Saturday, December 29, 2012

Open Heart, Open Mind


The past few weeks for us could be likened to climbing a mountain (admittedly a cliched analogy, but it seems apt since we are moving to the himalayas). Its been a slow climb, carrying kids on our backs, through dense forest without much of a view.

I think we had many more boxes than is reasonable for a small family home!

Bob and the removal guys worked so hard in the scorching heat.

Then we've had some lovely days like Christmas Day and Boxing Day where we've had a chance to unwind, dress up, eat and play, just like having a well-earned rest on the trail and taking off our smelly hiking boots!

Remy enjoyed the Christmas lights.

Xavier on Santa's train at Myer.

Xavier and Remy with their cousin Max wearing their new Hawaiian shirts!

Now it's like we are approaching the summit, we have our eyes on the path, plodding on, knowing the pinnacle could be around the next corner.

At the top of our metaphorical mountain, the view I'm looking forward to most is a final day spent enjoying our gorgeous Queensland weather, spending unhurried time with our family and savouring our life here.

As I scrub the house I've actually had moments where I have enjoyed the experience of cleaning away the old in preparation for the new - a cathartic ritual almost. I know in Chinese culture people clean their homes in anticipation of New Year and it seems like a great opportunity to reflect on what's been and also set goals for the year ahead.

In the past three years, I have chosen a 'mantra' or phrase as my New Year's Resolution. It works best if I don't think too much about it - and just let it come to me.

This year my mantra, or my guiding thought when I'm not sure which way to turn is going to be Open Heart, Open Mind.

When I think of the situations that lay ahead, I know there will be challenges, I know there will be cultural differences and frustrations. If I can remember to repeat my mantra at that time, I will stay awake to the present moment and give it all I've got.

Similarly, when I am planning and teaching and thinking up new ideas for school, doing this with a feeling of an open heart will bring out the best in me.

Many of my friends and family members are on the cusp of big change as we enter 2013. New jobs, new babies, new routines with eldest children starting school. While new beginnings can be scary, they are also a time of great personal growth and you realise what you are really capable of.
I wish everyone a wonderful year for 2013 and if you are starting a new endeavour, all the best.

Do you make any New Year's Resolutions? I'd love to know what they are!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boxing Day

I'm at the end of my second day of packing, feeling sweaty and gritty and in need of a cup of tea and then a swim and then probably definitely a cool glass of wine with dinner.

After dinner we're taking the boys to see the Christmas lights - keeping things fun and 'normal' while all around us our possessions are being boxed up and stacked ready for storage.

In a practical sense it has been a great day - we met the couple and their daughter who will be renting our house next year, and they are lovely, responsible people which is a relief. I'm sure they will enjoy their sea change from Sydney, and I will rest easier at night knowing they will look after our home.

Also we may have a buyer for one car and Bob has found a corporate client through Drive My Car who will take a long term lease on our family car - which more than covers the costs of keeping the car on the road while we're gone.

I'm pleased we've made significant headway with all our jobs in two days, but look forward to a change of pace tomorrow - I'm taking the boys to the playgroup Christmas party. We can dress up in our Christmas colours and open gifts, eat festive treats and share precious time with our dearest friends.

While most people are counting down the days to the BIG DAY in 6 sleeps (and of course there are two little people here who are very focussed on that too), for me the BIG DAY that is now just 2 weeks away is what I'm counting down to. By then the packing, cleaning, administration and organising will be done and it will be my turn to relax.

I can almost smell the smoky wok as my pad thai is served, nearly feel the tingle of the cold Singha beer on my tongue and just about hear the screeching traffic of hectic Chiang Mai. My senses are ready to be awakened.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

World Schooling

I look upon the adventure we're going on as a fantastic learning opportunity for us all. The teacher in me wants to especially find the 'teachable moments' in our travels and explore them with the kids. I've discovered there is a name for that: 'world schooling'!

I've been busy making special travel journals for the boys for Christmas - it was difficult to think of a gift that was practical and useful and lightweight enough for us to take away, and that was still fun too!

I researched on the net for inspiration and found some lovely examples of children's travel journals here and here. I loved the simplicity of the ideas on this website and the ones I made are based on that. For Xavier I found some daily diary sheets on enchanted that we can help him fill in, especially in Thailand as we'll be out and about sightseeing everyday and seeing new things. 

I've left a blank page for each day to allow for drawing and other writing, or gluing in tickets, postcards, stickers etc that we come across. Remy's is a mostly blank book with colouring in sheets for Thailand - of local animals and scenes of people in traditional dress and festivals. If we have the time at the end of the day we can sit with him and draw and write some memories.

I found some sturdy plastic document wallets at Officeworks in bright colours that I have put the journals in, along with a pencil case (One Direction for Xavier, Spiderman for Remy) filled with textas, pencils, scissors and glue sticks. Also some stickers, and a couple of paperback books each. Altogether it makes an entertainment package for travel and filling in time waiting for planes etc. I'll update you on how we go with it!

I'm hoping that having their Thailand journals to look through will help them remember the holiday and also be a book they enjoy sharing with new friends in Bhutan. 

I hope you can keep a secret!