Are the kids going?

In a few weeks we’ll be traveling to Nicaragua and almost everyone I’ve told has asked me if the kids are going. YES! The kids are coming we rarely travel without them.

Nicaragua is a place my husband and I have traveled before when we drove our Westfalia from Canada to Chile (if you look back I’ve posted some stories about the trip). He didn’t immediately fall in love with the place as I did and that’s another story (I’ll be sure to post soon) but it fit the criteria we were looking for in this family trip. We wanted to take the kids somewhere they speak Spanish and somewhere warm, check & check!

This time however we also wanted to add a bit of connection to the local people the kids really haven’t had before. So we’ve contacted a school in Granada and we will be taking some donations from my oldest son’s class to deliver when we visit. Things like arts and craft supplies mostly.

We chose this because we thought it would be something our kids could understand; at age 3 & 6 we can only expect so much but school is something they can both relate to. We’re hoping to show them how differently people around the world live. How much less people have and how happily they live their lives. We hope they’ll see the difference but the similarities as well. How a boy in Nicaragua likes to laugh and play just as they do. How he has to listen to his teacher and learn to read and write just as they do.

It feels poignant right now. Up here in Canada we have recently elected our Prime Minister who fills us with hope. Hope for bringing out the good in people. Hope for the future. But just below us, in America, watching the tidbits online it fills me with despair, true despair, to hear the politicians encourage racism, violence and hatred. I know we live in a bubble here on Vancouver Island, it’s why we live here, surrounded by lush green nature and welcoming supportive people it’s truly a paradise but I’m worried for my friends in America and how their lives will change if Trump is elected. Will their lives change? Will they survive President Trump? How will it affect us here in Canada? I’m afraid to find out the answer to these questions.

I want my children to know no matter where someone lives, no matter what they look like, how they dress, what religion they practice, how they feed their family we can always connect respectfully with one another. We can choose to point out the differences but we can also choose to celebrate the similarities because we are all human. We share this one planet. We breathe the same air. We all want to be loved, treated respectfully and with dignity. And every now and then we ALL need a hug to get through the day.

So this trip won’t be just all sand and surf it will also be about connecting and building relationships. It will be about celebrating similarities and diversity. It just feels right, right now.

Musing on balance

Finding balance. I’m starting to dislike this concept. I practice yoga on a semi regular basis, meaning some weeks I get to accomplish practice more than once a week, other weeks I’m not so lucky so I hear or see this statement a lot at yoga class or in my readings. Finding balance, creating balance in your life, etc. Balance, balance, balance.

Lately the pursuit of balance has been a lot like the pursuit of happiness. You think you have a sense of balance then one tiny thing throws it off and your struggle to find balance resumes.

Balance seems to be accompany a calmness in your life. I feel calm, pretty much all the time and even when I’m not perfectly clam I’m still pretty relaxed, but I’m certainly not balanced. Take yesterday for example I thought I had it all worked out drop kids off at daycare and school, babysit my niece, prep stuff for dinner, trade cars with my husband, meet my oldest at the pool for swim lessons then go to work. Except I messed up the daycare schedule, oops. Oldest was a little late for swim lessons, didn’t have time to switch cars with hubby and ended up taking yogurt and an apple to work for dinner. It didn’t exactly feel balanced but I did feel calm.

I fantasize about routine thinking maybe this will bring balance. Routine is something I’ve tried to strive for, it’s good for the kids too right? I’m coming to realize it may just be out of my grasp and frankly I think we do just as good without routine as we do with it, which is to say we take it day to day and it seems to work, most of the time. What I don’t like is my “me time” gets pushed aside frequently when we don’t have routine. It’s a mommy thing. I think we all have it to some degree. It’s making the kids lunches before mine and eating yogurt for dinner instead because I ran out of time to pack my dinner.

But being in balance means making sure I’m taking care of myself too so I need that “me” time. Like when the oxygen masks drop down in the plane they always tell you to put your mask on first then help others. It’s kinda a metaphor for life isn’t it? You aren’t effective if you’re incapacitated. I’ve got to learn to put the oxygen mask on first. Why is this so hard?

Probably because when the oxygen mask drops down its right in front of your face to grab, hold onto and just breathe. Yoga class is my oxygen but it’s not in my face when I need it.

So how am I ever going to achieve balance? I’m not. I’m going to strive for awareness instead, noticing when I am so out of whack, so unbalance, I’m not being effective anymore. Balance is too momentary, fleeting, but it feels so good. I guess I’m torn, I’m not going to give up on balance. I just want to take away the expectation it will stay for awhile and instead accept and enjoy it, temporarily.

When I’m feeling a little burnt out and all out of whack I’m going to just put my feet on the ground where ever I am be in the moment, practice my yoga. So, please don’t knock me over if you see me on the sidewalk standing in tree pose I’m trying to create my balance.

Parent Pit Stop

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent looking for parks to play in, making sure all the sand toys were packed and searching for pools that are not too deep for a toddler to play in while traveling with my kids, it’s been many. Sometimes we’re so focus on making sure our kids are having a good experience we put our own needs aside. So lately I’ve become a big advocate for what I’ve termed the “Parent Pit Stop” when traveling with children.

A parent pit stop is anything you, the parent(s) want to do together, keeping in mind the kids will still be with you. Previously we’ve stopped at breweries but on our recent trip to Chile we were driving through wine country and spur of the moment decided to take a detour to a roadside winery. It went a little something like this:

Kids: “we’re hungry”

Me: “we should stop for ice cream”

Husband: “how about that winery back there?”

Me: “Ya sure they probably have food and we can do a tasting.”

Husband: “But I’m driving.”

Me: “that’s OK I’ll take one for the team” batting eyelashes, big smile, coquettish look.

U-turn to the winery.

We ended up at Estampa Winery one whose international export is limited and rarely available in Canada so naturally we walked out with a few treasured bottles. There was no food offerings or ice cream but it was a nice break to get out of the car into the fresh, warm air, use the clean toilets and sip a few glasses of delicious vino in a magnificent architectural setting. The kids got a chance to release some pent-up energy by running down the paths of the vineyard and trying to climb the big bottle in the middle. All in all it was a win-win.

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The parent pit stop doesn’t always have to be a brewery or winery but let’s be honest who doesn’t need a drink when you’re on vacation with you kids!

**As an obvious side note I do not condone drinking and driving only one of us does the tasting then we enjoy whatever we buy together at a later time**