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Bittersweet

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8 months. 5 continents. 16 countries. 20 flights. Too many buses, trains, boats, ferries, rental cars, taxi cabs and tuk tuks to count. Ditto with guest houses, hostels, hotels, lodges, cabins, apartments and houses.

We’ve circumnavigated the globe and, as with many life-altering journeys, finished where we started. Home.

Yet I can’t quite shake the feeling that I am a fish out of water. Everything is simultaneously familiar and foreign. Reverse culture shock is what they call it (whoever “they” are). Perhaps that explains the vague sense of guilt I felt the other day when I dropped a pair of socks in the laundry bin after only one wear – an act that would have been far too decadent when our “washing machine” was the bathroom sink. It’s hard to reconcile living out of a single bag for eight months and then returning to a big house with so much stuff. It’s equally hard to accept that the adventure is over. Continue reading

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Hair!

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When I was growing up, some of my closest friends had “black hair” – otherwise known as curly hair, otherwise known as afro hair. Back in the day, access to black hair products, and hair stylists who had a clue about how to manage it, were pretty limited. As in, basically non-existent. Acceptance of diversity was also in its early stages (translated: having afro hair was not “cool.”) Continue reading

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Beautiful heart; beautiful mind

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Today our oldest baby turns 11! More amazing than the lightning fast passing of time is watching Cate grow into such a remarkable person. She is without doubt the kindest, most thoughtful person I know. She never has a harsh word to say about anyone. And her sense of social justice? Let’s just say she has strong opinions about how things should be in this imperfect world. And I think she will do her part to set wrongs right.

Did I mention that she’s scary smart? She’s a homeschooling parent’s dream – she loves to learn, she proactively sources curriculum (not just for herself, but her siblings too), and she actually worries if she doesn’t think she’s done enough work. Really!

As if that wasn’t enough, she’s a talented writer and is currently working on a novel set during the civil rights movement in the US. (See above re: acute sense of social justice.)

I can’t think of any more fitting tribute to our girl than sharing some of her writing with the world. Below is the intro paragraph to her novel, and further below is a short piece she wrote last school year for a writing class. The assignment was to write a story based on a famous work of art. She chose Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Now I know I’m biased, but pretty amazing for a 10-year old, no??

On that note, Happy Birthday Catie Bella … we love you so very much! Continue reading

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12

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On our first date, we talked all night – literally. Within weeks, we were head over heels in love. Within months (well, 14 to be exact), we were married. Just over a year later, we had sold two homes, built a new house and had a baby. Four years later, we were a family of five, by birth and adoption. Whirlwind doesn’t begin to describe it. Continue reading
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A 100 days on the road!

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It’s hard to believe we have been living on the road and out of backpacks for that long, together 24-7. “Normal life” in some ways seems very distant, and it’s hard to imagine this new normal will come to an end.

Our 100th day also marks a geographic move for us from South East Asia to Australia. It’s special and fitting that we get to celebrate a 100 days with Gloria’s life-long friend (Auntie) Mel, her husband (Uncle) Dave and their children Annika,  Johannes and Niklas in Melbourne.

We’re experiencing a bit of reverse culture shock (not to mention adjusting to the chill in the wind here), which we’ll write about in future posts. But on this milestone, we thought we’d highlight some stats about our travel to date. Continue reading

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Prosperity and Happiness

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I have been thinking a lot lately about the paradoxical relationship between affluence and happiness. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday to Meskie!

Today our Divine Miss M turns 7! Oh how we adore this girl: her zest for life, her sense of humour, her deep sense of empathy; and the list goes on…

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She is without doubt one of the happiest people I have ever met. Sure, she gets annoyed and even mad sometimes (mostly at her siblings or when we put the kibosh on one of her crazy ideas), but it passes quickly, like a rain storm in Malaysia. And then the sun bursts out again.

Continue reading

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The Circle of Life

When I was growing up, my extended family lived overseas (mostly in Italy, some in Australia). I never had the chance to develop special bonds with grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins – the kind of connections that are fostered by countless shared experiences, extended holiday visits and family traditions.

When I met Karl just over 13 years ago, what struck me almost immediately was his strong attachment to his grandparents. In fact, it was very important to him to name his son after his three grandfathers, which he managed to do with some creative spelling, using the first letter of each of their names: Cyril (C), Ernie (E), Norm (N).

In most families, though, it’s the women who are the glue that binds, and his is no different. Karl was lucky to have three wonderful grandmothers growing up: Iris (who passed away years ago), Jean and Muriel. While I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Iris, over the past decade I developed a deep affection for these two remarkable ladies, and grew to appreciate how they helped shape Karl’s childhood and influenced the person he has become. Continue reading

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