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.

 

 

 

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Photo Journalist

545371_10150940796765376_1314888666_nIn 2010, Kara Counard started coming regularly to our local shows in Northeast Wisconsin. She would show up with her son, friends and a handful of brightly colored hula hoops. Her spirit was humble and as she engaged with our music, a joy would permeate through out the venue. If there was a show where she wasn’t present, we would all make note afterwards, stating that we missed her dancing and jovial hooping. At a certain point, I remember approaching her and declaring how much we appreciated her presence and noted her commitment as a “fan” but that we were keen to share community and story with her and wanted her to be our friend. She shyly agreed to joining us for dinner on our patio one summer evening and that was the beginning of our dear friendship.

Besides being an excellent hooper, Kara has a natural gift and honed talent as a professional photographer. In fact, her eye is prolific, capturing not only the perfect composition but seeing and embracing the light that makes life look absolutely beautiful.

At the beginning of 2015, a conversation began about her desire to ride along on the Hollands bus, as a photo journalist, documenting life on the road. This spring she flew to Asheville and rode with us for a solid week, camera in tow. She chronicled intimate family time, exploring Asheville, a house concert in Pittsboro, historical Richmond, and a beach day in Virginia Beach.

Prior to Kara’s arrival, our son, Banjo, had developed a desire to try his hand at photography. He had been researching camera’s for months and hoped to purchase one for his 14th birthday. So, while Kara was on board, he really sought her expertise on the subject, discovering even more information about brands, lenses, and the art of photography.

IMG_2500A few days into her time with us, her camera started acting up and we had to visit a camera store. Although it was unfortunate the problem was solvable and she had a rented camera within the hour. Her inconvenience ended up being a blessing in disguise for Banjo, as the forced visit to the camera store accelerated his purchase and he walked out with a used Nikon D90 and 50 millimeter lens. Immediately the photography lessons commenced and before the day’s end, with Kara’s guidance, Banjo conquered the Nikon’s components, ready to practice honing his “eye.”

It’s been a blast watching him explore his new-found love, especially with his sister, who is always looking for a photographer for her Dutchygazelle Blog. Big thanks to Kara for taking time away from family and friends, for honoring us with her amazing gifts and talents and for being our friend!

To see more of Kara’s awesome work visit www.bloomphotographybykara.com

Kids Perspective  

Life On The Road, Three Years In.

During our five month rest in Austin, we took a little bit of time to reflect with our children about their last three years on the road, their dreams and desires as well as hardships.

gghGraciana, our 18 yr old, shared her desires to continue on with us, making music and pursuing her fashion & travel blog. We talked about her goals outside of The Hollands!, looking at higher education, trade school and/or continuing on as a professional musician. Ultimately, she has a deep desire to be in the music and fashion business but also recognized the gift of compassion and is open to exploring that more in the context of advocating for women’s issue, specifically in human rights and Sex Trafficking as well as healthcare.

There is no pressure however, and we know that it will all make sense when it’s suppose to. All of the time we’ve spent trying to figure out what her next step will be has been a struggle but no different from that of any other part of our journey. As we look back over the last three years of serendipity, provision and guidance, our faith has grown and we trust that it will all make sense for her as she continues to get ready to fly out on her own.

IMG_0324Banjo, our 13 yr old, has definitely morphed into a fantastic young man over the last 5 months in Austin. He’s grown physically about a foot and emotionally/spiritually his soul is being awakened. His time in Austin was a bit lonely due to the pace of everyone’s busy schedules but he did get to enjoy time every Sunday evening at Hope in the City’s youth group. The pinnacle of his time here involved attending his first youth retreat, which allowed him an opportunity to really get to know a few young fella’s as well as experience  all the traditional fixings of a retreat including a shaving cream war, card games, Gaga Ball, and rope swinging into a river. He’s looking forward to getting back on the road and his wish is to save up for a Go-pro so he can start making videos of Skateparks across the country. He is also looking forward to playing summer festivals as those are his favorite venues.

IMG_0707As for homeschool, although Graciana has graduated she continues to seek wisdom and learns everyday. We have been pushing her beyond her comfort zone of being told how to do life into the practical application of doing life. For instance, she just got her temps and did all of the work on her own to acquire it. This has been something that she wanted for a long time and felt, per societal norms, that we should have done for her. We really believe however, that because she took ownership of the process, she is better for it.

IMG_1090Banjo is another story, his learning style is covert, meaning he’s less inclined to ask how to do life, but rather wants to discover things on his own. So, if we press him to learn something that we deem important he usually shuts down. However, if we pay attention to the things that drive him, like building, strategy, entertainment (he really would be a great actor, he can do every accent and is quite flamboyant), and animal science, offering him opportunities to explore and discover, he usually responds and ends up quite the expert on the subjects. Recently, he participated in an Austin Unschool Holiday Market, where he designed and handcrafted his Bottle Cap Shakers based off of the Australian Laugerphone. And, he’s currently he is taking a Pet Psychology class online. It is an adult class and at the end of the course he will acquire a certificate that says he’s completed the course. If he desires he can continue on in the field and eventually have credentials to work in the animal care world. But of course, we have to be subtle about our encouragement as to not turn him off it all together. Ha!