Category Archives: FAMILY

Living in a ‘limbo': Raising Third Culture Kids.


What do I mean by ‘trouble with third-culture kids‘?

Right now I’m simply trying to collect my thoughts into one piece, because attempting to answer this question has become my life task. I joke with my three children that I was only a woman before they were brought into my life. they made me turned into something completely different, the somehow scary concept of a parent… Not easy to be a parent, and even harder the ongoing duty of raising (well) kids that are wholeheartedly part of a hybrid scenario.

The so-called hybrid culture, a moving creature, a living chimera who’s not only part of their lives, but also defines who they (the children) are, the way they behave, how they interact with the (current) society, how they understand and express their feelings…

This past week the children went to visit their new school, and participated in a short orientation activity with same-age/same grade kids. They were asked to introduce themselves, and mention where they were coming from, their previous school/country,  stating their nationality.

My oldest was born in the US, and seems to have strong ties to the country thru sports, aligning himself with the ‘American’ culture. He’d also tell you he’s Brazilian – got a Brazilian-American mom and embraces the culture here. My surprise that day at school, came from my 1st-grader: when students originally from Brazil where called to stand up, she remained sited. The same happened when US kids were called to introduced themselves. Finally, when she heard, ‘now, children from Africa’, she jumped out of her seat, displaying a big and proud smile… Yes, she was born in South Africa, while our family was leaving/working in Mozambique. She left the country before she turned 2. But her allegiances to her ‘African past’ are remarkably strong – the culture, the music, the dances – she lives thru the stories we tell her from the time our family spent there. Who knows why? and, as long as she’s happy, we’re happy, despite our utterly lack of understanding. Maybe, for now, the answers will just confuse us…

As a parent, I’ve become aware of this ‘chimera’ my children represent. Sometimes I feel I don’t know them, and it’s not their fault – I simply don’t find the correct way to address their growing needs; how to respond to their sadness and anger; how to deal with their mood swings during the transitions, the constant moves, the new places, the losses of old friends…

I recently read a guest post written by Nina Sichel, introducing on one of publications, which referred to third-culture children living in a ‘limbo‘. Throughout the text, there was the comment on the ‘layers of loss’ a TCK experiences – according to Nina Sichel, those layers run deep – friends, schools, favorite places, pets… and again, now I’m wearing my ‘concerned parent hat’, seeking ways to address these losses with my kids, already knowing they will happen over and over…

Our family has relocated to our new post assignment – today marks the end of our second week in Brasília. My children are comfortable with Portuguese, and have been able to make a feel new friends during Summer Camp here. They seem happy, they’d adjusting, and yet, they’re struggling… I can tell from their little faces they’re trying hard, they’re no quitters, but sometimes the lack of (self) understanding  turns into and default. They look up to us (the parents) for answers we do not carry… We knew it would be like this, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, no transition is, but we’re here for them, even though, my husband and I are still trying to figure things out: socially, emotionally… I have no evidence, our family dynamics feels a tad disjoint, but time and patience will hopefully be good allies throughout the process… Time, patience, acceptance, and love – our travel companions :o

(Note: Thanks again to Nina Sichel’s article, and for her book, the inspiration for this ‘parental op-piece’).

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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in children, FAMILY, foreign service, TCKs


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Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Life at the New Post.

Greetings from Brasilia!


After several weeks of ‘transitional homes’ we safely made it to our permanent housing assignment. And why is it important to mention it is a ‘permanent house’? Maybe for the curious ones, with friends cruising thru the joys of the Foreign Service life, there’ll be a long explanation out there waiting to be spelled out. :o For now, it’s enough saying we’re glad we don’t have to move to a difference residence. We’re comfortable and settled down. At least, as comfortable as possible – kids have enrolled into a Summer camp program, and we’re getting to know new families, learning the ropes for the city…

What and where to find our immediate needs for the house (forgot to mention that, although we like our ‘new place’, it’s pretty bare, hence the need to go out and buy not only groceries, but trash cans, cleaning products… You name it!).

The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia
The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia

Despite all the usual initial difficulties, inherent to the nature of the move, we believe we’ll have a nice time here. That’s the ultimate hope. We now have cable TV and internet – a great milestone! Kids have already made friends with some other children who would likely be attending the same school. We’re trying to build our own niche, despite the smell of fresh coat of paint that greets us every time we come back to the house… :)

I believe we’ll be happy here – at least we’ll try… Right now, wearing my most-hopeful-foreign service-spouse hat… The only one I was able to fit on our suitcase… Yeap, the same suitcase I’ve been living out of, for the past 8 weeks… But, who’s counting, right? :)

Now, let me get back to checking on my 3 little ones – just heard some clapping, so, I’m assuming the movie outside-and-popcorn event just ended – will go hug my kids with the most thankful smile to the Summer Camp supervisors and organizers: they enabled this very busy mom to enjoy some quiet time (and a coffee!), while getting back on the blogosphere horse!

Ate mais!


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Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Random Thoughts on Home Leave

Well, we’re back in Washington, DC – the last part of our ‘transitional’ Home Leave, surviving thru the perks of living out of our suitcases since May 19… but you know, not bad at all! :o No complaints on hauling our three children around, departing La Paz, Bolivia, heading to California for some family catch up… taking the kiddos to Disneyland and Legoland, surviving the long lines, the screaming, the cries for attention and for over-priced popcorn… picking up a few family members along the way, driving all of us to witness in loco the magnificent views offered by the Grand Canyon… and flying back to the East Coast… much has happened, and definitely, no time to spare… not even for blogging!

Need to do a better job trying to catch up with our lives… Haven’t had much free time, I must admit – the little ones keep me on my toes, and as any parent around here must know, Summer Break has all of us [parents] pulling our hair trying to find educational, recreational, interesting and fun activities for our lovies, during this time… it’s work, people… and we’ve been doing this for some 5 weeks already.. again… living out of suitcases, staying with family, long car rides… a few car sicknesses along the way… always fun! :o

Now, it’s home stretch – a few days in the DC area, and we head out to our newest work and life adventure – Brasília, the capital of Brazil [yeap, the beautiful country that just put out the most unbelievable performance during the recent World Soccer Cup - don't even get me started on that... as a Brazilian-born soccer-passionate soccer-mom-wife, I'm still recovering from the 'bad dream' many of us witnessed these past weeks...] Our family will be in Brasília for the next 3 years. Husband’s duty, as many wives/spouses here would relate and sympathize... :o

Presently writing from a government-per-diem-acceptpleasant hotel room, packed with my noisy and restless adorable and very understanding little children, enjoying some quite time while I gather my blogging thoughts together [who am I kidding?? And why do we need to have both TVs on, and so loud??] But, all in all, I guess we’re ready for what’s in store for us… let’s wait and see! :o

Classic pic, right? Gotta have your moment in the sun with Mr Mouse! A quick snapshot from our first stop during Home Leave 2014 - not-yet-tired parents at Disneyland!

Classic pic, right? Gotta have your moment in the sun with Mr Mouse! A quick snapshot from our first stop during Home Leave 2014 – not-yet-tired parents at Disneyland!




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14 Days to Depart Post…

I believe we’re ready to begin saying goodbye to Bolivia – our home for the past two years – with a big THANK YOU! :o







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Photography: Day Colors of the Desert in Uyuni, Bolivia.


Intriguing Rock Formation… not a Plant, Though!


A few days back, I’ve shared images here of the sun setting along the desert in Uyuni, during our trip through the largest Salt Flats in the world- the “Salar de Uyuni”. Now, sharing some images from the desert under it’s daylight colors…


Inspirational post:



View from the Salt Hotel Luna Salada, in Uyuni. Images are the result of my dear husband’s endless patience and search for natural beauty. Photos are unaltered.


Posted by on April 26, 2014 in ART, BOLIVIA, FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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Photography: [Big] Kids, Salt & Fun, where the sky and ground merge!



Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers. It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters above mean sea level.



The flats, located in Southern Bolivia near the country’s Tunupa volcano, and our recent family vacation destiny, make up the world’s largest salt desert.



The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness.



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Photography: Sunset Over the Desert in Uyuni, Bolivia.



View from the Salt Hotel Luna Salada, in Uyuni. Images are the result of my dear husband’s endless patience and search for natural beauty. Photos are unaltered.


Posted by on April 21, 2014 in ART, BOLIVIA, FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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Photography: Surreal snapshot of the ‘Laguna Colorada’, Bolivia.

Red Lagoon - the 'Laguna Colorada' in Uyuni, with its characteristic surrounding flora and fauna...

Red Lagoon – the ‘Laguna Colorada’ in Uyuni, with its characteristic surrounding flora and fauna…


Posted by on April 20, 2014 in BOLIVIA, FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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Photography: Árbol de Piedra [The Rock Tree]

Árbol de Piedra (“rock tree”) is an isolated rock formation in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve of Sur Lípez Province, Bolivia. Much photographed, it projects out of the altiplano sand dunes of Siloli in the Potosí Department, about 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Laguna Colorada. Also known as the “Stone Tree,” it is shaped like a stunted tree, and is formed into a thin rock because of strong winds and the material is sand stone.


Posted by on April 19, 2014 in BOLIVIA, FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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Early Easter Egg Hunt with the Marines!

Festa de Páscoa antecipada com os fuzileiros – Missão Americana em La Paz


Posted by on April 13, 2014 in BOLIVIA, children, FAMILY, photography


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“Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time” Book Review by Brigid Schulte

A couple of weeks back, during my ‘usual morning routine at work’,  I stumbled upon a book review published on the Washington Post, under the ‘Parenting’ section, and found it so clear, so engaging, that I felt like ordering the book right then!

The review was written by Jennifer Howard, and today I received the ‘okay’ from the Washington Post editors to have it shared here – for the ones who didn’t have the same opportunity read it over there :o here is the link, and below, the full review. Enjoy as much as I did!


‘Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time’ by Brigid Schulte

By Jennifer Howard, Published: March 21
When did we get so busy? For many of us, life unspools as a never-ending to-do list. Wake up, pack lunches, get the kids to school, get ourselves to our jobs, work all day, collect the kids, make dinner, supervise homework, do the laundry, walk the dog, pay the bills, answer e-mail, crawl into bed for a few fitful hours of sleep, wake up already exhausted, then do it all over again. Weekends, which ought to be oases of leisure, have their own hectic rhythms: errands, chores, sports events, grocery shopping, exercise. Dispatch one task and six more take its place, a regenerating zombie army of obligations.

This brain-eating assault of to-dos leaves its victims wrung out, joyless, too tired to stop and smell the roses (which probably need pruning and mulching anyway — add that to the list). But “this is how it feels to live my life: scattered, fragmented, and exhausting,” Brigid Schulte writes early in “Overwhelmed,” her unexpectedly liberating investigation into the plague of busyness that afflicts us. “I am always doing more than one thing at a time and feel I never do any one particularly well. I am always behind and always late, with one more thing and one more thing and one more thing to do before rushing out the door.

She could be describing my days and probably yours, especially if you’re a working parent in the overcommitted middle part of life. Schulte, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post and the mother of two school-age kids, has a word for this shared unpleasantness: the Overwhelm. She takes her own harried-working-mom life as the jumping-off point for her research on where the Overwhelm comes from and what we can do about it.

Busyness has become so much the assumed default of many lives that it feels as elemental and uncontrollable as weather. So Schulte’s shocked when John Robinson, a University of Maryland sociologist known as Father Time, tells her that women have at least 30 hours of leisure a week, according to his time-use studies. She can’t reconcile that statistic with how her hours seem shredded into “time confetti — one big, chaotic burst of exploding slivers, bits, and scraps.” Nor does she believe it when Robinson tells her that we feel busy in part because we decide to feel busy.

Schulte quickly moves on to other researchers’ explorations of workplace culture, gender roles and time management, finding both reassurance and confirmation that she’s not making up the Overwhelm. She learns that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that “acts like a patient yet controlling kindergarten teacher,” shrinks under the neurochemical onslaught of constant stress. That lets the amygdala, “the seat of negative emotions like fear, aggression, and anxiety,” take over. Anyone who has ever yelled at her kids while searching frantically for the car keys 10 minutes after the family should have left the house understands this.

If the neuroscience Schulte reports is right, feeling busy all the time shrinks the better part of our brains. But busyness also delivers cultural rewards. We feel important when we’re always booked, according to researchers such as Ann Burnett, who has studied thousands of the holiday letters people send to trumpet the year’s accomplishments.

Burnett’s collection of letters, which date back to the 1960s, make up “an archive of the rise of busyness” as something to aspire to. As Burnett tells Schulte: “People are competing about being busy. It’s about showing status. That if you’re busy, you’re important. You’re leading a full and worthy life.” The more you do, the more you matter, or so the reigning cultural script goes.

That script dictates how many offices and homes run. At work, the cult of the always-available “ideal worker” still “holds immense power,” Schulte writes, even as more people telecommute and work flexible hours. The technology that untethers workers from cubicles also makes it very hard to not be on call at all times. (I’d have liked to see Shulte spend more time on how technology fuels the cult of busyness.)

Those who escape the “time cages” of traditional workplaces confront what Schulte calls “a stalled gender revolution” at home, with consequences especially burdensome for women. She cites work by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on how women’s time is “contaminated” by “keeping in mind at all times all the moving parts of kids, house, work, errands, and family calendar.”

Only in Denmark does Schulte find a culture that appears to balance work, home and play in a truly egalitarian way. Because “Overwhelmed” sticks closest to the experience of working American parents, she goes after the shameful lack of affordable child care in this country. She even interviews Pat Buchanan, who in the 1970s helped sabotage a bill that would have created universal child care.

While that’s a useful bit of policy history to contemplate, and one that still affects us today, the most engaging sections of “Overwhelmed” stick to the here and now and how we let the cult of busyness lay waste to our hours. “Contaminated” time eats away at leisure, according to researcher Ben Hunnicutt, and by “leisure” he does not mean hours spent parked on the sofa in front of the telly. Leisure, to Hunnicutt, means experiencing “the miracle of now” or “simply being open to the wonder and marvel of the present” — the sense of being alive, which no to-do list will ever capture.

Although it illuminates a painfully familiar experience, “Overwhelmed” doesn’t speak for or about everyone. It lingers most on the conditions under which middle-class mothers and fathers labor, but the Overwhelm afflicts the child-free, too. The working poor are stretched even thinner. And how workers in China or Indonesia or India or South Africa feel about the balance of their lives is understandably beyond Schulte’s scope, although Europeans make a few appearances.

The question raised by “Father Time” John Robinson nags at this book like a forgotten homework assignment. The further I read, the more I began to wonder how much of the Overwhelm is at least partly self-inflicted and to see opportunities to reclaim time. Like Jacob Marley’s ghost, we’ve forged chains of obligation that we drag around with us. But if we made those chains, we can loosen them too, as Schulte has tried to do, with some success. In an appendix, “Do One Thing,” she offers useful starting points, such as learning not to give your time away and setting clear expectations about what really needs to be accomplished. Not every to-do item is created equal.

Do our employers really expect us to be on call 24/7, tethered to our smartphones as if they were oxygen tanks? Just because we can check e-mail at all hours, should we? Do our offspring really need to be hauled around to every soccer game and music lesson? Does every last piece of laundry have to be folded and put away before we can sit down with a cup of coffee, stare out the window and daydream? As a neighbor said to me not long ago, your work e-mail can wait. Your life can’t.

Jennifer Howard , a fiction writer and journalist, is a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education.


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Hot off the Press! Featured Expat: Interviewed by the ExpatsBlog.

Expat InterviewsAfter reading, if you have any comments about the interview, or any questions to ask, hop over to the ExpatsBlog and share your thoughts there! Thank you!

American Expat Living in Bolivia – Interview with Raquel

The mastermind behind 3rdCultureChildren Blog is a Foreign Service spouse, mother of 3 third-culture children aged 8 and under, with an endless passion for discovering and learning new languages, cultures, traveling and photography. Before joining the foreign service lifestyle, her background in Science and research took her to understand that world is much more than the geographic and physical boundaries may display it. Se enjoys teaching, talking, and, as an avid blogger, sharing hers and her family’s stories and lessons learned with other expat families. She’s contributed her experiences to the Foreign Service Journal, online publications and to a recent book on expat resilience. She initially began blogging to share impressions, observations and along-the-road experiences with families and friends, and later other expats experiencing similar challenges/adventures. So the blog morphed into more than just a quasi-travel and photo journal. Raquel’s expat blog is called 3rd Culture Children (see listing here)
Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Here’s the interview with Raquel…

Where are you originally from?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In which country and city are you living now?
La Paz, Bolivia

How long have you lived in Bolivia and how long are you planning to stay?
Since August 2012. Planning to stay until June 2014.

Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil
Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil

Why did you move to Bolivia and what do you do?
Because of my husband’s assignment with the US Foreign Service. I also have a full-time job with the US Embassy La Paz, and have been working since March 2013.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes. The two of us and our three children, aged 8, 6 and 3.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Extremely easy, as a matter of fact. I grew up in Brazil, where my parents also worked for the Brazilian government. Our original family of 5 [my parents and my 2 brothers] were often requested to move to different cities, changing schools every couple of years. As an adult, working as a laboratory researcher, moving was also part of my normal routine. After marrying my husband, and due to his assignments with the State Department foreign service, the cycle ‘moving/adjusting/changing/re-inventing’ has become a regular task on our lives [smiles!].

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It’s never as easy as one expects. There are always challenges, being those related to language [although in our household we commonly switch between Portuguese-English-Spanish], culture, new schools, new jobs [for me, especially!]. Leaving old friends behind, and aiming to make new ones is never easy. I try to think of myself as a ‘serial-social being’. I’m always on-the-go, and throughout the years, I found myself displaying social skills I didn’t really know I had. I’m social because it’s a necessity. But I also enjoy the change, which tends to make the moves a bit easier. Especially on the family – it’s less difficult to face challenges when one has an idea what could be ahead of them, and has the time and the emotional support to deal with them…

Kruger Park, South Africa
Kruger Park, South Africa

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Bolivia is a country with beautiful landscapes. Any outdoors activities are highly recommended, if the basic precautions [with the high altitude, especially] are taken. The Bolivian people tend to be warm and welcoming. Shopping for arts and crafts should be included in any expats visiting list, as well as, reserving some time to enjoy the typical food, and the dancing and musical expressions, only found around the Andean region.

What do you enjoy most about living in Bolivia?
The climate is great – it feels like a nice Fall day all year around. We live surrounded by mountains, which offers us a very soothing scenario – if one likes to lounge around, reading a good book, or enjoying a glass of wine by the fireplace, that’s definitely a place to be. The crime rate [a crucial point for any expat list!] is very low, and La Paz is a friendly city for families – lots of parks and activities to do with/bring little kids along. Again: safety is key.

How does the cost of living in Bolivia compare to home?
Much less than in the USA, or even in Brazil.

Reed Dance in Swaziland
Reed Dance in Swaziland

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Bolivia?
It’s a landlocked territory – we’re far from the water. Also, the high altitude can play not-so-funny games with one’s health. Our family, so far, hasn’t suffered much from those effects, but we’ve heard others complain about getting sick all the time… Each one is different, and again, the regular, recommended medical/health advices should be taken very seriously.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Bolivia, what would it be?
Bring your best adventurous spirit – you’ll need it! Also, keep your expectations low: it’s the bet advice to a prospective expat or visiting fellow – expecting less, one may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The difficulties to fly out of Bolivia to other countries, presently. From previous posts, the physical distance between our family nucleus and our parents.

When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
Communicating with others, we hope! We have a very good group of friends and former colleagues at home [it's Washington DC, and we all work for the government, so, it's pretty common to have people coming and going, all the time!] It’s all part of work: the moving, the paking-out…

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Dream away. And dream big. Dream of traveling to unknown places, learning from new people, immersing into new cultures.
  2. Keep your expectations low. Many surprises should come your way if you’re not waiting for anything!
  3. Be social. Be friendly. Be smart. Street Smart! Be conscious and be aware of your surroundings, as well. Teaching lessons come in different envelopes, sometimes, in a not-so-nice ones!
  4. Try to learn a new language, try to communicate with the locals and understand their stories and their culture. Communicate. Listen and be heard.
  5. Attempt to comprehend the new country’s traditions, faith, and fears… The harmonious relationship between the local community and Mother Nature. Learn from their experiences and build your own story. It’s worthy every second in invest in!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
As a traveling family, we’ve lived in Mozambique, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, and during our work assignments, we traveled to England, Chile, USA and Swaziland. I liked the idea of organizing not only our travel notes, but also providing resources for other parents, and encouraging an exchange of ideas through comments, questions and suggestions from viewers. The name for the blog came from the term itself: “Third Culture Children” are children whose parents come from distinct cultures, and grow up under a hybrid environment, experiencing diverse cultural growth. “The result of this transcontinental growth can never be taught or learned or fully understood by anyone who hasn’t actually experienced it. The developing child takes the culture of their parent’s passport country, or their first culture, to a foreign land. The result is that the child (and later on, the adult) adopts the qualities of the Second Culture into their preexisting First Culture, creating a unique cultural perspective known as the Third Culture”. As an expat who is now raising three children, all aged 8 and under, the titled seemed a natural fit! I’m so pleased to share with other expatriates, parents, and traveling families, not only the beauty and excitement of traveling, but also resources regarding languages, social and cultural adjustments, and our not-so-professional advice as “parents-on-the-go“.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Feel free to send me a note thru Twitter, or visit our expat blog,, sharing your comments on any recent post or pages – I’d love to hear from you!


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What Drives Me Crazy?

Oh, boy!

If you asked my husband, he’ll clearly tell anyone, I don’t need any triggering reason to go insane… <3 He’d state that in a very loving way, and yet, he’d say it!

The ‘little voices in my head’ would likely echo his statement. But I firmly disagree: it’s hard for me to lose my cool, although, a few things would definitely make it to the list of ‘strong reasoning facts’ that drive me crazy… This morning I was cruising thru the WP ‘inspirational’ suggestions, and found Krista’s topic, on ‘She drives me crazy’. In my case, “She” has morphed into a  list of well-balanced reasons, which I should name ‘boiling point checklist’ :

  •  Somebody over here, another ‘inspired blogger’, came up with a masterpiece on how useless the so-called “inspirational images” from FB [and why not, from other social media channels?] are – I could not agree more with him. That said, thank you very much RichyDispatch for getting me all fired-up for this writing prompt! You’ve become my instant Monday Hero! :o

  • Still on the “social media” subject, another boiling point disclosure seems to be the way people describe themselves/their achievements/their fantastic lives on the ‘social scene’…. is it me, or, pretty much everyone else out there seems to have the smartest children, their overachiever spouses, the greatest and best paid jobs? Maybe it’s just me, but this constant display of ‘my grass is greener than yours’ gets old very quickly…

  • Leaving the social media aside, now let’s move to another common boiling point-trigger: The School Moms. Oh, my! This is for the many parents out there, especially the ones who try to get involved with their kiddo’s school activities. I’ve got a question for y’all: have you ever had any issues with [not of them, but they've got representatives all over the world] the PTA mafia? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s no need to worry, and it also means you haven’t had any bad experiences with the before-mentioned group – for the ones who understand my pain, that’s enough said!

  • Different scenario, now: the work place/social gatherings:

I’m born and raised Latina, so I believe I’ve got a pass to share my two cents on this. In most of latino countries, people never miss an event; they’re also, never on time! I try my best to get all my household act together before heading out to work. I’m currently living and working at a latino country – the perception of regular/expected work hours seem to differ from one person to the other. And why? Latinos don’t believe in a set time, for anything! [again, I can speak out my thoughts 'cause I was born in Brazil, and when I last checked, it's part of the colorful/wonderful Latino community!]. 

You wanna plan a dinner starting at 8, remember to tell your guests dinner is scheduled for 6. Most people will be there at/around 8:30. It’s a good technique, and you don’t stress out.

You’re throwing a birthday party for your toddler, and it should run from 2-4, don’t expect the lovely little ones [and their respective families] to depart before dinner time. That said, get your post-birthday-dinner ready for the tardy ones – they’ll likely overstay, and they’ll surely be hungry!


Do these type of issues make my blood boil inside my veins? 

 Just a little bit… :o


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{Weekly Writing Challenge} Parenting as a Cliffhanger…

When being called “Incredibly Good” is really not good for children?

Great Wednesday, although it began with a not-so-welcoming weather in La Paz – the rainy season has arrived, and flooded streets displaying the hectic driving behavior are definitely not the best place to be! The inspiration for this ‘quasi-op-piece’ comes from the idea of leaving the readers ‘hanging’ [thanks, Michelle W., btw!]‘, while I freely start a discussion on possible strategies on parenting well-rounded children [or lack of thereof!].

Back to work, as expected, and having the opportunity to read the paper before the work day starts is key! The Washington Post column on ‘Parenting’ called my attention with an article on ‘Stop heaping praise on your kids’, by Amy Joyce, really brought some thoughts up, as well as, a few questions and concerns.


Not really, but let’s keep on moving on. Also, nobody should be telling us what to do regarding the way we bring our kids up, correct? :o

We’ve all done it, stated Amy Joyce. But I’m sure not all of us knew we might be hurting our kids by doing it… At least, I did not know. How could I? Simply trying to work my best magic tricks when it comes to parenting…

Why would we, parents, knowingly harm our children?

Let’s start thinking! Continue reading


Posted by on January 8, 2014 in children, expat, FAMILY, foreign service


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[Photography] 65 ways of Sucre, Bolivia.


2013 was ending, and our traveling family was in deep need of a quick trip before the new year rang in…

…it had to be to a kid-friendly place, not too far from our home, La Paz, and yet, a place that offered great sights, tons of history, tales and stories to write home about… We were looking for a visiting site that wouldn’t break our end-of-the-year budget [between the Christmas holidays and the New Year’s!].

We found it – Bolivia’s historical capital, the [sweet!] city of Sucre, whose name, coincidently means ‘sugar’, in French [completely unrelated to this blogpost, but a nice send-back to my high school French lessons!] Again, nothing to do with our trip, so, forgetting now my long-lost French lessons, and back to our reality – family life, parenting & traveling!

All that said, our family of 5 headed out to Sucre, a comfortable, affordable short flight from La Paz, right after Christmas Day, for a long and well-deserved weekend.

This post showcases several images we were able to capture with our constantly-switching-hands camera. More yet to come: a visit to Sucre’s Dinosaur Park, the largest one in South America – but I’ll leave it for later… too many beautiful sites/snapshots to enjoy for now!

And, if curious about things to do in Sucre [according to the Lonely Planet, there are some 112 items to add to any expat visiting list!], feel free to hop over to another friendly site, from a Twitter follower, @SucreLife, and get insider tips, info and advice on traveling to the “White City”[]

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Photo Project “52 Bolivian Sundays” ['Joy'], for the last Sunday of 2013!



fun by the boardwalk in Chile

fun by the boardwalk in Chile


Inspired by this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, and finishing up with our personal year-long photo project, 52 Bolivian Sundays [feel free to visit link on the right for previous weeks!], a joyful interpretation [and super bias, 'cause, I do live for these little 3 kiddos, pictured here with a couple of their friends...] for this last Sunday of 2013’!



♥ EnJOY as you please, and thanks for stopping by! ♥ Happy New Year to All of Us!


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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in BOLIVIA, children, FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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64 weeks at Post. Great bidding victory – we got our #1 choice [again]!

We’re a couple of months into our second year at Post, and we’ve enjoyed every bit of it.

Soon we’ll have news to share: The Mirandas are going to their #1 Choice – once again – hard to believe! The stress is over, and now, we oughta begin looking into our future – gotta love the Foreign Service – never a dull moment!

No, not sharing much at this time… Just wanna leave these images here… maybe it’s a clue?  :o



Let’s just wait and see… :o


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Update: Then & Now – A Decade of Togetherness.

Photo from October 2013
Celebrating 10 + 1 years of married life? Pretty nice.

Having the opportunity to spend a pleasant evening together as a couple? Even better.

Discovering that another couple of friends, posted here in La Paz share your same wedding anniversary date? Priceless! :o


Taking a quick look into the past, looking forward into our future.

Ten years of a life together: laughs, love, joy, challenges…

A few tears, here and there, because we’re living a real life – the two of us have built a story for ourselves and for our ‘nomad family’. The two have become five; and we’re grateful for what the past and present have brought to our family.

We’re intrigued with what the future will unveil…

We will keep moving forward, despite any difficulties or unpleasant moments… And quoting one of my favorite readings from our wedding ceremony: “love knows all things, love believes all things, endures all things… love never fails…” 

Now, cheers to many more decades together! 


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Then & Now: A Decade of Togetherness…


Taking a quick look into the past, looking forward into our future.

Ten years of a life together: laughs, love, joy, challenges…

A few tears, here and there, because we’re living a real life – the two of us have built a story for ourselves and for our ‘nomad family’. The two have become five; and we’re grateful for what the past and present have brought to our family.

We’re intrigued with what the future will unveil…

We will keep moving forward, despite any difficulties or unpleasant moments… And quoting one of my favorite readings from our wedding ceremony: “love knows all things, love believes all things, endures all things… love never fails…” 

Now, cheers to many more decades together! 



Posted by on October 18, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, LOVE, photography


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“Un café con leche, por favor…”

Café con leche (Coffee with milk)

Café con leche (Credit: Wikipedia)

Like many parents, I’m silently watching my children grow. And I say ‘silently’ because I wanna witness the process in its fullest, without interfering or attempting to change its course.

My oldest child, and the only boy of the 3, just turned 8 years old. Even though my secret wishes still perceive him as ‘my baby’, he’s growing to be a clever and compassionate young person.

I remain discreet, though, and again, silent, watching from behind the scenes the growth and maturing processes unveil themselves right in front of my motherly eyes… Not an easy task, if one asked me!

Raising children is definitely challenging, as many here may relate. But it’s worth every single second of it – even the ‘over-dramatic’ and ‘not-so-fun’ ones, when as a parent, you don’t really know which direction to take in order to avoid some imminent collapse!

Oh, boy! And those ‘crashes’ do happen! All part of the [parenting] game, as my mother would always remind me about…

But now, back to my initial ‘café con leche‘, or in good Portuguese, ‘Café com Leite‘, as my Portuguese heritage would recommend me to mention! Coffee with milk – as a born and raised Brazilian, the typical beverage served during family gatherings, office reunions, work events… or simply, what I would share with my mother, as the oldest child [and only girl], while chatting about life, love, future. I would share my doubts and my complaints. I would blame the world and in-between sips of the warm drink, praise women for moving far into the society. I would judge my peers and lay out possible solutions for any current political crisis…

In Brazil, when one invites you for a coffee ["um cafezinho"], it’s never just about enjoying the beverage together: it’s about talking, sharing emotions and feelings, exchanging experiences and secrets… it’s about being part of somebody else’s life; the warmth brought by a cup of ‘café com leite’ is a peaceful experience, well known by all Brazilians. And this experience I cherished with my own mother, up to this day, when our ‘nomad family’ has the opportunity to go to Brazil and visit with the grandparents…

This past week, taking advantage of the [Fall] school break, our family went out on a short trip to the city of Tarija, famous for its wineries and warm climate. There’ll be more about this visit, but not today. This time, my focus will remain on our family nucleus, and more specifically, on the very special bond recently established between myself and my little boy…

During the inbound flight to Tarija, my son watched me accept [from the flight attendant] a cup of coffee and milk, perfectly brewed, according to the Latino standards. And he was curious why I always asked for coffee, whenever we were out. I told him it reminded me of the moments I shared with my family, and specifically, with my mother. For the Portuguese, a good cup of coffee and milk is the best remedy for the mind and the soul…

His little eyes were curious and confused – how could a drink be responsible for building memories? How could a beverage carry such a powerful feeling, and trigger emotions lost in time?

I didn’t know the answers. Who does? I just feel it, and I cherish the memories it brings me… ♥

During our flight back to La Paz, our family was split among three rows: I had our baby girl next to me, and the two oldest ones, in the row in front of us.

As expected, it came time for snacks and beverages. The flight attendants showed up pushing along the beverage cart. My son turns to me, and I see his smiley face from in-between the seats. His face is happy, and yet, a bit guilty.

I’m confused, but waiting to see what unveils. He winks at me, and at that point, I hear his heart telling me: I want to build memories, like what you have with “vovó” [grandma]…

The next thing I hear is his flawless Spanish to the flight attendant: “Un café con leche, por favor”. My boy is growing… and he wants to be his own person… The flight attendant gives me a look, checking if it was okay to give him the small styrofoam cup with an once of tinted milk. “It’s okay, I reply”. He takes it, and from between the plane seats, asks me: “Mom, do you wanna a sip from my coffee? It’s pretty good…”

He was right… it was pretty good… Again, emotions that only a nice cup of  “café con leche” is capable of bringing up… :o




Posted by on October 17, 2013 in BOLIVIA, FAMILY, LOVE


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Expatriation and Relationships — Intercultural Blog Carnival


 “Moving on to relationships with children, Reflections on the Expat Life by 3rdCultureChildren touches upon the difficulties that children experience when following their parents around the world — and the approach that parents can take to make those moves easier.”

Great collection of posts – thanks Margarita for the inclusion!

Originally posted on "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...":

by Margarita

The fourth Intercultural Blog Carnival is finally here and today we will be focusing on ExpatRelationshipsExpatriation and Relationships. A huge topic for sure since it can include relationships with just about anyone (and anything!) — and luckily for our readers, today’s collection does. So without further ado, here are our participants:

Learning a language for love — Cat Gaa starts us off with a personal story of how learning the intricacies of a foreign language can make your romantic relationship evolve and flourish while also saving you from those awkward moments when you think they said/meant something that they actually didn’t.

In an appropriately titled Expatriation and Relationships, Susan Cross explores what it’s like to make a friend while an expat, then say good-bye to that friend, and then have to make friends again. A regular expatriate conundrum, isn’t it?

The topic of friends — and…

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I’m a Mix Tape Masterpiece!


Click here for image source – gotta be true to the sources, right? :o

You may think it’s because I’m different… I know I’m not from here… but who is? We’re all from somewhere else…



Born in the sunny city of Rio de Janeiro… likely born to be wild… a restless, yet love-searching, soul…


Because of my parents line of work, moved from place to place quite often, growing up in the capital of the country… an intriguing city, sharing love-and-hate relationships with its citizens…


I’m a nomad, a traveler. A verb, rather than a noun…


But one day, met my better half… the day had come for love… and again, a foreigner to me, but one who changed my life completely…


And the rest… is pretty much history! A story we’ve been writing together… :o


Making a mix tape [remember that?!]: (or playlist, for the younger folks) that tells them who you are through song.

Acknolegdment: original inspiration coming from


Posted by on October 6, 2013 in ART, expat, FAMILY, humor, music


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Fearful Symmetry: Birthday Boy.

Birthday Boy, wake up!

Bus will be here soon… the school bus doesn’t wait, you know!

Birthday Boy, we know you’re tired – you always are!

Because it’s school day, and any excuse to miss school is a good one on your book!

Beloved Son, you’re older today…

Born to be wild, you definitely are!

Born Washingtonian, as you like to remind us… far from your mom’s home country,


But you carry Brazil in your heart: your soccer moves don’t deny your genes, your passion, your


Birthday Boy, breakfast is ready… and so should be you!

Birthday Boy, you’re 8!

Biking away from home,

Believing you can conquer the world with your fast wheels… you’re still my baby, though… and will likely remain so…

Battle the mothers, that’s their fault! Can’t they see their little boys are growing?

Become a man, you will… one day…

But not today… Today you’re simply my adorable

Birthday Boy… :o

bikeInspired by one of this week’s Daily Prompt


Posted by on October 3, 2013 in children, FAMILY, LOVE


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Weekly Writing Challenge: DNA Analysis

Clearly a writing challenge inspired by a topic titled ‘DNA analysis’ had to catch my attention. Not only I’m a born-again geek, I’m a ‘recovering scientist’, and up for grabbing any opportunity to jump right back into my past!

Funny how reading through this week’s suggestion from the Daily Post put me into a time machine, sending me back and forth in time: remembering my days as a researcher, scientist, professor; and yet, imagining how it would be when my [now little] children grow and decide on their own careers, taking up on different life paths…

Who knows what the future will have for them? What I’ve got is my past, followed by a great present bringing my off-spring up…

Talking about offspring, let me take you back to this post’s original idea, before my reminiscent past [and the uncertainties of our nomad future], take me completely off-track! My family is a melting pot: I seem to bring to the table a mix of Portuguese and Northern African backgrounds, surprisingly revealed by a recent DNA analysis. Our 3 children are a mix of Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, German ingredients, bubbling up from inside a hot deep cooking pot.

[Quick note: one of my husband’s passions, besides me, obviously, is Genealogy. He maintains a website on his parental families, and we’ve done together the DNA analysis, to learn more about our ‘ancestry’. The triggering idea for immersing into the research was actually the moment our first child was born: leave a knowledge legacy for our children].

Off-track… again? Not really! Back to my Portuguese/Northern African heritage…

From my mother I’ve inherited the quick temper and the sharp tongue – aww, those Portuguese Senoritas! I’ve also learned from her how to appreciate food and cooking, especially seafood dishes; all well-accompanied with good wine. She is the Teacher in my life, in more ways than one. My mother has taught me to understand and develop a passion for artistic expressions: music, dance and painting. Later in life, they all morphed into a healthy taste for fashion, dining out, event hosting, social outings and the passion for traveling to new places…

From my long-lost past...

From my long-lost past…

My father’s legacy is deeply imprinted in my body and mind. I became a person of Science because of him. Like my mother, he grew up orphan, lacking a present father-figure at home; nevertheless, made a life for himself as a chemical engineer, and teaching me how to love and appreciate all expressions of science and investigation and discipline. From my father I’ve inherited a ‘not-so-healthy’ taste for questioning, inquiring, and looking for answers and justifications. I’ve learned I’m capable of challenging facts of life, seeking solutions to daily problems.

I consider myself a product of hybrid environments, a product of mixed cultures, nicely blending together. I consider myself not a noun, but a verb… I’ve learned to accept and embrace new cultures and traditions as my own, since a very early age.

Life went on, and as it should be, the day I had to overlap my nucleic acid sequence with someone else’s came around. Considering that recombination is a common method of DNA repair, it was definitely the way the ‘future Mr. Right’ and I decided to pursue. Structural repair? What a great suggestion for a lucky start! Genetic recombination with breaking and rejoining of DNA strands is accelerated by many different enzymes. In our case, those enzymes were an endless curiosity, the unpaired desire to travel and visit new places and the recognition that neither one of us could survive withought the other’s genetic material… And so we merged; two genomes fusing into one happily married sequence… trust me, PCR results can prove it! :o

The results of this apparently odd combination can be checked [through a quite simple molecular biology experiment]: the three children that fill our house with joy and love. They have dark, brown and blond hairs. They’ve got dark and light eye colors. They dance and play like Brazilians, eat like Mexican and Portuguese; cry like Spaniards and French. They’re emotional and they’re grounded. They like art, and they like science. They’re growing up knowing the world is much bigger than what’s stated by their birth certificates, or stamped on their 9 passports…

Our children understand they come from mixed backgrounds, and know in their hearts they need to honor their heritage. And one day, they’ll be telling stories about their parents and grandparents to their own offspring: tales about how recombinant DNA, Portuguese cuisine, Mariachis, and American football traditions are all related:o



Posted by on October 1, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, humor


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The little voices in my head and I, discussing an article on ‘Working Mothers’…

As I usually do, I try to [jump]start my [work] day catching up with the news. My routine begins with a brief read through the Washington Post and a couple of coffee. Since it was Monday, I was a bit delayed with my start. After going over the unsettling headlines on the very sad events in DC [a metro stop from our house, now rented] and, as a parent, could not stop thinking about the 12 year old Florida girl, victim of cyber-bullying

Two stories that hit really close to home, and make us reconsider the world we’re raising our children into…

I decided to move on, and hopped over to the paper’s Parenting section, another favorite of mine. That’s when my ‘internal conversation‘ decided to take place. An article from Mary-Jane Williams had me nodding my head in agreement, asking the author/interviewee questions and answering them before any of them [the article's author and the interviewee] had an opportunity to do so.

Katrina Alcorn, a writer-editor and mom of three in Oakland recently had a book published about ‘struggles, juggling work and home responsibilities’ and yes, it’s about many of us, working moms out there, trying our best to survive as professional, spouses and state-of-the-art moms.

Here’s how the ‘little voices in my head‘ began reading through the article:

[voices in my head speaking up] “I bet you she [book author, previously 'maxed-out' mom] will tell us it’s virtually impossible to juggle, perform and excel at all tasks we [working moms] are expected to display”…

[article] “The expectation is that there’s an adult at home, but that’s not how we live anymore. We’re trying to make something work that doesn’t work…”

[voices in my head to the conscious me] “I could have told you that. Don’t you know that already? Do I have to remind you how hard some mornings can be when, while fighting a splitting headache and trying to get a couple of coffee out of the microwave, you find yourself mopping the floor because one of the kids has already spilled orange juice from his/her breakfast? And remember, it has to be done carefully, so you don’t get your work clothes dirty before you’ve got a chance to leave the house!?”

[the conscious me]  “I guess you’re right. Maybe I don’t need a book to tell me that, it’s fairly common sense. We all know how hard it is nowadays to be a working mother…” And then, I resume back to reading the article: “but… let’s keep on reading it… she [book author, previously exhausted mom] seems to be pretty grounded. Maybe she’ll bring something up that I don’t know yet… let me keep reading…”

[article] “We need to change the conversation. We need to get out of this obsession with individual choices… We need to change the conversation so it’s not about what women are doing, but what society is doing. Do you want a bunch of bulletproof women to have this, what we think of as a normal life?”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head] “WOW, she just nailed it on the head! See how simple the problem is: we [women, mothers] are not the problem; the society is, and the way the society ‘perceive’ the participation of working mothers is the big issue – and I loved her metaphorical comparison using the ‘bulletproof’ women! I totally feel like, every morning, before we all go out [of our bedroom] and face the real world [aka, our demanding kids, our needy spouses, our challenging jobs], we need to put on some sort of invisible, but yet, effective shield, and carry on with our daily chores. And don’t even consider the possibility of failing! Failure for a working mother, whose goal is nothing less than perfect, is completely out of question!”

[little voices in my head] “You’re overreacting. Do you believe you’re the only mother that works outside the house? You actually got it pretty easy… and don’t get me started on the whole ‘you’ve got household help’ speech… Remember: it was one of the reasons you guys decided to keep going with this foreign service gig… be honest, what would life be like if you were back in DC? Would you be working?”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head]  “But that’s the whole point! You’re right, very likely, I wouldn’t be working. How could I? And a nanny? There’ll be no way on earth we’d be able to afford one! And if I’d decided to work, even part-time, I had to find a reliable day-care for the baby girl, juggle with a flexible work schedule, and be prepared for the ‘not-so-friendly looks’ my co-workers would give me every time I had to leave early, due to some unforeseen cause! But this lady here [the book author] is so right, let me read out loud her statement:

[the article] “The women in my life are really capable, smart, hardworking and dedicated to their families. They don’t really need advice.Their employers need advice, their co-workers need advice, the policymakers need advice.”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head] “See? Do you get the main issue? It’s all about this endless conflict women have to deal with; the conflict between working [outside the house] and raising kids. Here’s another excerpt:”

[the article] “For better or worse, women are raised to be nurturers and to say yes. But I think there’s more to it. Research shows that when employers know a woman has children or is going to have children, her performance is scrutinized more. . . . If a woman is worried that she’s being scrutinized at work because she’s a mother, she’s going to be really circumspect about setting boundaries at work because she doesn’t want to be seen as someone who is not pulling her weight… Those things came at a price. They were not free. We may put in extra time at night after the kids go to bed, early in the morning or on weekends, but that time isn’t seen the same way as the time in the office. . . . I think we need to challenge the idea that to be effective at work or be a leader you need to work long hours.”

[little voices in my head to the now, caffeine-deprived me] “Did you notice that when you began ‘psycho-analyzing the article, your completely forgot about your coffee? It’s probably ice-cold by now! We need to fix this, asap!”

[the not-so-sure about being conscious me, to the little voices in my head] “I guess you’re right. Totally forgot about it. And now, I have to go find a microwave at somebody else’s office and warm it up… it won’t be the same, but hey, the article really got me engaged, which is a good sign…. I hope more working moms out there come out with similar ‘poking discussions’… some good food for thought… And talking about food, let me get that coffee warmed up!”

[little voices, now fading] “Good chatting with you. Hope you have a nice day at work… Talk to you soon!” :o

Written in response to this week’s writing inspiration, “Dialogue”


Posted by on September 27, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, humor


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Until when I’ll say ‘Sorry, I’m busy’?

Somebody once told me ‘life is what happens when you’re busy doing other things’

Now, that I’m older, and hopefully more mature, I completely relate to the quote,

And I regret all the moments I told someone: ‘Sorry, I’m busy’…

Was I really busy?

Or was it just the quickest and least painful excuse to refuse myself from:

Being there for my growing siblings, and not simply pretending to act as their stand-in mother’. I regret I was too busy to ‘taking care of them’ instead of being the sister and friend they needed me to be;

I’m sorry for always finding reasons not to talk to parents over the weekend, even though they were thousands of miles away and hearing my voice would have given them a great deal of joy;

Going outside with one of my children, and engaging in some made-up fantastic adventure, only because I was finishing up a work piece;

Being patient with my husband after he’d had a tough day at work;

Being there for a friend who tried to share the challenges and misfortunes of a declining relationship;

Now I realize that the dishes can always wait in the sink, the laundry will go nowhere if it doesn’t get done, but my kid’s childhood is too precious to be wasted way;

I discovered that listening to a friend in need, returning a phone call, sending a  ‘just because’ greeting card to a long lost classmate are way more valuable than any work deadline to be met.

I now understand the importance of enjoying a glass of wine at the end of a rough day, with the one I chose to be my partner for life is priceless – especially when he allows me to partake into his difficulties. I’m grateful I can be that person for him, listening, advising, finding a solution together.

I learned I can’t be busy when life calls in; life can’t be happening around me while I’m occupied with mundane chores; life needs me to do my part…

I hope to live every moment of my present and future, thoroughly, and will be glad to tell life: “It’s okay, I’ll take your call, I’m not busy…”

Post in response to the Daily Prompt, “Sorry, I’m busy”.

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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in ART, FAMILY


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Violence-induced media and third-culture children.


I’ve been away from blogging a bit too long, and now, the opportunitiy to bring up my random thoughts on a very intriguing social issue, has arisen. The suggestion for this personal op-piece comes out as Michael Pick pokes us all this week, with the question: “Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world? “.  In his own words, “When tragedies happen in the real world because of the violent deeds of a particular individual, the shock and horror that this happened very soon leads to trying to unravel the reason behind how it came to pass.

For some, the violence seen in films is taken as a catalyst or the inspiration for disturbing acts of violence in the real world. For others, blaming film violence for real life tragedies is cutting corners at best and “scapegoating” at worst — an effort to pin complex social or psychological issues on an enemy that can’t fight back…

Violent? :o these are Super-Heroes, embedded with super-dupper powers, and any little boy's dream!  Image downloaded from the site

Violent? These are Super-Heroes, embedded with super-dupper powers, and any husband’s  little boy’s dream!
Image downloaded from the site


As a parent, a traveler, a ‘serial expat’, and mother of 3 growing TCKs, I believe there are so many factors responsible for shaping up a child’s future – and this is especially true when we’re talking about raising well-adjusted, worldly citizens, well-rounded children, as products of hybrid cultures.

Some of these factors are culture, socialization and the own child’s experience; its perception of the world, and the child’s feelings and frustrations. Unfortunately, due to being exposed to a myriad of social situations and contexts, a so-called ‘third culture child‘ is also more vulnerable to external influences. One of the strongest influences relates to the common day-to-day aspects of life: the innocent act ofabsorbing‘ images and concepts brought home through movies, TV shows, streamed videos, all the so-handy resources offered by the internet! And why not say, through the apparently harmless violence-based children’s video games… :o

Oh, well… so then, what should we do, as parents? Others here already expressed their opinion that simply forbidding the child from watching potentially violent programs/movies, is not the solution, but it does have an impact on the developing mind – and the impact is unlikely positive, unfortunately…

Third culture children are in continuous need to understand the true origins of caring, the need to help others, and the strategies to display a nonaggressive behavior. The key players in order to achieve that level of self-knowledge, comes from parental socialization, the family system, schools and cultural influence. Currently, the easiest and quickest [albeit, not fully harmless!] avenues are the social media tools, television and movies. For younger kids, especially, the last two ‘avenues’ mentioned before, have both a fast and deep impact on the children’s minds, and the way they begin developing their own concepts, affirmations and perceptions about their surroundings.

Children who are growing up under this modern ‘violence-influenced’ scenario, will likely tend to develop the understanding that violence is a regular [and maybe necessary] part of life, which could be extremely dangerous for our future generations.

Again, as a parent, I’m concerned with the loss of sensitivity when it comes to publicly offering free violence viewing to our kids, as if it were part of a healthy environment.

Is reality really as cruel as it’s perceived through the movies? Is it all necessary? What good is it bringing to the upcoming generations?

Too many questions, and not on single answer – at least, not from my parental and confused mind.

We’re all just trying to get by surviving one day at a time, and hoping that our children will turn out to be well-balanced, responsible and loving adults. That’s simply my hope; as much as I’d like to, I don’t have control over my children’s future. I can offer them advice and love, but can’t hide them inside a bubble, making sure they won’t get hurt or even hurt others. This ‘motherly bubble’ doesn’t exist, thankfully… Kids need to be kids and yet, need to experience life. Life as it is. Holywoodian life is not life, it’s not real. The ‘reality’ portrait by movies is not, in fact, real. And the violence offered by movies should always be perceived as what it really is: fiction… :o


Posted by on September 13, 2013 in children, expat, FAMILY, TCKs, technology


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‘Backward’ Tale – The Boy and The Girl.

 WeddingIt’s been a nice hand, more precisely, a full house,

with three Queens and two Kings

It’s been a roller coaster… living and moving…

And adjusting… and moving again.

They traveled because of work,

They moved because it’s their passion.

It’s been nine years and eleven months
Since the boy and the girl have wed.

One decade awaits to celebrate their togetherness

But it was not always like that

The boy had dreams

The girl had fears

And yet, they were so alike…

The girl had left her home country,
Her job would take her to a far away land

The boy would wait for her.

He had found a job, he had finished school.

His job would yet take him to far away lands

But the boy liked to travel

And so did the girl.

boy and girlThere have been financial difficulties.

There have been physical distances

There have been emotional challenges

But the boy and the girl have never given up.

That boy and that girl had met some twelve years back

And could not wait to meet up again… and again…

They traveled to see each other

They traveled because of work.

They traveled to unknown places, for the ordinary pleasures of moving, seeing and learning…

Even if there had been no money to travel, they would still do it

And simply pay for it later.

Some twelve years ago,

The boy had gone to the girl’s home country

To learn a new language,

To learn a new culture,

To find himself into a whole new adventure.

Without even looking for it,
He discovered love

And so did the girl.

Neither one of them had ever believed in love at first sight.

The boy and the girl were probably the most skeptical people on the face of the Earth,

But those two were so wrong!

And they found what they were missing, on each other

Some twelve years back…

Now, the boy and the girl have aged

And they are proud to show their hand: they’ve got the most perfect full house

With three Queens and two Kings….♥


This post is written in response to WordPress’ Weekly Writing Challenge. The details of the challenge can be found here.


Posted by on September 9, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, LOVE


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La Paz celebrates the Pedestrian Day – “Dia del Peatón”.

What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday. September 1st marked the Pedestrian Day, for the City of La Paz.

Families and their children, bikes, tricycles, scooters, skates took over the streets. No cars – and lots of healthy and peaceful fun! ♥ Below here, images from our [otherwise very busy on Sundays!] neighborhood:


Sólo podrán circular las movilidades autorizadas por el municipio, pero a una velocidad de 20 kilómetros por hora. Asimismo, está prohibida la venta y consumo de bebidas alcohólicas en espacios y vía pública desde las 00:00 horas del sábado hasta las 00:00 horas del domingo.

La Paz se paraliza este domingo para celebrar el Día del Peatón

El día del peatón/Foto ANF.

Posted by on September 8, 2013 in BOLIVIA, ecology, expat, FAMILY, photography


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Guest Post: Island Life and the Pursuit of Diversity.

by Jessica Girard

Everybody deserves respect. As families this should be a value high up on our priority list as embracing diversity is not only important for helping children to respect other people, it also helps them to accept themselves and celebrate the variety of people the world has to offer.

Exposing ourselves to diversity not only widens our worldview it helps us better understand our connections to each other, helping us to become more globally aware.

The challenges of diversity

Opportunities to experience different cultures and embrace diversity can be somewhat limited when living within a small town, particularly when that small town is on an island, physically detached from the rest of the world.

This would be my experience of living in Guernsey, a small British island located in the English Channel, only 30 miles away from the coast of France. Now, when I say small, I actually mean tiny. The total area of the island is almost 25 square miles, which means you can drive around the entire island in about an hour!

[Image Credit] Wikipedia

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with the island. I love the beautiful scenery and the fact that the beach and the countryside are only a mere fifteen minute walk from my doorstep. 

I do however, hate the smallness of Guernsey, not only in size but sometimes in thinking. Small towns can have rather insular mindsets as there is often a (physical and mental) disconnection from life elsewhere. It would be fair to say that this can be true for Guernsey. Living here at times can feel like living in a bubble, there is limited choice and a lack of variety and this can be stifling (to me).

You could not describe the island as a culturally rich environment. Guernsey has a very homogenous population. The vast majority being white, middle class, Brits who, if they profess to any faith it would likely be Christianity as you will find over 50 churches on the island but not one mosque, synagogue or temple.

If variety is the spice of life, then Guernsey is lacking in flavor. 

There are expat professionals working on the island, however they tend to be on short-term licence (the Guernsey version of a visa) and stand little chance of gaining permanent residency. We do however, have a small but established Portuguese community on the island and a growing number of Eastern Europeans, mainly from Latvia and Poland which adds to the cultural mix. This growing cultural diversity is not welcomed by all and unfortunately these communities are often stereotyped, surrounded by stigma and alienated from mainstream life.

(Town Centre, Guernsey. Photo Credit: Visit Guernsey)

If not careful, the disconnection that many small towns like Guernsey have with the outside world and even the cultures within it, can lead to insular thinking and an ignorance of other world cultures. This in turn can lead to a lack of understanding and disrespect of diversity.

I have found that within the small town context the point is not only a matter of embracing diversity, but rather the fact that we need to pursue it in the first place. 

Foundations for pursuing diversity

Even in cosmopolitan cities people tend to gravitate towards homogenous communities. Small town dwellers therefore, have to be all the more intentional about pursuing diversity when there is less of it to go round.

Opportunities to immerse ourselves and our children in different cultural experiences may be rare but are worth pursuing, if we want to help our children grow to be compassionate global citizens.

As a family we have created five foundations that will hopefully help our family, and yours, in the pursuit of diversity.

1. Model relationships across cultures/religions/genders/abilities etc

One of the most important ways of promoting a culture of diversity is to show your comfort in relating with people of a different race, faith, culture, gender, age, ability and sexual preference. Children mimic their parents’ behaviour and if they can see you confidently interacting with people and celebrating your differences, they are much more likely to do likewise.

This also means not shying away from talking about differences, even in public. Children are naturally inquisitive and yes, their questions are sometimes poorly timed! Try to see these (awkward) situations as an opportunity for discussing and celebrating differences with your children. Shushing or distracting your child can actually make you appear unwilling to discuss these differences and can lead to your child thinking it is wrong to do so.

2. Be aware of your own ”diversity deficits”

It is important to be aware of what Christopher Metzler, Ph.D describes as, “diversity deficits”. No one is immune to making judgements and/or holding negative feelings about people who are different from ourselves. Whether it be a negative stereotype, judgemental attitude or apprehension of a particular country or people group, children can easily pick up on these. It is therefore even more crucial that we understand where these feelings may stem from so that we can avoid passing the “deficits” on to our children.

3. Breakdown stereotypes

Stereotypes are dangerous things. They label people unnecessarily and lead to people making judgements about entire countries, cultures, races and genders that can often be offensive and misleading.

It is important to work to breakdown these stereotypes, especially for children who are impressionable and still trying to understand the world around them. Removing books and toys that promote stereotypes is a good place to begin. Model positive language and listen to the words your children use and if necessary, discuss how their language could be hurtful.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

When living in a homogenous society it is important to try and get out your comfort zone and intentionally explore diversity.

There are many ways of doing this, most of which can be done in your hometown, here are some of the ways we have gotten out of our comfort zones:

  • Eat ethnic foods (preferably with people from that country) – we’ve eaten nsima (maize), the Malawian staple with Malawians living on island
  • Celebrate cultural events and religious festivals – We have joined our Chinese friends in celebrating Chinese New Year
  • Read multi-cultural books – We’ve gathered a small collection of books to read with our daughter that explore different countries, races, religions, genders and abilities.
  • Befriend and learn from expats in your community – We’ve made friends with some wonderful expats. The bonus being that we get to sample their cultures and challenge our own way of doing things, on a regular basis.

5. Create opportunities for discussion in the everyday

Gear your home up in a way that it naturally creates opportunities for discussions on diversity. Our daughter is only a baby so discussions are a little way off yet, but by bringing a little bit of the world inside our home we are developing a more culturally rich environment that will, in time, generate more questions.

In our home we create opportunities by having piles of travel books, maps and globes readily available to research countries, people groups and religions. We also have lots of hand crafted items on display, including handmade toys for our daughter to play with.

 [Photo Credit] Diversity MBA Magazine


The important thing to remember is that whether we live in a small town or multi-cultural city, when it comes to pursuing diversity, reading books and eating ethnic food, simply is not enough. Our attitude is what is important. We need to show our children (and communities) that we are intentionally trying to engage with people and promote social inclusion.


Have you experienced similar challenges of small town living? 

In what ways have you pursued opportunities for diversity?

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Related articles


Jessica Girard is currently a full-time mother and spare-time blogger over at The Open Home, where she writes about faith, mission, travel, world culture, simple living and getting back to nature.


Posted by on September 1, 2013 in children, expat, FAMILY, TCKs, TRAVEL


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“Pay no attention to the woman behind the children…”


Behind the children

‘Who’s that woman?’

‘Which woman?’

‘That one, discreetly hiding behind her children…

Doesn’t she have a life of her own?’

‘Shhhh… Pay no attention to the woman behind the children…

She may hear you. She may get upset’.

‘She seems so afraid for her little ones… She looks so fragile… like if at any moment, she will break down into tears.. or break apart into small glass pieces… I would like to see her smiling…’

‘Why is she hiding from us? Have we done anything to her?’

‘Who’s that woman behind the growing children?

The one trying her best not to fail, trying her hardest to be up to any and all tasks, excelling on her parenting skills, in the hope that other parents would look up to her as a role model?’

 ‘Who’s the woman who lets herself be kept backstage, silently watching life play its theatrical acts, desperately witnessing her heart beat outside her body, every time one of her children crosses the house door and heads out  to the world?’

‘Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtains of life…’

‘She’s no Wizard‘.

‘She’s no Witch‘.

‘She’s not longing to find her way back home…’

‘Pay no attention to her – she looks tired and helpless…’

Behind the Curtain

Photo by Sara Biljana

Who’s the woman behind the curtain? Read more about her here…


Posted by on August 27, 2013 in children, FAMILY, LOVE


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Always in good company! 3rdCultureChildren among Multicultural Bloggers!


Check the directory out at:

Multicultural Bloggers


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Blogpost ‘Place Holder': Hiking through the ‘Muela del Diablo’, Bolivia.

muela del diablo

I know, I know…. Procrastination seems to be word of the moment… :o

Evnetually, I’ve gotta get the images from our recent hiking adventure out, the drive to the Muela del Diablo ["Devil's Molar", and its 150 meters, on a 3,800m of altitude]; but feel like we’re always caught up, keeping ourselves afloat while cruising through daily homework [kids], attending to the demanding toddler and obviously, going to work [outside the house, for the grown-ups!]

This wild rock ["Muela"] can be seen from almost every where in the southern part of La Paz. The giant appears steep und unapproachable right within its bizarrely shaped erosion landscape and green lands.

Muela del Diablo, Bolivia

For the time being, I’m leaving here a little ‘place holder’ for what’s to come. Hopefully, very soon. :o

And, as a bit of a spoiler [text borrowed from The Gadling], “Devil’s Tooth is an inactive volcano that is approximately 492 feet high. According to our guide, it got its name because indigenous people believed it looked like the tooth of Satan.

The command for our past Sunday was: “are you ready?” I’m sure these ones here were!

Muela del Diablo

More images to come in the near future… stay tuned!


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An open letter to my nomad children.

         Dear children of mine,

         I recognize you may be still too young to understand many of the things that go around in your life.

        I’m also aware that you may feel confused at times, when your mother and father come forward telling you we will have to move, once more.

       I feel and I know your pain, and your disbelief. I myself felt the same when back in Brazil – your grandparents would come to me and to your uncles, letting us know we would again, have to change schools, due to new job assignments and/or the economic situation.

       One day you will begin hearing and understanding a very powerful word – ‘Economy’. It has the ability to change scenarios, to split families up, and to alter planning. Times were different when your mother was growing up, than it is now for the three of you. Back then, your mother, the oldest of 3 children, learned to cook, clean and take care of your uncles, way before she was ready to begin middle school. 

        You, my children, will not have to face any of this.I was a nomad child without the realization of it. I learned to cope with family moves before having to deal with any ‘high school drama’, so familiar  to any teenager. There was no time, nor space for ‘teen drama’. Childhood is a very special place in time, and should be lived through. Hopefully, it will not happen to the three of you, my children.

       You will be presented with the opportunity to experience life on its fullest. You’ll have the chance to choose your paths, making your own mistakes and learning from them…

       Life’s been laid out in front of you, and despite also living a ‘nomad life’ because of your mother and father’s work style, you’ll confidently be shielded from most of the difficulties.

       Your father and I are cautious and attentive to any signs of distress – please come to us with your questions, your concerns, your troubles. We’ll try to help you, and offer advice, as much as we’re capable of. Please let us know when you’re sad, when you’ve been hurt, when your heart is unsettled…

       We’ll be there for you. We’ll offer you comfort and our arms. We’ll talk together, and if needed, we’ll cry together.

        I’m very happy for you, my children. This nomad life has taught me a great deal, and I feel capable of transferring some resilience to you. I’m not passing on any resentment, any sadness or hard feelings… I’m thankful with what life has offered me, and my gratitude will show itself on the way we’re raising the three of you. I’m grateful life has given me the opportunity to become your mother, your guide, your safe haven. I sincerely hope you’re not disappointed on me…

        You will grow to become worldly citizens, grounded and compassionate. That would definitely be the best reward to me, still working on my parenting skills, but trying my best not to fail…

                                                        With all my love,

                                                          Your mother.

my branching tree...


Posted by on August 14, 2013 in expat, FAMILY, LOVE


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School is back: Creating the proper study environment?

English: Don't waste your time and do your hom...

Homework time?! Photo credit: Wikipedia.

This morning’s article on Parenting, from the Washington Post got me thinking…

And I’m thankful that Nicole Anzia [freelance writer; she can be reached at] took a stab at it: “Finding a space where your child can complete his or her homework without getting totally stressed out, or stressing you out, is difficult. Don’t be discouraged if the first place you choose isn’t perfect; this will be an ongoing and evolving process throughout your child’s life as a student. But having a space set up and creating a homework routine during the first week of school will help smooth the transition from summer’s hot, hazy days to fall’s hurried, homework days.”


Homework (Photo credit: TJCoffey)

According to Anzia, there are few points that MUST be addressed, and since school days for my 2 elementary kids has just begun, I hope I’m on the right track, and will, for sure, try to follow her ‘advice': [I've added my personal comments after the 'important-points' suggested by the author]

1. Choose the right location

We’re fortunate enough to have an extra ‘lunch table’, in a separate room, with a framed world map, a large wall clock and a buffet with drawers. The whole area has been defined for ‘homework’ and school assignments: reading response; school poster preparation, coloring, cutting and pasting [I've got a 2nd grader and a KG5].

2. Find and organize supplies

The buffet drawers were turned into ‘storage space’ for their school supplies. Backpacks are kept on the floor, against the wall, and handy, when they’re needed. Plastic containers/organizers are a must-have to keep their pencils, coloring gear, scissors; glue sticks IN PLACE AND EASY TO FIND. :o


Homework (Photo credit: christinepollock)

3. Create a Go-To spot

Anzia also points out that “Another advantage of a designated homework space is that you can have a set surface where you and your kids can post scheduling reminders and deadlines. You could hang a magnetic board or bulletin board, or use stick-on chalkboard or dry-erase boards that can be easily removed in seconds, without damaging the wall.”

For that, unfortunately, I had to resource to our kitchen area, where we mounted a white board on the wall, with our cell phone numbers [for the sitter, when both mom and dad are at work!]. The board displays each child’s chores, a brief schedule and any necessary reminder…. The kitchen wall is also the place for an oversized interactive calendar [months, days, seasons, weather and special dates]. Our oldest son, now 7,5 is the one in charge of changing the dates/information on the calendar, every morning.

4. Try out and reassess

This is the author’s final suggestion. Try things out, and after the initial month or so, reassess the results. Change. Improve. Get feedback from the kids. See what works and what needs to be fixed.

We’re on week 1, for this school year… let’s wait and see what’s in store for us… we’re all hopeful… maybe ‘homework time’ will be a breeze… who knows? :o


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When you end up talking another language with your kids…


Great reading about raising multilingual children!
Our community keeps on growing!

Originally posted on expatsincebirth:

When you are multilingual and start having kids, you have to choose which language you’ll talk to your children. Linguists always recommend to talk your “mothertongue” to you children. But which is the mothertongue if you are perfectly bilingual? In my case: should I talk Italian or German to my kids?

When our son was born, we lived in Italy and as Italian is one of my mother tongues, it was very natural for me to talk Italian to him from the beginning. Our home languages were Italian (me and my son), Swissgerman (my husband and my son) and German (my husband and me) and we were convinced that he would pick up German automatically too.

When we moved to the Netherlands our son was 2.5 years old and he went to a dutch daycare twice a week since almost immediately. After two months he started to talk less and…

View original 596 more words


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Raising children in the Foreign Service – a brief talk about diversity.

FSJOriginally published as a Letter to Editors [The Foreign Service Journal, March 2013].

Diversity at State: Helping our Children.

The value of diversity promotion in the State Department was well emphasized by EEO Counselor Krishna Das (Letters to the Editor, January issue). As a parent, I see the discussion regarding how we bring up our children within the diverse Foreign Service lifestyle as equal parts interesting, challenging, and crucial. It is, of course, necessary to serve as role models for our children right from the start, particularly in teaching the lesson that everyone, despite appearances or stereotypes, deserves respect.

As noted, State Department children are highly exposed to diverse cultures, and we as parents should demonstrate why this is such an advantage to their own growth as human beings.

Building a culture of diversity starts at home, a literal reality for many State Department families. We speak different languages, come from distinct cultural backgrounds, and practice different religions. And yet in most cases, our children are growing up in a culturally richer environment than we (parents) were brought up. Children in the Foreign Service live the concept of diversity and its social implications – on a daily basis.

Seal of the United States Department of State.

Seal of the United States Department of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, it is often necessary for us to question what is our role as parents in this process? How can we assist our children regarding the issue of diversity? It would appear as far as diversity is concerned, we need to be extra involved in their lives: listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new, countries, discussing their questions and social frustrations, establishing a healthy communication channel, building positive identities and respect for differences. Further, we should seek ways to insert these concepts into the routines of our children’s everyday lives and help convince them through our actions that a society without discrimination is possible. It is critical for us parents and caretakers to develop ‘cultural sensitivity’ regarding our surroundings; otherwise, without specific cultural information, we may inadvertently promote practices and approaches that could counter other parents’ efforts.

One great piece of advice I once received was to “encourage your child’s friendships with others across race, ethnicity, class, religious practices, background and ability.”

The more personal experiences children have with other groups, the easier it will be to dismiss stereotypes and misperceptions.


Want to add to the discussion? Please feel free to share your comments/opinions/suggestions here!


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Day 360 in Bolivia: Suggestions for entertaining the little ones.

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan...

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan Lake, Tuichi River. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miranda Family arrived in La Paz in the beginning of August, 2012.  assignment. Our familial “nucleus” is constituted of 2 adults, 2 kids (7 1/2 and 5 1/2 yrs-old) and a 2 1/2 year-old toddler. Being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacy, negotiationpeacekeeping, policy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task!

There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch!

  • Here are some suggestions for entertaining the kids (without pulling our hair off), we’ve learnt along the way:
Take weekend trips with other families with kids -it's a life-saver!

Take weekend trips with other families with kids – it’s a life-saver!

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Host a kids Halloween Blast!

Host a kids’ Halloween Blast!

Join the traditional 'water balloon fights' during Carnaval!

Join the traditional ‘water balloon fights’ during Carnaval!

Go bowling!

Go bowling!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Throw impromptu 'theme lunches'

Throw impromptu ‘themed lunches’

Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go out! Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Join a 'greening initiative' for a weekend of activities

Join a ‘greening initiative’ for a weekend of activities

Throw impromptu costume parties!

Come up with impromptu costume parties!

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Get out of your comfort zone! Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Escape to the neighboring Santiago...

Escape to the neighboring Santiago…

Visit to Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Visit Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Mountain biking trip

Take a mountain biking trip

Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Unplug! Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Out again! Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region


Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around La Paz:

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallardo “Nayra Inti” interpretando con sus tarkas una tarkeada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children’s Activities

Bolivia does not boast an extensive selection of activities for children, but what it does offer is stunning national parks and the chance to get close to nature and see scenes that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

La Paz Zoo
La Paz Zoo has recently relocated from a tiny plot of land in the south of the city to a much bigger area in Mallasa, which can be found just outside of the city. The bigger space has allowed new enclosures to be built as well as a children’s petting area and an information block. Children will not fail to be impressed by the menagerie living in natural surroundings. You will find many animals in a park-like setting, living life as they would in the wild. After a morning’s excitement with the animals, try out the on-site café for some lunch and treat the kids to a souvenir from the gift shop.

Madidi National Park, Bolivia

Madidi National Park, Bolivia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Parks
Bolivia is home to some of the most unspoilt national parks in the world. These parks boast a tremendous variety of wildlife, although you have to be lucky to see a lot of animals as most of them hide deep in the densest of forests. Madidi National Park is recorded by National Geographic as being one of the world’s largest biologically diverse reserves. One of Bolivia’s richest forests can be found here as well as over 988 species of animals. It stretches from the Andes to the western Amazon Basin and allows people to watch animals, trek through woodland and explore the many nature trails. The children will love this unique chance to get back to nature.

Toro Park fountain

Toro Park fountain (Photo credit: Rob Michalski)

Toro Toro National Park is located close to Potosi and is ideal for dinosaur lovers. You will find giant dinosaur footprints and fossils as well as the caves of Umajalanta. Carrasco National Park is an enormous rainforest park located in the Andes’ foothills. It is a great park for children as there is so much space to run around in.

Witches’ Market
This market is also known as Mercado de Brujas and is full of magic and mystery. Goods sold here include herbs and remedies as well as other components used in ancient Aymara traditions. It is La Paz’s most colourful site, with many sights to amaze and excite children.

Witches Market

Witches’ Market (Photo credit: callumscott2)


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Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 27, 'Nostalgic'].


Inspired by this week’s photo challenge, and continuing our travel project “52 Bolivian Sundays”, we’re cruising though week 27, and this picture of my oldest daughters and her two BFFs in the hammock, sent me back to a happy place down memory lane… growing up in Brazil, and having the luxury of hours spent swinging in hammocks…

Venue: Nor Yungas, Bolivia

Enjoy as you please, and thanks for stopping by! ♥

 Find here, more impressions from other bloggers on “nostalgic”… Thank you all for sharing! 



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I’m back. Back on blogging, back from a restful family R&R and just found this great piece. Loved her final comment, and felt so related to it, that decided to share it over here, with my dear readers/expats/travelers/nomad parents in the Foreign Service! And how cool is that we [the author and myself] share the same name - granted: my version is in Portuguese, a proud devotion to my roots – thanks, mom! ♥ 

Family life is important. More important than your/our [original] career decisions… once one’s got a family, decisions and changes in life need to take that into consideration! :o I remember myself being so afraid/concern to tell my [then] Post-Doctorate advisor on my [first] pregnancy, back in 2005, and fearing for his reactions… today, several years later, 3 kids and changing jobs at every post we’ve been assigned to live/work, there are no regrets. My career did change, and I believe, for better. I’ve become more adaptable, more adjustable, and with the always-needed flexibility, I’m more patient with myself, with my husband, and more understanding about his career. I believe we [as a family] have evolved, which is great. :o After that, life has taken us to many different places, and for sure, my career has changed. Quite a bit, I’d say. And I’m happy with that. I’m satisfied with the decisions we’ve made for our growing children, under the circumstances of being a ‘nomad couple’ with the Foreign Service.

Definitely, it’s worth a read – my favorite part, the original author’s [another mother/career/academic woman!] wrap-up comment: “I am not sure if I have been “parent tracked” but I do know that my family is important to me, and decisions about my or my husband’s professional lives will always take the well-being of our family and our marriage into account. We would not choose to have jobs that forced us apart, we want to remain close to our extended family if we can, and we want our children to have both of us present in their everyday lives. If that means that I make deliberate professional choices and pursue non-tenure-track or alternative-academic opportunities, I feel comfortable with that arrangement”…

Originally posted on rogue cheerios:

My husband bought me Mama, PhD as a graduation gift. He thought I would appreciate the stories about “motherhood and academic life.”  In under a week, I tore through the anthology.  Divided into four sections, the editors captured women’s stories about “The Conversation” whether to start a family, “That Mommy Thing” that competes with more scholarly pursuits, how “Recovering Academic[s]” fare after becoming parents, and the “Momifesto” that women create for themselves to guide their own professional and personal lives.

I felt comforted to read memoirs of women’s lives as they described their worry in revealing their pregnancy to their advisory committee, the schlepping and physical challenges of being pregnant on a big college campus, the swell of support or the lack thereof from different significant others in their lives, and the realization that life would never be the same after becoming a mother.  Each vignette was short…

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Ready for the Scottish Wedding!

During our family’s recent R&R in the USA [gotta take a break from work, right? :o], the 5 of us attended one of my husband’s lifelong friend’s wedding in Virginia. Kids were welcome to the celebration [with great baby-sitters on-site/on duty during the ceremony, so grown-ups could really appreciate the traditional wedding events!] and definitely helped us celebrate in style – I guess our kids have become fast learners when it comes to errrr – party! ♥

As one of the groomsmen, husband was looking pretty sharp in the full Scottish kilt gear, I’d say, and well fulfilled his duties…

Modern Scottish wedding traditions are far more relaxed than they were in the olden days, but even today remnants of the ancient traditions still linger – making Scottish weddings the festive and joyous occasions that they are!


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♫ “I wanna know what love is…” ♥

Love Notes

Taking advantage of this being “Mother’s Day” weekend, and inspired by a recent Daily Prompt suggestion, I’ll try to answer this tough question, and yet, illustrate the ‘response’ with a few musical memories… See if you can catch them!

We each have many types of love relationships — parents, children, spouses, friends. And they’re not always with people; you may love an animal, or a place. Is there a single idea or definition that runs through all the varieties of “love”?

Obviously, I’m not the first one who thought about this song ♫ when we saw the title for the prompt… and being a Foreigner myself, it couldn’t be any more fitting! :o Who doesn’t love a good play with words?

But, in fact, What’s Love?   – thought I “had a way on this, but still missing several connecting dots in order to finely tune down my ideas on love!

Here is my opportunity to try: I did not marry my First Love ♫, and because, like many, was always seeking for the perfect combination of Love, Trust and Honesty ♫, I was able to discover What Is This Thing Called Love ♫

Love Changes everything ♫.  We’ve become more than a couple, we’re a family, and with each child, we now wholeheartedly understand the meaning of Timeless Love ♫… There are different kinds of love, and we love each person in our lives, in a different way, no more, and no less… Simply different. Fortunately, there’s no single Meaning of Love ♫. But there’s definitely, Not Enough Love In The World ♫ to all the ones that need it!

That said, if I may leave a bit of advice, as somebody who’s constantly experience love, from my family, friends; from the one I chose to be my partner for life, the one who’ve given the most precious expressions of love – our children – here it is: “Put A Little Love In Your Heart“ ♫, and all will be well… ♥

Happy Mother’s Day, to all the moms out there! And much, much love to us all! :o

For the "non-Portuguese speaking world", inside the heart you may find the word 'Mãe', which means, "Mom"... too perfect, right? :o

For the “non-Portuguese speaking world”, inside the heart you may find the word ‘Mãe’, which means, “Mom”… too perfect, right? :o


Posted by on May 11, 2013 in ART, FAMILY, LOVE, music, photography


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Between Us: An Open Letter to the Disney Channel

Originally posted on Life Inspired:

No More Disney Channel copy

Dear Disney Channel Executives,

My daughter Journey has recently become a fan of the Disney Channel.  She just turned 7, she has officially outgrown Nick Jr. and since Nick seems to show SpongeBob all day, she has moved over to the Disney channel.  At first, she was pretty much only watching Phineas and Ferb.  Eventually, she started watching the rest of the line up including Good Luck Charlie, Austin and Ally, Shake It Up and Jessie.

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Why I write? Why I share? [My personal Space]

Today’s Daily Prompt is Personal Space.

When I stop to think, ‘why do I blog?’ or ‘why do we share stories about your family experiences, our travels, our difficulties and joys while raising kids?’, I come back to the same answers:

I blog because, to me, it’s a personal experience. I have no ambitions to use the blog as some sort of ‘marketing springboard’, although, since along the years, it has become quite a forum for other expatriates, traveling families, members of the foreign service community… a safe place where I can express my views and takes on life, share our questions, seeking for answers and/or advice from others facing similar situations…

I’m a parent, and with my husband, we’ve built an interesting lifestyle for ourselves and for our growing children. We are diverse. We share different backgrounds, cultures, knowledges and lessons learned. We share our learnings with our kids. We speak different languages in our household… and everyone has to try all the different types of food mom and dad were brought up with! :o

We share the joy, the sad moments, the adventurous decisions… We share the concerns and we look for solutions. Among ourselves, within the expat community. We look for input from other families in the foreign service. We try to enjoy life, snapping shots along the way, and sharing those beautiful and unique images here. Hopefully, this ‘live journal’ will one day be useful to our kids, our worldly citizens, growing up as products of hybrid cultures – and if that happens, I’ll be very proud! ♥

That’s why I blog. I makes me happy to share, and at the same time, it keeps me going. It helps me cope with difficult situations, it helps me assist other families, and it gives me the so much needed reassurance that, despite all challenges, we are not alone. And we’ll never be alone… that’s one of the beauties and positive sides of the cybersphere! :o

And you, why do write, blog, share your very own ‘personal space’ with other bloggers, keeping the ‘blogsphere’ active and spinning? :o Some others have done their part, and, as expected, given away their reasons [see below]… thank you all for sharing!


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UPDATED: “Moving is the 3rd most stressful life event”…

A long time has gone by since I prepared this blogpost… And yet, it remains so current! Even celebrated my birthday surrounded by bubble wrap & moving boxes – it was pack out season! :o The original post was “Inspired by the FS Blog Round Up, I decided to do some research and put together a pack of interesting information about moving and packing, including my personal comments. Some of the “facts” were actually quite new to me.

Others, made me laugh. What about a bit of my life as a ‘rolling stone’? :o That’s exactly how I feel, moving every so often!

Also found some “advice” on moving with small children – supposedly, “moving with kids could be a breeze, if you plan ahead”. This is probably my favorite, and I ask: “how much ahead to you need to plan? maybe before you were joined by your kids??” :o

Anyway, here are some of the ‘facts’ about moving and packing:

Comment: Really?! Would have never guessed! :o Moving is trauma, ranked right up there with getting a divorce, losing a job or burying a loved one. But chances are you already know that. So here comes the question:

So.. Why we do it???

** just a rhetorical question! We all look forward to those intense

finding-sorting-wrapping-packing-storing days!

  • One-sixth of all Americans, an estimated 43 million people, move each year. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Comment: And 50% of all moves take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day – that’s just weird – no idea why the preference! [** And recently I learned it was because of the U.S. school year/calendar (thanks, Carla!)... now it does make sense - another hint that I'm a foreign-born spouse!] :o

  • Individuals move 11.7 times in their lifetime. (from: U.S. Census Bureau)

Comment: Already crossed that mark, even before meeting the husband and joining the FS…

  • The typical moving customer is a married couple between the ages 25 and 44, with one or two children between the ages of 2 and 11.

Comment: Good to know we’re not alone. It comforts me to know there are several other parents out somewhere, screaming and kicking … 

And here are some of the “advices”:

  • Get back to normal: For the sake of the entire family’s happiness, try not to take too long to resume doing what your family enjoys.

Comment: I’d really appreciate knowing how to get back to normal after a move, not taking long to resume to your ‘normal’ routine. Maybe I’m always too busy trying to prevent the kids from killing each other, that I may loose focus…

  • Pack late (late?) – The actual process of packing up and putting things away in boxes may be emotionally trying for preschoolers, as they see familiar and favorite objects disappear into boxes. Try to pack your preschoolers’ belongings as late in the moving schedule as possible, and reassure them that their belongings will be going to the new house.

Comment: You don’t realize how much stuff your kids have until you start packing.  BTW, where are the kids? Make sure the answer to your question is on the top of your to-do list! 

  • Pace Yourself: Your already busy schedule keeps you on your feet at all times, and moving adds a whole new list of things to do.  Plan ahead. Give yourself several weeks to pack for your move, that way you are only packing a few boxes a day. This will decrease the amount of time you need away from your everyday responsibilities, including your kids. In other words, it’s not only about keeping your kids busy, but it’s about making yourself more available during your move.

Comment: Would love to know how to pace myself. One day I’ll learn. Not next year. Not in this decade. Also, how could I “buy” several weeks ahead, for packing before a move? If I’m able to manage a semi-smooth “packing & moving” event, ensuring that our car keys and travel documents won’t be packed away with our HHE, I’ll be pretty lucky!:o  Here is some good advice (at least for me!) about keeping it real for the traveling children (thanks to “Family-Travel-Scoop”): Do talk frankly with your children about the move Do let your child express his/her feelings Do acknowledge their frustrations/anger Do research the country you are moving to with your child Do let your child say goodbye properly to the place you are leaving Do expect an adjustment period when your child has mixed emotions Do keep traditions from home alive in your new home Do maintain regular ties with family back “home” Do bring items (e.g. framed pictures) and put them in each home you live in a similar place Do involve your child with any decisions that may affect him/her if possible

Good luck to all the ones moving out this season! I’m glad we don’t have to think about packing for at least, another year…


Posted by on April 8, 2013 in FAMILY, humor, TRAVEL


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Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 14, 'Color']

DSC_8096Just mentioned [on a previous post] our recent trip to Chile, during the Easter break, taking advantage of the short and pleasant flights to Santiago. As part of our personal photo project called 52 Bolivian Sundays, inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, now it’s time to share colorful images, from recent visit to Viña del Mar, Valparaiso and the Concha y Toro Winery, located in Pirque, a few of the many scenarios spotted during our family trip to Chile.

Find here, more impressions from other bloggers… Thank you all for sharing! ♥







Posted by on April 6, 2013 in FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 13, 'A day in Valparaiso, Chile']

Just mentioned [on a previous post] our recent trip to Chile, during the Easter break, taking advantage of the short and pleasant flights to Santiago. As part of our personal photo project called 52 Bolivian Sundays, inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, now it’s time to share a day in Chile’s main port and known for its bohemian, artistic vibe and lovely vistas. I’m talking about the famous city of Valparaiso, only 70 miles northwest of capital Santiago. Its UNESCO-designated historic downtown offers charming colonial architecture, great seafood restaurants, markets and stores were our family’s chosen spot for enjoying the last Friday of March.

Sharing here, impressions and snapshots of a day well spent with our family of 5 and dear friends from our time in Africa, now, adjusted expats in Santiago. Find here, more impressions from other bloggers… Thank you all for sharing! ♥


Posted by on April 5, 2013 in FAMILY, photography, TRAVEL


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“Pay no attention to the woman behind the camera…”

Just a regular Saturday morning… Snapping shots of my most precious loved ones… simply a woman behind a camera…


Posted by on March 14, 2013 in BOLIVIA, FAMILY, LOVE, photography


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‘Hardship Homemaking': contributing to the collaborative blog…

Post originally prepared as a contribution to the Hardship Homemaking collaborative blog, which is a back to basics blog for recipes, tricks, and tips to make life overseas at hardship posts easier”. The blog is a collaborative effort, with several authors, each one sharing unique experiences and life backgrounds, most of them, with real examples of life in the Foreign Service, its implications, challenges and strategies to overcome them.

“Handling Fruits and Vegetables: Sanitary Tips

Living at hardship posts offers more than challenges to all ‘household managers’ out there. If offers us the opportunity to learn – through advice from our peers, through our own research, through experience and why not say, through mistakes – ours or someone else’s – while facing similar situations. A common concern among families living at hardship posts is ‘how to offer the best, healthiest diet to my family?’- and that includes not only how to “optimize” your grocery shopping budget, but how to ensure those beautiful fruits and veggies will be safe for consumption, even before they’re tossed in the fridge, or beautifully displayed on a fruit bowl!…” [continue reading]

Curious to learn more tips on this and other topics? Hope over to the Hardship Homemaking collaborative blog! Thank you for the interest…


Posted by on March 6, 2013 in expat, FAMILY, FOOD, foreign service


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Raising children in the Foreign Service – a brief talk about diversity.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 6.53.28 PMOriginally published as a Letter to Editors [The Foreign Service Journal, March 2013].

Diversity at State: Helping our Children.

The value of diversity promotion in the State Department was well emphasized by EEO Counselor Krishna Das (Letters to the Editor, January issue). As a parent, I see the discussion regarding how we bring up our children within the diverse Foreign Service lifestyle as equal parts interesting, challenging, and crucial. It is, of course, necessary to serve as role models for our children right from the start, particularly in teaching the lesson that everyone, despite appearances or stereotypes, deserves respect.

As noted, State Department children are highly exposed to diverse cultures, and we as parents should demonstrate why this is such an advantage to their own growth as human beings.

Building a culture of diversity starts at home, a literal reality for many State Department families. We speak different languages, come from distinct cultural backgrounds, and practice different religions. And yet in most cases, our children are growing up in a culturally richer environment than we (parents) were brought up. Children in the Foreign Service live the concept of diversity and its social implications – on a daily basis.

That said, it is often necessary for us to question what is our role as parents in this process? How can we assist our children regarding the issue of diversity? It would appear as far as diversity is concerned, we need to be extra involved in their lives: listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new, countries, discussing their questions and social frustrations, establishing a healthy communication channel, building positive identities and respect for differences. Further, we should seek ways to insert these concepts into the routines of our children’s everyday lives and help convince them through our actions that a society without discrimination is possible. It is critical for us parents and caretakers to develop ‘cultural sensitivity’ regarding our surroundings; otherwise, without specific cultural information, we may inadvertently promote practices and approaches that could counter other parents’ efforts.

One great piece of advice I once received was to “encourage your child’s friendships with others across race, ethnicity, class, religious practices, background and ability.”

The more personal experiences children have with other groups, the easier it will be to dismiss stereotypes and misperceptions.

Want to add to the discussion? Please feel free to share your comments/opinions/suggestions here!




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