Thursday, March 7, 2013

Family Matters

The idea of a blended family is quite interesting to me.  We are raised to believe that family is forever and irreplaceable.  Nothing can come between a family bond.  But what about death? Marriage? Divorce? Addiction?  

As a child, I didn't account for any of these things in my lifetime.  Maybe it's just me, but my parents censored me from the "evils" of this world and painted a picture of what life was supposed to be like in this perfectly gift wrapped box with a satin ribbon on top.  (I'm being a bit dramatic because I do understand where my parents were coming from and their desire to give me the most positive outlook and opportunities in life.)  Now, at the age of 24, I'm already having to rewire the once set in stone family structure that I thought was never to be broken. Hmm.  This isn't to say that I don't appreciate the changes, but instead, it has made me a stronger and more open person.  It has been an interesting learning process…with no owners manual attached.  

To the Carroll, Batson, and Daniel family readers, no need to worry.  Whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me and are in no danger of being replaced. :)  Just thought I would clarify.  However, you all can understand just as much as I that with death, marriage, children, etc. family structures change.  The whole process of taking R's family into my own was unique.  For goodness sakes, they watched me grow from a shy kindergartner to the awkward, self doubting teen that fell in love with their son to the person I am today.  It would be an understatement to say that it was easy to feel accepted and loved by them!! (Seriously, I am the luckiest in the "in law" department).  Even then, I still felt like I was "cheating" on my biological family when I would spend holidays away from grandmas.  Now that I'm such a pro with this marriage thing (HA), I understand the importance of fully letting yourself love "new family" and breaking down those walls..for yourself and your spouse!  And now that my parents are unfortunately not around, I feel blessed to have been given an extra set (or two!) in these guys.  Not to mention I gained two amazingly loving older brothers and a bonus sister (in two ways) out of the deal.  That worked out well, didn't it?! I think so. 

All rambling aside, I just couldn't help but share my hopefulness in the future for our "not so dysfunctional-functional blended family".  This trip for the five of us really solidified that the joining of families is a journey, but as long as you are willing to accept one another, make compromises, and put in the effort, anything is possible...
...Just like climbing a bridge.  The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to be exact.  R and I watch the little ants walk on top of the structure every night from our apartment and always had it on our to do list. Leave it up to our sis, with her newfound adventure seeking ways, to get us up there!  We only picked one of the windiest days, but that didn't matter.  
Spectacular views of the city and harbour!  We made sure to do the twilight climb so we could capture the views at sunset and at dark with all the lights.  Well worth the 3 hour climb.  Lots of prep and very well organized tour.
This is us crossing over the very top of the bridge!  Couldn't resist the urge to show our college pride with what felt like the top of the world.  
To get a completely different perspective of Sydney, why not in a boat?  This was one of our favorite days of the trip…sailing in the harbour! 
Very windy and overcast, but that didn't stop us from having fun.   
Cuties.  That yacht is only worth 40 mil.  Our driver knew all the boating gossip…what a life!
Close-ups!  Love them all.  
Proof that R and his dad jumped in and didn't get bit by a shark!  Char on the other hand did get in, but not long enough for a shark to even spot her.  She did it, though!
See, they're not fun at all.  I love this series!  Wind, laughter, crazy hair, wine, "O wow, there's the opera house and harbour bridge" moment.
Lucky us got caught in the middle of the World Series of sailing race. I don't think we realized how big of a deal it was until our knowledgable captain got super excited to be witnessing the whole thing right beside us. That boat "7" was in first place, with a "camera cat" following shortly behind to catch all the action.  
Model material.  Having fun as the sun begins to set!
Make new friends, but keep the old….
This is what happens after a day on the water…you almost get kicked out of a restaurant and find THE cutest Aussie boy for your sister to complete her checklist.  (Thanks to J!).  Hook 'em and Gig 'em.
 Lunch at Ripples with my neighbor, Anne!  What a lifesaver she was for us Teddy this week.
Afternoon "pub crawl" with the fam.  First stop, the super cool Palmer & Co for a speakeasy feel.  Obsessed with the decor and alley way/basement entry.
Skipping past R's office to the next place!  A little bit of rain and wind didn't stop us from the rooftop bar deck.
Our weekend getaway to the Hunter Valley, wine country.  Super fun and memorable.
Like father, like son.  Happy to be at our first winery of the day!  And all Char could think of was books.  I am happy to say that I walked away with the book "Wine Dogs Australia"…and for anyone who is listening, there are multiple volumes and countries if you want to start me a collection.  Just saying.  
Speaking of, this pup Cooper greeted us with mud and sweet kisses at the next winery!  I wonder if he's in the book?!
Thanks to this crazy lady holding the sign, we had a little too much fun at our last stop.  Just what we needed...
After wine tasting, we crashed in the hotel for a few hours and were back at it again for dinner!  We took them to where R and I dined a few months ago, Botanica.  Very consistent, fresh, and delicious food.  
We couldn't resist making one last stop before our drive back to Sydney the next morning!
Love!  These ladies were more interested in the dogs than anything else.  Who can blame them?  There is just something envious about a dogs life living on a winery….free range to run through the vineyard, wine sippings, and beautiful women greeting you everyday.  Maybe in my next life…
Teddy was jealous.  His life isn't so bad either I guess.
Champagne brunch at Petersons House.  
Family movie night in the hotel!  Aren't we just the cutest.  
Our loot from the weekend.  
Saying our goodbyes and see you soons!

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