brave enough to start

family of five who can, should and definitely will, see more of the world

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Happy New Decade

I’ve never been a fan of January, less still February but at least that month has brevity going for it.  I guess it’s Winter that I don’t like; the shortness of the days, the greyness and constant threat of snow with all its associated inconvenience.  More than once I’ve asked myself if November in Canada is a good idea but perhaps it is exactly what we need: To embrace Winter in a country that really knows how to make the best of it.  I’ve been busy with work, the boys, a poorly grandmother who is thankfully now recovered, and trying to get my head around the fact that John will be 10 on the 31st.  I just don’t feel old enough to have a 10 year old; I can remember being pregnant with him like it was last week, so what happened? It must be worse for my parents who will have a ten year old grandchild – is anyone ever ready for that?  Come to think of it, no wonder my grandmother was ill!

These milestones seem like a good time to reflect and when I look back on the last decade I can boil it down to three children, two house moves (one of them intercontinental, the other to a house in the same street!), two university diplomas, three part time jobs and a whole lot of school runs.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I would have 3 sons, I would never have believed it: I’d have thought 3 daughters more likely, although I’m not sure why; possibly because I had always assumed that I would raise girls to be strong women – I guess Nick and fate had other ideas.  It makes me wonder what assumptions I’m making today about the future that will prove to be wildly inaccurate 10 years from now.

So in the spirit of the annual New Year’s resolution, my hopes and aspirations for the next decade look like this:

There will be more travelling (of this I am very confident) more time as a family and ideally fewer school runs.  I’m pretty sure Nick is hoping I will return to full time work, though he is not brave enough to say it out loud, since the two occasions he previously did so swiftly resulted in first Teddy and then Alex! (and if you’re reading this Nick, there is no minor surgical procedure on earth that prevents adoption – just sayin’… 😉 )

Above all, I want to enjoy being with the boys; in another decade I may only have one left at home (although my mother thinks that might be wishful thinking and actually I’m more likely to have all three for several decades yet, with the ever increasing cost of housing making empty nest syndrome much less likely for the current generation of young parents).

Whatever the next decade holds in store for us, I’m as ready as I can be, so bring on the adventure!

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The perfect Christmas?

Years ago Nick and I visited San Diego in November; the shops, in their run up to Christmas, were festively lit up and Christmas carols were playing in all the malls, songs about snow and Winter and keeping warm by the fire.  It was bizarre to us then, that the weather outside was far from frightful, in fact to your average Brit (not just those tough Northerners either, I’m including us Southern softies here too) it was beach weather.  I don’t remember doing all that much shopping; we were too busy making the most of the glorious outdoors, just hanging out by the sea.  As we caught our breath perched on a bench a (presumably) local man smiled and commented that it was just another perfect day in Southern California. We nodded politely in agreement and he continued on his way.  Wow, so many perfect days that it’s no big deal.

This time last year we had just returned home having spent Christmas in Perth, Australia; our first in the southern hemisphere. It reminded me a bit of that trip to San Diego with Christmas trees and sparkly decorations oddly juxtaposed with women in bikinis and kids eating ice creams. We noticed that it felt different; perhaps a bit less “Christmassy,” than usual but overall a great deal more relaxed. Once the kids had opened their presents we spent the morning on the beach, chatting to local families and enjoying the odd glass of something bubbly. There was no mammoth cooking session, no trying to squeeze into the oven a turkey so large that you had to start before sunrise if you wanted it cooked by lunch, we barbecued king prawns instead, and when I say “we” I mean “they” – the boys. The quintessentially English mince pie was a little tricky to get hold of (but not impossible!), and there was no point buying the kids the annual chocolate selection box as most likely it would be liquid before you got home.  All the same we had a fabulous time.

This year we have enjoyed another traditional Winter Christmas with all the things that make Christmas in England such a treat; there has been turkey and chocolates, wood fires and brisk frosty walks, more chocolates and Christmas puddings, Christmas crackers and dreadful jokes, Downton Abbey and the Queen’s Christmas message, mince pies, monopoly and more chocolates, paper hats and Bond reruns.  Did I mention the chocolate wine? (seriously, check it out:  We have spent time with family and recharged our batteries whilst being looked after by my parents who probably now need a good rest themselves.

Now I don’t want to be accused of trying to paint a rose tinted picture here so for the sake of objectivity, there has also been headaches and hangovers, indigestion and squabbles over board games.  The older boys were allowed to stay up to see in the new year which meant they slept in late the following morning and now their body clocks are more akin to children in Toronto.  They are overtired and overdosed on sugar and Nick and I are in a similar state – lethargic almost to the point of unconsciousness (possibly on account of the aforementioned chocolate wine) so getting them back into school mode in a couple of days will be something of a challenge.

In an effort to get some much needed exercise yesterday we all headed down to the local beach and watched the annual charity New Year’s Day swim. That’s right, we watched.

We have all agreed that next year we will swim.

When we are in Sydney.

Happy New Year!