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Lego-lisiousness in Legoland!

Sol 86

As I sit up on my 9th story perch in Ho Chi Mihn City

HCMC Writing Spot

 

I am reflecting on our time in Malaysia. There is so much to write about here in Vietnam and I will get to that but, first want to revisit our adventures at Legoland in Southern Malaysia and Singapore.

Going to a theme park was not part of our original plan but, the opportunity came up, our kids LOVE Legos and the boys were struggling with a bit of homesickness.

The Lobby of Legoland Hotel

Now, do we run off to a theme park every time we are sad…no but, it sure doesn’t hurt to go that extra kilometer (see what I did there with the metric system reference?) to soothe ourselves a bit.

LEGOLAND HOTEL

Legoland Malaysia was pretty sweet. I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was a teenager but, I imagine it is like the ‘happiest place on earth’. We decided to stay at the Legoland Hotel which has themed rooms with scavenger hunts, Lego characters walking around, life-size Lego mini figures, characters walking around and LEGOS everywhere to play with. Big blocks and little blocks.

There are daily building contests and workshops as well as a character parade in the lobby. It was so sweet to see joy on so many faces. Not just ours but, the plenitude of families from all over. There were families there from India, China, and all over SE Asia. We were definitely the minority as we would nod hello to another ‘Western” family from time to time.

Breakfast and dinner buffets were a cultural lesson in itself. So many options of food from standard Western choices to a plethora of Eastern ones too. Did you want Dim Sum with your pancakes? Or French Pastries with Chinese Congee porridge with dried fish on top? Or a traditionally poured spiced chai, watermelon juice, white coffee or full cream milk?

Out in the park, did you want to swim in your hijib or swimsuit or use the body dryer (like a giant hair dryer for your whole body) after getting wet on a ride? Did you want to pray when the call to prayer happened or have a dragon fruit smoothie?

Prayer Spot in Park

All of this while being surrounded by Lego figures?

Our room was the Adventure theme which the boys picked out. It seemed very appropriate for our current journey. Maps and decor from an Egyptian papyrus abound.

Huge ‘Body Dryers’ and all the teens getting dry.

Because we are family half filled with introverts we spent plenty of time in the room. While it was our first place without a kitchen during our travels we did order room service which, amazingly didn’t cost more than the restaurant and the delivery folks refused tips only wanting you to put in a good word at the ‘opinion kiosks’ around the place.

A scooter accident portrayed at Mini-land

THE PARKS

The rides were fine. Oakley tried his first roller coaster and was thrilled. The most impressive areas to me were the Minilands where replicas of iconic places around Asia are constructed to impressive, minute detail. Even the scooter accidents with media and police presence on the street. I could have spent hours here. It was super hot so, we melted as we perused even with the welcome mister machines nearby.

The Star Wars exhibit was stunning with a room dedicated to each episode including the TV Clone Wars. We are Star Wars family so, we loved this geeked out to our hearts content.

They have a water park as well and it was also fine. A lazy river bobbing with big legos you can attach to your floating device. A ‘Build a Raft” float as it were.

In any case, it was lovely to have a big family time in what felt like a big playground. I heard ‘Everything is Awesome’ more times than I care to count but, it was worth it. We did let the boys get a few, small Lego sets to take with us on the road as nothing beats the blues like a couple of hours of Lego play.

A BALANCE OF TRAVEL AND FAMILY

Our travel journey is of where we are going but, it is also richly in the details of our relationships with our kids and between my husband and I. We are a collection of varying personalities and we all need different things to fill our batteries. We discover that more and more as we move along.

Family outings are my favorite and seeing the world whiz by in my window really fills my cup but, I know Oakley and Kelvin need more down time. Canyon too at times. I do too in my own way. Writing is actually very, very helpful for me to sort my head.

I get worried about the things we are doing or not doing and if we are keeping the kids on track in school. Do we communicate enough with family and friends. How do we sort out the time differences and make connections.

Accepting that we can be doing a once in a lifetime thing and still feel rather lonely and miss down time tucked in our oversized duvet back in Oregon.

It is all a balance. And we are working on it day by day. Okay, okay….enough about our inner-psyche.

Next, we headed to Singapore for a couple of days before heading to Vietnam. More on that in our next blog.

As always, thanks for reading and following!

I’m still in love with my Chef Husband but, it was nice to met Lego Chef!

The Deathstar!

The bathrooms at Legoland

Mini-Legoland

Ha! Love the sense of humor!

Fresh Seafood at Legoland?

 

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Our Bali Excursion is Winding Down, Our Life Long Love Affair is Just Beginning

Sol 61: Coming up on three weeks in Bali. We’ve had some highs and some lows. The awe at the constant beauty around us has not waned. It seems every time I look up I see something unique, amazing, delightful or a bit different and quirky.

The bargaining never stops.

New Kite Flying Friends

My husband is tallying a list of ‘things I have seen being carried on a scooter’ and it just about contains everything possible. I’ve seen tiny, tiny babies nestled between ma and pa, panes of glass being held aloft, piles of branches, sticks and grass, complete mini-stores where one might make a meal or sell you a plethora of snacks. All of this wheeling by you.

Dewi makes the best meals!

The places we have stayed have been varied from an estate/villa such as the place we are at now to a house in the middle of a more tattered neighborhood where our point woman was amazing. She arranged for our boys to fly kites with her sons and made the best Nasi Goreng.

Emade, our amazing driver from Ubud. Email him for driving at nyoman.wati72@gmail.com

We ended up leaving early though as we found a dead bird under our bed and a bird nest above our son’s bed in the thatched roof that was less than sanitary. Bird poo on your sheets and pillows? We had to draw the line somewhere. The host (whom we never met) told us by email ‘that is nature’ and I am inclined to think it is but, it doesn’t have to be on my son’s head.

Dinner on Jimbaran Beach.

We are getting more adaptive in the heat. I wouldn’t say more used to it. You can see why people have plunge pools to dip into and wash off the heat of the day.

Monkey back rubs at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

We can see Mt. Agung from our current house and she is still resting. We are grateful for this but, also are acutely aware that there are several thousand people still living away from their homes out of the evacuation zone in refugee camps. This is heart breaking and a struggle.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Our boys have adjusted to mom and dad being the guides/teachers for the interim.

They are adjusting and we are soaking up our last week here as Friday, we head to Malaysia

There are very typical Bali experiences I am committing to memory. I share 10 of them with you here.

  • the sweeping up of all the flowers that fell overnight with a broom made of palm leaves.
  • the sweet smell of incense and tiny offerings that show up before most doors or walkways.
  • the low, guttural mooing of the cows with giant bells around their necks.
  • the assortment of flying bugs some bedazzling with colorful, sparkling wings and others just larger than I have ever seen before.
  • houses with open walls that get transformed in the evening to a closed in space with the pull of a curtain.
  • the frogs that take up residence in the bathrooms or guarding the end of  our bed.
  • the offer of a 100 cab, scooter rides if you are merely standing on the side of the road.
  • the vibrant color of fruit smoothies that rival any modern painting
  • the intricate carvings in wood and stone that are done with a hammer by the roadside
  • the absolute kindness of most people who wish to see you well.

Canyon warning the rabbits they may become pets or someone’s dinner.

Nothing like seeing a structure that is over 600 years old when your own country’s european settlement history started after this temple was built.

My new favorite Pringles flavor?

Doorway to our current bedroom.

Boys paying respects by wearing a sarong and really looking good while doing it!

Night food market.

Grilling the meat and using the fan to bring in the customers as well as spread the smoke.

Kelvin in his element with the cutest photo bomber in the back!

Tenenungan Waterfalls

Reading Kindles while waiting for a ride.

 

Family photo

A huge shout out to our friends Robyn and Mark who hosted us a couple times in Australia. We want them to know we so appreciate them!! Happy Wedding next month!

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A Lush, Green Paradise, a 15 Year Anniversary and 20 things I have noticed.

We have arrived in our first country during our round the world journey where English is not the mother tongue. Even more than that, the surroundings are unlike any we would encounter in our home in Oregon.

We had a few hiccups to get us here. I spent so much time sorting out the information about the visas I missed that tiny line about how you must have a proven departure plan before they will even let you on the plane.

So, we were at the Brisbane airport Jetstar check in counter (for the first time) and I hurriedly bought four tickets on a ferry to Singapore. I was punching the details of all our passports into my iPhone screen hoping that the credit card I am using would work to buy the tickets. And what’s more, that we will be able to use them.

The port is a place about 1000 miles from where we were staying but, it IS in Indonesia! Thanks so much to the airline representative who helped me do this rather than be forced to buy another airline ticket. Times four!

Earlier, we had already experienced not being picked up by our pre-scheduled Uber ride and frantically had to book another taxi to get us to the airport. I dislike that kind of scramble to the airport.

While we were checking into our flight (after I bought my ferry tickets) they had a lock down at the JetStar check-in counter. I felt like we were at a cooking contest as they yelled out for everyone to step away and hands up from the computers.

For several tense minutes, we all stood around and scrolled through our phones to see if there was some new information about Mt. Agung, the aged volcano currently smoking in Bali. Nothing. Just a false alarm and after a short while we all got ticketed and sent to the gate. The duty free gin never looked better!

It was about a 5 and a half hour flight and the pilot said he was getting updates on the volcano every five minutes and we would ‘act accordingly’. No sure what that means but, okay. He’s in charge.

Onward, a flight with some movie watching and an occasional peek out into the darkness with the hope to see a glimpse of the magical land we were winging toward.

We arrived in Bali and the humidity hugged us like a damp sweatshirt. Wandering through the airport to the immigration hall that had ceilings about four stories high I knew we had arrived.

My Dragon Fruit Smoothie

A friend arranged a pick up (thank you Drew!) and we were mesmerized by the steady of stream of motorbikes that swarmed around us as we motored down the narrowest of roads in the dark. It was like being with a bunch of ants. You just went with the flow.

Asking for prayers for the people in evacuation camps from the Mt. Agung volcano watch area

The next day we headed up to Ubud, known for its rice patty fields, cultural dances and, most recently, the popularly of Eat, Pray, Love. And currently, a spat of downpours that wipe the humidity from the air and feed the rice.

In Bali, tourism accounts for about a third of the economy so, there is always someone to help you with your questions, desires or plans. That is certainly the case in Ubud.

We are staying at a place I found on Airbnb as I wanted to have something set for the celebration of our 15 years of marriage! Whoo-hoo! This home is a dream, it feels palatial. It was a splurge to our budget at $42 a night. 

So much swimming around my head. More to process and share.

Here’s my my list of 20 things I have noticed after arriving in Bali in the first day and a half.

Three Little Monkeys Sitting on a Bench.

 

 

 

20 things I have noticed since arriving in Bali.

1- There are scooters everywhere and they hold such a variety of people carrying a multitude of things.
2- A rice field walk with Drew was awe-inspiring. We saw people working, rice-growing, ducks, giant spiders.
3- The spiders can be very, very, very big. With bodies as big as a hummingbird.
4-People are very, kind and helpful.
5- The roads are very narrow and have various surfaces, rarely a sidewalk and gaping holes about every 25 feet. Makes for an interesting stroll.
6- It is very humid and the rain comes in downpours.
7- Butterflies, moths, are frequently flying around. They are black, blue and many colors.
8- The beds come with mosquito netting and it looks so romantic.
9- People carry loads on their heads to free up their hands.
10-Geckos, lizards are all over the place. We counted 24 outside our place last night.
11- Ducks can be pets and hang out in the rice patties during the day and get walked home at night by following a flag on a pole.
12- Our place has a little pool and it is delightful.
13- The dollar to Rupiah exchange is 13,435. So you can feel like a millionaire when things cost 60,000 Rupiah and you can buy it with ease. That is the going cost of all four of us getting a ride to the center of town, equivalent of about $4.45.
14-It is hard to figure our what everything costs with such big numbers.
15-There are offerings nearly everywhere for most everyday activities. You find these beautifully folded offerings and incense in the most delightful places.
16-If you order Western food it will look differently than you expect.
17- It is really quiet when you get away from the roads.
18 – There are chickens everywhere. They are like wild mice (aka rats).
19-Alcohol is rather expensive.
20-You need to drink bottled water. Even to brush your teeth.

More to come. We will be here for at least two more weeks. More adventures to be had. More plans to be made. Let’s hope that volcano behaves.

Family Commute

Cooking oil for sale at grocery. Makes a lot more sense to take it home and put it in your own container.

Local boys using a fish to fish.

A Royal Bathroom

Happy, jet lagged boys in a field.

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3 Cats, 3 Dogs, 3 Chickens, 1 boy who turned 10 and a Volcano Watch.

Sol 42: We are in our last week in OZ! I didn’t know was the nick name for this wonderful country as every time I hear that I think of a prison drama on HBO but, never you mind.

Last week, we went a different direction by splurging on passes to the amusement park of Dream World and White Water World .  This is out of the ordinary for us but, one turning 10 is a pretty big deal too.

We have never been to Disneyland but, this may count as a good alternative. Kelvin and I have not been to any Disney park since the 1980s so, we don’t have a lot to compare it to.

It was fun, some crazy rides and loads of old school favorites. Also, not so crowded so all introverts in the family adjusted well. We packed our lunches and easily headed to the car to eat or carried what we needed with us.
For an eight year old and newly minted ten-year old it was the ‘bees knees’. My words, not theirs. Theirs included ‘This is sick!’ and ‘What the ‘bleep’ (yes, they say actual word bleep).

These sound bites don’t sound so good in print. It felt good to be in a place with a bunch of other kids too.

There are few amusement parks where you can see Kangaroos, Dingoes, Bilbys, and lizards that are all over the place. They might even visit your picnic lunch (the lizards, not the Dingoes!).

Oakley’s favorite place was the Lego Store as you walked in. This sounds like the ‘liquor store’ when spoken by a native Aussie so, my confusion was apparent. And disappointed to having no wine with the Legos. But, alas.

Canyon starting his Chauffeur career.

Canyon, our ever-present water hound, was pleased with all the water slides and joyous drops from up high. He even learned to drive a little.

Kelvin took a lot of photos (you should check out his blog at Degrees of Kelvin to see some of his perspective on this trip.

He always shows us sides of the trip we hadn’t seen and close-ups with all the birds and animals. All of us had a great time, we had a couple of day pass that we felt was very affordable.

Which was good as Oakley had a fever the first day and he and I hung out at the house with the dogs for the day while Kelvin and Canyon adventured.

Canyon bringing Mossimo back as Oakley looks down from the bedroom.

The dog and chicken sit is going well. There are three dogs with varying personalities and one is blind so, we carry him down the stairs to wee/poo. The house is called a Queenslander so, it basically built on stilts.

It is a single level for living but, the bottom is like an open spaced garage/washroom/storage room. Fresh eggs every morning is a plus as well.

We also have been getting in our last swims in the Australian seas as well as trips to the pharmacies, book stores and other supply places we might not so easily access on our next leg.

We have been finding our way with the world-schooling. It is a rhythm that we are all trying to balance. Kelvin and I take turns ‘teaching’ or ‘guiding’ as in the Montessori way.

We did Skype with the classroom and that was helpful for the boys to see some of their friends and realize that they are far behind or missing big events.

Yes, there are doing cool things in school but, it’s not like the boys are left out. As they check in with their reporting of their adventures. This helps with the home/friend-sickness that comes up from time to time.

Did I mention that volcano? The last couple weeks there is has been a lot in the news about Mt.Agung’s volcano activity.

List to report to the class.

We have talked with ex-pats that are there and contacted several places and we are getting the go ahead to proceed.

Even the Balinese Tourism Chief asked folks to not change their plans and to still come to Bali. We are not planning on being in place near the Mt.Agung so we are going.

We don’t currently have flight plans to leave which is for the best as we can pick and choose when and where we go next.

We have accommodations for nearly three weeks and will keep a keen eye on what is happening.

The last couple days are connections with long time friends. Staying in their wonderfully comfy, clean house warm with lively conversation, tasty meals and, as Oakley ferreted out, more Legos.

We did tip our hat to OZ at Sky Point , one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a great way to get some perspective when getting ready to leave an area.

The views were unsurprising and there were many, many pods of Humpback Whales breaching, slapping and altogether frolicking out in the ocean. Oz is truly friendly, beautiful and ginormous. We will have to come back.

I think this just might be Kelvin and I in Lego form.

Kody helping Kelvin even though he is blind and deaf he knows good food when he smells it. So do the Geckos that climbed in the window to peek at the activity.

On the job, walking the dogs.

Canyon is trying three new things in each country and it was Sushi for his birthday. A new love for him (and a delight for me!).

Dinner with Deb, our first Trusted Housesitter host and a friend for life now. She has also offered Canyon an opportunity to come back when older to sit again.

 

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Roos, Koalas and other Dreamy Aussie animals.

Week two in Australia and we are moving on to camping after a luxurious stay at Deb’s home with three fuzzy roommates named Patrick, Marley and Gracie. We have been enjoying the personalities of each as we navigate their home and their human’s house.

We have loved having a kitchen, washer, dryer, two bedrooms  and even the use of a car. Albeit our trials of driving a manual shift were fraught with tense laughter and Oakley occasionally covering his eyes! We found this gem of a connection on Trusted Housesitters which allows us to connect with folks who want their house and pets cared for while they are on vacation.

While at this house, we made friends with nearby kids big and small. The boys playing footie with Joseph and his family who are West African immigrants to Australia.

James using his amazing grill sheet for the Kabobs

Meat, meat and meat.

We also enjoyed being invited to a real Aussie BBQ. Kelvin’s search for a butcher

work with ended up at Arundel Meats which serendipitously connected us to another neighbor. The butcher he worked with just happened to live across the street. Small, friendly Australian connection.

The Menu: Pre-course of sausages, then kabobs, then steak then salads and of course beer and wine. We did have some strawberries too! All for good measure to balance out our fruit and veggies was we are not currently lacking for protein.

Then Kangaroo and Koala Bear encounters. A dream to experience and a 50 before 50 bucket list item for me. The Roos were so close and just in the neighborhood. It seems like what running into deer is like for us in the NW. These Kangaroos are smart, sweet and strong.

They are so much bigger than I imagined. Just as the Koala bears are so compact like a favorite teddy bear and all curled up like a new-born human baby, but with so much more fur. It was sweet. 

So, so sweet. There are not many animals you wish to immediately cuddle upon the first time seeing them. These wondrous creatures meet the bill. I was transformed into a place of wonder and amazement. Feeling a bit voyeuristic watching them as they graze and nap. But, they are good teachers of helping us slow down and take it in.

The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was recommended to us by our Aussie connections and it was a great place to see Koala, Kangaroos, Salt-water crocodiles, Wallabies, Wombats, Dingos, Echidna, birds of prey, Emus, many snakes, and water rats (which was NOT my favorite encounter).

The non-profit place protects the animals and uses the funds for entry to support further care for animals. It felt good and worthwhile. Even getting to make silly photos for grandma at home! Canyon is our ham!

We also returned again and again to the parks along the water to the Bouncy Pillow, time one the beach and riding bikes along the water front for a couple of miles enjoying the giant Pelicans seeking snakes and brown snakes waking up after a long winter and sunning themselves on the beach.

It is never a dull moment. We couldn’t have spent many more days here and the boys connection with local kids playing make it a winner on many fronts.

We are settling into our regime of world schooling in the morning and it is hard transition some mornings but, enthusiasm builds with new animals to discover and research. Canyon wholeheartedly wrote up a report on the Red Kangaroo and was over the moon to see them at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. He felt so proud to know his work had taught us more information than we might have learned on our own.

So, we are doing our laundry, watching an educational program on Australian ABC telly, repacking our bags to get ready for the train, bus rides to get us to our camper van rental. It will be one of the first longer treks with our gear on our bodies.

We can do it! Stay tuned and we will let you know how it all turns out. Wifi will be limited but, we are talking with friends via What’sApp as we can call, text and video on the encrypted platform pretty seamlessly.

I am on Instagram with tid bits from time to time at audsjoy_simple_expectations a bit more frequently so, please do follow me there too.

Loving sharing this adventure with you. Please stay tuned and toss us some questions. We love to hear from you all!

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The Golden Coast of Australia is Magical.

Sol 14 for the Gurrs currently on the Gold Coast in Australia. We have gone through some ups and downs over the last days. All good in the life of adjusting to being location independent and living our dream of round the world travel/living. 

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Canyon staring down the pesky birds at Surfer’s Paradise

The time travel time warp of travel from Hawaii was a doozy. The journey to the airport was a mess of traffic at 4:45am. At one point, we even had chickens that were strutting by us faster than we were moving. But, we made it and our host the rented us their car from Turo was a complete angel by meeting us at location near the airport and dropping us off. We couldn’t have done it without him.

He and his family was amazing to us in Hawaii. Meeting us on his day off and hosting a wonderful afternoon at the beach. Never undermine the binding power of families loving travel. We have already been helped out a couple of times that is amazing and I count that in my gratitude list every night!

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Pretty good for a 4am wake up and harrowing trek to the airport!

Australia is 20 hours ahead in time so, we lost a whole day but, I thought we might be okay with the time of day being only four hours different from Hawaii. However, it took a bit of an adjustment for all of us. We are still ironing out the sleeping and eating. Little Oakley had such a hard time of it he got sick the first night and vomited all over without even knowing it, waking only when he had a bloody nose. Poor lad. Whew!

On Sunday, Kelvin got to have his second Father’s Day this year and we celebrated by wandering around the local mall to get first day supplies….sim cards, groceries, adapters, notebooks for schooling and a tasty lunch.

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Kangaroo Patties anyone?

The children helped us shop in the local grocery store as we searched for staples while eyeing some unique options, like Kangaroo patties (we passed this time).

We have been sorting out our world-schooling schedule with the boys. We touch on: Math, Writing, Journaling, Free-Draw, Research on a Local Subject and, what’s that? Lego building? Well, some things need to have special billing in order to stave off homesickness.
Canyon researched the Red Kangaroo and now we are all hoping to find one hopping nearby. However, they don’t really live near here due to their penchant for drier climates which we learned from the research. All is good in a day’s work!

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Oakley during Free Draw in Hawaii

Both boys have talked a lot about what they miss now that they know their friends are back in school. We had one FaceTime with a couple of dear friends and that helped. We are currently planning the Skype with the class. I sprung out the secret stash of Legos I had for such a homesick occasion and now furrowed brows are relaxed. At least for this moment.

House and Pet sitting is going wonderfully. I can’t say enough about the magic connector of Trusted Housesitters . We are currently on a house/pet sit taking care of three furry kitties of various temperaments. One lets us love him all day, the second on occasion and the third has come out only at night and being jet black makes for a ghostly encounter. We love being able to be in a home, cooking our meals, bathing when we need, feeling relaxed and having space to write, study and rest.

Today, Kelvin had is first stage at a local butchery. He worked alongside some local folks breaking down lamb and beef. You can follow his own process on his blog at Degrees of Kelvin. It is a great way for chefs to make friends and contacts. Also, he got paid in meat product so, that is a great bonus as well!

We are figuring out our schedule as we not just traveling around. We are trying to ‘live’ each place we are at. We go out to explore but, also setting time for learning, living in house and playing. We realize that finding playgrounds is an important part of our plan. IMG_4064Yesterday, we found the giant bouncy pillow and it rocked! Also, made quick friends with  a local lad on the zip-line. These are playground toys that would likely be inaccessible in the US due to our litigious culture. It was fun to watch the boys bouncing all over the place.

The surprise of everything thing feeling ‘normal’ for familiar then trying to drive a manual transmission on the ‘other’ or left side of the road, drinking some tea outside and then hearing the most amazing bird calls. It’s early days for us here and so far. Magic.

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Surfer’s Paradise

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Oakley having lost the plot at the airport as we sort transportation.

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Loco Moco in Oahu!

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Moving on Out! Lightening up the Load! On the Road!

We have been counting down the days until we fly out on the 23rd but, we realize that our first big departure day is tomorrow when we leave our house. We have been scurrying around for weeks trying to get all in place. The packing, sorting, donating, selling, scrapping and now, the cleaning.

For me, it feels like one of the most emotional parts. Packing up our lives means going through all the things that are around us daily. IMG_3120The regular coffee cups, the choices of shirts to wear, the boys Legos, that favorite pillow or cuddle blanket. Even going through shampoos, a lucky necklace or board game. We have been reducing our possessions to the smallest of piles to take with us.

 

The pack list is rather minimal. Pack what you can carry. IMG_3129
We still have some honing down to do and we will, however, it is certainly a fraction of what we have had access to everyday.

I have been impressed to see how our kids have been coping with the change and they have shown us, over and over again that they are very resilient kids. Most kids are. They live in the moment better than most adults. They are playing with what is in front of them even if it has been reduced to that last box of Legos and their Kindles.

These last days we have been feverishly cleaning surfaces and taping up boxes. Now the pod is gone (much to our

Good bye Pod!neighbor’s relief, I am sure) and our halls echo with our voices, we are aware that it is really us that makes a home. We ever we are, we will be fine.

We did have one of our two Bon Voyage parties. We had a give away area where folks sorted through some of the items we couldn’t yet donate or dump. It was a fun night where we also drank some of those really nice bottles of wine we have been saving for how long? Literally decades for some of them.

Lightening up the load. Today, we take our kitty to her new home with a long time friend, Ace. We pass the keys over to our patient renters. We return that final batch of library books. We use that borrowed vacuum for the last time.Growth chart measurement! Last for awhile We check the mail. Return keys to my office, measure the boys growth on the wall for that last time for a while and return that leftover dish from our Bon Voyage party.

Tonight we sleep the last time on our pile of blankets on the couch and the last bed left  in the house.

Tomorrow we drive to Idaho for a week of visiting family and friends. Our renters move in and we are officially on the road. Our journey in the contiguous 48 States starts our journey.

Bon Voyage! IMG_3077

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OMG! We ARE really doing this!!

The last couple weeks pieces of our plan have officially fallen into place. Kelvin’s new passport arrived. Yay!! Then we had a flurry of activity as we set up two house/pet sits in September in Brisbane, Australia. And we got our tickets to fly!

So, here is a rundown of recent events. Over the last months, I have been searching for a good fit for a house sit in Australia. Trying to make sure that where we choose or get chosen is where we want to be but also, logistically a good place to be.

In the US, we are used to driving long distances but, it is a big deal to try to drive 1400 kilometers between housing opportunities. hugo-villegas-174015And an even bigger deal when we try to do it in three days in a country we haven’t driven in together (Kelvin was there on his own in 2001), driving on the ‘other side of the road’ for us Yanks and in a camping vehicle we have yet to rent or even select. The situation gave Kelvin and I some pretty funny conversations as we were trying to rationalize a mammoth drive to get in between locations for a place to stay.

The organization we have been working with Trusted Housesitters to find the best matches. We have had lots of conversations, Skype chats and emails with potential matches and I was beginning to feel like I was online dating as I was proposing matches for our family as being the ‘best match’ for others on the other side of the world.

We finally sorted a match with a woman near Brisbane, Australia to care for her three kitty cats and bird. She is also, generously, allowing us use of her car while we are there. She is actually going on two trips with an eight-day break in between and she asked us if we could do the first leg as well. jesse-collins-92501It sounded good but, we were coming from Hawaii and wouldn’t be there for the first two days of her trip. She, again kindly, offered to make her trip work with ours so we can be her support and she ours.

I then started scrambling to figure out our tickets to Australia from Honolulu. I have been playing around online with searches for the ‘perfect’ ones and had yet to officially commit.

This is where things got really interesting for me. We have been planning this trip, at least in theory, since last August. A good eight months ago and just like a woman in denial of her pregnancy, I didn’t actually believe it was all happening until I had visual proof. For me, it was the tickets.

I have flown around the world many, many times, however, I have never been responsible for two little humans in the process.john-cobb-14130 It’s one thing to throw things in a backpack and dig out my passport but, an entirely different kettle of fish to be arranging four flights to another country with visa applications, baggage requirements, thoughts about timing, food accessibility, world schooling plans, accommodations and time changes for all of us.

We were up very late at night. It was the only time Kelvin and I could effectively talk about these plans without the’ regular’ day logistics happening around us. My brain froze as my hands hovered over the ‘Click to Purchase’ button.

This is after several more searches in Google Flights and Momondo as well as the airline Jet Star where we eventually bought our tickets. I was breathing heavily. I looked at Kelvin and my eyes grew big. He looked at me questioningly.

“Yes….?”, he gently asked. “What’s going on?”

I stared at him and said, “Are we really doing this?”

Here is where my very patient and kind husband could have said any number of unhelpful things. Instead, he just said, “Yes, we are and it is all going to be okay”.

At that moment I had all the details of our trip that I have been pouring over in my mind, on paper and on the internet swimming around in my head and I thought, ‘Where is the adult around here that we can check with?”

Then I realized, WE are the adults! Yikes! This just got real.

I had a similar brain freeze when I was seven months pregnant with our first son, Canyon and my friend Wendy was driving me home from michael-waters-105757Baby’s R Us with the crib my in-laws had bought us.

I knew it was going to happen. That baby was going to be coming soon.  But, I didn’t really know it until that moment. I was looking like I was nine months pregnant as it was but, it was that crib being brought into our home that really hit it home for me. It was real.

Wendy was reassuringly hilarious as she calmed and comforted me that we would get through this, the baby was indeed going to be here in about eight weeks and, that it would all be okay.

So, that night last week, we officially bought our international tiIMG_2002ckets that will transport our family to the other side of the planet.

And it will all be okay. Right? Of course, right.

The day after we bought our tickets my husband left me a bunch of flowers and a note that read, ‘Australia, here we come! I love that we are doing this!’

He is my elixir, yet again.

Onward and upward to the planning…. more to come. Thanks for joining us on this journey and we prepare for our journey.

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5 Things to Do Before We Skip Town-Cleaning out the Mental Cobwebs

We hit the six-months-to go mark yesterday. Whoa, yikes!..I just caught my breath when I wrote that. That means about 180 days to ready, steady, go. In my whirling life I realize I have a lot of loose threads I am constantly picking at. Some are reasonable and others are just plain, annoying time sucks. So, while I am trying to ‘clean house’ literally I also need to do it figuratively.

These are the things I am working on.

Kicking Toxic Relationships to the Curb! I am a human, non-sociopath (thank goodness) but, that also means I am a deeply feeling person. While this is not a bad thing, I find that I invest in relationships that are clearly not helpful, kind, symbiotic or healthy for me.kristopher-roller-188180

I spend a lot of time trying to craft a response from someone I care about and ache for them to like me back. I spend too much time, energy and, quite frankly, pieces of my soul in the output of others without receiving a balanced, authentic connection in return.
I am practicing turning towards the ones that have shown up and have earned the right to hear my story.

Say No When I Feel I Should say ‘Yes’. How many times a DAY do I mumble out an ‘okay’ or squeak a ‘yes’ when I know, in my heart of hearts, this request is not what truly aligns with my value much less, even have time for. It feels like a must but, at what cost?
dikaseva-34987Now, I don’t mean shirking my responsibilities but, rather saying yes to a time commitment that ever shrinks my sliver of ‘me time’ that have on my calendar. No one is making me do this. I do it. And I need to cut it out. Now.

 

Paying attention to the ‘shoulds, oughts and musts’ that rattle in my head.  Or otherwise said, stop ‘shoulding’ on myself. I say this to my clients all to time and like other  psychotherapists, I don’t always practice what I suggest (shock!). I think of these words as threads from someone else’s rule book, goals and they hijack my own dreams, hopes and intentions.

jared-erondu-15318I find myself surveying the room to find the ‘best’ choice or solution for all involved and meanwhile my voice, and often, my values get muffled.

Pushing others agendas to the front of the line will get me nowhere and often, it is not reciprocated

Resetting my Expectations of Others. Also, something I talk a lot about with clients. I am trying to do this more in my own relationships and, luckily, I have a very supportive and intuitive husband that often takes me by the shoulders and tries to redirect me to the more realistic path.

When we have an event, gathering or interaction coming useemi-samuel-15564p, my husband and I will talk about what the minimum expectations are (seriously shooting as low as possible), what is reasonable and achievable and then, the dream scenario.
All the while, becoming abundantly aware that I can only control myself as I am hoping for some crazy, magic, Jedi mind trick to get others into knowing and doing what I want. Often without saying it out loud.

Minimum : Low, low, bottom of barrel e.g. I show up at an event, I have a coffee
Reasonable and Achievable: e.g. I see the person, have a couple of connectingwords. 
Dream Scenario, aka, Lottery, Bonus, Gravy: The names says it all, expecting the best!  

unknown
I am setting simpler expectations. Dream Scenario will not likely happen but, if it does, what a pleasant surprise! It’s a lot shorter fall from high expectations and landing splat in a pile of disappointment and resentment to saying ‘that was unexpectedly awesome’.

 

Slow down and Look People in the Eye. In our technologically focused society we are often bumbling around the streets, coffee lines and even traffic lanes with our eyes angling down at a device. We are missing connections around us that are as authentic as anything we desire from those we are following on social media. jon-tyson-77013Simple eye contact is a deeply personal, human experience.

Now, I am not saying I am trying to see into stranger’s souls. No, I am merely saying we often feel so alone while surrounded by dozens of people. And a simple head nod and eye connection can boost our serotonin and release a few healthy hormones in blood stream to battle the anxiety and cortisol spikes we get while scanning click bait online.

 

Whew…so, what are you working on? Is this helpful to you?  These are not going to be accomplished immediately. These are all practices that are like pulling the car alignment into place. It takes attention and management. Saying them out loud makes me more accountable for them as well. So, how about you? No high expectations, just the minimum please.

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Here’s Your Notification: Turn off Your Notifications!

As I write this in the middle of the night, I am not struck by the irony of my thought or suggestion. I was tossing and turning tonight as I churned thoughts after attending at talk by Michael Lewis. He is known for his works The Big Short, Moneyball, The Blind Side among others.

In his varying topics last night, his talk included the new Trump Presidency.  I was really struck by his discussion with Hanna Rosin about what is going on in our country. Hanna asked, ‘Are we going to be dumber in four years? He said it’s like Patton standing in front of the American flag in movie theaters in the 1940s with the statement.

“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.’” ― General George S. Patton, Jr. to his troops on June 5, 1944

Then WWII. Now, 2017, our new reality. Get involved. And make it count. And we’ve seen this over the weekend.qc6vnbe4jqs-jerry-kiesewetter Millions out walking, marching, speaking out for a multitude of reasons.

Yes, it is good (I know, there are plenty of competing thoughts on this) however, your involvement has got to be balanced or your going to end up in my office. This week, I found the tone of many sessions came back to and unpacked angst, fear, anxiety, worry, anger and grief.

In only a week and how many times have I been bounced around the blogosphere, social networking sites with topics and events from inauguration, women’s march to minute by minute updates of what is being done or said in Washington and, therefore, bouncing around the world)?

My clients and I discussed this and pondered, maybe we are not only online too much but, we are being ‘pinged’ too much.otedkfse3j0-anete-lusina My work is hearing about what is taking up space and interrupting people’s lives and making it not work as well – it frequently comes back to – too many notifications.

This week I have been talking with clients about a media diet and that delicate balance between FOMO and awareness. During sessions, my clients are aware that my office is one of the few places where they don’t look at their phone for 50 minutes. I see them carefully put their phone at the other end of the couch or hesitate in their handling of their devices as they settle in.

I had to take deliberate steps to reduce my access to information and I am doing this imperfectly. My morning routine, for nearly 30 years, has been listen to NPR. It is as much a part of my day as my coffee, and getting dressed. This news cycle is ruining my everyday experience. I used to find it grounding. Now, I find my own levels of agitation are raised before I leave the house. Then I may take it out on my kids, or in my driving or my stress eating. I can’t do this. Not every day. Not for the foreseeable future.

I think of Stephen Colbert’s Election Night speech. Before the outcome was fully decided, Stephen encouraged us to get back to our lives and reminisced about when he was a kid and politics was a once in a while topic at the dinner table. Now, it can be several times a minute depending on how many notifications you have on.

I am also drawn to work by minimalist parent advocate, Asha Dornfest, who has been trying to help us be better parents and humans with her blog and podcast. that-horrifying-moment-when-youre-looking-for-an-adult-but-then-realize-you-are-an-adult-so-you-look-for-an-older-adult-someone-successfully-adulating-an-adultier-adult-fcb44She said in 2015 at the World Domination Summit that sometimes we are searching for someone else to be in charge.

So, given this. What do I recommend? Who am I to recommend anything? Well, I am a struggling  woman, mom, business owner, therapist, friend and human. I have to figure out how to balance it myself or I won’t be able to see you and I don’t want to be in the fetle position in the corner of my bedroom. But, like Brene’ Brown says, we need to embrace our imperfections. Well, excellent I can do that!

Some suggestions include; screen free days or, a at minimum, screen free pockets of time in our days. zajstp1nb88-alex-holyoakeThat is a start. I also recommend a couple of apps Calm and Mindshift that help us distract or rather, be in the moment.

Okay, enough for now. Excuse me while I go crawl back into bed and hope my hot water bottle has a little love left to give. And I will resist the urge to flip over the phone to see what’s happened in the last 20 minutes.

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