Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Dear Lola, 

Travelling with a toddler 101.

So here we are post trip, and I thought it worthwhile jotting down a few tips that carried us through our adventure, for future travel reference. Because with 24 hours worth of flights + stop overs, and three weeks of travel ahead of us, it paid to be as prepared as possible.

* Take the night flight! At first discussion, a day flight appeared safer, as we figured we'd have more control over how things played out. Night flight = more risk, but if you slept, and we managed to get some sleep as well, then this would be win win! And it paid off alright, as papa & I slept relatively soundly - you of course had no trouble, and stretched out happily & snored away! Plus the good thing was, any sleep we did miss out on, only helped us adjust better to the time difference.

One decent sized backpack was dedicated to you and contained the following...

* Buy a new lunchbox that has several different 'click, clack' compartments. We filled each section with different treats - cashews, sultanas, prunes, yoghurt drops, rice puffs etc. Boy did your eyes light up when we handed it to you on the plane. You spent at least an hour clicking and clacking and the novelty didn't wear off all trip. Perfect for impromptu picnics by the pool, beach, in tuk tuks.

* A new pencil case filled with textas, stickers, little notebooks & post it notes. This was huge for you, as it supplied us with endless games & doodling, you drew and stuck stickers on everything & anyone within reach. We simply replenished your sticker collection as we went. We are so grateful that the children of the world all share an obsession with stickers!

*One tub of playdoh. Go for the good stuff, that doesn't go sticky or dry out. This was a life saver, particularly when waiting for meals or waiting to check into a room. And although my playdoh making skills are limited to snakes, snails & snowmen, lucky you have a papa that can make any request under the sun. I saw twelve reindeer pulling a sleigh at one stage.

*Books. They are such an integral part of your life. At least six must be read before bed, and handing one over to you can provide instant calm & quiet. We packed half a dozen of your favourite, lightweight books. Naturally this was the smartest move ever.

 *Puzzles - we bought a few light, compact 20 piece puzzle packs before we left. Scattered & lost puzzle pieces sounds like a nightmare, but you are the puzzle queen, and these proved priceless during meal times (all of which we ate out at restaurants). When you'd had enough of them we simply passed them on to other wingy children, to the appreciative smiles of their parents.

 *I found a few other bits & bots at the junk shop. Dress up dolls with stick on clothes were a hit. I'm not sure who had more fun dressing them as we drove around the country.

*Have a chat to your better half, and work out a strategy that you know will extinguish potential meltdowns . Papa & I discovered that for you, it was the promise that we would make up a story. A quarter of the way through the trip, you became fascinated with made up stories, where wacky voices, crazy story lines, monkeys, and a little girl named Lola were mandatory. Eg. You refuse to get out of the tuk tuk... come on, out you hop, and then we will make up a story for you. Bingo!

Remember, you are two and a half, and everything interests you, from a pile of rocks to a pile of elephant dung.
Remember, if you have ice cream two meals in a row, you aren't going to want it for your third.
Remember, to take it slow, offer extra piggy back rides & pack a portable music player. 
Remember, to build each sandcastle with as much enthusiasm as the last one hundred.

And, don't sweat the small stuff. If you declare you're too hot, and proceed to undress yourself and dance in the middle of the breakfast buffet, so be it, and be sure to clap along for fun.

Oh, and teach you games that entertained us as kids, such as 'I Spy'.

Papa - I spy with my little eye something beginning with "T"
Lola - Oh, I know, I know, it's sugar!
Papa - No, it's something beginning with the letter "T"
Lola - No, I win, I win, sugar goes with tea papa!

Your mama

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Dear Lola, 


I love that since we arrived home you appear to have grown a whole foot. I love that before I took this photo you said that this was "the perfect place to brush your teeth." I love that after you said this you did a little dance on the spot. I love that you can still manage to chat & have a whole conversation while brushing those said teeth. 
I love you, that's pretty obvious though huh.

Your mama

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Dear Lola, 

We are home, and boy does it feel good.

We feel so very loved.

This is a short part of the last email sent from your Oma, the day before we arrived home.

"...take care, travel well and safely ( I will fly with you) and tell my angel girl that if she can't see us right away that we will be the ones holding a balloon high above the crowds."

And with that said, as soon as we landed on Australian soil, you were in search of that balloon, and more importantly the ones who would be holding it.

From the way we felt when we saw that balloon floating high above the crowds, we may as well have been gone for three years rather then three weeks. Boy does it feel good to be home.

We stumble through our front door just after midnight, to be greeted with even more love.

 - A freshly made zucchini slice from Oma, made with our chickens very own eggs! (To our delight the chickens started laying whilst we were away - 2 eggs a day!)

- A beautiful tub of lovingly made bircher muesli, and a tub of fresh yoghurt, with a note - 'stir through some yoghurt and serve with fruit or on its own - enjoy - welcome home!' - Thank you, thank you to your Aunty Jules. I couldn't possibly wait till morning and had a bowl right there & then.

- And of course a bowl overflowing with fresh fruit and veges & some kinder chocolate for you.

- A loaf of bread & milk, and more yoghurt and eggs & cheese.... ahhh.

- And then there was the vase of freshly picked roses, which was enough to make me want to cry.

Our garden has also been working very hard - (thanks in part to the care it received from family).

We have new eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, limes, ginger & lemons. The basil looks like it may take over the house, as do the other herbs, and the olive tree & rosemary bushes have exploded. 

Papa's citrus tree seedlings stand about half a metre tall now and he is busy dreaming of where to put them.

I could go on, but it's almost 1pm and you are still fast asleep, so this is a chance to unpack a little. Or rather finish unpacking, seeming your papa has already taken care of most of it and already has a line full of washing hung out...

Home, we have missed you... did I mention it's good to be back?

Your mama

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dear Lola,

A highlight per day, which turned in to two highlights per day, is now reduced to a series of photos. Ho-hum. I guess the photos do most the talking anyway - (still pretty much a photo or two per day)

* I can't seem to capture enough of these two besties together.

* Ella mountain range with your fresh air, waterfalls, stunning rock formations & cheeky monkeys.

* You dance like no one is watching. When in fact there are about fifty German tourists behind me, taking photos of you.

* View from our room.  Tea pluckers of Nuwara Eliya, I could easily watch you all day.

* Just checking out that all is in order with the tea making process.

* Your expression says it all. Train rides are a new favourite.

* Tea fields as far as the eye can see. We are told the tea plucker's work is in exchange for housing, food, child education & medicine.

*A highlight all around. This taken just moments after your new friend 'Seta' has given us all a shower in the river.

* You have grown up in so many ways during this trip... and it's not over quite yet!

Your mama
Dear Lola, 

A few photos from each day, as I'm a bit behind on this ol' diary... must be having too much fun!

Day 9

Food is always a highlight, and today is no exception.  Here we are enjoying our 2nd breakfast, overflowing with papaya, bananas, pineapple, omelets, mountains of bread, sweet jams, yogurt & good tea. Papa has feasted on barracuda, snapper, jumbo prawns, buffalo curd, sticky rice & every type of spicy curry under the sun! You and I may not be quite as adventurous, but we are invited to our tuk tuk drivers home for afternoon tea, where his family treat us to pancakes with grated coconut & sweet spice filling. You sipped from a freshly cracked coconut, played with our new friends children, and finished up your third pancake... needless to  say, it was very hard to tear you away from the place!

Day 10

The whales & dolphins  we saw this morning may have been very impressive (for some of us at least, as you slept for three hours of this bobbing ride) , but watching you play here till sunset was a definite highlight. You squealed with joy as the waves rolled in, and set up a hamburger shop, and sold them to every sea creature you could name – including a jelly fish named Jimbo Jones (thanks Dr Seuss).

Day 11

First family snap, as we explore the little islands speckled around the place. We climb, we admire, we climb some more & then we swim till sunset.

Day 12


A day of rest at luxurious Peacock Resort. Lounging in our spacious room, with intermediate dips in the pool, room service, walks through the grounds in search of monkeys & peacocks, and a good dose of Peppa Pig for you. A day well spent.

Day 13

Safari time! We arrive in Yalla & jump in a jeep that same afternoon. The weather was as wild as the animals we saw, as we experience sunshine, thunder, lightning, the heaviest of rain, and then sunshine again - which was a bit freaky considering we were surrounded by wild leopards & crocs. Within moments we spot our first elephants, spotted deer, monkeys, crocs, endless buffalo, mongoose & some of the most beautiful birds we have ever seen. Your favourites are the wild pigs.

Your mama

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Dear Lola, 


We are a mere seven weeks in to this new year, and already those eyes of yours have taken in so much delight & wonder. Travelling throughout Sri Lanka this month, they have been wider then ever. They are innocent, reflective, happy, tired at times, and always wandering. 

Your mama  

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Dear Lola,


Here you are. Still frolicking on the beaches that stretch along the Sri Lankan coast. With your new cossies with frills and bunnies, and straps that keep falling off your shoulders.  After fixing them up all morning, you casually say “Don’t worry mama, they are happy to stay where they are.”  You are a wise little peach, who is loving & thriving on this big adventure… and making some pretty impressive sand castles along the way.

Your mama

Friday, 8 February 2013

Dear Lola, 

Day 6

As today drew to a close, you could find us here. By the water, admiring a fierce sunset, sipping on cocktails, (banana smoothies for you) and watching you dance. It seems that when the sand & your feet meet, they form an instant dancing relationship. You danced your little heart out, until you were so tired, you threw yourself onto the sand, and then asked to be carried home.
*papa thinks you look like a dragon tamer in this photo :)

Day 7

Today we needed nothing more than to stroll up and down this beautiful stretch of beach. You kept your treasured little wooden tuk tuk close at all times, explaining to anyone that would listen that you sit in the back and that the driver sits in the front, shoving your little pudgy fingers in to demonstrate. Today we swim, build more sandcastles, take turns giving you piggy back rides, and chase giant hermit crabs.

Day 8

Beautiful Mirrisa, with your endless stretch of aqua blue water, fresh seafood, bongo drums & palm trees. The highlight from today was found in simply enjoying Mirrisas beauty, from our balcony or a beach chair...  but of course your preference was soaking it all up by the waters edge. 

Your mama

Monday, 4 February 2013

Dear Lola, 

Although it's near impossible to pick, I thought I'd choose one photo each day from our trip, and write a little memory to go with it.

Day 1:

Bentota welcomed three weary travellers with the sound of crashing waves, golden sand and enough fresh bananas & papaya to fill our bellies. Your highlight from our first official day, was frolicking on the beach with your new friend 'duck'.

Day 2:

The turtle hatchery ticked all the boxes today. You could cuddle as many turtles as you wanted, for as long as you wanted. You skipped, jumped & twirled from tank to tank with such excitement, and pushed your heels into the ground when it was time to say goodbye. You whispered "hello my beautiful turtles" and haven't stopped talking about it since.

Day 3:

Galle - a town with a collection of slowly decaying Dutch-colonial buildings, surrounded by THIS fort where you and papa stand and admire the view. Well, maybe not you so much, but we did walk the walls of the fort, where you were treated to plenty of salty air & the scent of rich spices from the market stalls below. To your amusement, a cheeky monkey may have also followed us from time to time.
 Day 4:

Early morning Galle - within the fort walls are beautiful laneways, boutique shops, cafes & art galleries. You are walking toward the two ladies in front of you, who welcome us in for a traditional breakfast with their extended family. While papa was brave enough to feast on chilli fish, (eating the head was optional), served with grated coconut & roti bread - whilst you enjoyed the roti very much, your eyes really lit up when a jar of coco pops were handed to you.

Day 5: 

We spent the morning hours exploring a little piece of paradise called Jungle Beach (just outside Unawatuna).  Here you are waving papa off as he goes to snorkel the nearby reef. Papa & I take turns snorkelling, while you search for coral on the seashore, build Edie a sandcastle, and pick frangapanis off all the nearby trees. It's a rocky tuk tuk ride home, but you still manage to catch some sleep.

Till next time.

side note: I'm only privileged enough to record this because you are still having your usual 2-3 hour nap, leaving me adequate time to write, as well as read my book, and have a quick dip in the pool. It's a hard life! 

Your mama