Retreat into Myself

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Peaceful Chenrezig
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My cabin in the woods

A couple weeks ago, I spent six days, five nights away from my family to attend Being Yoga’s Chakra Vinyasa retreat, part of my Level 2 teacher training.
5 Nights. I had not yet spent one night away from my 2-year-old; I had just completely weaned him the month before. I spent 3 nights on my initial teacher training retreat when I was 34 weeks pregnant, just over 2 years ago. That was the last time I’d spent a night away from the rest of my crew.
When I got “permission” to go, I panicked a bit—it was such a surprise! I’d hoped to attend this retreat next year and go on a 2-night one in December this year instead, but my husband threw me for a loop by saying this one fit his schedule better. I came close several times to pulling out. I was about to pay my deposit and my Dad went into the hospital. I waited, thinking I’d spend the money I’d set aside on a plane ticket instead. Thankfully, he got better. I paid the deposit, still unsure.
As the date approached, I wanted to bail—it’s not right to leave the kids for this long. They don’t know what to do without me. My baby’s too little. What if the people on the retreat don’t like me? What if I don’t like them? 6 days is a long time! What if I have no one to eat lunch with? I honestly felt like a kid leaving for college!
My family drove me up and when we arrived at the gorgeous Chenrezig Institute, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, we were all amazed at the beauty and peace of the place. We had a picnic lunch and said our good-byes. That was it. This was really happening.
I found some sweet familiar faces in the group, which helped put my mind at ease. I had paid extra for a private room ($20/night—are you kidding me?! Small price to pay for the chance to have my own space!) and when I got up to my simple cabin in the woods (without a bathroom!) that evening and found a large spider on the wall, I panicked again. I am not joking when I say that I felt like Wonder Woman when I successfully got that thing outside! But the damage was done—too scared to sleep.
After a restless night, I attended the morning meditation and then our awkward breakfast, feeling weird about standing in line, figuring out where things were, missing bananas. I felt lost, out of place. 4 more nights of this? I didn’t know if I could do it.
Then we gathered for our morning class, focused on the solar plexus chakra. It was divine! That was it for me. I was there. Completely. Immersed. All feelings of panic and awkwardness gone, I enjoyed the rest of my time in ways I cannot put into words.
I realized that I hadn’t spent a night alone in almost 10 years—the last time I can remember was when I was pregnant with my oldest son in early 2008, and as any mother knows, you’re not actually alone when you’re 7 months pregnant!
I want to try to put into words here what I truly enjoyed about this experience:
-The yoga. Oh, my, the yoga! Such good yoga! As an instructor, it is hard to find the time or classes I really enjoy and it was amazing to gain so much from each class.
-The meditation. I struggle with mindfulness meditation, but these meditations were more active—visualisations, breathing techniques—these tools really worked for me and I gained more from meditation than ever before.
-The people. I met incredible people! Some I knew before, most were new, and all were awesome. For the first time in years, I felt like a woman. I felt like Kathleen. I was talking to people as me, not as the kids’ mom, not as a school mom, just me. I was seen for me. Of course, I adored the other mothers and we talked about our kids a lot during the week, but we were just us. And when I think about this, the timing was really meant to be—I already mentioned that I had just weaned my youngest in August, so this was the first time in nearly three years of pregnancy and breastfeeding that my body was ALL MINE. For six luscious days, my body was mine. I was Just. Me. I truly reconnected with who I am—the many layers that entails. I laughed until I cried. I danced. I wrote. I even drew and sang, which is NOT like me! 😉 I was inspired, filled with new ideas. I don’t know why, but even after 6 years here, I feel like the odd man out, the obvious American, in most social groups. But not here. I felt like I fit.
-The setting. I am not a city girl. I often realize how confined I feel living in Brisbane, missing my mountains, my wide-open spaces. Six days in the gorgeous, peaceful woods was good for my soul in countless ways. The woods, the mountains, outside—these are the places where I feel most at home, most myself.
-The meals. I hardly need to mention that being able to eat meals that I did not have to prepare myself or clean up after was a luxury. But even better, the adult conversation, the “real” conversation, the unhurried pace—being able to finish and sit and digest until I Felt Like getting up again—-aahhh, bliss!
-The free time. Waking up each morning and only seeing to myself, sitting on my little cabin deck during every break and closing my eyes if I wanted to, or writing, or thinking, uninterrupted, unhurried—wow.
It’s no wonder thinking back over it all that I have only very slowly been coming back from “outer space” in these recent days. It’s taken awhile! I left the house without shoes on Tuesday—9 days after being back! Thank goodness I’m a yoga teacher, but walking around my son’s daycare barefoot was a bit gross! 😉
When I wonder why I had to get down in writing my feelings of gratitude after getting this time to truly retreat into myself, I need only to look at what my Mom just emailed me after our FaceTime chat today, 12 days after returning: “My Precious, I did so love our visit tonight …. you seem to have such a beautiful inner peace, calmness, happiness, relaxed way about you of late. I don’t know, but, I truly think your “Yoga Retreat ” was good for you. Regardless, I am happy you did that. “
Thanks for noticing, Mom–even from 8,000 miles away. I am happy I did it, too—and, oh, so grateful!

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Our Kids are Smarter than We are

On Monday I returned from a blissful, 6-day yoga retreat. More on that later, but I realised that at pretty much the exact time that my three children were all gathered around me showering me with love, and my husband was sitting down in peace for the first time in a week, with a smile on his face as he laughed warmly at the scene in front of him, a man was quite literally raining down bullets on hundreds of innocent people on the other side of the world.
What an awful realization—here I sit filled with the love of my family, peace and inspiration from an incredible six days of self-discovery and people are running for their lives, not knowing what’s happening to them as more and more bullets rain from the sky. I was devastated, as we all were.
The next night at dinner, my husband asked the kids if anyone at school had mentioned Vegas. They hadn’t. My oldest said he’d learned something about it on the internet that day—he knew someone got shot in Las Vegas. And this began what made me want to get down in writing the ways this beautiful child has shown he’s smarter than most adults in recent days.
A bit later, as I was washing dishes, he came out and asked me, “Mommy, was the person visiting or was it someone who lived there?” I asked what he was talking about. He said, “The person who got shot in Las Vegas–was he visiting or someone who lived there?” A huge lump formed in my throat and I couldn’t get words out. I didn’t want to scare him; I didn’t want to ruin his innocence, to tell him the truth of what humans are capable of in their times of darkness.
I kept it simple. I needed to. “Honey, more than one person got shot.” “Oh. Well, do you know if they were visiting or if they lived there?” He was really hung up on this point. “I imagine some of them lived there while some were visiting,” inwardly pleading with him not to ask me for more detail as the lump in my throat tightened and tears came to my eyes.
“Oh. Because I just think it would be awful to be visiting a place, having fun, and then get shot. Wouldn’t that be horrible?” I agreed that it would be. That was it. That was all he said. Bless his heart. He gets it.
A week or so before, he and his younger brothers were walking to a post box with me to mail our marriage equality surveys. He was holding the envelopes and asked what they were for. I explained to him that the government wants to know if we believe that boys should only be allowed to marry girls or if boys can marry each other and girls can marry each other, so they can decide what the law should be.
Dumbfounded, he asked, “Why would there be a law about that?!” I answered honestly that I didn’t know. He asked if there is a current law about it and I told him that right now in Australia boys are not allowed to marry other boys and girls cannot marry other girls. That is the law. He said, “That’s so stupid! Why can’t people just marry who they want?”
It seems so simple. Kids are smarter than we are. Why make love subject to law? I told him that people can easily become afraid and they often are most afraid of people who are different than they are. So, a long time ago, some men felt they needed to make a law so they could try and stop people being different from them and they wouldn’t have to feel so afraid. What do I say? How do we teach our kids about the world they live in without taking away their innocence and the beauty they so easily see in others?
My final example today is again from the night I returned from my retreat. I was telling them all what a great experience it was, how I loved learning and how I discovered so much about myself. I said that I wished all people could have that experience and told my husband that I’d support him if he would like to find something in that same vein. (I won’t relate his answer! 😉) But my precious boy came up beside me and said, “Mommy, can I go on a retreat?”
These kids. They’re smarter than we are. We need to pay attention to them. They have much to teach.

Lost & Lonely Musings

Why do I feel lonely and lost these days? Why can’t I seem to figure out what my professional contribution to society can be? Why do I not seem to have friends here that I really connect with, who get me and who I get? Why am I so homesick?

I have three beautiful, happy boys who bring me joy—they truly do. But as any parent knows, they also whine a lot, they seem dissatisfied with much of what I work so hard to do for them; the two older ones argue with almost everything I say and with each other, seemingly constantly sometimes. I find myself stopping to listen and smile when I hear them playing well together—it seems more rare these days and I can’t seem to defuse their frustrations with each other effectively, no matter what parenting articles I read.

Unlike so many mothers whom I have always greatly admired and felt somewhat jealous of, I need more in my life than full time mothering. I lose myself when I only attend to everyone else’s needs. I need appreciation for a job well done. I need recognition, measurable progress in what I’ve accomplished each day. I wish I didn’t, but I can’t really get around the fact that I do.

I think that’s why my work/career/professional struggles are getting me down so much lately. For 14 years before this move to Australia, I worked in retirement communities. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. I was respected in my field and I made good money.

Since I’ve come here, I just can’t figure out how to get back into that field. Now, I realize I haven’t tried as hard as I should. Life gets in the way. I’ve sent online enquiries to senior living companies asking about their jobs in marketing and sales, with no response. I’ve sent a few online applications for activities/recreation/volunteer positions, with no response. I’ve called one nearby community and asked to volunteer—no return call. I’ve asked the few people I’ve met who work in the field about the positions, and they don’t seem to know anything about them—maybe they don’t exist here?

I keep telling myself the best way to find out is to just drive around and walk into communities and ask. But, I’ve always had a kid in tow, or was about to have a kid in tow, so I just never got around to it.

Friends at home say I’m awesome for moving to a new country and learning a new profession and starting my own business. But it doesn’t feel very awesome. I learned the new profession partially out of necessity. I never wanted to run my own business. I don’t enjoy it and it’s not going well. In fact, right now, it seems to be failing miserably. I’m paying to do it. Try as I might, I can’t get people interested in it.

I do love yoga—it’s been a passion of mine for years, and the more I learn about it, the more passionate about it I feel. But people in this area, just don’t seem to get it. Yoga is not as popular around here—I don’t even know many people who do it, or who are physically active as a priority at all. I think that’s partly why I feel disconnected from the friends I’ve made.  I’ve rarely been to a yoga class here with more than a handful of people in it, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I can’t get many people interested in my classes, much less my classes for their children.

I just have a hard time fitting in with people who don’t prioritize healthy eating for their families, who don’t prioritize fitness on a regular basis and who don’t get the purpose of yoga. I hope that doesn’t make me sound snobby. I don’t intend it to. I’ve made friends for the past 4+ years with people who are different to me in those core areas, but have other things in common—being a mother, living in a foreign country, but I just don’t feel connected, so I’m guessing that’s the reason why…??? I could be totally off base. I do admit I have met a few people who are health and fitness oriented and am still not clicking with them either.

It often seems to me that people don’t like me over here. I never seemed to have that problem before moving. It is very likely all in my head, but I just seem to rub people the wrong way when I don’t intend to…??

I know I could connect well with my husband, but he’s frustrated in his job, too and we don’t see each other until late in the evening when we’re pretty much too tired to talk about much. He is wonderful and we do try. We both know we need time together. But it’s difficult, because that costs money. And when I’m not making any money, I feel bad spending $80 to go out for two hours together and get a drink each and an appetizer to share—bleah!

I keep meditating and reading about creating my own joy, realizing that my life is just as it should be in this moment and to find peace in the present. I’m honestly trying! For whatever reason, it’s meant to be right now that I’m paying to try and teach yoga, that I’m contributing nothing meaningful to my community in terms of professional employment and that I’m working my tail off for no positive outcome. That’s hard to embrace! But I will keep trying…..For now these musings of a crazy person just help me to get it off my chest.

My Three Sons

Where do I even start?! I haven’t updated this in over 3 months. I have a good reason—I have a beautiful, 6-week old baby boy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself….first to quickly recap the time leading up to our little Samuel’s birth:

My brain is mush now and it’s hard to remember. My days are filled once again with spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights and the smell of a newborn asleep on my chest. It’s hard to remember what they were like before. It’s as if he’s always been here. I feel strongly that we’ve been waiting for him—as hard as this time is, he melds right into our little circle of love, just like he always had a space waiting for him. He has.

Here we are--all 5!
Here we are–all 5! A bit tired… 😉

Anyway, I digress, again. Get used to it! June was quite uneventful, other than preparing for Sam’s arrival and wrapping up my kids’ yoga classes. That was very bittersweet. It’s always hard to leave behind the known, the routine, and prepare for the unknown, the loss of control. I know at the time it’s happening that I want to return to teaching, but it’s also in the back of my head that I really don’t know what the future holds and I can’t say anything for sure.

Last day of work! June 25, 33 weeks
Last day of work! June 25, 33 weeks

We had our last little getaway as a family of four–a weekend in June on beautiful Stradbroke Island with friends. We saw lots of unique wildlife and enjoyed the busy two days immensely. Then we had our treasured friends from Boulder in town visiting their family, and got to spend quality time with them as well.

Stradbroke Island weekend
Stradbroke Island weekend
Enjoying special friends from Boulder
Enjoying special friends from Boulder

I had my first three nights and four days ever away from my little crew of men in early July for my yoga teacher training retreat. It was wonderful, although very demanding physically and mentally. It was great to be able to have that time to be away, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely during their “vegetable-free days”. 😉

Camping with Dad while Mom's at a yoga retreat 7/2
Camping with Dad while Mom’s at a yoga retreat 7/2

The retreat was over the 4th of July weekend, so for the first time in my life, I had to forgo celebrating the holiday, which was also bittersweet. It was a great reason to miss it, but also a little sad. Several people wished me a happy one, though, which is so kind.

We enjoyed a relatively slow paced two weeks of school holidays that included our first Disney on Ice. Also, thanks to the help of dear friends, Steve and I enjoyed our last date for a while—a low key breakfast out in Brisbane one morning. It’s funny—we were both enjoying each other, but could also feel the apprehension in the air as we were well aware of the uncertainty and changes to come, getting ready to meet the new member of our family.

Last date for awhile, breakfast out 7/10, 35 weeks
Last date for awhile, breakfast out 7/10, 35 weeks

My sweet friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me on the 11th of July. I have missed family incredibly throughout my pregnancy, so it was great to feel such an outpouring of love from my “family” here.  It was my first truly girly baby shower, complete with a color scheme, games, fancy food and decorations, and I loved it! I am so humbled by the work they went to and the turnout.

My cute baby shower
My cute baby shower

It’s ironic—when I was pregnant with Drew I thought baby showers were completely lame. We bought our house a few months before he was born, so instead we had a combined baby shower/housewarming for all friends, men and women. It was fun! Then Zach was born so soon afterwards that our friends instead organized a meal delivery system, diapers and groceries for us, which was just what we needed. Now I cherish time I can sneak in with girlfriends and relished every minute of that shower. J

Love my girlfriends! These are my beautiful hosts.
Love my girlfriends! These are my beautiful hosts.

On July 23rd, my sweet Drew was officially diagnosed with asthma. It is nice in one sense to finally know for sure and learn how to deal with it, but also always sad to find out your child is less than perfect. I have to wonder if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it, if there have been times I didn’t help him enough when he was struggling to breathe. I am really bad with “What Ifs” and mother’s guilt. I’m working on it…..Hopefully, he will grow out of it, and even if he doesn’t, there are a lot worse things in life and we are very fortunate. It doesn’t slow him down–the two of them ran their 1st 2k race the Sunday before Sam arrived.

1st 2k race 7/26
1st 2k race 7/26

As for my pregnancy, it got a bit bumpy in July. On Sunday the 5th at my retreat, I started to worry about the baby’s movement. I remember being paranoid about that in my previous pregnancies so I ignored it, knowing that odds were that everything was fine and I was being psycho. I was still a bit worried at my next appointment that Wednesday, the 8th, which the whole family attended. They put me on some fetal monitoring and then reassured me that everything was fine.

I started to worry about movement again on Friday, the 24th, (37 weeks) and thought I was noticing quite a few painless contractions and feeling very nauseous. I figured labor was starting, but then nothing happened. I was about to call the doctor on Sunday if things hadn’t changed, but then I felt better. Monday and Tuesday were up and down. I was worried about all of the above, but then I’d feel better.

Ready for our new addition! Such special decorations
Ready for our new addition! Such special decorations

Wednesday morning, the 29th, started out good. I had an appointment and was worried about driving the hour each way alone with how tired I’d been feeling, so offered Zach a special “Mommy and Zach” day before baby came, which thankfully, he agreed to (he almost refused me!). We walked Drew to school and back and then I started feeling sick again. We drove down, had a nice morning tea and then went to the doctor. I told them how I’d been feeling and my doctor saw me have a contraction on the exam table (turned out I’d been having more than I thought I was—some of them, like the one he saw, I just thought were the baby sticking out on one side) and noticed baby’s heartrate was low.

He put me on fetal monitoring, which ended up lasting for about 2 hours, instead of the initial 30 minutes. They told me I was having regular contractions and baby’s heartrate was getting low often enough that we needed to do the C-section now. I was in labor.

Then everything started happening! My doctor’s office is connected to a hospital that I hadn’t planned on going to, because it was so far from home. Steve was near home, at work, and Zach was with me—what to do?! I have to say that in my teens and twenties, I would never have believed someone who said they could find comfort and companionship in a 5-year-old, but I absolutely did. My little Zach was an absolute gem during all this and it was wonderful having him with me. During the monitoring, he found a soccer game on TV (he’s a sports nut) and cuddled up next to me in the hospital bed to watch. When it all got chaotic, he was patient, well-behaved, unquestioning, trusting, helpful and concerned. It was beautiful and I will remember it forever.

Steve got moving and this is when the incredible outpouring of love, support and help from our friends began. It would go on for the next several weeks. I arranged friends to bring Drew home with them from school. My doctor is a friend of ours and his family offered to take Zach and so did one other friend in that area. However, thankfully, we reached our dear friend’s mother, who lives an hour away and who was set to come watch the boys on August 4th, the date my C-section was scheduled. She dropped everything and left right away to come get Zach, and then headed off through rush hour traffic to our house, where Drew met them and she stayed the night. She made them lunches for school the next day and took excellent care of them. The same friends that kept Drew that afternoon, picked up the boys for school the next day as well, and then this dear woman cleaned our house and did our laundry before heading back home. Just incredible!

After Zach left, it wasn’t long until I was prepped for surgery. I have to acknowledge that preparing for the C-section was terrifying. I will never go through that again. With the one I had with Drew, I had been in labor for so long that it was all a blur. This time, I was alert. Everything is so sterile and medical. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to bring life into the world; it feels like something bad and scary is happening—you’re about to be cut open. I hated it. Thankfully, yoga and meditation helped me—the idea of impermanence. I focused on breathing through the scariness, remembering that it was just a brief time and at the end of it I would have my baby.

Here I am, world! July 29, 5:35 p.m.
Here I am, world! July 29, 5:35 p.m.

The surgery itself, body being cut open and stitched up again aside, was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I’ve had. They lowered the sheet so I could see my precious boy just as he came out, and then I was able to watch everything else that happened, including Steve cutting the cord. I didn’t get sick from any of the medications this time and my arms were not strapped down. Therefore, they were able to bring Sam to me and I held him on my chest while I was stitched up. He even started eating! That’s the only time I’ve been able to hold my baby to me so soon after his birth and I will cherish the experience.

Happy Daddy! :)
Happy Daddy! 🙂
1st time I get to hold my new baby right away--SO thankful!
1st time I get to hold my new baby right away–SO thankful!

The scary part is that our precious Samuel Sullivan Charles was small, too small for so late in the pregnancy. It turns out my placenta was not in good shape—much of it was dead or inflamed, and they were surprised the little man was getting any nutrients at all. He was also covered in meconium. It is just perfect that I had such excellent care and I had my appointment that day and he came out when he did. He is our little miracle and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us.

Because of his size and because he was slightly early, he had a bit of trouble with his blood sugar initially and some jaundice, but nothing major. He was able to stay with me the entire time I was in the hospital and the stay was pretty uneventful. Sam was born at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29th and we brought him home on Monday, August 3rd.

Praying for a safe 1st journey in the car, headed home.
Praying for a safe 1st journey in the car, headed home.

We Face-Timed Patti and the boys as soon as we could that evening after Sam’s birth. They were thrilled about their new brother and couldn’t wait for their visit the next evening to meet him. We called the next morning before school as well and she told us that all morning they had been talking about Sam, wondering what he was doing as they got ready, how he felt, etc. Gorgeous.

Several people have asked me to compare the birth and hospital experience here to the ones in the U.S. I received excellent care in both countries and overall it was much the same in each. There were a few minor things that I preferred over there, and a few little things that were better here. We are very fortunate to be able to live and give birth in such safe, wonderful places, so we have nothing to complain about.

I had been worried that by having the baby in this farther away hospital, I would be lonely during the stay with it being too far for friends to visit. I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find out this was not the case. For one, my stay included a weekend, so Steve and the boys were able to be with me more, which was great. We made sure the boys were our first visitors on Thursday evening and Steve and I enjoyed the time before then to get to know our new son. A couple friends did make the hour drive to see us, and then a couple others that we knew in that area were now able to come as well. Steve’s family lives in that area and was able to be more involved this way also.

In the hospital and since we came home, as I said before, we have just been overwhelmed by the kindness and help from friends. We have had numerous home-cooked meals and baked goods brought to us as well as gifts. People have been helping me with the school runs, so I have not actually had to do them too often this term. I have had visitors, friends giving advice, listening to me cry, helping me to get out and run my first errands with Sam and even trying to do my chores. They’ve also watched our big boys for us to give us extra time to rest.

As I said, my friends are now my family and I am so grateful for them. I had been so nervous to have a baby without my parents around and I have really felt their absence. So many little things that we never even realized they were doing at the time to make things easier for us, are now apparent in their absence. Therefore, the fact that we have been so surrounded by love, support, kindness and generosity has been an even bigger blessing.

My Mom isn’t even approved to fly this distance since her hip surgery until sometime this month. I keep hoping they’ll just show up on our doorstep, but I know that won’t happen. Just 12 ½ weeks until we leave for the U.S. and in the meantime we are all so thankful for technology. Face Time and texts get us through.

A positive for me, is that this experience has made me feel like a big girl, a grown up. As with the move overall, having a baby in another country has made me realize that Steve and I are a good team and we can do anything. Our little family (well, not so little anymore!) has become a tight knit unit and we are there for each other and help each other through whatever life brings.

Again....me and my boys--3!!!
Again….me and my boys–3!!!

Along this line, I have been so impressed by what big boys my big boys have become. They are so helpful and amazingly understanding about how I need to spend my time right now. And the love! The love they have for this little baby is unbelievable. I have to say that’s been one of my favorite parts so far about having another baby, watching the unconditional love and devotion they show to this little person. They make it clear that he is truly a part of our family that just hadn’t arrived yet. He belongs with us and we love him to bits.

Good morning from the Charles boys! 8/13
Good morning from the Charles boys! 8/13

So there we have it. It’s been three months—6 weeks of preparation and anticipation, and 6 weeks of complete whirlwind and adjustment. Sometimes I can’t believe that a vegetarian yoga teacher is a mother of three boys—in 10 years they’ll likely be getting into fights and wanting to eat steak all the time and I’ll be telling them to meditate and offering them green smoothies! 😉 We just don’t know what life will bring us—heck, it’s also hard to believe that I’m even 38-years-old, a mother at all, living in Australia, teaching yoga—all of it—who would have known?! But what a beautiful life it is.

Moving and Grooving

It’s hard to believe that it’s June; it’s winter and that in about two months we’ll have 3 kids. Reality check coming! During the April school holidays, I became quite apprehensive about the month of May. I kept thinking: teaching 6 kids yoga classes each week, 5 full days of adult  yoga teacher training, a freelance writing assignment, doctor’s appointments, kids school events, etc., all while growing larger by the day…….Yikes! But it actually all went surprisingly smoothly.

It made me see that I waste too much time working myself up about the future without any real need. Once I sit down, make my to-do list and get cracking, it usually all gets taken care of. I hope I can remember that lesson and stay calmer and be more present.

April wrapped up smoothly and I hit my 1st anniversary as a kids yoga teacher on May 1st. It was fun to think about all that’s happened in one year. It was right around the time of the earthquakes in Nepal, which really upset me. In one sense, I hope they upset everyone. But in another, I feel I sometimes get too upset at these events. It just boggles my mind about how differently people can live within the one world–that we are so global in some ways and yet there are still such extreme differences in quality of life. For instance, with the terrible flooding that Boulder experienced a couple years ago, people’s lives were pretty well back to normal within a few weeks. Whereas many of the Nepalese affected could be homeless and without access to their former ways of earning income or to schools, for literally YEARS. It’s just not right.

Anyway, to move one, I have been very involved in my boys’ classrooms so far this year, knowing that I won’t have much time to be soon. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad idea—I don’t want it to be too much of a shock to them when I’m busier. It’s bothered me that Drew has only had one field trip in more than two years of school, but they must have received funding or changed the curriculum or something, because this year I have been able to accompany Zach’s class on a walking trip to the local library a few months ago, Drew’s class to see the movie Cinderella last week, and I will get to go with Zach’s class to see the theater production of the Gruffalo next week.

What’s ironic is that I vividly remember taking a group of senior citizens to a basketball game years ago and seeing school kids on a trip. I talked with my coworker friend about how I would NEVER want to help take kids on a school field trip—-too chaotic! How life changes, eh? It’s still too chaotic, but now I see that chaos as the norm. 😉

Selfie by request of my precious choir boy
Selfie by request of my precious choir boy

I’ve also been helping in Zach’s class on Tuesday mornings and Drew’s on Friday afternoons. I helped at a P&C (think PTA) fundraiser selling trinkets to the kids for Mother’s Day gifts and I’ve been attending school events: Last Friday Steve and I both got to go watch Drew perform with the school choir at a local daycare. For Mother’s Day, Zach’s class invited the mothers in for a morning of “pampering.” It was such a precious experience! I remember going through it with Drew and loved it just as much with Zach. The teachers taught the kids ahead of time how to give us foot massages, paint our nails, do our hair, etc. Hilarious! Then they served cupcakes and juice and gave us gifts they’d made. Zach was proud as a peacock and it was lovely to have that time with him.

Aaahh--foot massage ;)
Aaahh–foot massage 😉
Best hairstylist
Best hairstylist
Mother's Day cuteness
Mother’s Day cuteness

Today I went to their Sports Day (Field Day). Although it’s not really a full day, like what I remember, but rather just a morning, it was lots of fun to watch them participate in little sports games and running races. They are both competitive and put their hearts into whatever they do and it is great to watch and cheer them on. 🙂

Egg & spoon racer at Sports Day
Egg & spoon racer at Sports Day

My yoga classes have been going really well. The kids are enjoying my pregnancy! We have been talking about gratitude this term and in one class, I had everyone tell the group about something good that happened that day. I started by saying I’d had a good doctor’s appointment and am glad I’ve had a healthy pregnancy thus far. A 6-year-old girl yelled out “You’re pregnant?!” It was hilarious! Every parent cracked up. The kids ask me about the baby regularly and randomly poke my belly. What’s funny is that kids do as I do, not as I say. So with poses I can no longer do, such as where you lie on your belly, I try to get down on my knees and forearms and explain the rest (they’re familiar poses to them already), but they get down exactly like me! They are just gems.

However, teaching kids has helped me realize my kids are normal. I deal with clothing left behind consistently, need to tell them to put away their toys/food for class, stop them fighting over who gets a sticker first at the end of class, etc. It’s good to know my kids aren’t the only ones that do all that!

Yoga teacher training has been busy, amazing and inspiring as well. It’s been lovely to meet like-minded people who share many of the same values and beliefs and fitness and eating habits that I do. Everyone in the group is so nice and the teachers are wonderful. Each training day absolutely wears me out, to the core, but I love it.

And the baby has been doing well! All of my appointments so far have been smooth. I’ve been feeling great. I just am bone tired by the end of each day and struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I so cherish the fact that I can nap almost every day with both boys in school!

I’ve stopped eating meat completely this past month or so and have considerably cut back on animal products overall. I don’t feel too differently, as I never ate much meat to begin with, but I have noticed an improvement in digestion. I know this is gross, but it’s hard to keep things moving smoothly during pregnancy. However, without meat, they move along just fine!

I’ve also been focusing more and more each day on keeping things more real, not only regarding what we eat, but our house as a whole. Of course, I’ve made my own cleaning products and laundry detergent for years, and have always tried to eat healthy, but with so much more time at home, I just keep changing more and more. I’ve stopped buying processed flour and sugar, switching to coconut sugar and a combination of flours instead. I make our peanut butter and ketchup and just tried Nutella last week.

What’s been really fun is making our own home products—hand soap, lotion, lip balm, deodorant…..I never realized this stuff could be made outside a lab, but most of it is surprisingly easy and feels lovely on the skin. Although I worry that it will all come to a grinding halt soon….

Well, with everything going so well and smoothly, I hate to admit that the only thing bringing me down is homesickness. What else is new, eh? I didn’t get to take my trip for my cousin’s wedding in May. I know it was for the best, but it hit me pretty hard. I really miss having my family nearby during my pregnancy and I was SO looking forward to them seeing my big belly. Many factors played into the decision, but the biggest was that my adorable niece and nephew weren’t able to go, which of course meant my brother and sister-in-law weren’t really able to go, unless for a night or two and it just didn’t make sense to fly all that way and not see them. It made more sense to save that money to do something nice for us as a family here, instead of just spend it on me at the sacrifice of them.

Even when I booked the tickets, it never seemed real. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel ready to be on the other side of the world from my boys just for pleasure, without even my husband….?? But I hate that the last time I saw my nephew he was only 4 months old, and my niece 3 ½, and they’ll be 2 ½ and 5 ½ when I see them again. That sucks. My Mom has also been struggling and I hate not being there for her. Her hip replacement went well, but now her shoulder needs an operation and she’s refusing. The selfish part of me wants her to get the surgery as soon as possible so she’s healthy enough to get on a plane and come see her grandchildren next year. But the reasonable part of me knows that she’s been selfless and giving her entire life and it’s her body; she needs to feel free to decide what’s acceptable to undergo.

The bigger I get the more it hits me how much life will change soon and that it will change so much for us, for the first time, without me having my family by my side to go through it with. My parents were SO involved with my little baby boys. It feels weird to be doing it without them. It’s funny—part of the reason I wanted more children was because we are out here on our own and I wanted there to be more of us, more support for my kids as they grow. But now that I’m having more, I want to go back and be closer to extended family. Sigh.

I’m being strongly encouraged to have a C-section as well, which I’m not thrilled about. The idea of my body being sliced into is not a pleasant one, and trying to recover with no family support and 3 kids to take care of does not excite me either. Of course, I don’t want a kid in the NICU again either…..there’s never an easy answer. I just feel so healthy right now and I intend to stay that way, and have a healthy baby, too! So I guess that’s a wrap for now—-time will tell; I just need to keep being and loving and moving and grooving. J

Enjoying the Ride

I keep feeling that it must be time to let this blog go by the wayside. I just can’t find time to write it. But for whatever reason, I’m just not ready to completely let it go. Maybe it’s sporadic, but it’s still something I want to do when I can. Anyway, another two months have gone by; a full school term has been completed; I’m now 24-weeks pregnant and life is just grooving along I guess.

Both my boys had birthdays—Zach turned 5 and Drew 7. Zach had croup on his birthday and we had to put his party off for a week. He Really wanted to go to school on his birthday and was so proud to be turning 5. His sweet teacher let him hang in there until his cupcakes were eaten and then she called to let me know he just couldn’t make it through the day. All of his precious friends waited a week and joined us the following weekend for his party—so kind! He was thrilled with it all.

Zach's 5th birthday Feb. 2015
Zach’s 5th birthday Feb. 2015
Happy new 5-year-old
Happy new 5-year-old

Drew got to bring two friends to a local pool for his birthday celebration and had a ball as well—he thought he was especially cool with his birthday falling on Easter Sunday. Quite the party week!

Birthday pool celebration
Birthday pool celebration
Happy Birthday Boy at the pool--can't believe he's 7!
Happy Birthday Boy at the pool–can’t believe he’s 7!

As of May 1st, I will have been teaching yoga to children for an entire year—can you believe it?! From spending all my time in retirement communities to running my own business related to children’s fitness just seems like a complete 180. To think that I started with one class per week and 12 students, and now teach six times per week to over four times that many kids is pretty incredible.

I really enjoy it, although sometimes the business part brings me down. I honestly had never thought I’d be running my own business—it wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. When I got certified, I just thought people would hire me to teach and that would be that. The business part is very hard for me…….But, I’ll keep at it for now and see how it continues.

I also began the adult teacher training certification program last month. I’m enjoying it immensely, but the weekend trainings wear me out! Whew! It’s ironic, too—all that yoga philosophy I keep learning reiterating that yoga is non-competitive, meets everyone where they are; everyone can do yoga, etc. and I just can’t fully let that side of me go. I get in that room with all those uber-fit young people training to be teachers, and I think my growing baby belly body can keep right up with them! Haha 😉

I also started a pre-natal yoga class a few weeks ago. It runs for six weeks, every Thursday evening, just me as a student, taking a yoga class. I almost didn’t sign up because by 7:00 every evening I just want my jammies and the couch, but I decided to go for it as it’s just six weeks and I thought it would be good for me. Every week it’s an effort to get there, but once I do, I’m So glad! It’s just so nice to be around other adults, to not be teaching and to be in a class that’s geared towards my changing body. I practically heave a sigh of relief each week when I walk in that studio.

To cap off yoga, here’s a funny story—last week I taught a class to adults! By accident! Once a month the studio where I teach offers community classes. They’re just $5/person and intend to bring yoga to a broader audience and make it affordable and a fun community event. All the teachers there take turns teaching the class, because it’s basically volunteer-work. April was my turn and we promoted it in every possible way as a class for kids and families. I planned this fun Under the Sea journey-themed class and showed up to teach, along with my helper, Drew. Well, 3 adults showed up—no kids! They had been to community classes in the past and just hadn’t seen any advertising related to this one being different.

At first, I experienced pure panic. Would I teach them my playful kids’ class? Would I tell them to go home? Or, would I just fake it? Yikes! Finally, I told them all the truth—“I teach kids. I don’t teach adults. I’m not qualified to teach adults. I’ve planned a kids’ class for tonight. I am in training to teach adults, and if you don’t mind being guinea pigs, I’m happy to give it a try and we can see what happens. Otherwise, you can go home, or I can teach you a song and games kids’ class.”

They wanted me to just teach! So, I did! Surprisingly, I think it sort of went ok. Luckily none of them had any extensive yoga experience and also were relatively healthy and in good shape. The best part about it was they actually listened to me! They didn’t interrupt me constantly, whine about the poses we were doing or start running in circles around the room. It was fantastic to have people actually listening to me and respecting me as a teacher! When you tell adults to lie down at the end of class, they do it! And they’ll stay for as long as you tell them to! Incredible! J

All in all the past couple months have been quite smooth. Thankfully, the boys finished their Little Athletics track and field program at the end of March. That ended the torturously boring Friday nights for Steve and I. It’s a great concept, but very poorly organized as it’s completely dependent on parent volunteers. I also felt the parents were very cliquey and it was hard to feel a part of things. And, we’re so tired by Friday evening that the last thing we ever wanted to do was go stand around and measure long jumps or time sprints! I think Drew feels the same, but Zach loved it! We’re just crossing our fingers that he doesn’t want to sign up again in September…..

Drew finished swimming lessons for now and starts tennis next week. I love how he likes to try everything. He is also enjoying the school choir. Zach has settled in to Prep like it’s no big deal at all—definitely harder on me than him. I still miss having my little sidekick around some days.

Steve’s job continues to go well for him and he completed his 2nd triathlon last week. We are all so proud of him! We’ve enjoyed going to cheer him on.

Yay, Daddy!
Yay, Daddy!

The baby is healthy and squirming and the pregnancy has been smooth since I stopped feeling so nauseous. Our school holidays were lovely and productive and fun. We got in a couple beach days, a couple fun family adventures, and got a lot done around the house.

School holiday fun--never been a beached preggo before! ;)
School holiday fun–never been a beached preggo before! 😉
More school holiday family fun
More school holiday family fun

As far as family back home, a lot has been going on and I’ve really missed everyone. My Mom had a hip replacement last month, the first major health “thing” I’ve missed. I hated not being there for her, especially when my Dad had to fly to Alabama when my aunt died. I’m so glad it all worked out for them—friends checked in on her and he got to support his brother. It’s just hard feeling so uninvolved and separate from it all. Can’t really just jump on a plane to help when it’s needed….

Our highlight of the past couple months was leaving the boys with trusted, dear friends for two whole nights and going down to Byron Bay for a day at the BluesFest a few weeks ago! We hadn’t left them for two nights since just before we moved here when we left them with my parents one last time. Two nights is a lot to ask of people who aren’t related to us! We are so grateful to them and they were wonderful with our boys. They had a blast and so did we. I felt a bit guilty—it was the longest time I’ve been away from them in almost four years and I didn’t miss them!

Festival time--yay!
Festival time–yay!

It came at a time where the two of us just really needed to reconnect and it was fun going to a music festival together and having some time to relax. We got to see Zac Brown Band as the headliner—so fun! The little cabin we stayed in was gorgeous and peaceful, too.

Ready for ZBB :)
Ready for ZBB 🙂
Peaceful morning---aaahhh :)
Peaceful morning—aaahhh 🙂

And the following week we got out AGAIN and went to the Michael Franti concert! He is just so fun; we will continue to see him whenever we can. After Brisbane, he toured more in Australia and I saw that he went to Perth for the first time and compared the venue there to Red Rocks! That used to be our backyard and he mentioned it like it’s a place everyone should know—very cool. J

One last highlight (and then I better start dinner!) is that I met a girl from Colorado—just walking down the street! How random! Since moving here I’ve randomly “met” three people from Colorado, but two are in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Noone here! But last month we got a sweet package from my brother’s family and it included a tote bag with the state flag on it. I’ve started carrying it when I walk the boys to school and I was on my way home with a friend and she saw it and stopped me! Isn’t that funny? We met today for coffee and it was so neat to talk face to face with someone who grew up in the same area as me and really “gets” it.

The world works in mysterious ways and we are just trying to enjoy the ride right now and be thankful.

No Understanding

Lately each day that I’ve gotten to the end of, with my family clothed and fed and the house standing, has been a success. Whew—I forgot how tired early pregnancy makes me—especially with a family to take care of already! It’s made me miss those days when I was pregnant and all I had to do was work an 8-5 and then come home to a quiet house each evening. How times have changed!

I can’t believe I haven’t written this in almost 2 months, but I just haven’t had the time or energy. Although I’ve wished there wasn’t such a huge age gap between these kids, it’s actually been very fortunate that my first trimester hit primarily over the summer break when Steve was home, and also a break where we had no plans—just relaxed, easy family days. I felt so nauseous and tired most of the time that I doubt I could have kept up with our crazy work and school schedules.

I did make it through two short camping trips, which I feel proud about. A new symptom with this pregnancy was carsickness, so I was especially worried as we headed off on our 2nd one in mid-January, particularly because the heat and humidity have been tougher for me to take than usual, and these were Very hot days. But the place we went, the Bunya Mountains, actually felt somewhat like being in “real” mountains—the air was crisper and cooler—what a relief! It turned out to be a great little trip.

Our January camping trip
Our January camping trip

I also taught my first yoga workshop—a 3-hour class. My typical children’s classes are either 30 or 45 minutes long, so I was a bit nervous for this, but I loved it! I felt like I still couldn’t get it all in and I hope they liked it as well.

My 38th birthday came and went last month. It was perfect. I have still been struggling a lot with homesickness and feeling like we are missing out on all that our family is dealing with—so much going on right now, and much of it sad. I just feel like we’re stuck on some island in the middle of nowhere with no way to participate in any of it. But on my birthday, I felt so much love. My little family here made a great fuss over me. It was actually my first day home alone with both boys in ages, as it was Steve’s first day back at work. They wore me out—holy moly! But they were great and we all went out for a quick dinner that night, which was fun.

Friends and family near and far truly made an effort to make me feel special. I even got one card in the mail! I miss mail. My sweet friends here planned a dinner out that week as well. It was all just lovely—couldn’t ask for more.

At the end of January, Drew began 2nd grade and Zach started Prep, the equivalent of Kindergarten, which is every day, all day here. They are both doing great. We just had Parent-Teacher conferences and Drew’s teacher said he needs to learn to focus—his mind is clearly moving very quickly and handling a lot, but he needs to focus on the task of learning to read and write and follow instructions. She said she’ll likely be moving him to a desk near hers, so she can keep an eye on him. (He lost his 8th tooth this morning! How that beautiful mouth is changing….) 🙂

And Zach’s teacher said he is very easygoing, never bothered by anything and pretty chilled out every day, all day. She said he has his friends he enjoys and other people like to come up and chat with him, but he doesn’t seem too concerned about them. I’m glad both our boys seem to have such good teachers, who have already figured them out after four weeks of school! Ha!

Best mates off to school
Best mates off to school

Yoga teaching has been going extremely well. I feel like my teaching improves as the length of time I’ve been teaching increases—makes sense. I’m receiving positive feedback and significant interest. Steve’s new job has been going very well also—keeping him Very busy! He is doing great at it!

My only big surprise has been my lack of time. I work very few hours now (probably less than 2 full days per week if you add it all together) and I have no kids at home for six hours a day, five days a week. I worried I would be lonely and bored, but so far, I can’t find the time to get my home projects done and am turning down social invitations—weird! I don’t get it…..

All I’ve gotten done is kept up with the yoga business, groceries, and family bills. I’ve finally had the energy to cook more these past couple weeks, but I’ve still mainly done that on weekends, like I used to. Even with cleaning, I’ve pretty much stuck to my former “routine” of Friday afternoons and/or weekends.

When I think about it, we’ve had 19 days of school and I’ve had a kid home with me five of those days. Drew’s asthma was really bad two weeks ago and he stayed home for two days. I gave Zach one day off recently because he’s been so tired with his new schedule and then he had croup last week and had to stay home two more days—he was sick on his 5th birthday, poor little man. I’ve had three baby appointments, which have taken up most of those days (incidentally–I’m 15 weeks now and the apple and I are healthy and fine). 🙂  And, I am working two days each week, basically. So, I guess that’s where all the time has gone.

Sick but happy little 5-year-old!
Sick but happy little 5-year-old!

I’ve also been better about knowing my limits and sticking to them with this pregnancy—I guess 3rd time’s the charm! My first day teaching two yoga classes in one afternoon tired me out so much; I didn’t do much outside the house the next day. I’ve been making sure I squeeze in a half an hour nap each day, no matter what, which still doesn’t seem like enough. I’ve cancelled coffee dates or said no to lunches when I just don’t have the energy, particularly after a sleepless night due to nausea (thankfully, those nights have been rare).

We’ve been fortunate this school term that all of our after school childcare needs are taken care of through swaps with friends. It saves us a great deal of money, even though it’s taxing on my energy levels. It’s giving me good practice at having more than two kids in the house! Currently, I watch friends’ kids Monday and Wednesday mornings before school and Wednesday afternoons. I teach Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. So pretty much all of my energy is spent on children—thankfully, they’re all beautiful! I also walk the kids to and from school as often as I can. Oh, and completely, unrelated, but I do start my adult yoga teaching training next month—I’m very excited about that!

I can’t end this without mentioning what’s been pretty constantly on my mind these last few weeks and that’s the death of my cousin. She was a distant cousin, so don’t think I’m grieving the loss of someone close to me. It’s more that I can’t stop thinking about the sadness of the situation and the unfairness of life. I think pregnancy makes me feel emotions even more deeply and I often find myself imagining how people close the situation feel, to the point where I even seem to “feel” it myself, to some degree I guess. I’m sure that sounds weird, and I think that it’s even more pronounced during pregnancy.

Anyway, the 29-year-old daughter of my Dad’s cousin went into the hospital in late October to give birth to her 2nd baby—a joyous time for all of their extremely close family. They found out she had cancer while she was there and she died last Tuesday. I cry about it so much. I think of her mother, who not only lost two of her own siblings when they were young, but now has lost a daughter. I think of her brothers and sister, who lost one of their closest friends. I think of her husband, a widow at age 30, with two young kids to care for and his life partner gone so quickly, how a celebratory time turned so tragic. I think of those poor babies, aged 3 and 4 months, who lost their mother and they don’t even know it.

I see a life insurance ad on TV and I wonder if she had some. Every time I got up to comfort and help Zach this past week, I would think about how she just has to hope someone else will do that for her babies—get up four times a night to soothe their coughs and fevers and then snuggle with them all the next day, while monitoring their fluid intake. Who does that besides a mother?

As I’ve planned what to serve at Zach’s 5th birthday party and how to make his cake, and watch his delight as he opens his presents, I think about how she has to entrust all of that to others and will never get to see it herself. When I’m trying to sleep at night, I wonder if she knew she was dying, that the treatment didn’t work and there were no more options, before she slipped away from her loved ones. I hope she knew, because I hope she had the chance to tell her loved ones about her hopes and dreams for her children, what songs her daughter likes at bedtime, her favorite outfits. Maybe she got to write them letters to open when they’re older, about what she’d love to tell them if they were old enough to understand—how it was absolutely not her choice to leave them.

I’ve been emailing a lot with another cousin who lost his mother in a car accident when he was a baby. She definitely never had that chance. I hope Angela did.

My husband and I watched a show the other night where a couple dealt with the news that their baby wouldn’t survive birth and had to deal with the loss of their hopes and dreams for a new family. He asked me if I needed to turn it off. I said I was ok, because, when I think about it, if I lost my baby, yes, it would be devastating, but I do have two children and I’d still be around to take care of them, to watch them grow, and we would move on. For two babies to lose their mother, for a mother to have to leave her babies, entrusting their love and care and growth to others, is just worse somehow……it’s heartbreaking.

I know to be thankful for what I have and I am definitely squeezing my babies and my husband tight these days. It’s just that I don’t understand why I get to raise mine and others don’t—who decides that and how? It’s just not fair.

Reflecting, Preparing, Musing and Cherishing

2015. Another year begins. It’s amazing how many differences a year can bring. We rang in 2014 with sweet friends in a little mountain cabin in the snow. We rang in this year with different sweet friends at a poolside BBQ. Wow. We are blessed.

We spent the first 10 days of 2014 in Colorado enjoying the familiar comforts of close family and old, dear friends. The rest of this year afforded us two short camping trips—in April to Girraween National Park and just two weeks ago to Springbrook National Park. It’s wonderful to watch our boys develop the same love for the outdoors and for travel and adventure that we both have.

Hiking in Springbrook
Hiking in Springbrook

July gave us a long weekend in Noosa, one of our favorite places on earth, where we enjoyed family time exploring in the sea, on a river and on land—fantastic place. And in September we were able to spend a week up in Cairns, exploring rainforests, beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. That’s pretty incredible, I think, to be able to have getaways like that within one trip around the sun. We are very fortunate.

In March of 2014, I had a miscarriage (it is still tough to say that). In May, I became a children’s yoga teacher (it is still cool to say that). In July I ran a half marathon (who’d have ever thought?!). I also lost my part time job in a construction firm, a job I have not missed for even one day, but the loss of which has raised a slew of uncertainties and financial instability. In October I began teaching yoga at a beautiful studio in Samford, one of my favorite places around here. And in November, I got pregnant.

Yep, we are crazily expecting our 3rd child in August this year. I am only 8 weeks along, but after hearing the heartbeat and seeing my little blueberry at the doctor this week, we are starting to break the news to family and friends. I guess a few of you will find out this way (and I ask you to please only share your feelings about it with us at this time—thank you, dear ones). All 3 boys came to the ultrasound and as I watched Drew look at the screen to decipher what he was seeing, I was overcome with emotion, remembering the 1st time I saw him in those pictures, and thinking about how he now reaches up to my shoulder. A big grin spread over his face and he jumped over to the bed I was in and wrapped me up in a hug—precious little man. Steve was holding Zach, who was overwhelmed and stunned by it all. He’s not too happy to be getting a baby, but if he has to, he at least hopes it’s a boy. Drew wants a girl.

Our best Christmas gifts with their favorite gifts
Our best Christmas gifts with their favorite gifts

My little Drew turned 6 in 2014. He celebrated with dear and generous friends around him. In June he was hospitalized for asthma—one of the scariest experiences of my life. In September he held a treat stall to raise money to help save the Great Barrier Reef and then he got to snorkel for the first time in the waters he now cares so much about. He’s grown about 6 inches, learned to read and write, and loves to tell us facts about animals—in the water or on land, living now or from prehistoric times. He completed 1st grade, ran his first 1k, has become an excellent swimmer and discovered a great enjoyment of gymnastics. His enthusiasm and love of life inspire me; his energy amazes and exhausts me, and his bossy and sometimes downright nasty side scares me. I love that child.

Mr. Exuberance
Mr. Exuberance

Zach, our cuddly music man turned 4. Not to be outdone, he also got his first ambulance ride this year, for croup. It’s a wonder my hair’s turning gray. He completed preschool. He loves every sport he can learn about and is pretty much always singing. If there is someone in the room to cuddle with, he is with that person, and he adores learning about anything with a motor. I adore watching the new and imaginative Lego creations he brings out. His big heart and love for his family fill me up; his appreciation of the littlest things humbles me, and his rudeness and tantrums bring me to my breaking point. I love that child.

Big boy--finished with preschool
Big boy–finished with preschool

Steve worked so hard this year, supporting all of us in every way he could. He received a promotion and will head back to school this month as the Head of Special Education. He sure deserves it.

And, to close out our year, we bought a car yesterday! We spent 1 ½ years here as a one-car family with our little Corolla and the year and a half before that as a one and a half car family, with Steve using a scary, loud contraption that I wouldn’t let the kids in, to get around, mainly to work. We now have a modern Subaru outback and are just thrilled. The boys feel like rich men when they push a button and the window goes down!  What I find most ironic about it, is that after leaving Boulder, I take up running, become a yoga teacher and buy a Suby—all those “typical Boulder” characteristics and I don’t get them until being out here—crazy!

Suby :)
Suby 🙂

So, it’s plain to see that we are blessed in every way and lack for nothing. We have just closed out a year full of learning, growth, beauty, family, friendship and love, and 2015 looks to be full of the same, as each year should be.

That is why I’m ashamed to admit that I want to go home. I know my emotions are a mess right now and I’m exhausted just getting through each day, so hopefully this will all pass. But right now, I believe that after a couple more years here, I need to be back in the U.S. I don’t even know what home looks like anymore, or if any place will ever really “feel” like home, which is ok, as long as our family unit is there, healthy and together. I just want that home to be in the U.S. somewhere.

I’m tired. I feel like I’ve done all I can do, worked as hard as I can, and it’s just too hard. It’s too far. Weddings, deaths, new additions, milestones—-sharing them virtually is just not enough. We’ve pretty much decided that the best time for us to visit this year is Christmas, which is two full years since the last visit. That’s too long. I don’t like it. It all makes me too sad.

I guess I just feel like I’ve proven myself—I’ve shown that I’m strong and that I can create a happy life for myself and for my family anywhere. But now I’ve realized that I want that happy life to be in my home country, not on a small island on the opposite side of the world. Can I live here forever? Sure, I can. I’m a mother, a woman. I can do anything. Do I really need to though?

I am a warrior.
I am a warrior.

But on the other hand, there’s so much I love about life here and would miss. The slow pace, the naturalness of it all, the time people make for each other–all of that really suits me. It’s a beautiful part of the world. But is it for me forever? If it was closer to the U.S., it very likely could be. Geographically and logistically, though, I unfortunately don’t think it should be.

My feelings worry Steve. And they scare me, too. The economy has improved in the U.S., but we’d still make so much less money and both need to work more and be around our children less to make ends meet. Is it worth it? Plus our children could get shot a school!!!  Seriously?!  Or have to pass through armed guards every day just to walk in and out of school. Just thinking about that makes me blood pressure increase. Why would I knowingly put my children in that situation, when I can protect them from it? Am I being selfish?

Christmas light tour :)
Christmas light tour 🙂

But I also believe they’d have more opportunities over there in several ways, in school and sports and opportunities for learning and exploration. I know they have roots here, but it seems like they have more there, more connections. They’d get to experience all four seasons, the mountains and the beach.

Draped in our new Christmas flag---our roots?
Draped in our new Christmas flag—our roots?

I don’t know. I understand these are the ravings of a hormonal lunatic. And it’s nothing to act on now anyway—I would never deny Steve’s new job opportunity, and have decided with him to evaluate how we both feel about it all in two years. He of course is hoping I’ll change my mind. I’m hoping for gun control and continued improvement in American teacher’s wages!

For now, I just need to get back to living in the moment and treasuring my beautiful life. This year, this month Zach starts Prep, Drew 2nd grade and Steve a new job. Hopefully, I will begin my adult yoga teacher training in March and grow professionally in ways yet unrevealed to me. And, most importantly, I get to enjoy the miracle of new life growing inside me for the last time, and prepare to meet this little one in the flesh later this year. Cheers to 2015!

A Marmot Out of the Mountains??

Wow—ever since I last wrote about our trip (seems like ages ago), all has been well barring major homesickness on my part. I realize this has happened every year at this time, 4 years in a row now—even the very first couple months we were here. Although it was slightly less so last year, because we were planning to head over to the U.S.—we left on the 6th of December.
Fall and the winter holidays are a tough time to be away! SO much to miss! I start out missing college football Saturdays, changing leaves, and visits to pumpkin patches filled with all the wonderful fall crops—like winter squashes, gourds, hay, cornstalks, etc. I miss all those decorations in shops and people’s houses. For some reason missing those intensifies the fact that I miss country music, which is a year round thing….weird.
This year it all intensified the day of my first experience at a school fete. Fete is Australian for carnival or fair, and Drew’s school has one as its major fundraiser every other year (they say every 2nd year here—I’m just going to point some of these out to drive home that SO much is different in the way we talk!). It was a fun, interesting day, which had a great community feel to it. There were rides, unhealthy food booths (called stalls here), contests, entertainment, etc. It was really cute.

School fete fun on the Dodgem Cars (not bumper cars!)
School fete fun on the Dodgem Cars (not bumper cars!)

Well my head had been itchy for a week or more and we couldn’t figure out why. Steve looked at my hair a couple times and didn’t see anything abnormal, so we kind of just wrote it off to a strangely dry scalp during this very dry season, even though I’ve never had that problem before, living all my life in semi-desert climate. Again….weird. That day it itched really badly, under my hat on an extremely hot, sweaty day. After we got home and Steve was bathing the boys (still pronounced with the short “a” sound over here, which to me makes a noun into a verb and is very odd) and suddenly yelled out that Drew had head lice! He said Drew started scratching his head like crazy after he got out of the tub (a word not used here. Neither is bathe. It’s all bath—for the noun, the verb, where it takes place, etc.), so he checked him and found the bugs. We then discovered them on Zach and of course on me.
Now my only memory of lice as a child in a dry, largely bug-free climate, is waiting in line for some school employee to comb through our hair once early in my school years. That’s it. That’s what my Mom remembered as well. I knew people all around here talk about it A LOT—they’ve all had it, as kids and sometimes as parents as well, and notes have come home in school bags before, but I still naively figured it was something that Really only happened in movies. I’d heard it was more common in girls, because of their often longer hair, so just hoped we’d escape it.
Well, those nasty little bugs are Real and they are Disgusting! That night I actually caught them crawling around in my hair—I could pull one out on its own and watch it wriggling in my fingers! Terrifying! That started my complaining to Steve—he just wanted to sleep and for me to be quiet.
The next day we bought special combs, and read up on treatments online. Steve decided he’d like us to treat it naturally because the most popular treatment is a very scary known carcinogen that apparently should not be used on people under 100 pounds or under 6 years old. Yikes!
We did our treatments and thought we were doing well. Then our neighbor showed us the eggs, called nits, in the boys’ hair. They are tiny, white disgusting things that stick onto the hair shaft and are SO hard to get out! We had Multitudes of them and didn’t even know!! We shaved the boys’ heads. They needed summer haircuts anyway. Steve, too. They were fine after that—thankfully, because searching through hair for those nits plays serious mind games on me.
Mine, however, seemingly would be eradicated, but then come back every few days. I guess in my mass of hair, those nasty little nits could just hide too well and survive the natural treatments. I had an overdue haircut scheduled that I was So looking forward to (I adore getting my hair cut. That’s all I ever have done to it and I go 4 times a year.), but I had to cancel—you are not allowed to come if you have nits.
At the 3-week mark, they reappeared again; my haircut was rescheduled for a few days away and I tearfully begged for the nasty chemicals. That opened the floodgates and the homesickness just unleashed! (By the way, my terrified husband did relent and agree to the chemicals that night, when he couldn’t stop by ocean of tears; I got my hair cut the following week and I have been clear since. He even got them one day as well and used the chemicals on himself immediately. If I never do again, it will be too soon. So, so wrong and gross!)
Halloween came a week after the lice hit and I just don’t like the holiday, my formerly favorite holiday, over here. I miss it in the States A Lot! An American friend here disagrees with me, but my perspective is that it’s much more focused on scary over here and missing the cute parts, which, of course, are my favorite. I don’t like scary. I should be thrilled that it’s taken off so much here, astronomically since we arrived 3 years ago—but I’m not. I just don’t like the direction it’s heading. Most people dress up as something scary (you basically see witches, skeletons and zombies)—even the youngest children. Parents dress up little bitty kids like dead things—zombies with face paint and fake blood and all. I don’t like it.
Our town even started a safe trick-or-treat street last year and we went to that and I would see kids I recognized from school and think, “Oh, how cute—she’s a cowgirl!” Then she’d turn around and be painted like a zombie.
There’s not even much chocolate. The main candy given out now are these horrible gummy disgusting pieces of candy (lollies) shaped like body parts—ears, tongues, teeth, etc. 
People still don’t trick-or-treat around their neighborhoods and several parents I talked to opt out “because their kids don’t like scary stuff and they feel they’re too young for it at this point.” These are kids aged 6 and 4 or so—the perfect age to be creative and let their imaginations run wild—the ages I feel Halloween is best for! When it’s done the way I like it anyway….

How we do Halloween--Purple people eater, m&m, and policeman :)
How we do Halloween–Purple people eater, m&m, and policeman 🙂

Of course the schools don’t celebrate it—as they don’t celebrate any holiday really, except for Christmas and Easter. I am sad that my kids don’t get to grow up with classroom parties for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. I’m sad there’s no such thing as Spirit Week at schools here. And, obviously no history lessons about the pilgrims and plays depicting the first Thanksgiving. They’re having a school experience that is foreign to me and I feel left out and a bit lost. Once that homesick ball starts rolling……
Thanksgiving of course, is right on the heels of Halloween, which, for obvious reasons, is non-existent and then Christmas of course is not long after. It’s a triple holiday punch in the gut! The days are getting longer and hotter, instead of shorter and cooler, but it’s not the weather differences that get to me. Christmas overall is different—from decorations to church services to community celebrations. Some are great. Some bug me. The sports are all different. I even got annoyed the other day at my sons’ new Little Athletics track and field program, just noticing how differently people dress here and the fact that they say Warm up and Warm down instead of Warm up and Cool down. So weird!
I guess the past couple months have just reinforced that I still often feel like a fish out of water (or maybe more appropriately, a marmot out of the mountains?). After three years, I thought I’d feel more like a local, would be more fluent in the language, etc. I really changed everything when we came here—I don’t even work with seniors anymore, the career I had for the 14 years of my previous working life. Sometimes it really feels like I’ve led two different, completely separate lives—there’s the American Kathleen, that no one here has met, and the Australian Mommy to Drew and Zach, that my longtime friends and family have nothing in common with. It’s such a strange feeling.
My boys now tell me when I say things “wrong.” I don’t like that. I served butternut squash the other night at dinner and they told me it’s actually called pumpkin. Bleah! It happens regularly now.
I even pulled out on the right (as in wrong) side of the road the other day—thankfully by myself in a rural area! And I sometimes still fumble with the money—forgetting that I actually have quite a bit of cash because all the $1 and $2 are in coins not bills (a word not used—it’s notes here). It makes me wonder—when do these “new” ways of doing things become ingrained enough in my brain to surpass the “old” ways?
I Really like a Lot about living here, as anyone who’s read my previous crazy ramblings knows. There’s just So much I miss as well. No easy fix.
Thanksgiving, although again bringing feelings of homesickness, was really beautiful for us here last weekend. It’s odd that there’s no public holiday, but we were able to bring together pretty much every other part-American family we’ve met over here to share a traditional dinner and the Saturday evening was just fantastic. It was people who feel just like me and we were all together, making the most of our holiday, despite missing loved ones and traditions. Just gorgeous.

Our bird cooking outside on a gorgeous day
Our bird cooking outside on a gorgeous day
Everyone brought their traditional favorites.  :)
Everyone brought their traditional favorites. 🙂
Here's all the Americans we could find! Happy Thanksgiving!
Here’s all the Americans we could find! Happy Thanksgiving!

And, overall, things have been really good, and I have nothing to complain about. It’s been a bit tight financially getting this new yoga business going, but not bad as business has grown steadily, and I do really enjoy it as well. Steve earned a temporary promotion that will impact our finances in a big way next year, and allows us to get a 2nd, more spacious car. 
The boys are doing really well. Zach finishes preschool next week and is all set to be a big kindergartner (Preppie) next year. They are both becoming great swimmers and Drew had his school swimming carnival yesterday (what we would call a swim meet, but for every kid in the school—it’s just fantastic).
For the most part, I feel I do a better job focusing on the positive and being thankful for the amazing abundance in my life. But it does help just to vent sometimes……of course as parents, we keep a brave, happy face always for our kids, and it’s nice to get it out here in my blog, and then put the smile back on and keep plugging along, working it out as I go.

Creating Memories

I need to recap our trip! Late last month, our family had the incredible opportunity to fly to tropical northern Queensland for a weeklong family vacation. I mentioned previously that this probably wasn’t the smartest move for us financially, but the decision brought about incredible beauty thanks to my son’s little fundraiser. Well, when the time actually came to embark on our adventure, we were excited and ready!
First, to catch up—the week following Drew’s fundraiser was great. He gave a follow-up radio interview, which, in my completely unbiased opinion, was super adorable. School wrapped up that Friday for a 2 ½ week break and on Saturday, Drew and Zach ran in their first 1k race with me, while Steve did a 5k. It was a beautiful course, right on the bay, in the evening, and it was an all-around fun day, and a great start to the first time we were ALL actually off together for the school holiday break since our trip to the U.S. last year.
On one of the days we squeezed in a fun little family hike and picnic nearby and otherwise, just enjoyed time to relax, catch up with some friends and prepare.
We were fortunate to have a wonderful friend drive us to and pick us up from the airport, so on Wednesday morning, the 24th of September, we were off! It sounds silly, but one of the purposes of this trip, for me at least, was to show the boys that you can fly in an airplane and arrive at your destination quite quickly; air travel does not necessarily involve saying good-bye to the outside world for 30 hours or so. And I’m glad we did! At the Brisbane airport, Zach asked, “Mommy, will it be nights until we get there?” I replied, “Zach, we will be there by dinnertime!”
Upon landing in Cairns, after the two-hour flight, I told Drew, “Ok, now we’re at this airport for 4 hours and then we get on another plane for 15 hours.” He said, “15 hours?!” I said, “Ha-ha! Nope! We’re here! We’re done! That’s it.”  We headed to our little apartment, settled in, shopped for our meals for the next few days and even fit in a short nighttime swim.

First night's swim
First night’s swim

The next morning, we got up and out (Zach asked—“Why do we only have one choice of cereal? We’re supposed to have 3!” The child LOVES routine….) and took a Sky Rail ride up over the rainforest, stopping off a few times for short walks and overlooks before arriving in an adorable hilltop rainforest town called Kuranda. We wandered around there awhile, browsing the markets and village and when we were finished, we boarded a scenic railway train for the trip back down into Cairns. Drew had been very excited for one of the hairpin turns the train would make, but the poor boys had been so excited and constantly moving, that the lull of the moving train just sent them to sleep. It was a great day capped off by a quiet dinner in our apartment.

Sky Rail to Kuranda
Sky Rail to Kuranda

My tired babies
My tired babies

Hairpin turn on the scenic railway
Hairpin turn on the scenic railway

The next day was THE big day! We had to leave by 7:15 that Friday morning to get over to the pier to catch our boat out to Fitzroy Island, a gorgeous tropical island right on the Great Barrier Reef. When we arrived, we took some time to figure out the day’s plan and I found two brochure checklists to give Drew—one on Marine Life and the other on Island Life. What a great find! He spent hours both before and after snorkeling marking which animals he wanted to see, then what he did see. He still has them both and was even using them to type each fish into Google to get an image of it and decide if he saw it or not.
We then boarded another boat, this time with a glass bottom, to head out and see some of this Reef! Our skipper gave us facts along the way and when he asked questions, our little Science Dude, shoots up his hand like he’s in school “Oohoohoohh!” The question was “What’s the difference between a manta ray and a stingray?” The skipper was surprised to see a little guy so excited to answer, and started to answer himself before he stopped and let him. “A manta ray is larger, and doesn’t have a tail with a stinging barb.” You are correct, sir!
We didn’t see much through the glass, but we eventually stopped and were all able to get off and snorkel. Little Drew was so excited and stayed out in the water the entire time. He was absolutely thrilled with all we saw, including a green sea turtle snacking on some plants. Zach kept getting water in his mask and wasn’t much of a fan of snorkeling, but a lovely Frenchman let us borrow a kickboard he’d rented from the dive shop that had a clear viewing section at the top. It allowed me to drag Zach around while he laid on it and looked down at the fish. Lazy boy loved that idea! And of course, for everything anyone else saw, Zach saw 10 of them! 😉

Snorkeling off the boat
Snorkeling off the boat

After that trip, we enjoyed a picnic lunch and some relaxing meandering before snorkeling again, this time right off the beach. Again, it was gorgeous! And again, we couldn’t get Drew out of the water. It filled our hearts. It truly was a beautiful day in paradise.
Loves the Reef
Loves the Reef

Paradise....
Paradise….

We didn’t get home that evening until 6:30 and after hastily making an easy dinner, we got to bed. Tired out!
The next day, Saturday, we took it a bit easier. The boys and I relaxed at the hotel after a quick morning swim (I’d jogged first along the Esplanade through Cairns, which ran right along the shore—fantastic!) while Steve picked up our rental car for the remainder of the trip. We then leisurely headed down to his cousins’ house, south of Cairns. They were delightful people and made us a big lunch that afternoon and yummy dinners and breakfasts over the two days we stayed with them.

We love Mission Beach!
We love Mission Beach!

That afternoon we went out exploring a bit and wandered along the stunningly gorgeous Mission Beach. We then drove around a bit and Steve really wanted us all to do a short hike. We found a quiet picnic area with a sign for a 10-minute Children’s Walk and decided to do that. Along the way we had been learning a lot and seeing several signs about cassowaries and hoped to see one, in a safe way, because they sounded scary….
It was about 5:30 in the evening and I’d heard you are more likely to see them (as with most animals) at that time of day, so I was already a bit apprehensive. But a 10-minute walk…..what could go wrong? We hit the trail and I felt like I had walked into a scene from Jurassic Park. The area was called “Licuala,” after the rare palm that grows there. The plant was beautiful, but looked like it would have grown where dinosaurs lived. The foliage was VERY dense, and it seemed to get darker quickly as we got farther along the trail.
Suddenly, Steve heard some rustling and stopped us. About 200 meters down the trail, a cassowary stepped out of the bush! I instinctively grabbed my camera to get a photo before it crossed the trail out of sight again. Well, it didn’t. It turned towards us! Then it started walking towards us! Steve calmly and loudly told us to remain calm and begin backing up. We did and the giant dinosaur-bird kept walking towards us. We kept backing up and gradually picked up speed. So did the cassowary! I don’t know that I will ever get rid of the vision in my head that I can see so clearly when I close my eyes, of a giant, dinosaur-looking bird with a blue head and a crest on the top, taller than me, walking on two legs (no arms! So weird!), its beady eyes looking straight into mine and its beak pointing at me, and then its giant bird feet lifting up higher as it started trotting!! I started babbling like an insane person. We’d gotten the kids behind us, between us and the bird, and I just kept saying, over and over, “It’s ok. We’re not going to hurt you. Don’t touch my babies!” It looked like it understood me! But I couldn’t tell if it agreed or not!
Thankfully, we had only gotten a couple hundred meters down the trail to begin with, so our backing up finally got us back into the small, deserted, dirt parking area. We went the direction of our car and dinosaur-bird went in a different direction. Phew!
I asked Steve if he felt safe taking a photo and he said he did and went back towards it to get one. That’s when Drew finally started crying—“Daddy! Come back!” I have to say how proud I am of my boys. I cannot believe that Drew at least didn’t scream and start running when that thing first walked in our direction. They stayed calm and followed our lead and I am so glad this story ended the way it did!
Yikes!  Cassowary!
Yikes! Cassowary!

As we drove back to the house, I cranked up some loud, upbeat music and I could see the tension draining from Drew’s face as he sang. He even closed his eyes and it was clear he was just relishing life at that moment. God love him—the kid just “gets it.”
Steve’s cousins laughed at us that evening. They figured either people feed the cassowary and it was looking for food from us, or it was just headed back to its roost for the evening and bumped into a weird foursome as it made its way. Either way, it traumatized me for the remainder of the trip. I had nightmares that evening (partially because they told me stories of how they’re the only birds known to kill humans and have ripped people apart before with their clawed feet!!), and since, we were now heading into crocodile-country, basically refused to go outside after dark or early in the mornings for the remainder of the trip. Can you blame me?!
Don't like seeing these signs all around!!!

Sunday we had another slower day. We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast with the family and then they took us exploring their land and the nearby sugar cane farms. Sugar cane is the primary crop in the area. Steve’s cousin drives a train that brings the harvested cane to the sugar mill for processing. We visited the outside of the mill and watched the trains unload the cane. Then we made a short stop to see the Big Gumboot in Tully. For whatever reason, Australian tourist towns like to have a “Big” something. There is a Big Pineapple, a Big Avocado, a Big Prawn, etc. The Big Gumboot is to support Tully’s claim to fame as the town with the most rain in Australia.

At the top of the Big Gumboot, Tully
At the top of the Big Gumboot, Tully

We then split off on our own to enjoy a small town pub lunch. I saw an article once written by a young American student who studied in Australia for a year and said American restaurants could learn from Australian restaurants about providing healthy, fresh options. She was clearly not from Boulder and at the time I read her article, I was shocked, because I have been disgusted by children’s menus in this area and so few options in several restaurants that do not involve meat and/or breading. However, this meal reminded me that she is actually correct. Although the menu is small—this was a tiny town, basically in the middle of nowhere, one pub (restaurant), one shop and that’s it—there was one choice of salad and it included roasted pumpkin (squash), fresh avocado and sunflower seeds and was delicious! I realized that if I were to go to a restaurant in the middle of the Midwest or Deep South, with nothing else around, the salad would likely be either a basic green salad, not very enticing, or a fatty Caesar salad. To be able to get this quality of food in the middle of nowhere is a definite treat.
By this time, poor Drew was so tired that he could not get through his lunch. I have not seen him that tired in a long time! We drove around and the boys napped and then we stopped next to a river full of local kids swimming. It was great! Drew followed the big kids who were jumping off the road bridge across the river into the deeper water, while Zach stayed safely with me, cheering. The boys loved it! Easy entertainment.

Brave jumper
Brave jumper

We then killed some time wandering around a pretty nothing tourist attraction before heading back to the house for a relaxing evening. Once again, Drew was so tired; he started crying just before dinner and couldn’t stop. Instead he fell asleep—for the night. Bless his heart. He goes so hard and then crashes so hard.
After a relaxing Monday morning, we drove off, heading back north of Cairns again, saying good-bye to the sweet family we stayed with. We were advised to visit another family member working at a warehouse where sugar is stored before being exported. It was quite interesting watching the trucks dump their loads of sugar and seeing the giant sugar mountain in storage.
Watching the truck dump its load of partially-processed sugar
Watching the truck dump its load of partially-processed sugar

We took it easy the rest of the day, driving around and exploring a couple beach towns before checking into our final apartment and going out to dinner—such a treat! We had a great evening together.
My loves--evening out!
My loves–evening out!

Tuesday was our final full day and our final BIG day. We headed off to a National Park called Mossman Gorge. It was a beautiful, rocky, forested area with creeks flowing through big boulders (reminded me of Colorado in a way). We started a short hike and Drew began to cry and refused to go. He’d seen cassowary signs again and was scared to come across one again on a trail. I told him how I’ve been enjoying hiking in the woods since I was a young girl; it’s one of the only ways to see the most beautiful parts of the world, and I was scared, too (I was!), but determined not to let one giant-dinosaur-bird keep me out of the woods! I told him that when I used to hike in areas where grizzly bears lived, we would sing and make lots of noise on the trails to make sure the animals knew we were there.
Zach readily started singing with me (He didn’t know what the fuss was all about. At the time of the cassowary incident, once we were back in the car, he’d said, “That was cool! I want to see 10 cassowaries!” Spoken like a 4-year-old….). Drew nervously held Steve’s hand and walked ahead with him. A few songs in, he shyly came back to me with his eyes shining with trust and bravery, slipped his hand in mine and started singing. I almost cried! Not much later, he was running around, exploring everything, back to his usual enthusiastic self. It was one of those experiences that made it hit home how much I love parenting, challenges and all. The reality that we get to share life with these beautiful little people and learn and grow with them is a true miracle.
Hiking boys
Hiking boys

After our successful hike we drove further north and hopped on a boat to cruise down the Daintree River looking for crocodiles. We saw two, one baby and one big one. The overall cruise was fantastic, as our skipper taught us so much about the crocodiles, which are truly amazing animals, and we also saw a brown tree snake, numerous unique birds and more of our absolute favorite blue Ulysses butterfly—gorgeous, sparkling brilliant blue creatures flitting amongst the trees.
Hey there, crocodile!
Hey there, crocodile!

Daintree River Cruise
Daintree River Cruise

We enjoyed a relaxing final night in our apartment. Steve and I both jogged the next morning, attempting to run barefoot, due to a truly interesting book we’ve both recently read called “Born to Run.” I am better in the mornings, so took my turn first. It was a gray day and I was still a wimpy scaredy cat that couldn’t handle being out so early with few people around, near wooded creek areas near the coast and seeing crocodile warning signs. I skittered around nervously for a bit on sore feet and finally found an open stretch of beach with lots of people around and jogged a few kilometers.
After packing up, we visited a mellow “locals” beach in Cairns, where the boys swam, but I refused because the water was sandy and murky and there were signs around about all the different lethal jellyfish. Such a big talker about bravery in front of my kids! Honestly, when it comes to land and water, I am quite comfortable on one and a completely misplaced alien in the other! We enjoyed a picnic lunch and then swam in the free pool in the center of town, which was in a beautiful spot. Then we left for the airport and that was it—what a fantastic trip!
I love that although the kids still have their tantrums and issues traveling, with each trip they are becoming more fun and easier to travel with. We all get crabby and have our moments, but going on adventures with our boys at these ages is quite fun! They love being with us, exploring and seeing new things. It’s great! So what if we’re a bit low on cash now; we just made memories to last our lifetimes.
Since we’ve been back, the boys began their final terms of school—Drew’s last couple months in first grade and Zach’s last in preschool, meaning my last time enjoying three days with him each week before he begins full time school next year. Waahhh! I’ve been quite sappy about my babies growing up so fast. Drew lost tooth #7 last week and because of a student-free day at his school this week, he and I got to enjoy a gorgeous one on one day together. I think we both really cherished that time—just fantastic and more and more rare these days.

Toothless :)
Toothless 🙂

Hooray for a Mommy and Drew Day! Hooray for a Mommy and Drew Day![/caption]
He also has been experimenting with which outside school activity he’d like to do this term, in addition to yoga with me and swimming lessons. He checked out a fantastic program called Little Nippers, where kids aged 6-17 learn ocean survival and swimming skills and how to rescue others, in the hopes that they become lifeguards one day. I learned that ALL Australian coast lifeguards are volunteers—fascinating! Although I don’t fully understand, with such big government, why doesn’t it fund paid lifeguards…?? The program seems great, but more interesting when he’s at least 10 years old, we think.
Little Nippers
Little Nippers

Both boys also tried out another fascinating program called Little Athletics, where kids aged 3-17 meet weekly to practice track and field events. They loved it! There are at least 100 kids and most of the activities are run by parent volunteers. There is no actual coaching, but it’s a great introduction to sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, etc. They have both signed up for that, which will be a fun adventure. I can’t think of any similar program in the States, to introduce kids to track and field at such young ages, and Steve agreed and wondered why Australia isn’t better in competitions on the world stage in these events. We decided it’s because of high school—in the States, most school have their own track and a dedicated track and field team with paid coaches, practicing at least five days a week, with competitions almost weekly during the season. Here, this program is about it, with just a few additional ways to get more training and coaching as kids get older, partly dependent on where they go to school. That was our answer at least….not sure if we’re right.
Little Athletics
Little Athletics

I am teaching SEVEN yoga classes per week, a huge increase for me. While I have been a bit panicked this month about low numbers in my classes, they seem to be picking up nicely these past couple weeks, and we have high hopes for this new venture being financially viable and fulfilling one of my passions at the same time—wow, how lucky if we can do that in our lives!