a home among the gum trees

My family and I left for a 9 hour drive up to Sydney a few days before Christmas. We stayed at my uncle's house in a small suburb where tall trees would tower over the houses. His house was on a hill and so I could see into other people's backyards from the window at the back of the house. The neighbour's kids would scream and run around their yard every hour or so, shooting water guns at each other in their bathers until the male of that house would hush them up.

My little cousin Amie had just learnt to walk the last time I saw her and now she is a loquacious little angel who spoke fluent Vietnamese. It frightens me whenever I see how fast time flies and how I miss such precious moments of family members growing up. If only I could be with my family all at the same time. The days were never dull when she was awake because she'd smile and laugh at anything big or small.

Christmas Day came in a hurry but my family doesn't celebrate it as extravagant as other people. It was like any other day, except for the fact that we got free chocolates from my grand-uncle and ate desserts after dinner.

On one of the Summer days we trekked the Blue Mountains and discovered little waterfalls here and there. The place was swarmed with people from all over the world, speaking in different accents of all sorts. Another day we spent walking strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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Amie after we told her she had crumbs around her mouth

the Three Sisters overlooking the Blue Mountains

a waterfall in the Blue Mountains

the Darling Harbour and Sydney Opera House

seafood platter at the Sydney Fish Market

One our last day there, my brother took all of the kids to the shopping centre to watch Tintin and a little bit of shopping. My cousin Anne had just received some early red pocket money from my mum and spent it all on pens and stationary of all sorts. She loves to read and write for games doesn't excite her as much unlike kids her age. There's no such thing as Boxing Day shopping in Sydney but I did manage to grab up 3 maxi dresses for $10 each in a little shop that was closing down.

My little brother celebrated his 17th birthday on the road. We sang happy birthday and had some cake before we left. The sunrise wasn't as beautiful as the drive up though, maybe because I was too tired to acknowledge it. As soon as I started to see familiar buildings and roads, I felt alive again.

We were home.

having family dinner

Anne and Amie blowing out my brother's candle

I spent my day back in my lover's arm, sleeping on his chest. I had missed him a lot while I was gone and it felt good to be back home where my heart lives.

I'm glad to have ended the year celebrating life with the ones I love.

Goodbye 2011, the new year awaits me.