave in she was in my lap so I got no sleep.

Of course we both fell back asleep right before landing.

We hung out in Houston for a couple days and saw quite a few friends before having our first Christmas celebration in Victoria.

This was also when we finally shared the news with Trav’s family, including his mom. Everyone was so surprised and excited!

From there we moved on to my dad’s hometown of Breckenridge (Texas not Colorado). We enjoyed the slow paced small town life for a few days and spent lots of time with my grandpa and his wife.

Leighton became especially fond of her Papa and stealing his cane. This is also when we got Leighton’s picture with Santa (at the same mall as last year).

We walked into downtown Breckenridge one afternoon to check out some local shops and had to get Leighton’s picture in front of this mural.

From Breckenridge we drove three hours to my other grandparents house in Midland. Our first day Travis and I went exploring and found George Bush’s childhood home, where we took a tour.

While we were there, we celebrated my cousin’s son’s first birthday. It has been so fun getting to watch these two grow up so close in age.

We have a group text with our parents and my grandma so we both send frequent pictures and videos of the kids, so I felt like I already knew Luke so well even though the last time I saw him was last year when he was a tiny preemie newborn.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of my cousin and I when we were toddlers.

Leighton enjoyed passing out gifts to everyone regardless of who they were intended for. She was really excited to get her own camelbak water bottle when we celebrated Christmas a day early.

After opening gifts and saying our farewells, we left the car with my mom and headed to the airport to go back to Victoria (by way of Houston). Leighton was over traveling at this point, and thought it was fun to lay down randomly in the airport. Also, we didn’t think to bring our passports and only had our Aussie driver’s licenses with us. Luckily they reluctantly let us fly after giving us additional security screenings.

We made it Victoria (after Leighton screamed the whole two hour drive) just in time for the annual Christmas Eve party we always attend at the neighbor’s house. Leighton made her own friends at the party.

Christmas morning was fun with all the kids and family at Trav’s mom’s house. Leighton got so many fun gifts and we were all very spoiled. The cutest thing was watching her and our niece run around in their matching santa outfits (they are only 3 weeks apart).

That evening we went to visit some friends and meet their babies. Leighton loved the tiny babies and wanted to help take care of them. Hopefully she will be as enthusiastic when she has her own baby at home.

I am going to stop here and finish recapping later, since I already have so many pictures. I hope everyone is having a great start to the new year!

A Day in the Country

Way back in December when we were home in Texas, we spent a day in the country. Travis’ family has a ranch down in south Texas that we used to spend a lot of time at when we lived in the US.

Travis had been talking about getting to take Leighton out there ever since she was in my tummy, so we were excited to finally get out there at Christmas time. Travis and our nephew headed out first and then my mother-in-law, Leighton and I met them out there. It was a nice cool day too which was a reprieve from the heat we had been having (gotta love Texas winter) so a bonus was Leighton got to wear her cute winter clothes.

Continue reading

Life Lately/Christmas 2016

Welp I have been a little MIA from blogging world, but for good reason- we have been gallivanting all over Texas the past two and a half weeks. I am back online this week with two posts, although I can’t promise how much more you are going to hear from me until I am back in Australia in February. We are busy soaking up all our family and friend time!

We flew into Houston on the 8th and immediately headed out to Trav’s hometown of Victoria for his sister’s wedding. Travis walked his sister down the aisle and I was a bridesmaid, so it was a special weekend for all of us. It was extra special since it was his family’s first time to meet Leighton.

Continue reading

Last Week in Texas

Hi friends, I’m bacccckkk!

I didn’t mean to take a two week hiatus from blogging but life got a little busy! In between squeezing in all my last visits with people in Texas, flying home and starting a new job the next day blogging took a back seat.

In case you missed my announcement at the end of our 2015 Review– I’m going back to the classroom full-time! After a year and a half of not working at all, then substitute teaching part-time I was missing the consistency of having my own classroom.

After landing Tuesday morning I hit the ground running trying to get my classroom together and figure out what the heck I’m doing this year. I will be sure to do a classroom tour post later. Continue reading

Texas Trip Top Ten

How do you like that alliteration?

I did a pretty subpar job of photographing pretty much anything from the past month that wasn’t edible or at least 1,500 calories. So bear with me. Here are my favorites from my past month in Texas.

10. Driving a car that I actually knew how to drive AND knowing where I was going at all most times. That is something I definitely took for granted before.

IMG_0180.JPG

Scout wanted to join me on this drive. Unfortunately she was not allowed at Happy Hour.

9. QUESO. And real Tex-Mex. Although after consulting the scale, I am pretty sure I can go another 7 months before I eat it again.

image

Click for Source

8. Watching TV not through a VPN through the Desktop through the Apple TV and then crossing my fingers it doesn’t freeze.

IMG_0090.JPG

But alas, somehow we ended up watching The Bachelor on a laptop. I am not sure why my dad and Grandpa didn’t want to watch it with us?

7.  Driving around San Marcos and Texas State. It has been almost 6 years since I left San Marcos and almost 2 years since I had been there last. It was so fun (and nostalgic) eating brunch with Marilyn on the square just like we did in college. Driving around campus I didn’t recognize half of the buildings. I am so proud of how much our little school has grown just in the past few years. Eat ’em up Cats!

IMG_0158.JPG

Cute little square with Nephews in the background.

IMG_0154.JPG

Mimosas and Marilyn. Two of my Favorites.

6. Dog-sitting for our two family dogs- Scout and Gracie. This did NOT get off to a good start as one of the dogs who shall not be named got sick the first day I was alone with them and I had to clean up after her. But after I got over that, I enjoyed having their company and it makes me so happy my parents are moving home soon so they won’t be shuffled around anymore.

IMG_0177.JPG

Doggie lunch date.

IMG_0186.JPG

Someone wants on the couch. Don’t judge the yellow pants.

5. A real Target. Australia Target does not count.

target

4. Spending the weekend in Travis’ hometown- since I grew up all over the world and my parents moved away from Katy almost three years ago, I don’t have much to call a hometown. I always enjoy spending time in Victoria and listening to all his stories of growing up there (which every landmark and street sign seem to remind him of). This time we were in town for an especially fun reason- a wedding. One of the groomsmen from our wedding got married and luckily it lined up with our trip so Travis got to be in the wedding.

IMG_0060

Us at the wedding.

IMG_0201.PNG

Trav and the Victoria boys.

3. Seeing how our friends’ (and family members) kids are growing up. I realize I am getting closer to 30 by the number of little ones that are a part of our social gatherings. It was so fun to get together with my friends and their babies after not seeing them in 7 months (or some of them ever, since they were born while we were gone). It’s crazy how much they change in such little time.

53298715

Click for Source

2. Getting to spend time with all THREE sets of Travis and my grandparents. I am so, so glad that I was able to see all of them (in three separate cities) in one visit. Unfortunately we did not get a pic with Trav’s grandparents.

10801696_935111379833379_777791050499554394_n

Don’t mind me, everyone else looks cute.

IMG_0092

My sister, gorgeous grandma and I.

1. Hanging out with sooooo many of our wonderful friends and family. I am exhausted from trying to see so many people (that wanted to see me too!) but I feel like that’s a good problem to have. I am thankful for everyone that went out of their way to see us. I am also so thankful to Alicia and Marilyn who housed me while I was in town. 🙂

10361972_10102716452394717_4727318941520705542_n

The boys reuniting at Little J’s.

IMG_0132.JPG

Some of my favorite ladies in the world.

It feels so good to be home (Australia home, that is) and even better to be settling back into the routine of things. Now I am just waiting for all those aforementioned friends to start planning their trips down under! 🙂

As usual, linking up with ladies at Travel Tuesday…traveltuesdayspotlight-strasbourg

Friday Favorites: Live from Texas

It has now been two and a half weeks since I arrived in Texas. I have traveled to Midland, Houston, Victoria, Inez (for a wedding), Breckenridge (not Colorado), Austin and I am heading to New Braunfels for a couple days next week. I’m exhausted.

While I have been here I am enjoying a lot of the following…

Food

IMG_0110

So. Much. Food.

We are lucky to have access to really delicious (and healthy) food in Brisbane. While I am home, I am not eating very healthy at all. It’s pretty much impossible when there’s chick-fil-a, chipotle, all types of Mexican food, chicken fried steak etc. to be enjoyed. Right now I’m going to say I don’t regret any of my dietary choices butttt I also haven’t worn any pants with a zipper since I’ve been here (I love you, leggings).

Family, Family-in-law, Friends and Fur Family  

IMG_0091

I have spent lots of time with my family, including both sets of grandparents. We met my brother in Austin and it was the first time all three siblings have been together since Christmas 2013.

IMG_0104

Travis spent a good part of the week with his family in Victoria and even got to eat lunch with his nephew at school.

IMG_0109

I have gotten some quality time with my fur family, Scout and Gracie. Scout doesn’t understand selfies, she thinks you just want her to make out with your face.

IMG_0048

We’ve been able to squeeze in friend time whenever we can. Love seeing our second family and all their offspring.

IMG_0107

Twitter

I created a (new) Twitter account the other day. I actually have an account that dates back to 2009 that I never check. If you have access to the tweets on that account, I’m sorry. My new account is @alkeksabroad and more for blog socializing purposes. The last thing I need is another social media account to keep up with, but whatever I’m a little obsessed already.

This Map showing Australia to the USA

IMG_0111

Click for Source

Because people don’t understand how large of a continent it is (I didn’t until we moved there). Now people understand why we don’t just drive on down to Sydney or Melbourne for the weekend.

Linking Up with Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites 11/7

Today’s Friday Favorites will be pretty short and sweet. Mostly because this week has been pretty uneventful. Travis has been in Denver since last Friday. That has not been a favorite of mine.

But here are some things that are…

Melbourne Cup

IMG_0955

Tuesday was “the race that stops the nation” and in Brisbane life was pretty much stopped. Companies closed up shop around lunch (for the employees that didn’t take off already) and everyone was out in their race day finest. It’s so fun having an excuse to get dressed up and put on a fascinator in the middle of the week. I spent the afternoon with two of my girlfriends, Meghan and Monique, indulging in champagne and macaroons.

No Yelling Driving School

I took my first driving lesson on Tuesday from the No Yelling Driving School. Yes, that really is the name of it. You actually are guaranteed to get your money back if they yell at you and I was expecting to end up with a free lesson knowing my driving skills. My instructor, Robert, picked me up and immediately got out of the car and told me to get in the driver’s seat. I have never ever driven standard OR on the other side of the road. I was about to pee my pants but then Robert agreed to drive us to a less busy street. From then on I drove for over an hour. Robert was soooo patient and I only scared the crap out of him once. He said “I reckon you did a good job.” so that was enough for me to book another lesson with him. I would definitely recommend him to any Brisbane expats! I’m excited to learn how to drive here so I don’t have to ride a bus 45 minutes to get to the mall that’s 15 minutes away.

Trav’s Celebrity Encounter 

IMG_0967

I’m going out on a limb and speaking for Travis on his favorite part of the week. He texted me this picture today of him and Greg Abbott (Texas’ new governor) at the LA airport. Travis said he was the only one around that seemed to know who he was so was able to talk to him for a good while. He even went back and told him my grandparents are big Republican supporters and asked if he could get a picture for them. So that’s just for you, Charlie and Jake, I know your reading. 🙂

Countdown App

IMG_0968

I re-downloaded one of my favorite countdown apps in anticipation of our upcoming trips. I am getting excited to leave for Sydney for the long weekend (any recommendations are most welcome!) but I am most excited about going to London to see my family (and wear scarves and boots). My sister and I have already started our own text message countdown. It’s hard being on the opposite end of the world from your family but I am so excited when we do get to see them we get to explore new places at the same time. Only 20 more days!!!

Oh and one random thing having to do with my previous post that talked about the cost of living here- look what I saw at the store today IMG_0965

 for 3 blades!! Alright- I’m done complaining. Happy Weekend 🙂

See the rest of the link ups here…

FridayFavorites3_zpsea6fc451