A little more about me

I was born 200 kilometres south of Berlin, Germany, six years before the wall came down. As a child, I enjoyed writing, reading and puzzling as much as going for bike rides with my dog and seeing my neighbourhood friends. A small tight-knit community village was my home until we moved to the ‘big smoke’ Munich when I was 16.

I love to write, read and fix problems.

Originally starting as a young eight-year-old girl typing up and proofreading my grandfather’s sports articles for the local newspaper, I quickly developed a passion for grammar, spelling, reading and writing.

My grandfather was a wonderful part of my childhood. A man I absolutely adored and who ignited a passion of writing in me that I could never shake again throughout my life. But when he died, the dream of becoming a journalist unfortunately died with him. The love for writing never did.

My mother likes to still tell people how I used to scan the newspaper for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors and mark them with my red pen. Throughout my teenage years, I’d be regularly help my friends with their spelling issues in assignments in both German and English.

Starting my adult career in PR and marketing, I instantly rediscovered my love for writing and honed my craft; gaining six years of experience in copywriting, copyediting, online content creation, blog writing, corporate writing and proofreading on a daily basis working hand in hand with many other industry professionals.

In 2008, I made the life-changing decision that I would set out into the world to explore, learn and grow. During my year-long hiatus and journey around the globe, I found love on a beautiful island in South Australia. After creating our own little family on Kangaroo Island and happily living on our remote sheep farm for 11 years, my husband, our two young children and I lost our family home during the 2020 summer bushfires.

During the recovery phase and the clean up of the burned remains of our previous farm paradise, I met some amazing resilient people that helped us not only stay focused but me personally to look excitedly into the future.

I decided to become self-employed and once again work as a copywriter, editor, and proofreader and use my knowledge and experience in PR and marketing to help Australian businesses. I am also volunteering as a proofreader at Distributed Proofreaders, proofreading old classic books for Project Gutenberg in German and English.

My international background and wide-ranged adventures all around the world have shaped me into the person I am today. Whether working as a quad bike tour guide, public relations manager, hotel receptionist, waitress, accommodation and property manager as well as bookkeeper, promotions manager and beekeeper’s assistant—I took a lesson and great learnings out of every opportunity given to me. I have gained a great deal of knowledge while working for many businesses and the most recent natural disaster has sparked a lot of personal growth in me. I hope to now be in a position where I can help others along their journey.

After the 2020 fires and losing our farm home, the children and I relocated one hundred kilometres away into a different community while my husband stayed behind to clean up and rebuild the farm. While feeling misplaced and disconnected, I felt the urge to close the cap COVID created on top of the bushfire isolation and started to interview local Kangaroo Island residents. Whilst filming my very first documentary film ‘January 3rd’ about the timelines and stories of the fires, I also chose to start a project called Humans of Kangaroo Island in July 2020 to tell the stories of islanders one at a time.

Since then, I have told hundreds of uplifting and inspiring stories of our island community members and have fundraised over $60,000 for an initiative to re-equip local farm firefighters who have lost so much in the Black Summer fires.

In March 2021, I was awarded the Community Champion award at The Advertiser and Sunday Mail ‘Woman of the Year’ awards in Adelaide and stood proudly alongside five other inspiring South Australian women, including public health officer Nicola Spurrier. This award was recognising my achievements since the personal loss in 2020.

It didn’t stop there for me. The inaugural Humans of Kangaroo Island Film and Literature Festival opened its doors on the 8th – 10th of October to showcase local talent. Giving resilience projects a stage that had been created since the fires, we got to hear poems, book readings and watch many short and documentary films, including my own called ‘January 3rd.’

The festival raised over $4,000 for the new Parndana Childcare Centre, shortly followed by the release of the first Humans of Kangaroo Island book raising funds for a new playground at the fire-affected Western Districts Sports Centre.

I received the great honour to be inducted into the 2021 SA Women’s Honour Roll for my community work and for helping to rebuild communities after a disaster through the power of storytelling. The award was presented to me in mid-November 2021 during a reception at Government House by Governor Frances Adamson AC and Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink.

Since then, the book sales have added around $10,000 into the fundraising pot for a new Westend playground and Humans of Kangaroo Island has been awarded the Project of the Year at the 2022 Australia Day Awards by the Kangaroo Island Council.

It has been humbling to attend World Red Cross Day celebrations at Government House on the 9th of May 2022 to receive a State Humanitarian Award 2022 from the Australian Red Cross for my fundraising and community work with Humans of Kangaroo Island, the documentary film ‘January 3rd’ and the ongoing relationship and cooperation with the Red cross.

An unwanted heaviness

Dreaming about big things is what is natural to human beings. We yearn to travel the world, run our own business, be successful, have a family, be rich, be strong, be smart; the list of goals and dreams is endless.

When I first left school, I just wanted to follow my dreams—even though I am not sure I really knew what they were then. I wanted to follow my passions but had I really gotten to know myself good enough yet to even understand what they were? I longed to be successful in everything I do—the natural dream of a perfectionist.

Have you ever thought about what success really means? Success is something different for every single one of us. Every person defines success as something they have learned when growing up. Maybe it was the way their parents lived their life, and it looked good, it looked successful. Perhaps they had seen a movie or read an inspiring book and felt like this was their calling as well.

At that stage, and that age, I defined success as being wealthy, popular and busy. If you are really busy, you are wanted and needed by many people. You must have skills others want or adore so therefore you are successful. I laugh at that now. And I often wish I could write my 20-year-old self a letter. But then I think, ‘what would I write?’ Do I want her to know it all already? Do I want her to not fail? Do I want her to have all the answers and miss the challenges and the learnings? No.

She was fantastic. My innocent, naive 20-year-old me was amazing. She didn’t fear because she hadn’t fallen, she didn’t give up because she hadn’t even started, she was excited because there were opportunities.

If you can dream it, you can do it.

Walt Disney

Well, guess what, 20-year-old me? You achieved all of that. You didn’t just dream it, you lived it. You grabbed opportunities, you picked yourself up when you had fallen, you re-invented yourself hundreds of times. You’ve proven that nothing is bigger than your determination. I adore you, girl.

I used to dream about travelling the world, working overseas, being successful, happily married with children and being content.

She doesn’t need a letter. But I need one now. I wish she could send me one from back then, saying ‘Remember to never give up. Remember to follow your dreams.’ I need to constantly reassure myself that this is the way the universe has planned it all. This is my path, my journey, my learnings.

My bucket list used to be endless. I wanted to hike in Spain, swim in Thailand, learn surfing in Australia, snorkel in the Philippines, go on a hot air balloon ride, see the Opera, fly in a helicopter and learn one of my five (second) languages properly.

A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers.

Suzy Kassem

A list like this should continue, it should grow as you’re ticking things off. My list is very bare at the moment, and I hate that feeling. I long to dream more again. Right now, there is only one big wish on it, one big dream: I want to arrive.

I want to have a home again. I want to nest. I want to sleep in my bed, use my pots, stoke my fire, and watch my garden grow. But here I am, at 37, and I feel exhausted. This year has brought me close to my knees. I still have energy left, I know. For you, my 20-year-old self, I will never give up. I know this is what I am meant to experience, this is what is shaping the person I am meant to be. Stronger, wiser, more kind, more patient and more grateful.

These last few weeks, I have been feeling emotional because our little family has been living apart for nearly eleven months. I am feeling anxious because summer is coming and the anniversary of my biggest challenge yet is looming way too close. I am feeling impatient because it’s time to have a house. I am feeling restless because I am itching to move along. To get out of this time of standstill and run for my goals again. I am dreading Christmas as it means so much to me and I can’t imagine celebrating it the usual way somewhere else this year. Things need to change, I need to lift myself; I need to pick myself up. I need the 20-year-old me inside of my soul teach me again how to dream BIG and go for it. Just go for it.

I have had so many learnings this year, through so many challenges, and it made me extremely appreciative and grateful of all the little things in life. Because once you are down, really down there, there is only one way to go: UP.

Watch me, universe. Watch me rise from the ashes.

Sometimes you just have to die a little inside in order to be reborn and rise again as a stronger and wiser version of you.


TADAAAAA – we have a new GoFundMe Update

Thank you to all those of you still thinking of us and asking for an update of our current situation.

We are all healthy and have been for months. Covid-19 did not affect us as much as many of you others out there around the globe, we are very lucky to be naturally isolated on Kangaroo Island over here.
Since the last update, we have purchased a second hand tractor and Ben worked endless 20-hour days to turn the old blue gum plantation into land ready for a crop. After finally finishing the boundary fence in April, the oats has been sown last week. It is a completely new way of farming to us as we previously only ever had sheep on our land. Weeks of rock and stump picking, ploughing, harrowing, more rock and stump picking and fertilising the land. Ben is now also spraying and slashing the green paddocks, there is never a shortage of work. Sheep are still not affordable for us at this stage, with the price through the roof and no internal fencing on our farm yet, we have decided to wait it out until the end of this year to bring back some stock. Let’s hope the good and wet weather conditions out West will help our crop bring us some sort of income this year. Ben is still living on the farm most of the week, the children and me are still in Kingscote and missing him a lot. This will most probably stay this way for the remainder of the year, but we hope to find time for some house planning soon. We are still absolutely amazed by the generosity and interest of people from all around the globe, we have appreciated the many helping hands to get us back on track. We still haven’t given up hope to thank maybe a few people personally in 2020, depending on travel regulations and how far we are allowed to go.
Thank you all for your ongoing support, we couldn’t do it without you.

Danke an alle, die immer noch an uns denken und mich regelmaessig nach einem Update fragen. Hier ist es nun endlich.

Uns geht es allen gut, wir sind alle gesund geblieben und haben hier von der Corona Krise wenig mitbekommen. Seit dem letzten Update haben wir einen Traktor aus zweiter Hand gekauft und Ben ist ununterbrochen 20-Stunden-Tage auf und ab gefahren und hat die ehemalige Plantage in nutzbares Land verwandelt. Nachdem im April endlich der Aussenzaun fertig war, haben wir nun auch den Hafer gesaeht. Der Anbau ist fuer uns ein komplett neues Projekt, eine komplett neue Erfahrung fuer uns mit wochenlangem Steine schleppen, Boden mehrfach umgraben und Duenger verteilen, denn wir hatten bisher immer nur Schafe. Leider sind diese noch immer unerschwinglich und heiss begehrt seit den Feuern und wir haben daher beschlossen den Winter und Regen zu nutzen, um wenigstens etwas mit dem Land zu tun und vielleicht wenigstens noch einen kleinen Profit mit der Farm zu machen in 2020. Ben lebt noch immer mind. 6 Tage die Woche auf der Farm, waehrend die Kinder und ich noch immer in Kingscote leben. Das wird auch fuer das Restjahr erstmal so bleiben. Wir werden demnaechst anfangen, den Hausbau zu planen, da wir nun etwas mehr Zeit dafuer haben, waehrend der Hafer vor sich hin waechst. Wir sind noch immer ueberwaeltigt, von der Anteilnahme, den Spenden und den vielen hilfreichen Haenden, die uns helfen wieder auf unsere Farm zurueck zu kehren. Wir haben die Hoffnung noch nicht aufgegeben vielleicht noch nach Deutschland zu duerfen in 2020, um uns wenigstens bei einigen von euch persoenlich zu bedanken.

Danke fuer die dauerhafte mentale Unterstuetzung, ohne Euch waere das alles ein noch viel haerter Weg.

Raising bilingual children while becoming multi-linguistic myself

When I first intended on raising my children bilingual, I had only lived in Australia for about three-and-a-half years and even though my English was very very good, I was still predominantly dreaming and thinking in German.

It was a few years ago, when I felt the switch happen. I started to NOT blend out the radio commentary (that used to be challenging to follow—especially during sport) and actively enjoy, laugh about and listen to the on air conversations. I had to suddenly think hard about the right German word during FaceTime conversations with my family and would more than often slip in an English word instead. The same happened slowly when I was talking to my children.

Now 8 years on, the pages have turned for me as much as for them. I have to publicly admit: I think in English, I dream in English, I translate words from English to German in a conversation with another German.

I myself have turned into a bilingual person and even though I am a native German speaker, English has now outrun my language roots. And it’s getting harder every day. I actively choose English books over German ones—because I find them easier to read. I barely watch any of my childhood favourites anymore but instead explore the huge variety of English kids movies with my own children to watch something new. And as you can see, I have chosen to write in English as well. So what the hell is going on?

I married a monolingual and I am purposely raising bilingual kids. And while German is my native language, it’s not the language I speak best (anymore); I especially struggle with writing my thoughts down. Because my thoughts are now in English. I have to work hard every day to stay in “German mode.”

I used to only occasionally slip and sometimes respond to my kids in English. I always went back to German and made sure it’s the language they hear me speak the majority of the time. But nowadays it’s kind of in reverse. I predominantly speak English with them—as much at home as when out and about seeing friends—and have to force myself to slip back into German.

My parents are proud of me for raising bilingual kids. They love that they can speak to their grandchildren in German. But they can see what is happening too. The longer the kids have been in school, the less they want to speak German with my parents on the phone. They now start to avoid conversations entirely; they run away from the video chat and hide or just pull funny faces. I can tell they feel embarrassed that they have nothing to say—even though they have so much they would love to share.

I get it. I feel embarrassed towards my family over there too. I feel like I am not putting in enough effort, I feel like I am letting my family down, I worry my kids will forget. Especially during these challenging times where I don’t know when we get to go over next to practice German. That used to be my flimsy excuse. “They don’t use it much here but they understand all the words and as soon as we are back over in Germany, they’ll slot right back in.” So I thought. So I hoped. But should I rely on that? NO!

So why do I keep using English with them?

Apart from a traumatic experience at the start of this year that has completely frazzled me for months and turned my usually organised brain into mush, there must be another reason why I suddenly, but especially since, have found it so much harder to keep my early efforts going.

What I’ve come to understand is that it’s not my fault. In fact, it’s the kids that are triggering my English.

Bilingual speakers are conditioned to respond to whatever language they’re spoken to. They’re able to switch back and forth between languages without thinking and they readily adapt to the triggers in their environment. Because my kids are most comfortable in English, if they know the person they’re speaking to speaks and understands it, that’s the language they’ll use, which then naturally triggers an English reply. Only a person intent on using one language over another can override that trigger.

Before I recognised what was going on, I used to get really upset at myself. We often had German friends and family come stay with us that would automatically use English with my kids, even while they know the children can understand them in their language too well. I used to get really upset at those visitors too. Raising bilingual kids is hard enough in an English-dominant environment and I need all the help I can get. But it is my challenge, not theirs.

It is extremely important to find other passionate mums and dads raising bilingual kids, who are able to ignore the dominant language triggers. Finding your own bilingual tribe is a massive part of making the journey for myself and my kids easier.

Living in an english-speaking country, I can’t avoid my kids overhearing me speak English with my friends and theirs. English is our family language at the dinner table. Plus I can’t refuse helping them with their homework—practising spelling and reading in English.

Over here, according to the 2016 census, 72.7% of Australians speak English and 21% speak a language other than English at home or have learned a second language for work.

The stereotype of english-speaking countries not wanting to learn a second language isn’t accurate. I have seen first-hand that the desire and interest in especially Australia is there and the interest in dual language education is not only growing but also has three separate audience components over here; indigenous groups and their languages, immigrant groups and their languages, and mainstream English speakers seeking additive language study.

I am very proud of my language abilities and that I have managed to become bilingual myself—without my parents teaching me two languages at home. Though I still feel very connected to and proud of my culture and my roots. It has given me a skill that opens up options and opportunities. I need to commit more, work harder, and through my commitment to raising them bilingual, I hope to do this for my kids.

I wish one day they will keep this going. Open up more opportunities for themselves and their kids here and on a global basis. Kind of my legacy; speak German and English now and teach it to their children, who can then practice with me—hopefully.

Who am I after the fires?

Did I ever think afterwards, So this is how my life turned out, this is who I am, a homeless mother of two?

No, you’re just so busy surviving, you don’t think about those things. The view of your world changes, though. I now meet people and wonder what kind of grief, tragedy or disappointment are they dealing with right now?

The most extraordinary thing during this tragedy for us was the community support. We always knew we lived in a wonderful place full of amazing people but what happened after we lost our home, no one could have prepared us for.

Friends and family overseas started fundraisers, locals here came by to drop off anything from beds, meals, clothes, toys, books to tools, dog kennels, bikes to trampolines and chickens. Local businesses wanted to help and gave vouchers and freebies to all affected families on a scale completely unexpected. Strangers from all around the world travelled to our small island paradise not to go on holidays but to get their work gear on and help us fence, clean up dead and injured animals, pick up millions of nails and put a smile on our faces. The generosity of everyone was overwhelming but greatly appreciated and definitely needed. And never did I wonder, what are they going through right now? Is there a reason why some are so passionately helping, why it’s become a core need for them to be part of our recovery?

In the early days, we had no idea what we actually needed and even after weeks worth of donations flooded in, no idea what we already had. The need of the community to bring us back to where we were was extremely heartwarming and I have never felt so close to people I barely knew ever before in my life.

You never really know the true impact you have on those around you. You never know how much someone needed that smile you gave them. You never know how much your kindness turned someone’s entire life around. You never know how much someone needed that long or deep talk. So don’t wait to be kind. Don’t wait for someone else to be kind first. Don’t wait for better circumstances or for someone to change. Just be kind, because you never know how much someone needs it.

~ Nikki Banas

In the midst of all this anguish, it was hard to be the one to console others, trying to diffuse any awkwardness when first meeting again even though you think you are the person suffering most.

There were many friends feeling guilty about having been ‘spared’ by the fires and therefor didn’t want to ask how we were going. They thought we would have hard feelings towards those in ‘luck’ of still having a home. Having friends avoid you for fear of not knowing what to say or do was one of the worst things in the aftermath of losing our home.

If I thought someone was genuinely a good friend, and you had shared a lot of experience with them, and they avoided you, that really hurt. I could sort of understand, but at the same time, it’s another part of loss. You’ve lost whatever you had but then people just drop out, and instantly there’s more loss. There’s nothing anyone could say, no matter how badly it came out, that could be as bad as what’s already happened to you. So it’s much better for people to just let you know that they’re there to help, if you need it. For people to show that they’re still there is the most important thing.

Because often people would say things, like they didn’t want to bring it up because “I didn’t want to remind you of it.” And you’d think, Oh yeah, I would have forgotten all about it.

… theory is that people become paralysed because they want to offer something authentic or meaningful and they fear not delivering.

~ Leigh Sales

Fortunately some of them came and cried with us whilst telling about their feelings and I could console them and say ‘I am SO glad you still have your home. Imagine the sheer size of this tragedy if now there was NOWHERE for us to go and have a cuppa anymore. No one who could donate some spare clothes or pre-cooked meals to help out in the early days and no one mentally strong enough to help us rebuild for months and months after all this.’ We need our neighbours and friends’ places that were narrowly missed by the ferocious beast of a fire, to look at their houses, get ideas and make some plans for a new future home.

I think life is both good and bad simultaneously. You have good moments during the hard times as much as you have hard moments during the good times.

I also believe that there is a positive that can be drawn out of every negative. Loosing your home isn’t an experience I wish upon anyone or would recommend to start seeing the better in life, but it has certainly given me a new perspective of the here and now. I have since asked myself the question “What am I waiting for?” in multiple aspects of my life and have come to the conclusion (like so many before me) that no day is promised and I only have one life.

I now listen more, not just to what people are saying but to what they are really saying. Their faces, their body language, their reactions, their messages, texts, Facebook posts. I feel I have fine tuned myself to action and reaction, personal growth and respect for other people’s problems.

But I have also started to listen more to myself. What do I need, who am I, where do I want to go, who do I want to be, what can I do to help and give back to all those that lit up my darkest days? Losing your security blankets does that to you and even though it was a tragic time that now feels like a long gone nightmare, it was real and it taught me lots.

Yes, I am a homeless mother of two.

But it’s just a label and I won’t let any of these words define me. I can be anyone I want. I can be anyone I’m dreaming to be. I have been inspired to be a better version of myself. Do I have a roof over my head? Yes. Am I worried to end up sleeping under a bridge? No way. If this has taught me anything, it’s that the universe has my back. And in saying that I don’t mean an unknown force out there somewhere, I mean the people. The people who have been there through it all and care. For a while in the early days after the fire, I wondered how we would deal with the work load and the emotional challenges once people have forgotten about us again. I now have realised, that they won’t. I am not alone and that feeling gives me so much comfort and a sense of security, that I know we will be okay.

So have you ever asked yourself, who am I or who do I want to be?

Travel ‘Covid-19 Style’ – Eating our way around the world

Once the Coronavirus pandemic started to reach Australia and we had found out about many infections on cruise ships, I took my children out of school a couple of weeks before the Easter school holidays started mainly as a precaution to protect others because I had been in contact with cruise ship visitors coming into my father-in-laws honey shop in town. I wanted to do the right thing and make sure not to spread the virus just in case I was one of those showing no symptoms.

About 10 days into our home schooling journey without much set material, I tried to come up with a way of teaching the kids what I was most passionate about and combining all those things. Travel, geography, language and food.

Because all international travel had been restricted and later on prohibited, I was trying to show the beauty of this world to my children and experience the ‘holiday effect’ from home.

Being from overseas myself and bringing my children up bilingual, we all have a huge interest in other languages naturally. So it was no surprise to them when one morning they got up, I had made a big German breakfast with bread rolls, butter, jam, boiled eggs, orange juice and yoghurt and talked only my mother language. They just went with the flow and asked me trillions of questions while we were eating.

Following on from that, we had a big breakfast of pancakes, crispy bacon and eggs and enjoyed practising funky ways of saying ‘Howdy partner’ trying to copy the American accent.

Many more laughs followed the next day over warm croissants, butter, jam and hot chocolate remembering all the French Wwoofers (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) that had stayed with us in our old home, singing “Frère Jacques” and recounting how many french words the kids still knew. (It was three only, ‘Salut’, ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Ca va’, but not bad for 5 and 7 year olds).

Breakfast number four was from home ground and a popular staple in our household: a nice warm porridge made from Kangaroo Island oats, grown and harvested by our local friends the Morgan’s and topped with fresh fruit and almond milk. We laughed about all the abbreviated slang words Aussies like to use and crowned our family favourite as ‘Choccy biccy’. (even though Dad would argue and choose ‘Accadacca’ over it any day)

So on the 6th of April 2020, I posted a shout-out to all my friends far and wide to get some help:

Hello friends around the globe, my kids and me have had German, Aussie, French and American breakfast the last few days and now they want to eat their way around the world while we’re at home and can’t travel. Can you share your breakfast photos with us please so we can copy it and get to know different cultures? Thank you.

This idea received a lot of great feedback and a whooping 62 picture comments from friends and family as far away as Costa Rica, Malaysia, Samoa, Turkey and the UK. Now the only question remaining was, where to start?

Because ingredients weren’t all that easy to get during this pandemic, and especially rice and flour was not available in our local supermarket for a while, I decided to just make do with what we have in house and wing it a bit.

I showed my children all the brekky pictures on offer and they chose their next ‘experiment’: Breakfast number 5 came from Fiji.

(…) We had a sticky messy start and some serious problem solving after using too much water and having run out of flour. After finding a solution, we watched a travel video about Fiji while I cooked the Babakau. We learned how to say hello in Fijian and how beautiful it is there, what the capital is and how many islands are part of it. The Fijian pancakes (how my daughter called them) were a hit but next time we will have to try the real deal over there (kids are now super keen to go) (…) very fun morning and very filling. Enough food made for 3 mornings! (…)

What my kids ACTUALLY learned, and most importantly still remember through this little exercise, was the following:

  • Fiji is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean (we looked it up on a real map, if you have one of those still lying around somewhere – otherwise your local library will).
  • Fiji consists of a whooping 333 islands but only 110 of them are permanently inhabited.
  • The population of Fiji is 1 million and the capital is called Suva.
  • You receive a flower necklace when you arrive there because people are real friendly in Fiji and they do amazing dances and music. The beaches look nearly as good as on Kangaroo Island (quote my son) but they have palm trees everywhere.
  • Their language is real easy (quote my daughter) and a few weeks on we still love to say ‘Bula’ (means ‘Hello’) to everyone and can’t actually wait to meet a real Fijian person to try it on. (look out Carlos!)

If YOU would like to try out the delicious Fijian version of a pancake too, please click here for the recipe we used.

Easter Sunday we decided to go to Cypress for breakfast number 6. My mother-in-law lived there for three years as a young child when her father was stationed there with the Navy and it was a real trip down memory lane. As we had all been separately self-isolating for 14 days just two houses apart and not been in contact with anyone else, we decided we should be safe to share this meal together. We had home made crusty bread, grilled haloumi, home made butter, home grown watermelon and olives. The kids learned that Nana used to spit her watermelon seeds just behind her chair over there during each meal and lots of them grew later on which my kids wanted to try out here straight away too. (the difference being they used to eat outside in the Mediterranean)

The next few weeks, the kids were real troopers trying out whatever I put in front of them and whenever I could score some rice, we travelled somewhere to Asia. We had Nasi Lemak (Malaysia – number 7), Silog (Phillipines – number 8) and Gallo Pinto (Costa Rica – number 9, but without the special banana as it was unfortunately not available here). I don’t think my kids were QUITE into the rice breakfasts but they definitely liked learning the different ways of saying ‘Hello’ around the world, from ‘Hola’ (Spanish) to ‘Kamusta’ (Filipino) and ‘hello’ (Malay – what a shocker!).

Breakfasts number 10 and 11 were a big hit with the little ones. We first travelled to Turkey and I greeted them with ‘Selam’, served crusty bread, tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, jam, butter, fried eggs, bacon and haloumi. This was certainly a breakfast for champions or a big family but we should’ve made the Turks proud. We looked at the beautiful buildings and vast markets that line the streets of every turkish town, learning that some of those mosques had been build by hand entirely over 400 years ago. Numbers tricked us to believe we knew the capital of this country to later found out we were wrong (dare you to look it up!).

So this week we had breakfast in Samoa, and this one was a comfort food, perfect for a rainy day. Koko Alaisa (also called ‘Koko Rice’) is exactly what you think when you hear the name. A delicious but naughty chocolate rice dish that any child would choose over Weetbix on a daily basis but pay for at the dentist later. Definitely one of my kids’ favourites, the Samoan culture fascinated them as much as the Fijian but the language was challenging. ‘Talofa’ seems easy but wait until you learn what the standard answer would be for it or how to continue the conversation.

If you would like to try Koko Rice, click here for the recipe we used.

This trip around the world so far has been very enjoyable – and cheap. It is a great way to pass time during this challenging year while learning about cultures, religions, geography, language and food. And I believe it is also a way of learning the kids will forever remember, using their senses, to see, to taste, to smell, to feel.

Next week we are off to Uganda, Pakistan, Italy and the UK and we would love to hear if you are packing your kitchen suitcase as well to explore this wonderful world of food variety.

Please leave a comment below if you have any other breakfast recommendations for us or would like me to pass on a recipe we used.

Enjoy this time at home with your children if you can until we are all too busy for it again.

Goodbye, Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Paalam, Selamat tinggal, Gule Gule, Moce ni sa moce, Tofa, Adios.

Anzac Day gratitude for bushfire support by Australian and New Zealand army forces

This year has been the first year for me, a German immigrant to Australia, to fully feel the impact and importance of the Australian and NZ army forces and feel the gratitude many feel on Anzac Day. I never really got it before.

It might be because in my country we feel like we aren’t allowed to be patriotic, sing the German national anthem at school anymore or hang out flags on national holidays. Most Germans would love to do it, as we are a generation that doesn’t feel the guilts of the two world wars anymore, but we won’t out of respect. And fear. Fear that maybe someone might say we have nothing to be proud of, nothing to celebrate, nothing to show off.

Our grandparents and great grandparents went to war for a person that created hatred towards our own and that hate kept him on top for far too long. Many went to war because they didn’t understand or didn’t even know what was really going on but they defended our land, our people, their families and their freedom – the freedom they thought they had. It was a group movement and peer pressure, it was a nation brain washed by a minority and I know lots of those that were and are still ashamed of it.

But Germany is so much more than that. Us Germans are great at so many things. We are very organised, tidy and disciplined in every aspect of our lives. We like routines, procedures and structure. We succeed on a global level in economy, sports, education. But the only time we ever proudly stand united and sing our anthem out loud is during international soccer matches – when it’s not political and we hope not to be judged. We stand strong and united as we should be.

The rest of the time we hide our flags and don’t parade our traditions. Try not to hurt feelings of those hurt a century ago. The Jews, the English, the French, too many to list so we stay quiet.

But is it time to be forgiven and do what other countries do?

Every year Australians and New Zealanders, every generation from young to old, gets out early on Anzac Day, light a candle, wear their poppies and those deserving their war medals, parade the streets and memorials far and wide and remember those that fought for freedom, fought in wars, died young, made these countries what they are now and are grateful for the sacrifice. People here are proud to be Aussie and kiwi, proud to sing their anthem at assemblies and at home, any day. It’s a beautiful thing. And it makes me emotional and teary for my country.

This year we got to meet the soldiers of the armed forces in person. Australian and New Zealand army personnel came to Kangaroo Island after the devastating bushfires to help clean up, keep people save and start the rebuild. But what they also did was bring back the spirit. Meeting these hard working, sincere soldiers that would work from dawn to dusk while leaving their own families behind back home, to help us move forward and stay positive, was magical. Meeting the young, the old, the boys and girls, selflessness written all over their broad chests with a big grin on their faces every day. And it lighting up more if they could make a child smile that just lost it all, it’s house, home, toys, animals.

I am forever grateful to them for taking my kids for a ride in the army tank on one of the hardest days in their life so far. The fun took the shadows away, the smiles took the tears away and for that I salute you. Thank you soldiers, everywhere. Lest we forget.

My 7 year old son reminiscing today

I had to get over my grief

It is amazing how many stages of grief a person can go through in a very short time. Grieving anything, or anyone can be individually heartbreaking but also cleansing and full of personal growth.

The day my husband returned to us to tell us we were now a homeless family – after everything he had been through that day already – he tried to easy my pain by showing me some of the treasures he managed to save before the house burned down.

This picture of our house and yard in full bloom was one of them.

I didn’t have the heart that day and for many weeks to come to tell him that I didn’t ever want to see that photo again, think about it or even hang it up elsewhere to forever remind me of our wonderful lost home. I couldn’t face my feelings and the memories of good times, happier times, times when we had no idea what challenges our friends, neighbours and us will have to endure in the future.

The future is here now. A future where the government tells us to stay home, mocks all of us that have lost so much in the summer bushfire disasters and are craving for our places of comfort.

So I put the picture up, to look at, to dream again, to remember what has been and will be. Because we are strong, we are okay, we can do this and so much more. On Kangaroo Island we are the lucky ones, we still have plenty of room, a big nature playground, space to ourselves everywhere to enjoy the sun, the freedom, the joys in life, so much to look forward to and so much to be grateful for.

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to I’m now grateful he saved this picture, this memory, for us and forever.

Happy Easter. From me and mine to you and yours. X

Our wedding anniversary marks a new beginning

After way too much social distancing from my husband the last two weeks due to fencing on the farm, I decided to visit him today for our wedding anniversary to give each other a much needed hug, drop off many frozen meals, look at the cleaned up house site and support him in all the hard work he’s done for weeks now.

Yesterday our family home of 12 years, the house my husband’s grandparents built in the 1950s and 3 generations of the Davis family had lived in, was finally cleaned up by the official government funded asbestos clean up team more than 2 months after we lost it during the biggest bushfire disaster Kangaroo Island has ever seen.

Seeing the house gone brings up many emotions. Sadness on one hand that THIS IS IT, our house is GONE, all memories burned and cleaned and buried in a big hole on the island together with lots of our friends’ memories. There is no going back, there is no saving it anymore, we have to let go. And relief on the other that it is FINALLY gone and we can move on. Not look at it anymore every time we arrive for a new clean up and rebuild day on the farm. Not look at it anymore stunned that this really happened to us. And to so many of our neighbours and friends.

It was time. Time to move on, time to look into the future, never forget but stop to grieve and be excited for the new things to come.

We’ve had 8 wonderful married years so far, this one is the most challenging one for us but after the fires I know that nothing can break us.

Tell your family every day what they mean to you. Today could be your last day or theirs. Love is all you need.

Life after ‘our fire’ as the wife of a volunteer fire fighter

January 11th 2020

Here I am again. It’s 10.30pm.
I only just realised I hadn’t eaten dinner (or breakfast).

So I opened one of the cans the Red Cross gave us to have an easy meal and avoid cooking. I hate the smell of food with my gut in knots for days, nothing wants to go down, especially when eating alone.

Another night I’m eating food someone gave me, while I’m staying at someone else’s place, wearing someone else’s clothes and hoping my husband will return from someone else’s place after fighting fires AGAIN since early this morning. No contact all day due to towers being down, no idea where he is and telling the kids ‘ Dad will be fine’ like every other night – even though I’m not sure it is true. Or even if we are.

Dad has hardly been home in 3 weeks, now there’s no home to come home to anymore, and now he can’t even sleep when back here as we’re all haunted by this new everyday nightmare. Waking up at night thinking someone else needs help, thinking there’s smoke in the air, restless, worried, drained.

I haven’t listened to music or watched anything on tv for over a week as it doesn’t feel right in this new survival mode routine.

During the day I pretend life is as normal as it gets – for the kids- brave face, happy strained smile, organising activities all day. Meeting up with my other homeless friends to share the emotional load and distract all our children, talk about this shit and create a new ‘normal’. No end in sight, summer for another 2-3 months, no substantial rain in the near future, and all I want is a normal evening with my husband while we do something as boring as watching cricket and having an argument. Hell how I miss having an argument with him.

Australians, I adore your spirit, go you farm units, awesome volunteer firefighters risking their lives for their friends every day all day while losing or having lost everything already, no income to follow, many obstacles – but you keep rocking it. Go Australia! Beat this beast. #kifires #australiaisburning