harry potter wooden bridge
The Wooden Bridge from the Harry Potter movies


For those of you new to the blog, I usually take the month of January to stop and take stock of the previous year, looking at different areas and how my plans/goals for these went. While I’m not obsessed with outcomes – they stress me out too much – I can’t say I’m not interested in making progress (otherwise I wouldn’t set them).

It’s satisfying to look back and see ‘one big thing’ having been accomplished. In 2014 that was the marathon; in 2015, it was two things – travelling overseas for 6 weeks and finishing my book draft. The writing can wait for a separate post, so I’ll focus on the travel today.




Looking back at all the posts, I’ve written literally thousands of words about the places we visited:

Paris: 1, 2, 3London: 1, 2; England Road TripWhitby; Harry Potter TourVeniceRome 1, 2, 3, 4Pompeii and VesuviusIstanbul/GallipoliDubai


On reflection, here are some lasting impressions:

  • I’m glad I left my laptop at home

I had my phone to take pictures and take brief notes, so I wasn’t completely tech-free, but when I think about all those airports… all those security screenings…with just our family backpack, which was bad enough, the thought of adding more weight and baggage in the form of a computer case is insane.

(Note: Adam did take our iPad and used that to import and backup photos. Much more ideal!)

  • Research is important – and so is your attitude

I read lots of travel books, consulted TripAdvisor, perused some blogs, downloaded Duolingo to learn a scattering of words… but things will happen. Some days your bags will come out first on the luggage carousel (Paris!), and others they will be last (Dubai!). If you’re truly busting to go to the toilet, don’t wrinkle your nose at squat toilets. Just go. Seriously.

By keeping (most) of my expectations at a minimum, I ended up pleasantly surprised at most of our experiences. Not a bad life philosophy.

  • Stay in the moment

Linked to point one, I sometimes stood in a spot and meditated on a thought: “Take it all in, you might never be back”. Rather than be depressing, it motivated me to extract every single sensation. I’ve remembered most of them – they’ll be turned into poems one day.


In this post, I outlined my two major focuses for the family in 2015. They were:

One: Reduce screen time (for the kids)
Two: Be vigilant about dental health


1. Reduce screen time (for the kids)

Oh, how I would like to say this was a success. In fact, it probably was more than take credit for… I hope. I tried the self-monitoring route (“you can watch your pads until X o’clock and then turn them off and do something else”), but as I tried this tactic while I was trying to work I usually lost track of the time and would look up a half hour after I said and they’d still be on them, similarly forgetful. The only thing that worked was handing their gear over to me so I could put them away. Towards the end of the year, this wasn’t the whinge-fest it was at the start – Keira would read and Riley would draw or make something. They fight more this way, but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

2. Be vigilant about dental health

Luckily, *touch wood*, things have settled down since Riley’s surgery and he’s been methodical about brushing his teeth. He always was, come to think about it, which is what made the need to have it seem unfair in the first place. I’m the one with a problematic tooth that shows up as fine on X-rays, but I’d rather be the one with an issue than the kids, so I’ll just forbear and keep my fingers crossed.


turkish coffee
Drinking authentic Turkish coffee in Istanbul. You get a look of respect if you try it. Plus, it’ll wake you up!

What about 2016?


We have already chalked in some places to go and possibly when; New Zealand and the Gold Coast are the two big ones, as well as some trips back to see family as well. I might need to go a few places for blogging-related reasons too. Planning might start for the next ‘big’ trip, but that will be a few years off yet! I think we’ve caught the travel bug.


*deep breath*

The second half of 2015 was extraordinarily difficult. From losing a friend in July to my health bottoming out again, while all the while trying to keep the family running, work, etc. I ended the year in a state of utter depletion. A December MRI has ruled out further nasties, so we’re back to whatever’s happening to “just” being Fibro-related. Blah, blah, I know, it’s boring, isn’t it? Leaving aside the pain, I now weigh more than what I did the day I gave birth to Keira. So this year my attention will be on getting my body back in to some sort of conditioning – it won’t be about the numbers on the scale, more about how my clothes fit. And I’d like them to fit… I’m down to a four outfit rotation.

I don’t usually go in for ‘one word mantras’ for years. There are so many wonderful words in our language, why limit ourselves to just one? However, in 2016, I feel like it might be a good idea. That word is FIGHT. For health, opportunity, better choices, other people and loved ones.

There’s other things to add here. I want to read better. By that I mean instead of taking a book to bed to read and falling asleep less than five minutes later, therefore defeating the purpose, I can sit up and read on the couch under the lovely bronze arc floor lamp we bought on sale last week. This will (hopefully!) keep me more alert.

And I think… that’s it. There’s plenty to do.

Time to get to it.


Do you have any goals for 2016? Let me know!

Karen Andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity