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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Nothing beats a visit from the family and I was blessed to be able to explore and share my Canada (and Montana) with not only my Mum, but also one of my brothers, my sister-in-law and two of the cheekiest nephews known to man kind!.

After arriving in Vancouver the night of the NHL Game 7 riots, the family chose to drive the beautiful scenic route from Vancouver to Calgary via Whistler and Jasper.  To say that I was slightly jealous that the time was an understatement (and still am on that note).

But on the plus side, I got to spend an unbelievable two and a half weeks with them re-visiting and exploring a number of amazing places in Southern Alberta, and being able to introduce them to my new Canadian family was a pleasure.

Being able to shares such amazing memories with those that you love is something that I will cherish and be forever grateful for and something that no one will ever be able to take away from me, nor diminish.

The photo above was taken in Waterton Lakes National Park.  Waterton is known for its howling winds and earlier in the day Tony, Tash, the boys and I had all climbed the ‘Bear’s Hump’ to take in the stunning views over Waterton (Mum, like the  trooper she is made it just past halfway before it became too steep and had to turn back). We had decided to take the last boat ride down the Upper Waterton Lake into Montana, USA in hope that we might see some wildlife along the water’s edge, but it was not to be, instead in the 15 minutes we had to enjoy our taste in the USA, the boys found time to ‘skim rocks over the water’ and get together to capture our time in this beautiful setting..

ps.  I can’t wait to get home and give these two nephews loads of hugs and kisses (and the other 8 nieces and nephews too )

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Ree and Jono double checking the tubes to make sure we were all set to go!

Sept 2010 –

For some people being away from family can be a blessing.. for others like me.. it’s a tad harder.

Yes there are always exciting things to tell them, but it’s always hard being that person living so far away when something exciting (or mundane) happens back home that you miss out on.

Thankfully for me I had Ree and Jono just down the road from me in Florida.. ok, well it wasn’t ‘quite’ just down the road.  It was still 4,477 kms away (according to google maps), but it was definitely a lot closer than the family back home. So in September 2010 I diverted via Las Vegas to Orlando and was met at the airport by not only Ree and Jono, but also ‘bump’.

With only 6 weeks between us in age and being cousin’s, Ree and I were pretty much inseparable growing up. Plus being the only girl in my family and practically living at her house when Mum and Dad were in Melbourne for Dad’s treatment meant that Ree was the closest thing that I had to a sister – so really visiting with them really was being with family.

Ree and Jono had been living in Gainesville for a couple of years so it was good to have some personal guides for the 7 days.  Being a University city (Go Gators Go!!) there wasn’t too many touristy things to do ‘downtown’, so after exploring Paynes Prairie in the morning in search of Alligator’s on the Saturday, Ree and Jono decided that we should tube down the Ichetucknee River.

Yes.  Tube down a river in a state that is WELL known for its Alligators!!.. I was slightly skeptical to say the least, but they both told me that I had nothing to worry about and that it would be a relaxing afternoon.. agh they were so right (except for those damn water snakes!!).

So after stopping along the road to collect our tubes, we hit the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, untied our tubes from the roof of the car, walked to the river and launched ourselves for an afternoon of ‘floating ‘.  It is one of the many occasions that I wish that my small point and shoot camera was waterproof.  The water was crystal clear and you could see EVERYTHING .. small fishes, the protected reeds, fallen trees… and I swear (Jono) small water snakes.  Thankfully though no Gators!!.

I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to enjoy our surroundings and being together than simply floating down the river on a sunny day, catching up on lost time and being with those that you love.

Of course the true highlight of the trip was just spending time with Ree and Jono and getting excited with them about the impending arrival later that year of ‘bump’.. now known as Master Jedadiah James.

I can’t wait to get home to Australia and visit them again.. after all young little Jed will almost be two .. and two years  is just a tad too long not to see your bestfriend..

and yes.. I couldn’t write this post without adding a second photo 🙂

Ree and I in St Augustine, Florida

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Enjoying Christmas Day at Lake Louise 2011

I love living in another country. I love the ability to step outside of what I know are my comfort zones. To reach out on a limb and take a chance. I love experiencing new things. Love the sensations that I feel when something is new to me and the happiness I feel when I accomplish something that I may never have tried at home.. but I LOVE my family more!.

The past eight to nine weeks have been a whirlwind, but a weekend visiting extended family in southern Saskatchewan in early August gave me the clarification that I needed.

The wide open spaces of the prairie lands. The golden fields of wheat. The sweet sounds of nothingness. The clear skies scattered with a million stars… and the photo’s of MY family hanging on a wall… It was all that I needed for my head and my heart to align and for me to know that I wanted to go home.

Golden Fields of Saskatchewan

The last two and a half years have been amazing. There have been days when I could not have been blissfully more happy and days when I wanted to pack it all in. Curl up, close my eyes and wish that I was somewhere else.

I will miss EVERYTHING here in Calgary..I will miss my amazing friends that have made the two and a half years I have been here so much better, my adopted Canadian family, complete with nieces and nephews and our annual Thanksgiving get-aways and the colleagues and clients that have become part of my everyday life.

I will miss the summer day’s when hiking in the mountains makes you feel alive and the coldest of winter days when it feels like moths are stuck up your nose and you can’t open your eyes because of the icicles on your eyelashes have frozen them shut… but it is not a goodbye.. more simply a see-you-later.

Hiking the ‘Many Springs’ trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park (July 2011)

I am looking forward to coming home. Spending time with my ever-growing family. Meeting my new niece and spoiling all over again, each and every single one of the ten nieces and nephews in my life and annoying my four bigger and older brothers (and their wives).  Catching up with friends and preparing for the next adventure.

My Mum and my beautiful nieces and nephews (before Jorge)… so cannot wait to spoil them all again

By far my adventures, travel and personal, are not over.  They are simply beginning the next chapter.

‘Home James’ …. looking forward to seeing this sign once again

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mate·ship [meyt-ship]

noun

1. the state of being a mate.

2. Australian . a mode of conduct among Australian men that stresses equality,

friendship, and solidarity.

I find it hard to believe (yet proud) that mateship is considered to be Australian.  That a country such as ours can be considered to have such an awesomeness associated with it.

Every country can have this and perhaps they do.  Perhaps it is simply known as something else, but has exactly the same meaning – a relationship between men that stresses equality, friendship and solidarity.

But where does mateship begin… and where does it end?

As many of the people that I love and adore in our community are gathered together to farewell a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a friend, a protector, a mentor and a mate, I can’t help but think how lucky we were to have one of Dad’s best mates in our lives.

I’m sure that their friendship began as young boys running a muck in the back blocks of Patchewollock and as each of them grew, got married and started a family, that friendship turned to something stronger – mateship.

A mateship that was formed on similarities.  On country values and a respect for each other.  A mateship that faced illness and my father’s death. A mateship that stood up to be counted and remained with our family until last Sunday and will continue to remain within our hearts forever.

I will never know the true sacrifice that was made for our family.  Will never be able to explain it and no words of thanks would ever come close.

All I can simply hope is that two mates are now resting together.  Catching up on lost years, reminiscing about the past and watching down on our future.

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C – Claustrophobic
A – Anger
N – Negativity
C – Closed
E – Erratic
R – Regret
Cancer – a word that I have known all my life. A word I have grown to loath.  To hate and wish never existed. A word that I never want to hear, but sadly am hearing all to often and all too close to home.

In a sense I guess that I am religious. I believe in a greater being that created this earth, that created us and everything in between, .  But for that same being to create something as nasty and horrible as cancer.. please, it can’t be true… can it?

I don’t remember when Dad was diagnosed with his brain tumor, obviously I was too young, or simply I have blocked it out. I simply remember Mum and Dad going to Melbourne, staying with family friends for what felt like weeks and weeks on end and visiting Dad in the local hospitals.

I know I was naive to what was really happening and personally I prefer to keep the happier memories to the fore and the less happier ones locked away in the depth of my memory bank. But the sad fact is that they are there and when local news, like I have heard this past week comes through… so to do those horrible memories.

Somewhere out there, there has to be a cure. How many lives have to be affected before this monster is stopped? How many wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mums, dads, grandparents, friends and communities have to endure seeing their loved ones ill before it becomes unbearable?

A friend once told me “everything happens for a reason and if God didn’t think that we couldn’t handle it, than he would not have chosen that path for us.”.

In some ways I struggle to understand this logic. Why did our family have to endure the pain that we felt and still live with everyday so early on? What lessons have we been taught? But plain and simple…why us?

Perhaps there is some logic in his madness. Logic that we struggle to see and logic that may burden us, but hopefully it is logic that makes us stronger.  Enables us to provide support, love and hope for others out there that are now going through what we have been through.

In times like this it’s hard to see how you/we can offer any such support, but it’s the knowing that someone else knows how you feel, what you have been through, that you have continued on, which enables you to continue to look forward. To see that perhaps even in your darkest moments and after all the shadows have settled, there is still hope, there is still life and there is still family, friendship and community.

My heart always lies within our small strong community and I’ll be thinking of you always.

Xx N.

Photo thanks to designsbyjack.co.uk

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I don’t even know where to begin this blog!.

Everything about today has seemed dark and gloomy and honestly… the longer it went on.. the worse it got.

Ok, it’s true.  My secret is out.  Not everything about living overseas, on the opposite side of the world is all rosy and amazing.  There are dark days too.  Days when you wish that it wasn’t a 24 hour plus flight home.  When you wish that you could simply skip home for the weekend, get your family, your friend and your Mum’s fix of happiness, joy and laughter and return back to what is, otherwise an awesome opportunity.  But it’s simply not that easy.

I never expected it to be, and trust me, there have been many a dark days in the last 2 and a half years.  I’ve just never really spoken openly about them, nor have I allowed my family to see just how much it affects me.. perhaps today is some kind of reckoning that I am feeling. Perhaps I’m just sick of having this pent-up feeling inside of me and I simply wish that I could jump in a car and drive down the road, around the corner.. 10 – 20 hours, just to see those that I love… trust me.. if it was that easy and cheap.. I would do it.

To be able to meet my beautiful new niece who is now 5 months old, who is smiling and being pestered by two bigger and loving brothers each and every day.  To join in the 10-year-old birthday celebrations for my not so young niece who is growing up oh so quickly and to be able to celebrate my nephews 18th birthday.  To go to the footy each weekend and watch my nephews run around in the mini’s, or play their first U’16’s game.  To watch my nieces play their first game of A Grade netball, and to be standing beside them on the court too.. teaching them, guiding them.. to see them in their dance recitals… to simply “just be there”.

To witness friends getting married, to see the joy in their lives, to see their families growing and to meet and know their children.  To revel in every special occasion that I miss out on, simply because I choose to live where I am….

I am left wondering each and every day that I feel like is, what is harder??..

Knowing what you are missing out on, or missing out on what you don’t know?

There is no easy answer..

If I had not come here, had not stayed as long as I have, I would not know the beautiful and amazing people that I know now. The friends that make living so far away from home bearable, the friends that have become my family.  I would not have seen many amazing places, taken chances, gotten lost and re-discovered myself.

I would not have been able to share some amazing times with my Mum, brother, sister-in-law and nephews that visited, nor seen the awe in their eyes with the amazing scenery that is Southern Alberta.  Not had the chance to see the joy and excitement of my nephews when they experienced Canadian culture for the first time, saw bears, climbed mountains, watched ranch work that they had never seen before, nor gotten to know them in a different light away from their comfort zone, away from the farm.. I truly have something that only Aunty Jean can know.. memories that they will have forever..and more importantly memories that I will share with them forever..

I look at the photo’s on my wall and am reminded how lucky I am. So many amazing memories with people that I love and cherish.. Dog sledding, New York, Vegas, Florida, Pike Place, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Lake Louise, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding, concerts, Havana, Mountains after Mountains of stunning scenery, amazing rivers and lakes, mixed in with loved ones, family, friends, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews…it’s what traveling and family are all about..

I truly am lucky…

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xN

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Darrell Lea’s FAMOUS black gold!

I must admit, I did quickly glance over the headline yesterday ‘Darrell Lea goes bust after 85 years‘, but today I read it a little more closely and realised that yet another connection to my past was slipping away.

Now I’m a lover of chocolate, a lover of lollies and a lover of all things sweet and honestly I struggle to fathom how a chocolate company can go under (oh that’s right, I left oz. no wonder their sales dropped!), but there is a larger part of me that has a connection to good ole Darrell Lea that I really don’t want to lose.

When Dad was alive, I remember there always being a bag or two of Darrell’s soft licorice in the fridge, and even though to a 5 or 6 year old it’s not really that tasty (well the first few pieces anyway), it is one licorice that I have come to love and one that I almost cherish with all of my heart. I’m pretty sure that there are other licorice’s out there that are just as good as Darrell’s, but none will ever hold the memories like this one.

Years pass by too quickly and in someway or another, even though memories remain, connections slowly disappear.

There are many things I know I have grown to forget about my Dad (or that at least are pushed behind newer memories), but one of the memories I have is of his licorice stash.  Well I guess it wasn’t actually a stash, but it was for him and technically us kids weren’t allowed to eat it (plus Mum kept in that little cheese storage section at the top of the fridge door… which at one time I couldn’t see into…. oh how times have changed!!)

How lucky was I… Mum, Dad and I

As much as I’d love to believe that he only shared it with me, I know that Dad never had favorites and I’m sure that at times (when Mum wasn’t looking) he shared it with the boys too.

I remember climbing up onto Dad’s knee for a hug, a dry shave (think 5 o’clock shadow whiskers and him rubbing that against my face) or simply to watch TV.  Secretly when he didn’t think that Mum was watching he’d slip me a small piece of the darkest, softest licorice and tell me that this was our little secret. Of course Mum knew, she knew everything and still does, but she turned a blind eye and let us have our secret, after all, what harm was in it.

After Dad passed away, the licorice stash slowly dwindled, but whenever we were in Mildura, Mum would venture into Darrell Lea’s and buy a couple of packets of the black gold to have at home to share as a family. I’m sure the subconscious memories in each us 5 kids is what keeps drawing us back to this licorice even today.

For me at least, I hope the Darrell Lea can work through this rocky road and can at least get the opportunity to purchase just one more packet of licorice… just for my Dad!.

xx J

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