July 2017 Expat Update

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As I look back through my photos from our 6 week visit to Canada, I am amazed by all that we have done.  The obvious highlight has to be seeing family and friends who we have missed, but we have also done some touristy Canadian things and enjoyed typical Canadian summer traditions.  Most of all, visiting Canada has given us a deep appreciation for our home country, something we sometimes take for granted.

Read our June Expat Update, which included the beginning of our visit to Canada in the Canadian Rockies with my brother and his family.

all of the Nicholsons



We are meeting friends in Australia, but since we are only planning on staying in Australia for a couple of years, we have not invested as much time into making strong friendships.  On weekends our priorities are to get out of the city and explore, which doesn’t leave us much time to socialize in our neighborhood.

Being home we were surrounded by our family and dear friends and we realized how much we missed those deep relationships.  It takes years to built the roots of strong relationships and I relished being with people that I was completely at ease with.  In Australia, we are at that new stage of friend life where I find it takes more effort to engage.  I find myself having a lot of superficial conversations with new friends, about the weather, the school and our kids.  I am someone who takes awhile to get comfortable with new people and I loved being with good friends and family where I could just be me.

Wine and good company at the cottage

We were so fortunate to have so many family BBQs, playdates with cousins, lunches with co-workers, and sleepovers with friends.  This was definitely the highlight of our trip home and these regular get togethers are what we miss the most being away.  The kids thrived on spending so much time with their grandparents, cousins and Canadian friends.  Seeing all their tears as we said our many goodbyes, definitely made me question if we are making the right choice being away.  But, I know that for every negative side effect of living abroad, there is an equal benefit.  I know the kids are seeing new places, learning about different cultures and learning how to adapt to change, all of which builds resilience and tolerance.

When we went cruising, I wrote a whole post about how it was the people we met that made the biggest impact on us.  Likewise when we visit home, it is the people in our lives that made this visit so incredible.

Loving all our time together

Lots of time with Nana & Papa


Quickly after arriving back in Ontario, Ella and Gavin headed off to Camp Can Aqua.  This was my childhood camp and Ella first went last year and loved it.  It was one of the things they were most looking forward to on this visit and they both had a fantastic time.  I love how camp builds independence, intense and close friendships and of course exposes the kids to an outdoor lifestyle.  When we picked them up, we were regaled with story after story and huge smiles.  Next year Gavin says he wants to go for a month!  He better get saving!

The smiles say it all

Gavin’s Blackbird cabin

Cottage Time

Canadian summer traditions include weekends at the lake, cooking smores over the campfire and lots of time out on the water.  We are lucky enough to have dear friends that invite us to their cottage each summer and we had an amazing week in cottage country.  Our kids are best friends from our hometown and they love spending time together.  We spent our days outside with the kids swimming, paddle boarding, and boating.  We love our board games and each evening we were making up for all the game nights we missed.  There is nothing like sitting out on the dock each evening watching the sun go down with a glass of wine in hand, listening to the loons.

As soon as the kids went to bed, the board games came out!

smores campfire

Roasting smores on the campfire

Miles Turned 6

While we were in Canada, Miles celebrated his 6th birthday and it was so nice for him to have a party with his cousins and grandparents.  He had already had a class birthday party in June before we left, so he was loving all the birthday attention.  He wanted it to have an Australian theme and a pinata.

Miles turned 6!


In Melbourne, it is winter and while we don’t have the extreme cold and snow that we get in Canada, it was chilly.  Temperatures were hitting a low of 0 at night and it was pretty nice to escape winter and enjoy the Canadian summer.

The kids are missing about 5 weeks of school while we are away since summer holidays in Australia are in January.  We are only mid-way through the school year there, which ends in December.  So while their Canadian friends are getting ready to enter a new grade in September, they will continue on with grades 4, 2 and Prep. I had the best intention of doing some reading and writing each day with them, but our days were so full of activities that the school work was pretty sporadic.  It was so awesome watching them just be kids and enjoy their second summer in a year.

Cutting the grass with Papa

Paul in Hawaii

Paul joined us in Canada after 2 weeks and we were pretty excited to be a family of 5 again.  Paul had a full day layover in Hawaii on the way over, which he made the most of by doing some sightseeing.  Neither of us have been to Hawaii, so it was fun for him to see Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and the USS Arizona Memorial.

Oahu view

Paul’s view from Diamond Head, Oahu



They are never easy, especially to watch your kids going through the emotions of saying goodbye to loved ones.  This is definitely the hardest part of living overseas because we are lucky enough to have amazing family and friends, all living close to our hometown.  I am not a crier, but it is emotionally draining to say goodbye and know that you won’t see people for a year.

Goodbyes are never easy

Soul Searching

Being home in Canada provoked a lot of soul searching for me.  I feel like we are just getting settled into our life in Australia, and we could be back in Canada in a year.  I know the next year will go by quickly and I feel like we are at a point where we are really enjoying all the unique experiences we are having in Oz.  The kids are settled into their school in Melbourne, we love our weekend camping trips, exploring Melbourne on school holidays and weekends and taking advantage of all the amazing recreational activities in the city and around.  Do we really want to rush back in our life in Canada?

As I get older, I know myself a lot better and I know I don’t do well in a settled life.  Am I really going to be okay to return to Guelph and settle in for the next 10+ years?  Will my wanderlust allow me to do that?

Travel is addictive and I want my kids to see a different way of live.  I don’t subscribe to the typical model of working through your best years, hoping that you can do everything you want to do in retirement.  Instead, I like the idea of doing mini-retirements with our kids, throughout our working years.  I want to do more long-term travels with the kids; I want to go cruising on a sailboat again.

Ella, at almost 10 is very vocal in her desire to return to Guelph next year and her friends and stable life.  I am a people pleaser and I want to cooperate, but I am not sure I want that comfortable life.  How do we make it work for every one?  When I think of returning to our life in Guelph, I love being near our family and friends.  But, I also feel a bit trapped in that life.  Paul keeps telling me we don’t need to make any decisions right now or this month.  But it lingers in my mind all the time.  Perhaps I am selfish because I want to have it all.  I don’t want to give up our comfortable way of life, deprive our kids of a typical Canadian childhood.  But I also know that life happens on the edge of our comfort zone.  I know we will never regret the travels and adventures we will have with our kids, but we will regret not having them.  This is a glimpse into the continual dialogue that happens in my head.


I do love my Instagram and I am learning more and more about what works on that platform.  It is amazing how you can genuinely get to know fellow travelers through the platform and I love seeing all the adventurous families out there.

Our top performing posts of July were when we were in the Canadian Rockies and I am not surprised, because it is just so breathtaking!

What’s Next:

We have 10 days to explore Japan.  You can read more about our plans in our Japan Planning post.  From there we fly back to Melbourne and settle back into our life there.  I am actually really looking forward to that because before we left for Canada, we were in a good grove and were really enjoying our life there.  It will be back to school for the kids and back to my domestic houselife/blogging life for me.

The kids only have to go to school for 5 weeks before they have a 2 week spring holiday.  Gavin will be off to a 5 night Cuboree Camp as part of Scouts.  We are also going on a 7 day cruise to Papau New Guinea, which will be a really different type of holiday for us.  The kids are excited about the kids club, all you can eat buffets and cruising life.  We are excited to see a country that we otherwise would never get to see.  October also brings a visit from my brother and his family.

My Writing for the Month:

With the kids out of school and all our non-stop socializing, I didn’t have nearly the amount of time to work on the blog as usual.  However, I still got quite a few new posts published.

Posts I have Published

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