Still here!

We’ve been slack with blogging for, like, a year now.

Just wanted to let folks know that we’re still here.

I certainly won’t make any promises that we’ll start posting more quality content anytime soon, but I think as a digital journal, this is still a pretty good place to dump photos. That’s likely how we’ll get back into this space.


When the wife’s away

Sarah and X are four days into a week long trip up to Banff to visit with our good friends from Sydney – Dani, Gregor and Leland. They relocated back to Canada shortly before we left. It’s Leland’s birthday this weekend and the kids are going to have a pizza party at a bowling alley. X is beside himself. Birthday! Pizza! Bowling! Friends!!!

Friends have been hard to come by since arriving here. At first we thought people were a bit standoffish, but it turned out to be slightly different playground etiquette. The kids here won’t talk to you unless they know your name. That’s easily worked around though: “Hi, will you be my friend” turned into “I’m X, will you be my friend?”

This is one of the few social differences that’s caused issues since arriving in America. The other big one being that people seem to socialize only around events. A dinner party, themed outing, football game, etc. I gather that the idea of just dropping by for a coffee is something that’s not a part of north-western American culture. When I did some research on this it seemed the concept was missing, but so much so that it needed a lot of qualifying when discussing. In terms of dropping by, I mean, having a friend call up and say “Hey, we’ve got some free time this afternoon, why don’t we get together and let the kids play in the backyard. Your place or mine? I’ll bring cookies.”

This sort of thing happened a lot growing up. And it continued while we lived in France and Australia. But, not so much here. We hadn’t realized it until part way through the year, but this small difference left us pretty socially isolated. Anytime we’d call up for folks to come over they had other plans. Plans… weird. Who has plans? I’ve certainly only heard about them in books, but it seems that in these parts planning is really a thing.

Anyhow, between stranger-phobia, the need to actually plan for social time, and new video games, it’s left us a little out of the social loop. Now, that wouldn’t be all bad, I’m introverted and quite enjoy my time alone. However, when two extroverts are left home alone long enough, bad things happen. And there’s no such thing as time alone.

And so, this is how my family ended up in Banff. It’s a great vacation where everyone gets to play in the snow, hang out with friends, and recharge everyone’s battery. I’m unable to make it for work reasons, but I’m not sad. It’s been a glorious four days of an empty house. I’d started off the weekend with glorious plans of being productive, but that hasn’t yet materialized. I think what I really needed was a weekend to recharge the batteries. So, instead, all plans went out the window. My actual weekend looked a lot more like:

Wake up, fry some bacon, have coffee, take a nap. Repeat until Sunday. With small breaks to play video games or binge on the Great British Bakeoff on Netflix.


Back to school

All the kids are back to school, which means that poor X has far fewer people to play with during the day. He’s an outgoing and extroverted child who thrives on the company of others (weird, right?) and so the back to school season hit pretty hard. Especially for his mom, who shares a personality profile with the Brown Recluse. Consequently he’s now been signed up to classes where he can burn off energy and interact with loads of other kids.

The first choice for class was definitely swimming. If Sarah’s spirit animal is a reclusive spider, then Xavier’s is most definitely the community loving, water dwelling otter. He lives for swimming and has been taking lessons in Sydney for years. Lessons here and there are very different though. When Sarah showed up to his first lesson in Seattle the instructor looked at him and said “oh no, he’s much to young to learn how to swim.” A nudge, a splash, and a lap across the pool changed that opinion quickly.

Since then we’ve changed pools to one with more intensive coaching. I don’t want to give the impression that we are trying to push him in any way, it’s just that he’s really good at this stuff, and gets bored easily in larger group lessons. Since starting early September he’s already advanced two grade levels (measure in colours of the rainbow) in classes.

It’s such a joy to watch someone doing something that they love, and have a talent for.
As for the other classes… We have Xavier enrolled in a half day wilderness camp twice a week, in which he basically learns how to play outside. The program is offered by our next door neighbour, who is the founder of the program and Mom to Xavier’s best bud. They spend most of their time roaming around the state park near our house, playing with dirt and sticks and singing songs or playing games. 

His final class is Gymnastics which he asked  to attend after finding a parkour video on YouTube. I did check into it and he can start actual parkour classes in a year or two, but for now this is close enough. 

The Fountain

On Tuesday i made the trek from Prince George back down to Seattle. I’d been telling mom how nice the greyhound connection is and figured I’d better give it a go before I bought her a ticket. The trip was largely uneventful, and really quite pleasant, except for an extra hour layover at the border crossing. When our driver turned the bus off, it decided to not turn on again. An hour later, it did. I guess it just needed a nap. 

So, an hour later than expected, I pull into my station and send Sarah a text letting her know I’ve arrived. I’m an hour late, and a little apologetic. She writes back: “I’m going to be late.”

I think: “Really? You e had an extra hour already.”

Then she sends me a picture. 


Houses aren’t meant to projectile vomit, afaik. At least her mom instincts were strong and she found a bucket in time. 

The way she tells the story, it just sort of shot off when she tried to turn off the sprinkler. Not knowing what to do, she stuck a finger in the hole and called for Xavier. “Xavier! Go next door and get help!”

“Ok mom!!” he shouted, and ran next door with his urgent mission. A few minutes later he came back, accompanied by the neighbours four year old son. This is the point of regret – we almost got a collie two weeks back. Lassie would have found a plumber. 

Always the opportunist, Xavier runs into the backyard and shouts, “ok mom! I brought help. Open he water!”

Mom was not happy. 

“Mom! Mom! Silas is here to play in the fountain!”

“Silas, can you get your dad?”

“Daddy’s not here.”

I suspect Sarah took that moment to offer the boys a vocabulary lesson. With her finger still blocking the flow of water, Sarah sent both boys back on a second mission. Armed with yet another new word, “emergency”, this time they came back with not one, but two neighbours. No plumber. 

This is when the bucket came out, and the three neighbours scoured our place for a water shut off valve. It’s on the street. However, that’s not common knowledge, so instead the turned on and off and on every dial and switch in the house, jumped into the crawl space and started hunting around underneath the house while simultaneously trying to prevent an underground swimming pool from forming. 

Around this point Sarah hears the pounding of heavy footsteps upstairs, and silence coming from the pipes. “Ok! I’m here!! Where is the emergency? And why are you in the crawl space?”

This is Scott. He’s the daddy next door’s kid had said was missing. He is also the hero of this story.

Scott helped get things back in order, replaced the tap, and turned on all the things that should be on. 

Anyhow, long story short, greyhound has free wifi on this side of the border. I’d travel with them again. 

Billy and Freckles

Once a week Xavier goes to the library and gets to pick a bunch of books to bring home. Sometimes he picks them himself; sometimes he puts on a dinosaur hand puppet and let’s the puppet choose. No matter who picks the books the overwhelming themes are superheroes and doggies. 

We don’t vet the books before bedtime, and not all of them are good books, so sometimes we end up with uncomfortable surprises. Last nights book fell into that category. The plot went something like this:

Billy and Freckles were best of friends. Billy was a boy, and Freckles was a dog. They played together every day. Then, Billy met Jane. Billy really liked Jane; Jane really didn’t like dogs. So Billy locked Freckles in the basement and went to play at Janes house. One day Jane didn’t like Billy. He cried all the way home. Freckles didn’t comfort him because he was locked in the basement. Sucks to be Billy. The end. 

Moving to Seattle

I’m excited to announce* that we will be moving to Seattle later this spring.

It’s going to be hard trading sunny Sydney for Seattle’s weather, but we are thankful that we will be that much closer to family and friends. For those of you in the area (and at this point, I count the entire left side of north america) we hope to catch up once we’re a little settled in. For those interested, my work situation will remain the same.

This will be our fourth country, and fifth major move in the ten years since we’ve been married. Hopefully this time will be a longer stay than the average.

  • OK, we actually announced this on Facebook and email a little earlier on, but this seems important enough that I should have it here for posterity.

Airlie Beach

Good morning from Airlie Beach! Home of the Whitsundays, backpackers and not much else. The Whitsundays are a group of about 75 small tropical islands in northern Queensland. It’s a very popular destination for sailing (sail, drop anchor, bar-b-q, repeat) in Northern Queensland.

Sarah and Xavier had planned a sailing trip to a nearby island resort, and I was off to swim with the fishes in the Great Barrier Reef.

Unfortunately Sarah’s sailing trip was cancelled at the last minute due to boat failure. 😦 Instead, She and X went to check out the town, and the local swimming hole.

The thing with beaches in Northern Queensland is that while they are beautiful, you can’t actually swim there at this time of year. Summer is “stinger” season, and at times you can see hundreds of very nasty jellyfish floating around in port. So, local councils create elaborate swimming pools for people to go to instead. Sounds like it was fun, but without a sun shade, too sunny for sonny. He was flush by the end of day and needed a break from the heat.

One thing they did find that was super cool was a beach caravan if camels passing through a playground.

Meanwhile, I hopped on a catamaran and darted off towards the Great Barrier Reef, a big item in my bucket list. The small cat ran for two and a half ours straight out into the ocean. Somehow, here was a floating platform there with change rooms, picnic tables and a waterslide.

I paid a bit extra and took an entry level scuba diving tour through the reef. It was breathtaking. The coral wasn’t as colourful as I expected but the fish more than made up for it. At the end the guide offered to take us for another twenty minutes (or until our air ran out, whichever came sooner) but I had to pass. Scuba is fun, but I was concentrating so hard on not concentrating on my breathing (apparently thinking about it is more likely to cause panic) if actually developed a cramp. In my face. Of all the stupid things…

So, back on the luxury barge for a dip, a visit to the water slide, some food and a few snaps from inside of the underwater observatory.

What you can see is the huge number of fish that were out at the reef. I had no idea. What you can’t see is the school of silverbacked baitfish – each fish is the size I my pinkie, but the school was bigger than a city bus. Or the giant, overly friendly, ugly-fish (that’s my name, I don’t know what it was actually called) that would swim up to you if you waved at it.

This was my top pick for the trip and I wasn’t let down.

Tomorrow, we will be heading up to Cairns (rhymes with cans) to explore the Daintree rainforest.