Routines amidst Adventure

We all look to our routines to give us a sense of consistency in our lives. While I love (and seek) adventure and the unknown, I also revel in the comforts of the known and the familiar. The next few months is a true adventure for our family – we are going back to London as a family (we haven’t been back all together since we left last December) and then we are continuing on for a Southeast Asia adventure for a couple months – and then back to London for a few weeks to say goodbye to our home.

As I started packing for this upcoming trip (and editing my luggage so I wouldn’t be taking half a closet with me), I had to think strategically about everything that I absolutely needed for both London and Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. What are my essentials? What do I need to prepare me for every day, whether we are seeing friends and family in London or saying goodbye to the home we built or on a junk boat in Halong Bay in Vietnam?

When we first moved to Los Angeles and I was trying to make this new town feel like home, a girlfriend shared some well-received advice. She told me to carve out routines and things that are familiar – we went to Farmers Market every Sunday morning in London as a family – and so we started doing this in Los Angeles, and suddenly, we felt at home. We went to dim sum in London every Sunday afternoon, and as soon as we added this into our Sunday routine, our new life suddenly felt more familiar.

I’ve always started the day the same way – wake up and put on my robe (I’ve just been sent this Parachute Robe which I LOVE!) and boil the kettle for a hot water and ginger (I love this Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger Powder) and then a cup of my favorite English Breakfast Tea (Royal Blend by Fortnum & Mason is my favorite and comes in such a pretty tin that the kids love to play with afterwards…)
Since we moved to Los Angeles and I’ve jumped on the wellness wagon, I’ve also added another two steps to my morning routine – a glass of Green Vibrance which we call swamp water in our house (it takes pretty horrific but it is so jammed with vitamins that it has to be good for me – and the face I make when I drink it sends all the children into fits of squeals which they love…) and finally a morning shake of either The Clean Program or Nuzest Clean Lean Protein which I blend with half a frozen banana and a handful of blueberries and a spoonful of almond butter. (Depending on what I’m needing and how I’m feeling, I also play scientist in the kitchen and might chuck in a handful of spinach and half an avocado…) Both the swamp water and the shake additions to my morning routine have been incredibly helpful, giving me a dose of vitamins and also now our school days start SO early and with three kids that I’m getting ready out the door, I have no time to feed myself – so I multitask and drink my shake and tea in the car on the way to drop-off…

While I was packing, and thinking about the importance of routine admits the chaos, I’ve added Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend teabags (easier for grab & go while traveling than the tea leaves), Green Vibrance (comes in individual sachets which makes it so easy!) and my Clean Program shakes (my favorite is chocolate – and if you buy the entire cleanse it comes in little sachets which makes easier for traveling). AND because we will be in London for a few weeks upon our return from Southeast Asia (and I will likely be wanting some creature comforts after braving Thailand jungles…) I’ve also packed my favorite Parachute Robe.

My girl scout training taught me to be prepared – and my experience moving, and the importance of routines has reminded me that if we even have just one thing a day that is familiar, then I can brave the adventure. So I’m prepared for it all – robe and swamp water in hand!

What are your little routines that help you get through the day? Comment below and let me know – as I’m always looking to add more little moments to my day.

Life is either a daring adventure… (aka #HermerHoliday)

So, as I mentioned last week, one of the things that came out of our Burning Man experience was the realization that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” We all get so much more when we push ourselves – when we are living just beyond our comfort zones. Matt and I are both inspired more – as parents, as a couple, and as entrepreneurs, when we are living just beyond the edge. This isn’t to say that we don’t love our nights in pajamas with a good boxset (Ozarks anyone?!) but we’ve learned that it is all about the mix for our family.

A couple things happened this last month in the Hermer household: 1. We signed on our first restaurant site in Los Angeles (YAY! – proper announcement to come when we get all our ducks in a row) but due to timing, this won’t open until 2018 so we have a window of time before we need to get working on it 2.: I’m working on a new EXCITING project (YAY!) but the first few months of my new startup can be done remotely. 3. As we make Los Angeles our home, we’ve decided to sell our home in London. 4. We learned that California law requires children to be formal school from the 1st grade (our eldest Max is in Kindergarten this year).

Suddenly, we realized that we have a pocket of time in our lives as a family to do whatever we want. As we are going to sell our home in London, I wanted to go back to London and say goodbye to the home we built and where we raised our family. Building the house was Matt and my first big project together – it really was a labor of love. And though the time is right to close that chapter as we live our California chapter, I also think it is important for us as a family to say goodbye to our London home.

Max and Jake have also been missing their London friends and family – in particular, Max misses the London rainy puddles, Jake misses the big red buses, and we miss our friends and family (I’m not forgetting Sadie here, but to be honest, she is pretty happy if she is on my hip). So we thought that it would be a good time to go back to London, say goodbye to our home, and visit friends and family.

And then, Matt and I thought, well, we are in London, and we have some time – lets do something else… while we still can. While we still can educate our children in the school of life – before 1st grade starts. So, we’ve gotten a bit adventurous and in the spirit of YOLO (and hatching this plan in Burning Man – uh oh!), we’ve booked tickets from London to Southeast Asia FOR 8 WEEKS. Are we crazy? YES! Are we excited? YES YES YES!

Though we are still in the process of planning the trip (which does give me some level of anxiety as we are leaving for London on October 1st – less that 2 weeks!), we’ve decided to throw Sadie on our backs with Max and Jake in our hands and head to Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Even as I write this, I’m thinking WHAT ARE WE THINKING and yet, this year has been all about adventure and Matt and I want to continue it as long as we can, while we can.

While our children are young, we want to soak them up – away from the screens and away from the daily schedule of life – and actively make memories as. SO in the next 10 days, we’ve got a lot to do. First of all, if anyone has suggestions on where to stay or what to do in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam, please comment below! AND if you have suggestions on what to bring traveling with young children – comment below! The next 10 days are going to be crazy as we try to plan this trip, pack for everything from London life to Angkor Wat for a family of 5, and wrap up the work that we’ve started in LA, so that when we come back in January, we can hit the ground running.

Wish us luck – and of course I will be figuring it out along the way – so expect more blog posts on how to get through an around the world trip with toddlers (and enjoy it).

Love xx

Below are a few pix from our attempts to get our Southeast Asia visas. For years, we’ve always said SMILE when a camera is shoved in our children’s faces – so needless to say, Max, Jake, and even Sadie are well trained to say CHEEEEESE when they see a lens. For visa pictures though, they DON’T want a smile. You are just supposed to look serious. I was crying with laughter trying to get our munchkins to be serious – it is SO hard to be serious during these moments…

Let the adventures begin!

 

Sadie is JUST starting to take a few steps. I’ve got to video her more as it is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. The CVS we went to in the Palisades also doesn’t really have a passport booth for pictures – we had to do a makeshift shopping cart situation to make her sit still for a moment.

Forget about getting Sadie to give the camera a serious face – we just had to get her to LOOK at the camera. It took our entire family – and some other shoppers – to get the shot.

This was taken before we explained that visa pictures were nonsmiling pictures. I’m not actually sure this is a smiling picture, but it is the face Max makes when we asked him to smile. Which is actually hilarious – and makes us all smile.

This is his serious face.

Jake trying not to smile. It is SO hard for a 3 year old to be serious!

We got there in the end! Perfect not-smiling picture!

 

 

 

“HOW WAS BURNING MAN?”

So for the last two weeks, I’ve been asked the same question one trillion times: “HOW WAS BURNING MAN?” Fair enough. And by now though I should have my answer, it still takes me awhile to collect my thoughts about this.* *the lag might also be due to the three nights AT Burning Man but more on that later.  The truth is, is that it IS hard to explain. It is like going to Mars. It is like having a baby. Before Matt and I went to Burning Man, a friend sent us this video and now after returning it is totally right on the money. It was EVERYTHING. (but it was also HOT!) (I’ve just watched this video again and it makes me want Pancakes…. anyone else?)

It has be said that Matt nor I would have ended up at Burning Man without some dear friends who made it all happen. We received an email from said friends in March asking if we would want to join them at Burning Man. I immediately responded to the email saying “IS THIS SPAM?” The couple who initiated the trip are not the couple that one would immediately think as burners and yet the fact that they were going (and that we would be adventuring into the playa with dear friends) made it all the more palatable. We were first timers all together and in the spirit of YOLO, Matt and I decided why not? (And we are glad we did).

After doing a bit of social media research (thank goodness for pinterest!), a few weeks prior to Burning Man, I headed to Cosmo and Natalia on Melrose (the costume mecca) to buy our Burning Man gear. From what I could glean from my googles of Burning Man, it really was all about the costumes. RIGHT? (wrong. but still sort of right). After a couple of hours, I got all the essential non-essentials (Swarovkski Miliary hat, Beyonce sparkle aviators, body jewellery, and hip belt for essential eyedrops, lip balm, and headlight) and also got VERY excited about the unknown of what was to come.

SO much of my life is planned out – I appreciate the structure of my daily life but equally the prospect of going off the grid for a few days, in Beyonce sparkle aviators, is quite appealing.

Matt and I packed up our costumes (too many to count but of course, once I was there I could have had several more), lots of LED glowlights (for night riding of bikes across the sand), goggles (for the dust storms), lots of lotion (for dry cracked skin – the air is extremely dry), and also our sense of spirit and adventure.

We flew into Reno and drove a couple hours into the desert to Black Rock City. As we neared closer the entrance, I had those butterflies in my stomach of excitement and nervousness. Burning Man has SUCH a build up – what if it didn’t live up to our expectations? What if I hated it and wanted to get out right away? How was I going to cope of 3 nights away and really mostly out of touch (we ended up having spotty wifi and luckily my Mother was staying with the children, but still I always have anxiety when I leave the kids).

We drove into the dusty entrance (see below) where we showed the welcome crew (all wearing Tutus as we arrived on Tutu Tuesday – yes, this is a THING) and then we were asked to get out of the car. The welcoming committee then explained a little about Burning Man, what we should expect, what we could get out of the experience, and then asked us to get down in the dust. Yes, literally we were asked to sit in the dust and do dust angels. The truth is, is that I found this all a little much, but actually, the whole point of this experience, which I learned, is to go for it. Dive in. Soak it up. Leave your judgements at the gate and just try it all and embrace it.

Our arrival – the Tutus were welcoming us on Tutu Tuesday (and then asking us to lay down IN the dust and submit to Burning Man.

We had a lovely ‘camp’ with friends – a few RVs with A/C and showers (thank goodness!) and a couple yurts and all the Trader Joe snacks we could eat (JOY!). We spent the next few days biking across the playa dust, meeting friends at other camps, checking out the sculptures and artwork in the early morning (when the French Cafe was giving out coffee and fresh baguettes at 8AM IN.THE. MIDDLE. OF. THE. DESERT), and late at night, when all the lights were creating the most magical city atmosphere.

Our camp’s “Possible Plan” – wouldn’t be nice if every day only had a ‘possible plan’? As a day NEVER seems to go as planned anyway!

Burning Man isn’t a festival at all – it really is like a city that pops up for a week – filled with every type of person you can imagine, wearing every type of outfit (and wearing none at all).  Our camp made a sort of schedule (see above) when friends were having parties at their camps but we found that the best way to experience Burning Man is to let the days or nights unfold as they might. Our favourite evening was when we were heading back to camp and then one of my friends heard amazing Donna Summer singing – so we redirected our tribe of bikes down a dusty bath to this incredible Donna disco diva dance party – where we boogied for an hour with new friends… before again heading home.

Matt and I on the first night – we had arrived an hour before and were en route to our first party at ZOO camp (look how CLEAN we were! look my gold boots still had a bit of gold peeking through the dust!)

During the days, we rode our bikes around, discovering little camps along the way that were making and giving away everything from bracelets to fresh vegetable juices to chai teas (they were delicious, even in the heat) to hosting group meditation classes. We didn’t join the orgy camps (but there is always next year, HA!) but we DID see a lot of wonderful incredible sights – it really just struck me the beauty and creation that is possible if you give people the opportunity.

This little house on the prairie was amazing – it rolled around on wheels (there was a blue grass band playing on the other side) and on the side you can see in the picture, they were baking fresh cookies from the little kitchen.) It was incredible!

 

This is one of the annual sculptures – The Temple. As I understand it (comment below if I’m wrong and tell me!), the artist was building a sculpture and during the process, one of his friends was killed in a motorcycle accident, so he turned the sculpture into a temple and every year since, there has been some type of temple / memorial at Burning Man. It was very emotional inside – Burners posted pictures and notes for friends and passed loved ones and it was very spiritual inside. It has to be said, I definitely had my own moment as well – and just being there in that shared space of thought and reflection has changed a relationship in my own life and I’m grateful to have had that moment to visit the temple.

At night it was more of the same, but also totally different in the dark. The desert, which is blazing hot and dusty during the day (everyone said that this year’s Burning Man was the hottest and dustiest on record – YAY!), is FREEZING at night! I was virtually naked during the day and then needed to bundle up in faux furs and long underwear at night (while still trying to stay somewhat fabulous… thank goodness for my friends at Amethyst Daze who made the most amazing outfits for me and made me feel sexy, even in the desert, and even after three kids). The playa at night is like nothing I can explain – (again, here is where that youtube video actually resonated to me after I returned) – imagine Disneyland at night for grownups married with a bit of Ibiza and Times Square. There is music in every direction and absolutely no rhyme or reason or order to it – and yet somehow even with Art Cars driving around the desert and everyone riding their bikes in every which way, there seems to be some type of organised cohesive flow. It made me think that if everyone is just in the moment, and enjoying the journey and the experience, we can get along just fine.

One night on the playa in our friends’ Art Car. (Silly selfie face after too many vodka sodas!) x

Thank goodness for my partner in crime (and life and everything) to be able to share this experience with. This is us at a friend’s disco night party – the DJ saw us boogying with each other and gave us this glow light heart to hold.

The truth is, is that I am wearing 2x layers of spandex here – BUT I felt great and it was SO fun and liberating to dress up in crazy silly costumes. And obviously I had my Beyonce glasses which made me feel like a rockstar. (I must wear these more often!)

This won for favourite costume of the trip. When I first put it on, it was sparkly and smooth – so if anyone knows of a good feather dry cleaner, please let me know! Not sure when I will wear feather suspenders again, but I feel like they are a costume box essential, right?

A huge part of Burning Man is the artwork. This Tree of Life was amazing – the lighting changed from blues and greens and yellows to pinks and purples and reds. Burners just flocked to it – it was mesmerising at all times of day.

This is a perfect example of some of the random surprising wonderful things you will discover on the playa. This box of saltines and soup can were actual structures that once you walked inside, you were welcomed with… SALTINES and TOMATO SOUP! perfect and random and lovely.

On our night art ride one evening, we went to see The Man (every year the man is different – this year he was housed in a sort of temple … you can see the man glowing inside). At the end of Burning Man, this is burned.

The days were hot but the nights were VERY cold! Matt and I were prepared with our faux fur jackets for our evening bike rides across the playa.

Our gang riding our bikes and discovering more playa art (and some shade underneath) x

Goodbye Burning Man. (Until next year, or whenever we have the courage to do it all again).

So will Matt and I go back? I think we probably will.  Because we didn’t get our Playa names this time. And also I did buy the most amazing beaded body chain which I was too chicken to wear this year… but I should at some point before I’m 80. It does take awhile to unwind from the heat and the dust and the extremeness of it all – but it was an amazing experience and because Burning Man changes every year with the different camps, different people, different artworks, it will be new every year.  This was our reconnaissance year – we would certainly do some things the same but also a lot of things differently. But in the end, the three days of totally switching off, being carefree, and just enjoying each other and the adventure of it all was priceless. OH! AND during one of our afternoon roséfuelled chats (which is when the best ideas happen), Matt and I hatched plans for another Hermer family adventure (I can’t wait to tell you guys in a couple weeks!) because as we experienced at Burning Man and as Helen Keller said so perfectly, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

The Kids (Will Be) All Right

Matt and I try to escape a few times a year without the children for a little Mummy & Daddy time and even though we’ve had practice escaping, I still have a tough time every time we say goodbye for a few sleeps. Through the trips, we’ve found a few tricks that help us all get through the time away – so we can all enjoy our time away.

Videos vs Facetime: Our youngsters are just that – young. Jake (3) and Sadie (1) don’t always understand that they can’t reach into the phone and grab us – so we’ve found when we Facetime them to check in, they sometimes get distressed which actually doesn’t help anyone. They can’t understand why we aren’t upstairs in our bedroom – even though we were just on the screen of the phone. Filming a short video and texting it to whoever is caring for our children seems to do the trick – the kids know that we are thinking about them and we feel that we’ve been able to connect with them. They then film a video back – and ta-dah – a bit of ‘communication’ without the distress.

Little Presents: On the mornings that we aren’t all around the breakfast table, I wrap up little presents for the kids to open in our absence.  This isn’t Christmas morning but rather, just a little something that the kids can look forward to so they aren’t missing Mummy or Daddy too much. I usually schedule the presents so if we are away on a weekend, the present is something arts & crafts related that the kids can do during the day, and if it is during the week, a little toy to entertain them as they get ready for school.

Here are a few of my favourite little distraction toys:

bubbles, fun crayons and little activities for fiddily fingers always go down a treat!

I LOVE these little Parkland Pencil Cases and I’ve just filled them up with brand new crayons for the kids. At some point this will change I know, but right now, a pouch of new crayons is pretty much as good as it gets.

I can’t find any wrapping paper, but no matter. I just wrapped up the presents in white paper and wrote a little note – and my Mom will put these little goodies on the breakfast table in the mornings so the kids will see them when they come down for brekkie.

How Many Sleeps Post-its: Our kids have always loved this little game. It bookends the day with another little thought of Mummy & Daddy and helps them understand how time and how much longer we will be away. We pre-write all the post-it notes depending on how many ‘sleeps’ we will be away and then tape up these little cards next to their beds. At bedtime, the kids each take down one of the post-it notes to countdown our return.

 

Our Hamptons trip is only 4 sleeps – but for our munchkins, it does seem like a long time (and the truth is, if feels like a long time for Matt and me too!) So these little tricks help us all – we know that our children know that we are hugging them and thinking of them while we are away, and also helps them understand how much time is – and also, that we are going to come home at the end of it all which gives them a sense of comfort.

Do you have any tricks that you do with your kids when you travel? I’d love to know as I’m always adding to our repertoire!

Let me know your tricks in the comments section below – and I’ll try it out on our next trip away!