Category Archives: humor

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

How crazy it is that this topic is always so current?

and once more, our nomadic family finds itself jumping the ‘ bidding-season’ ropes… It never fails. Always exciting, nevertheless, stressful… Are we, Foreign Service folks, somewhat creatures of dark sarcastic humor? We must be, otherwise, what could be a logical, plausible explanation for continuously putting ourselves – and respective hauling families – through such an ordeal?

A long time has gone by since I first prepared this blogpost… And yet, it remains so current! Even celebrated my birthday surrounded by bubble wrap & moving boxes – it was pack out season!😮 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’?😮 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??”😮

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

Comment: Really?! Would have never guessed!😮 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 – at that time, I had no idea why the preference! [** U.S. school year/calendar (thanks, Carla!)… now it does make sense – another hint that I’m a foreign-born spouse!]😮

  • 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 8 months… Oh, boy!!


Posted by on October 1, 2016 in FAMILY, humor, TRAVEL


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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!😮 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!😮

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...😮

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!😮

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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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: Train Cemetery in Uyuni, Bolivia.


It’s said to be gateway for tourists visiting the world’s largest salt flats, the nearby Uyuni salt flat.



Founded in 1890 as a trading post, the town has a population of 10,460 (2012). The town has an extensive street-market. It lies at the edge of an extensive plain at an elevation of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) above sea level, with more mountainous country to the east.




The city also acts as a gateway for commerce and traffic crossing into and out of Bolivia from and to Chile. One of the main attraction, and in our case, for 2 visiting families, with 7 kids, ages ranging from 3 to 12 years old, is the Train Cemetery.😮



The so-called ‘train graveyard’ is located 3 km outside Uyuni and is connected to it by the old train tracks. The town served in the past as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports.



The train lines were built by British engineers who arrived near the end of the 19th century and formed a sizable community in Uyuni.



The rail construction started in 1888 and ended in 1892. It was encouraged by the then Bolivian President Aniceto Arce, who believed Bolivia would flourish with a good transport system, but it was also constantly sabotaged by the local indigenous people who saw it as an intrusion into their lives. The trains were mostly used by the mining companies. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed, partly due to the mineral depletion. Many trains were abandoned thereby producing the train cemetery.




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{Weekly Writing Challenge} Ghosts of Christmas Past…

Like many around here, I’m working right now.

Yeap. It’s December 24th, I live in a South American country – Bolivia, to be more specific, and yet, I’m at work – but not for much longer, I dream… We’re all hopefully waiting for some good news from above, letting us know we may go home. and get ready for Christmas eve. At end, in a latino country, it’s more than expected. Large family meals, moms will be cooking all afternoon for the well-deserved supper.

Oh, forgot to mention: I’m also the mom, right… the one who should be at home, cooking a feast, at this very moment!😮

But it’ll get done. Sent my dear husband on a ‘shopping mission’ (did I mention he is not working today?). I’m sure he’ll find everything I’ve asked him to search for. And once I’m home, there’ll be some cooking!

Now, talking about Christmas ghosts. My ghosts of December 24th are all sweet little creatures. All my past Christmas memories seem to be filled with happy moments, even the ones who were somewhat challenging, due to family difficulties… The ghosts in my life are lively and loving.

December 24, 2012, last year. Our first family Christmas at our new Bolivian home. Our household effects [aka stuff being held hostage by the moving company] had arrived. We decorated the house. We had a lit Christmas tree and our bundle of joy had their first Navidad Paceno.

December 24, 2011, we’re in Fortaleza, Brazil. Got to spend Christmas eve with my parents, my brothers, their wives and my niece. Chaotic as any Brazilian holiday should be. Every one talks over each other, and nobody can really hold on a conversation. But life’s still good. Kids running around, screaming… some crying here and there. My parents giving us unsolicited advice on how to raise our children [cause, you know.. we really don’t know how to keep 3 children alive, move around every so often, adjust to different countries/languages/cultures…]. And we listened to the advices, while mentally preparing our grocery list for the next day…😮

December 24, 2010, we’d arrived in Recife, Brazil, a couple of months prior. We’d also welcomed into our lives our youngest baby girl, our only child born in Brazil, like her mama. Not much of a shut-eye, restful holiday, especially with a new born, but the ghosts of Christmas were merciful, and allowed our family of 5 to enjoy the season… At the end, after being gone from Brazil for almost 10 years, I was back…

December 24, 2009, welcome to the Foreign Service Family! The Washingtonian ghosts of Christmas were applauding, secretly smiling while setting out their plans for our soon-to-be a full-time nomadic troupe! And we got trapped home, thanks to the East Coast Snowmagedon!😮

December 24, 2008, family, now with 4 members, came back to DC, after our tour in Africa. Christmas with the in-laws, and plans for the future.

December 24, 2006-2007, our family of 3 celebrated the holidays with the the colorful Mozambican ghosts of Christmas, our first overseas post as a family, as it’s dearly called ‘a hard-to-fill assignment’.

December 24,  2005, the Lima-Miranda couple enjoyed the lovely sleepless nights, while rocking our first-born. The cold DC weather brought us the ghosts of Christmas as a family. Between bottle feedings, changings and lullaby singing, the ghosts held our hands and kept us on our toes!

December 24, 2004, husband and wife are reunited, after the man-of-the-house came back from a temporary-duty at a far land… Does this sound familiar to anyone?😮 The ghosts of Christmas past made sure he’d come home safe and sound, with a nice gift to his dear wife!

December 24, 2003, we just got married [a couple of months back, but still!]. Plans for the future, naive minds, ideas of how good we’d be as parents…😮 The ghosts of Christmas made sure our newly joint bank account would have enough for a decent holiday season… And we were grateful to them…

As I started this post by saying, the ghosts of Christmas past have been nothing but nice to us. As a couple, as a beginner family, as a traveling serial expatriate bunch. We’re working well together – the ghosts and us…

Merry Christmas to you all! May your December 24, 2013 be merry and bright. I’m sure mine is!

And for the ones who are still at work… the time is coming! The clock keeps ticking, and soon, we’ll be back home… enjoying our Christmas Eve feast!😮

my 3 little ghosts

Thanks for the inspiration!

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 24, 2013 in children, foreign service, humor, TRAVEL


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This Blog won Top Tweets on ExpatsBlog! “Twenty reasons for adding Bolivia to your expat visiting list – and maybe sticking around for a while!”

Expat blogs in BoliviaExpat blogs in BoliviaThank you for all the comments, and shared tweets! Not only this blog is bringing home a sweet shopping voucher from Amazon, but the Silver Badge on the side – great way to begin this Christmas Week!😮

[Could not repeat the same feat as last year, when this blog was awarded Gold. Congratulations Jessica for representing so well this year the beautiful country of Bolivia with her ‘Bohemian Diaries’! Keep on blogging!]

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Top List Contest Winners is pleased to announced to the winners of this year’s Expat Blog Awards! The standard was simply breathtaking, with such a diverse range of talented bloggers quite clearly pulling out all the stops to bring you the best they can! Without further ado, here are the Expat Blog Awards 2013 prize and award winners…

Our Top 3 Prize Winners

Overall Winner: Kathleen Siddell
Contest Entry: The Top 8 Ideas Worth Adopting From the Chinese

1st Runner Up: Becky the Great
Contest Entry: N is for Nomads

2nd runner Up: Emily Calle
Contest Entry: Top 50 Ways You Know You’re an Expat Living in Vienna

Our Fave Reader Comment: Mrs Partly Cloudy
Contest Entry: Welcome to Singapore:don’t look down
Blog Listing: Partly Cloudy

Top FB Likes: Paul Giles
Contest Entry: The Top Six Dangers You Face When Travelling to Colombia
Blog Listing: Colombia Travel Blog

Top Tweets: 3rd Culture Children
Contest Entry: Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List
Blog Listing: 3rd Culture Children

Random Winner: Christie Montague
Contest Entry: 6 Things You Should Know About the South of France if You Want to Blend in
Blog Listing: You can go your own way

Now, here is the Top Tweets Winner Post – with all its colorful images! Thanks again for all who read, commented, shared the link, and learned a bit about Bolivia – and maybe, the ones who are now considering adding the country to their Expat Visiting List!😮


From the ExpatsBlog team of editors: “After our hugely successful Expat Blog Awards 2012 last year, we thought we’d take a different spin on this year’s awards! Realising that last year’s scenario would be unfair to recently-joined newer bloggers, we’ve decided to combine the Expat Blog Awards 2013 with a big expat writing contest!
Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry That said, here’s my pitch… If this blogpost here makes you a bit curious… hop over to ExpatBlogs and check out a list especially prepared for this year’s writing contest: Suggestions on why expats should add Bolivia to their visiting list… they’ll be so in love that may want to stick around for a while! And remember: your great comment will help this blog go for Gold… two years in a row… why not?😮

Bolivia is a culturally diverse, geographically unique and strange in so many other ways that it’s hard to find another place/country quite like it. And this statement is coming from a ‘serial expat’, a traveling mother of third-culture children, a trailing spouse married into the US Foreign Service, and a Latina-born woman.

Hummm… need more examples of the colors and textures? Take a look:

The worldly recognized, the Andean rugs…


Also, here one may enjoy the  typical “salteñas“, recipes borrowed long ago from neighboring Argentina


Craving for more? Let’s go on a quick trip towards this unique place on earth!

What you may find in Bolivia? Take a look at these images, and don’t forget: go visit the Expat Blogs and share your wonderful comment about this travel blog! [Thank you!!!]

dressed in patterns

dressed in patterns

Madre Luna, from the Moon Valley

What looks like a carpet of stalagmites canvassing a desert, Valle de la Luna, or “Valley of the Moon” is what is left of a mountain composed of clay and sandstone that has been battered by strong winds and time.

Here are more images of this unique country… looking for a bit more explanation? Check the full text prepared for this year’s contest


death road bikers...

Mountain biking trip

Mountain biking trip



Cotapata Park, Bolivia

Cotapata Park, Bolivia




bolivian unusual







Laguna Verde [‘Green Lagoon’]


Singani in Tarija



Pre-Inca Ruins

Pre-Inca Ruins

The Table of Sacrifices

The Table of Sacrifices

Pre-Inca Ruins


Immerse into the local culture and traditions







Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

[Photo credit:]


The famous “trufi”!

Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !


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From the ExpatsBlog: What are people talking about our take on Bolivia?

This is the second part of the ‘contest post’ – the article published on ExpatsBlog about our ‘list on why expats should add Bolivia to their bucket list… and maybe sticking around for a while!’ is getting some feedback! See below what others are talking about the article, and don’t forget to hop on over to Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List!, leaving your comment about our take on Bolivia for expats.

Thank you!😮

Contest Comments »  

Reader 1 wrote 20 hours ago:
 I’m intrigued: I thought Lhasa was the highest capital in the world. I’ve been there, and the mountains and the light in your pictures, and the way the people look remind me of it a lot. I hope you have a wonderful two years.
Reader 2 wrote 18 hours ago:
 I love your writing style and your suggestions make me want to visit Bolivia now! Enjoy your tour
Reader 3 wrote 8 hours ago:
 Wow! What a delight to find out about your blog from this contest. Too bad your entry as posted here doesn’t show your wonderful photography. Best to you and your family as you travel across Bolivia and the world with you open loving hearts.
Reader 4 wrote 2 hours ago:
 ADOREI SEU BLOG!! Meu Deus…you made me cry, I MISS Bolivia like crazy, everything you posted is SO TRUE…I am glad that you guys are having a great time. Being in EUR its so different from Bolivia, 180 degree change for me…the culture, the people, the weather and the community- there are no comparison, I enjoyed my time there. I miss the warmth and kindness of the people, and that I was called “señorita” by everyone made me feel very special. Great photos, keep it up, GRACIAS! for sharing. Good luck to you! Beijos!

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !


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