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Category: Raising boys

boys

when all your clothes are black

imageLast week I was packing my overnight bag for a weekend away in the city, carefully selecting and laying out my underwear, pants, shirts, jackets, socks and shoes and laying them out on my bed. I had to laugh when I realised every item was black. Every single item. I actually had to snap a pic to send to my friends, one of whom shares my all black wardrobe tastes. There do exist some items that aren’t black, but its so hard to choose them over a clean black item that can easily replace it. When shopping for clothes I try really hard to pick items that aren’t black, though it rarely eventuates. What can I say, black is the colour of my soul!!
Black is my signature, I don’t know whether it chose me or I chose it, but I have a feeling we are in the longest term relationship I’ll ever have. I have always had my own style and never followed trends of any type, mixing small labels from boutiques with pre loved, vintage and the odd item from the bigger labels.
Ethical clothing is close to my heart, and I will almost always choose handmade, ethically produced, sweat shop free or organically sourced clothing. I wish clothing was not the throw away consumer item it is today, and I definitely believe in quality over quantity.
Discovering shopping on instagram, I started mainly with clothes for my boys. Soon enough I found lots of different items for mamas too. By that stage I had also discovered brand repping for the boys, and not long after I discovered that many stores also wanted adult/mama reps too. Oh you’re a model, who’s your agency? instagram (insert crying with laughter emoji) . Yes I know what you’re thinking, but its totally different to those types. First of all its not really modelling, second of all it is actually really rad getting clothes free or discounted in return for creating some cool photos.
It’s another creative outlet, one that I can share with my boys, and hopefully inspire other mums to dress however they feel like. Clothing has always been an expressive art for me and reflects who I am and how I feel. As much as I don’t buy into fads, trends and luxury items, and I’m far from a materialistic person generally. I feel like as an artist, clothing gives you the ability to wear your art every day, and identify where you are in a society.
As a mother you already lose so much of yourself the moment you hold that baby in your arms and know that you are completely devoted to the survival of a tiny human being. Dressing in clothes that are expressive of you, and compliment your personality is one of the last stands we have against losing ourselves into an abyss of spit up milk, poo, sleep deprivation and noise pollution. As a woman and a mum, I know that I am defined by my children and devoted to them, and I strive to look after myself so I can do this momentous task at hand with the best possible preparation and tools. For me, taking pride in my appearance has really helped me get through some dark times. There were days when I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed, and sometimes I didn’t. But there were other days when I did get up, and had a shower, made my hair look nice, made my face look nice, picked out a nice outfit and I truly felt more capable and strong.
So I hope through this platform I can share my own mumstyle and share some small shop finds along the way!
This rad tank top is raw cut and hand printed on organic cotton by a beautiful mama who started out making clothes for her kiddies and now makes Tee’s for big kids too!

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Shop the look scarlieslade

raising boys

imageSome say parenting boys is much easier then girls. Well mostly only the parents of girls. Though being a girl myself and being a single parent, there are often issues that arise that I am unsure of how to deal with. The issue of gender equality is close to my heart, and though I understand there are differences which make us unique, I want to live in a society where there is no discrimination based on our genitals. Toys for girls and boys is one of my pet peeves, I love that meme someone made that says how do you tell if a toy is for a boy or a girl? Do you operate toy with your genitals? No? then its for boys or girls. Yes? then its not for children!
Back to the issues that come up as a mama wolf raising man cubs. First off was the issue of circumcision. Fresh out of being a Jew living in the holy land, before I gave birth to my firstborn, there was no doubt I would have a brit mila. The first moment I held his tiny perfect body in my arms, I had doubts. Their father was around at that stage, and he was vehemently opposed to circumcision, so my doubts grew, and the 8 days came and went. I just couldn’t go through with it, especially without the support of family or community. Now almost 6 years later, I am so glad for this, as I have learned so much in that time about it( for a noter post). Following on from there, most infants are much the same regardless of gender. Only as my son grew older, did there become an issue of what to do with the foreskin, as well as teaching him to pee without getting pee all over his feet and clothes.
More recently I was part of a conversation about handshakes. The consensus of the discussion is that a man learns how to give a handshake from his father, and the way a hand is shaken imparts a dearth of knowledge about the mans character. I found this so interesting, as t was not something I had ever given much thought to. Also due to my past jewishness, I rarely shook hands with men, as it is not customary for women to shake hands. I really had no idea about what a hand’s shake imparts about its owner. As I discovered, a handshake should be strong and firm, conveying strength and respect. A soft shake says just that about the rest of the body attached to the hand, that the man is soft and thus less then manly.
So, I am not entirely sure what I want for my boys in regards to the image they present to other males. I do want them to embrace their masculinity, as well as be embracing of the divine feminine.to know when to be hard and when to be soft so to speak. Like everything I strive to reach the duality that is so central to our existences. They say you shouldn’t marry a man if you don’t want kids like him, which is fine as we weren’t married haha, but all the same there are parts of him that I don’t want my kids to be like. I wonder if he would teach them about things like a mans handshake. I wonder what sort of men they will be without a fathers guidance. I know that for the most part I don’t want them to be guided by their father, who has a history of disrespect to women, violence, womanising and substance abuse. Of course like most narcissistic sociopaths he does have his charms and redeeming qualities, but I don’t think I could pick and choose which if those he would impart on our children should they spend too much time together.
The boys love their father, and they are aware of his issues and the trouble and stress he has put our family through, in front of them many times. I worry for them, having a warped view of what it means to be a man, a father. Sadly it seems positive male role models are few and far between. My own father is a fantastic role model, but as he lives in another state, we only see him a few times a year. Of course I may end up meeting another man who could be a father figure for the, but honestly I am too scared that he would end up being a false hope and walk out them too, which I can’t deal with, for the sake of their fragile little hearts. I know the world is a harsh place, and children are adaptable and resilient, but when your understanding of the world is limited too and guided by those closest to you, having your world abandon you for no understandable reason is bound to have long term repercussions on their ability to have their own successful relationships.
So on I struggle, trying my best to enhance and strengthen their own masculine and feminine identities, and be a role model for how humans should treat each other regardless of physical anatomy. In a world where gender fluid is now becoming an accepted state, which is an identity I can identify with in terms of sexuality, I wonder it it falls to me to be the shaper of the next generation of humans for whom man and women are truly equal, and we can all shake hands how we choose and still be respected for it.
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Doing it all, or a lesson in what to outsource…

Moving to the countryside as an adult, when all of your adult life has been spent traveling or living in cities can be a big learning curve. The isolation, the heavy yard work, maintaining property, caring for animals and growing your own food are the things self sustainable eco paradise dreams are made of, but the reality is hard work if you are doing it yourself. Throw in being a single women and things get slightly more interesting.
Never one to shy away from getting dirty, I loved the prospect of this self sufficient lifestyle. Wielding an axe like a pro to chop firewood, picking up horse poo, I was a natural pretty much from the get go. I had always been one to change a flat tyre, do a dodgy fix up of plumbing and clean my own toilets, so all the seemingly endless tasks of looking after and maintaining an old farm house were, in my mind, tasks I could DO MYSELF, no worries. Despite my seeming propensity to farm life, certain things I could not relegate to the realms of city life. Getting facials and massages regularly as well as the perfect eyebrow and bikini wax were little luxuries I still afforded myself when required. It did help that I used to work in a dayspa where I did everything but waxing and tinting, but even when I quit working there, I continued to outsource these tasks.
So yesterday I was in priceline to buy tissues for Mister.R who had suddenly developed a runny nose, when I saw a do it yourself wax kit. Hmm I really need a bikini wax and I keep forgetting to book one in, I thought to myself. Then I realised, hey thats something I can do myself!
So I bought it.
Worst Idea Ever.
I am writing this straight after the ordeal, while its fresh in my mind, so it is cemented in memory to remind me never to do it again and to warn others never to do it either. It was painful, uncomfortable, did NOT go as smoothly as anticipated and did not result in the removal of all the hair that was supposed to be removed. For a start I couldn’t even see where it was supposed to go, and I cleverly thought that I didn’t need to. It was impossible to pull the skin taught like at the salon and ripping out your own hair must be one of the worst forms of self harm ever thought up. I’ve just got out of the shower, where to my dismay I discovered that wax does not melt in hot water, or soapy water. I thought I would never be able to pee again after the untenable wax did not go where I wanted it and formed a seal enclosing my sensitive bits. After a really long shower and an electric hair shaver to the rescue, I have emerged in one piece, but very fragile. I just have to say, I have so much respect for the women who have waxed me in the past, and all the other people out there waxing day in day out. you do an amazing job, and without you, well, I dare not even think about that scenario.
So maybe I can’t do everything myself, just don’t tell anyone I’ve ever dated that(or my mum).

Skateboard P

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Mister R has loved playing around with skateboards since the day I first brought mine home. When christmas loomed, and Mister J was in need of his first big ticket item, a bicycle with pedals, it was only natural that Mister R would be getting his very own skateboard. It was made an even easier decision when I discovered the perfect first board for kids via one of my favourite blogs/IG accounts @freeandwildchild. Her children have super rad boards from a very ethical company that specialises in lightweight full size bamboo skateboards specially for kids age 5-10. For some unknown reason I thought that said company was located in Melbourne. So when as per usual, I was getting christmas shopping done a week or so before the big day, I went online to order and discovered they were actually located in California. Epic fail!!

Thus began a frantic search for the same or similar from a location where they would guarantee pre christmas delivery or I could one pick up in store. For a child his size I really needed the lightweight option or a thinner deck but normal length. A normal deck is 8 to 8 and 3/4 inches across. Little kids really need around a 7 across deck if its a normal weight maple board. Contrary to what you may think, those little kid size boards are not actually great for little kids to learn on.

Living out here in the sticks it was proving impossible to find one close by or that would get here in time via express courier. Luckily for me, one of my best friends saved the day. He was driving up from sydney for a holiday on christmas day, and he went out his way to go and pick up a board by Enjoi from BasementSkate in Redfern.IMG_9914
So the day was saved and Mister R got his very own first skateboard. Since then he has progressed so quickly riding it. The helmet he has isn’t great though and bothers him, so I am looking into getting him a new one that is specially for skateboarding youngsters.
Here he is pictured without any safety gear, but he was only on the flat cement. I definitely recommended always using wrist, elbow and knee guards and of course a properly fitted helmet.
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Follow the boys at TheSilvaBoyz

Fashion Friday ; we love to shop small

IMG_8832We happened into the world of brand repping through my love of small shops. Prior to Instagram and having children of my own, I would always source my clothes from small or upcoming label in boutiques, markets or vintage stores. When I moved out of the city to a tiny seaside town a few hours from anywhere with decent shopping, I started to spend more time online and discovered Instagram. It’s beautiful thing when small shops with limited budgets can connect with people who truly dig their wares, and brand rapping was the next logical step for someone who was already buying the clothes and loves taking photos. I hesitated at first only because of the privacy invasion for my children. They can’t really give consent for me to share their photos because ether don’t really understand the long term implications. I only really decided it was ok when I realised that if I signed them up to model, as everyone said I should, their images would be freely available everywhere and I would have far less control over the image. So you won’t see any embarrassing pics or bath shots on here, just photos of two very handsome boys and their rad and edgy styles.

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Mister R looking super fresh in his Australian made ByFaith&Grace BKO overalls and handprinted raglan all the way from CA WickedGoodVibes . This kid seriously could not get any cooler, I mean just look at those tiny DocMartens!

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Mister J in a basic black organic cotton shirt by PopUpShop and an infinity scarf handmade in WA by ScruffCandy , with sunnies he forced me to buy at the local surf shop. They fold up which I must admit is pretty awesome. These shorts are by an amazing local label Lil’Mr , very dope and perfect for hanging out in alleyways or dancing.

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TheSilvaBoyz

Skateboarding in your 30’s

IMG_9177When I was a teenager I was really into skateboarding, despite the fact I was literally the only girl in my small town who skated. My weekends were spent practicing kick flips and grinding and all that, and I was actually pretty good. I continued to skate on and off into my twenties, and I only really stopped when I started to work as a remedial massage therapist. Impossible to work with a broken wrist, so I did the grownup thing and avoided most perilous activities that could result in broken bones.

Fast forward a few years and I have two little boys, and no father figure to speak of to participate in the so called ‘boy’ activities with them. So I am mum and dad, and its totally up to me to shape how they view the world and their understanding of the roles of men and women. Clearly I am a feminist, every woman alive today should consider them selves a feminist, and if they don’t, they have feminism to thank for that choice. But I digress, back to the boys.

They both got MiniMicro scooters about 2 years ago and quickly skate parks became our second most frequented place. I would sit there watching, with the other mums, and all I saw was boys skating. True enough there were some younger girls on their scooters, but I was actually really surprised to see not much had changed in the 20 years since I first started skating( wow did I really just say 20 years ago).

So I determined that I would get a skateboard and start skating, if not only to show my own boys that girls don’t just sit on the sidelines. Getting said skateboard was easier said then done, as my budget didn’t really allow the luxury of a brand new ready to roll deck. I looked around for second hand decks but wasn’t easy to come by, either here in our small town or further afield in Newcastle and Sydney. Winter soon rolled around and there was less daylight to get much skating done and I got distracted by life.

Sometime after the grass began to green once more, and the days got longer, the guy I was dating surprised me with a brand spanking new board all ready to go! It was such lovely present that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the board he had gotten me was a cruiser and not really great in the skate bowl! It was great to get back on 4 shaky wheels and get my balance back, and the kids certainly seemed somewhat impressed!
Six months later the beautiful man is no longer around (thats a whole other blog post) and I splurged out and bought myself a new board from the super helpful guys at NewcastleSkate, some protective gear and I was back into it. Fairly soon after, I fell off. To my humiliation, I wasn’t even moving at the time. How does that even happen you ask? well, I was wearing the wrong shoes for a start and they kind of stuck to the board grip as I tried to step off, so I lost my balance and crashed to the side, catching myself with my unprotected wrist. Oh it hurt, a lot. 5 weeks later and I have gone to get an X-ray, though I have yet to get the results.
So I may have a slightly fractured wrist, but do you think I learned my lesson? of course not!
Yesterday at the skatepark, My little man who got his own new board for christmas was scared to go down a little slope alone. So I had the brilliant idea to go down together while I held his little and in mine. I crashed. Into a stinky mud puddle that usually isn’t there but we had a crazy food two days ago. Little man was totally fine though, he wanted to go again!!!
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mama wheres my iPad?

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Growing up my family didn’t watch TV. We had a TV sure, a colour one and all, it was occasionally turned on for ABC news and that was it. At that stage the place I called home was on a huge rural property, friends I had not many, and distractions were few. Being a somewhat precocious child, I was already a voracious reader by the age of 3, so my days were occupied with story books, board and card games with my grandparents, with whom I lived.

When my mother returned, I was about 8 years old. We moved into the town with her musician boyfriend and we had no TV at all there. However I soon found a friend down the road, and she had a TV in her bedroom, a fact I was in total awe of. Video hits became my obsession, having only been exposed to alternative and classical music at this stage, a whole new and thrilling world of pop opened up. Sometime later we moved again, and I got a TV, but still all I wanted to watch was music videos, though now I had the machine at my disposal, I would stay up every friday and saturday night watching rage until I passed out, never really getting into TV shows, with the sole exception of Buffy the vampire slayer. When I left home to travel at age 15, I lost all interest in TV and pop music.

So years later when I became pregnant, I had no TV, although I did have a laptop and a dvd player. I vowed my children would never watch commercial TV, maybe just educational programs after the age of 2. That lasted all of about 6 months. The firstborn watched Baby Einstein DVD at first, which graduated to pixar films and docos. By the time the second one was born I had given in to ABC for kids programs which soon turned into nickelodeon when I got my first ever flatscreen TV gifted to me for my birthday which happened to come with free foxtel. That was way too much to deal with, and after that finished we had a hiatus from screens.

Which led to the next big development. My oldest son was gifted an iPad. Now had it not been a gift, I’m sure i would not have had one, but I fell for the idea that it had educational games and entertained him on long cartrips. Of course it only took about 4 minutes until his baby brother wanted in on the new technology, so the baby received one as his third birthday present. And pricy educational apps were quickly thrust aside for angry birds and fruit ninja.

Since then its been a love hate relationship, they love it, I hate it. Ok I don’t hate the object specifically, I hate whats on it, or to be precise, youtube. What is with those toy review videos, can anyone shed some light? is there any way to banish them, please I need your help! And minecraft, it seems like a cool game, but the 5 year old is just obsessed with it. He literally forgets to pee sometimes, I have had to ban him from at least 3 times due to this. I have now set time limits on using the device, and all hell breaks loose when the time limit is up. I just feel like throwing the freaking things away sometimes. It is so hard for me to understand the compulsion, me, I feel like vomiting if I have to stare at a screen for more the an hour or so straight.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and never have had a screen for my kids. I know these days life would be near impossible to live without them. I definitely feel guilty denying them screen time when they see me on my laptop or phone, even though I explain I’m doing work (Facebook is work right haha). Its made me more aware of how much time I spend in front of screen these days just to conduct normal daily activities. Feels like a constant battle between good and evil, the past and the future, and I guess we are all just trying to do whats best for our kids, but this issue seems so polarised, it’s hard to feel confident in any decision you make. I want them to learn self control and learn through consequences, it just doesn’t seem to happen at this age. It’s with issues like this it would be helpful to have another parent to discuss things with, but I’m in it alone, so I will have to do my best and hope the boys don’t turn into homicidal sociopathic zombies!
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Figuring it all out part 1

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Up until now, I was using this space to try and just put my writing out there in the hope of encouraging me to simply write more. So far that plan hasn’t been going so well, so I’ve decided to make this space more of a ‘Lifestyle’ blog as well as my rambling essays and poems.

A little about me for those playing along. My name is Julia, I am a mama to two magical little boys and we are in this parenting gig alone with me at the helm. Their dad bailed a fair while ago, not that he was ever really around when he was around. I moved from the city to a little seaside village 4 years ago and I still don’t really fit in here at all. I’m passionate about a lot of things, makes it hard to focus on what I really want to be when I grow up..
My main interests are writing, advocacy, health, aboriginal health and pregnancy/birth. So I guess if I can combine those and earn an income I will be happy. Barriers to this happening are plenty, not least being that with the new no jab, no pay legislation, my youngest will have to pay full fees for day-care, making working out of the home slightly more difficult. Before you abandon me for being an anti vax ‘nutter’ I do have a science degree, and I am not ‘Anti’ vaccinations, but that will be covered in a future blog post.
So heres to me writing, following my dreams and all that jazz. I hope somewhere along the way my ramblings connect with people making meaningful contributions to leave the world a better place for our children.

letters to a lover

The pen is easy to pick up.

The paper finds its way to the table.

The words come tumbling out, hastily, too hastily.

I need to be careful what I write. Cross out the inked mistakes, should have used a pencil.

I was born not that long ago, when letters were exchanged regularly between friends, acquaintances. I had a pen pal, albeit short-lived, there were writings to a sponsor child, letters at Christmas from distant relatives with the years news. Have I so easily forgotten the art of letter writing; my news, musings , dreams now consigned to texts, emails and status updates. Easy to erase before sending, or easy to explain if misinterpreted or a hastily sent message needs retracting, explaining.

So I find myself in difficulty, in this time of great difficulty at any rate, with this an added burden, how can I communicate with him.

My feelings have never easily been expressed to someone with whom I am intimate. Its easier to write a poem or talk to a stranger then to expose my vulnerability with someone who I want to love me. Although now, I don’t want him to love me. Part of me wants him to hate me, so I don’t have to be the one, you know, that girl.

This situation I suddenly violently found myself in, him taken away on a lazy sunday afternoon in a blue and white vehicle siren absent. Me left alone, unknowing.

Phone calls are then daily, I try to explain that I have never been a phone call type of person. Text messages were, as far as i’m concerned, a monumental development in our society.

Me and telephones just don’t see eye to eye, or ear to ear. Ask my parents, they will readily regal you with stories of lost contact with me across continents and timezones.

Right now, with him, letters are the only other form of contact available, besides visits. A letter arrives, I begin to pen a response when the phone rings, again. Its too much, but I cant say it in words, hoping my strangled voice and curt responses are enough to convey what I cant say.

Maybe its just my personality, but I struggle with this discrepancy in time distinctions. I pen a response, carefully, choosing each word to convey a happiness and positivity.

I place the letter in the envelope. And there it sits. Too much time passes, it feels wrong to send it now. So it sits. But now, I have stopped answering the phone. Something happened . My feelings become to much to bear, so I do what I do best. I switch off. Literally. I don’t answer the ringing, ringing , ringing, I turn it off, on silent. The more I ignore it, the more persistent it becomes. I am a terrible person. The worse I feel, the more I cant answer. And so it goes back to letters. I write exactly how I feel, in my barely legible scrawl(should have been a GP) . I fold it up, spray it with perfume and place in the envelope. Write the address and place the stamp in the top right corner.

It sits there, glowing at me with all its bright yellow pain and sadness. I cant send it. He clearly didn’t want to be incarcerated, and I clearly didn’t either, and I know I could be so many things, but I cant be who he needs. I will tell him i’m sorry. I just don’t know when.

extreme holidaying

Having travelled my whole life, exotic  adventures and cultural immersion is what I do best.  With a backpack on and sandals on my feet, I lived the bohemian lifestyle for most of my travels, hitchhiking, catching local buses and trains, wandering to find accommodation when required. My travel was about feeling life, experiencing a place through its alleyways and local dives, helping out in jails,  orphanages and animals rescues.  A night in a luxury hotel was a big deal!.

In the heady travel filled days prior to having children of my own, I would see nomadic hippy families travelling in buses through Thailand and Cambodia, dancing to goa gil at a beach rave in Anjuna, and I was sure that I too, would definitely be doing similar when/if I had children.

Fats forward to my new life as a mother and my oldest is 3.5 and youngest is just about to turn two and the most travelling we have done is 3 trips to Queensland. Life has changed and travelling now requires much more than a few clothes and some cash. Along with the obvious financial constraints, the fact we now lived on a farm meant that with all its added responsibilities (ponies, chickens, dogs, cats, fish etc) the gypsy life was not presently an option.

So it was with great excitement that I booked flights for Bali, mainly because of the incentive of my youngest turning two and not wanting to miss out on the tax only fare for him. I booked it in time for celebrating my own birthday as well, never one to have much ado for getting older. So with a few months to save and plan, I organised passports, travel first aid kits, and even booked accommodation which I had never done before, feeling so grown up!.

The day arrives and we depart for the airport, alone, on the train which is a 5 minute walk from the hotel in city centre. Looking back, oh what was I thinking! how did I even delude myself that this would be a fun way to start the adventure.  With no friends or family to help (I had resisted all offers), the 5 minute walk to the airport train line took 30 minutes, and my travelling outfit which started off saying cool, stylish miranda kerr traveling mum looked now sweaty, dishevelled and milk stained. Somehow, we make it to the check-in counter and while I’m handing over the passports and getting the bags checked, my almost 2 year old manages to tip over the large suitcase with his little toe stuck inside the wheel, because of course in the space of two minutes they have both removed their shoes. Screaming and crying ensues, I try to shrug it off but then realise there is blood streaming out of his tiny toe. The staff kindly bring tissues and bandaids and we hurry off avoiding eye contact with other passengers who probably don’t realise why he is crying and are just thinking oh lord please let me not be on their flight.

Sitting down at the nearest cafe, I ask for ice and inspect the toe. It is bruised and sore looking, but the bleeding stopped and he has calmed down, though he now can’t walk on it. I think it will be fine after some ice and rest, so on we proceed to the flight. The boys are actually great on the flight, despite the fact I forget to charge the dvd player or download the inflight entertainment app onto my phone. They end up sleeping a few hours and its only a 6 hour flight to Denpaser.

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On arrival, my little injured man is still in pain and can’t walk, and the waiting in line for the arrivals checkpoint is pure torture for us. Finally we escape and find our luggage and the driver from our villa. This was an awesome call on my part, booked the first 3 nights in a luxury villa so we have a driver waiting with my name on the card and everything, thus avoiding waiting and haggling.

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We arrive at the villa just before dinnertime, and its gorgeous. Lush surrounds, private pool, outdoor shower and a deep bath. sometime after the boys go to sleep, mister R wakes with a fever. His toe has started to swell and is now 3 times its usual size. His fever continues to rise and by sunrise, his toe is black and enormous. It is, of course, a weekend, and we are out the the other side of ubud, far from a hospital. The villa staff are already up getting ready for the day, so they arrange the driver to take us to a nearby clinic where we call the emergency doctor. It is decided to cut what appears to be a blood blister open and cut off the skin to avoid possibility of sepsis. Poor little guy screams and cries, and god so much blood comes out. $300 and hours later we leave with an arsenal of creams, bandages and instructions to keep the area dry and change bandages daily or if gets wet. How well do you think that goes, we are staying in a place with a pool and the only shoes I brought them are sandals and natives. It soon feels like every 10 minutes his foot is getting wet. Little trooper he is though, he still manages to smile and at least his fever receded immediately and he was in much better spirits.

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Ubud is a magical place, situated amongst lush forests and rice paddies. Crumbling streets wind up and down hills and valleys, friendly people on scooters smile and wave. Groups of schoolchildren in freshly washed uniforms no longer pay any attention to strangers, so heavily touristed is the area. All kinds of shops selling all kinds of treasures and foods from all nations abound. We walked all the way from central Ubud to the monkey forest, me carrying the injured babe on my back. I normally avoid monkeys, as every encounter I have had with them in the past has ended badly, but the boys had never seen one in the wild, so of course we had to go. Walking into the entrance and the monkeys didn’t fail to exhibit their usual attraction for me, immediately one jumped on me, scaring the crap out Master R, ripping my scarf and leaving a scratch on my shoulder. An ancient lady hawking old bananas still tried to force her wares on me, no way would I be offering monkeys even more incentive to accost me.

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By this time we had moved from the Villa to accommodation  I had found on Airbnb, Payogan Homestay.  Our room was a self contained apartment  in a renovated traditional balinese villa, part of a family compound, complete with private temple and all. The extended family of the host, Ketut, still lived there and he provided wealth of information thanks to his previous role as Bali’s best guide!. The apartment itself  was bright and airy, with a big balcony from which we could pick fruits off nearby trees. The morning greets with the traditional sounds of Bali, roosters crowing, a coterie of native bird calls and assorted other noises of people going about their daily life.  Breakfast was eaten communally with other guests and Ketut if he was around. It was such a great experience to feel what family life was like, and engage with people going about their daily lives.

My oldest boy suffers from anxiety and shyness, so it was beautiful to see his friendship  form with a little boy who lived in the complex. Kids of all ages would play until dark, chasing and riding bikes, making up all manner of games, language no barrier. Sadly we had to say goodbye as we headed onto our next destination, promising to return one day.

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Only a two hour drive to candidasa, which was the location for the next weeks stay. We would stay in Gedong Gandhi Ashram, a proper Indian style ashram complete with vegetarian meals and daily yoga practice. Meals are eaten communally with other guests and staff whilst seated on the floor of an outdoor raised platform. Each meal begins with prayer and chanting, which my children were uncertain of at first, but loving it by the end, and indeed when we returned home asked could be continue the practice ourselves. The accommodation was very basic huts, with a little balcony facing out toward the ocean.  A primary school was located within the grounds, so there was a little playground for my kids to play in. The little school children were adorable milling around before the morning bell, eager to play with my kids who were unfortunately being very shy.

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The beach in front of the ashram was not great for swimming, so we hired a motorbike and the 3 of us went on a day trip to white sands beach. We had a great day there, except for the part where when we were alone at the top of the hill, a guy that had been serving us in the restaurant followed us up the hill and tried to cuddle and kiss me in front of my kids and I had to physically push him off. Really.

We escaped unscathed and then on the ride home both the boys fell asleep whilst I was driving. I had to stop on the side of the road to wake them up and buy some sugary drink so as to keep them awake!. After that I hired a driver to avoid any more such incidents, and we did a day trip to a water garden temple and other cultural points interest.

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The finale of the trip was spent in a big fancy hotel with the standard buffet breakfast, smorgasbord of pools, kids club and day spa. We chilled on the sandy beach, played with water toys in the pools and I left them in the kids club with their own extra babysitter so I could bliss out with a massage and a facial. Shopping and dining in Seminyak was excellent, most notable was Motel Mexicola and Zula Vegetarian Paradise.

I had always avoided going to Bali because of the over saturation of Aussies going there since I was a child. Now that I have my own family, I would love to go back and see more of Bali, especially now they are older. It is a perfect holiday destination for families. Its close enough to home, the locals love children and theres enough of a different culture that children can learn a bout the world and develop their own personalities to, only if you venture out of the resorts that is.

So there were a lot of things that I didn’t take into account with travelling abroad with tiny children. It was an eye opening experience and I am definitely better prepared for next time. Also the fact I was alone with the two kids added to the issues that arose. The fact we had no screens most of the trip, no variety of toys and other homely comforts was challenging.  It was definitely more like an extreme sport then a holiday most of the time, but we made memories to last a lifetime and both boys ask to go back all the time, so I’m fairly confident my boys have inherited my wanderlust.