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Balance in life is incredibly important to physical and mental health. Making time for this sends like an easy exercise, something trivial even. However, it is obvious in my life that it is far more complicated than it appears. Between work and kids it is difficult to ensure time for something other than work and kids! This is increasingly important and I'm conscious that it isn't just me who needs this but also N. That makes it even more difficult as we just work and family commitments. I guess nobody ever said loving would be simple...

The smartphone merged the features of the best PDA (personal digital assistant) devices and a mobile phone. The promise was we would be better organised in our personal and professional lives. The reality is we're less organised, more distracted, and incapable of finishing what we start mostly because of notifications.

We are all wounded and limping through parts of our life. Words, relationships, financial situations can inflict bruises that heal, but often leave is scarred or limping. For the rest of our lives we protect this tenderness as we attempt to avoid more pain and wounds . This is something we all share yet fail to see in others.

I hope that when my sons begin work they act and behave like the mature grown ups they should be. Wherever I've worked I encounter childish and immature behavior that prevents progress. As a parent I aim to release young men who will rise above the petty and selfish actions that prevail. A manager isn't a mother and contributing to the greater good isn't difficult. It does require a level of self awareness and personal reflection though. Much like a sports team relies on individuals knowing their part to play, each recognises that at different times and in different situations a different person or play might be utilised. The team comes before the individual. When the team wins so does every individual in the team.

There are times we all feel lost and like we have little value. We believe the untruths we hear in the silence and slowly withdraw. Imagine a world where the despair of the present paralysed us all. The civil rights movement in America would have a different ending, apartheid in South Africa too. So many moments in history eventuated because in the darkness and silence someone saw a light and had hope for tomorrow.

Getting home has been challenging as the excitement fades quickly and normal life begins to resume. The allure of what we missed is overpowered by the routines of everyday living. However, already there are spoken memories and laughter at the many different moments together over 2 months traveling.

The entire experience will hopefully leave our 3 sons more open to difference, more appreciative of culture, more aware of history, and more accepting of others. After all, the trip was part of the 20 year plan to develop young men who contribute to society, positively impact their community, and make the world a better place for all who inhabit it.

The final days in London were difficult as tiredness and homesickness set in a little. Denmark Hill had become a home of sorts, but the boys longed to be back in their space that shelters them from the world. The novelty of London has almost gone but there is still more to be seen.

We packed with some excitement of LA and theme parks but I don't think anyone would have been bothered if we had gone straight home. A long flight awaits but we went and had bacon rolls for breakfast. A final taste of London before heading to another new experience for all of the boys.

Rome is a flurry of walking, trains, and really (really) old things. We stumbled upon a free tour of a church that told us how the Colosseum was being dismantled brick by brick for new buildings and monuments before a priest stopped it. Then from a garden behind the church we had an elevated view which was spectacular.

Venice was a long day but stunning as we struggled to navigate the narrow and winding streets. Google maps was helpful but the tightness and height of the buildings prevented GPS from being accurate and we often found ourselves at a deadend. The age of the place is stunning considering many buildings here (Italy) are older than NZ as a we know it!

Today we are on a train to Pompeii and expecting more walking. The boys continue to fluctuate between excitement/wonder and tired discontent. They miss the space of home and the routine our live typically has (even when on holiday). When we leave Rome we will have just 3 weeks left on this little OE which is typically the longest time we would be away from home on holiday!

New Year in Paris and perhaps traveling is somewhat wearisome to the boys now. They still embrace the experiences, but heading out feels more difficult. We had a fantastic experience at a cafe today where the man took a great interest in Judah and insisted he say please and thank you in French before high five'ing him as we left. They even seemed really taken by Notre Dame.

Tomorrow we had to Italy and I hope they continue to open their eyes. While they look forward to home and years for normal routine, they continue to see and experience new things. One day I hope to know if this little OE has made them more appreciative, more aware, more compassionate, and more accepting of the grandness, smallness, and connectedness of the planet we love in.

Christmas Day and for all of us it was the first this one 😬 Very different to normal we had some fun and made memories that will hopefully last a lifetime and light the fire of adventure in all 3 boys 👌🏼