Looking back on 2013

Given in my last post I spoke about sharing more about me and letting you get to know me more I thought it would be appropriate to do a post looking back on the last year!!

Marty and I welcomed in the New Year with my family in Christchurch, New Zealand! We celebrated in true style, letting off fireworks in the backyard! The perks of fireworks bring legal in NZ. It was a fun night with a couple of close calls and plenty of smiles and joy! Unfortunately due to a tight schedule, we were on the first flight out of Christchurch on New Years Day! (Yawn)

Then on January 2nd (a year ago today!!), after packing our life into a storage shed and a few suitcases, we started our adventure to Baton Rouge, Louisiana! 

Our adventure began with a 1hr drive from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane Domestic Airport, then a 1 1/2hr flight to Sydney Domestic Airport, a bus transfer to Sydney international followed, then a rush through customs with a quick shop at duty free and another rush to board a big jet plane that would take us to Dallas, Texas! Welcome to USA!! 

It wasn't over yet though, we still had 1 final leg of our trip before we arrived at our new home! After getting lost in Dallas Fort Worth (such a big airport) we finally found the monorail to our gate and luckily the flight was a little delayed as we probably would have missed it! We boarded the SMALLEST airline plane I think I will ever get on! It was like a pencil! Long and thin! I'm not a very good flyer so this trip was not enjoyable for me at all!! 

After an hour on the pencil, we arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and our new adventure was finally starting to feel real!

We were scheduled to be in Baton Rouge, LA for 6 months but this was almost cut short at week 2 when Marty was really sick and couldn't get better, we were almost ready to book our flights home when finally there was an improvement in his health!

Although it took us a while to come around and get over homesickness, Marty and I had a fabulous time in BR. It really was a once in a lifetime experience, we got to do so many things we never thought we would and got to meet some really great people.

We visited and loved New Orleans, adventured to Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. We stumbled across wild alligators, squirrels, racoons and went to zoos to see the more exotic animals.

We were lucky enough to experience Madi Gras parades in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans and even ate traditional 'King Cake'. We visited the Tabasco factory and took a ride on the swamp where we got to meet some real 'swamp people'.

We stayed in Pensacola, Florida over spring break and visited a Naval Air Station on the way home! We visited a beautiful historic plantation home in White Castle, a space center in Texas and we cured home sickness with home style meals from Cracker Barrel.

We went to a 'Honky Tonk' at the Texas Club, we watched college basketball and baseball games and even went to a country music festival in LSU Tiger Stadium and the developed a bit of a love for Country Music!

We shopped and shopped and shopped and ate and ate and ate! Marty discovered a love for food and said it was the best he had ever eaten. We ate true southern cajun foods including alligator, po-boys, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, hush puppies, catfish and more.

We had family come and visit and we got to play tour guides to them, we took them to New Orleans again where we went to a World War II museum and explored Jackson Square. We showed them some good old Southern Hospitality, which of course means we went to where the good food was.

We had such a great experience in Baton Rouge and by the time it was time to come home we weren't really ready to leave!

Best of all, while in Baton Rouge we really became best friends! We were all each other had and we learned to rely on and appreciate each other so much more! We loved doing things together and thoroughly enjoyed each others company.  Whether it was going on one of the fun adventures above or having a NCIS and Law & Order Marathon with tubs of ice cream over a long weekend we had such a good time together. Spending time alone together and really taking the time to become best friends with your spouse would be the best advice I could give any married couple! Marty and I formed a wonderful bond that I am so thankful for!

We arrived back in Australia on 26 June. We were greeted by Marty's family and it felt really good to be home! We were in Australia for a week before heading back to New Zealand to visit my family! My best friend, Lili, came with us and it was so special to be able to show her where I grew up!

We had a fantastic time in NZ with my family, we visited Christchurch city center (which after the earthquakes isn't much of a city anymore), we went for a long drive taking in the beautiful scenery, we went snow boarding at Mt Hutt, enjoyed just being with family again and Marty and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary!

When we got back to Australia it was time for reality to set back in again, I was no longer a lady of leisure! Time to find a job! I was luckily enough to be offered a job not long after I started applying and I started my new job on 29 July. Now that I was working again it was time to find a house in Brisbane - there was no way I was doing the commute from Sunshine Coast to Brisbane everyday again! We found a house we loved and moved in at the end of August not long after my 23rd Birthday!

Once we were in our own house we could get our puppies back and all of a sudden the VanderHeijdes were complete again! Everything had fallen into place and we were settling into life quite nicely.

We had planned to just cruise through the rest of the year given the first half had been quite busy, but of course that didn't go to plan! November ended up being quite eventful, first with Marty being made redundant from his job and then with my Papa, who was my last grandparent, passing away.

We headed back to NZ for my Papa's funeral, this was obviously a sad time and it was also a very special time! It was a great reminder of my Maori heritage and was a wonderful experience for my husband. Over the weekend of my Papa's funeral I felt proud to have Maori heritage a felt extremely proud of my Papa.

For me work finished up for the year on 20th December and my mum arrived from NZ the same night, dad arrived on Christmas eve and for the first time ever Marty and I hosted Christmas day at our house! Christmas day at our house was wonderful and we felt so blessed to be able to have both our families celebrating with us!

I really enjoyed my last day of the year. Mum, Dad, Marty and I went to the Museum at South Bank, Brisbane for most of the day and then mum and I headed off to 'Pure Indulgence' for the best facials ever!! They even put some makeup on us ready for the boys to pick us up for dinner (cute!). We went out for dinner in the city and then watched the NYE fireworks over the Brisbane river! A fantastic day, it was so special to be able to have that time with mum and dad!

2013 was a really great year and it may be pretty hard to top, but I think 2014 is going to be a very special year for the VanderHeijdes and we are really looking forward to it!

Here's to 2014!!

With love,

Lucee xx