HNL-SYD-ZQN

Bondi Beach street art

Bondi Beach street art

Greetings from Queenstown!  We've been here for three days and the country is every bit as beautiful as people said it would be.  We are actually staying in Frankton, which is just east of Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu and is considerably less touristy.  Our place has an incredible deck with a view of the lake.  You can swim in the lake (the water temperature is brisk and refreshing) and we've had dinner outside every night.  After almost a week in Sydney, it's a relief to have more space, a full kitchen, and laundry.  

Our last two weeks in Kauai were the best.  We were staying in Hanalei and were able to ride cruiser bikes, avoid driving, walk to the beach, and feel a bit more like we were part of the community.  We hit the farmer's market one more time, tried to get our fill of papaya, pineapple, and passion fruit, and prepped for our time in Sydney. 

I was anxious about our flight from Honolulu (we took a short flight from Kauai to Honolulu the same morning) to Sydney - 10 hours in the middle of the day with Blythe (our longest flight with her ever).  You cross the international date line, which means we left Hawaii at 11 AM on February 12th and arrived in Sydney at 7 PM on February 13th.  Poof - there goes a day!  My anxiety about the flight was based in worrying about keeping Blythe entertained and happy (enough) while not losing our sanity.  Little did I know that the worst part of the flight would be a grown woman who decided to take an unfortunate interest in our family....

We were lucky enough to have 6 seats in a row to ourselves on the flight (4 in the middle of the plane and 2 in the side aisle).  The carseat has to go in the window seat and we've found it is helpful (if B sleeps) to have the carseat.  B and I played and had lunch for the first 2 hours and then Rob read her books until she fell asleep.  45 minutes later, the flight attendant made the loudest announcement I've ever heard about Duty Free being open and Blythe was awake and upset.  Rob snagged her and headed to the bathroom, but he first gave her a chance to calm down and was consoling her.  I stayed out of it because Rob really dislikes it when I sweep in and intervene and he is an incredibly capable parent so I don't need to.  He took B to the bathroom and that is when I noticed the two women sitting in seats in front of us (not flying together) were staring at me and talking.  One of them approached me and asked me why I was just sitting there, told me I should be taking care of my daughter, and said that a child needs her Mom.  I decided that I wouldn't engage, made a comment about how the announcement woke her up, and put my earbuds in.  She got in my face and kept talking and then proceeded to sit down and talk loudly to her husband about how I was leaving all the parenting to Rob, ignoring my kid, etc.  I was fuming at this point and told her to mind her own business.  A few minutes later, I saw her head up to the bathrooms (where B and Rob had just exited) and start talking to Rob and trying to soothe Blythe.  I got furious and went up there, took B from Rob, told her that we were capable parents, and returned to our seats.  

[I swear I'm trying to keep this brief.]  B and I read for awhile and she calmed down (but never went back to sleep).  This woman came back and continued ranting to her husband (she was about 4 feet from me so I could hear everything) and he eventually turned around and apologized to us saying that she never meant to suggest we were bad parents.  Well, she lost it.  She and her husband started arguing and apparently she was hitting him and crying (according to the couple behind us who were observing all of this).  Eventually, the flight attendant was called over, chatted with the couple for awhile, and then approached me.  She said the woman wanted me to apologize to her and that she has asked to have her husband moved.  The flight attendant also said she had heard the initial conversation between me and the crazy woman and she couldn't believe how she was speaking to me.  In any event, I said I wouldn't apologize and the flight attendant found another seat for the woman's husband -- apparently she was livid that he apologized to us and didn't stick up for her.

Over the course of the rest of the flight, I could hear her talking to another woman in the row in front of us and periodically making comments in our direction.  She passed by Rob a few times (I moved to the far end of the row so I didn't have to engage with her at all) and would lean over and say something and he just ignored her.  He wouldn't tell me what she was saying until we got off the plane - and thank goodness or I would have lost it and confronted her.  She told him "You are a nice guy, but you've got yourself a nasty woman there."  She asked him if he had married me for my money - something like "Is your wife really rich? Is that why you married her?" (this is particularly laughable) and she said "Your wife must be so nasty because she has gained a few pounds."  

When the flight landed, she bolted off the plane (without her husband) and I've never been so happy to see the back of someone.  Rob didn't tell me her rude comments until we were sitting outside of the Opera House the next day with a glass of champagne, but I have to be honest - her criticism of my mothering really got under my skin.  Rob and I had agreed in advance that we would take turns with Blythe so that each of us could recharge and have a few minutes to ourselves.  Of course it is always easier (at this age at least) for me to calm her down, but that wasn't the point and Rob was handling it.  In any event, this crazy, crazy lady turned out to be the worst part of the 10 hour daytime flight and not the non-napping toddler, which is incredibly ironic.

Smiling at the Opera House - the preceded Rob sharing the details of his interactions with the woman on the airplane.

Smiling at the Opera House - the preceded Rob sharing the details of his interactions with the woman on the airplane.

Thankfully, we had an incredible (albeit too short) stay in Sydney.  I'm in love with the city, but that's for another post.   The only downside was that Australia didn't stamp my passport!  We did something we've never done before, too, which was to hire a babysitter through the hotel for a morning.  Lovely Clare came to the Westin for five hours so Rob and I could have breakfast, explore a few neighborhoods, and visit the fish market.  It was a much-needed adult morning and B had fun with stickers and coloring.  I can only imagine what the lady on the plane would think about that parenting move.

Splashing in the rain while we wait to go to Taronga Zoo

Splashing in the rain while we wait to go to Taronga Zoo

We'll be in New Zealand for the next seven weeks. We'll be moving around a bit more until we start a farm-stay (WWOOF) on March 1st, where we'll be for almost two weeks.