Tag Archives: beauty

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.

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Take the Leap

If I ever start to worry about the future of our world, what our children will grow up to live with and deal with, I can look back on this beautiful day and feel at ease again.  Today we witnessed everything that is good and beautiful in our world and we saw that with kids like these growing up, it should be a good place, likely better than it is now. We held a fundraiser today to Save the Great Barrier Reef, at the suggestion of my 6-year-old son.  This simple treat stand outside our house brought out such beauty and kindness that my heart and soul are simply overflowing and I need to share the story here, so that we never forget.

Treat stand ready for customers!
Treat stand ready for customers!
Little brothers helping out
Little brothers helping out

I am continually reminded that there is a greater being than all of us overseeing everything.  Call it the Universe; call it God; call it what you will, but it is there. Steve and I have decided that we want to take one “big” family trip each year and do whatever we can to make that happen.  Last year was our beautiful trip back home to Colorado and also sightseeing in Texas.  In late July, even though I’d recently been laid off from my part time job, we decided to take the family to Cairns, home of the Great Barrier Reef.  We settled on the September school holidays and started planning a weeklong trip.

My redundancy payout ran out the last week of August and we had a serious budget meeting and started to panic a little bit.  I wondered a bit why we were as stupid as to plan a trip when I’d just lost a job.  We knew that we’d forgo nonessential shopping, buying decent furniture, some out of the house entertainment, etc., because we’ve decided that experiences are more important to us at this point in our lives.  But even with all of that, this still seemed a bit reckless.

However, our excitement mounted, because, when we told the boys the plan, they lit up and Drew started researching it in every way he could.  Being part of his thirst for learning can be exhausting at times, but it is also incredible.  He checked out books from his school library and asked us to read not bedtime stories to him at night, but rather facts about specific species of fish found near the Reef.  He looked up videos and photos on the computer. He read on his own whatever he could find and asked questions. He just can’t learn enough about it.

At one point, he coincidentally saw a bit on the kids’ channel evening news about the Reef being in danger.  He asked Steve if this was true and when he learned it was, he said, “Well, we should raise money to save it.”  I started making dinner that evening and he burst through the kitchen (everything he does is big and fast and he never stops moving until he crashes hard at the end of each day), grabbed a couple oranges from the fridge and asked where my juicer was.  When I told him to settle down, Steve told me to listen to his reason why. Drew said, “I need to make some orange juice to go sell on the corner to raise money to save the Reef.”

He just wants to Save the Reef.
He just wants to Save the Reef.

Wow.  Ok.  I told him that while I thought that was an incredible idea, he was not doing it tonight. He wouldn’t make any money and it’d be a waste of time and resources.  However, I admired what he was trying to do and said we would follow through on it; we’d sit down in the coming days, have a family meeting and plan out when to hold a stand so that he could raise some money. Steve and I acknowledged that this was a teachable moment—it was a good way for him to learn how to plan and carry out an idea and event, and we wanted him to see that one person can make a difference.  Since he often does have a pretty short attention span, and switches often from interest to interest, I thought there was a high probability that he’d forget about the idea now that he wasn’t enacting his plan immediately, and move on.

He didn’t.  He kept after me, asking when our family meeting was to plan his treat stand. We sat down together one weekend in late August and picked a weekend.   We decided on a Sunday morning at 9:00 because the church across the street held mass at 8:00, and he could get some decent traffic as people walked back to their cars afterward. We assigned jobs to each family member—he and I together wrote letters explaining what he was doing and asking local shops to donate some food and supplies.  With the help of a conservationist friend, we researched various groups and picked an organization to donate our funds to.  We contacted the Australian Marine Conservation Society (ACMS) to let them know and they were lovely.  They got back to us right away and said they’d send some bookmarks, brochures, and stickers for him to pass out.  He was thrilled!

We wrote to the local paper, hoping they’d include it in their weekly events section. He and Steve designed fliers; Steve printed them and then they, along with Zach and our gorgeous little neighbor friends, walked around the block putting them in mailboxes. I took him to the shops one afternoon after school and helped him practice what to say, and he handed out his letters and asked for donations.  Oboys Fruit & Vegetable shop told him they’d donate some carrots and a young employee took a liking to him and offered to make homemade bliss balls for him to sell (they ended up also giving us potatoes and oranges!).  Woolworths, the large chain grocery store got back to us the next day and said they’d donate a $20 gift card for him to buy supplies.  He didn’t hear back from the two other shops we tried.  That’s ok.  He’s learning that you win some; you lose some and you appreciate the kindness people show.

He also brought his fliers to his class at school and his incredible teacher (this woman should make millions—she epitomizes what teachers should strive to be) arranged for him to meet with the school principal to ask about speaking at the school assembly.

The weekend before the event was absolutely crazy for us—it was too much, really, but everyone tolerated it well until Sunday night when, once again, Zach couldn’t stop coughing and we ended up in the Emergency Room.  It was a quick visit and we were home with one medication, but everyone was so tired that I decided to not only keep Zach home from school on Monday, but Drew as well, just to give us all a chance to rest.

Well, the paper called that morning. Not only were they going to mention his stand, they wanted to learn more about it, and the fact that he was home that day, allowed them to speak to him directly.  The article was printed that Wednesday in the little Northwest News.

Northwest News article
Northwest News article

And then things blew up and the power of social media reigned supreme!  ACMS emailed me again that they’d seen the article and were inspired by his passion.  They’d put the article on their Facebook page and were trying to organize a volunteer to come help us on the day—passing out information, answering questions, etc. They told me Fight for the Reef was putting the article on their page as well.  I went to those pages out of curiosity and saw they have over 50,000 followers each.  Those posts had over 200 “likes” each and over 50 “shares”.  I started reading comments from perfect strangers and just sitting on my couch crying, reading all this surprise praise for my son, and even for us as a family.  It was mind blowing!

http://https://www.facebook.com/australianmarine/photos/a.453824266958.236335.44295826958/10153367119601959/?type=1&theater

Then the school called.  A local AM radio talk show had contacted them and wanted to speak to Drew.  He ended up getting to gymnastics late that afternoon because he talked to them first.  Then they put the interview and a write up of it on their Facebook page and website!

Drew’s radio interview

Steve and I of course started sharing all this stuff as well and so did some of our friends.  Then school friends just started offering help.  People just would come up to me and tell me they’d bake cookies or muffins and bring them by.  Wow—ok–thank you!

Treats to sell
Treats to sell
The workers are ready!
The workers are ready!

On Friday he did speak at his school assembly and, of course I’m biased, but I think he rocked it!  I can’t believe his confidence speaking alone in front of people at 6 years old!  I sure didn’t have that then. Then those same organizations shared his flier on their Facebook pages, reminding people to show up on Sunday. More friends kept offering baked goods—even the office coordinator at the ACMS emailed that she’d bake muffins and bring them by. At school that afternoon, his whole class along with their 6th grade buddies made signs for the event (of course, coordinated by this extraordinary teacher).  We received 22 “Save the Reef” signs to bring home and hang up.

Signs...
Signs…
Another sign...
Another sign…
One more fabulous sign
One more fabulous sign

Sunday arrived and it couldn’t have gone better. Our little corner filled up that morning with school friends, homemade baked goods, and fish-themed t-shirts.  And signs—so many signs, so much beautiful kid artwork!  Friends offered tents and tables and Steve and I both made sure to keep it a kid-led and kid-organized event.  ACMS showed up and brought Drew a t-shirt that said “Sea Guardian” on the back!  He changed into it immediately!

Proud Sea Guardian
Proud Sea Guardian

Strangers kept coming through telling us they’d seen it on Facebook, or some in the local paper.  Classmates and their families came by.  We had a steady stream of people and about five 6-7-year-olds remained fully focused and committed to their tasks for nearly 2 hours! Adults helped, chatted, met each other, took photos—strangers wanted their photo taken with Drew and his sign! People thanked us for doing something to bring the community together, commented on how beautiful it was seeing kids working together for a good cause.  And it was—it was SO, SO good! You just couldn’t help but smile.

Just gorgeous--makes me heart swell.
Just gorgeous–makes my heart swell.

He raised over $450!  From a treat stand!  The ACMS is thrilled and blown away!

We wanted to show our son that one person can make a difference.  I think he learned that he can and I hope that stays with him forever and he never becomes cynical and doubtful.  But I also hope he learned that it’s the support of the community you are a part of that really make big things happen. He is truly surrounded by an incredible community. I hope he learned that it’s showing kindness to others and really getting involved in the community around you that bring the greatest rewards.  I think he knows that. He loves his people.  And he knows that it’s not just about what’s local; it’s global. His grandparents in Colorado donated and his uncles and friends in the States also showed tremendous support.  A cousin even tried to get him on the Ellen DeGeneres Show!

So it’s ok that we planned a trip when we really didn’t have the money to be planning trips.  It’s ok, because look what resulted from that reckless act by Steve and I to focus more on experiences than “stuff” and finances!  And you know what, the week after our panicked budget discussion, I was able to secure three additional yoga classes per week at a beautiful yoga studio in Samford (my goal was two more per week, as long as each of my classes are well attended—we’ll work on that!).  I’ll be part of an incredible, kind team of people who seem as excited to have me and kids classes on their schedule as I am to be there and join them. I also got a new freelance writing project from a client I hadn’t heard from in two months, out of the blue.

Yeah.  It’s ok.  We took a leap of faith by planning the trip, another one by planning this fundraiser and another one by committing to these yoga classes.  Beautiful things can happen when you take that leap, not always, of course, but they can happen.  And you never get to witness them unless you actually leap. Life’s not about being careful and scared.  It’s about going for it, giving as much as you can and LIVING!

Beautiful Color in Many Forms

Columbines in Brisbane!
Columbines in Brisbane!

Imagine my thrill and surprise stumbling across these beauties yesterday at a Brisbane city park! These flowers are in my heart and the fact that they are the Colorado state flower just makes the attachment stronger. The gorgeous Rocky Mountain columbine—purple for the mountains, white for the snow and yellow for the sunshine. So many happy memories are linked to July hikes on forested mountain trails where they are in full resplendent bloom, and it is always an incredible sight.
I adore flowers. The colors that nature invents and reveals are mind-boggling to me. I am so enjoying the different colors here on the trees, bushes, vines and plants. October is my favorite month for many reasons. In Colorado it is my favorite because of the gorgeous gold autumn leaves, especially on the aspens, another one of my favorite plants. I love the cooler temperatures, the light snowy days mixed in with warm, sunny days where there is still so much green. I love pumpkins and Halloween. My parents got married in October, and so did I. It is a great month!
Luckily, here it is as well.  It is spring and temperatures are warmer without the stifling humidity. Birds are having babies, the jasmine is blooming accompanied with what has become my favorite scent, and my favorite tree of all, the jacaranda is in full bloom, painting the landscape around me in purple. It’s all very poetic, isn’t it? Spring and fall are such amazing times of year…..
My favorite tree!  Jacaranda in our neighborhood
All my boys have been off school for most of these past two weeks and we have all been having a pretty good time. We have been enjoying a nice little “staycation,” along with putting some funds towards improving our material possessions. We completed Zach’s upgrade to a single bed with two new bed frames for the boys and a new mattress for him, and we got a new coffee table. An IKEA $30 special! We’ve never really had any new furniture at all, instead always relying on secondhand, other than for mattresses, so these new purchases are a lot of fun. We’ve also replaced some of our plastic outdoor dining platters and improved our storage and organization possibilities around the house. It’s great to watch things slowly come together.
I’ve still worked my typical two days and week, put in a couple hours towards my yoga observation requirements and done my two hours of freelance writing per week from home. I also heard confirmation that an article I submitted to a parenting magazine should be published in the next couple of months and the payment for it is much more than I originally thought—cool! So, since August, these attempts at writing have almost paid for my yoga trainings, which was exactly the idea. I sometimes can’t believe it is working!! I submitted a short story to Highlights, the well-known children’s magazine, as a bit of pipe dream…..just have to keep trying! We shall see….
As for our staycation activities: We had three girls, aged 5 and 4, for a sleepover one night, which was a lot of wild fun. It’s fun, too, when you’re rolling with all the silly fun and chatter, to know that their parents are enjoying a peaceful, adult dinner. It’s so great that friends can do that for each other.

Sleepover fun--a dramatic movie....
Sleepover fun–a dramatic movie….

Along with three other families, we took all the kids to South Bank one day to swim in the manmade pool and play at the manmade beach adjacent to the Brisbane River in the middle of the city. It was great fun. The next day, we went to some manmade pools near a beach we hadn’t been to before with two other families and that was great as well, although a bit cooler and more blustery—brrr!

Windy day at Redcliffe
Windy day at Redcliffe

Then my sweet husband babysat four kids while I got to go see Alan Jackson and Sara Evans in concert—woohoo! It was my 2nd time seeing him, the first time being at Red Rocks, which of course, is unbeatable as far as venue is concerned. But it was a great show anyway. He is a classy performer and even adapted some of his lyrics to fit the lingo down here, which was so cool. At one point, he changed the word truck to Ute and I yelled loudly (I’d had one beer, so was no longer responsible for my actions! Haha!), “OMG, Alan Jackson just said Ute!! That’s SO cool!” I don’t know why people were turning and looking…. 😉 I liked watching people’s response to him and it made me smile at how his music and lyrics are so relatable; the difference in culture melts away.
We spent two days enjoying two beautiful parks right in the heart of the city, one called New Farm that we’d been to a couple times before. We altered the experience by enjoying a picnic lunch right on the river this time, on a gorgeous day. The other one was called Roma Street Parklands, which is where we discovered the columbines. That is definitely my favorite city park in this area! There were beautiful botanic gardens to stroll through with incredible flowers everywhere, and more than just the columbines made appearances as visitors from my home (daffodils were one of the others—fun!)

My perfect monkey at Roma Street Park
My perfect monkey at Roma Street Park

We took the boys out to dinner one night at a place where kids eat free. One thing I love about some decent restaurants around here is that they have play areas for the kids. This one was the best I’ve seen, all outdoor and shaded. Such a fantastic idea that allows parents to relax and enjoy themselves a bit more, stay longer and spend more money—brilliant! The same place was offering free activities for kids on the weekday mornings, so later in the week I went back with a friend and her kids.
I also took them to an indoor play center one day that has disco dancing at certain times along with the play areas—again, brilliant! The kids LOVE it! My friend and I discovered it last month with our younger kids, so took all of each crew back this time. The other reason I like it is that, although they don’t allow you to bring in food, which I don’t like, they sell the healthiest options I’ve seen in this area. This is a REALLY bad area for healthy kids’ meals and that drives me insane, so this is a refreshing change.

Our performer at the disco
Our performer at the disco

We caught up with fun friends for dinner last night, enjoying a great multicultural evening with Steve the only Aussie present. Except they all think he has a strong American accent now! Ha! Accents are so interesting to me, especially now. NO ONE in the U.S. would EVER mistake Steve for a native, but here they think he sounds very American. I wonder what people will say I sound like when we visit in December….the boys are going to crack people up for sure—full on little Aussies!
It’s happened few enough times that I can count them on one hand, but I must say I LOVE when people say they like my accent! It makes me feel very exotic. 😉 Someone said it to me last night. I complained to a friend once that people don’t often ask me where I’m from and he said, “They don’t have to. It’s obvious the second you open your mouth!” A few weeks after he’d said that, I was buying meat at the butcher shop and my request got lost in translation. I apologized to the young guy and said, “I could have asked for a pound of meat instead of a half a kilo. That would have been even worse!” He laughed and asked me where I was from. I told him U.S. and he laughed harder and said, “I know that much! I’m not that silly—which part?” It was so funny. Then it was the typical response to “Colorado.”: “Oh. Cool.” Moving on…..
Tonight some friends are taking the kids overnight and Steve and I are celebrating eight years together. We have survived the 7th year, the bad luck year! Yay! Boy, they’re not kidding on that one, either! Thank goodness for professionals…..although we had another tough year at year 5, the year our precious, crazy little Zach joined us. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we’re definitely weathering the storms together and enjoying our precious moments. I love that best friend of mine.
Speaking of precious moments, another fun thing we did was go to our first family movie, meaning Zach’s first movie as well. We had both boys in between us and for some reason, I got really emotional during the movie. I kept looking down the row at the three beautiful men in my life, the expressions on their faces, and my chest just filled with so much joy and love. I couldn’t stop looking at them all….such beautiful gifts in my life.

How blessed am I....
How blessed am I….

I’ll close with this funny story (well, I think it’s funny): A few days after that, the boys were acting psycho and driving me insane. We planned to have a family movie night at home and I gave them choices. They each picked what they wanted to watch and of course, they each picked something different. I told them they needed to work it out and left the room. A few minutes later they come out screaming, beating each other and chasing each other around the house with these craft sticks, each yelling that he wanted his choice for the movie. Smoke started coming out of my ears, and suddenly my mind thought, “You two are acting like the U.S. Congress!!” Then I realized—at least my boys are actually 5 and 3-years-old. It’s a bit more understandable in their case.” That calmed me down and I suggested we pick a choice that was different to either of the ones they were holding onto. They shot down the first couple I re-suggested and then Zach said, “I’d watch Cinderella.” Drew held to his stance and I said again that we might not have a movie, and then he said, “Ok. Cinderella’s fine.” Done. In three minutes we had a compromise and had solved our issue. I said to them, “You two are actually smarter than the U.S. Congress! Good job!” Yep, my poor country is a bit of an international laughingstock right now. 