Monday, October 22, 2012

hello everybody! My how the time does fly! I hope you are all well. When did I last write? I think it was winter and we still had heaps of snow left! Well, I will try to briefly update you on the last 6 months or so... So we skiied until the end of April and then started getting ready for warmer weather! Unlike usual, we did have an actual spring with sunshine and warm days. Then in May, I started a new business! I have teamed up with one of my closest friends from college, Lesley, who is a dietician. Lesley had been involved with a product called Juice Plus+, which is a capsule/chewable blend of 17 different fruits & vegetables. It is not a supplement, rather it is "whole food nutrition". Well, with my background in health & wellness, it instantly made sense to me! I got myself and Amelie on the product, as I wanted to see if it was any good. Frankly, I had my doubts, as I have tried just about everything under the sun with variable results at best. But to my surprise, I notice positive changes within a month and have loved it both for myself and Amelie too. So I decided that the business was a perfect fit for me as I want to share it with everyone I know! Please check out my website for more info: So I have been doing wellness presentations and just talking to people about their health, which I love! What else.... the school year finally finished on June 25th and we were so ready for summer! AMelie had a hard year last year with being picked on a lot and struggling with friendships. She was begging me to be home-schooled! Uhhhh, no way dude. I love you and all, but let's find another solution.......!!! July came along and all 3 of us made our way back to the east coast to visit my family. First we went to a resort in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina to surprise my mom for her 70th birthday. I had arranged for my sister and her family to go as well, and we secretly got adjoining hotel rooms to my mom and stepdad's (they had already planned the visit just for themselves). You can imagine how SHOCKED my mom was when her kids and grandkids showed up at their hotel room door! It was great. So we enjoyed a few days with them at the resort, and then said good bye and headed to my dad's place, also in NC but 2 hrs drive east on Lake Norman. We stayed there for a week and just swam, waterskiied, and hung out in the sun and warmth! Chad then went on to Atlanta for a big Microsoft conference, while Amelie and I went to Florida to spend some more time with my mom. We went to the beach, Sea World, and swam in the pool. All in all we were gone 3 1/2 weeks and came home towards the end of July. Amelie did a couple of summer camps while I focused on some house jobs and just enjoyed the rest of the summer. There was one major dent in our summer; and it happened while we were at a friend's lake house out on the Olympic Peninsula. Our friends Bronwyn & Tom (Bron is our only Aussie friend here!)have a big gathering at their lake house each summer, so we always meet up again with friendly faces we haven't seen in a while. The kids get to run amok in nature and we all enjoy hikes, waterskiing, canoeing/kayaking, and great campfire singalongs in the evenings! It was Saturday evening and 3 of the dads decided to take all the kids out on the boats to a nearby swimming hole across the lake. So they divvied the kids up into 2 boats, about 12 kids in all, and they set off. Amelie is the only child to stay behind, apart from babies and toddlers. Two hours later, it is dark, we're singing around the campfire, and they're still not back. Bronwyn and I looked at eachother and we told someone to text Tom (who was driving one of the boats) and tell them to come back as the kids needed to be in bed already. I also then learn that there is no light on one of the boats. We didn't get a response, but about 1 minute later we could hear the boat motor. It is a very peaceful lake with little boat traffic, so we knew that it was them. I suddenly heard screaming. Of course when you have 12 kids together there is going to be screaming, so no one was really alarmed. But I knew it was the wrong kind of screams. I stood up and yelled at Chad to stop playing guitar. And as the boats got closer, I could suddenly make it out. It was 12 children screaming bloody murder, "CALL 911!!!!!!!!!!!CALL 911!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" over and over. It is completely black outside so we can see nothing, we can only hear the screams and the terror. We have no idea who is hurt (or dead), we only know that it is serious. I will never forget those sounds as long as I live. We quickly understand that no one has died. There has been a boating accident- one of our boats (the one with no light) has been hit head on and literally run over by another boat. Unbelievably, the boat that hit ours left the scene, despite the sounds of screaming children. The boat that was hit was driven by our friend Andrew, one of the dads, and was carrying 5 children. Andrew and one of the children, Bianca, were hit by the boat. Everyone else is unhurt, although tramatized. Andrew is unconscious, and both are bleeding badly. We quickly gather all the children who are not hurt and rush them into the house in an effort to calm them down and comfort them. Amazingly, one of the dads who was out on our boats is a trauma surgeon. I reckon he is the reason Andrew is still alive. IN addition, we also have 2 other doctors and a nurse in our group. This is a blessing, because it took almost 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, as we are out in the middle of national forest. Both Andrew and Bianca are taken to a local hospital, and from there they are quickly air-lifted to SEattle. In short, both have head trauma. Bianca also has a fractured skull, a broken nose, broken collar bone, and broken ribs. Miraculously, both of their MRI's come up clear with no severe brain injuries. From there, it is just a road to recovery. Bianca was able to start school and has completely healed. We saw Andrew just a few weeks ago, and while he still has problems with his memory and vision, he is fully functioning and has started back at work. We are all just SOOO relieved that they have both survived and are doing well, and that it was not a massacre out there that night. We are very fortunate indeed. There, I did not mean to tell the long version of that story, but it had a big impact on us so I guess it just came out. Ok, so that happened in the middle of August, and we are almost to the end of our summer holidays. We did a bit more hiking, swimming in the lake, and working out in the yard until the school year started up. Amelie is in 3rd grade this year. After much deliberation and a bad year last year, we decided to investigate our schooling options, and found a small Montessori school nearby. We took a tour and did a parent education night; and Chad and I both loved it. After Amelie did a "trial day" at the school, she loved it too, so we decided to switch schools. She started last week. We are so happy with the change- it is a wonderful community and the children learn in such a loving, nurturing, and wholistic environment. Amelie is also playing soccer, doing girl scouts, and playing piano. Chad recently had a gig in Miami! Actually he had organized a conference there and decided that he should be the headlining act for the happy hour event they were having! It went well, even if only about 1/2 of the audience was listening. Standard stuff! Meanwhile, I have been singing with the Acoustix for almost a year and have had one gig. I am quickly growing frustrated, as no one seems to be bothered with drumming something up. It is hard when you run your own "democratic" singing group- it's fun socially but challenging when making decisions and doling out responsibilities. Guess I need to start looking around for some gig opps! What else... oh yeah, now that it's autumn and the holiday season is closing in, the stores start selling pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin chai latte, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin/chocolate chip bread, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin museli bars, pumpkin cereal, no shit, all this stuff is for real! There's probably 100 other items I have forgotten. Complete overkill. I also recently took AMelie and went with my friend and her daughter to the Family Farm Tour in the nearby Skagit Valley. All the farms open their doors to the public. It was super fun- we visited an alpaca farm, an apple farm, a dairy farm, and an oyster farm, to name a few. Then we stayed overnight at their cabin in Mt Baker. I have mentioned Mt Baker in a previous post, it is an awesome place! A real old school NOrth American mountain town. I love it there. This week my sister Whitney is visiting from Portland, Maine. We are super excited! We are also painting our living/dining rooms, hallway, and master bedroom this week. Well, the PAINTERS are painting it! I am still trying to finish this stupid desk and chair I bought at a garage sale for Amelie's bedroom. I bought it a few months after we moved here, just to give you an idea of what a giant headache it's caused me! I now know that refinishing furniture is NOT my thing... what a royal pain in the ass... We have already bought our ski passes for the upcoming season- we are excited for winter holidays and snow! HOpefully I will get a post out again before Christmas. Until then, my love and hugs to everyone!!! xxoo Please send word what's up with you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

spring has not sprung

oh woe is me, I have endured 4 months of dreary wet cloudy rainy-ness and still it goes on...most recently it has rained for 10 days straight. Yes folks, 10 days all in a row with no let up. Can you appreciate this?! No I don't think so. You have to live it. And I have. And it freakin sucks. Oh to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, seeping into my bones, where oh where art thou??? It is enough to make you lose your mind.
On the bright side of this, we have heaps of snow. Not at my house mind you, but in the mountains there is plenty. So we will probably be skiing until May at this stage. Last weekend we took our first trip to Mt Baker. Mt Baker is only 2 1/2 hrs away and is a ski area in a national park that is run by the US Forestry Service. And Mt Baker gets a lot of snow. I mean A LOT! More than anywhere else in North America. It has an average annual snowfall of more than 700 inches (cm anyone?) and holds the world record for the greatest annual snowfall ever- 1,140 inches or 2896 cm! I will post a couple of photos taken of AMelie playing in a snow bank to give you an idea.
Anyway, our friends have a cabin up there and so we went skiing for the weekend. The beauty of this place lies in its lack of amenities. Because it is run by the forestry service, there is no accommodation on or near the mountain. There is no "base" where you can go for apres ski or walk around in shops and restaurants. The basic nature of this ski area means that your average joe skiier doesn't want to go there- and that means you have no lift lines and beautiful ski conditions in a wonderous wilderness environment practically all to yourself!
Both days were blue skies and sunshine (which is actually quite rare for the area)and I'm not sure I could've been much closer to heaven. I will spare you the details of my friend's husband taking me out of bounds into 10 ft of heavy snow that I expended all my energy trying to make turns and get out of as soon as possible before I started an avalanche. I thought I would kill him when halfway down the run he said "this stuff is probably a lot easier on a snowboard" (like the one he was riding)!
My singing group, the Acoustix, is going well. The first couple of months I wasn't sure it was a good fit for me. One thing I have come to learn is that one of the reasons everyone in my group is so experienced is that a cappella singing is so alive and strong in US high schools and universities. So they have already had so much opportunity to get really good. And there is a lot of competition within the US accappella scene, which drives the standard higher as well I suppose.
Anyway, now I've settled in a bit more and am really enjoying the group. ONe thing I have not gotten used to though (and probably never will) is how everyone sits around a boardroom table and sings for 2 hrs(I stand by myself- sorry but I can't sit and sing a high C). And more than that, half the people are either looking at their smartphone or typing emails WHILE THEY ARE SINGING AT REHEARSAL! I am not joking. Sue, you would not be pleased. It's no wonder no one in the group wants to be the musical director! But apart from those things, the group is great and we sing lots of fun songs (all contemporary pop 80s, 90s, 00s)and laugh a lot.
What else...I am still trying to work out what to do with my work life. I don't miss being a personal trainer but I do miss teaching group classes. I do miss working and hope to be involved with something new in the next few months. Maybe I will try to go and teach a few classes again. But just to give you an idea of how clueless I am about what to do, here are some of the "new career ideas" I've been having:

1) network marketing business (health & wellness or sex toys)
2) candy-making business
3) real estate investment
4) counsellor
5) naturopath
6) leftover paint recycle/resell business

Are you seeing a pattern here? Exactly! Neither am I!
I feel like I've written you a nice long post, and yet feel like I've said not that much. But I'm gonna post it anyway! I'll post some Mt Baker photos too. Love you guys!!! xoxo

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saturday, October 22, 2011

it's been a while

hey everyone. I know it's been AAAAGGEESS since I've posted. I"m not so good at this blog thing. Anyway, how are you all??? I am great. When the guy at Trader Joe's asked me "why great?"- I said well... because I am healthy and I have a lot of love around me and so many other blessings how can I be anything else?

So what's the latest- well firstly I FINALLY got into a singing group! Yep- Chad found them through a Microsoft feed (of course- this seems to be the basis for most activities around here) and I auditioned for them and I guess they liked me enough to ask me to join! I am so happy to be singing a cappella again. Let me tell you a little about the audition process though...

so one of the girls sends me an email saying to prepare a short solo, and they will take me through some basic exercises- scales, intervals, rhythm, sight-reading. In her own words, "its a very casual laid back process that will only take a few minutes". Ok cool.

Well, I arrive to the audition, which is at Microsoft of course and I go into a BOARDROOM and there is the whole group sitting around a CONFERENCE TABLE. They all have these "assessment sheets" in front of them and after everything I do they all pause to jot down notes about whatever it was I just did. YAH- casual??? I don't think so. Try incredibly unnerving! After one of the guys asked me to sing a high C a little bit more FRICKIN PIANISSIMO I finally said- "EXCUSE ME, what happened to the 'casual laid back audition process' I heard about??!!". Har Har, they all laughed, so my sense of humour must've gotten me called back cuz I can tell you it certainly wasn't my sight-reading skills.

Call backs were even worse! I was shaking with nerves the whole time- which was about 1 1/2 hrs. We had to learn 2 songs "Take On Me" by Aha and "HIDE AND SEEK" (YES AGENTS! WHAT ARE THE ODDS!) by Imogen Heap. We had about 10-15 minutes to learn a section of the song then we each had to get up on our own with one other person from each part (about 6 parts for each song) and sing it. I have to tell you it was pretty high pressure, and I consider myself a pretty quick learner). To be honest my throat was so tight from nerves, I didnt' think I sang that well, but in the end it was my stellar rhythm skills that saved me! Actually it was really that the other girl trying out stuffed it up and couldn't get back on the rhythm and the song was really fast so it wasn't easy at all.

So I was praying that I got in, not feeling overly confident about it, and lo and behold I did! Yippee!!! So there are about 14 people in the group and they all work for Microsoft except for 2 people whose partners work for Microsoft! Incestuous.

They are self-directed and their repertoire is all contemporary/pop/alternative rock. They are called Acoustix (cheese). That's about all I know so far- they seem to have a pretty high standard from the first rehearsal I went to last week, they perform about 1x month and mostly corporate and charity events. Also pretty regularly on Microsoft campus. As soon as I have some recordings I'll post them for sure! I'm so excited!

love ya'll

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Inspired by Lola

hello folks, just recently I strangely found myself at the blog site of Madonna's daughter, Lourdes or "Lola" as she likes to call herself. Do not ask me about the cyber-trail I blazed to get there, for I am not totally sure myself. Nonetheless this is where I have been for the last 1/2 hour, so her blog must not be that bad eh? She's kinda entertaining and made me realise, well, that I'm getting old. What with her "lingo" and all which I thought was uber-cool and then thinking that I never speak like that nor does ANY SINGLE PERSON I know. And I'm not even sure I EVER DID speak like that, but anyway I did get a mini-education on her blog. And the point of this is that she inspired me to write to YOU lot, albeit without any fancy talk. It completely eludes me, and I find myself wondering at what moment in my past did I finally let go of the compulsion to say the word "like" after every other word in my sentences. Blah blah.

So it is almost the end of the school year here, so we are all getting excited for summer and potential payback in sunny weather for what we have had to endure the last 8 months. It had better be worth it! Otherwise I doubt I'll last 2 yrs in this town. We have no real plans to go anywhere, other than do a few little trips to nearby places such as Vancouver,the Olympic Peninsula, and Mt Rainier. As most of you know, Steph Payne is coming to visit us for a week during her US trip! How lucky are we?! So excited to spend time with a dear Aussie friend and perhaps sing a few notes together. So she is here from June 23rd-29th. Two days after that my mother-in-law arrives to stay for 2 1/2 weeks. While she is here I am shooting over to Rochester NY (my home town) for my auntie's wedding. This will be the first time I have been back to the place I grew up since I left for Australia over 17 years ago. Weird! Exciting-weird. I am planning to see a couple of old high school friends which will be amazing and of course see my old house and all my old "haunts", places which hold so many memories. It is a kind of "coming full circle" for me, since when I left for Australia in 1994, I did so with an attitude of wanting to leave the US and my life there totally behind me and not look back. Well, now I am looking back, but with an open mind and an open heart. It is strangely healing in a way and I find I am feeling a strong sense of "wholeness" that, quite frankly, I have never felt in my life except maybe when I was born, and if I did feel whole then, well, I do not consciously remember it of course!

And then right around the time of my trip, my sister Julie is due to give birth to her first child, which is a HUGE EVENT in our family since she and her husband said for years and years that they weren't having kids. Amelie and I will go to Maine and visit them afterwards, but probably not until autumn and after they settle into a routine. After Chad's mom leaves, his dad and his partner will probably come up to visit from Arizona to get a break from the searing desert heat. And I suppose my parents will probably try and visit sometime in August, so that packs our summer quite nicely!

Last weekend Amelie turned 7. She had an "almost sleepover" birthday party on Friday night. When Amelie was begging me for a sleepover party and I was repeatedly saying no, a friend made the suggestion of the "almost sleepover" which fortunately was agreeable to A. So her friends came over at 6pm in their pajamas, had dinner and played games, then watched a movie before their parents came to get them at 9pm. All the fun and no one is cranky the next day! This is not to say that it was not a freakin pain in the ass, because it was. But at least I got a good night's sleep after the fact! After the party Chad came up to me with a very serious look and said "that was the hardest thing I've had to do in a very long time". On Monday he practically did a TAP DANCE when he headed out the door for work to go and interact with ADULTS all day long.

Chad is applying for a new job. Actually he has already had all of his interviews, and now he is waiting to hear. As he has only been in current job for less than a year, it was a little controversial to apply for this position so soon. But it is a rare opportunity and one that he is well-suited to, so he couldn't pass it up. If he gets it, it means that he will move from a national role to a regional role (Pacific Northwest) and will manage a team of about 30 people. The managing aspect is what most appealed to him (that and higher pay!) most, as he is a very good mediator and communicator. We should know something by next week.

Meanwhile I am sitting my ACE exam (American Council on Exercise)in 2 weeks time and then I will be a certified Personal Trainer (again)! I will hopefully start working soon thereafter. The time I have had off has enabled me to step back and reconsider how I have been working and to evolve how I work with people. So I will be in the throes of finetuning my processes in order to (hopefully) work more wholistically and effectively- this is something I have wanted to do for a while with the knowledge that I have, but I have not had the platform to be able to do this. Now that I am working with a "clean slate", it frees me up a bit and enables me to move forward in my work. I know it probably sounds rather vague as I write it, but that's because I am still a bit vague on all the details!

Well, I think this is long enough for one entry. But it has been a while so I had a lot to say.

love you all!!! Thanks for reading. xxoo

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hello folks, we were robbed last week. Unfortunately Amelie left our back sliding door unlocked the night before it happened and well, I think I was being watched and that whoever did it knew that I come and go a lot during the day. That is the creepiest part. And it sucks feeling vunlnerable in your own home. I have even thought of buying a weapon of some sort to keep around. I hate that I even have that thought! I am trying to move beyond it but I realise that it is taking some time. I thought I could just shrug it off with the very Buddhist approach of non-attachment to my things. And "oh, they need it more than me" and "don't take it personally" and all of that. But the fact is that the bastards snuck into our home and stole our stuff. And while I CAN AND DO put it in perspective, I still feel fearful, violated, angry, and hurt. And I feel even more angry that I feel those things! And then I feel angry because I have failed at being able to forgive the thieves and even bless them and their families and move on with my life. AArrrrggghhhh- the tangled web we do weave in our own minds sometimes. But even as I am totally in the shits, here are 2 things I have learned:

1) Do not judge someone who chooses to keep a gun in their home- you don't know their story

2) The next time you see someone on the street asking for money, think to yourself, "hey, at least he's ASKING for it, he's not breaking into my home and stealing it!"

Friday, March 11, 2011