In a nutshell, we are doing quite well.
Kerry misses cycling every day. It helped that he rented a bike for two weeks while on the Gold Coast of Australia. He was clearly excited he had a bike because we was up and out the door to ride it at 5:45 am more than once. He's never been up and out the door that early unless it's to catch a flight.
He's turned into our main grocery shopper. He got quite adept at working his way around the markets of South America and buying food to make sure we were eating healthy. I have to say it's nice to have break from it, but that's not why he's the shopper. He can carry more than me. Plus, he's braver than I am when out alone. He'll walk down more streets than I'm willing to in search of a shop. Alone, I'm a scaredy-cat and overly cautious. Because he is male and a foot taller than me, he has less fear.
He also now cooks more than I do. All of our cooking has been simple, and at time a bit repetitive, but no one complains or starves. In fact, most days, the meals have been quite good.
Being off of work has been a good mental and physical break for him. He's now recognized the signs of stress on his body because they disappeared almost as soon as we left Edmonton.
I have to say, this lifestyle suits him, and he enjoys it. He's great in a new neighbourhood because he loves getting out for a quick walk to see what's around - which benefits us immensely because he can quickly cover a whole lot of ground that just isn't practical for the four of us to do. He's also quite willing to enjoy some quiet down time. I'm not sure how he'll ever go back to work....
As an aside, his hair has totally taken on a life of its own.
Meaghan has days that she has blossomed into a confident girl I barely recognize. She has eaten a grub and lemon ants in the jungle, and is gung-ho to touch or hold pretty much any animal given the chance, including a snake, a small crocodile, and of course, her favourite, the koala. While still on the quieter side in front of others, she was ordering in Spanish by the time we left South America, and has moments where I see no awkwardness at all.
And then there are the days when being ten is so awkward: no longer a little kid, and not yet a teenager. The impending puberty doesn't help either. But we would have those moments and days in Edmonton too. Although she has found some kids to play with, none has been an adequate replacement for her friends at home. Fortunately with email and FaceTime, she's stayed connected with her friends, though I know she'd prefer to see them in person.
Overall, the year so far has been good for her and her confidence.
Eamon just goes along with the flow - until it comes to journal writing, reading on his own, and schoolwork involving letters. There's very little flow in those moments.
He doesn't like touching animals unless he's had a chance to have a very careful and close look at them first. But he runs into a playground, a group of kids with a soccer ball, or waves with a gusto that is difficult to match. He's chatty and doesn't hesitate to add his two bits to any conversation. He willingly chats with tour guides and ask questions if he has them.
Though lurking under all of that personality is an 8-year-old boy with the mind and energy of an 8-year-old boy. Some days I have no idea what he's talking about and I wonder where that energy comes from. I wish he could pass some off to me.
But he's having a great time, but he does miss winter a little bit. Despite missing snow, he is ready to move to any place that has a great beach and big waves. We may need to save our money so that we can visit him when he leaves home for this beach life.
As for me, I am thoroughly enjoying this time away from real life. Of course I've had some not so good days given that Mom died not even three months ago. And I have felt bad about abandoning Dad and leaving him in the hands of my sister and brother. But sometimes life just doesn't work out perfectly and you make do.
On the positive side, I've seen the effects of an unscheduled life and it's been good. No rushing to get anywhere. No crazy and overfilled schedule that leads to so much rushing you don't have time to even take a minute to enjoy the moment because your mind is too filled thinking about getting to the next one. I think I've done a pretty good job of not over scheduling our lives over the last few years, but I'm going to work hard to keep it that way. We don't need to have or to do everything at once.
I've also decided that I'm changing things in the house. After staying in so many other homes I've gotten a much better sense of what I like, and had it reaffirmed more than once that I am happier living in a clean and clutter free environment among things I love. So I have some work to do when I get home. I'd done some decluttering before we left, but I'm getting a much better sense of what else I'm prepared to get rid of, and it's a lot.
The travel has been fantastic. We're seeing and doing so many terrific and fun things. The kids add a whole new element to our travel. Kerry and I would never have ventured close to a beach, let alone stay near one for over two weeks at Christmas, but with kids, how do you not. And it's been fun. We're doing so much more than we would have if it was just the two of us.
But we are not even half done, so there's lots more to come. Before leaving I wondered whether we would really make it to the end without calling it a day and heading home. While I still wonder that sometimes, it's less so now than it was. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, Happy New Year! I hope that 2016 brings everyone much good fortune, and many great laughs.