Monday, March 31, 2008

When Dad goes to Work

Here is Dad, he is one of the important team members opening up the Verizon Business, Security Operations Center (SOC) in Ashburn. This is why we are all here after all.

Dad says that work is mostly boring stuff. He looks very relaxed at work (see back left). Some people have been asking what we get up to when Stu is at work and as you can see below. We found a Chuck E Cheese today so that is what we did. We also went to the playground after our afternoon sleep and we got some groceries from Wegmans too. I love Wegmans and Jack loves Chuck E Cheese so it is a fair deal.

The first two photos are thanks to Anthony - thanks!

The Circus in Washington DC

We went out with the boys from Dad's work to go to dinner and the circus. It was a great night out and we had an excellent time. We decided to catch the train into the city and we took a while to find a train station but eventually found one. We had to walk a few blocks to find dinner at Fogo De Chao.

It was an amazing dining experience and Stuart's favorite thing since we got here. The bill was quite significant including an 18% tip which was already factored into the bill. Luckily Stuart's work is paying for his meals. It really was a 'boys' place to eat because you could eat as much as you wanted and it was all spit roasted and beautifully seasoned. The waiters bough you meat and you turned your token over when you were full. I'm sure we will go there again.

Here we are at the Ringling Bros. Circus.

In the USA you are allowed to have live animals of all kinds and we were thrilled to see the amazing stunts that the elephants and lions could do. The horses and little dogs were also very cleaver and there were many acrobatic stunts as well.

Jack sat in amazement and danced along to the music and tried to click his fingers too. He enjoyed every minute and was mesmerized for over 2 hours.

Thanks to 'Uncle Wells' for organising this trip and also to Anthony for supplying some of the photos above. Anthony also came from Australia at the same time as us. You can see some of his pictures here. They are very good. Dries also has a blog but it is in Dutch. He is from Belgium and staying in Virginia with our group also. Dries has an excellent photo gallery on his blog, it is here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jack's First Stitches & Xrays

We were a bit worried when Jack base jumped off the lounge and straight into the coffee table but we cleaned up the blood and went to bed with a small dose of baby panadol and the bleeding seemed to stop after about 45mins. On closer observation he had chipped his tooth but we couldn't really see the laceration because of all of the bruising and swelling.

We really were worried when Jack woke up this morning with a mouth full of blood and blood stained sheets! The wound was not healing so we needed to go the emergency. The doctors were lovely and the nurses were fantastic. They have a special section for pediatrics and they give you a room of your own. ($400)

The ER doctor said that he definitely needed stitches and an Xray to check the teeth were intact but the best place for that would be the pediatric dentist. Australia has a long way to go as far as pediatric dentistry! We walked into a huge playroom with toys and a tree house. We were greeted by friendly nurses in brightly coloured scrubs and they were all very helpful. The waiting room was amazing, aside from the cubby house they had a baby movie theatre, a giant puzzle, a bookshelf full of beautiful books, Gloria Jeans Coffee, an air hockey table, play stations and x boxes.

Jack had his own dentist chair, he even had his own movie screen with the Wiggles. The dentist was Dr Pacella and she was just wonderful and sang songs to Jack as he screamed. The nurses were also wonderful and now Jack has a souvenir hospital bracelet and mouth x rays. ($127) We have a follow up appointment in 2 weeks but there is no permanent damage to the teeth other than the small chip out of his front - right tooth. He also has to eat soft food for 2 days and we need to watch for infection.

We are going to Cold Stone after Jack's nap and Jack is going to have a big ice cream all to himself for being so brave.

Deep Breath - Mum - Deep Breath

See the waiting room in the add at the bottom of this website


This is Jack during his bath tonight. As you can see the swelling has gone down and the stitches are inside his mouth on his lip but you can't see them and there is no obvious external damage to the child. Sorry to scare you Jules!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jack likes America

He's a big fan!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington

It was the perfect weather for the zoo today, 18C and not at all windy. Washington Zoo was easy to find with plenty of signs along the way. It was also free entry although the parking cost $16. It was a long walk up the steep hill to the Asia trail but the best parts of the zoo were actually at the foot of the hill. The Great Apes and the Tigers were beautiful.

Jack was exhausted by mid morning and he fell alseep in his stroller. He missed the Aquarium and the butterfly house but we took some nice pics - will upload a picasa album soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Washington Web Album


Finally got Picasa working - thanks Stu

Here is the Washington Album with Monuments Amended. We looked at a map tonight and found out that I WAS RIGHT about the White House being the smaller building. But I was confused at the time why it didn't really look like the one on the movies (or so I thought). I asked a fellow tourist at the time which was the White House and she pointed out the US Capitol Building. It just goes to show - I'm not the only idiot!

I bet you are ALL laughing now! Hopefully the zoo will be a lot easier tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lets Call it an Adventure

Our trusty GPS let us down today and we got a little bit lost on our way to Washington DC. (it took us 4 hours there and 45mins back) Stuart and I have decided to blame it on 'TomTom' our GPS and vowed never to speak of the situation again.

So we made it to 'Little Washington' in good time, it was a little bit sus that we were heading West for most of the way and it was all country and rolling hills. When we got there we were looking for the White House but all we found was a little cafe. So we went and had a chat with 'TomTom' and some how he thought that 'Little Washington' was 'Actual Washington' and eventually we got onto the right track. Niether Jack or Stuart thought this was funny at the time.

We got the idea that we were headed the right way when we got to 16 lanes of traffic. Mum didn't think this was very funny.

Eventually we found the 'White House' - here is Jack's mum exclaiming loudly, "Look it's the White House Jack."

And then Stuart says, "Isn't this what you were looking for?"

Jack was very good through the whole trip and our next trip on Wednesday to DC Zoo should be easier now that we know which way to go. Also, it was very cold in Washington today and it should be warmer on Wednesday.

On returning home, we went out to Sweet Water for dinner and Mum had a margarita while Dad had a rare steak. Things returned to normal after Jack found comfort in some warm milk before bed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter

The Easter Bunny Came to Stu.

Jack woke up early this morning. It is FREEZING in Ashburn this morning at -4C! It is a trick when you look outside with your ducted heating and the sun is shining so brightly but don't be fooled - there is only a top of 8C today and possible snow tomorrow for out trip to the zoo in DC.

The easter bunny also left some things for Jack's mum.

Went shopping at Wall-Mart yesterday for some things for Jack's room. He has a cozy room now with pictures on the walls and a lamp. He loves 'Pie-Da Man' just like Kai. He has a grown-up-boy room. To match his Jail - Style bed.

Jack just loved his first "chocolate" easter bunny. The chocolate is made from yoghurt especially for babies with less sugar.

And of course he got spoit with a new sand pit which mum managed to lug up to the second floor and put together. We also had a lot of trouble finding the sand. Most of the shop assistants here speak only Spanish and they dont call it a 'sand pit' in America. They call it 'play sand' and as you can see the sand is bright blue (or you can get pink/yellow/green/purple) - it seems you can't buy 'normal' sand anywhere around Ashburn.

Jack was really excited about having a sand pit again and he played in it for almost an hour yesterday until it just got too cold.

Happy Easter everyone back home - we are making our own roast dinner tonight but it won't be the same without you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

All of the comforts of home (if you are a monk)

Moving day went smoothly. It was the most beautiful, sunny (not windy) day. Stuart took the day off work which was a blessing because Jack is not the best help when it somes to these things. We did also get a $100 bill at the hotel for the 2 international calls we made. One to Stu's parents and one to Royalla. We were on the phone for a total of 10mins. I knew it would be expensive, but $10USD per min!!!

The dining room is also the office and Stuart spent until midnight fixing the internet so that I would be able to be 'online.' They had set up the room with place mats and all which is very nice and a big fake plant too. There is no high chair and I notice that the carpet is a very light creme colour. We will have to fix these :)

The kitchen is just like our one at home and comes complete with dishes and pans and tea towels and everything is brand new. There is a dishwasher and an ice maker - NO KETTLE - there is also an electric can opener for the lazy people. (there is a manual one also)

Below you can see our lovely new apartment and the view from Jack's new court yard is of the pool. We are on the second floor and I can already imagine the toys going over board. I am going to work on getting some kind of sand pit up here this week because that is what he misses the most and the park is about a 10min walk away.

This is the living room with the very small TV. Ikea supplied all of the furniture and had it all set up for when we got here. It was nice to have some pictures on the wall as well.

This is the master bedroom with a tiny double bed. I am wondering who will be the first to roll onto the floor.

The bathroom has a large, deep bath which Jack will appreciate and it also has a laundry room next to it with a washer and dryer of our own. It came with a little 'welcome' pack of shampoo and things to get us started.

Jack is not at all impressed with his room and his 'jail cell' bed. They didn't put any pictures or anything in his room and it also has a big window that lets in too much light for day sleeps. We will fix this through the week so that he has some nice stuff. It is also missing a ceiling light. None of the rooms have ceiling lights - only lamps. Jack didn't even get a lamp :( It's certainly a down grade from the last room he had at the Marriott.

We were glad to have a space which we can call 'home' for a while. We did some shopping and got some 'normal' thing like bread and milk. We had a Good Friday lunch at Red Lobster and then we had dinner at Chilies and we had a nice salmon. Jack didnt get to bed until late but he had a good time at dinner.

We also have a postal address now so we will email it to you in case you want to send us a post card from Canberra.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sunny Days are Here Again

It was just a beautiful sunny day when we looked outside this morning. But strangely we were woken up by the sound of the American flag flapping outside our window because there were gale force winds which seemed to have an arctic chill to them. The sort of wind that sends a chill almost through to your bones.

But Jack didn't care, apart from a slightly runny nose, he was very happy to play in this playground for toddlers. You can see the hotel in the background of this shot below. You can also see the carpark and right behind me is Wegmans - my favourite grocery store.

It has been so good to chat with my family and John & Jules today on the web cam. I was begining to feel a bit homesick but feel much better now that I have been able to chat to our fam.
Will put up a screen shot next time we are chatting!

We also met another Australian family in the lobby of the hotel today and they have a boy the same age as Jack. They just moved here from Sydney to live for 2 years. So they were equally excited to see some friendly faces from down under. We swapped emails so hope to see them again soon after they get settled into thier new house.

People have asked about Stu and he is doing ok. He isn't enjoying going to work while Jack and I are having a 'holiday' and it has been difficult to organise dinner when he doesn't get home until 8. He has experienced some problems getting things set up at work and the boss is very strict about the 30min lunch break quota. So mostly he has been a bit stressed and this afternoon he tells us he is coming down with a cold.

We are moving into our apartment tomorrow so we might be offline until we get an internet connection. Jack starts gym on Tuesday and playgroup on Thursday so it will be an exciting week. We are also planning a little trip to either DC or NY for Mon/Tues/Wed because that is Stuart's weekend.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Easter Bunny Lives in America

Jack and I did some 'normal' things today. After the buffet breakfast and the morning nap we looked at the weather channel and it was set to be 19C. So we were thinking of going for a walk or to the park.... until we looked outside.

So we went to the mall for lunch and Jack bought his own sandwich with yogurt and a banana - he got some funny looks. (see it looks just like Belco) Right behind me though is a big Carousel and behind the food court is a big toddler playground and Jack really loved playing with the other kids.

Then we found out that the Easter Bunny lives in America - Jack is very excited about Sunday. Mum is hoping for another 50 Creme Eggs this year.

After we met the Easter Bunny we went shopping at Wall Mart for Dad's Easter presents. Easter over here is like Christmas back home. Lots of merchandise! My eyes still must look huge when I walk into Wall Mart or any other shop for that matter - the range of everything is just amazing and so different. Most things are also a decent price.

For afternoon tea we went here. Very nice - again too much to choose from!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jet Lag & Aussie Tucker Mate

People keep asking how Jack is sleeping after seeing the clocks on the blog. Well I thought I would let you all know that he is sleeping well. A little too well. On the first two nights he slept from 8.30 - 9.30 am but he was awake between 1 and 2 am. For the last two nights he has slept from 8.30 until I have had to wake him at 9. His day sleeps are usually 2 x 1.5hrs but I have woken him up after 2 hours during the day to help him get used to the time change. On the first couple of days he would fall asleep anywhere - even in the shopping trolley at Wegmans. Today was the first day that I didn't have to wake him from his day naps and he is getting more energy through the day.

Also, I wanted to let you know that we had our dinner with some locals from Stuart's work tonight. We went out to an Australian Restaurant and they had 'bloomin' onions' and 'kookaburra wings' on the menu. I enjoyed an American sized hambuger and Stu had some enormous baby back ribs. They asked me which salad I'd like and which side and which toppings I would like on my potato and offered about 6 options in all.

Jack enjoyed a complimentary meal on the hotel with his new friends that he met in the lobby. The also offered me two complimentary drinks and some delicious New York Baked Cheesecake. I have enjoyed the frozen Margaritas because they are just like Jules' but next week I swear this family is going to eat better. When we are in the appartment everything won't be so "complimentary."

Goodnight Australia

Last thing.. If you are in my family and you are ready this, "Where the bloody hell are ya?" I've been waiting for you to skype me!

Here is Jack "suffering" from jet lag and trying to drink cherry coke at 1 am.

God Bless America

At the zoo

Today, after Jack had his morning nap and mum did some washing, Jack and I went to the Reston Zoo. It only took us about 15mins drive through some nice parts of Virginia to find it and as you can see we had a very fun time.

This is the tractor that took us on the safari tour.

This shows you how windy and cold it was - Jacks teeth are chattering because he wouldn't leave his hoody on.

Sorry for the over - exposure here but it is hard to take a photo whilst holding onto the boy! This was just before Jack stuck his hand into the camels mouth and got a bit of a fright.

Didn't care much for the emus.

But as you all know, he loves the "du du duck"

It was rather funny to see Jack giving someone else a bottle.

And the lambs were cute too.

I think it's only about 8 or 9 degrees in Ashburn, here today and it has rained on and off. Jack met some new friends in the lobby today, Steven (3) & Sophia (14mths) so it was wonderful for him to have some other kids to play with for an hour so that Mum could have a cuppa and a chat with another mum...... until they found the pool cues :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Normal Every Day Stuff

Stuart went to work today. Which means that Jack and I are left to explore on our own.

Today we had our buffet breakfast and went shopping at Wegmans before the morning nap and then we went to the post office. Keep looking in the post Nan R, Kai, Jules, John & Gail. It was very expensive to post items to Australia - it cost the same for the contents as the postage.

Wegmans is like Woolworths but HUGE and they have everything imaginable - even hot dogs on a stick wrapped in pancakes! Frozen of course. Jack enjoyed the trolley ride and my eyes must have been as big as saucers as we went from isle to isle trying to find 'normal' stuff. I asked a lady about a couple of things - like bath oil and Goat's formula for Jack and she said that maybe I should try the 'international market' where they sell products from different countries and they also order things in.

We drove for about 20 mins to find a park that is just like the one we have down our street. It is a shame that they don't have one just down the street because Jack loves to play outside and up and down the slide. The park was a bit disapointing after having driven all that was - it wasn't very big and exciting but I don't think Jack noticed that.

After Jack's afternoon sleep we are going for a swim in the heated pool before dinner and a bath. We move out of this hotel on Friday and we will miss it a lot. Mostly the buffet breakfast and swimming pool. Also the daily room service and fresh linen will be missed. However Jack is booked in for swimming lessons starting next week and baby gym classes too. So we will be able to meet some other mums & toddlers - there aren't any other children in the hotel.

Sorry there aren't any pics today - the batteries are charging. There are sure to be more tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Smithsonian Air & Space

Here I am at the Smithsonian Air & Space museum. We had a great time, the Macdonalds was also good. The have free refils and condiments on demand. Also about 10 varieties of sort drink. And yeah - the space ship was cool too.

Had dinner at Chilis Bar & Grill which was awesome. Mum and I had mini burgers and vegetables and Dad had a rare steak (no blood ew.) We went shopping today and bought some Peanut butter M&M's, fixed up the rental car issues and had afternoon tea at the mall.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We Made It!

Jack's room

It only took us about 26 hours - 3 flights and 30mins driving but we made it and we are here . Our room for this week is 111 and then next week we are moving into the apartment. Jack has his own room with his own bathroom and a queen size bed so he is very comfortable.

The first flight from Canberra to Sydney was easy and it was so great to have the Nan R and Grandma to feed Jack toast and change his nappy whilst mum calmed her nerves and Stuart checked in over 100kgs of luggage. Jack really enjoyed the first flight and thought the plane was fun. He sat on mum's knee all of the way, he fell asleep as the wheels of the plane hit the run way at Sydney airport.

We then had to find out gate in Sydney and we only had about 30mins to wait after going through immigration (which took about an hour) until they started boarding the families onto the SYD to LAX 14 hour flight. We sat next to another family who had a baby, Alexander who was 6 months old. Jack and Alexander had matching bassinets and they were very comfortable sleeping in those.

Both Jack and Alexander enjoyed the flight and played the portable DVD, ate snacks, read books and sang songs. Niether Jack or Alexander cried once! Jack had a 1 hour afternoon sleep just as our lunch arrived (that was nice of him) and he went to bed at about 8.30 Australian EST time which is his usual bed time. Stuart and I had about 2 hours sleep until we were all woken up by the captain as we were only a couple of hours out and they were serving breakfast. Jack also woke up and had breakfast which he thought was very funny.

We landed in LAX on time but our next flight was only 2 hours away and LAX is a HUGE airport. We also had to go through immigration and customs. We also had to collect out luggage to check into the next flight. The stupid pram was the last thing to come off the plane so we were last in line. Immigration was happy but we were stopped at customs and Stuart had to be interviewed!!! They questioned his letter from work which said he was going to work for 90 days (paid by Australia) and made it very clear that there were no extensions. I literally told them that I didn't want to stay any longer anyway and I was already feeling homesick.

So when we finally got through we were told we were probably too late to check our bags in and we probably wouldn't make our flight but WE RAN. We pushed past people at security and we told them to call ahead and HOLD THE PLANE. They were kind enough to let us take the pram on the plane too which made the running faster.

Finally we boarded our Los Angeles to Washington flight (5.5 hours) and Jack fell asleep before take off and although he didn't have a bassinett on this flight - he had his own seat in between Stuart and I so he laid out. Stuart and I also had about 3 hours sleep. Jack slept the whole way until an hour before landing.

Landing in Dulles was a good feeling but we were a little disapointed when THEY LOST OUR BAG! Because we were late checking in they lost the suit case with all of the laptops (3 total) in it.
But we have found our bag this morning and drove to the airport to pick it up.

We also had issues to hire cars and credit cards but they are all fixed now - calm - relax.

We are all sorted now, the weather is lovely, the hotel is beautiful and we all had a good sleep last night. Jack woke up for games between 1 and 2 am but other than that we slept in until 9.30 (went to sleep at 10) and had a delicious - complementary buffet breakfast.

Looking forward to a good weekend of exploring before Stuart goes to work on Monday and also looking forward to hearing your comments so we know you are all good too.