Birthday Down Under

IMG_0564Five birthdays have passed for each of us since we’ve started this nomadic journey and we’ve been blessed to find ourselves amongst beautiful community during these precious milestones. This year, however, was the first birthday our son, Banjo, was able to celebrate in Australia.

Banjo was actually born in Australia on May 22, 2001 and holds both an US and Australian passport. We moved to the US when he was five weeks old and have been back and forth over the years but never during his birthday month.

IMG_0285This year he turned 15 and we were able to celebrate an early family dinner in Melbourne before making our way north to Sydney. We took a hike through the neighborhood and came back for his favorite Mexican dish.

On a side note: Making a Mexican dish in Australia has become easier over the years, as ingredients make their way across the sea, however it’s still a feet to manage. The most difficult is finding authentic corn tortillas. The Australian company, Essential makes them but they cost about $5 for an 8 pack. The brands, Mission and El Paso are on the shelves in limited quantities, but they aren’t our favorite. And, finding tomatillos and Pinto beans is a whole other story. We can however, find all of the chilies, and then some, cilantro is available in plenty (although they call it coriander), and avocados are readily available at about $2.50 a pop.

Anyway, Banjo had a blast with all of his cousins and the night was topped off by his favorite dessert, cinnamon rolls (or as they call them here, coffee scrolls).

IMG_0453The party continued a few weeks later with a guest appearance from his sister, Graciana, who flew up from Bendigo. It had been 2 months since he last saw her, and they soaked up every moment.

He spent time at the beach twirling fire, a round of golf with Craig and with our friends, the Von Heupts, who organized an epic night out, including gelato and a movie. Not, just any movie though, Banjo had somehow come across a trailer for a New Zealand comedy called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. (If you haven’t seen the movie we highly recommend it!) The movie is directed by Taika Waititi and is based on ‘Wild Pork and Watercress,’ Barry Crump’s book about a juvenile delinquent left in the care of rough yet loving foster parents who live off the wilds of the New Zealand bush. Two worlds collide and it’s so funny!! Anyway, he looked up show times and found out that there was going to be a special pre-show viewing on his actual birthday, which was perfect.

The Von Heupts organized for an entourage of youth to surround and celebrate Banjo, including their three children. Eleven of us total went the movie together. So Banjo and his friends sat together near the front of the theatre, giggling and squirming around in their seats. The movie was hilarious but when Banjo spilled his popcorn on the lady in front of him, the night went to stitches.

IMG_0450It’s so fun to watch our boy become a man. He’s taller than us two Holland girls and gaining on his dad. He has amazing drumming skills and loves anything to do with technology or psychology. Boasting that maybe someday he’ll write a book like his Papa. He’s a natural learner and has a super fun sense of humor.

He’s always wanted his own computer so he could study coding and how to make video games. So, over the course of the year he saved all of his pretty pennies. That, along with a bit of help from family, and he was able to see that dream come true.

We’re thankful for family and friends near and far who love and support our family and especially those who do little things to show our son that he is loved. Thank you!!

Happy 15 year of your life Banjo Holland!! We love you.





Happy Birthday Little Song Bird

So apparently today is Neil Youngs birthday. It’s all over my news feed. More importantly thought, it’s Graciana Hollands birthday. Our little song bird turns 17 today!

This ride wouldn’t be what it is without our daughter, Graciana. She is a bright star and we are so blessed to share family life, music and this nomadic journey with her.

Some children play basketball, soccer, or other sports, participate in art or poetry competitions, are science guru’s, 4-H, boy scouts, etc… Our daughter sings! A little history and some proud moments…

Holland Family Web Photo
Photo by Richard Steinberger

Graciana Holland has always had a song in her mouth and began singing publicly with her mother, Jana Holland, when she was nine years old.  Her first appearances on the stage featured cameo’s for Jana’s original songs as well as sharing the stage with her grandmother leading  old spirituals. Her natural talent for harmony was extraordinary and her poise on stage was developed beyond her years.

At the age of 12, Graciana joined Mother/Father duo, The Hollands!,  recording thier 2009, “To Holland, With Love” album. She was in 8th grade and wrote her own harmonies to Arise Ye Sons and Daughters, a song that embodies The Hollands! philosophy of “one love, that when one falls, we all fall and when one is honored, we’re all honored.”

She also offered contributions on the Glockenspiel, an instrument on loan from her band teacher. Graciana wrote parts on songs Winter by the Bay and The Shack. She began to tour with her family, performing in the Midwestern regional market.

Photo by Bloom Photography by Kara

Two years later, The Hollands! released, Ashes to Beauty, an album that chronicled the love, loss and reconciliation in marriage. Although a heavy topic, this album included more of Graciana’s harmonies and her role in the band was becoming more established. She was beginning to take more responsibility on stage and off, specifically helping her brother, the youngest Holland, find his place in the band.

The Hollands! toured with this album across the US, breaking new ground in the Plains states, Pacific North West, the coast of California, the Southwest and the Rocky Mountains.  And, then, with two albums under their belts, The Hollands! sold everything, bought a bus and hit the road. touring full-time, including Australia.

The two younger Hollands, found themselves with more time on their hands. Homeschooling offered a fresh outlet for music and over the next two years, Graciana would learn new instruments, hone her writing skills, develop a confidence on stage and find a powerful voice that could move listeners to tears.

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Photo by Bloom Photography by Kara

In April of 2013 The Hollands! released Over Land and Leas. This album would not only include Graciana’s harmonies, but her song writing, guitar work and lead vocals as well. In fact, it was her song, Over Land and Leas that ended up becoming the title track on the album. Her song, Lanie Done Did, a murder ballet, became an instant hit on Public Radio stations across the US, Europe and Australia. In May, Graciana showcased those songs at the South East Regional Folk Alliance Conference.

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Photo by Bloom Photography by Kara

As band mates, we are so proud of Graciana for her committment to this gift and although the future is unknown, we look forward to whatever may be in store for her. As parents, our hope is that our little song bird will spread her wings and fly higher than she ever imagined, whether she is singing in the privacy of her own room or through or microphone. Our hope is that she will have learned through all of this hard work, that success is not measured by fame or fortune but by a peace of mind, joyful spirit, grounded soul and willingness to share our gifts even if there is no return.

Happy Birthday daughter!! We love you.



Intentional Community

It does exist, on a real and organized level and for that we are thankful, however this last month of travels has been so different from those before and we are beginning to see intentional community in a different light. We have talked much about “Hidden Community” and this last month was a real testament to that idea.

To be learners and move into the beauty and mystery of those we are deeply connected to, to participate in relationship, without fear of condemnation or judgement, without expectation for return but with open hearts and minds, this is our definition of being intentional about community.

Over the last month we only had two stops in driveway’s, otherwise we were in RV, State and National Parks. It was lovely to experience the nature and quiet time, but there was also a perceived sense of  loneliness that came over us. However, as we look back on the month we begin to see this amazing tapestry of community, and although our time with each was short, over the whole, it was intense and we now see that our perception of loneliness was off. Maybe it was something else we were sensing, maybe it was just the uneasiness of moving into a new chapter.

This month we met and fell in love with the Jessup family, who opened up their home and lives to us on a Sunny Kentucky Wednesday. We shared engaging conversation over a bon fire with Ben and Marlena at Mammoth Cave National Park. We journeyed down to Nashville, where we neighbored with Lynette and Emily, had lunch with the lovely Thompson family, enjoyed Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream with Aaron Wilson, dinner and deep thoughts with Aimee Wilson, a rollicking night of music with the Insomniac Folklore crew. We also went to a potluck and jam at Sulpher Creek Organic Farms where a whole fantastic crew of  fellow ‘Cornerstoners’ converged, we had late night prayer with Laurel Heiss and Lauryn Peacock. We shared time with the Price family during our bus break down in Chattanooga. We shared a meal with Dustin and Marcia Price in the oldest farmhouse in Buncombe County.  In Lexington, Kentucky, we broke bread with the Gladding family, celebrated Banjo’s 12th birthday with the Brown family. We helped the Salmon’s with a little remodeling project and last night we played Viking Kubbs and shared a meal with the Crowley’s in Dayton, OH.

When we put it all together in writing we see, with greater perspective, the faithfulness of a creator with a fantastic knack for restoration and connection. We see that we are not alone and we look joyward to more opportunities to learn and move in the beauty and vastness of community.

Neighbors in New Mexico

20130305-104244.jpgWe have been in New Mexico for three weeks, one of our longer stop overs. We are parked in the cul de sac neighborhood of North Foothills. Our hosts, the Burtons, connected us with the Mulder’s, their next door neighbors and they allowed us to park in their “flat” driveway. The Burton’s have six  children and the Mulder’s have four, they both home school and have been such gracious hosts.

We have a brief history with the Burtons via our time at a community in Chicago. There is something connective about living with others that binds us together with others who have also lived there, even if our connection at the time of living in community was limited. I suppose it’s what folks who have been in the military or a sorority/fraternity might feel when they meet someone along the way who was in the same one. It’s a familiar feeling, yes, it feels like being with family. While with the Burtons we celebrated birthdays, had dinner parties, went hiking and enjoyed everyday life. I had the opportunity to cook for the whole clan most nights, which was a real joy for me. We shared homeschool stories and duties, (Craig taught math to the kids, David taught Mountain Biking, Sofjia taught English, and I taught Art). Sofija writes a blog and interviewed us about our journey homeschooling on the road. You can read that at “Teach Where You Live”

While in town, we also connected with a few other kinfolk. My dear friend, Holly and her family moved to Albuquerque a few years back and we enjoyed renewed friendship and encouragement. We had fun working out at Hot Yoga, dining at a hibachi grill, and working on a project at her house, building a fence for her dogs. It was so good to see her. Also, we connected with another close family, the Grovers, who moved to Albuquerque about 9 months ago to care for aging parents. Brian Grover is a mate of Craig’s and used to play music with him back in the old Ballydowse days. We performed in Albuquerque and Brian joined us for that show on Bass.