Andddd it's friday, and we are officially headed on another getaway, this time down south to Margaret River for a company related party via Ben's work. Aka he works, while Julie and I eat and drink copious amounts of free food and wine, and socialize. It's pretty great.
As we're driving down, I'm thinking to myself, where the hell am I? This sure feels a wholeeeee lot like Wisconsin, aside from the few kangaroos in the wild that I FINALLY got to see, of course :). But really, there was farmland and cows everywhere, and it was sooo quiet, peaceful and green. It was quite the refreshing little taste of back home, and yet oddly weird how just an hour north we're surrounded by palm trees and beaches everywhere. What an incredible balance I have here in good 'ol Western Australia.
Friday night, we entered at what I first assumed to be a pretty upscale party. And then I saw the bar, lined with pitchers of beer and bottles of wine, and felt even more like I was back home during a pretty typical night out. As I proceeded to eat everything from stuffed mushrooms, to pizza, to prawns, to lamb, to squid (unknowingly), to chippies, I got to talking to sooo many lovely people, many of whom told me about their extravagant 2 plus month long trips to America seeing stuff that many of us who actually live there haven't even seen yet (blog about this coming soon). A few drinks, and some worn out kids later, I offered to take them to the room so the Ben and Julie could continue catching up with friends, while us kids could all get some sleep before what I knew would be a long day tomorrow.
Saturday, after a morning of me enjoying a lovely continental breakfast, swimming with the girls, and recovering from last nights drinks in my lovely spa tub, we embarked on yet another day of drinking and sightseeing. We started with a brewery where I sat with my pint of whatever pale ale they had, while Ben insisted that I get both the fish and chippies and chicken wings, because I couldn't choose between the two. After all, I had been searching for wings for the past 2 months and finally found them, but who can pass up batter fried fish and chippies? And so we settled on getting a little bit of everything, and by a little, I mean a lot. And thus, we created a pretty nice base for all the day drinking that was about to be had.
For the record, the wings are nothing compared to Sports Nut in La Crosse, Wisconsin. If you want 'to die for' chicken wings, and are ever passing through, that would be the place! But anyway...
So we headed out and basically hopped from one winery to the next, which was great since they were all so close to each other. And since it was all free wine tasting, you better bet your ass I had a little bit of everything, at every single place. Don't worry (mom), we had a sober driver.
And then we headed to the chocolate factory, which is the closest thing to heaven that I'll ever see, and proceeded to again stuff my face with spoonfuls of chocolate chips. But there were samples, and they were free, and they were sooooo goooood. Here, I made a pretty irrational decision to spend $12 on a cookies and cream chocolate bar, which I am currently eating for breakfast as I type this sentence. Worth every penny (or 5 cent coin, which is the smallest currency they have here) :). But no good for getting my bikini body ready for summer, which is quickly approaching. Oh well. Better luck next year, I guess.
That night, I watched the girls while mom and dad attended a company dinner. I invited along 3 other kiddos who would have otherwise been spending the night alone in a hotel room, and I just didn't feel quite right about it. Instead I felt much better about offering them the opportunity to spend the night with me and the girls. And so, we had an apartment full of kids ages 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, and 25 (me :)), and had such a good, chaotic time, ordering in fish and chippies and watching movies. My girls fell asleep willingly and on their own at 7:30 as usual, and the others were out well before 9. I spent the next two hours watching "Dirty Dancing" before Julie and Ben came home. It was fabulous.
11 o' clock was wayyyy past my usual bedtime, as I've now officially made my way to Grandma status, so I was pretty eager to sleep in the bed that I offered little Xavier just 3 hours earlier. Any guesses as to the problem I found when I went to move him to the couch?!? You got it. The poor little guy wet my bed. So we moved him while we waited for his parents to arrive and tried desperately to save my precious sleeping space. We did the best we could, but after tossing 5 layers of blankets and sheets, we realized it was a lost cause. And so, I created a barrier, and salvaged the last available space. Yes, I was desperate.
On Sunday, we headed to breakfast where Ben forced me to try vegemite for the first time. They aren't big fans, so it was more for their pleasure to watch me gag and nearly vomit all over the table. Seriously though. I wouldn't recommend this salty, piss water tasting "food" to my worst enemy. Sorry Aussies. This is one thing you don't have right.
We then did shopping in Margaret River which had markets and little boutiques, which as you all know, I sort of live for. I made it through with no purchases and felt like I had just made a serious stride in my addiction to making impulsive buying decisions (hence the $12 chocolate bar mentioned earlier). By the way, I was almost attacked by a fellow American once she heard my accent. Apparently she could spot it from a mile away, which is not at all surprising since there is a comment about the way I speak almost everywhere I go. Great conversation starter too, I might add :). I didn't catch her life story, but she must have some sort of understanding of what it's like to be in a country full of people with beautiful Aussie accents, and to be the outsider with a terribly boring midwestern accent from the U.S.
We headed lastly to another brewery with the big time bosses. We ordered pizza, chippies, and more and more wings. Ben insisted on the 5 beer tester, and I wasn't opposed at all except for the fact that I worried about how I'd make it the now 2 1/2 hours back home without pit stops to the toilet. "Whatever, I'll deal with it later", I thought, and so, I politely agreed. So he came back with those and two specialty beers that weren't included, but that he insisted and forced (using the word lightly here) me to try anyway. Apparently you have to start from lightest to darkest, but since I'm known to be quite the street rebel, I did lighest, darkest, and finished with my 3 favorite, pale ales. AND I got all of my peeing out of the way at the restaurant and had to bother no one with annoying pit stops on the way home due to my increasingly small bladder. Big, big day y'all.
And so, after another wonderful trip home with my Aussie family, filled with enjoyable talks about our families, love, and my future, I gave them my thanks in the only way that I knew how... through my words. I told them how incredibly thankful I am to have found a family who makes it their priority to make me feel welcomed in any and all circumstances. I am thankful for a family who takes me on amazing holidays with them, instead of leaving me at home. I am thankful for people who treat me like an extended member of the family, and never as a person who simply works for them. But most of all, I am so thankful to have people who so easily fill the gap in my life, that I otherwise would have left with my beautiful family back home in the states.
Again, a special thanks to all of you who continue to show me love and support unconditionally, who share your stories, trials, and tribulations with me, and those of you who believe in this blog, and more importantly, believe in me and what I'm doing. I'm so incredibly blessed to have you as a follower, an acquaintance, a friend, a family member, or as one of many in my incredible army of supporters. love to you all <3.