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Category Archives: Travel

That Time We Packed Our Bags and Left America Forever

Ok, it wasn’t forever… we’ve been back twice to visit.

It’s hard to write a post like this without sounding like I’m bashing America. But, given the political climate of the USA at the moment, I feel compelled to tell our story and it’s gonna sound like bashing no matter how nicely I say it. It’s important to keep in mind that when comparing one developed western nation to another, it’s sort of like comparing apples to apples. They’re all nice, just some are a little better than others, depending on what you prefer. Read the rest of this entry

Living 10,000 Miles Away From the Grandparents

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I signaled to Margo (7) to close her eyes and go back to sleep. Then, I heard a whimper that quickly turned into a full blown sob. I sat down next to her stroking her forehead. For ten minutes, she blubbered, “I miss grandma and poppop!”. I miss them too sweetie…

After an action packed two week visit from my parents, Margo and my husband had just come back from dropping them off at the airport in Brisbane. We were all so tired from running around with them for the last two weeks, that we all had a big mid-day nap. When we woke (and after Margo’s cry) we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening, in mourning, while we watched the online flight tracker take my mom and dad, in a perfect little trajectory, far away from us, across the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a loooong flight to LA… then it’s another six hours to Newark.

Back to the weekly Skype calls. Back to the three or four packages a year full of goodies from America. Back to no more hugs or books or meals together or drawing together… boo… hoo… I think they came over on a DS-160 visa, which is a tempprary travel visa but I wish it could be permanent.

We’re not forced to live where we do. When my husband and I came to Australia, nine years ago, on my student visa, we had no clue we would end up loving it so much here and wanting to stay. Life just sort of happened (as it does) and in no time at all, we found ourselves with good jobs, three kids, a house, and a lifestyle that suits us perfectly. A lifestyle that would be impossible to recreate if we moved back to the east coast of the USA, where we both grew up. To go back over to America would be too complicated, especially since we’re so content in Australia. Our friend said that if we moved back over to America, we probably wouldn’t have U.S. citizenship anymore, meaning that we’d probably have to apply for visas. If we wanted to work, we’d have to find out what is EAD. That way, we’d be able to work in America. It sounds too much hassle, considering we love our lives over here.

Because of how far we live, it’s not exactly easy to hop on a plane back to visit all too often. We’ve done it twice in nine years, it’s exhausting. Buying plane tickets for a whole family while living on a reduced income is the limiting factor. One time, we went five years without seeing them! That was a tough one.

So, after years of bugging them, they finally came!!! For the first time since having children, I had some sort of extended family in MY home. It was so awesome. We drove each other nuts at times and did way too much sightseeing. The kid’s schedule was completely out of whack, and we were all tired, but it was also so good. They rented a holiday apartment in the same building as ours, just upstairs, so the kids and everyone could run back and forth.

It’s pretty crazy how efficient you get at surviving without the grandparents around. Now that I’ve had a taste, it makes me sad to think that it can’t happen more often. It’s nice to just have someone there. Another outlet of energy for the kids. A different adult to interact with. Of course, having my mama and daddy around is pretty cool too… even though I haven’t seen them much in the past decade, who knows you better than your own parents? Whilst they were visiting, it made us realize how nice it would be if they could see their grandchildren more often. After talking about this to my friend, she recommended that we look into these dual occupancy home builders perth. She said that they could build a house that would allow my mum and dad to live with us in the same house. I’m not sure whether they’d be up for moving to Australia, but it’s something to keep in mind for when they get older. It would be lovely to have everyone living under the same roof again.

Oh yeah… we were all so so sad when they left. It hurt, there were lots of tears.

I think it’s human nature to be on the move and to want to find a place to live that suits your needs. Our ancestors populated the planet somehow, and that would have been done by leaving ‘home‘. I always think of my husband’s grandmother, who came alone to America from Russia in the early 1900’s. It was a one way ticket back then. No hoping on a plane to visit your parents for the holidays. No Skype. If you were lucky, a letter here and there, until the wars came and you never heard from your parents or extended family again. So… we are lucky in this day and age that we can visit and stay in close contact. Moving to the other side of the globe is not the end of the story these days!

The one good thing about having a condensed visit was that everyone cleared their schedule (almost) and we all had nothing to do except hang out with each other. We probably had more quality family time in two weeks than we would have had in an entire year, had we been living only a few hours away. And, since we rarely get to see each other, everyone was on their best behavior to make the time as enjoyable as possible. We all had so much fun because we had to make every day, minute and second count!

I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that communication is vital for any relationship, especially when it concerns your family, as, without it, this visit and our family time may not have been possible. As we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, the time that we do spend together and the activities that we do become more important than ever, and this could help us considerably in being able to help us have a stronger family relationship with each other.

While it is sad living so far away, it’s definitely possible. You have to sort of create your own family for the times when you can’t have your real family around. And, when you do get the chance to see your family, it’s usually short and sweet!

Parenting Through The Holidays, Family Visits and Travel


My family and I just returned to Australia from a 5 week trip visiting family and friends in America. While it was really nice to see everyone, the trip and the type of traveling we did really pushed me to the limits. All of my parenting knowledge was put to the most extreme test. I’ve been reflecting on everything I learned over those five weeks and I wanted to share my experience with you.

Secure the house

When you’re away for as long as 5 weeks, at some point someone is going to notice that your house is empty, especially during the festive season. Houses are usually glowing with warm lights and bustling with visiting friends and family at this time of year, so a dark, quiet house is going to stick out like a sore thumb. If a passer-by notices your house is empty, a potential thief is going to notice too. Burglars actually go around neighbourhoods at this time of the year looking for empty homes to break into, so as you leave for your holiday, make sure your windows are closed, your alarm systems are turned on and your doors are locked.

In the weeks running up to your holiday, make your neighbors aware that you’ll be away. Tell them when you’re going, when you’re coming back and where you’ll be. This way, they’ll be able to keep an eye on your house. If you’re on good terms with them, make sure they have a key so that they can get into your house in an emergency. You can also ask them to pick up your post so that it’s not obvious nobody is home to pick it up. Additionally, tell your neighbors to feel free to park in your driveway so that it looks like somebody is home. This can be especially useful if your neighbors are planning to have their own gathering where friends and family will be visiting and they need more parking space. If you have lights on timers, make sure your neighbors are aware of this too, otherwise, they may think someone is inside. Finally, make sure your neighbors have your phone number so that they can call you if needed.

Mentally prepare the kids

Briefly explain the logistics of what’s going to happen, how and when. As much as you may want to rent a private jet and travel in luxury, this isn’t an option for most of us. There’s no avoiding the hassle of commercial flying, so you need to try and manage what your children will experience. If you sense any fear or anxiety, fun role-playing can help. If you know you have to do something that your child will not enjoy (long plane ride, meeting strange relatives, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, using public toilets, etc.), you can do role playing to help lighten the blow. Read the rest of this entry

What I Learned About Expectations After Traveling With My Kids for a Week

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We took a last minute week-long trip to Sydney and we had a blast. But, the trip wasn’t what I thought it would be like. The ‘getting there‘ part was not just most of the fun, it was practically ALL of the fun. I’ve traveled with my kids before, but this was our first, sort of fun holiday, that included planes, trains, buses and tourist attractions. Usually when we go somewhere, we have an agenda, but not this time.

Our plane was delayed… that didn’t bother them too much, they kept watching the planes and asking which one was ours (they asked at least 800 times).

What was really funny/not funny was that the few things I had planned out and paid a lot of money for, like our trip to the aquarium… Read the rest of this entry

A Balinese Taxi Driver Who Could Teach the World About Religious Tolerance

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Roughly 85% of the population of Bali is Hindu, the rest is mix of Muslim, Buddhist. Less than 2% are Christian.

On my way to the airport, my taxi driver and I were chit chatting away. Of course, he asked the obligatory ‘how old are you, are you married, do you have children’, as every taxi driver in Asia has always asked me. I answered his questions, “32, yes, yes” and right then we drove past this magnificent statue of Arjuna driving a chariot with Lord Krishna standing on top of ferocious-looking galloping horses. The statue represents a famous conversation that takes place on the battle field from the ancient scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. I asked the taxi driver if he was Hindu, although I assumed he was. He answered “Yes” and explained the significance of the statue (although I already knew). Then he asked me what religion I was. Read the rest of this entry

American living in Australia, Pretending to be Bilingual

At our favourite wildlife sanctuarly... or shall I say 'favorite'?

Kissing a kangaroo…. At our favourite wildlife sanctuarly… or shall I say ‘favorite’?

Since moving to Australia, I have gotten a job at a high school teaching students. Prior to getting the job, one of my Australian friends was able to tell me about the working with childrens check that teachers have to do to ensure they’re safe to look after children and young adults. I was able to get the job, and now I’m enjoying being a teacher at a lovely school. The initial moving stage was interesting, I can’t lie.

After bringing my belongings half way across the world, I did find that a lot of my things ended up being damaged or scuffed. I spent a while looking for skip bins for hire sydney way to dispose of it all so I could start again. That’s another story though. Now I’m here and settled and truly loving my job. I know, people generally consider getting their vehicles transported along with them while moving so that every day commuting becomes easy. But since mine was too long a distance to cover, I wasn’t quite sure of it as, what if the bike gets damaged! However, had it been a move within America or within Australia, I too would have got my ride along, maybe by contacting a bike transport australia.

However, my biggest Aussie language blunder EVER… Do you want to know it? Read the rest of this entry

Wind that Makes for Crazy Days (and How to Stop the Room From Spinning)

When the room starts spinning... get unspun!

When the room starts spinning… get unspun! They both wanted ‘up’ so I put them in a wrap and spun them ’round and ’round

In October 2007, my husband and I spent a couple weeks in southern California for a surf contest, the USA Surfing Championships. (I’ll just casually mention that I won my division… ahem, 2007 Woman’s Longboard title…) But, what really set this trip apart from the others was the damn wind! Our first day there, I noticed everything looked bone dry. I said to Art, “Man, it looks like a tinder box here.” Two days later, a hot, dry and extremely strong wind called the Santa Ana winds started blowing and southern California was experiencing some of it’s worst wildfires ever. Lots of homes burned, lots of smoke that we breathed in… Maybe if we had anticipated this, we could be better prepared with a carbon monoxide filter or some basic masks at least to protect from the toxic air. Anyway, that, and some of the most epic, uncrowded waves I’ve ever surfed in southern California… like ever, dude… Read the rest of this entry

Baby Wearing and Swell Festival Gold Coast Australia 2013


September!  All the world through, I love September!  Swell Festival happens in Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast, every year.  Here’s a few highlights from our walk along the beach.  I always forget that it gets so hot and sunny though… next time I’ll remember to go later in the afternoon… although, twas a beautiful day.  The featured baby wrap is a Didymos Lila Hemp Indo, size 3, that I bought from Wrap ‘Em, in Australia.  Please ignore poor wrapping job… Read the rest of this entry

Keeping Young Children and Babies on a Schedule (With Lots of Room For Spontaneity)

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Days like these, when routine goes out the window!

Days like these, when routine goes out the window!

We were just getting into the car to go home at 2:45 pm and Margo (almost 3 1/2) was starting to get delirious. You know, speaking tongues and crying over everything… end of the world things like wanting mommy to buckle her into the carseat instead of daddy, etc. By the time we got home and inside, it was about 3:00pm, she cried some more about not wanting to take a nap, or that she didn’t have to pee before she went to bed (even though she did), etc. We all got into bed (queen size, can you say squish), Art rubbed Margo’s back for about 2 minutes, and probably by 3:03pm, she was out like a light. Read the rest of this entry

Onya Baby Carrier Product Review

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There's a kid onya :)

Aleshia, from Onya, came across my blog and sent me this sample Onya baby carrier months and months ago.  She seemed super friendly and it turns out that she used to live and surf right near where we live now!  How cool! Read the rest of this entry