Family Holidays without the Family.




If I could go back in time, what would I tell my 20 year old self ? Travel, travel and travel.

I didn’t travel as a child . My family weren’t travellers , hell we didn’t even go on picnics. The only way I learnt about the world was through Disney movies and World book encyclopedias.

I think it’s cool when young couples take their offspring on adventures around the world. Education right there.

Travel is something I really wished I had experienced before having children. Holidaying with no one to worry about but yourself. Wonder what that’s like?

A few years ago I decided to pretend that I actually didn’t have a family and one lunch hour during work I decided to book a holiday for just myself and my husband. Just a break away without the kids. As I tend to not do things by halves I sort of found myself on the Qantas website and I sort of happened to click onto 2 return air fairs from Brisbane to San Francisco. Yep , that should do it for me, that should whet the appetite for a little getaway. East coast of Australia to West Coast of US of A takes about 14 hours. This is where the fun times start for my husband because he has a massive fear of flying. Even on a 2 hour flight , he is rendered speechless and sweating , so yeah, fun times to be had.  ” Think of all the movies we can watch in peace, ” I said trying to make light of his phobia.

He had not long lost his father to cancer and I think he felt like it might do him some good so he agreed.

Oh yes, that’s right we have some kids! Damn , what to do? The 2 eldest stayed at grandmas and the youngest was passed around between a neighbour, friend and other grandparents. I had all details covered from enough money for school bus fares, lunches prepared and every medication known to man kind. Just in case one of them contracted the Ebola virus while we were gone.

I must say that I had absolutely no guilt at leaving them behind. None. Mother of the year award goes to .. ( not me obviously).

I was frothing at the mouth to do this thing It was like I was starved of travel experiences , well I was. Apart from a trip to New Zealand and the South Sea Islands I had never attempted anything like this especially sans children.

Who doesn’t want to go to America? This had always been my dream . I knew it would happen one day and I knew from a young age. An Australian girl that grew up watching endless Disney, Brady Bunch , Happy Days’ episodes and the rest of the American cartoons and of course teen 80’s movies. Molly RingWald , anyone??  I remember Sunday afternoons as a kid watching The Wonderful World of Disney , where at the start it shows the attractions of Disneyland with the Teacup Ride and the Jungle Cruise. I was obsessed with the teacups and the Jungle Cruise.

As a 7 year old I announced to my mum that “One day I was going to go on those Teacups”.  In that motherly reassuring way she simply replied “No you won’t dear, it’s too far away “. Ok then.

Fast forward  30 odd years as I touch down in San Francisco on the coldest day I’ve ever experienced with a heavy head cold and a husband that hadn’t said a word for 14 hours with plane fright. I was finally here.

Instant love at first sight with this place . Over the next five days San Fran showed off in every way imaginable. From the jazz bars to the baseball game to the huge redwoods in Muir Woods to Alcatraz and of course that bridge- the great Golden Gate. Breath taken. I’m in love. Like Tony Bennett said, I left my heart in San Francisco.

Over the next 3 weeks we cruised on the wrong side of the road from one end of California to the other. I face booked every second of it and left loving FB messages for my kids to which there were no replies . Yeah, they missed us, big time. My husband would ask , “Do you feel guilty ? Do you miss the kids? “.  I didn’t . I really didn’t ( she says with a devious laugh). “They will get their chance one day,” I told him with all the empathy of an Army Drill Sargent. That’s how much I needed this adventure. Care factor zero, zilch and nada. I had worked solidly for years with minimal breaks and now it was my time to shine. I made it up to them by buying ridiculous amounts of shoes, clothes and not much for myself.

The last 2 days saw us at The Happiest Place on Earth. No, not Vegas. Disneyland. Let me get my bucket list out and get ready to tick off those Teacups and Jungle Cruise.

This place really knows it’s shit. I mean really. The attention to detail in every little thing is mind blowing. Every kid needs to go to Disneyland. Except mine , they were at home. “Ok, now I feel guilty,” I said to my husband.

I noticed the Teacups in the distance. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe I did both. I could hear my mums voice telling me “They’re too far away,” in the back of my mind. To my husband’s relief we managed to get a pink teacup –  it was always going to be pink. Told you I was obsessed. We spun and spun and I fucking loved every second. So much so, we did it again.  Next stop was Jungle Cruise . My husband wasn’t familiar with the ride but I knew it inside and out because I had a book about it as a kid. I was near hysterical at this point as I recognised all the animals in it as I  remembered as a kid. I think he even dozed off during the peaceful boat ride.

We stayed at Disneyland until it was time to get the shuttle back to the airport for the long trek home. We arrived home more tired than when we left, the kids were happy for us and we were on a high for months.

Two years after this trip my eldest son did get his chance and went over on a Contiki trip and experienced much more than we did. I’m sure the other boys will eventually do the same.

This was possibly the most spur of the moment, crazy thing I have ever done as a mother . It fed my soul and spirit on so many levels and the memories have stayed with me for years.  I felt reckless , careless and free. Even if it was only 3 weeks.

That Bridge!



Anyone for a Jungle Cruise? Disneyland



My girl crush – Jessie the Cowgirl, California Adventure Park.




Venice Beach

Venice Beach



Marin coastline. SF.

Marin coastline. SF.



Mirror Lake , Yosemite.

Mirror Lake , Yosemite.


Tunnel View, Yosemite

Tunnel View, Yosemite


Storm trooper attack on Hollywood Blvd. $1 tip for the photo. Even storm troopers need to make a living

Storm trooper attack on Hollywood Blvd. $1 tip for the photo. Even storm troopers need to make a living


Hubby keeping it real at Roscoes in West Hollywood.

Hubby keeping it real at Roscoes in West Hollywood.









Rec Yard , Alcatraz.




hooray for Hollywood

Hooray for Hollywood



Highway 1, Big Sur , on a rare rainy day.

Highway 1, Big Sur , on a rare rainy day.


Pick the tourist, that would be me, on the Walk of Fame, Hollywood.

Pick the tourist, that would be me, on the Walk of Fame, Hollywood.





Cheesecake Factory was our second home. I don't know why we bothered with hotels, we should have just stayed here.

Cheesecake Factory was our second home. I don’t know why we bothered with hotels, we should have just stayed here.









Teenagers, friend or foe?

Are teenagers harder to raise today than ever before?

My mum seems to think so. She’s 77 and she raised 3 kids. She asked me the other day how do I keep up with what’s going on with my kids especially my 18 year old? Quite simply it’s hard work, like having another full time job with a mean boss. I get less sleep now than I did when he was a breast feeding newborn.

Anyone that has a few kids will know how different their personalities can be almost to the point that you would think that they come from different families.My boys are so different on every level. Apparently we clash with the child that resembles us the most. I can vouch for that. Absolutely.

My Mr Teenager is practically a male version of what I was like at that age and it took a girlfriend to point that out. Talk about light bulb moment.

I was lamenting to her the other day about how hard I’m finding navigating this area with him . “He is doing this, and that and did I tell you he also done this?”
On and on I went. Waiting for her to give me some of her wisdom.
She didn’t answer for a while , just listening and agreeing.
” Well? “, I asked .”See what I’ve been going through “. “Its doing me in”, I continued to dramatise.


When she could finally get edge ways in, she started laughing then proclaimed “Fuck! He sounds exactly like you were, Exactly ” … “Remember?”
“What I’m hearing could have been any of our stories back in the day.You’ve described yourself mate”, she laughed.

And she would know.

We go way back and we’ve seen each other at our best and worst. When we were we at our worst , we were hideous creatures. Running amok on the streets of Kings Cross searching for drugs. 17 year of age , Eeeek! At our best , we were healthy, tanned and responsible citizens. We could have moved mountains. Did we ? Not even close. Not even an ant hill.image

Some of the situations we used to get ourselves into I don’t know how we are still alive to tell the tale. We were young, cute, free and fearless . Exactly like my kid.
I remember those feelings well.

It all started to click, Damn it, that’s why we sometimes clashed.

Being a former deviant I am well aware of the fun that’s to be had so this puts me a few steps ahead of him and it’s exhausting. It’s like I know what his next move will be because its probably the move I would have taken. Although I would have taken a couple more steps and then some.

Talking to different parents over the years, the ones that seem to be more relaxed with the teenage thing are the parents who obviously didn’t seem to get up to much mischief when they were young. It’s very easy to pick through conversation and even now at BBQs or parties , they are the people that bore me the most.
So this is the Catch 22 , I want him to have his fun and create memories that will make him and his friends laugh and cringe in later years.

“Pull back , pull back, let him get it out of his system” . She assured me.
“You turned out alright didn’t you? and as I remember correctly you were a tad worse than him”.
I was , I actually really was. I know my kid isn’t into drugs, I know this to be true. He is more focused than I was at his age. He isn’t an out there risk taker and he drinks minimally. An angel really.

Fear is what drives my parenting a lot and I am learning to get a grip on it. Trusting that he will be alright in the scary world. Trust in the universe that he won’t stumble and fall. I know this is a rite of passage in order to grow into sensible and fulfilled humans BUT I know the fine line of how quick things can take a swift turn backwards.
Relax and trust the process. Ok. I’ll see what I can do. Can’t promise anything though.

It doesn’t seem so long ago I was a teenager, in fact I remember it just like yesterday. I know all the tricks of the trade and I was so good at them.

My 18 year old is pushing all the freedom buttons and it’s not fun . Yeah yeah I know he is 18 and legal to vote, drink, drive and whatever else you can do at 18. Still living at home though means still my rules. Boundaries and respect.

When I was 18, there was nothing more that I liked to do than drink, get high and chase boys. Oh and buy records. That was pretty much it. I think back to what my girlfriends and I got up to and it seemed pretty harmless back then. We didn’t steal anything or hurt anyone or bully anyone. We were having fun. We broke a lot of hearts and a lot of rules but we were quite frankly living the dream. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. You have no idea.
All I can say is , thank god there was no internet.

Trust in the process. It’s on my to do list. One day.