That Was Then, This is Now – Nine Years

According to an article in the Business Standard it takes nine years to master the cryptic crossword. They report it’s not just basic intelligence, it takes experience to become a true master. It takes nine years to grow a devgad mango tree, rather than just planting a seed it begins as a small twig from the mother plant. There’s a nine year process before the grafted twig then becomes a fruit baring tree. It took this man nine years to build his HMS Dreadnought replica.warships.jpg-pwrt2

I found this last week inside an old book, I must have been using it as a bookmark. It’s us, at Disneyland, nearly nine years ago.

Disney 2006

Henry Hotdog is about two months old, his little hand is poking out of the sling. I believe he’s trying to signal for help. I imagine he’s wondering at that point why anyone would choose a black sling in the height of an Anaheim summer. Has this woman not done the whole baby thing before? Does she realise I’m melting in here? If I hear it’s a small world one more time I’m heading back to the womb.

We were living in Calgary when this shot was taken. I was a few months away from returning to the office, sling free, I handed the sling over to our newly recruited Nanny just before I did high kicks out the door. High kicks no doubt with a dried up cheerio stuck to my bum. Every child in this shot has their baby teeth, we are yet to know the excitement of the toothy fairy. Weekends are spent learning how to ride bikes and trikes and shopping in discount supermarkets. Soccer and dance are our sports. Lizzie was still letting me put her in a dress, it was just before she called a moratorium on the colour pink. Annie is yet to put the scar on Henry’s forhead and knows nothing of the further six ear operations to come.

At the fireworks that evening they watched in awe, absolutely certain that Tinkerbell had flown through the sky unassisted. I cried in the middle of those fireworks, a happy cry that only a mother understands after a frozen margarita on a hot day in the middle of a wonderful family holiday. I was hashtag grateful, and perhaps slightly tipsy. It truly was the happiest place on earth for my guys, they were complete believers. As the music of the cannons and the voice of Julie Andrews co-incided with the thunder of the lost boys battle with the pirates Fred screamed at the top of his lungs “Take that Captain Hook you big fat baddy”.

Sri Lanka 2015 105

This is us now in our natural state, no make-up, unshowered and at the end of a week long holiday in Sri Lanka. Almost (in August) nine years later.

Our holiday now involves devices, devices that will play youtube clips and music. A single headphone bud is inserted while another dangles on the opposite shoulder. While the bigger kids scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, the little people master Minecraft while imessaging friends all over the world. I walk past Fred and notice he’s skyping with a friend in Scotland.

“Wassup?” he asked with a soft American accent

“Aam ut mah Grundmahs” his buddy replies with a smile

When the screens are put down we snorkel, swim, laze, talk, read, throw a ball and eat together. The tooth fairy still comes although she is often late and full of excuses. The Easter Bunny knows exactly what to bring through experience and Father Christmas negotiates requests “Do you think if I asked Father Christmas…” Our belief system and cult following has moved from Ariel and Snow White to 5SOS and the Port Adelaide Football Club. We dream of making the softball team, getting an A in math, and being able to rap the entirety of Ice Ice Baby. Stop, collaborate and listen…We talk about food, everyday sexism in school and why friends from Palestine don’t have a passport and have travel bans in certain countries.

With the arrival of teens and tweens the questions are often more cryptic. What are you really asking me? Four across doesn’t fit with six down. Two parties, one math test and a sleepover just doesn’t fit in the boxes allowed. Hidden words are considered. Is this an emergency or something that will pass. Choose your battles wisely, watch out for rapid escalation. What was the question again?

We’ve changed so much in nine years, it’s impossible to master with its new rules each day. I guess that’s what’s made it so interesting yet frustrating, exhausting and emotional. I can’t grab it or hold on to it without it changing form into something else.

That was us then, this is us now.


What has nine years done to you? Care to share? What did life look like then as opposed to now? I’d love to see/hear.

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  1. mary_j_j says

    Stop tugging my heart strings – you can change the name of the blog to 4 kids, 20 suitcases, a beagle and a hanky it seems. Thank you Kristy for putting your life into words, and making me thing about mine too.

  2. Bec Sparrow says

    I never get sick of reading your stories. I LOVED this. x

  3. Elizabeth Foreman says

    I don’t normally comment, but I couldn’t resist the pull of your question. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, so forgive the long comment but here is my thoughts.

    9 years ago I was 13, I’d just started high school in New Zealand and I was still mad at my parents for our previous move (which had happened a year before). I knew that if I held out a little longer we would inevitably end up moving at the end of the year (I was wrong, we ended up staying put for 7 years). While I can’t say it was my worst year of high school (that came the next year), it was not a great year for me. I had a form class that I didn’t have any friends in, though that first year everyone was very accepting they weren’t so much in the second year. I moved up from Girl Guides to Rangers, hated it and then promptly quit. I met my best friend that I had throughout most of high school, we only really parted ways when we were old enough to drink and party and I didn’t have the time nor the inclination to participate in that.

    Through all that, looking back mostly what I remember about 9 years ago was that it was the year before I went on medication that made most hormonal teenagers look like cute little puppy dogs compared to my mood swings. (I would like to point out that it was a known side effect of the medication I was on and not even the worst one that affected me the worst) Seriously, my parents who are usually completely docile, easy going people were terrified of me. Looking back it was hilarious, but at the time… not so much. It was hard being the person who knew they were hormonal, knew why, but couldn’t do anything about it.

    Just because I can, I will add that if I could go back and say anything to my 13 year old self it would be that just because people say you can or should do something (including doctors) doesn’t mean you have to do it.

    • Great advice. And now? How are things now?

      • Elizabeth Foreman says

        Now, I live in Australia (Brisbane). I’m 22, studying and mostly looking after my elderly grandparents. My parents have mostly forgiven me for that 3 year awful period before I decided the medication wasn’t worth it, though I’m sure there are still some underlying issues that no one ever talks about around me. The medication, while it worked and worked well still has haunting side effects. I’ve never managed to lose the 20 odd kg’s I put on in the space of a year, and have more recently given up trying to.
        I haven’t been home to NZ since 2011, though that is more lack of funds than anything else.
        I have big plans for the future, that include getting lost travelling the word sometime after I finish my degree (though that isn’t necessarily a requirement as I am studying via distance), self publishing a novel or 2 and starting a YouTube channel… Possibly not in that order.

  4. Kym O'Gorman says

    Aagh – and it seems to have flown by so fast. I think I started lurking and reading your blog and seeing you on Twitter about 5 years ago – even that time has flown. Part of me looks at your bigger kids and looks forward to the chats and relationship we can have with our kids when they’re that age – part of me wants to stop the clock so my two never grow up.

    Great post – I love your writing!!

    • I was only thinking the other day that I can remember desperately wanting to be able to have more of a conversation with them when they were blobs on the carpet and rambling toddlers. So far so good with the teens, no grunts as yet – but I do love our conversations.

  5. Nine years ago – wow! Like you I had a baby (E would have been 7 months old), but just the one at that point, and we were in limbo not knowing what the next stage in life would be. We lived in a house in a beautiful touristy Cotswold town and everything revolved around nappies and sleep and weaning and blood sweat and tears….Now, we have two; we have lived in three countries on three continents and are about to move to our fourth (as a little family of four). There is just no way I could have predicted what would happen nine years down the line (sadly, this includes losing a sibling – my brother died last year and this is something I would never, ever have been able to see coming) – which makes me think what will we all be doing nine years from now???? It’s a mind spinner…..

  6. Keely Dodge says

    Wow… Nine years ago I was a couple of months away from leaving work as a geophysicist to start my maternity leave, pregnant with my eldest, just bought our “family” house in the uk. Now we live in Norway, I’ve been temp’ing part time as a teaching assistant at the British school (but this is the first year I’ve been back at work since my maternity leave!), we have two girls and my “baby” will be turning nine soon!

    • Recently in a two fat expats podcast I commented that International Schools were full of underpaid highly educated expat women who had taken a job to fit in with school hours. Would you agree Keely? 🙂 Thanks so much for joining in, I love hearing other peoples stories xx

      • Evelyn Simpson says

        Don’t know about Keely but I definitely agree with that!!

      • Keely Dodge says

        I’ve just listened to that one :o) Yes, I definitely agree, I’ve met scientists, lawyers, translators, etc, etc… many well educated women taking a job that suits the lifestyle they have at the moment. Hopefully some of it rubs off on the kids!

  7. Evelyn Simpson says

    Nine years ago, we were living in Shanghai. Kids were 3 and 6. Hubby was working for a big chemical company. I was doing my yoga teacher training and my 40th birthday was still ahead of me. Now we’re living in my home country (the first time in 26 years for me and the first time ever for my kids). Kids are 15 and 12 – so independent now. Hubby left big US company 6 years ago and we took a bit more control of our own destiny. I am the cofounder of a company. In between, we’ve lived in the US and Belgium. If someone told me what was ahead when I graduated from Uni, I would NEVER have believed them.

  8. 9 years ago, I was pregnant with #1. looking back, I can barely recognise myself! What a ride! 🙂

  9. Qatarhelen says

    We were still in the UK, expat life wasn’t on the radar. We survived Doha then moved on to Calgary. Now my son is about to start uni here and planning his future life as a Canadian!

  10. 9 years ago I met you here in Calgary. I too had a little one in my arms. Where has the time gone?

  11. Crazy to think about it! What a great trip down memory lane that was and how lucky your kids are to have such a global life.

    Nine years ago we just had diabolical-baby Max and I was newly pregnant with Arabella. We lived in the inner west, doing cafe-y things. Walking lots. Seeing interesting faces. Going to work in the city at my marketing job. It seems simpler then, in hindsight, but I know it wasn’t. I’ve always said that parenting is only really good in hindsight… x

  12. Wow Kristy, your little family is growing up! Makes me realize how long I have been reading your blog. Nine years ago I was starting up my own little business, juggling two toddlers, building a house and was diagnosed with Graves disease….. It has been quite a roller coaster ride but if life wasn’t an adventure there wouldn’t be any reason to live it! Love your stories.

  13. 9 years ago I was on an airplane, flying to KL in Malaysia to start a new, rather exciting job. My husband was in Houston closing down the life we had built there over the previous three years; selling cars and handing back the keys to our rental house, before joining me a couple of months later to start his new job. It was just us, a few pieces of furniture and a social life full of nights out on the town and lazy weekends on the beach. Jump forward nine years and we are still expat but have accumulated two children and the paraphinalia which goes along with them. Two jobs have given way to one and a balanced family life, and in February we moved to Ecuador. My husband has another new job and I am currently lost in setting up our new life here and exploring my new home. The me of 9 years ago would not have imagined that life could have been better……but it is. I

  14. Mariska Liesfeldt says

    9 years ago I left my job in the Netherlands to move to Houston, my oldest son was 1 year old, I was pregnant with son no.2. Fast forward, I left job no.2 in Switzerland and currently live in Singapore. Studying for career no.2 that hopefully fits in more with our erratic life. Heading to Europe in the summer. I had never thought of leaving my home country. I’m glad we did, I love our global life. However not so happy with the short notice moving announcements, our goal for the next 9 years is taking more control of our destinations. I know…. good luck with that! 😉

  15. Wow I loved this post. Seeing you and your family 9 years apart is so interesting to my nosy self! 9 years ago for me I was living at home with my parents, in my starting the 3rd year of my teaching degree – and I got engaged to my now husband in the middle of the year. Today I am a SAHM to 3 boys aged 6, 4 & 2 and my 9 week old little baby girl, living out our Aussie dream in Bendigo. In a way I am almost your first photo minus the Disneyland but matching in the joy of my wonderful family. Without wishing our lives away I can’t wait to see my own photo in 9 years time 🙂 As always thanks for writing such wonderful words and interesting posts.


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