Monday, 22 October 2012

Australia is...

Thought I might make this a regular list for the blog. Below are some of my observations from our first two months.


Crazy weather--down coats and flip flops, freezing cold temps but no central heat in the houses, bundled up in the morning & steaming hot by noon. 

Laid back! Phrases like, “No dramas!” and “How you going?”

Ocean/beachy fun! After school and weekend activities at the beach, little piles of sand on the floor after sorting the laundry, sand in my sheets, sand in our food, sand everywhere!

It’s buying whole fish at a time because it’s cheaper. (Then leaving the fish market with the  bones & the head for stock. “Madame? Do you want the bones & head for stock?” “Um...yes? Ew. Okay! YES!”)

It’s being woken up by kookaburras laughing in the trees in the back garden. (Because it’s ‘garden’ not ‘yard’ and ‘gardening’ not ‘yard work.’)

It’s pretty darned great so far!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Taronga Zen

It’s quiet and chill at my house. I’m not sure the last time those two words could describe this house--especially with all four of my men home. 12:37 and I’ve only just had a shower and dressed. Spent the morning rocking in my Giddyup chair, drinking coffee and reading a book about Tuscany. Also a few books about animals and trucks and superheroes with little boys on my lap rocking too.

About 95% of me feels deliciously content and rested and at peace. The other 5% keeps wondering if I ought to take advantage of the pretty day and take the boys surfing. If we’ll miss out by staying at home all day. If they’ll resent it if it rains tomorrow as forecast and we didn’t DO anything today. Even though they are all content and resting and peaceful.

I do this as a mom. I have guilt attacks. Where I worry I’m not doing enough or too much or maybe not the right thing? I hate that stupid guilt monster. Some days though, some days I can quiet the beast and enter into the day and just be. Those days are always so delightful.

Thursday was such a day though it didn’t begin that way. The puppy had barked much, much, much of the night. Oh my. I kind of wanted to kill him. We had a trainer come and we were trying some new things and man a livin' he was struggling. So anyway, I was pooped. Also Littlest was just a stinker that morning. Demanding. Whiney. So very two years old. Then I accidentally opened a blog from one of those 'super moms' suggesting a clothespin game to play with your toddler in the living room that helps them work on the pincer grasp. RAWR! Guilt monster attack! I thought, "OH NO! I haven't been working on that. Was I supposed to? Now he'll have poor control and bad handwriting. Which means he’ll be a poor student and get behind and it will be all my fault. I've failed!" It sent me into a yucky space. Spiraling down into not-so-nice thoughts about myself and my mothering and how he wasn't in preschool and I wasn't doing preschool type things with him and would he be okay, was I wasting the short time I have with him, maybe we should have stayed in the US where he had a lovely preschool, etc. etc. On top of that the bigs just couldn't seem to get their act together for school. I was patient, but it was really irritating. There’s only so many times you can suggest that they get dressed in a serene voice. I had told Littlest I would take him to the zoo and I nearly bailed. In the end though we dropped the bigs off (late) at school and headed to the zoo.

It was so delightful. He had a cupcake and I had a coffee. Cupcakes and coffee always help. I need to paste that note up somewhere for myself. It seriously made a huge difference for my weary, cranky attitude. Then we just wandered.

The Taronga Zoo is amazing. It overlooks the Sydney Harbor--so it has a fantastic view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Gorgeous. Also I didn't bring a stroller or the backpack. So we just wandered around at toddler pace. Which was so restful and restorative. Slow but deliberate. Another toddler meditation practice like I’ve written about before.

We went to the seal show. Which I LOVE. Hung out at the chimpanzees for a while. At one point he found a seed pod. A big one. He calls them 'shaka-shakas.' He loves them. If we were home we’d be collecting the US version from the yard at the top of Columbine Street on our way to Sandburg Elementary every morning. He shook it and danced and sang. Which was stinking adorable. Then he just plopped down right in the middle of one of the main thoroughfares and started pulling it all apart. At first I suggested we move and take it somewhere else. I was sort of embarrassed and not in the mood to beg him or negotiate with his two-ness. Then I thought, "you know what, why bother?" So I plopped down with him. Waited as he pulled apart all 5 pods one at a time. Unwrapped each of the 40 some seeds from their fuzzy-wierd shells and handed them to me one at a time. Right in the middle of everyone's way. It was so great. I nearly cried with the simplicity of it. The beautiful relaxing reality of just sitting anywhere we could find and doing ONE thing until we were done. Together. In the sunshine.

About 10 minutes later we were walking down a hill and he dropped his sippy cup. He realized that it would roll down hill and he just kept picking it up and rolling it over and over. Then he started to kick it. "Play soccer, Mama!" Again I was tempted to tell him no and worried about if it was a suitable area and about how filthy his cup was getting and would it break? Stuff like that. Then I just thought, "you know what, this isn't a big deal either!" So we played soccer. He just giggled and laughed and had the BEST time. Anyone whose way we were in was chuckling at him and his 'soccer ball' and his adorable laugh.

It was all pretty profound for me. I felt like I learned so much. Like that there is something both magical and meditative about being totally present with another person. Especially when that other person is very different from you--i.e. a toddler. Just to see the world at his pace. Through his eyes. Letting him take the lead--something I don't do very often. It was...well, magical! I also felt like I was able to be present with myself in those moments. Really honoring his personhood but also my own. It felt wonderful to sit on the warm concrete in the sun. To watch each seed come free of it's outer and inner case. I enjoyed that immensely and not just because he did. I also noticed that no one seemed particularly bothered that we were in the way. We broke some "rules" and weren’t particularly polite and it wasn't that big of deal. Then it occurred to me later, ha! We worked on the pincer grasp, vocabulary, science, physics, and a bunch of other preschoolish stuff! All just by being together!

It felt like such a peaceful, kind, precious way for God to say to me, "I love you. You're who I pick for these boys. I love YOU for just being YOU. Thanks for taking such good care of them. Thanks for taking good care of you."

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Phoning it In

Phone it in. As in Jillian Michaels pointing her finger through the TV screen at my working-out ass and saying, "Do NOT phone this in!"

Or there's "phone a friend." As in Regis Philbin suggesting to the next 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' that you phone your designated friend if you just can't figure out the answer to the question that might make you a million dollars richer.

I'm more fond of the latter. There are just sometimes you must phone a friend. Tonight I picked my friend, Kelly. Well, actually Wanderer phoned Kelly. On my behalf. I don't know what he said to her, but all of the sudden he handed me the phone with her on the other end. After just a few minutes my sad, discouraged self quit sitting with glazed-over eyes staring at the dining room wall and started laughing, listening, gabbing, and--as she would say--setting the world to rights. Well, my world and Kelly's anyway.

It wasn't long enough. It wasn't face-to-face. She was an awfully long way away in England. There wasn't a strong cup of tea or a tall glass of wine involved. But it was my friend. Who gets me. Who I get. There's just something about that, isn't there?

My mumsie FaceTimed me from the US today. Must have been late, late at night her time. She'd got my message though. She'd read my blog about what in the world to do about my sweet, sad Biggest boy. So we talked. She told her own story of similar struggles with me and my siblings. She made a few really helpful suggestions. We talked and laughed a bit and she admitted she had no idea how to set mine or Biggest's world to rights but she loved me, she was available, and she was real sorry it was so hard. She gets me. That's why she called. She knew I needed to phone a mama.

My silly cell phone doesn't work at my house. We're having trouble getting the Aussie cell phone companies to give me a phone that's not a top-up so we're having trouble remedying the poor-phone problem. But tonight Wanderer and I Skyped over the 3G network while he rode home in a cab from the Sydney airport. He sounded a wee-bit like a robot. Littlest kept asking him, "What you in, Daddy?" Not understanding why on earth you'd have a conversation through the computer if it wasn't video-enabled. Still we talked. He made me laugh and asked about everyone's day and let me know how much he loved me.

Biggest asked me a few weeks ago when I got my first cell phone. "Hmmmm..." I answered. "I think I was about 23?" He was incensed. "WHAT?!?! Your parent's didn't let you have one in high school?!?!" "B, they didn't have them when I was in high school," I told him. "Whoa Mom, I didn't realize you were THAT old!"

In 1996, I spent about a year in Kiev, Ukraine. The internet was a tiny baby. You could email, but not everyone had an account and getting online was patchy--especially from the Ukrainian end. Making a long-distance call involved a trip to the post office to pay for the time, then a call from a land-line to an operator to connect you, then finally the placed call which must be kept within the time limit purchased and often included interruptions of various other conversations over the same line. Still we were amazed about how much modern conveniences had changed the process of keeping in touch. That in spite of the fact that all minute-purchasing, connecting, etc. had to be meticulously practiced in Russian ahead of time or else facilitated by a Ukrainian friend as none of it could be done in English. Still we felt quite well-connected given the enormous distance between us.

I am living now in a completely different hemisphere than my family or any of my friends. I almost always speak to them in a different day--most often we talk in their evening while I have already experienced part of the next morning. Still we talk while walking or driving (hands free of course) or doing dishes. Anytime, any place over our cell phones. We see each other over phones, computers, and iPads. Showing each other our houses, our children's newest tricks, our new puppies, our tears and laughter. We connect. We phone it in. We phone a friend.

I'm enormously grateful for technology in this moment, but not nearly as grateful as the precious friends and family it allows me to connect to.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

What's a mama to do?

Drop toddler boy off in the morning at Parent's Day Out. Stand outside door listening to boy sob and sob. Hear from teacher at end of the day that he "only cried until lunch time." Continue to take him.

Try out two days a week the next year. Watch him hold his ears along the sides of the room rocking back and forth because the other children are too loud or too naughty. Worry. Learn he needs to eat gluten-free and dairy-free. Notice the difficulty this makes with school snacks, playdates, etc., but also notice how much calmer he becomes over time. How much easier it is for him to embrace the activities and relationships with the teacher and other kiddos.

Third year. Two days a week again. More "school-like" situation. He loves his teacher and she loves him. They both eat gluten-free and sometimes she brings him special snacks. He flourishes.

Fourth year. Move to England. Enroll him in local school. He skips kindergarten and its "learn to do school and play a lot" mentality and moves right into full-day, full-on school because of his age and the way they do school there. Boy cries again every day when I drop him off. Boy cries so hard his teachers send him home with his brother at lunchtime because otherwise he cries all afternoon long. Everyone is patient, but this doesn't get much better. Even after a few months. The afternoon teacher yells at the kids a lot. Never at him directly--he is the epitome of the 'good kid,' but it doesn't matter. The yelling sends him to tears even after he learns to be away from home all day. He loves to learn, makes friends, and enjoys his morning teacher. Mostly though he's miserable. So we take him out at Christmas.

We teach he and his brother at home for a year and a half. This is a delightful time of exploring things he's really interested in. Teaching him to read. Loving our math curriculum. We go to lots of castles. Visit tons of museums. Have a wonderful time. But...boy is lonely. We welcome another baby into the family so mama is busy. Boy asks to please try school again. We acquiesce.

Boy begins school at tiny local village school. He struggles a bit, but his main teacher is lovely and he soon makes lots of friends. The Wednesday teacher upsets him so much we go to talk to the principle about it. Later finding out we are one of the first parents to report her bullying, name-calling, and belittling behavior even though it has happened before. We are shocked by this. I want to call it quits. We hang in though. The principle confirms the teacher's behavior with other students, the teacher is suspended, and the boy learns that standing up for the underdog (he wasn't the one being bullied by said teacher) is important and can bring about change.

We move after his first year at this school. Boy is utterly heartbroken. He pines for his friends, his teacher, and his school and never quite recovers for over a year.

We enroll him in the local neighborhood school in our new town. It's bigger, but has an art, science, music, P.E., and computer specialist. I am stoked about these things. Surely they make for the best sort of education. Boy is less than thrilled. He struggles to make friends. A group of girls totally stress him out with their chasing, song-singing style of crushing on him. He doesn't bond with his teacher. He has hours worth of homework. It gets so bad that he cries every morning and holds onto my clothes begging and pleading not to have to go to school.

I sit down with the teacher and the principle. Asking how we can help him solve his predicament. He meets with the girls--it goes really well. He meets with his teachers--gains a better understanding of the homework and relaxes into the school year. This takes almost until Christmas. I look at other schools. Should we change? What is the solution?

We leave him at the school. He flourishes academically. They enroll him in the gifted and talented program and test scores show what we often suspected--he is beyond his years in reading and math abilities. He does make friends, but never good friends. His main friend treats him poorly and his brother worse which upsets boy. I don't know how to help with this. It's very difficult to watch.

We make him do swim team at the local pool and finally he is making neighborhood friends. He seems really happy. Then we move. Again.

This time he heads to an even larger school. In yet another country. Boy makes friends right away. Even going on a playdate within the first three weeks. He loves the kids. He's stoked about his friends. Relief. But...the reports of the teaching style worries his dad and I. Calling children "babies" when they misbehave. Principles belittling from the front. Constantly communicating their disappointment and what an "embarrassment" the kids are. We worry about the academics as well. Granted, it's the last three weeks of term, but there is no homework at all, they watch a few movies, and the lessons are deemed boring and "really, really easy."

Mama worries. She worries about his future. Welcoming the sage advice from her mother that she too worried about each school change, move, teacher and friend situation. Worrying at each turn that my future hung in the balance. Yet I turned out okay.

Mama still worries though. About the teaching. About her smart boy not being challenged enough. About what it communicates to a child when adults speak that way to them or to those around them. About what it communicates to them when their parent knows it is happening and doesn't stand up for them. About what in the heck one does instead? Is this the real world full of mean people and he needs my love and support as he learns to navigate it now? Or does he need to be protected from it. Is my role to stand in the gap and say, "no way!"

Academically what do we do? How do you find an education that meets the individual academic needs of such a child? One who just sits in a different place learning-wise than his peers?

Mama struggles. That's what she does. She worries and fidgets and talks it through with his daddy and prays and tries to listen to deep Answers. She tries to see the pattern. Of struggle and triumph. Of his resistance to change and of his ultimate resilience as he muscles through. She tries to remember the remarkable experiences of education outside of any classroom. The global citizen she is raising. The boy whose love of culture and adventure flourishes through his expatriate experiences.

Mama practices the excruciating process of letting go. Knowing ultimately that the boy does not belong to her. That she was chosen as his mother and his guide for a short time. That she can only offer her journey, her heart, and her own story. Doing the very best she can. Trying to take a long view. Trying to be as courageous as she urges him to be.

She listens to his tears as Spring Break ends and he begs not to have to go back to school. "I love the kids, Mom. The teachers though. They're so mean! They never have anything encouraging to say! They've never been mean to me, but they are to the other kids and I HATE that! I can't stand it!" She assures him she's listening. That he can tell her everything. That she's open to thinking through some solutions of how to solve this big problem. She says how sorry she is that it's hard.

Mama drops him off at school on the first day of Term 4. Then she cries.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Grinch who stole my sanity...

"Oh the noise, noise, noise, NOISE!"

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Biggest achieved his highest consecutive jumps ever this week. 564 forward jumps in a row. Plus 51 "cross arms." Also various other feats of jump roping prowess and lots and lots (and lots and lots) of practice. Super impressive. I'm stoked that his current favorite activity is so active and healthy. Over and over on the bouncy timber floors with loud hurrahs and announcements interspersed. Over and over and over. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

Oh and his back-up activity? Wall-ball against the living room wall. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. "ARRRRGHHHH!!! I MISSED IT!" Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.

"Know why I love to do this guys?" Middlest asks last night. "Cause I love technology and I love music and this is my favorite way to do it. Hey Dad? What are some more FAST rock n' roll songs?" He's crazy about making mixes. Holding the iPad in his lap and spending hours scrolling through Wanderer's iTunes collection and trolling Spotify for songs. He's careful to listen to the beginnings and ends together. Several times. Making sure they fit just "so." I'm really enjoying watching his eyes light up when he finds a great new song he loves. Fun when it's an "old" song and he's discovering it for the first time. Also, it's hella-loud.

Littlest's new favorite thing is to climb on my head. Especially as a means to wake me up in the morning. He loves to ride his bike across the empty living room and crash into the walls to stop himself, the puppy yelping and running this way and that to avoid the wheels.

Middlest is doing that thing again. That thing where he just climbs on my lap or my back or wraps himself barnacle-style around my legs at any time--especially when I am cooking, typing, or talking to someone else.

Biggest can tell I'm a little touched-out. So he hovers around the edges. Not wanting to bug me, but wanting in on the affection action. Makes me feel crazed and guilty all at the same time.

Boys in our bed early to snuggle. Boys in our bed til they fall asleep and need to be carried to their beds. An awesome week at the beach which included much coaxing of small boys to please walk along so we could watch the bigs surf lessons and would it be okay to maybe not stop at every single seashell? Whole afternoons of reading on the outdoor couch. The big boys suctioned to my sides and a few gentle reminders that digging chins into my shoulder hurts. Then reminding Littlest not to jump on me while I'm reading. Oh, and not on the glass coffee table either. Puppy cuddles interrupted by puppy lessons not to chew on my clothes, toes, fingers, or love handles. Puppy checkup with Littlest in the backpack so he doesn't try to vaccinate his brothers with the vials on the counter or run away to let the cats all out of their cages.

"I'm just going to sit down for a few minutes," I tell Wanderer. So I pull up a little patch of floor and plop down. Two seconds later the Middlest has sat down with his head on my shoulder and one leg drooped over the top of mine. Littlest is jealous and has started climbing in my lap and telling his brother to "Scoot OVER!" while Biggest wants to know what my favorite character was in x, y, and z movie and how did I think the actors did and is that my favorite movie that actor was in or do I have another preference and how about we play rummy while we discuss superheroes, "Want to?"

Yes. But no. But...Can I please just have a minute. Just one. I just need just one little one. Of quiet. Of time. Of SPACE?!?!

Every once in a while the mean ol' green guy shows up. All I want to do is tie a horn on the puppy's head, and just let my "bad banana with a greasy black peel" out! I want to race down and steal all their Jing Tinglers, Flu Floopers, Tar Tinkers, and jump ropes. I want them to quit playing their noisy games like Zoozitter Carzay (a roller skate type of LaCrosse and Croquet) and wall ball! To quit already with making ear-splitting noises deluxe on their great big electric hoocardio schnooks or iPad mixes.

I want them to stop pestering me for food. It's exhausting to feed them when all they do is feast, feast, feast, feast, feast. Finally it gets to a point where I swear I must stop this whole thing! For 53 years (it feels like) I've put up with this now! I must stop the noise and eating and touching from coming, but how? Then I got an idea. An awful idea. My inner-Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea...

I finally locked myself in my room. No, it's not totally sound proof. One wall isn't really a wall but a temporary partition through to the kitchen. Unfortunately, it's also not totally private. The two curtains don't cover the windows completely so boys can peak in and still have lots to say and show me through the windows. It's also not totally boy-proof as my bed was full of sand and I don't think my house will ever not smell to some degree like feet. But it did the trick. A glass of wine. A couple of homemade brownies. A chick flick with noise-canceling headphones on. By myself. In my bed. With no one touching me or making (very much) noise.

Does anyone else feel this?

The interplaying emotions of deep gratitude for warm little bodies. Awareness of the shortness of this time when they will want to be close. Want to snuggle up and be with me. Yet the intense feeling of being overwhelmed and longing for just a tiny bit of SPACE for the LOVE!!! I love my kiddos. I know what a blessing they are. I feel so much gratitude for them and for my life. Almost all the time.

I fell asleep to my movie and woke up to puppy yelps, toddler butts, and thump, thump, thump, thumping. Somehow though, I didn't feel like stealing anyone's toys or last cans of Who-Hash.

They say that her heart grew three sizes that day!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Day 1: Aussie Spring Break, Sept 2012

First day of...not sure. Term Break? Spring Break? It is Spring here. The boys have only been at school for three weeks, but they get two weeks off. We celebrated with surf lessons:

The ageless look of people in great shape who spend every day in the sun. There's no way to tell if they're 20 or 50. One guy with a shaved head. One with curly hair and a beard. The rest all long-haired and sun-bleached blond. Guys? Girls? Hard to tell when they're all in wetsuits and baseball caps. I guessed totally wrong on a couple of them and didn't realize until they were standing side-by-side. One in a bikini and the other hairy-chested. (The bikini-clad one was the girl by the way.)

They all moved with such ease. Like sand and salt water were home and they only owned a couple sets of clothes besides their surf get-ups.

Different types of dads and moms. Some very suburban stay-at-home moms with huge bags of snacks and dry towels and sensible sun-hats, playing in the sand with the little brothers and sisters. Some very glam boob-jobbed mamas in expensive Italian sunglasses who never once sat down--I'm assuming they didn't want to get their high-end jeans sandy. One Thor look-a-like dad who came running down the beach in old jeans and a ragged t-shirt. Hollering encouragment to his boy whilst carrying his yellow surf board--blond locks fanning out behind him. He looked like a movie star.

The kids though? They were just kids. A teaming mass of 6-10 year olds hardly distinguishable from one another in their wetsuits. Laughing, throwing sand, and cheering when one of them managed to catch a wave.

My own two wetsuit-wearers had the time of their life. Declared their instructors "awesome." Made friends with two boys who are almost exactly the same ages and have also moved from the US in the last few weeks.

We celebrated by coming home and reading Percy Jackson books and making chocolate chip cookies.

I declare Day 1 a success!!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Camp Simplify

The stuff arrived in port on the 19th. So now we wait for an inspection, possible fumigation, and then we get our furniture and other household goods!

After 8 solid weeks of the bare minimum I have mixed feelings. We've been at 'simplify your life' boot camp. A house-full of furniture down to none. Eight weeks of camping out in our house--four weeks on the US end/four weeks here on the Australia end.

Here's what we have had:
-an air mattress, a Pac N' Play, and the boy's trail pads to sleep on (plus pillows & pillowcases, a duvet for us (but no sheets, I forgot those), and a sleeping bag for each boy)
-one 16 piece set of dishes
-my nesting melamine mixing bowls
-two pans for cooking, a 13x9 baking pan & muffin pan
-some silverware
-a few cooking tools. Funny what you deem absolutely necessary when you're packing for several weeks. I brought a garlic press, vegetable peeler, a good chef's knife, a paring knife, can opener, wine key (priorities!), a spatula, two silicon scrapers, and a set of tongs. I also brought the pastry thingy that you use to cut the butter into the flour. Totally can't remember what it's called and not sure at all why I brought that? Guess I thought we needed some pies. Except I didn't bring a pie pan.
-a towel each & a bathmat
-a few rags & a few dishtowels
-some clothes
-whatever toys/books the boys could fit in their backpacks
-a few iTools

Housing-wise we've gone from 3 bathrooms (with two bathtubs) down to one with only a shower & no bathtub. Two living areas and a dining room down to one living area. A large washer and dryer down to a wash & dry in one machine that my friends in England jokingly called a "wash & hot." About a quarter acre or so of mostly grass down to a tiny little yard with mostly plants (read: low maintenance).

Technology-wise we have no TV. In the US we couldn't get any TV programs either, but we had one for Wii and for movies.

Here's the deal. I see that list and think what a 1st world problem such a "lack of stuff" is. In the 3rd world that would seem like major luxury. We have SO much to be thankful for. I am practicing lots of gratitude.

I'm thankful there's so little to clean or tidy-up. It's a nice break. From cleaning and tidying but also from badgering the boys to get their part done. It takes me about 45 minutes to get the entire house clean.

I'm surprisingly thankful for the lack of kitchen tools considering my love of kitchen gadgets. I bought a kettle, a crockpot, and a toaster when we got here. Those items are essentials in this family. But the lack of kitchen stuff has kept things very simple and easy-peasy in the cooking department. It's also got us to cleanse a bit and pull dairy and gluten more strictly out of our diet. We were really struggling with that in the US. Probably because I had resorted to a lot of meals out and processed foods to just get by until we left.

Having very little technology has been wonderful. I thought an iPhone really simplified my life. Turns out it's the opposite. I have a bit of a technology addiction. It's true. Funny how much less stress I feel when I can't check facebook or email as often. Also--there's this crazy thing called a MAP that I'm finding all kinds of helpful! With no GPS or smartphone I just have to check the map as I'm driving places. Here's the deal--I think I'm getting around much more quickly than I would have otherwise! Seeing the map gives me an idea of the bigger-picture. So I'm starting to get a sense for how to get places. My iPhone or the GPS only told me the next turn. The map shows me where I am. Hmmmm...I bet there's a metaphor in there somewhere.

Also I conserve words. My tiny little uber-expensive to top-up phone is a real pain to text on. Calls cost loads. So I conserve words. I only use the important ones. My conversations are brief but distilled. Probably a metaphor there too. You think?

Without a Wii and with only the few movies we loaded onto my iPad (about 5 of them total) we play games. Rummy, UNO, etc. We jump rope. Well, the boys do. I'm pretty bad at it, but they're teaching me lots of what they call "advanced moves" so I'm getting better! We read. Already finished two big ol' books and are well into another two. It's lovely.

We also have no friends or family here. Which in some ways really sucks. Really. However, in other ways it's wonderful just to have us to focus on. It's simple. Spending time together. I think Middlest and I have finally caught up with snuggling for the first time since Littlest was born. Biggest no longer frantically uses his zillion words a day in the last 20 minutes before bedtime. He seems to feel comfortable with the time he has to talk about what he needs to talk about. 

"It's been great, and I'm grateful." Now can we have our stuff back?

Chuckle. See, here's the deal. Not having furniture means having no drawers to put our clothes away in. Which means certain toddlers throw every item of their own and each of their brother's clothing all over the floor during nap time. Not having a real bed or curtains to go on the windows makes certain marital activities a bit tricky. It also means our bed is the hub for everything. Since it's the only piece of 'furniture'--albeit inflated-- in the house it's the only place we gather. For stories, snuggles, sleeping, infirmary, aforementioned activities, etc. The thing is? My bed is full of sand and smells like boys. I'm ready for sheets and a place for the boys and I to snuggle or read or play so that the master bedroom can be a bit of a hiatus for Wanderer and I again.  

There are things I plan on incorporating into our post simplification bootcamp life. I plan to play a lot more games. I don't know why half the clothes that are still coming are still in my closet? I haven't worn half the things I brought! Major culling about to commence. I'm in no hurry to buy a TV even just for movies and Wii. I have already made a list in my head of the many kitchen things that end up being distracting clutter. Definitely some culling needing to take place there. Also with the toys. The boys play together these last few weeks. They don't have anything else to play with! I thought they'd fight more because of that. Turns out they fight less. A lot less.

Also I want to work very hard at not incorporating too many activities into our lives. It's just too wonderful to have so much time to be together. We like each other a lot. We like each other much more when we spend time cultivating relationships with each other as our first priority.

Turns out we do better as a family--as individual people too--with less. Less commitments. Less stuff. Less. But I am looking forward very much to a couch, a bed, and a drawers for the clothes! Also curtains. Never thought I'd miss curtains so much!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Changing Paradigms

Slightly buzzy Fall Mix wafting out to the porch. Washer spinning. Dishwasher chugga chugging. Cars driving along the front. The occasional exotic bird-call--such a funny thing to get used to. Boys giggling and commiserating over their weekly 90 minutes of games on the iPad. Puppy chewing a piece of bark. Daddy reading Littlest his favorite (Littlest's that is, certainly not Daddy's) Elmo at the Post Office book with the obligatory pause on the "airplanes" page. Littlest loves him some airplanes. The twice-a-day flight of the sea plane overhead are two of his favorite moments of the day.  

Feeling a bit chilly sitting barefoot out here on the deck in my flannel pjs. The coffee helps. Strong, Australian-style coffee. The salvage-the-black-banana muffins are a treat as well. With just a few dairy-full chocolate chips. Wonder if I'll be able to find dairy-free here? I'm tempted to hop online and check, but I don't want to break the magic of this 'quiet' Saturday-morning trance.

I live in Australia now. I. Live. In. Australia. Such a wild thing. The reality of it hits every once in a while bringing on a burst of grinning-so-much-my-face-hurts happiness. I love the casual dress, the kid friendly atmosphere, the outrageously good coffee, the closeness of the beach and the ocean, the totally catching "no dramas" value system that pervades the whole culture. It's as if every interaction reminds me not to sweat the small stuff. 

It's a paradigm shift to be sure. Though it's everywhere, this paradigm shifting. Heck, poinsettias and geraniums grow as trees and bushes here. In August and September. Cause it's winter. Almost spring. In September. Seriously! 

Littlest thinks the local custom of going everywhere barefoot (anywhere and everywhere even in shops and restaurants!) is about the best thing that ever happened to him. We saw a 70-something man at the coffee shop last week barefoot. "Him hasn't got shoes!" Littlest commented. The older man turned around and mimed a look of surprise. Then laughed and told Littlest, "Yes, but only in winter! Can't go barefoot in summer!" WHAT?!?! Oh. Right. Cause apparently the sidewalks are too hot. Yep. Paradigm shift. 

Though I proved this week that old habits die hard. 

Thursday Biggest's fever nearly reached 104 degrees, and I had no idea how to go to the doctor. Sure, google could guide me to the nearest doctor's office, which was helpful. However, google was a bit reticent on whether or not we were allowed at the local doctor's office, and if we did or did not qualify for 'medicare'--Australia's national healthcare--with our temporary resident status (I doubted it since we have to pay through the nose for public school), and if we didn't where was the place we were supposed to go? and how were we required to pay? would it be a zillion dollars like so many things here? and would they be nice? and would they treat me like crap when I answered 'no' we were not up to date on vaccines and would I have to give the whole story about Biggest and his bad reaction to vaccines or would I just stand my ground and have them hate me and be snotty to my kids? Wait. Didn't we have insurance? I think so. Who? How did I find out? Why had I not found this out until my sweet boy was burning up with fever? 

I might have accidentally begun to spiral in to worst-case scenarios. I might have begun to relive the nightmare of my first trip to the doctor in the UK when Middlest's horrible case of impetigo was diagnosed as "dry skin" and the doctors were meaner than the crazy lady screaming at her kids in the waiting room. I gotta tell you though, I chose "no dramas". It definitely is catching. I called the insurance company. They were totally kind, quick, thorough, and helpful. They scheduled me an appointment at a local place. The doctor was motherly and kind. She was gentle and sweet to my boys. She gave very practical and don't give them millions of drugs advice (phew!) and the boys loved her. Big bonus! It really was "no drama." 

The influence is running so deep I managed to ignore the dirty dishes and gross floor for two whole days and just snuggle my sweet feverish boys and watch a million Pixar films. How? How did I do this? Not sure. But hey, "no dramas man, no dramas."

Sent from my iPad

Friday, 20 July 2012

The "Perfect" House for a homebody

(please excuse the formatting errors. I can't figure out how to sort the iPad to blogger thing...) "How'd you go?" she asked. Um. Counterclockwise. Out to the courtyard and back? Oh! I mean, "Good." I went good? Did good? It was good? I settled on, "Love the shop! The recycled teak is so gorgeous!" So far "How you going?" is my favorite colloquialism. Everyone asks me, and I have to try hard not to giggle every time since it totally catches me off guard. It feels a bit weird to be "going" again since I've discovered I am a bit of a homebody. Funny enough, I don't seem to mind home being in the far stretches of the globe, but once I'm there I like to be home quite a bit. I got a clue of this the first time Scotty and I traveled. I believe I've mentioned this before? We had planned a backpacking-through-Europe excursion after graduating from university. First clue that we were clueless? We thought we could see Europe in two weeks. Well, teaching English in Ukraine for two weeks and then traveling for two. It was going to be awesome. Just fly by the seat of our pants. Go where the wind blew us. Chill out. Adventure. I was so excited. Then I discovered I am fine flying by the seat of my pants if I know where my pants are going to rest in the evening. I need a home base. It's no wonder then that the 'home' question has torn me up a bit the last couple of weeks. House hunting is kind of insane here! We viewed 14 properties total. Ten in a Saturday marathon that saw us viewing all ten in a little under 4 hours. Each house only open for 15 minutes and some of the best places we were viewing with 20-30 other people. My understanding is that you can double and triple those numbers during the Australian summer when most of their turnover occurs! Whoa! It came down to two favorites. One with loads of natural light and a great kitchen and one with doors on all of the bedrooms that was two blocks from the beach. We heard back from the doors-on-the-bedrooms place first and went with it because places go fast and we didn't know when or if we'd hear from the other place and didn't want to be out both of them. In the end we did hear back--"our application was successful." Shoot! I obsessed and obsessed until I found out we couldn't get choice #1 anyway. Ah who am kidding? The obsessing did not stop just because we found out we couldn't have it. Then instead of obsessing about which one was better I was obsessing about whether we blew it or not. Sigh...I think it's the homebody thing. I want it to be perfect. But what the heck does perfect mean anyway? In England we did the whole house hunting/school locating marathon and viewed tons of properties and chose the "perfect" house only to have it fall through 2 weeks before we were set to leave. Our last minute seen-in-internet photos only house was just fine though it wasn't a great location and we had a break in and our car stolen and the neighbors weren't nice. Many a night I cried and cried about how bad I felt it was. I was so bummed. Then we got a lead on a little house in a village we had considered "too far" from London at first. It was without a doubt the perfect house. Crappy carpets, tiny bedrooms, mold in the bedroom, only one bathroom, perfect. Why? Because it was two doors down from the best neighbors ever who introduced us to the best group of friends ever and took us all over the local woods and areas and generally made us never want to leave. I am obsessing about location and size and natural light and kitchens and whether a master bedroom door is all THAT important (I think yes don't you?) when in my heart I know that it mostly boils down to factors I have no control over whatsoever! Deep breaths. Let it go. Open up to the crazy new fun (and hopefully new neighbors) that are on their way. It's going to be great.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Okay. So. I love it here. Yep. I've decided. It's so beautiful. Not in the English countryside way with loads of woods and farmer's fields and country pubs. Not in the Colorado outdoor mountainish adventure sort of way with hikes and skiing and biking. It's this whole other way. This the-ocean-is-right-THERE sort of way. This guys-riding-their-bikes-carrying-their-surfboards sort of way. This national-parks-with-brush-and-sandstone-rocks-and-kuckaburas-laughing-and-cockatoos-screaching sort of a way. The coffee is wicked good. The wine is yummy. The fish is so fresh. The people are lovely and friendly. Asking my name a lot (something they don't do in England!). Asking me 'How I'm going." Love that. I'm looking forward to seeing how the boys get on here. I think they're going to love, love, love it.
The talk with Kay was soothing. Standing in our tank tops. Breathing in the scent of eucalyptus and saltwater. A total stranger excitedly pointing out all the coves and beaches and bays along the seafront for me. We talked primary schools, extracurriculars, politics, the economy, and the weather. The sentences peppered heavily with the stereotypical "no worries" and "Look..." (as in "Well look, you know you're going to want a North or Northwest aspect to catch the sun and the breeze just right." or "Look, there'll be lots of mums to meet up with at school or at Little Nippas and..."). Whether it was the mom-of-four-grown-boys authority she carried or just the laid back way in which she talked I found myself obeying. Looking. And not worrying. There's just something about a walk that cures all ills. Or at least clears the head a little. Kelly taught me that. Traipsing around the English woods and farmer's fields stomping out all our worries. Today's walk was along the beach and then the cliffs and then through the scratchy brush. The briny eucalyptus smell filling my nose. The sand exfoliating the bottoms of my Birkenstocked feet. The crashing waves and the crazy new bird sounds. The gorgeous flowers and being startled by what I'm sure was only a medium sized spider by Australian standards but pretty stinking huge in my book. The more I looked, the less I worried. The less I worried the more I saw. Sea Dragons. Bright colored birds. Turquoise waves. Loads of smiles. Everyone smiles a lot here. This is going to be okay. Good even. I'm getting excited!

Monday, 9 July 2012

The blahs

Maybe I'm too tired? Maybe there's just been SO much that it's hard to think about another trip, another set of decisions, another million things on my to-do list. Maybe it's that I just did this about 5 minutes ago? Or maybe I don't want to go? Surely that's not it. I'm not sure. I actually have no idea. But it's kind of alarming me. This total sense of blasé. Surely I should at least be stoked by the moments away with my husband and a Business Class international flight?!?! Instead exhaustion reigns, and a strong case of the can-we-just-get-this-over-with-already-ies. I'm pooped. The unknown looms. My boys don't really want to go. It's completely on the other side of the world. It's going to be a ton of work. I don't know what we're going to do for school for the boys. I'm just...I'm...blah? I'm also feeling a bit embarrassed. Maybe I'm acting a bit like an entitled brat? I'm probably going to love it. Plus I'm very aware of what a blessing this is. I think mostly just need some sleep. Some time to write. To reflect. To explore a bit. Read an adult book. Have some adult conversations. Thankfully I'm about to get to do that. Phew. I need it. Going to try to locate my adventuresome mojo.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Roots and Wings

My sunglasses are on the counter. Silly place for them when it's this bright and hot. Evidence I still am not completely acclimated to life in Colorado. That or I'm just a total airhead. Switch--we head to the other side of the street. Desperate for a little more shade. It's that hot--stinkin' hot. Been a while since we walked the school route. Middlest's friend lives right by the school. "Shake-a, shake-a, Mommy! Shake-a, shake-a!" Littlest loves this spot. Right at the top of Columbine. There's a house whose tree puts off those wonderful seed-pod instruments that all toddlers love. We picked them up every day on the school run. Shaking our way down to the school, then discarding and shaking our way back home with a new one. He can't quite understand where they all have gone. I try to explain they'll be back in the fall. Then find tears as I realize we won't be walking down to Sandburg for school again this fall, so I can't prove it to him.

 The new raised vegetable beds across the street are fat with shoulder-high veggies. Gorgeous. Neat and tidy rows in neat and tidy boxes with neat and tidy pea gravel paths in between. Seems like they were tiny little seedlings about 5 minutes ago. I dream dreams of a someday garden like that.

 Summer. It's finally here. I feel the spring move into the summer--the first season I am present enough to really feel. I think it maybe takes a year to acclimate to the seasons of a new home. Something about this particular season change resonates deep in my being.

 My Spider Wart is withered and doesn't want to open up it's blossoms. They hang there, sad. Hiding away the pretty purple flowers from the too-hot sun. My Corn Flower and Mums didn't make it. The Sedum got chewed up. Try as I might the Ice Plant won't bloom or spread and be the ground cover I had hoped for. But it's the strawberries that draw tears. They've spread & grown. Two or three berries last year. A dozen or more this year. Spreading their tendrils, growing big, tall leaves. I can tell they'll cover quite a bit of the ground I intended them for next summer. This is the part that makes me cry. While Littlest gleefully picks the bright red ones and asks to pick every single still-green one. I carefully unwind the Morning Glory and pull it up, and I cry. I won't be here to harvest these next year or to keep the morning glory from taking over.

 The whole team gathers in their speedos and red & black suits. The big kids stand in the inner circle. I remember some of them from 5 years ago or so. Cutie-pie middle schoolers then. Now big, tall, strong. The little brothers, sisters, and neighbors circle up around them with parents and coaches looking on. Only about half of the cheer is distinguishable, but it's not the cheer that brings the tears. It's the used-to-be little kids leading it. Swim team has broken my heart this year. Every time the 6 and unders get in the pool I feel that burning behind my eyes. Every time the highschool-aged jr. coaches cheer the littler kids on I fight the lump in my throat. This is what roots must feel like. Watching your little ones become the big ones in the middle. Beside the other little ones. Under the tutelage of big ones you watched grow from cutie-pie stage.

 My plants are putting deeper roots down. Growing taller stalks and putting on more flowers. But not us. Here we go again. Pulling our roots up. Heading off to a new adventure. To a place where I don't understand the seasons. Heck--their summer is in December for crying out loud! To a town where the school-run is unfamiliar and there may or may not be "shake-a, shake-a's." To a neighborhood where none of the children's chubby 5-years-ago faces will be familiar to me. Where no one will remember my boys when they were first learning to swim or when they swam their first relay.

 Wings. We do wings really, really well. Adventuring and exploring and going out into the world. My adventuresome spirit loves this. Revels in it. Grows and expands. Roots though. Where does one find roots if not in place? In familiar neighbors? In the familiar flow of season into season? Looking out at gardens growing in soil one knows and nurtures year to year? My mothering spirit mourns the loss of roots. Worries. Wonders. Cries.

 Roots. How do I give my children roots in this crazy expat lifestyle?

Friday, 8 June 2012

English Camping Day 1...

June 2nd, 2012 English camping, Day 1.
Thoughts. In no particular order:
 -SO glad I brought my wellies no matter how much room they took/take up, and no matter how silly my girlfriends thought I was.
-So that's what's meant by "chucking it down."
 -Totally glad it rained. So hard. I don't think it really counts as English camping if it doesn't rain at least part of the time.
-I hope it only rains part of the time. -That guy has the HUGEST white man fro I have ever seen. That is downright impressive.
-Scott and I are getting pretty good at Colorado camping, but we are pants (aka we suck) at English "glamping."
-Glamourous Camping = glamping and boy howdy is this ever. We have a refrigerator and an electric tea kettle for crying out loud. Wowza.
-Who would have ever though camping in a big-ol' farmer's field would be fun? The English apparently. One thing I will say--it's really nice not digging out rocks and pinecones from under the tent.
-My goodness gracious these Brits fit a lot of crap into their little bitty cars. It's impressive. Larders (aka pantries)? Tables, chairs, rugs, drying-rack whirly gigs!, shelves, toys, wet suits, beds complete with sheets and duvets instead of sleeping bags and trail pads, stoves, ovens, fridges, tea kettles (of course), not to mention the kids' scooters, bikes, etc.
-Notably missing are the tvs and dvd players and satellite dishes of the American RV parks. Loving that. This is all a little crazy, but that is ridiculous.
-I like glamping a lot more with an 8-man tent that I can stand up in. The 4-man REI backpacking tent just didn't work for English camping last year.
-Those bungie cord peg thingies that Mark gave us are friggin' awesome. I can't wait to show Steve. -Steve would love this. It would crack him up and drive him crazy and he would love it. -I think the delivery truck for Chinese take-away is a little excessive.
-There's something about being able to walk from the campsite, along the narrow little English lanes, through the lovely thatched-roof villages, to the sea. Something magical and am-I-in-a-movie and gorgeous and...
-Devon is gorgeous.
-Cream tea (scones, Devonshire cream, jam, and a cup of tea) is a MUST tomorrow if possible. We are in the land of clotted cream after all.
-The buntings crack me up. I love the whole patriotic, excessive and adorableness of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I can't wait until the local village festivities on Monday. I hope we go to the barn dance. Barn Dance? Seriously? What is this a Hollywood movie set? YAY!
-We ate Bolognese for dinner. How hilarious and fancy and yummy.
-I quite like being able to go up to the hut-thingy to wash the dishes. That works just fine for me.
-I think I've had more wine tonight than in ages. Maybe the sea-level thing makes me hold my liquor a bit better? We'll see tonight I guess.
-It's sort of silly and funny that we would come spend our vacation time and money to get soaking wet in freezing cold, foggy old England instead of spending the same hard-earned money and time in say, Mexico? And...I wouldn't trade it for the world. These are the best friends and this is a grand adventure and I love soggy, cold old England. They do after all have Devonshire cream and Diamond Jubilees for crying out loud!
-3:45 am is STUPIDLY early to get up and I am unbelievably exhausted but not at all sleepy. Think I'll go up to the hot showers (yeah. hot showers. camping. i know, right?) and take a warming-up sort of one and go to bed.
-Can't WAIT to see what kind of craziness we get up to tomorrow!!!

 Two more thoughts after going up to pee and brush my teeth. I decided against the shower:
1. I love the English phrase, "Old boy." I can't quite understand the proper usage or context, but it always makes me grin.
2. The girl at the sink next to me must have been a world-champion teeth brusher. We started brushing at the same time and for some reason I decided it was a sort of race. Dude. She brusher her teeth for a LONG time. I don't think I've ever had cleaner teeth. Don't worry though. I didn't let her win. I waited a whole 20 or 30 seconds after she spit to do the same. I thought I was going to gag, but there's no way I was going to let her win. Hmm mmm. Nope. I beat that crazy English chick fair and square. USA! USA! USA! Sorry...all the Diamond Jubilee-ness has me feeling patriotic, but I'm not

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

It mine London...

I'd say I was romanticizing except the water still tastes like crap. If I remember correctly the journal entry on day one of the London house hunting 2008 trip read something like: It smells horrible and the water tastes like crap. Ah how times and hearts change.

All jetlag aside there are is permagrin on at least 4 faces as we disembark at Heathrow. "THIS is my FAVORITE airport in the WORLD!" Middlest exclaims. I love that he has been to enough worldwide airports that this does not seem like an outrageous statement. I love even more that Wanderer's reply is, "So far..."

Cigarettes, factory smoke, and freshly mown grass. That is how London smells. I fill my lungs and let out a long sigh. "Home. It smells like home." "It is," Wanderer says. "One of 'em anyway."

Their favorite (or is it favourite?) playground, Peter Pan Park --aka the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground--is less than a 5 minute walk away, but they have commandeered a willow tree. Branches that bend all the way to the ground. Providing shelter, transportation, and of course--weaponry. It's a cave. Or a ship? I can't tell. I know that there are swords and a secret language. English accents (hilarious). Robots, and I've heard the word "bad guy" several times--the English version "baddie" never having been incorporated into the boy's lexicon.

It's pure magic to watch them. Lost, as they were yesterday as well, in a world that defies boundaries. It apparently defies arguments as well. Most days 2:30 pm has seen me break up about a gazillion of these. Physical and verbal. Today I've only heard one. One that they worked out without intervention. All the while including and looking after Littlest. What in the world?

How is this possible? I'd say it was the glory of summer vacation except school ended a over a week ago and last week found me counting down the seconds til school started again. I know it's not the food. Not only has everything been the stereotypical British bland, but Middlest's eczema is flaring and Biggest's sound effects are constant--a sure sign of too much gluten and dairy after only 3 days.

Maybe it's the same air that makes my hair awesome. Seriously. I haven't washed it for days and yet somehow the jetlagged bedhead helps. My hair freakin' loves London.

Whatever it is, I'll take it. This crazy concoction that infuses every moment with magic and as Biggest pointed out yesterday evening, makes the boys "the best behaved we've maybe ever been in our whole lives!"

Grass stained covered shorts, honey-sticky shirts, and a toddler so sleepy he looks as though he might start hallucinating any moment. Any happy moment.

Yesterday we did The Museum of Natural History, Kensington Garden deck chairs, half an hour at Peter Pan Park then Mexican food at Wahaca in Covent Garden. Which cracks me up. Arguably, Denver, where we live for the moment, is one of the best Mexican food cities North of the border of Mexico. London of course being one of the worst. But for nostalgia's sake it had to be Covent Garden Mexican food.

Today was supposed to be the Science Museum, Kensington Palace, Peter Pan Park, and a picnic with Dad. Instead we are following the supreme rule of travel with children (or perhaps just of travel, period): Roll with it. When one finds the perfect tree under which to adventure one MUST NOT pass it by. Plans be damned. Even Littlest seems to understand this. He's not too fussed with the tree, but the un-mown tufts of grass beneath? Little boy perfection. Littlest loves this English park feature of leaving grass long so much that he keeps bending down to touch it and exclaiming, "It mine grass, Mommy!"

And maybe it is. Maybe that's the magic. That here in this far away but so close to our hearts land there is something "mine" all around.

Our hearts perhaps?

Monday, 28 May 2012


"WHOA!!!!" His enthusiasm was annoying the we're-3-and-a-half-hours-late-out-of-the-gate passengers. Loud. Uncensored. Pure delight. It was totally cheering me up. "OH! WHOA!!!! LOOK!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Oh my gosh!!!! LOOK! We're up in the CLOUDS!!!! Look! Oh! Oh! Oh! Look!!!" Six-ish, and down-in-his-soul digging it. A vehicle the size of a fricken school bus had just lifted off the ground, and it was blowing his mind.

Mine were digging it too. Biggest nearly made himself puke at home this morning. Checking in at 15 minute intervals with the report on how long til we got on the plane. Littlest didn't even need the plane. He thought Hasabo's taxi was the best car he'd ever ridden in. When it finally arrived he declared take-off "fan-tas-ic!" Middlest though. The change was visible. His whole body relaxed. His shoulders slung back. This was not just familiar territory. This was TURF. His turf. Halfway down the escalator from security the change took over his entire countenance. He was on his way to an airplane. To an adventure. Hells yeah. There was a lot of fist bumping.

It took me a minute. A few minutes. Okay--it took some smoother sailing at 30K feet, a 15 minute nap, and 2 gin and tonics. But now I'm delighting too. Delighting in the magic that makes 2 wild men absolutely cool, calm, and collected once the fasten seat belt sign turns on. Delighted at the wonder of the six year old one row back. Delighted at the two year old's fascinated "Look at the fields, Mommy!" (Don't even get me started on how amazed I am that he knows he's looking at fields below us let alone that that is the word for it).

Delight. Wonder. Amazement. It's so easy to lose sight of that. Especially in the face of delays, and grumpy children, and grumpier fellow adult passengers. It's no use getting grumpy now though. Not this early into the game. There's school done. One week of swim team. And now Leg One. Denver to Washington, Dulles. Dulles to London, Heathrow. Heathrow to the Southbank. The Southbank to Warlingham. Warlingham to Devon. The Sea. Our friends. The places that feel like friends. Home. Home in the far-away place. Then Woking. Then home again. Though my educated guess says it will feel less so than it did this morning. Swim team again. A few meets. Perhaps packing and shipping? Perhaps preparing to store everything? Playing with the cousins. Happy Hours with our friends. The 4th of July fireworks and pool festivities and decorated bike-parade. Then Leg Two. A drive to Montana. Maybe take in a National Park on the way. Friends. Family. Friends who feel like family. Then Leg Three. Or is it Four or Five or Six or One Thousand Seventy? Wanderer and I off to Sydney. To find a house. A school. A new place to call home. Then a return to Denver--will it feel like home by late July? Some swimming at the pool. Some Grammie and Grandpa and aunts and uncles time. Some Rockies baseball. As much Mexican food as we can consume. Then the Final Leg of the summer. The biggest adventure. The one that takes us to a new land. Terra nova.

 What will I choose? The grumpy bog of deadlines and timeframes and do-lists and delays and...and...and...the in-my-face demands of all the ANDS. Or the pure delight of adventures that take me off the ground, up into the clouds, body relaxed, shoulders slung back..."WHOA!" on my lips and a lot of hells-yeah fist pounding.

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Toddler's Meditation

“Whoa! Buddy, look. The ants are making their hills. See? They dig some dirt, bring it above ground and set it down. Isn’t that cool?” 
How can I have never noticed that? How can I have missed that the hills are made from the insides of the tunnels? I probably knew, but somehow I never noticed. Coolness. Today I am cherishing this parenting gig.
Shoes laced and tied. Sports bra on. I thought we were going running. Drop the bigs at school, hit the trail.
“Play park little while, Mommy? Play park little while?” I love his two year old rhetoric. Quite persuasive. “Absolutely. We’ve got time, friend.” Round and round on the tire swing we go. Back and forth on the “motorcycles.” Up and down the steps and the slides until the slides are deemed “too hot!” and he rubs his sleepy nap-time eyes and I plan our run home. 
“I walk, Mommy? I walk?” and he climbs the steep hill while I push the empty stroller. We stop to watch the men mow the grass. Discussing each implement. The mower, the weed eater, the sunglasses the men wear. “What that, Mommy?” he asks and somehow I don’t mind explaining over and over. Each explanation a calm and gentle mantra lulling me into a toddler state of mind. 
His little hand feels so squishy and warm in my big one. Tugging to be let go just before the sidewalk, not after we are safely aboard. He is that type of child and I chuckle at his push for independence. “That water, Mommy!” he squeals as he splashes through the puddle. “I wet! Uh oh. Socks. Wet.” He’s delighted that he made them wet, but doesn’t particularly like the way it feels. I’m wishing I had other shoes. I love to splash in puddles, but I don’t have on the right shoes either. I skip that one. 
We kick the gravel that has escaped the school yard. We run our hands, then fists, then elbows along the chain link fence. It feels nice. More lulling. Until soon the run is forgotten, and I am on two-year-old time. Noticing. Stopping. Walking very, very slow. So slowly that the 15 minute walk home becomes an hour long one. A stop and smell every flower one. An examine every anthill one. A slow, steady meditation. I am completely present. Only in this moment. With this child. With this environment. To-do lists and runs and heaps of laundry forgotten in the spring sunshine with my precious boy. 
I learned when one takes an hour to walk that walk one must put a beanie on in the shade because the change in temperature is quite noticeable. That the breeze actually feels cold, not cool, when your skin isn’t rushing through it walking fast. Also that there are a LOT of pick-up trucks and Toyotas in our neighborhood. Littlest loves vehicles. 
Many have suggested lately that I learn to meditate. To help with stress. Clear my mind. Rest my heart. I agree. It would be helpful. How do I know? I took an hour to walk with a two year old .8 miles. One of the most pleasant meditative states I know.