Here in Australia they call the Christmas season the silly season and I totally get it. It is just an insane time of year and my brain feels fried and I am struggling to stay on top of everything. I am sure I am not the only one feeling this way as we head further into December.
Our October Expat Update was all about exciting travels and family visits. November was supposed to be more relaxing, but it too went by with a whirl. So I am just going to share some random thoughts – things we did last month and things going on in my head. I think it will be a brain dump to try to release some of the things going around in my head.
So while the Christmas craziness is on top of us, I also have this cloud over me that follows me around throughout the day. We are more then halfway through our 2-year contract here in Melbourne and we have to make some decisions. So while I go about my day, that cloud of question marks about next year comes with me.
We feel like we are in a good spot right now and have just started to really settle in and enjoy our life here. There are so many things I love about life here: the milder weather, city living, our excellent primary school, having lots of free time to volunteer and work on my blog, and the opportunity to explore Australia and Melbourne on weekends and holidays. So it feels really confusing to be starting to think about hiring a moving company and booking flights back to Canada mid-next year.
But of course there are lots of things we really miss about our life in Canada too. I know many are jealous of the warm weather we have here right now, but I would honestly much prefer a traditional Canadian Christmas. We miss our family and friends immensely and of course it has been really hard being away for family health emergencies. We miss our house and community. We miss that easiness that comes when you are somewhere you are most comfortable. But on the flip side, we also thrive on the newness of our life here and enjoy all the different experiences living overseas allows us.
We aren’t good at making decisions, but at the same time I have a hard time living with uncertainty. So I am always thinking and evaluating the different options in the hopes that magically one clear winner will emerge. This can get emotionally tiring and I have to constantly remind myself to live in the present and not worry about 6-months from now all the time. Deep down I do know that any of the decisions we make are good ones and all of them will lead to more adventures, in some form or another.
End of Year Madness
December is crazy busy in Canada, but just to step it up a notch, it is also end of school year time down under. So on top of all the Christmas activities, we also have end-of-school-year concerts and activities, dance recitals and break-up parties (funny term they use here for end-of-year parties). I honestly don’t think I can write anything else on my calendar as each day is jam packed with things!
I have talked to other expats who have been in Australia for years and they say they never get used to Christmas in the summer-time. Last year I vowed I would never do another southern hemisphere Christmas, but here we are. We do try to embrace Christmas BBQs and Christmas Day at the beach, but it feels weird. Our kids are at such wonderful ages for Christmas and even though Paul and I need a bit more encouragement to get into the Christmas spirit, they are 100% there.
Our little elf Jackie has arrived, we have our Christmas tree up and Santa letters are written. Now that the 35 degree temps have moved on, I might contemplate some Christmas baking.
BUT, we do feel a little like we are faking it. I love Christmas in Canada and it just doesn’t feel the same. This year we don’t have any family visiting for Christmas, so we will really miss that. We are going to do Christmas lunch and the beach with family friends, which will be nice. Not trying to be a total complainer and I do appreciate the sunshine, but I find Christmas one of the harder times to be away.
The beginner of November saw Gavin and I have a solo mother-son trip to Singapore. I nabbed a great deal on flights and with me not working, it is so nice to be able to take these spontaneous trips. The back story is in this post about how we met a mom taking each of her three children on solo trips when we were in Nicaragua.
It was fantastic to have so much time to devote to Gavin on the trip. It felt weird for both of us to not have the rest of the family along and while we had a great trip, Gavin did say it would have been better with his siblings. Being in Singapore brought back lots of memories of living in Malaysia and it was great to spend time back in Malay-Chinese-Indian culture and eat lots of delicious foods.
I hadn’t been to Singapore in years and it was fun to explore all of the city’s new features and attractions, but also re-visit places from our backpacker days. We visited a mix of kid-friendly attractions like theme parks and water parks and cultural pursuits like wandering through the different neighborhoods. You can read our full post on visiting Singapore with kids here.
Special Time with Dad
While Gavin and I were exploring Singapore, Paul, Ella and Miles had a long weekend to enjoy. It was Melbourne Cup (horse race public holiday) weekend and so they went to the parade in the city, did an “epic” hike at Hanging Rock and chilled at home.
Camping and Penguins
We did manage to get away for another camping weekend in November. We visited Phillip Island, which is only 90 minutes from Melbourne and most famous for the nightly penguin parade. What we discovered was that while we loved watching the penguins come ashore, Phillip Island is an amazing conservation success story and there is so much to do on the island. I can’t believe it took us over a year to visit, but I know we will return for another visit.
Enjoying City Living
Melbourne is routinely cited as one of the most livable cities in the world and we have come to love this city. Neither of us have lived in a large city before and city living was one of the things we were really excited about for our move here. Sometimes we get confused if we love Melbourne or we love living in a city.
We love the culture and buzz of being in a city, that we can walk everywhere, the amazing cafes and restaurants on every street corner, the awesome transit network, the bike trails and parks and progressive feel. City life is definitely one of the things I will miss the most when we return to Canada.
Spring is always such a special season with new beginnings. In Canada, it is so nice to be moving out of a long and dark winter. While Melbourne doesn’t have the drastic seasons of Canada, it is still awesome to see the signs of spring – flowers in bloom, baby birds and lots of sunshine. We have enjoyed watching this baby bird in our back yard throughout the month. At first we thought he was injured because he was on the grass, but after some research with Google, we discovered that he is a fledgling and will spend a few weeks on the ground. We watch his parents attentively bring him food throughout the day and we were all proud as parents when we found him up on a tree branch.
Top Instagram Posts
We often get asked how we can travel so much and the simple answer is that we prioritize travel above all else. Instagram shows us so many families on exotic extended trips and I wanted to write a post to give dreamers some ideas about how they can travel more as a family. From sabbaticals to living overseas to traveling on parental leave, we show concrete ways to travel more with some great Insta accounts to follow along for inspiration. Check it out (👆in bio). ⠀ . What ways do you use to maximize your travels? ⠀ . 📷Captured by @wanderloud's Kaye in Singapore. ⠀ #visitsingapore #exploresingapore
#flashbackfriday takes us to Sri Lanka in 2012. One of the ways we travel so much is by taking advantage of any opportunity to travel. When we moved from Malaysia back to Canada, we took a month to travel along the way. Seeing all of these elephants in the wild was incredible and one of the highlights of that trip. Really there was so much to love about Sri Lanka and it is definitely somewhere we want to return to. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ Do you like returning to places you have already visited? We like to visit somewhere new usually, but there are some countries that never get old. Which countries are like that for you?⠀ .⠀ .⠀ Check out our post on How To Travel More as a Family (👆link in bio). #travelmore #familytravel
It is the end of November, but we are joining the call to fill instagram with powerful climate change messages. Spending 5 months on a sailboat in the Bahamas gave us a lot of time to reflect on climate change. We have seen the devastation this year of hurricanes in the Caribbean, we have seen the result of acidification on our coral reefs and I have talked to elders in the Arctic about the changes they have witnessed in their lifetime in polar regions. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ This photo is one of my favorites and it features in our blog logo. We each need to make changes to our lifestyle to ensure that our children's children will be able to snorkel and experience the magic of our oceans. Consider this Christmas season how your family can make a difference in slowing climate change and pledge to be part of the solution. Thanks you @worldoftravelswithkids for drawing our attention to this important campaign. #eyeonclimate #globalguardianproject
Are you good at making decisions? I am most definitely not. We are sitting here having a chat trying to map out the next few years and my stomach is in knots. Any advice for making big life decisions? I have resolved to googling "making decisions quotes"!⠀ .⠀ .⠀ This is a long quote, but I really like it "Decisions. We can think about things, turn them over in our minds a million times, play out possible scenarios, but really when it comes down to it, you have to go with your heart and move forward. Maybe things will go well. Maybe they'll turn out poorly. Every decision brings with it some good, some bad, some lessons, and some luck. The only thing that's for sure is that indecision steals many years from many people who wind up wishing they'd just had the courage to leap." ~Doe Zantamata⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #familytravel #travelwithkids
Posts Published this Month:
- Christmas Gifts for Travelling Families
- How You Can Travel More as a Family
- Our Pacific Eden Cruise Review
- Special Photographs on our Special Trip
- Top 15 Things to do in Singapore with Kids
Posts I Contributed to:
- Asia Interviews – we chat about Ubud in Bali
- Mum’s Solo Trip – our experience with destination photographer Wanderloud
- Meet the Stamp Collectors – my travels to over 50 countries
- Best Things to do in Tasmania – we share our love of Cradle Mountain
- Best Airbnbs for Families – we share a good one in Sydney