I swear my niece Maia (now 9 months) is the smiliest baby in the world - she breaks into a smile almost every moment of the day and she has this amazing little giggle that would melt the hardest heart. I was lucky to get loads of cuddles, but I could easily have had more!
As it turns out, I'm not allowed to say or show you too much about the first event we attended for security reasons, suffice to say that we are all extremely proud of my brother having completed his training to become a fully fledged member of an important public service. Not only that but he graduated with the award for Highest Academic Achiever in his squad and got a very big kick-ass plaque to show for it.
The one downer was that Mum and Dad's flight got diverted to Sydney due to the heavy fog in Melbourne on Friday morning, I think I was very lucky to get in as my flight landed only half an hour before theirs was due to. This meant they sat on the tarmac at Sydney airport for 2.5 hours before the flight eventually came to Melbourne. The big shame of it was that this meant they missed almost the whole graduation ceremony, including seeing my brother receive his award. I did take a short video of it to show them, although as we were sitting in the very back row it was a little hard to see and hear too much. And we owed a huge thanks to Kim's Dad going back to the airport and waiting there for them for 2 hours, which meant they eventually arrived about 15 minutes before the end of the ceremony and got to see him marching out at least.
That evening we all headed into Melbourne city for a flash dinner with family and friends of all the squad (23 members) which was another opportunity to celebrate the achievements of my brother and the group he'd studied and sweated alongside for 33 weeks since January this year. Mum and Dad and I were all a bit blotto by the end of the dinner having been up since the early hours of the morning NZ time, and we crashed out the minute we arrived home at 11.30pm (1.30am NZ time).
On Saturday, we chilled at home with Nic and Kim before heading out to the Dandenong Range to check out a new cafe up in the hills that only opened a couple of months ago. The Piggery Cafe is part of a very ambitious new development at Burnham Beeches which will eventually include a steakhouse, brewery and boutique hotel by approximately 2018.
The cafe was really impressive, and incredibly busy given it only opened two months ago. Most of our party got Wagyu beef burgers, but Mum and I enjoyed a lovely salad selection. Nic and his friends (down from Sydney for the weekend too) tucked into some homemade toffee apples before we all headed into the Alfred Nicholas memorial gardens for a walk through towering mountain ash and eucalyptus trees down to the man-made lake.
That evening we got in Thai takeaways and half played a game of Carcasonne before the time difference caught up with Mum and Dad. After having to wake them up to take their turns a couple of times in a row, we decided we'd better call it a night as we had another big day ahead.
On Sunday morning, we were able to be at church for the dedication of my beautiful niece Maia, which was super special. After the service about 30 people came back to Nic and Kim's house for a shared lunch. And then before we knew it, we all had to jump in cars to head back to the airport and home again.
It seems hard to believe I was even there now but it was very special to have been a part of two such important family occasions. And we have another catch up planned in early November with these lovely people when they come to NZ so it's lovely to have that to look forward to!