Diary of the Traveling Marshalls

Australian Sabbatical 2017

The Joy of Homeschooling

Good news. We have survived 4 weeks of homeschooling! Woo hoo. Go Marshalls! There has been no bloodshed and no mutiny. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park and that we are all having a magical experience. I will say… It’s not so bad.

 I have managed to keep them up (relatively) with what their classmates are doing back home. I’m lucky…My teacher friends and the kids’ teachers are awesome and hooked me up with intel before we left. I also read the weekly newsletters that the teachers email out to parents and it gives me an idea of what to do next. I’m doing my best to keep them up on all the standards to best prepare them for the following grade. Working in this environment allows us to efficiently get through a good amount of work.  Only 3 kids in the class. They are wonderful students and I truly enjoy teaching them. It does help that I was a teacher. I know a good amount of helpful resources and websites. 4th grade is my jam.  I subbed in Mae’s class this year a few times which has helped understand kinder life. 7th grade is a whole new world. Homeschooling allows for outdoor science and impromptu lessons about currency and oceans and koalas. 

Concurrently, they are learning so much from our experiences. It’s hard to really write about it. So much of it is incidental learning and that’s where the magic is happening. It’s almost impossible to put into words or even process it. Yet. But it’s happening. Maybe another blog post someday or we may just keep that part to ourselves.  It’s so, so, so good and it’s what we came for.  

Confession. About 2 weeks ago, I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself (and Wes) about our homeschooling journey. I felt like we could be doing the same thing at our dining room table in Denver. It was too much time just the 4 of us (Wes goes to the University to work most days) sitting in our living room doing school work. So I began to evaluate our goals for being here and what we want to get out of this experience. After we talked, I began to worry that homeschooling was keeping them from truly living life in Australia. I am their mom teacher. They are each other’s classmates and their curriculum is mostly Colorado standards. Boring. Yes, we were also learning about Australia, but we were doing internet research instead of finding out for ourselves. I knew something needed to change. 

I actually looked at our local public school website to see if sending them there would even be an option. I didn’t want them gone all day, but I knew they needed more interactions with locals. It didn’t take long to find out that school wouldn’t work for such a short time (we are only in our rental house until the end of May.) Not to mention, Elle would be in high school?!? No thanks. There are several reasons why it wouldn’t work to send them to school, and I knew all along that wasn’t what we wanted for this experience. However, I did need to look into it (10 minutes on Google) because I was feeling like we needed to do something different. 

We finally came to the conclusion that extra curriculars/activities is the answer. Mae was already enrolled in ballet. I went to work to find classes for the kids so they could make friends and interact with Aussie kids. This was not very easy. Term 1 was already underway so we were late to the game for registration. The costs were outrageous and many activities were simply too far away. I spent many, many nights staying up late emailing places and mapping out locations. Finally, we got Term 1 all planned out. The kids ALL have activities that allow them to be social and learn about life as a kid in Australia….Horray! 

On Mondays, we take the bus into the city to Circular Quay and spend the day  along the harbor on a pier. The kids are enrolled in a theater school that has sessions for homeschoolers. Mae goes first and does a drama/puppetry class. Luke has filmmaking right after. Elle goes last with a theater class. Wes has joined us for the first two weeks, and it allows us time to do school work and/or sightsee with the other 2 kids while they wait. It’s so easy to pack up their work and do it at cafes. Mommy has to drink coffee to use their WiFi so it’s win-win.  It’s been very nice. 

On Fridays, the big kids are enrolled in a homeschool program from 10-4. It takes place at the home of some new friends we met when we first arrived. There is a teacher in charge and the kids are a mix of ages (and an overlap of kids from Drama on Monday days). The teacher runs workshops (current one is about persuasive writing and debate) for part of the day, but there is also time for play and reading and lunch. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to make friends, get away from mommy teacher for a day, and so much more. The best part is hearing Elle and Luke talk about new foods and words and games they’ve learned from new friends. 

On the weekends,  Mae goes to TuTu School. It’s so cute. Her teacher is so lovely and best of all, her class is right on our street. Elle has a theater class every Sunday at a drama institute not too far away. 

Side note: I am soooo proud of my kids. While these classes all sound fun, it has required them to take risks and be brave. Super proud. 

Homeschooling has been a learning adventure for us all. Most people tell me they could never do it. Honestly, it’s nothing like doing homework with your kids. That can be torture. This is very different. It is allowing us the flexibility we need to enjoy our short time in this beautiful country. 
* DBM (mommy teacher)

My Experience by Elle❤️

By: Elle Marshall

Coming from Denver, to California, to Australia has been a long, and frankly quite difficult experience. By January going to Australia was all we talked about. I knew I was going to miss my school and my friends very much. My friends threw me a going away party at town center the day before we left for California. And that was it. We were off to California. The plane ride there was nothing because we knew we’d have a 14 hour plane ride in only a week’s time. We got to California and it was beautiful. It was the time of year where all of the plants were very very green and gorgeous. I loved staying in Anaheim and I loved that we could see palm trees everywhere. Disneyland was magical of course. It’s the happiest place on earth! Last time my favorite ride was The Peter Pan ride and I hated all roller coasters but the goofy ride. But this time was a little different. We were eating breakfast in Disneyland. We hadn’t gone on any rides yet, and next to where we were eating we saw a roller coaster that from someone who is scared to death of roller coasters looked FAST. My mom told me I’d love that ride and I told her no way! As I looked closer everyone was having fun and my mom talked about it more and she was like just do it! So I thought yeah sure. But as I got in line I wasn’t so sure. But I’m in line and there is a bunch of little kids there too so I knew there was no turning back. No matter how much I wanted too. I got in the roller coaster and immediately wanted to get out. But it started and I started screaming. It was over fast but I loved it. I felt exhilarated and wanted more. After more rides we found The Matterhorn. It’s fast, up a mountain and dark. I learned that Big Thunder Mountain was exhilarating. But The Matterhorn was a little too much for my first day of roller coasters. I knew it couldn’t last forever and soon we were driving to the airport on our way to Australia. We waited for hours there. But soon enough our plane was boarding and I found myself very upset. But I got over my homesickness and got kind of excited. The inside of the plane was beautiful. We each had a T.V, a pillow, a blanket, eye masks, and more. It was the biggest plane I’d ever seen. I sat down and soon we were off. I knew I’d be long and annoying. But it turned out to be fun! I became obsessed with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on that plane ride because it was on the T.V. The food in the other hand wasn’t great. But I loved the brownies and the chicken nuggets were okay. When we finally landed and I got off the plane. I found myself to be hot and sticky. I was very confused. I knew it’d be hot but I didn’t know I’d be STICKY. It was from something I’m not used to….humidity. I did not want to live like that. But after a while I got used to the humidity. After waiting in long lines. We got outside. It was beautiful but hot. And then it began to rain. Very light rain. It wasn’t cold or anything which I found awesome. We don’t get much rain in Denver and when we do it’s at least COLD when you go outside. But it was so light and it was so humid that day that it wasn’t cold. The minute I stepped in the taxi I was in awe. The steering wheel was on the other side and I found interest in just watching the man drive. We got to our house and I loved it. It was beautiful but we couldn’t go inside we had to wait for them to be done cleaning it. We went to see the beach and get some lunch. Since then I’ve been noticing differences in the way people talk and use different words which we’ve been trying to use as well. For example, my brother refuses to say french fries he officially says chips. That was my adventure here! It was long and hard but we made it. And I guess that’s the most important part. That’s what we did it all for right?


21 February 2017….Q&A with Luke & Mae

  1. How was the plane ride?

M-  It was a little weird because on some planes you mostly get your ears clogged, but on this one I didn’t. I didn’t really want to watch the movies on my Kindle and so I watched the shows on the airplane TV. My favorite food they gave me was the blueberry muffin. I really liked it. My plane ride was great and I really liked it. If you go to Australia, I think you will like it too.

L- I didn’t use any screens except for the TV on the back of the seat,  so it was kind of good. I was scared we were going to crash or lose oxygen.

2. Tell me about your new house

M- My bed has triangles on the blanket. The freezer is weird because there are 3 layers in it. We can’t see the Celtics play in Australia. We don’t live near mountains. We don’t have an upstairs. Someone lives downstairs. We don’t have stairs inside our house. The people who lives downstairs have a backyard but we don’t.

L- It is small. The beds are big. There are a lot of paintings. I don’t know where the silverware, cups or bowls are. There is only one bathroom and it has a toilet with 2 buttons. If you poop and pee, you press the poop button and if you just pee you press the pee button. If you just poop you press the poop button. It is very fancy…the vents and ceiling.

3. What does Australia look like?

M- Australia doesn’t look like I imagined. I thought it would look like the desert, but it’s better than I imagined. And it’s hotter than I imagined.

L-  Australia looks like a big island down under.

4. What is one new food have you eaten?

L- Lamb kabobs

M- Rice Bubble cereal and Kinder Eggs

5. Tell me one fun thing you have done?

M- Ballet class is fun.

L- I went to my friend Noah’s house and played MineCraft and went swimming.

6. Have you met any kids from Australia?

M- I met 2 people, April and Evelyn. I had a playdate with April. Evelyn is also my middle name.

L- I met Harris. We built a sandcastle together.

7. Have you learned any new words or phrases?

M- Some people call me Mate and some people call me Mae, but I can’t tell the difference because they sound the same.

L- Serviette means napkin. Tip means tag. Lemonade means Sprite. Chips mean french fries. They call ketchup tomato sauce.

8. What do you miss back home in Denver?

M- I miss Lucy, our zoo, and fried dough.

L- I miss my salamander, Sammy Lou. I miss our very soft blanket.

9. What are some difference between America and Australia?

M- Gelato is yummier in Australia. I can see the ocean from my house in Australia and it’s very, very pretty.

L- Australia is hotter. We drive on a different side of the road and a different side of the car.

10. What do you like/dislike about homeschooling?

M- I really like what we are doing right now (this interview) and I really like specials and I really like break time and mommy as my teacher. I like that I can go to ballet to keep me entertained.

L- I like specials, break time and IXL and read aloud. I dislike what we are doing right now (this interview.)

17 February 2017…Now What?

Our bags are unpacked and this is our new life. Our new normal. Somedays I literally think to myself….What are we doing here? Not in a bad way…Just contemplating our goals and mission and purpose. Just as there was no guidebook or manual that helped us move here. We figured it out. And now what? We are here. What do we DO? What does one do while on a 6 month sabbatical in another country. Of course I’ve thought about this for the last year and did some preliminary googling, but it’s another example of us just figuring it all out as we go. 

We have some days that  I think we did it right (nailed it) and other days I wish I could do over (oops.) That’s real life wherever you are. I do feel some pressure to provide the kids an amazing and enriching experience. Then I remember that we’ve already accomplished that by moving here. The rest will be icing on the cake. And thanks to text pep talks from my friends at home…I’ve realized there is no rush. We’ve been here a couple of weeks. It’s okay to take it easy and not stuff adventure down my kids throats. And then I realize that 6 months will fly by so I want to take advantage of every opportunity we have while we are here. As you can see…I flip flop back and forth on this issue. We are not on holiday (as Mae says.) We are LIVING here, so we can’t go on museum tours and eat gelato every single day. 

So we are working it out. We’ve tried a few different homeschooling schedules to see what works best. We are making connections with other homeschool families so the kids can have social interaction and learn about life here in Australia. Mae and Elle are signed up for weekend classes which makes them both so happy. We’ve enjoyed ocean swims with Wes when he returns home from work…something we definitely can’t do in Denver. 

I am desperately trying to feed everyone with a new and small grocery store, new brands of food and a small kitchen. I’m reading a bunch now that I don’t have my TV shows. Wes got a bike and is learning his way around. We are doing very well with public transport.

 Oh, and Wes and I had our first date today. We went out for a delicious breakfast (brekkie!)   PS. The coffee here is so, so, so good. The only problem is you get very small portions and no refills. The large is more like a US small. But it’s soooooo good. So good.                                                     

One day at a time…

*Anything you want to know? We have a running list of future blog post ideas. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about. Thanks for reading 😀😀😀


February 10, 2017…Settling In

We’ve been here for 10 days. Elle thinks it’s going slow. I think it’s flying by. Picking up where we left off in the last blog post….

We arrived to our new house via a taxi  on February 1st. After a long flight, waiting in line at the airport to show our passports was pretty miserable. We were hungry and thirsty and ready to see daylight. Finally, we got outside with ALL our luggage and it was raining. We quickly found a taxi, gave our new address, and we were on our way. Just like that. 

We were at our new house before 11am. Only about 20 minutes from the airport. The taxi dropped us off in front of the house. I’d seen pictures online of our house so I recognized it immediately. We unloaded everything onto the sidewalk. The owner of the house was there and a cleaning crew. We were able to drop all the bags at our landlord’s apartment below us and take off for a bit while the house was cleaned. The house we’ve rented is an Airbnb property, so there are people in and out on a regular basis. We were able to go off of Airbnb and rent directly from the owners for 4 months. We’ve been emailing them making arrangements, so it was nice to finally meet them. They couldn’t be nicer. A couple with 2 little girls.       

  Anyway, we left our bags and walked to the end of our block. We looked to the right and there it was. The ocean. Ahhhh. It was raining, but of course we had to go put our feet in the sand. Mae jumped into the ocean. We were the only crazies at the beach on a rainy (and foggy) day. Then we headed back up the street and found a burger restaurant. And so it began… Can we use our credit card? What are some of these items on the menu? Why is it so expensive? Chips=fries? Kangaroo burgers????  We had a delicious and expensive lunch. Next, it was time to move in. We got all our bags and brought them back upstairs. Our landlord showed us a few things and then we were left alone in our new house. The kids ran around choosing bedrooms like they were on The Real World or Big Brother. It had already been decided that the girls would share a room and let Luke have his own room for a change (he bunks with Mae back in Denver.)  So the girls got the room with 2 single beds. Their room has a fireplace (old house) and a TV with Netflix. Luke chose the room with the queen-size bed and a TV. That left Wes and I with the last bedroom. Ours room has a fireplace, no closet, but does have A/C!! So it all worked out fine. I share a closet with Luke and Wes shares with the girls. We didn’t bring too many clothes and we can keep our warm weather clothes packed away in suitcases for now. We loved the house right away. We didn’t know that we’d have a peek of the ocean from our main room which is lovely. The dining table is big and great for homeschooling. The kitchen is small and definitely the type of kitchen you’d find in a vacation rental, so we are trying to be creative with working with what we’ve got. 

Over the next couple of days we began to figure everything out. I’ve never lived in another country. I have only left the country twice and both times were to Carribean resorts. I’m not a traveler. There is alot to figure out. We opened a bank account and got our bus passes. We found the grocery store and started to stock the kitchen with mostly new foods or at least new brands/varieties of foods. 

Our first weekend was exciting. We took a bus and a ferry to our friends’ house for a swim in their pool and a BBQ. NO…we didn’t have shrimp on the barbie. That isn’t  a thing here.  They call it prawn anyway, but we had lots of delicious meat and side dishes. The kids were thrilled to have a big homecooked meal. It was a hot day, so the swimming felt amazing and the kids were so happy to socialize with other children. Our friends were so welcoming and helpful with tips about Australia. We saw the opera house and the bridge en route to their home. We all enjoyed traveling by ferry. 

We had to watch the Superbowl on Monday at 10:30am. That was crazy, and so was the game. What a win! We will never forget this Superbowl day. It was a happy day. 

Tuesday we started homeschooling.

We’ve been to the zoo, mall, library, park,and an ocean pool. Wes goes to work everyday at the University. It’s been an exciting 10 days. 

 We are settling in to a new life in Australia

It’s all happening. 

February 4, 2017…We did it!!!! 

We are here. We are here. I can’t believe we did it.  We are IN AUSTRALIA! I want to tell you everything about this place. But first….how did we get here? The last 2 weeks weren’t pretty, but they are part of our story. Plus, I am proud of us.We have  persevered and done some hard stuff. Once again, we couldn’t have done it alone. We had so many angels back in Denver who helped in so many different ways. I don’t like to publicly name people who do good…because that’s not why they did it. You know who you are. You were our heroes during a crazy time and we are forever grateful.

It’s been a few days since we arrived, so I feel a little rested and ready to look back at the challenges we faced and our wild journey to get here. And then I’m going to the beach!!!!

The last weekend in Denver was full of goodbyes, packing, and the Patriots game. It’s a blur to me now. Wes got really sick. He doesn’t like me talking him when he’s sick. But he was SICK for all our last days in Denver, and it made things so much harder to have him not operating at 100% (we needed to be at 300%!)  He had to take rests and then go hard. Then rest. Then work hard. Round. The. Clock.  I was busy tying up all our loose ends. Appointments and shopping and kids.

Then came our final days before departure. I don’t remember Monday. Tuesday was the kids’ last day of school. It was also the day Wes had friends to help him move all the big furniture. The little kids brought treats and Valentines for their classmates. I read a book about Australia to Mae’s sweet kindergarten class. Mae and Luke both received very thoughtful goodbye gifts from their classes. I was too tired to cry, but I was, and still am, very touched at how much people love my kids. The middle school goodbye was way more dramatic. I knew Elle and friends would be going to the town center for one final time, but it turned into something much bigger. I arrived at Chipotle around 6pm to a gaggle of 7th graders hugging and crying. There was candy and balloons and cards and presents. I ended up bringing 3 girls back home with me around 7pm because they just couldn’t say goodbye. The girls came to our empty and chaotic house and it broke my heart to see how sad Elle was to leave her friends. I had to pull them off of each other when their parents came to get them. She’s lucky to have such good friends.

The next 48 hours were the toughest. Wes and I stayed up all night. Luke slept at a friend’s house. The girls went to bed on mattresses. Then Wes and I hustled. We barely spoke. We just emptied the house and packed for the trip. I packed our bags until around  2am and then cleaned up what was left. Cabinets. Drawers. Everywhere I looked there was more to do. Our house had to be totally EMPTY. Wes took a billion trips to storage. I eventually slept from 4:15-5:30am. Wes tried to rest around 6am, but he never slept. Elle was still sad. Mae was full of bananas. We had to leave around 10:30am for the airport. Wes had to make final trips to storage with our mattresses and whatever was left. I had to pick up Luke and clean out the fridge. Then we had to return the rental car and load up for the airport. Phew.

It felt great to check all 9 bags and get on the plane to LAX for a short plane ride with just our carry on bags (but I, sadly, left Elle’s Kindle Paperwhite on the plane.) Then it got hard again. Navigating through LAX with that many bags…on to the shuttle to get the rental car….waiting for the rental car…..trying to fit everything in the rental car.  We drove to our hotel near Disneyland. I walked into our hotel room and crawled  directly under the covers. I never got up. I was sooooo cold. I knew I had a fever. It spiked in the middle of the night. I woke the next morning stuffy, fevery and had a wicked sore throat. Awesome.

We stayed at this Disneyland hotel 4 years ago, and Elle had strep on our first day. Dejavu. Wes ended up on an antibiotic his CO doctor called in, and he started to feel better. Finally. I slept all day Thursday. I think. It’s fuzzy. Wes took kids swimming and to Downrown Disney. On Friday, we all went to Disneyland and my cousin, Ben, joined us. I was medicated. I ducked out for a bit to go to urgent care for some drugs. We had a fun day. Fresh air felt good. The kids loved Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan and Star Tours. It took a lot out of me. Saturday was a nice day. We went to Hollywood to meet our old nanny to see an Improv show. Luke and Elle participated on stage. So fun. I started to drag and was ready to get back to bed. We spent Sunday at California Adventure and enjoyed the sunshine and rides. I was finally fever free.

Monday….travel day!!! We packed up, returned rental car, and happily checked our bags. We relaxed for hours and hours at LAX. It actually felt good. We camped out at a table in the food court and chilled. We boarded the plane at around 10:30pm Monday night. The flight was 14 hours and 3 minutes….and then we were here. In Australia.On Wednesday, February 1st around 8am. It’s summer🌞 and it was all worth it.

Next time, I will write a bit about the plane ride and our arrival to our new home. We start homeschooling on Tuesday.Monday is Super Bowl day!


January 22, 2017…Goodbye Denver

This will be our last blog post from Denver. Crazy! We’ve been busy getting ready to leave. Busy is an understatement. As I’ve said before, we don’t have a plan. Okay…that’s not true. We plan to walk out the door of our empty house on January 25th and fly to LA. How we are going to get there is impossible to explain. We are just doing it. We are doing about 5 things at at the same time all while planning the next 5. It is equally exhilarating and exhausting.

What exactly have we been doing? For starters, we sold my car. That was easy and quick. We had to get a rental car to get around until we leave. It’s electric blue. I won’t miss it. Another thing we’ve been doing is trying to find renters for our house. We have a couple of showings every week which is super inconvenient seeing that we are trying to pack up the whole house. The house is listed with a property manager and they will take care of everything while we are gone. The house will be empty and we hope they can find us some renters.

The goodbyes. Kids are spending time with friends during this final weekend. All 3 kids are sad about missing friends. I feel lucky they have good friends to miss. Luke’s class all signed a Colorado pillowcase for him. It was such a thoughtful gift and I know he appreciated it.  I’m reading a book about Australia to Mae’s class on Tuesday. She’ll bring cupcakes to celebrate her last day and Luke will bring pumpkin muffins. They are both bringing early Valentine’s to their classmates. Elle and her crew will take one last trip to the Town Center after school Tuesday. Her friends are very sad she’s leaving. They’ve begged me to come to the airport to say goodbye. I,too,have tried to spend time with friends these last few days. It’s been a nice break from the house. Lots of hugs going around. The kindergartens are the best. They never know when it’s Mae’s last day, so they hug her so much. So often. My kids are feeling lots of love in Denver this week.

Appointments took up most of last week. So many. So boring. 

The house! I can’t believe we will have an empty house in just 3 days. Every drawer and closet and picture on the wall…getting all packed up  The basement was a bear. I found everything I’ve ever owned, every lost item (Elle’s Kindle!!) and things I’ve never even seen before. The basement has been harboring a whole lot of memories and mostly junk. Bags and bags and bags to Goodwill. Sold some stuff. Lots of trash. We have a storage unit and Wes brings carloads over daily. I’ve cleaned out everyone’s closets and sorted so many clothes (donate, pack, or storage.) We owned way too many clothes and wore less than 50% of what was in the closets.  We will do the kitchen and big furniture last. Phew. 

At some point, I’ll start packing suitcases. Not ready yet. But soon. I’ve been thinking and shopping, but not ready to break out the suitcases yet. I really don’t know what to bring.

California: We will be there for 5 nights. We will see my cousin, our former nanny, and Mickey Mouse. And hopefully sleep a little. Have I mentioned we are exhausted?

This past week we got hit with some sicknesses. Booooo! Fingers crossed we get healthy for the big trip. It has made things a little more challenging. Thankfully the Marshalls can handle hard stuff. 

So that’s what is happening here. Lots of emotions, caffeine and advil. I’m turning to a very inspirational fish for some wisdom these last few days. Just Keep Swimming….






January 10, 2017….Keeping It Real

 Packing up our entire house. Moving to a country we’ve never been to. Homeschooling a Kindergtener, 4th grader and 7th grader. Deciding what to bring and packing suitcases for a 6 month trip. Tying up all the loose ends of our mail,house rental, bills, banking, cars, doctor appointments…all the logistics and red tape. The sleepless nights.

This is not easy. I don’t want you to read our blog and see our photos on instagram and think it’s all sunshine and rainbows. I also don’t want to send the message that we know what we are doing. The truth is….we are winging it. There is no manual for this. We don’t have a master plan. We probably aren’t doing things in the most efficient order. We are just doing it.

But you won’t hear alot about this on the blog and that’s what I want to explain. Everyone gives people a hard time for putting on this “picture perfect persona” on social media. There are a million memes and blog posts about it. Everyone wants people (especially moms) to be more real. However, nobody likes a complainer or a Debbie Downer either. My theory for my personal social media is to keep it light. If I complain, I try to make it funny. And then I usually delete it. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t think some guy who I knew from Kiddie Korner needs to know about my car troubles or sicknesses. I actually do not mind when other people use social media to complain or vent or share their problems. It doesn’t bother me. You do you. To each his own.  Sometimes it allows me the chance to help someone out in need or understand others’ struggles. Of course, I am guilty of the occasional Facebook rant. I do like a little virtual  sympathy from time to time. Generally,  I like to save my bellyaching for Wes. 

This brings me to the blog and my goals and my intentions for sharing our journey. While I don’t want to seem fake, I do plan to post mostly positive stuff. It’s just more my jam. I like to project positive energy. I don’t like to give too much weight to the bad stuff. We all know it’s there. Do I really need to point out the obvious?  Packing sucks. Packing with 3 kids in the house is nothing short of miserable. I think we all know this. I will blog about things I think are interesting, special, important,  fascinating , etc…I will most definitely include the good, the bad and the ugly. Mostly the good. I will risk  being called fake if it means that I am expressing my immense gratitude for this experience. I feel so blessed for this opportunity that I do want to share it with you. If that’s bragging….oh well! This blog will be 100% unapologetic. That much I know.  I’ll share the bad stuff if I feel like it…like if we get attacked by a kangaroo…you’ll be the first to know.  In the meantime, you can safely assume the kids will fight, we will have jet lag, I’ll forget to pack something, we will get lost, etc….If I don’t mention it….it’s still happening. I just prefer to focus on fun. So if it looks like everything is amazing…don’t doubt it. It probably is. As well as stressful and exhausting and confusing…but also AMAZING. 


January 2, 2017… FAQ

Wes and I get asked a lot of questions about our upcoming adventure.  I’ve compiled a list of the most common inquiries to help explain what we are doing with our lives!

Q. When are you leaving?

A. We fly to LA on January 25th to spend a few days in California. Our flight to Sydney is direct from LA. We depart late on January 30th and arrive in Sydney the morning of February 1st. And in case you are wondering, flight time is 14hrs 55min.

Q. How long will you be gone?

A. 6 months. We don’t have a return date. Probably end of July.

Q. Why are you going?

A. For fun and adventure. Seriously.

Q. But HOW are you able to go away for 6 months?

A. Wes, as a professor, is eleigible for sabbatical after 7 years. Last Spring, he applied and was approved for a full year sabbatical Jan 2017-Jan 2018.

Q. Why Australia?

A. Great question. I don’t have a great answer. It seems like we always talked about wanting to go to Australia SOMEDAY…which led to talking about it for a sabbatical SOMEDAY… It truly was a pipe dream that has become our reality. There isn’t a good reason why we chose Australia…why not Australia?

Q. Will either of you be working while you are in OZ?

A. Wes will be doing some research. To be approved for sabbatical, he had to submit a proposal of what he will do with his time off. Last January at his annual Transportation conference in DC, he connected with some folks at Univ of Sydney and they agreeed to “host” him.  This means the Univ of Sydney is his sponsor for our trip, which helped us get 6 month visas.  Additionally, Wes can have a workspace at the University, and he will probably collaborate with some researchers/professors from the University. For those interested in more specific  info about the research Wes will be doing…stay tuned for a future blog post.

Q. Will the kids go to school?

A. We will be homeschooling them to provide us the flexibility to travel and explore. The kids originally wanted to go to an Australian school so they could make friends. However, the school year in Australia begins right when we arrive. They are currently on summer break. If we were going to be there for a full year, we’d probably send them to school. 6 months will fly by and we want to be able to come and go as we please. I’d also like to keep them on track, as much as possible, with their current curriculums|standards.

Q. How will you homeschool all 3 kids and not lose your mind?

A. I plan to lose my mind. And I plan to embrace the madness of trying to teach my own children. I also plan to farm out some math to Dr. Daddy.  There are some homeschool networks in our area we may connect with or we’ll try and find some after school activities. The kids want friends. But we will have structured time each morning and then go out exploring. We plan to study, research and do projects about all things Australia. We also have goals set for each kid…some have nothing to do with state standards. I truly feel this is a gift of time with our children. Wes and I have had amazingly thoughtful conversations about each kid as an individual and what will be important for them to learn and what we hope they will gain from this experience. And then I will totally lose my mind again.

Q. Did Wes get a fellowship?

A. Okay….nobody has asked this, but I like to brag about Wes. He applied for an Endeavour  Fellowhip through the Australian government and he got it!!! Very exciting. We had already planned to go…but this was icing on the cake.

Q. Where will you live?

A. We rented a house in Coogee, which according to Wikipedia is “a beachside suburb of local government area City of Randwick 8 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is also a part of the Eastern Suburbs region.”   I don’t know much of what that means…I’m working on my metric. We decided to go for it and live near the beach and also be close to shops and such…. We have rented a 3 bedroom duplex type home.  Finding a house with 3 bedrooms near the beach was difficult due to very high rental prices. We will live there for 4 months (February – May) and someday I will write a blog about how we found the house because it’s kind of an interesting story. We’ve left our last 2 months open for travel. I’m hoping for a camper van adventure. Wes has a conference in Brisbane at the beginning of July, but otherwise we will be foot loose and fancy free for June and July.

Q. Will you have a car in Sydney? 

A. Probably not.  We will use public transportation and our feet. I’m sure Wes will buy a bike. I think we will also join one of those membership/ car rental things (like car to go or zip car).

Q. What about your house in Denver?

A. Trying to find renters. It is listed with a property manager. We’ve gotten ourselves a storage unit and are currently cleaning/organizing and packing up our house. It’s equally miserable and magical to purge and pack. We hope to only be left with what we actually use and need and love. We are cutting down our possessions quite significantly.

Q. How can we talk to you? What’s the time difference? 

A. Email, Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts (chat and video), Facebook Messenger and video chat..still working on cell phone situation so stay tuned about phone calls and text. 

As for time change…Sydney is 18 hours ahead of Denver. 

Minus 6 hours plus a day.                     That’s how people in Denver can figure out what time it is in Sydney. 

(Therefore, we will be 16 hours ahead of East Coast) 
Q. Now that Trump is our president, will you be staying in Australia?

A. We get this a lot. No.

Q. Are you exited?

A. Yup!


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