I am the first to dread Mondays in our house. I suffer horribly from the “Monday Blues”. But I’m done with it. It’s not helping me or anybody else, so I’m turning over a new leaf. Welcome to POSITIVE MONDAYS!
This week it’s back to work as normal. I’m slowly recovering from the flu, and my brain is almost functional again. I just got a pay rise (not sure if that is a good thing, or if it just adds to the handcuffs, but an interesting topic to explore later…). And, if all goes to plan, we may even buy a house this week!
I wish you all a fantastic week, with whatever it is you are doing. Remember:
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love – then make that day count!“ Steve Maraboli
The Beartooth Highway is a 68 mile All American Road that winds its way through Montana and Wyoming, leading its travellers to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. At 3,337m high, there is some serious elevation – a bag of chip bursting elevation in fact! Starting from around 1,600m in elevation, you start your climb starts in grassy meadows, travelling through switch-backs and steep zigzags, past banks of snow, and skiers blasting past your window.
We flew into Billings Airport, as the closest airport we could find to Yellowstone National Park, that didn’t cost an extremely exorbitant amount (i.e. Jackson Hole). Billings turned out to be a great place to pick up a rental, stock up the car, and find cheap accommodation. I have to provide a recommendation here for the Hilltop Inn. This was the cheapest hotel accommodation in our entire trip, and it provided free breakfast. The room was huge, and to top it off there was a microwave and a fridge so we could self-cater a family dinner (with the help of a hot chicken from Walmart!). Would love it if they didn’t use disposable plastic for EVERYTHING though, a little better for the environment if they used glasses, plates, knives, forks etc instead of the single-use plastic variety – wrapped in another layer of plastic for hygiene.
The Beartooth Highway
We had three amazing All American Roads on our bucket list for our US Trip – the Beartooth Highway, the Big Sur Coast Highway, and the Tioga Pass (technically a National Scenic Byway). Unfortunately for us, a storm took out a key bridge on the Big Sur Coast Highway, and the snow didn’t clear from the Tioga Pass by the time we travelled through in early July – which left only the Beartooth Highway.
Even then, the Beartooth Highway was CLOSED the day before we left Billings. Hubby was devastated, knowing the Big Sur was closed, watching the snow reports daily for the Tioga Pass, and refreshing the Beartooth Highway website hourly for updates to see if it was going to open. In the morning when we were due to leave Billings the hotel staff gave us the good news – it was open. For now. Get moving… We knew we were still hours away from the start of the Highway, but we took the risk. We were very lucky. It was closed again the next day!
I was so proud of the girls today. We managed to have a great day, without devices – wet and windy wild weather and all.
After a treat for breakfast (bacon and egg baps, with coffee from the cafe around the corner for Hubby and I), I took the girls roller skating. Although Miss M has been skating before, she is still very much a learner, and this was Miss T’s first time on a skating rink. After a few false starts, they had a ball. They raced each other and the clock. There were “musical spots”, “show off your tricks” (i.e. manage not to fall over), and skating “limbo” (not surprisingly, the tiny tots on wheels won this one!). A hurt tailbone and a sore wrist later, they can’t wait to come back! All for a $2 entry fee! A bit of frugal family fun for my new better budgeting segment I think.
The girls – in a good mood – even helped me with grocery shopping on the way home. Well, not sure if “helped” is the right word, but they certainly took it upon themselves to fill up my trolley for me…
After lunch we did the traditional childhood thing and had the neighbourhood children over for an afternoon of hut building, playing board games, making a banana cake for afternoon tea and pizza for dinner. Followed of course by ice cream sundaes.
Somehow we have been convinced that the neighbour should stay for a sleepover. They dragged the spare TV into the hut, snuggled up in the piles of cushions and blankets under fairy lights and sheets and watched a movie. And that is where they are now. In the hut, on the floor, snuggled up in blankets and cushions. Not quite asleep.
It’s school holidays! Well, to be fair the girls have been on holiday for a week already, but have been at school holiday programme. NOW I am also on holiday for a week!
Bring on a week of sleep ins, lazy mornings sipping coffee in the sun, reading blogs. Movies with the kids. A trip to the skating rink. And a few days in Taupo. A touch of prawn fishing (I will have to explain that one more when we do it!). And Hubby may even take the girls skiing.
I have also set myself a few blog goals:
I’m writing a guest blog on ‘teaching your children the value of money’, I have timed this to get it done on my week off.
I want to get my ‘subscribe’ button working.
I’ll keep you all up to date with our holiday adventures 🙂
And of course there are a few boring jobs to do around the house. I’ve already cleaned the linen cupboard.
There were thirteen candles in our house this week. Officially a teenager in the house. A milestone duly celebrated with even more teenagers for a teenage sleepover!!
All whilst I’ve pledged not to touch a drop of alcohol for Dry July! Luckily for me, a compassionate mother has sponsored me a “Golden Pass” so I can commiserate the upcoming teenage years with a well-deserved glass of red wine.
So what are we in store for?
The metaphor of conquering Everest in the wrong shoes springs to mind [Rachel Halliwell on the terrible teens]
To me, the most surprising thing is how much my 13-year-old resembles her two-year-old self.
Like her two-year-old self, she is prone to tantrums because she cannot find the “right” shoes or the pants she wants to wear are in the wash (absolutely my fault, washing should be a same-day-service, oh, and I should be a mind reader and ensure that whatever has been dumped on the bathroom floor appears clean on the day she wants it!).
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
We have been reading blogs about life on the road, talking to travel bloggers with children, watching Netflix travel programmes made by full-time travel bloggers – and all the while wanting desperately to change our lives.
But there is something holding us back, so many reasons not to go. A sense of security. Two “amazing” jobs. A pension plan. School. A community. Family.
So the question is – do we buy an RV, take the kids out of school, and hit the road, or do we do the “sensible” thing and wait until they leave school – then hubby and I can travel to our hearts’ content? BUT – so far none of our parents has managed to make it to retirement, so why plan for retirement? Wouldn’t it be better to get out there and live NOW?
A brave little girl who fought a battle beyond her years. Who had her 9th birthday party early, who never made it to 9.
As I tuck you into bed, as I kiss your forehead, I think of your friend who has just lost her little sister. Your friend, who at 12 years old, now has to face life without her best friend, her snuggle bunny.
Your friend who has to bury her little sister in the next few days.
I think about when the funeral is over, and everyone has gone home. I think about your friend, and that she will have to get up in the morning. That she will sit down for breakfast, at the family table, with an empty chair. That she is going to have to go to school. And come home. Alone. And that for everybody else, life will go on. But for her, life as she knows it has just stopped. Life will never be the same again.
Miss T, I ask you to be there for your friend. Your friend that you may find sitting on the floor of the library, head in hands, crying. I ask you not to expect her to move on. Just sit. Listen. Be there.
Miss T, I ask you to never wish your sister wasn’t born. I ask that you never hate her or wish her away. I ask you to love her and cherish her.
And Miss T, my daughter. I love you. I am so proud of you for being who you are. For being a leader, and a competitor. For being so stubborn and argumentative – for being so strong. The world needs you to stay strong.
This exercise in gratefulness helps me to concentrate on what is good in our lives. Giving thanks can make you happier and more resilient, it can strengthen relationships and reduce stress. This Gratefulness Family Challenge does that simply:
Every night at bedtime we each say three things we are grateful for that day.
I love the idea of incorporating gratefulness into our everyday routine – of practising gratefulness every day with our children.
Focusing on what we are grateful for also helps us on our path to minimalism, to get rid of the clutter and to concentrate on what is important to us.