daughter/sister says: " I'm grateful we are fortunate enough to be able to come to Australia for a year"
dad/husband says: "our healthy family"
mom/wife says: "my family, my family of friends, and that the teenage years don't last forever"
son/brother says: "I'm thankful we live 2 minutes from the beach and I can go surfing whenever I want, and I'm thankful we have been in Australia for a year"
In the last handful of years,we have spent thanksgiving in many places. At home with a crowd or a few, at Chery'ls house to bring joy following tragedy, in Denver with our cousins, in an airport in Kauai, at Abruzzi's restaurant just with Tom's mom, singing and then serving at the Arcata Veteran's hall. When I was young we had all the family at my Aunt Evelyn's house (the kids always got our own table....we loved that)
For some time now I have been attempting to spew gratitude whenever and wherever I can. I am brimming with it! It's filling up all my wicker baskets, cootie catchers, rain gutters, pencil cups and ant traps. Twenty ten has been truly remarkable for our family and will be a cherished memory forever. We have been so fortunate to reap the rewards of Tom's many years of working 60 hour plus weeks building his business, and now being able to leave it (sort of) for a year to be run by capable managers. If not for Chris Albright in particular, we couldn't have made this happen. He has been steadfastly minding the ship as we cavort on the other side of the world. And as I have reported, we have done a fair bit of gallivanting around!
Speaking of gallivanting, we have adventures in store when we depart Oz in a few short weeks. We are Asia bound! We've known since we started planning this year we were going to be traveling during this time between continents, mostly due to Eli's school schedule. He starts the second semester of his sophomore year at Arcata High on Jan 18, and Mel will go back to the last 6 months of middle school at Pacific Union. How strange will that be, as she is in high school here! For a month we'll be in transition, living neither on Wunnunga Crescent or on 11th street.
We fly away on Dec 11 and our first stop is Bangkok. Tom can't count how many times he's traveled the SFO-BKK route for Tomas business, but the rest of us have not had the pleasure. (OK, I did make a brief stop on my way to India in 1993, a lifetime ago) We'll meet the folks he works with and see the haunts where he prowls for new jewelry designs, meets with suppliers, networks and problem solves for his ever growing company. After spending a few days being tourists and marveling at the wonders of this city of 10 million plus, we are off to Cambodia on Dec 15.
Following many many hours of pursuing ideas, we are booked to volunteer as a family in a school/orphanage in Siem Reap. Volunteer vacations are the latest craze and I have done extensive research to make sure we will to spending time with a reputable organization, not taking jobs away from locals, and contributing in a meaningful way. Type 'volunteer Cambodia' and thousands of websites pop up, promising "exciting, life changing, flexible and worthwhile" experiences. After heading down some avenues which began to look sus, (Australian for suspicious) I ramped up the research again, talked and read and pondered for several more hours, and we have signed up with an NGO called vMAD.org (Volunteer and Make a Difference for good). While I'm not attached to the experience being described with ALL four of the above adjectives, I do think it will be interesting and certainly different from our previous travels!
How our time will be spent with vMAD is somewhat unknown, but we might be helping in the classrooms, with community building projects, in afterschool care, or who knows what. Eli has had a fabulous computer class this year, and has come away with a boatload of tech savvy, especially in terms software applications. He's hoping to contribute to the IT program, and also make a movie while we're there. Melissa is a natural with young ones, and will easily contribute to any childcare situation. Tom and I have strong backs, the cumulative wisdom of 106 years of life, and are keen to help or at least not get in the way. Our time there is short so we plan to hit the ground running.
Following our week or so in Cambodia, we'd like to travel overland to a bordering country, either Laos or the southern end of Thailand. We might get as far a Vietnam. Unplanned. Definitely a style of travel to which we are unaccustomed! We're not wingin' it for long, as we have a flight booked from Bangkok to Bali on New Year's Eve. We have about 10 days on the beautiful island of Bali before we head back to Oz to collect our belongings which will have been stored in Brisbane and then transferred to Sydney. Thank you Quantas Courier service. Then, off to America. If you're in town, please come to our welcome home party at the Arcata airport on Thursday Jan 13 at 3:45!!