Moving: Departing Brazil, heading to Cuba!

We’re officially Havana-bound, now…

Our HouseHold Effects [HHE] and the Unaccompanied Air Baggage [UAB] will soon be on their way to our next Post Assignment!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BUPwuR2B5Oh/?taken-by=expatmomof3

https://www.instagram.com/p/BUaFKTZhWMa/?taken-by=expatmomof3

https://www.instagram.com/p/BUcdln0B61H/?taken-by=expatmomof3

Thoughts on our regular ‘socially busy’ weekend…

Not much to report… our expat lives on-the-go continue to move according to plan.

We’re, although, entering the countdown mode: family pack-out scheduled for May 22nd; pre-packing, sorting, desperation mode should likely kick in about now 🙂

So much to do, and yet, not enough time, very common complaint from our fellow Foreign Service friends.

Not much to report… our expat lives on-the-go continue to move according to plan.

We’re, although, entering the countdown mode: family pack-out scheduled for May 22nd; pre-packing, sorting, desperation mode should likely kick in about now 🙂

So much to do, and yet, not enough time, very common complaint from our fellow Foreign Service friends – it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done. How many HHEs and UABs your family has separated for packing and shipping; how many pieces of advice other families with school-aged children have been shared with you. Really. You may have moved a dozen times, lived under not-so-easily-adjustable conditions, and yet, you’ll find yourself questioning your life/career decisions – exactly the same way you did during the very first move!

The Stress is Real!

 

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to avoid it. The moment the pre-packing survey takes place, we [always!] come to the realization:

“Why do we keep doing this?” or “Why did I buy this gigantic piece of furniture/decoration/local artistic whatever??”

“Why?”

And the worst part, is the look of disbelieve the movers give you hat very moment:

“WOW! We’ve encountered some strange people in this line of work”… followed by their words of ‘comfort’:

“Don’t worry Sir, we’ve seen worse” 🙂

All that said, The Mirandas have decided to begin our ‘pre-moving entertaining mode’, a proven strategy to safeguard our healthy intra-family relationships, and our sanity! 🙂

Here are a few examples of our recent weekend activities [links will take you to the images]:

And… cooking, hosting and sharing our challenges and lessons learned with friends

Or, taking a break from work! 🙂

Or even, enjoying uniquely strange moments with like-minded, equally stressed expat folks! 🙂

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! 😮

DSC_0046

DSC_0024

IMG_1754

DSC_0021

DSC_0220

Why expat life is not always a smooth ride: another infographic about expats

Expat Since Birth – A Life spent "abroad"

This is another infographic about expats (see the sources at the end of the infographic). I chose to post it here on my blog, right after the post about the Sea Change Mentoring symposium I attended last Saturday, because many issues listed in this infographic have a major impact on expact children, and Sea Change Mentoring is one place to contact when facing issues like these.

Expat life is not as easy and smooth as many people think. Especially the different stages of expatriate adjustment should be taken seriously. These stages affect parents and children, and often not simultaneously. This is exactly why parents and children should reach out for help.

Another point seems very important to me: that expats or people who envisage this kind of life, should consider longer stays in a new location in order to give their children the opportunity to pass from a “gradual adjustment”…

View original post 449 more words

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!

An open letter to my nomad children.

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...

Random thoughts on my life as a ‘rolling stone’…

Here is the question:

“If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”

Answer:

Oh, well, I guess I already live a ‘nomadic life’… Early this year I tried to ‘map it out’, describing the different places I’ve lived, as a growing child in Brazil, due to my parents work duties; later, as a researcher, and finally, as a spouse married to the ‘Foreign Service’, raising our three third-culture children, in a similar nomadic way I’d been brought up! I fell like this ‘circle’ will never end… and… why should it? 😮

directions

Here is the question:

If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”

And here, the tentative answer:

Oh, well, I guess I already live a ‘nomadic life’…  Early this year I tried to ‘map it out’, describing the different places I’ve lived, as a growing child in Brazil, due to my parents work duties; later, as a researcher, and finally, as a spouse “married into the Foreign Service“, raising our three third-culture children, in a much similar nomadic way I’d been brought up!

I fell like this ‘circle’  will never end… and… why should it? 😮

A couple years back when I began blogging, I decided to name this blog, representing/expressing what my [now 3] kids are: the product of their mom’s and dad’s hybrid/joined cultures. Moving is part of our lives, and was part of mine, way before meeting the so-called ‘better-half’.

I could define myself as a ‘serial expat’, but in a very positive way. The idea of being a ‘rolling stone’ always attracted me, and I was lucky enough to find a match who shared the same ‘itch’… we can’t stay put for long! 😮

And the best part: we’re not alone in this type of lifestyle. Recently, the movie Argo brought out  a side of the Foreign Service that only few knew about – and it made us happy. It has made us proud. We’re proud to be ‘that type of nomads‘…

There are so many bloggers sharing their life stories, experiences, travels and joys about the foreign service! They talk about learning new languages, new cultures, adapting/adjusting… moving, and re-adapting… Some time ago, I wrote about an intriguing reality: “moving is the third most stressful life event“… for real! 😮

Again, the circle does not end… why should it? We embrace the nomadic life… and welcome the changes!

Thanks for the inspiration! ♥

Happy Birthday to our Valentine’s Day baby girl!

Like herShe’s not a baby anymore… better to say, she’s a young lady… a ‘señorita’… 😮
She’s not a baby anymore… better to say, she’s a young lady… a ‘señorita’… 😮

Like her parents, this young lady has already moved quite a bit…

She was not born in Rio de Janeiro, like her momma, not in Virginia, like her daddy. She did not have her Brazilian ‘vovó and vovô’ to welcome her into this world, nor her American ‘nana and abuelito’ to greet her when she first smiled… She was born 5 years ago, while our family was stationed in Mozambique, and was fortunate enough to have the unique Pretoria (South Africa) as her birth place.

Despite not having our families around, she was [and still is!] surrounded by love, through her parents’ friends, the extended family, and her now, personal friends in Bolivia.

She’s not a baby anymore… better to say, she’s a young lady… a ‘señorita’… 😮

Like her parents, this young lady has already moved quite a bit…

She was not born in Rio de Janeiro, like her momma, not in Virginia, like her daddy. She did not have her Brazilian ‘vovó and vovô’  to welcome her into this world, nor her American ‘nana and abuelito’ to greet her when she first smiled… She was born 5 years ago, while our family was stationed in Mozambique, and was fortunate enough to have the unique Pretoria (South Africa) as her birth place.

Despite not having our families around, she was [and still is!] surrounded by love, through her parents’ friends, the extended family, and her now, personal friends in Bolivia.

This morning, before getting ready for school, still recovering from the very intense and fun Carnaval in La Paz, our girl came to our bedroom, holding her index finger upright: “Mommmy, would you believe we’re only ONE DAY away from my cumple?” 😮 She’s right: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and she knows it! For our family, this particular day will aways transcends all the commercialism, the consumerism associated with the date – it goes beyond that, it’s definitely, truly, unconditionally related to LOVE. The love between parents and their daughter…

We’re pleased, lucky and grateful for all the experiences we’ve been through, and we’re grateful for having had this intense, warm, active and loving girl into our lives for the past five years… Half a decade ago, husband and I received the best gift one could ever expect for Valentine’s Day: the birth of a baby girl! ♥ And, for the ones who may find hard to believe that there are no boundaries, limits nor geographical barriers for friendships, that little baby girl got some visitors… friends from DC [pictured below] came to meet her, while visiting South Africa… 😮 Our deepest appreciation for such a great demonstration of friendship! ♥

Baie Dankie, South Africa for such a wonderful Valentine’s!

Marcelas Birth 038

Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 6, ‘Home’].

Home is anywhere where one is able to share the joy of being alive, being its own person… Home is where we share, where we teach in exchange of learning… home is where we feel safe, surrounded by trustworthy friends… Home is the place where we share love…for a nomad like myself, trying to answer the question: “where is home” has a very unique response, because it’s a challenge to define ‘home’ for ‘serial expats’… Very personally, home is the place I feel free to be myself, and share all my passions! 😮

For this week’s photo challenge, we’re all trying to answer the question:  ‘What is home?’ Some amazing bloggers have already done it! 

What about you? ♥

Home is anywhere where one is able to share the joy of being alive, being its own person… Home is where we share, where we teach in exchange of learning… home is where we feel safe, surrounded by trustworthy friends… Home is the place where we share love…for a nomad like myself, trying to answer the question: “where is home” has a very unique response, because it’s a challenge to define ‘home’ for ‘serial expats’… Very personally, home is the place I feel free to be myself, and share all my passions! 😮

Previous Posts from the Project “52 Bolivian Sundays”: 😮

  1. Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 2, ‘Illumination’].
  2. Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 3, ‘Beyond’]
  3. Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 1, ‘Resolved’].
  4. Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 5, ‘Unique’]: the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real.
  5. Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 4, ‘Love’].

 

The Big Move: shared from the HuffingtonPost

Moving homes can be one of the most stressful times in someone’s life. Does it always have to be such a nightmare, or can there be a breezy move?
Originally aired on January 14, 2013
Hosted by: Nancy Redd
GUESTS:
Rachel Greenfield Marketing Manager, Sparefoot @sparefoot
Dean Xeros (Austin, TX) Vice President of Relocation, uShip Motors @uShip
S. D. Moore (Walnut Creek, CA) Had A Bad Moving Experience
Jeremi McManus (San Francisco, CA) Dating & Relationship Coach @jeremimcmanus
Katie Brown (Orlando, FL) Creator of the Blog “Confessions of a Young Married Couple”; Had A Bad Moving Experience @marriageconfess
[ – ] Hide Segment Info
MOVING HELP: UShip
NEW: Moving Company Legislation
GUEST BLOG: Choosing The Right Moving Company
HORROR: A New Graduate’s Shipping Nightmare
SCARY: A Moving Company Held Her Stuff Hostage
TIPS: Make Moving Easier.
WOW: Moving is the 3rd Most Stressful Life Event

Moving homes can be one of the most stressful times in someone’s life. Does it always have to be such a nightmare, or can there be a breezy move?

Originally aired on January 14, 2013

Hosted by:

  • Nancy Red
  • WOW: Moving is the 3rd Most Stressful Life Event
    Moving is a big source of stress for many Americans every year. And it’s listed as the 3rd most stressful life event.View Original