Wanderlust, family and the modern era

Today’s technology makes it much easier to live away from people that you love.

When I met Chris in 1999 there was no Skype or FaceTime. We met in the UK where he lived, but I soon returned to the States so we built our friendship, and eventual relationship at a distance. I came away from that period with a pretty sweet stockpile of actual letters and a huge phone bill, but when I think back on it compared to what’s available 17 years later it’s pretty staggering.

Now we regularly FaceTime with my family in the States a few times a week. C and M only see their grandparents once a year, but there is no ‘warming up’ period required. Technology has allowed for that. You can be on different continents but still in the same room.

Having built a home away from home on these shores, there is still a bit of latent wanderlust within me. Before I met Chris it was my intention to study in Spain and travel. Then England captured my heart and plans of wider travel turned into lots of trips to England.

And lately when I’ve heard of friends and acquaintances  planning to relocate further afield in pursuit of a different lifestyle, part of my heart pangs with desire. The adventurous, entrepreneurial part of me nags…”is this something that could work for our family?” The anchored, sensible part of me replies…”could we uproot the kids, jobs?!?!, could we bear living abroad from the home we’ve built here and be even further away from both of our families?”  Not to mention we’ve only today entered phase 2 of project house renovate (more on that another day).

My parents have supported me to live my own life and be happy, even if it means I live across an ocean and they don’t see me that much. When I think of how I’d feel if C or M make the same decision some day, I hate it and my heart aches. But with this perspective comes an appreciation and determination to support them in the same way.

As for our family, wanderlust considered, we don’t have plans to permanently up sticks and move abroad. If we went anywhere, it would be the States.  This is something we’ve thought about over time but haven’t done for various reasons.  And with the current Trump threat, most of my family and friends are looking to escape the country!

But I’m still curious. If we had the chance to relocate further afield for a year and then return to a secure situation while the kids are at a reasonably young age, I’d love that kind of adventure…

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Happy 4th M

Do you know?
That you ask me this question
About 30 times a day
And then comes the watershed
Of your mind palace

Do you know?
Those expressive brown eyes
Are a window into your heart
Those small square nostrils
Foretell your fire and flare

Do you know?
You still cuddle with abandon
Execute a mean leftie football kick
Sing no matter who is watching
And delight in adventure with your big sis

Do you know?
We have 50+ cars in this house
Yet you make sure to leave no one out
A top treat for you now being
A charity shop trip to add to your collection

Do you know?
You had Star Wars birthday party!
That you’re still always “too hungry”
That Rosie and Molly sleep beside you
But your heart still lies with Hopie

Do you know?
You can be stubborn as a mule
But then sweet as a kinder surprise
Sensitive and perceptive
Your analysis often surprises

Do you know?
You’ve got to stop sucking those fingers!
And telling tales of “bummy pants”
We’ll take more of your jokes though
Even without a punchline

Do you know?
You’ll spend ages building train tracks or car jumps
Or working on a Lego creation
Or speeding round the park on your bike
Those training wheels’ days are numbered

Do you know?
You arrive each morning for a scrum
Space videos are your current fav
You’ve fully discovered the joys of reading
Particularly Pretzel, Tiddler, and all things Dr Seuss

Do you know?
You’re my little big guy
Who is going to school in September…
But today I squeeze your hand tight
And bask in the glory of your light

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Happy 6th LLC

Some belated words for our ‘big’ little girl who turned 6 at the end of January….

Golden haired and effervescent
Small but mighty
Sharp brown eyes…observing… reflecting
You don’t miss a beat, and you dance to your own one
A budding ballerina,
Rocking out on your guitar
Reading stories, writing space tales
You want to be a florist in the jungle when you grow up
I find you racing cars with M
Or building dens
Immersed in Shopkins and Lego Friends
You scrum down with gusto whenever daddy gets in
Romance makes you blush
Patience is no longer a stranger
Pizazz is your mantra
Your jokes still have no punchline!
From school to tennis to drama
Our weekdays are jam packed
And half our house is still packed
You happily take it on, and take it in stride
Running, chatting, boogieing down the alley
Life slows down in those private moments
I teach you kindness and to kiss the day
You inspire me to live in the moment
Six years ago we took our first snap
Of you fresh into the world
Wielding your fist
Now you’ve got more than one hand to play
Happy 6th Birthday LLC xoxoxoxo
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Leaning in

I recently started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Lean In, which explores the factors holding women back from leadership roles and issues a friendly bum kick to her fellow sisters: know what you want, be brave, take risks, work hard, love it, own it, get it and be proud.

The book landed on my table by chance after a work colleague of Chris told him how inspiring it was and that I should read it.  Of course I know who Sheryl Sandberg is.  Yes, I was aware that she wrote this book of hard truths that caused societal waves.  But I  never sought it out, subconsciously figuring that the power house that is Facebook’s COO was just too hard core for me to relate to.

A couple of chapters in, I’m enjoying Sheryl’s apt observations, and I’m struck by my incorrect perception of her: once you strip back all the pomp and circumstance, she’s a regular woman, a woman with strong ambition, but also a woman with self doubts and fear.  Critically, she’s learned to embrace this whole package and not kowtow to the many perceptions, including my own, of who she is or who she should be.

So what has struck a chord?

That women tend to hold themselves back with self doubt and by being self deprecating. That it’s fine to acknowledge that support and luck help in life, but vital to recognise our strengths and where we kick as because of our talent.

Women’s self inflicted deterence toward achievement due to cold, unfavourable perceptions of women who reach the top of their game.  They must be sacrificing their family life.  They must be a cold bitch to get where they are.  Really?  Would we think the same of men?

That reaching for the stars in our pursuits (be that a professional job, tennis or home making) is something we need to embrace and be proud of.  That balances can be achieved and that some give here or there isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Thanks Sheryl, I look forward to the rest of my read.  Have you read Lean In and if so, what did you think?


Posted in me, new life balance | 1 Comment

Where is my mind?

Good question, Pixies.  My feet are often in the air and my head is on the ground and I’m rushing.  Rushing for that train.  Rushing from grand plans to child dinner plans.  Rushing the kids to school, to dance, to get out the door.  Resolute rushing.  Residual rushing.

I’m sick of all the rushing!  I’m at a point my life where I know this isn’t necessary.  I’m not suggesting we all throw out our watches and leave timekeeping to chance.  I’m talking about being better focused and organised so I leave in good time, and if for some reason I’m late, to remember that it isn’t the end of the world and I don’t need to get stressed.

I’m not even regularly late, but that’s often thanks to the rushing.  And that’s where I need the ability to actually leave that little bit earlier and generally slow down.

This is easier done when I’m moving me alone rather than ferrying children from here to there, which is often the case.  Children make the tortoise look spry.   They have an amazing ability to need a poo as soon as you’ve laced up their shoes to go out the door.

The first day that I drove C back to school after the Christmas holidays we left the house with little time to spare.  By the time we got to school there was no parking anywhere within a 5 minute radius so I prepped the kids that we were going to need to move and fast.

And two minutes later I saw myself, three feet ahead of C, racing down the pavement like a crazed bull while M wailed for us to slow down 10 feet back.  And in that moment I had to stop and take a long hard look at myself.  Had I lost my mind?  Was C even going to be late?  No, as there’s about a 10 minute grace period after the bell rings.   And if she was, would it be the end of the world?  She’s only ever been late once in Reception.  Do I want to instil in the kids that panicked rush is the norm or explain that if we actually get ourselves ready and leave that bit earlier, we can have a fun relaxing trip to school where we actually talk to each other about the ponies in the field and the sap coming out of the tree.

I’m done with rushing for trains, to school, in general.  Long may this plan prevail!

Posted in wacked out | 2 Comments