SURPRISE! We went to Europe…and the kids had no idea!

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

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We did something completely unique, something we normally do together as a whole family but felt would lack the wonder and amazement if we shared this secret with our children. We surprised our children with a family adventure to Europe…again. Only this time we stretched whatever truth we had and led them to believe they were going to visit family in New Zealand, when in fact they would be visiting family in England instead. We talked about all the adventures we would have in NZ, explored cost and locations, looked at pictures and vloggers, and we weren’t being entirely untruthful. After all, we were going to do these things – but not for a few more months when we actually did go to NZ – so really we weren’t lying at all…maybe only by omission.

It was a tough prank to pull, particularly when the climate difference is so enormous, and I had to leave room in my suitcase (and wallet) for the extra clothing they both may need. My travel agent was in on the surprise, as were my family, friends, and colleagues…only a few of whom needed a gentle nudge in the ribs to remind them to prevent their foot from entering their mouths. It almost killed me keeping this quiet and I was close to internal combustion I am sure. Never the less, we arrived at the morning of our departure with complete composure and not one hint of what was about to occur.

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Arriving at the airport we got ourselves a bite to eat and my much-loved peppermint tea, and gave the girls their surprise packages. Included were some metro maps, Eurostar confirmations, Paris accommodation confirmation, euros and pounds, and an oyster card for travel. Whilst my little one took a long time to figure it out, my teenager burst into long sobs of gratefulness and genuine surprise lasting a good 5 minutes, and not without many puzzled onlookers. “Are we really?….I cant believe this!….Oh my goodness…I DIDN’T PACK MY MAKEUP!!!” were just some of the comments that escaped her. It really was a priceless go-pro moment (that’s if I actually owned a go pro).

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The flight was much more uneventful that the last and oh…my sister in law actually didn’t know we were coming! We had kept that as a surprise too with the help of her best friend. That surprise was amazing – walking into the restaurant and being greeted with looks of shock was amazing! My poor sister in law had mostly one thought “how am I going to say goodbye when they leave” bless her soul.

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We had an amazing 3 weeks exploring England: Stonehenge, Pluckly (Darling Buds of May), Chatham Dockyards (Call The Midwife – including seeing some of the shooting of the series and meeting cast), and many other places. We did a couple of days in Paris again, because of course that is my favourite place, and stayed near the Sacre Couer. Did I mention we love Paris? And on our way home to Australia after a very sad goodbye with our family, we spent our 24hr layover in Abu Dhabi in a very lovely hotel. I must say that all in all, my stay in the AUE was eye opening and reminded us of the scare tactics media use to try to breed hate and fear. Our time there was lovely and customer service far exceeded anything I have ever experienced here in Australia, and we were treated with complete respect and care – I have decided that we don’t spend time watching, the news anymore and any website, company, or program that has an outcome of fear and hate, will no longer be watched, read, or supported by our family anymore. Life is too short for that rot!!!

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So, I know that I haven’t gone into great detail about our trip and I have much more to share, so head over to Intrepid Nurse on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see live video, photos, and more – like and share so we can grow our life and adventure stories, and so I can connect with yours. Intrepid Nurse will soon grow to be my main travel and nursing hub and this will remain my more personal family things. Intrepid Nurse will soon follow up with a fully functional website with reviews, videos, and more.

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Big question if you will – what have you learnt by travelling to new places?

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A HIDDEN GEM NEAR BRISVEGAS

***** PHOTOS TO BE UPLOADED WHEN MY INTERNET BEHAVES***

Imagine closing your eyes for just a moment and as you take your first bite of the food on your plate you are transported thousands of kilometres away to Greece, or Italy, or Spain…..

Today was such a day. We live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and we headed off this morning to Brisbane to deliver a training session for my Certificate 4 in Fitness. It was a great morning, although by the time we had finished training and chatting the day away it was well after 1pm and the natives were getting restless. It would have been easy to pick up something less than ideal at a take away store or service station but we all knew we would hate the dismal choice of vegetarian food and regret how it made us feel afterwards.

Instead we headed for Mt Gravatt Westfield Shopping Centre and headed to the food court outside. There were choices beyond belief – Italian, thai, burgers, mexican, the list goes on, but if we were paying for lunch out we wanted something fresh and delicious to make it worthwhile. Miss 16 went looking at menus whilst we did the same and she came scurrying back to tell us about a funky looking mediterranean restaurant serving some pretty delightful morsels.

We were greeted with impeccable service immediately and shown to a great table that backed on to the new fountain area in the outdoor food court area. The décor made us feel like we were far from suburbia and the energy was classy and relaxed (despite us being donned in workout gear), and no one could feel out of place. Our drink orders were taken and filled promptly, but we didn’t feel pressured to order quickly and make rash decisions.

The menu was spectacular and well-priced, with plenty of choices for all dietary requirements. The tapas menu was extensive and quite well thought out we felt. Our mouths were watering before the food was even chosen and served. We ordered 6 tapas items which for $45 we found well priced, and the serves were quite reasonable in size. We ordered Arancini Balls, Haloumi, and Breads with Dips and each were made with unique flavours leaving us wanting to just have more of the same. For mains Kevin and I shared a delicious salad with buffalo mozzarella, a chicken and salad (yes rare for us as we have been vegetarian for 3 years now, but decided to have this today – lovely meal but meat won’t become a staple in our house for the foreseeable future…content for another blogpost). Mackenzie had a pasta dish that left her very quiet and very content, and after a taste I understand why – it resembled much of the delicious pasta we had in Italy. Lauren had a pasta and scallop risotto that had a similar effect on her, she is quite the seafood lover and although I would love to try it, I am horribly allergic. The wine I had was a delicious Rose from France and worth every cent! So delicious was everything I recommend the food without hesitation!

The owners both work front of house and we found out that the chef is well trained in his art, and that this is definitely not his first rodeo – definitely evident in the food. The owner even took the time to sit by us and get to know us, telling us about the restaurants origins and the vision they had for it. I like when you get to know who you are supporting and it’s even better when they take the time to get to know their customers, something I feel is missing in so many venues now and definitely play a role in where we choose to spend our money.

Not once did we ever feel rushed the whole time we were there, which is a particularly European and Mediterranean way of eating and serving others. If you ask me these beautiful people have all aspects very very right and we will definitely go back again not just for the service and food, but for the sensational and artistic desserts we didn’t have room for (and for the really interesting dessert cocktails more appropriate when we don’t have kids with us). If you are ever down that way, definitely pop in and see them, or make a special trip – you won’t be disappointed.

Do you have a favourite place to eat that is just like you are overseas? Please tell me about it, I would love to hear.

ARE YOU ALL IN?

I don’t know about you but I am totally into podcasts and those awesome little videos on you tube designed to give you a motivational boost or help you see something from a different perspective. I used to think of these methods of learning as totally outrageous in that it felt like you weren’t connected to the people delivering it, but I look back now and realise that mostly I felt un-tech-saavy and far too distracted for such pursuits. I soon came to learn however that these tools just had a different look but had the potential to help me move through different situations in life with new and fresh perspective. I began with podcasts from people who lived on the coast but were well known further afield, but after a year or so I found their messages to lack a certain ‘realness’ that had been there in their early days, leaving me feeling disappointed. I realised though that it was my needs that were changing, so I began to listen to podcasts like Rebelology, Straight & Curly, and Happier with Gretchen Rubin and watching You Tube clips from people like Prince Ea, Alexi Panos, and Preston Smiles, and it has got me thinking about whose dreams I’m chasing.

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Alexi Panos did a fantastic (and very short so its nice and bite-sized) video on commitment, and the difference between having a really good idea and the actuality of actually committing to it. The point she made was that often we get stuck in the planning phase, analysing the processes, the what ifs, the weaving of the safety net in case it all goes wrong and you fall on your face. We get so stuck in this phase though that we completely miss all the opportunities that are in front of us because we are frozen by the things that scare and challenge us. Brene Brown has also made an entire career out of the research of people who are ‘in the arena’ as opposed to judging from the sidelines.

I must admit that for quite some time now my life has cascaded into this Grand Canyon of beautiful chaos, which has meant that I am painting about 5 or more different pictures with no focus on any one potential masterpiece. That is to say that my attention is split in too many different directions and instead of being all in, I’m all in tangles, and I must say I don’t like it one little bit. My mojo is far more Chill 101 than it is Hyperzone 4000!. I’m proud to say that I have been letting go of alot of distractions that no longer serve me or the people I am trying to help because I don’t have a passion for it, but there are lots of areas I can improve upon.

You cannot be ‘all in’ for something if you are splitting your attention 5 ways, you have to get to a point where you choose – and thats exactly where I am headed. It helps to have a clear plan. Particularly when your clear plan is to move overseas away from everything familiar, so here it goes, this is my commit-list.

Complete my Certificate 4 in Fitness
Complete my Diploma in Nursing Specialisation
Develop my website for our 2 year overseas adventure for 2019
Grow my Health Program business

The great thing about the items in my commit-list is that they all culminate in the creation of what I am truly passionate about – health plans that put the planning back in the clients hands…empowering self choice and decision making. Its my “top pot” – my one big thing that I am ALL IN on. You see the difference between a great idea and the outcome of that idea is ACTION.

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IMPERFECT PARENT

I approach school holidays each time with grandiose expectations of being a super balanced mamma by ensuring I get time off, and devote all that time off to super-mumming with baking, teaching those important life skills (don’t ask, I still haven’t figured out exactly what those are), and generally doing things that make me more like all those “normal” mums out there so my children can grow up well adjusted and without too many psychological scars needing therapy later on. Then every school holidays I fall flat on my arse because I haven’t lived up to these expectations. Instead I end up with no holidays per say, spend my time doing chores, running the kids to the stuff they want to do without me because they didn’t realised I had a day off, and of course like many other Nurse mums (as in the medical kind not the breast feeding kind – that horse bolted after 9 months of all-day-sickness) I spend some of that time catching up on sleep that ran away and hid on those work days I needed it most.

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Lets be real though, although many of us feel we have some standard to live up to, most if it is either in our own heads, or is laid out by someone who really has no weight in your life. Either way it’s pretty fucked up and serves no purpose whatsoever. The only thing that comes out of paying attention to it is a whole lot of self loathing, self reprimand, and disappointment. Life isn’t meant to be evenly balanced, and postcard perfect. It’s messy, late, painful and so much more that comes with the good. So I’m beginning to be more understanding of myself and accept that I am still enough, even when the picture in my head doesn’t match up. A good point to make is also that I am a complex being with complex needs and desires in my life, and they don’t all revolve around my children.

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I love my kids dearly and both my daughters know that, on the other hand I am an individual with goals and dreams and aspirations and they understand that too. They have a deep respect that I choose to get p every day and dedicate a significant amount of care and emotion and time to my patients. My kids have seen me in action and they tell me often that they live and respect me for what I do in my work day, and although I do it because I love it, the honest truth is that because I work hard at what I do it allows us to have some amazing experiences with our girls that a tight budget wouldn’t fit.

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So these holidays we haven’t done heaps with only having a few consecutive days off, but I’ve packed in plenty I think. So the first week of the holidays we decided we would do some stuff close to home (aka no further than Brisbane since we live on the Sunshine Coast). One one day I took the girls in to Brisbane to enjoy The Science Centre (yes we are science nerds in our family), and found that for a small amount more we could also go into the Interactive Dinosaur display. If course that was after spending well over an hour looking for a parking lot with spaces – no one told me “Out of the Box” was on and all I wanted was someone to get “Out of the Carpark” before I became manic.

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We chose the Sciencentre first and the kids love it every time we go. My mum joined us for a girls day out and also loved it, getting in and exploring the experiments with us. Mackenzies favourite thing is the “Speed Challenge” where she has to try and beat the speed of a super fast sprinter. Lauren’s favourite I’m sure is the “Illusion Room” where the room appears normal but is sloped and makes you appear to be growing into a giant. My favourite one is the “Giant Table and Chairs” that let you experience what life must be like for a toddler. Of course everyone loves the “Human Head for Dinner” that makes your head look like its the main course, of course it’s just an optical illusion but a really cool one at that. At the moment they have a theme going about weights and measures so if you are a home schooler or have children learning weights and measures at school, then it’s a great place to o see it in action.

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It’s a great place where kids can really be kids without anyone rousing on the for exploring their environment in a very hands on way. My little sensory kiddo coped pretty well too being able to touch everything, run around, and explore – although we did have the issue of noisy experiments at which time we just had one of us cover her ears. I do find though at the end of these sensory filled days she kind of has a melt down at the end of the day, but we deal with them in our own ways. Afterwards, we went into the museum and went into the dinosaur exhibit and wow how cool is this place! Life size moving dinosaurs so plate with interactive components to learn interesting facts.

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We decided to surprise the kids with something fun and frivolous too for the holidays, so took them to Gold Class! Going during the day is great because its way cheaper than at night with the same experience. Really who cares…it’s dark in the cinema anyway. We saw The BFG and loved every minute of it, although I think I might need to read the book again because I don’t remember parts of it (dont worry no spoilers here). The kids also loved it so I’m really glad hubby and I took them, and because they sat n front and he and I sat together it was almost like a date!

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I managed to get three days in a row so we headed to Harvey Bay and dropped our pooch at her second home – my friends house – before heading to our resort. We stayed at Oceans Resort and Spa overlooking Urangan Pier area, and enjoyed beds made and dishes done by the staff, massive spa bath, beautiful organic toiletries, and heated pool.

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It was great to have a BBQ with our friends on the first night and we enjoyed a day of sleeping in, breakfast at the restaurant, and zipping down the waterfront on an electric bicycle – such fun!!! Coming back to work after a pamper morning of massage, facial and foot treatment was really tough…shouldn’t nurses get a pamper every week???? In all honesty though it was a wildly relaxing few days that we enjoyed tremendously.

What have you been up toon our holidays? We are looking forward to our next big holiday though of Hawaii – Oahu and Maui. If you’ve had some great experiences in Hawaii please share so we can create our own awesome experience when we go.

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EVERYONE IS OKAY

DISCLAIMER: If you are easily offended by cuss words then you should probably turn around now.

USELESS INFORMATION: I wrote this a few weeks ago when I was super pissed off but decided that editing it just takes away from the authenticity (aka realness) that I wanted to be in my blog.

Let’s get real here, I have body fat and I’m well aware of it. What I am also aware of is the endless comments and discussions about fat and health like they can never be together in the one sentence. Why does being thin necessarily mean you are healthy then? I get up and eat a healthy breakfast of egg and greens, fruit and salad for lunch, and wholesome veges for dinner, I have the occasional treat, I move my body and have a pretty balanced life with love, experiences, and great relationships…but I still have fat and I’m frowned upon.

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Then the next person sits eating crap food after crap food because their metabolism makes it possible to hide the shit they put into their mouths on a daily basis, and because you can go and exercise that shit off right? Wrong. You can’t out exercise harmful toxins in the shit you’re eating. So whilst you look thin because of calories in vs calories out, you’re sitting there sporting a hidden cesspool of toxic waste inside each and every cell in your body.

The laughable thing is though that none of this matters. None of this is worth the fucking drama and hate that comes from these debates filled with venom and judgement. It screams of dissention and fear and an I’m right your mentally insane kind of attitude.

To be honest, I don’t give a flying fuck about what you eat and how many calories you can burn off in an exercise session. You see your way of doing things is not the only way, sure it might work for you but that shits actually your business to file the fuck out of. In the same sense, my way is also not the only way and wont work for everyone, and that’s my business.

This was an eye opener

I long for a day when every human can appreciate the skin they are in, so that my children and grandchildren can make choices in life based on what feels right for them instead of what makes them feel less shameful, more loveable, and more accepted by the screwed up society they live in.

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This is the exact reason I want to do healthcare differently to everyone else. There are lots of different ways to get shit done. And the health training I plan on doing in my business will focus on them and what they enjoy, things that they like, timing that works for them, methods that are outside the box. I also plan on doing body-shaming differently…by not allowing it in the first place.

Masculine Husbands

Shit is getting real today and no apologies.

I work. I have kids. I study. I train. (Okay these days I sometimes train). I have a busy-ass life.

I have a husband. He works. He has kids. He studies. He trains. (Wait, no he doesn’t, the man is naturally fit – insert eye roll).

So who does the work at home? We all do!

I clean. I cook. I garden. I tend to the kids. I discipline. I love.

Hubby cleans. Hubby cooks. Hubby gardens. Hubby tends to the kids. Hubby disciplines. Hubby loves.

I’m certain by now you are thinking what the fuck is she on about!!! To be totally honest my husband does do a bit more than me at home, mostly because he is the one that is there in sociable hours and I am not. He works less than me so gets in and does what needs to be done. So why is it that people in 2016 still throw about the terms “emasculated” “unfulfilled” “not a real man”? To be honest it baffles and angers me just as much as the terms “a womans place is in the kitchen” “women should put their careers on hold” “women should act ladylike”.

I’m going to share my take on what my husband is.

My husband is manly because:

***He can soothe the tears of our children
***He can chase the fears from their dreams
***He can calm even the scariest storm on their faces
***He can make them food that nourishes their bodies
***He can clean up after spilt milk and spilt tears
***He can make our girls feel like the princesses they are
***He can make math homework exciting and fun

He can do all this and still make me feel like nothing can hurt me when he is around. He cooked for me when I could only throw up (preganacy), soothed my fears when the words cancer and brain surgery were bandied around like a play thing, held me when my sobs had no end, encouraged me when my dreams felt too far away, stood firm for me when others tried to tear me down. I love him for this and so much more.

What’s so emasculate about that?

PLAIN FACTS

Sometimes I wonder why the hell I continue to keep my blog, particularly when it appears that my thoughts rarely make it past the ever greying matter I call my brain and onto the computer screen. There you have it folks, sums up what shitloads of bloggers and vloggers think but never say, least of all to their audience. Then again as the greying matter turns silver I lack the ability to apply a filter and since that probably isn’t going to change any time soon I guess you will either love this new take or find your way to some love, light and mung beans.

I had a temporary thought of catching you all up with some purple-shaded, meditative-sounding, flower-encrusted story of how life sometimes sucks but nice things do happen to good people but I don’t want to. Simple. So instead here are the plain facts.

Life has handed hubby and I some low blows, some that we thought would keep us down for good and some that still make us doubt our own resolve. If you have been here before you know it already but if you haven’t let me spell it out for you simply. LOTS OF SHIT. The details aren’t really that important, we all have it but some of it gets stuck on your shoes and follows you around.

We don’t make friends with all this crap but we do say hi and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t set up house in our backyard. In fact, we have been hinting at the crap in our lives that maybe it’s time we saw other people and by geez I think it might have gotten the message. Finally, some great things have happened in our lives. We do believe in some of that love, light and mung beans, more than a little faith, and lots of hard work. I don’t exactly know what happened, maybe the balance turned, but we have had a week to outstand all weeks.

Firstly, hubby got a full month of work after what was an eternity of nothing much, he was scheduled for surgery to fix his sinuses, the tax office decided to give me a tidy sum back, and my husband is getting surgery to fix his wrist using a very forward thinking method in the next month.
All I have to say is thanks for the great shit that happens when you least expect it.

Chat soon – I have a rant on my mind and I’m not afraid to use it!