Bent!

I think this is the fourth attempt I have made at writing this post! To be honest it’s usually a time of struggle or challenge that keeps me away from my little corner of the world wide web, but I’m happy to report that this time it’s down to being busy…to, dare I say it, embracing the very privileged moment in time we are experiencing. When Richard first floated the idea of this ‘sabbatical’ for want of a better word, I was quick to point out all the reasons why we shouldn’t do it – those of you who know me very well won’t be surprised by that at all. Change and I are somewhat uncomfortable bedfellows.

We have now been in Bend for just over six weeks and things are going well. Of course like anything, it’s not all wine and roses – I have on more than one occasion threatened to march Olive and Edie down to the local school for the last few weeks of the academic year – but all things considered, life in Bend is suiting us pretty well.

Before we made it to Bend, we did partake in a bit of a road trip, which is what this post was meant to be about when I made my first attempt to write it a month ago! Richard made the entire drive from east to west, whilst the girls and I did a wee bit less than that. When school broke for spring break we flew to Denver and met up with Richard and the tardis, aka our car, which was crammed full with all manner of necessary items…coffee machine, five bikes (!), scarves and sunglasses to reenact iconic moment from Thelma and Louise…you get the picture. We drove straight out of Denver and headed for Moab in Utah, an amazing drive which took us into landscapes that looked completely other worldly.

So many cries of "wow, look" as we journeyed further west.
So many cries of “wow, look” as we journeyed further west.

Our goal in Moab was to go hiking in Arches National Park, home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, and a place that was settled over 10,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age.

Heading into the park to walk to Delicate Arch, the unofficial symbol of Utah.
Heading into the park to walk to Delicate Arch, the unofficial symbol of Utah.
Olive and Edie were great hikers, full of interest in the amazing environment.
Olive and Edie were great hikers, full of interest in the amazing environment.
Delicate Arch in all her glory.
Delicate Arch in all her glory.
The girls were a bit braver than I when it came to venturing out on the rocks.
The girls were a bit braver than I when it came to venturing out on the rocks.
At times it felt like being on another planet.
At times it felt like being on another planet.
The girls took every available opportunity for climbing rocks.
The girls took every available opportunity for climbing rocks.
Places I never thought I would get to :)
Places I never thought I would get to 🙂

From Moab we headed to Park City, home of Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. We had to pass through Salt Lake City on the way and I amused myself by counting Latter Day Saints church spires – there were a lot. (I’ve always been a bit intrigued by the Mormons. My mother used to disappear off to the Mormon church in Hataitai to do genealogical research, I was a huge fan of the show Big Love and I’ve read Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven…and then there was the time my sister invited a couple of missionaries in when they came knocking on the door one day. But that’s another story!)

To be honest I was a bit underwhelmed by Park City…not a celebrity in sight! Still it wasn’t film festival time…I’m sure it’s quite the place then.

Spot of snowboarding with True Blood's Alcide...mmm...could have been persuaded to stick around Park City for that!
Spot of snowboarding with True Blood’s Alcide…mmm…could have been persuaded to stick around Park City for that!

Next up was Boise, Idaho, one of those places that I’d read about or heard mentioned on tv or in movies but never in a million years expected to actually be in. We were only there overnight but were quite taken by it…had a very cool cafe which is always the mark of a good town in our book.

We rolled into Bend on a Monday afternoon and set up home in our little house on the west side. Unfortunately we woke up the next day to the news that Richard’s mother had passed away so our first official day in Bend was spent sorting flights, accommodation and rental cars and getting Richard off to the airport.

With Grandmama in Byron Bay, December 2013.
With Grandmama in Byron Bay, December 2013.

The girls and I spent the week getting to know Bend, which required numerous trips to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods – Winchester friends will understand the great excitement at having both these stores in town! The girls even did an art class for a couple of mornings which enabled me to focus on getting my big projects finished for the two courses I was doing. Richard made it home in time for the final few hours of Olive’s birthday and we were able to start getting into the swing of life in Bend.

Nine years old!
Nine years old!

Owing to Richard having to head to Australia for a week and me having to get all my study complete, we didn’t properly start homeschooling until our third week in Bend. We are doing a very hybrid, make it up as you go along kind of approach! We are using the K12 online system for maths, spelling and history; blogging and corresponding with friends and family are our writing themes and, as Bend is located in an area of great volcanic significance, we are focussing on all things volcano related for science. Reading pretty much takes care of itself although I have insisted on a daily SSR time where only novels are allowed to be read – the graphic novel obsession continues unabated! PE is the easiest subject to work on – we’ve hiked, mountain biked, explored playgrounds and the girls do gymnastics twice a week, and Olive is trying out a kid’s running club this week. (In Bend you can get picked up from school by bus and taken to mountain biking class! You can guess how tough Richard is finding it to live here 🙂 I too am very happy to have found a great yoga studio and am starting each day with a 6am class. I didn’t think it would be possible to find a studio that could match Shine in Winchester but so far I’m loving it.) Olive and Edie’s foray into blogging revealed a need for speedier fingers on the keyboard so they are also doing an online typing program. We usually spend the morning working – 8:30am till 12, which leaves us the afternoon free to get outside and explore Bend’s fantastic outdoors, make trips to the library or meet up with our friends online. Or we bunk off school for a few days and head wherever Richard has to go for work – San Francisco anyone?!

We like to call it education outside the classroom.
We like to call it education outside the classroom.

We’ve decided to extend our stay in Bend and have found another place to move into at the beginning of July. Summer is the best time to be here and as everything is still a bit up in the air for us future wise, staying put for a wee bit longer feels like the right thing to do. The girls and I are making a trip back to New Zealand at the end of June…arriving in Napier on June 21st and leaving on July 6th. Olive and Edie are rather excited, Olive going so far as installing a countdown app on my phone which she diligently checks every day, “only 31 days to go Mum!”

I’d like to say a big thank you to wonderful friends and family who are supporting Olive and Edie’s letter writing. They get so excited when there is something just for them in the mailbox. Also thanks to those reading and commenting on their blogs. I suspect they are going to beat me to all the good stories! You can click here for Olive’s and here for Edie’s.

I think that’s enough for now. Once again I have written something which veers into essay-like proportions! I haven’t mentioned how hard it was to leave Winchester, how emotional it was, but I hope y’all know how special our time there was xxx

Until next time…

Moving on

It’s Saturday night and I’m typing this from our makeshift basement come kitchen come family room. Things have started moving quickly towards getting the house back to normal. Yesterday was a big day, with a moving company depositing a storage pod on our driveway, wrapping and packing everything in the affected rooms and moving them out into the pod.

Completely lowering the tone in the neighbourhood!
Completely lowering the tone in the neighbourhood!
Would make a good party space...perhaps we should hire it out?
Would make a good party space…perhaps we should hire it out?

We have met the project manager who’ll be in charge of everything (great), flooring adviser (great) and on Monday we’ll talk with the kitchen designer who I am expecting will be…great! Everyone we have dealt with – from the young man at the insurance agency call centre who took my rather stressed call when we discovered the water, to the dry out/clean up crew, to the adjustor…even the trio of guys who expertly packed and moved our belongings yesterday – has been wonderful. It’s certainly made everything as stress free and painless as possible.

Watching the movers wielding their tape guns and bubble wrap rolls yesterday, did bring home to me the reality of what is ahead of us this year. I’ve alluded to big changes for us, but after a couple of pointed questions from friends(!), it’s probably time to spill the beans.

When we left Belgium we had a few regrets in terms of missed travel opportunities. While of course it’s just not possible to see everything we did feel we could have got around a bit more, and we don’t want to be saying the same thing about our time in the United States. We are very fortunate that Richard has flexibility around his work location so we want to grab that opportunity and make the most of it. Whenever Richard came back from a trip to the West Coast he was always so positive about it and made lots of comments along the lines of “I wish I could get you all out there”. Fate smiled on us when Richard mentioned to a great friend of ours here that we were looking to spend some time out west – her response, “have I got the place for you!”

Go west!
Go west!

She has great friends who live in a not so small town in Oregon, which goes by the wonderful name of…Bend! Years ago it was known as a logging town, but now it’s a mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, hiking, climbing, camping and golfing mecca. In late November my friend and I made a trip to Bend where we stayed with her great friends and had a wonderful weekend exploring as much of the city as we could. Our hosts were amazing, taking me everywhere, helping to set up appointments with rental companies and giving invaluable advice as to what part of town would be the best place to be in.

Beautiful Bend, OR
Beautiful Bend, OR

By the end of the weekend we’d found a great little house and I was confident that Bend would be a pretty cool place to take a bit of time out, spend some more time as a family in the outdoors and see more of the US. (From Bend we can easily get to places like Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco…there has even been talk of Alaska!) I had a chat with the principal at Olive and Edie’s school and she had no concerns about us taking the girls out of school before the end of the academic year. We are going to attempt a spot of unschooling with maybe a bit of online school on the side. The house in Bend has been rented for three months starting at the beginning of April and hopefully this renovation won’t get in the way of that start date. We were all ready to put the house on the market after Christmas but the leak has delayed that somewhat – trusting that all will work out ok!

So there you have it – the next step in our adventure. I’m looking forward to sharing many tales from the road with you all. I’ll finish with another beautiful Bend shot…

bend3

Until next time…