Category Archives: children

A Story of Anger, Heartbreak and Hope

Today I’m angry. Very angry. And sad. Heartbreakingly sad. The story of why is a long one:
We moved to Australia towards the end of 2011, visited Colorado in the summer of 2012 and while we were there, the Aurora movie theatre massacre occurred. Shocking. Awful.
At the end of 2012, I was at work one day when the news came in about Sandy Hook. I could not believe it and was devastated. Instead of being devastated and shocked along with me, several co-workers made comments about Americans’ obsession with guns and how shootings are expected there because we are so free with, and committed to our guns. Those comments made me mad and defensive. I thought—please, just be sad about all the kids who died today; don’t make comments about Americans and their guns. Mourn for these families, whose lives are changed forever.
I heard of Australian kids telling their parents, “Aren’t we lucky that we live here, instead of a country like America where kids get shot at school? We’re so lucky to live in such a safe place. I feel bad for American kids. That must be scary.”
I reassured people—Americans care more about 6-year-olds dying than gun rights. It will change now. This won’t happen again.
But then we visited again for Christmas of 2013 and I remember talking with friends whose children attended Arapahoe High School, as they relayed their kids’ experiences hiding during the recent shooting. I remember how surreal it felt to listen to people discussing their own family members hiding from a shooter at school. At school. At school. It was a year later. Nothing had changed.
Now more than four years after that, the violence seems only to have gotten worse. Night clubs. Concerts. Churches. Schools—so many schools. Watching the news from over here, my heart breaks every time I hear an American interviewed following a mass shooting, tearfully speaking about how shocked they are that something so horrific could happen in their quiet community. My heart breaks hearing that because I don’t understand how ANY American right now could honestly NOT see how this could happen in their community. It seems we all must know someone by this point who has been somewhat close to this type of violence and it has happened in almost every venue imaginable. How could anyone not believe that it could happen to them?!
And I keep saying Americans, not because I still don’t identify as one, but because this is the ONLY country where this happens. Of course, countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are torn by war violence, but the U.S.A. is the only place where ordinary citizens cause so much carnage so regularly, killing their fellow countrymen.
The crazy comments I hear around these shootings make me angrier. And sadder.
“Now is not the time to discuss solutions to this problem. We need to mourn the victims.” I know. That’s what I said over five years ago. But now I realize how crazy this sounds. If now is not the time, when is? If a shooting has not occurred, why discuss how to fix the problem of shootings? When there is a problem, address it. If your car has a flat tire, fix it. That seems obvious. You can’t drive your car with a flat tire, so you can’t wait to fix the problem. Well, you can’t send your children to school safely right now. You can’t go to a movie, or to a concert, or to church and feel safe. Now is the time to address that. It’s well beyond the time.
“Guns aren’t the problem. The problem is mental health.” Well let’s address both guns AND mental health. Aren’t we a country that can tackle two problems at once? There’s even more to it than those two, I’d wager. Let’s get going on all the factors related to these issues. Anything. Everything!
I feel a bit helpless from here, but after Sandy Hook, I joined Moms Demand Action and send petitions and emails to lawmakers whenever they tell me to. I have also become active in emailing regarding health care for all. Living here has reinforced for me the belief that EVERYONE has the right to basic health care access. The system in Australia is not perfect. Far from it. I’m not sure any system is perfect. But if we’re committed to providing free education, people should not avoid going to the emergency room when they need to, for fear of cost. My activism isn’t much. But I believe it’s better than nothing.
“If we call for gun control, people will still get shot.” Seriously?! I was under the assumption that if we ban assault rifles, limit magazine size and implement stricter background checks, all crime will end forever. We will be in utopia. Come on! That’s the worst argument of all of them, I think. Since my kids can’t get 100% on every test they ever take, should I just tell them not to study at all? Not to try? Same with health care—since some people will abuse the system, let’s just not offer it. Well, some people will benefit greatly from access to health care and that could be me someday. It could be you. And even if it’s not, it’ll be my brother, my sister. We’re all in this together. If we can prevent one death by gun violence, maybe that was my death. Your death. It’s your brother or sister’s death. And that’s a success in my mind.
“There’s violence in other countries. It’s not just America. Look at all the acts of terrorism in Europe.” Yes, there are terrorists attacking Europe. They’re attacking America as well. America is the only place where these mass shootings occur regularly, most often carried out by sad white teenage boys (my heart breaks even more reading about the poor boy who carried out this shooting in Florida. No, I don’t hate him. I don’t believe he is pure evil. Learning his story rips my heart in two. What if just one of us had paid attention to him? He was crying out to be noticed. That’s another issue. So, so sad.). I’s a massive problem unique to this country that needs to be addressed. And, no, that doesn’t mean we should ignore terrorism, in all its forms. As I said above—multitask. Don’t ignore one problem because there are others.
“We need to make schools more secure, with metal detectors, more police presence and armed teachers.” This one makes my stomach turn. Can you even imagine going to a school like that?! The fact that kids today (in this country as well—everyone is trying to be prepared) practice drills on how to deal with an active shooter makes me feel ill. We had fire drills when I was a kid! That’s it—fire drills! My kids’ school today is outside. The classrooms are inside, but there is no school building. Nothing is secure. Anyone can walk into any room of the school from any angle. My kids are free. We aren’t free to carry around guns in Australia, but children here are freer than anyone faced with the option of going to school through a metal detector and sitting in a classroom with an armed teacher. I don’t want my kids growing up in a police state. I can move to the Middle East if I want my kids going to school in that type of environment.
And the reason I might be most angry is this–I’m angry with myself, because I still want to move back to this crazy, violence-ridden place. I miss it. Every. Single. Day. It is a country full of loving, friendly, happy people and I miss it. But every time I hear about another massacre, I question these feelings. I understand parents living there—you send your kids to school every day right now because you must. You send them out that door, and your throat catches a little and you pray you’ll see them again at the end of the day. You’re American. You’re strong. You’re brave. You do what you must.
But, my situation is different. I am also Australian. I can send my kids to school in a country where violence isn’t an issue. Not at schools. Not at movie theatres. Not at churches. Not at concerts. In fact, I’d be moving them AWAY from this free, safe situation in order to move back to America. Does that make me a bad parent? Why would I knowingly put my kids in harm’s way when I have an easy way to keep them safe? What is wrong with me?
So, yes, I’m angry. So, so angry. And so, so sad. But I’m also heartened. Partly because I must keep faith that things will change. Because if I don’t have that faith, then there is only despair and I refuse to live in a world where there is only despair and no hope. But also, because I believe that this may be the time where things FINALLY change. I have watched interviews of a teacher from the school, of students from the school pleading for change. I have seen social media posts angry about token offers of thoughts and prayers and begging for action. I think the current climate in America has inspired more people than ever before to be active, to realise what happens when passivity and complacency reign. I know it has for me. And I see it in others. America was founded by strong people breaking the mould, fighting for safety, for freedom from persecution. Americans are compassionate, loving, brave and not afraid to speak up. Things will change. It is time.

 

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Education Frustration

About a week ago, my middle son brought home a letter from school, which, at first glance, made me happy. It started out praising his proficiency in math and writing and then invited him to participate in an extension program for selected students. It described how well known this program is and what a wonderful opportunity it would be for him, such a privilege to be included. Boy, my head was swelling with pride!
But then it said the program would take place at 8:00 a.m., two days a week at school over the next 12 weeks. Hang on. School doesn’t start until 8:45! Why is Zach being “invited” in early twice a week for additional work in these subjects if he’s already doing so well? Knowing my active, sporty, nearly 8-year-old boy, he wasn’t going to see this as a privilege—more like a punishment. Sure enough—he did. He chose not to participate.
Also, it seemed like a punishment for the whole family. How was I going to get him to school that early twice a week and balance that with my other two children and my job? My kids want to participate in almost every program we learn about, so we limit their extracurricular activities. He is signed up for his maximum already this term, as he is every term. If we were going to add in additional learning programs, we would have needed to know about them in advance, and he would have had to cut something else out.
The letter closed by stating how the school greatly looked forward to sharing this special program with my son. No sign-up option was mentioned. So, naturally, we just skipped it. I intended to email his teacher with my displeasure that the program was offered outside school hours and make clear that, in my opinion, any extensions to his learning abilities should be provided for during school hours, not as an extracurricular activity. However, I’ve been dealing with some surprise health issues (more on that next week) and it never happened. I did discuss the letter with my husband, a high school teacher, and another teacher friend of ours, and they both agreed with me.
While I was at work this week, I received a message from his teacher saying the program is compulsory and if he is not going to participate, we need to let the principal know. It is an expensive program for the school to provide, so they need to offer the opportunity to another child. I called her back in between my classes, but of course, she was in class then and couldn’t talk. So…. then the school got my email. And I was even more upset—they can’t force us to be there at 8:00! They have six hours a day, 40 weeks a year with my kids, and any learning they want to provide for them should be done in those hours. The rest of the hours are my husband’s and my responsibility to educate them how we see best.
I told them I hoped the email format would allow my concerns to be passed on to appropriate staff and that I would like follow-up on why they couldn’t extend his learning sufficiently during school hours. I also asked what was being offered for children that are not already proficient in those areas—when are they told to come in early for a special program to allow them to catch up to what is expected? (Do you think they are?! Of course not. And we learned more about why, as we investigated further. But, I digress.)
His teacher emailed a lovely response that she understood my feelings and would pass on my concerns as well as extend his learning in the classroom. I reiterated to her that I don’t doubt she and most teachers are doing just that—my boys have had exceptional, caring, dedicated teachers—but my issue is with this program being offered outside school hours, as if that’s a privilege.
The next day, the head of curriculum called and said she wanted me to know my feedback was appreciated and they will take my concerns into consideration for the future. She mentioned the school’s longstanding relationship with this well-known program, and that since the program is presented by a teacher online with the school’s teachers in the room as support, the time is not flexible. They adhere to the program schedule.
That raised more questions for me and I emailed her asking how many years the school has offered the program, what grade levels it is offered to, and what is offered to lower achieving students outside school hours. I also commented that based on her phone call, I got the impression I was the only parent she’s heard from dissatisfied with the program. She responded that, yes, I was. The school has been involved with this program for several years and this year, the program is offered to grade 3 from January through May. She didn’t address my last question; I asked it again and it remains unanswered.
My husband and I started researching the program. Upon going to the website, it is clear program is designed to raise the kids’ standardized test scores! Coincidence that it is being offered this year (and last year–that’s as far back as I got) to Grade 3, right up until the date that they take their first national standardized tests? Absolutely not! The website states the program designed to raise kids into the “Upper 2 bands”. It takes kids that are already likely to do well on these tests and aims to make them do even better, thereby improving the school’s data. That’s it. It’s all about their numbers. As my husband said, they won’t bother with the low achieving kids, because there’s really no way to raise them and that won’t make the school look as good. Better to focus on getting the higher achievers even higher.
Well, I was about to go crazy mother bear on the school, but he reasoned with me not to. It’s not just their school, he says. It’s all schools. They’re all focused on their data. They must be. And that makes me sad. But still angry. At a system that makes it that way. And that they dupe parents into thinking their kids are being given some sort of prize, when they have instead tricked us into bringing our kids in on our own time and our kids’ own time, to improve their numbers! Damn, they’re clever! We’re all so proud our kids are being labelled as proficient that we just move heaven and earth to get them this “fantastic opportunity.” It’s taking advantage of parents’ good hearts and commitments and it’s disgusting.
To be fair, I checked into it further and the kids that participate do thoroughly enjoy it and some say it’s the favourite part of their week. That heartens me at least to know that if they are being used as pawns for data, they are at least enjoying it and benefiting from it. But still. Not happy.
Then to make matters worse, a few days ago, the boys brought home letters telling us that Christian religion classes would be starting up again at school next week. These lessons are given during school hours; the school is required by federal law to provide them if a church asks to come in and give them. It makes quite clear that kids don’t have to participate, but if they don’t, they are basically given busy work during that time, so the kids attending the religion class don’t miss out.
Cue Kathleen’s blood boiling! In the span of a week, I have just learned that if my kid wants to take advantage of some renowned, exceptional learning opportunity that the school is paying for, he needs to come in outside of school hours. And an hour of his learning time will be wasted each week, while those that choose to learn how to follow the Christian faith during school hours receive that opportunity.
Hello! Am I the only one that sees the problem here?! Religion has No Business in a state school! Not at all and especially not when kids are only given the choice of learning how to be followers of one religion. Um, xenophobia? Here’s my solution—offer classes on how to be a good Christian at 8:00 in the morning. That way parents that feel they can’t educate their kids in their religion of choice adequately on their own time and through their own church, can ease their consciences. Then teachers will have more time to work with all levels of abilities during school hours. I mean—seriously! Parents should be educating their kids on their religion of choice on their own time—every church on every corner offers classes throughout the week where they can satisfy that concern. Or better yet—send them to a faith-based school. Don’t waste my kids’ school hours because of it. Sigh.
This is an imperfect system. It’s tough to find a perfect one. I feel for teachers who are genuinely concerned with reaching each individual student and inspiring them. Instead of being free to do that, they’re stuck teaching to the test, rated on their students’ test scores, focused on the data, and wasting their own time most likely during these religion classes. Their hands are tied. It sucks. For all of us. Ok. Rant over. Glad that’s off my chest!
I will now move on to focus on the positives–that we live in a country where my kids can go to school in a friendly, safe place, that they have the right to a free education, and that my husband and I are free to educate them however we see fit on our own time, without  repercussion.

O, Christmas Tree

 

It may not look like much, but this is my favourite Christmas tree to date, and here’s why: Real trees are surprisingly hard to come by in this part of the world, and, due to spending the last two Christmases in Colorado, we haven’t had to buy one since 2014. We set off this year on a two-week family adventure on the 9th of December, knew if we bought a tree before we left, it would die while we were gone, so decided to get one the day after we got back, the 23rd.
What we didn’t realize, however, is that due to the low availability of real trees, you are apparently supposed to order them ahead of time and the few shops that do have them close by the 22nd, Friday.
We learned this on the 20th when we started looking up Christmas tree lots online while on our trip. We found about four places within an hour’s drive of us and struck out completely, on all searches, all phone calls.
On the way home, we told the kids that we likely wouldn’t have a tree this year. On Friday evening, around 8:00, after arriving home and getting the kids to bed, Steve sent one last message to a Scouts group he’d heard was selling trees. They called him back right away and said we could come in Saturday morning and take any of their leftovers for $20 before they brought them to the dump. Score! We got a tree!
Now this tree is actually two “trees” tied together, and we all adore it. Probably the most fun for me was pulling out our ornaments after a 3-year hiatus. Each one tells a story, is attached to a memory, and I thoroughly enjoy just looking at them, reminiscing.
The other reason I love this tree is that it represents our successful hunt upon return from probably the most fun adventure we’ve had together as a family of five. When we were preparing for this trip, I honestly wasn’t that excited. During that last week of school and work, I was looking forward to the break and then thought, “Wait a minute—I’m going on a 12-hour drive with my kids! We’re camping for half of the time! I’ll be listening to whining, fighting, not sleeping in a bed; I’ll be in a noisy campground. This won’t be relaxing and enjoyable!”
But it was. Both. The trip exceeded all expectations and was an absolute blast. So, to come off an experience like that and be able to decorate our perfect little tree the next day—Christmas just can’t get any better.
Of course, I miss my Colorado family like crazy. But we haven’t had a Christmas in our own home for the past two years. This is Sam’s first Christmas at home. It all just feels ok.
So, that’s our tree. That’s our story. And for $20, we spent a fraction of what we would have on a “pretty” tree that we’d bought on time. That all adds up to why I Iove simly sitting at looking at this imperfectly perfect little tree. Merry Christmas to all our loved ones! Wishing you all many small reasons to smile and feel your full heart this year. Much love to you all. 😊 Kathleen and family

A Letter to My Son’s Former Childcare

What follows is a letter I recently sent to my son’s childcare centre, in response to the above note I received from them. His last day with them was this week and he moves on next month to the centre his older brother attended, so we are thrilled.

“Dear team:

Firstly, I would like to thank you for the wonderful year my son has spent in your care two days per week. You have been very kind to our whole family and he has been comfortable and happy there–we really appreciate your efforts. We especially appreciate the photos and hand out of his year that you sent home yesterday, the DVD and his teacher’s individual updates on via email throughout the year as to what he’d been up to that day.

One issue I would like to bring to your attention is to please ask that in the future look at your policy on lunchbox notes. A few weeks ago, I received a note in my son’s lunchbox berating me for including potato chips that day. Fortunately for me, I had a day where I felt rested and confident in my parenting abilities and laughed it off. In fact, I took a photo of the note and posted it on Facebook, where I jokingly referred to myself as a “bad mom” sending chips to child care.

However, the comments I received (which I am happy to share with you if you are interested), made plain that the note really touched a nerve with people in several parts of the world, which made me consider the note and its ramifications further.

As I said, I feel fortunate that I was able to find humour in the note. However, what if my husband had been away for work that week? What if I also had a new baby at home and had been up all night with him? What if I sorely needed some respite from my active toddler that day by sending him to childcare, and the only thing I could find in my pantry to send him to childcare with was chips? A note like that could have crushed me.

My excuse happens to be that I was simply tired from my regular daily life of three kids and a part time job, hadn’t been shopping and the best I could think of late in the evening, that was nut-free happened to be chips. I realize that was not the first time my child has eaten chips, and I can assure you it won’t be the last, but I do try my best to offer him healthy foods.

Mothers today are judged and analysed for every decision we make, and we should not be worried about impersonal notes from our children’s caregivers pointing out our faults, not for something as trivial as potato chips. The mental health of mothers today concerns me, and our society needs to be careful to support mothers, not judge them.

I completely understand and respect that your aim is for children to receive proper nutrition while they are in your care, and beyond that, in their homes. The best way for you to know you are achieving that aim would be to provide the food yourselves.

However, I realise that would be quite an undertaking. May I suggest that if the families are responsible for providing food each day, that you quietly keep a record of instances where children bring in unhealthy foods in their lunches, and then, if you notice a pattern, approach the parents in a friendly, non-judgemental, but helpful manner to discuss the issue? A person to person interaction would be much better received, in my opinion, than an impersonal, formalised “mum-shaming” note, with the child’s name and offending food filled into blanks.

You could even extend this practice to other important issues including children’s cleanliness each day, fit of their clothes, health, happiness, etc. Food is only one aspect of many contributing factors towards our children’s wellbeing.

Whatever you decide to do, and please feel free to completely disregard my uneducated suggestions, please endeavour to find a process more mum-friendly than mass-produced notes in the lunchboxes following intermittent offences. I would be happy to discuss this further if you would like.

Thank you again for your wonderful care of my son and kindness towards our family.

Kind Regards,

Kathleen Charles”

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!

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.

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.

Grooving Along…

We have had a pretty groovy, happy, blessed month around here, just enjoying the little things in life and time together. We all seem generally healthy and happy, for which I am so grateful. I have officially taught seven children’s yoga classes as a professional and have been learning SO much! This new business has added significantly to my “busy-ness” and I have spent quite a bit of time over our current 3-day holiday weekend (more coming later on what this particular holiday is) working on promotional materials, feedback forms, signups for classes beginning next term, etc. I could potentially be teaching four classes per week starting next month. Currently, I am teaching two per week. I still feel weird saying “I’m a yoga teacher.” But I am! How incredible this all is!
The weekend after Mother’s Day, I had the fantastic opportunity to take my first girls’ overnight trip since having kids. Three other wonderful women I have met through my kids’ schools and I went down to an awesome little beach town called Byron Bay. We spent the better part of two days relaxing, shopping, chatting, walking and eating. It was great! I feel so blessed to have met such wonderful people here and to feel part of a community.

Ladies' weekend!
Ladies’ weekend!

The following weekend our family enjoyed having absolutely no plans and just getting to hang around. We ended May by meeting up with some fun friends for a rainforest walk in a lovely area where you are allowed to feed lorikeets, parrots and rosellas and they land on you. The boys think that’s just fantastic.
The beautiful Morans Falls that we hiked to on 5/31.
The beautiful Morans Falls that we hiked to on 5/31.

Bird fun!
Bird fun!

A bit more....
A bit more….

I had another full day yoga training last Sunday and we are now wrapping up a 3-day holiday weekend that has been mostly free of plans. Last night we met some friends for a “combined dinner.” We have started just getting together somewhere and just making what we would have made that night anyway. The kids play; we eat and chat; it’s not too much work for anyone and it’s fantastic. To make it even better, one of our friends is French so I am not the only one who doesn’t get most of the jokes and takes a few minutes to figure out what people are saying. 
I have been training diligently for my upcoming half-marathon. It’s on July 20th. I got up to 9 miles yesterday, the farthest I’ve ever run, and I felt pretty good and darn proud! I am really enjoying the time outside, on my own. Yesterday I met a friend for lunch and shopping and rode a boat all by myself! Haha! The ride lasted all of 4 minutes—it was a ferry that brought me from my side of the Brisbane River to hers, but I tell you, those accomplishments are big for this landlubber!
In other news, I have been made redundant at my job. That is the awful Aussie way of saying I have been laid off. I think Aussie terms for many things are just terrible—being told you’re redundant is not nice on the ego at all. Telling a 4-year-old that he’s going in for “his needles” instead of a checkup is downright scary! Anyway, the terminology is the worst thing about it, so once my ego can get past the sad idea of being asked to leave a job because my contribution is “redundant,” we can be happy that this is really a best-case scenario for us.
I have not liked that job at all, but feel so grateful to have had it. It’s helped my family get settled here and be able to do fun things and save money—neither of which we would have been able to do without it. It’s been my first time working in a new country and it’s taught me so much about the Australian workplace, work life and culture in general. For instance, I asked a coworker recently why we are celebrating the Queen’s birthday this weekend, when her birthday was actually back in April. She looked unsure and then told me, “I’m pretty sure it’s because April didn’t suit us. We already have enough going on in April with Easter holidays and ANZAC day, so June just works out better for us.” Only in Australia! That’s just awesome!
The other good part about being made redundant is that not only am I asked to leave my part time job, but I will be paid to leave it as well. They are keeping me on until late August if I want to stay that long and allowing me to look for other jobs during work time to some degree. After I leave they will pay me for six more weeks plus any vacation time I still have. Much different than good ole U.S.A., eh? There, I would have been told, “We don’t need you anymore. You can leave now. Thank you for everything.” And that’d be it!
Steve and I discuss sometimes that the support available in this country to live a family-friendly lifestyle and the lack of gun violence are the main reasons we will likely always live here. The difference is sad and striking. I SO wish the U.S. could offer this high of a quality of life and standard to all citizens!
Although I am a bit panicky about what this job loss will mean for us financially, I honestly think we will come out ahead in time. Our government assistance will increase as our income decreases; I can make up part of the difference through my yoga classes—depending on how well they do, it could be a substantial part. I can put more effort into writing, which I hope should translate into some decent income as well. I may even look into one of those direct/home sales businesses, as a side to yoga and a side to writing. I also may visit some retirement communities and inquire about some super-part-time work.
I teach yoga to kids!!
I teach yoga to kids!!

I don’t think I will look hard for another job outside of these ideas until next year, however. With Zach only in school two days per week and teaching yoga during part of that time, a job would be quite difficult to find I think. Next year he is in school full time (No!!! My baby!), so I will have more flexibility.
Otherwise, everyone around here has been busy and happy. Steve has been getting out quite a bit and is enjoying footy (rugby) season. His job has been a bit stressful, but he thinks he’s through the worst of it and has been handling it all well. He will be looking for a new job later this year and already applied for a couple. He didn’t have any luck, which while not ideal, is not a huge issue because he has a good job and for that we are thankful.
Zach has really been blossoming in kindy and also just loves his Friday morning soccer program. He also is happy just hanging out running errands, visiting friends, going to playgroup, etc. Whatever we are doing, he’s generally happy—unless it’s dinner time and in that case he is an absolute nightmare! Oh well…….We help in Drew’s classroom every other Friday and both boys just love it. Zach acts like one of the big boys and thinks he has arrived and Drew is proud as punch showing off little brother. I love it, too. I get to read one on one with the children and they are just precious. Zach, through the unending patience of Steve, has also been learning how to ride his bike without training wheels! He is doing well, although he has a long way to go. He is our clumsy kid and he is in his own world, which is not great for safety awareness! He desperately wants to keep up with the big boys, so Steve keeps working with him…
IMG_0835
Drew has been so busy in school and it is all just amazing. In first grade, at six years old, he had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class! Beforehand, he had to write out the poem and add cues to let the teacher know when he would raise/lower his voice, speed up/slow down, etc. Crazy! His reading just blows my mind—he now helps read to Zach at bedtime.
Last week he had Sports Day (the equivalent to Field Day) and was very proud to get a 3rd place ribbon in his 100-meter running race (he ran against four other kids—haha!). He also sang in a school-wide concert, which was super cute. He has been doing gymnastics weekly and he thoroughly enjoys that.
Run, baby, run!
Run, baby, run!

And, of course, they are my sweet, supportive yogis—all three of my boys are my biggest fans and I depend on them more than they know! Life is good.

Humility, Admiration & Progress

The past four weeks have been days of humility, healing, and personal growth for me. It’s been truly eye-opening. Firstly, I know that I am blessed with the most incredible support system of family and friends, near and far, old and new. I have been so touched with the messages of love and kindness I have received, from those closest to me in distance and/or in heart, and by those who I was surprised thought enough of me to reach out.
I have been humbled by their honest expressions of kindness and by the stories of loss and grief that they have told. People go through so much in this world; we have no idea. It has helped me to remember that whenever people act in ways that frustrate me, I need to step back and remember they have a story; they have something going on that I know nothing about and it is in no way my place to judge. This is something I strive to remember, but too easily forget. We never know what people are dealing with on the day that we interact with them and what is spurring their actions and words. I need to remember to bring acceptance and tolerance to any situation.
I heard stories of stillbirths, of amazingly strong women laboring to deliver a recognizable human who would never breathe and who would later be buried. I heard stories of inspiring women waiting to find out news that would be crushing, of finding the strength to try again and move forward. I heard about women who cry decades later remembering their experiences, but are able still to lavish love on their surviving dear ones. The strength and love women are capable of is truly inspiring!
However, I must relate one particularly touching message that was from a man. It sticks out because it was the only message I received from a male unrelated to me. It sticks out also because we last were friends in a face to face way 20 years ago and even then, weren’t close. But it was more meaningful because he told of his own struggle with emotion when his wife miscarried a few years ago. It gave me great pause:
So many of us women, myself included, have said these losses are harder for us. We are the ones who deal with the physical loss, with our changing bodies. This story made me realize that in reality it is unfair of us to think that. It is judging, the way I mentioned above. I tried to think about it from a man’s perspective. Number one, it is less accepted by society for them to cry and be broken up by a miscarriage; they likely feel more pressure to hold their emotions in. Also, they don’t have the support system that we have in each other, other women’s stories of their pain. Again, it is likely harder for them to reach out to other men and seek support in this situation, partly because it is “their wives” who are experiencing it, not them. And sadly, that’s not true! But what hit me most of all, is that men not only have to deal with the loss of the child and of their plans for fatherhood, they also have to watch their wives in physical and emotional pain and feel quite helpless to “make it better”, which is what men need to do. It made me think about it all in a whole new way and I commend and admire the man who reached out to me to share so openly and vulnerably.
As for me, I am doing quite well. I do get sad around pregnant women and new babies and we seem to have been around a lot of both lately. We have put the idea in the back of our minds for now while we wait for my body to get back to a couple months of normalcy. We think we want to try again when we do revisit the topic, but are not firm right now and neither of us wants to pursue this idea much older than we currently are. We’ll see…..
Once I stopped wallowing, I decided to throw myself into my personal goals and dreams and all the things that would have been put on a back burner if there was a baby on the way. I got back into exercising and am playing with the idea of a long race sometime this fall/winter (It still sounds so funny to say that at the end of March! Will it ever feel normal???). I cooked and baked a lot, because feeding my family nutritious food and satisfying our sweet tooths in healthier, more natural ways fuels me. I updated my resume to get serious about moving beyond this part time job that brings me no fulfillment. I reached out to possible mentors and people succeeding in fields I am interested in to get guidance.
And things started to happen! My main freelance writing client wrote me a glowing recommendation on Elance, the site I work with him through. The editor of the magazine that published my first creative article last year gave me fantastic advice and told me she would welcome future article ideas from me anytime. 
But the most exciting news deals with yoga. My insurance and Blue Card (two requirements over here to teach children) came through this month, enabling me to set up meetings at both of my boys’ schools about the possibility of teaching. The meeting at Zach’s school is next week, but Drew’s principal told me yesterday that she supports me launching my own class one afternoon each week after school. WOWowowowweeeeee!!! I can’t believe it! She wants 200 fliers to send home with families and I can start when school resumes after a two-week break late next month. Out of nowhere, I need to finalize a business name, create enrollment forms for the children, devise a pricing structure, design fliers, start a Facebook page and internet marketing……Holy moly, is this real?! Somebody pinch me!
Anyway, I will keep you posted on what develops, but the first day I teach a class that I am paid for, it will be proof that dreams really do come true and it is possible to get paid to follow your passion—completely awesome!
And what’s funny about all that is that I returned home from the meeting, floating on a cloud, to Zach beginning to throw up for the next three hours with a nasty stomach bug. I consider it a gentle reminder not to lose sight of my main and true purpose in life—thank you, Universe, for keeping me grounded!  Poor little man is much better today and while I have felt bad for him, I have been impressed by how sweet and polite he’s been through it all and grateful for the extra snuggles.

Sweet family days out
Sweet family days out

As for the rest of us, Steve and Drew, and all of us, are looking forward to two plus weeks off school as of next Friday. We’ve had a pretty normal, routine month overall. Steve enjoyed a weekend away with his rugby team. We’ve kept up with the usual children’s birthday party circuit. We’ve enjoyed some fun social evenings and some sweet family days together. The week of the miscarriage, Drew seemed off a bit, so he stayed home from school that Friday and I just truly reveled in an opportunity to love on my babies and enjoy slow time together. It was poignant and beautiful.
Zach has started a soccer program and is precious to watch. He loves every minute of it and I can’t stop staring at his face full of concentration, determination and thrill. Steve is taking the boys to their last two swimming lessons until we pick it up again in October, which is giving me an incredible gift (it truly is the little things!) to have a break from that weekly routine.
Most exciting of all is that Drew is beginning to read. He really is! Something just recently clicked for him. It’s weird, realizing our days of spelling things are nearly over, but so awe-inspiring to watch this world open up for my child. Seeing him point out words to me as we drive around and putting sentences together in books is incredible. It drives home that reading does truly open up a whole new world for us. It is an incredible gift to be able to be a part of this process with my child and I am so grateful for it. It really is a beautiful life, when we slow down enough to appreciate it.
I just finished reading “I Am Malala,” the book about the teenage girl who campaigns for education and was shot by the Taliban. It was eye opening—realizing that our world feels so global and connected to me most of the time, yet there are still people out there without access to what we take for granted as basic rights and necessities. It is shocking and sad. It makes me ever more grateful for the life I have and it makes me want to keep working at practicing that acceptance I mentioned earlier and at enjoying the gifts I have been given.