Photography: Third-culture Passport life…

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!!

Experiencing unpaired joy during the Rio2016 Paralympic Games

rio

 

Closing the loop on the wonderful experience this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games have brought to us.

I’ve already shared here our family’s perception and personal experiences during the Rio2016 Olympic Games. Have also introduced the curious way the Paralympic Torch would be lit, by ‘human/social media heat’.

olympic-torch

 

During the last weekend of the Paralympic Events in Rio, husband was kind enough to offer single-parenting, watching our 3 kids, so I could have the opportunity to see and live, first-hand, how the Paralympic athletes have taught us to be – all around – better human beings. Talk about overcoming life challenges, difficulties, hard times… a simple training day carries the weight of a competition. Those athletes are more than social survivors. They’re warriors. Their fight is daily. their challenges are endless. And despite all the hardships, ‘giving up’ is not [and will never be!] part of their vocabulary.

parque-olimpico

 

I have shamelessly cried. I’ve cried during the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.  I’ve cried when realized there was a female rugby player [and bwt, an awesome one!] playing along with her male teammates. I cried when I saw at the end of a match, both competing teams coming together forward and thanking their audience. That last weekend of the Rio2016 Events, was to me more than a closing mark.

I’m a mother to young children, who keep their dad and I fully busy with their sports activities. And I felt somehow guilty for – having before – complained about waking up early, and/or having to change my work schedule at the last minute to attend a game, a performance, a practice. I’ve learned my family faces NO CHALLENGES. Our life is easy. We haven’t had to overcome genuine troubling times. This September has changed something inside me. For the better. The long-weekend started with a great Friday evening at Rio’s British House, for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Reception:

 

british-house

 

The beautiful Rio2016 showed me what real difficulties are.

IMG_2335

 

On Sunday evening, September 18, last day of the Paralympics and the closing episode of the Summer Olympic Games in South America, I came back home a different person.

20160617_154524

 

feijoada

I arrived at the house and was greeted by our excited children, eager to learn about their mom’s trip. They were hovering over the cell phone, watching footage from matches I’ve attended, checking the pictures taken throughout the Olympic Park, Aqua Park [venue assembled for the swimming events], the Rio Boulevard Park, downtown Rio, by the Candelaria, the Copacabana beach front [a must see!], hiking moments along the Morro da Urca, and obviously, snapshots of their ‘mommy’, enjoying feijoada with friends in the traditional neighborhood of Santa Teresa, by the trolleys… 🙂

 

Wheelchair Rugby: England x Sweden

 

Brief moment: a little Rugby Fan enjoys the after-game party – he was the single recipient of a very special gift – one of the winner players took off his jersey and “dressed it up” over the boy.That young man was so, so happy!

 

Finally, the best of my weekend: coming home to the kids, and having our 5-year-old recite the “inclusion song” shed’d learned at school. It is definitely a small world, and we all have much to share…Here is the “mascot” of our family, holding the Rio2016 Mascot – “Vinicius”, who, alongside with “Tom” were the “guests of honor” for these Summer Olympic Games.

Peace to all & keep on blogging!

How much clutter is… too much clutter?

Not sure if I was fortunate or not, to marry a typical ‘type-A’ person, almost obsessive when it comes to organization…

On the other hand, I’m not as organized, but I love seeing things “in boxes”, or at least, stowed away (out of my sight!)

That said, and considering that we’re constantly moving because of work, one can image how difficult it become when it’s mandatory to deal with “excessive clutter and paperwork”.

Not sure if I was fortunate or not, to marry a typical ‘type-A’ person, almost obsessive when it comes to organization…

On the other hand, I’m not as organized, but I love seeing things “in boxes”, or at least, stowed away (out of my sight!)

That said, and considering that we’re constantly moving because of work, one can image how difficult it become when it’s mandatory to deal with “excessive clutter and paperwork”.

Inspired by Becky – from Small Bits – for one of the long-lost weekly State Dept Foreign Service Blogs Round up, and also trying to answer the question I’d initially proposed; I guess for my husband and I, the answer is: “any clutter is way too much clutter”…. junk is junk, and a clean house [leading to a clean soul!] is always welcome in our lives! 😮

At times, the definition of “excessive” has created some tension in our household, due to the fact that the “duo of managers” end up disagreeing on what should/could/would be discarded/trashed/shredded!

And the common result is: “darling, do you have any idea where the envelope, I left here last week, is?”

If it takes more than 10 seconds for the answer to come out, it’s a bad sign… If the answer contains anything like “you know… I was just organizing these drawers… and…” it’s even worse! At that very moment, the very “diplomatic answer” is a clear sign that your print outs/documents/personal notes are gone!! So, in order to avoid conflicts, the best solution is simply reduce the amount of clutter, or, if possible, store it away before your mate has a chance to find and “re-organize” it!

Currently, our lives are filled with useful and not-so-much paperwork, which we MUST care with our hearts, whenever we travel or move. Here’s a brief idea:

5 members of the household;

14 active passports (a couple of those in deep need of renovation.. oh, boy!);

5 medical folders, med-evac reports, consultation reports, requests for exams, and corresponding international vaccination cards;

5 birth certificates, a couple of CRIBA reports, with official/notaries translations, personal academic info, diplomas – again, translated;

Ν school reports (so far only 2 kids in school), sports progress evaluations for each kid; report cards, teacher’s notes, selected school artwork, love letters and cards (when we began with our ‘across-the-hemisphere’ dating scene, there was only the msn messenger, and of course, the good old Post Office!) printed photographs, tax files, software update CDs, performance evaluations, receipts from clients, contacts for future 360s, house rental paperwork, mortgage docs, health insurance papers, receipts for storage, bank statements… oh, my!

It is not all of it. Some documents were photocopied before the initial move, and originals are safely kept, while the photocopies travel the world.

Safeguarding your personal belongings is a must for the traveling-pants family: preparing “video inventories” is a great, paperless strategy. So far, it’s been working for us, and the best of all – it is clutter-free!

Phew! It makes me tired just thinking about boxing it all out for the next move…

Luckily, there are ways to make sure our most important folders are safe and well-taken care: pay close attention to them. All times. Anywhere.

Right now, I’m not organizing anything. Just trying to keep our documents drawer “bug”- & “fungi“- free. That’s right! One of the “bonuses” of living in a tropical setting… I’m an environmentalist, but not as much!!

Hey, I feel like I’ve already done a lot of “mental organization” and planning. I believe I deserve a break from this hard work!

Since we’re talking about paper”(work), let me “wrap” this post up by reminding myself it’s ‘bidding season’. For the ones not too familiar with the term, let me just say it takes the ‘stress levels’ up a couple of notches, and it pretty much tends to define our family’s future for the next couple of years! 😮 It’s also ‘promotion season’… Luckily, hubby did well on that front, which is a relief, at last… 

Now, just sit tight and wait for the [hopefully positive!] results of bidding!

My ‘Circles of Happiness’!

Simply loved week’s photo challenge inspiration at Wordpress, “Happy”. And I’m using the new feature, displaying the images in circles, which I’m calling today, “circles of happiness”…

What’s keeping me HAPPY, this days?!

Simply loved this week’s photo challenge! The latest inspiration at WordPress is Happy“. And I’m using the new feature, displaying the images in circles, which I’m calling today, “circles of happiness”… According to the “happiness engineers” from WP, lots have been waiting on pins and needles until they could share the new gallery formats which were announced yesterday on the WordPress.com blog! So now that they’re out, let’s put them to good use! We’re going to have a multi-photo challenge!

Let me know what do you think about this new way of telling our traveling family/expats/multicultural experiences! That’s what the ‘comments’ section’ is for! 😮

What’s keeping me HAPPY, these days??

The love we nurture within our family, the joy shown by our kids, well-adjusted to the new school, new cultures, new language, and their ability to ‘translate challenges into adventures’...

The love and support from a good husband, our joint passion for exploring and learning new South American traditions (La Paz, Bolivia), the music and dance expressions, the food (hummm!)… my endless affair for anything-chocolate… the proximity to the holidays (Halloween & Thanksgiving just around the corner!)…  so many things are keeping me happy these days!

The beautiful landscape, living surrounded by peaceful mountains and unique natural features, and my recently ‘re-discovered’ passion for painting, a way to express my love and care for this new place, we’re calling home…

All in all, we’re happy… ♥ Very happy…♥

When you’ve got more than one place in your heart… [living in-between cultures]

…you’re expected to love, honor and respect them both.

This week we are honoring the US Independence, bringing back memories from other assignments, sharing our thoughts:

Living in-between cultures, besides being an exciting experience, could be pretty challenging, as well. Raising children from hybrid cultures offers countless possibilities to keep traditions alive, maintaing memories and links to the home country always fresh. It takes a great deal of effort. But it’s worth the trouble. Witnessing your kids cherishing different traditions, honoring and respecting your and your spouse’s home countries, is worth any extra work. It’ll pay forward. 

Our kids are learning to love and respect their mixed culture. They’re beginning to understand historical events, their causes and consequences. They’re learning that any country is not just about land, but also, its people, their beliefs and their sense of social respect. Hybrid cultures are a rich experience. Hopefully, our three TCKs will grow up comprehending that the world they live in is much bigger than geography may present itself. And a country’s boundaries go as far as its people. We bring our culture with ourselves. Our traditions, our honor, our respect to others. Wherever we are. Wherever we move to. It’s good to know that some of us in the Service bring more than one country in our hearts..

This week, our hearts are proudly filled with red, white and blue colors… and as we’re heading out of Brazil, our hearts are overflowing with green, yellow and of course, blue! 😮 One day, I’ll look back at our time in Brazil as a family, piece together the best moments, best images, the favorite memories. One day, but not today. Not this week… We’re in-between cultures right now…

Love & Peace to All!

We’re out! 😮

Travel Theme: Secret Places

Every time we feel sad, lost, or a bit scared of the ‘unknown’, I tend to go find ‘shelter’ and comfort among some of our dear pictures, our memories from previous postings, and this brings me back to a more ‘stable’ self… Anyway, this week’s been bittersweet… Last days of school for our children, a few days left in country… so much to do, people we’d like to see/visit again… so little time… Moving is not easy, and this week, a little ‘less easy than usual’… This blogpost represents the transition that’s waiting for us – my appreciation to Where’s my backpack? for the inspiration! 😮

African Bath

Our family is also getting ready for our new assignment: 2012 marks the move to our first Spanish speaking post: La Paz, Bolivia. Our household will formally have 3 languages… we’ll be writing our stories and tales in different ways now… Hope it’s appreciated… 😮