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When you are in the northern hemisphere, February might not feel like a time of new beginnings. However, in the southern hemisphere it brings a start to the new school year and a new chapter in our Australian adventure. It was so wonderful to have the kids home on school holidays in January. We were able to explore so much of Melbourne and truly be tourists in the city we are based. We visited the museums, the science centre, the zoo, the beaches and so much more. I just posted a mammoth list of 35 things to do with kids in Melbourne that covers lots of the things we did in January. We also had a fantastic road trip to Tasmania and we enjoyed frequent visits from my parents and my Aunt Patti.
I was a bit sad for school to be starting again because even though we had kept a pretty fast pace to the holidays, it was so nice to have so much down time with the kids. This year, all three kids would be in school and I was nervous about how I would fill my days. We are three weeks in, and I need not to have worried! In fact, I wish there were more hours in the day to get everything done that I had planned. I realize I have this very special gift right now to not be working and to have free time to get caught up on projects and start new things. The problem is I have so many grand plans and just not enough time.
What are those plans?
Every year I make a large photo book of our family’s photos. It is extremely time consuming, but it is a project I love. We take so many photos in this digital era and I don’t want them wasting away on a hard drive. I am a year and a half behind and so one of my first goals is to start working on last year’s photo book.
However, I have yet to start that as my focus has been on this travel blog. This blog has existed in various forms for many years and has always been a place for me to record our travel memories and to share with friends and family back home. I have frequently thought about trying to make it more than this and since I do have some free time on my hands, now seems to be the time. I am starting to write content tailored to what information fellow travelers are looking for in terms of destination reviews, suggestions and tips. Last year I switched my blog to a self hosted WordPress site to make it more professional looking and that was a huge learning curve from an IT perspective. I am going through that again as I try to learn everything I can about things like SEO (search engine optimization), affiliate marketing and how to grow my domain authority. The last few weeks have been an internal struggle for me about whether I want to drop hours and hours of time into this project and realistically where do I see it going. The current goal is to just build up the blog and try to develop an audience beyond friends and family. Down the road, the dream is to monetize the blog and develop some other streams of online passive income, which might be able to finance some of our travels. So if you know any one who you think might enjoy reading the blog, please pass it along. I will continue to write about our time overseas in the Expat Life section with monthly updates about what we are up to and my feelings along the way.
Another project that is keeping me busy is training for my second triathlon. This is creeping up very quickly (end of March) and so I really need to high tail my training into top gear.
Since I am not working, you would think I have lots of time to work on all these things, but the days and weeks just fly by. There is lots of opportunities to volunteer at the kids’ school and so I have been working in the canteen, have a new role on School Council and signed up for various jobs like helping out on field trips and in the classroom. I am very thankful to have the time to be able to help out at the school and the kids love seeing me there. It is also a great way to meet new people and feel connected to the community.
The Kids at School
The kids have adapted really well to their return to school. Ella started off the school year with a 3 day camp, which is such a great thing about Aussie schools.
She also already participated in the school’s Swim Carnival, another activity common in Australian schools. The Swim Carnival is a one day event of swimming races where all students compete for spots in the district competition. You can certainly see why Australians have such a strong swimming reputation.
Gavin has settled into school much better this year than last. I am so happy to not have tears at drop off, which definitely eases the guilt of bringing them halfway around the world. The grade 2s start their swim program this week where they will walk down to the local pool for 8 days of swimming lessons – another great feature of the Aussie school system. Miles has started “Prep”, which is the year before grade 1. Since he already had a full year of junior kindergarten under his belt in Canada, he is more than ready for his return to school.
With the start to the school year, all our after school activities have started up and I must say that we have yet to find the balance there. Since we want to keep our weekends free for exploring, our weekdays are jammed with too much. Hopefully with time we will settle into a rhythm that works for us, but right now I am feeling that the balance is off. The kids are participating in dance, tennis and swimming lessons, Girl Guides and Scouts and it is all a bit much. Add to that nightly reading and trying to unpack and organize backpacks and their contents and our nights are way too full. I am always striving to live simpler and slow down and I feel like we have fallen right back into the hamster wheel of life. However, I find it hard to strike a balance between giving the kids opportunities to develop new skills and participate in interesting activities and that slower, simpler way of life.
How Am I Doing?
If you have been reading my blogs, you will know that the move over here was rough for me. It was definitely something I wasn’t expecting and was something that took a lot of work to overcome. I truly am feeling back to my regular self and other than being busier than I would like, am now enjoying our time here. Last weekend we were away camping on the Mornington Peninsula and while it is great to explore and get away on the weekend, it is also nice to have weekends at home to decompress and relax. I do feel like I have met quite a few people and people have been very friendly and welcoming, but I do miss my friends in Canada.
Settling into a Routine
I am looking forward to settling into our school routine. We are headed away camping again this weekend, to Wilson’s Promontory National Park. Once March hits Paul’s family will be visiting and we are looking forward to seeing them. April brings a two week school holiday period at Easter and we are hoping to get up to Sydney for a long weekend. Soon enough, it will be July and we will be back in Canada for a summer visit. Wam!
Click here to read our March update.