Hospitality is More Than Hosting…thank goodness!

I’m trying something new this week. I’m joining in on Velvet Ashes Friday’s “The Grove”. This week the topic is hospitality.

I’ve never felt like I’ve excelled at hospitality. I’ve had to learn how to host parties and I’m not so good when unexpected circumstances are thrown my way. Ask my husband about the time we had invited the staff at school to an end-of-the-year party in our home. Literally, a few hours before they were to arrive I had to call the exterminator. Gathered around a large rectangular ceiling light were thousands of tiny termites…with wings. Did you know they could fly? I panicked. He stepped in and had all the tables moved outside. The party became a total outside only party. He’s my hero. Oh and the pesky bugs were taken care of the next day and all went back to normal.

After reading this post a light came on. Hospitality is not just about hosting dinner parties or having guests over for Kaffee und Kuchen. It’s about treating others in a kind and loving way. Duh! I “feel” THAT hospitality quite often from people around me. 

I traveled down memory lane to the many moves we’ve had in the last fifteen years of marriage, the difficult pregnancies, the “stormy diagnosis months“, and the “just because we thought of you” times in our lives. The people that I’ve met at various stages in my life and the friendships gained have been great – but I’m so thankful and feeling so blessed by the hospitality offered. You know who you are….

~ the family that let me live with them for a month so I could be near the hospital when I was pregnant with my oldest. (premie baby)

~ the couple who let me invade their apartment with my almost two year old due to another pregnancy issue.

~ the young couple who offered to watch our two children right after Jie Jie was diagnosed and using the feeding tube so that we could get away for our fifth year anniversary.

~ the two single ladies who watched our two oldest children so that we could travel to pick up our third from the orphanage – and how they helped our son make a “Welcome Home” sign for the door.

~ the lady (boss’s wife) who unpacked my kitchen and organized it for me while I went shopping for furniture.

~ the friend who watched my three little ones so I could attend a ladies conference.

~ that family that brought us homemade enchiladas and mango ice when Jie Jie was in the hospital for a week. Plus they picked up our other two from school!

~ that friend who brought by a huge stuffed Monkey for Jie Jie the other time she was in the hospital, so she wouldn’t be alone.Then sat with her so that I could slip out for a quick walk and use the bathroom.

~ that family that gave us their van for the summer to use because ours had no air-con.

~ that friend who read about fast-food being my BFF while we were changing apartments – so she brought over a huge fresh salad with so many toppings. It was truly the best!

~ that lady from church that we had just briefly met offering us to use their yard while they were away for the summer so our kids could play and we could enjoy private outdoor space.

This is hospitality…treating others in a kind and loving way. It’s like the homemade ice-cream that tops the blackberry cobbler that my mother lovingly makes each time we are back for a visit. Hospitality is sweet. It’s special. It’s given.

So, thank you to everyone who has helped me pack, move in, invited our “circus family” to your home. We have truly been blessed. I know I didn’t write every single thing, because well…you’d be reading for a few days if I listed it all….

Your TurnHow have you been blessed by hospitality from others? Share your blessing in the comment below.

 

And the winner is….

I just finished up packing up my classroom for the summer. Summer vacation begins…in another two weeks for me. I signed up to teach some creative writing classes at a camp here – but should be fun. It’s camp, right?

I’ve so enjoyed this week of writing about transitions to celebrate publishing my 100th post and helping Valérie promote her debut kidlit book, B at Home: Emma Moves Again. I wanted to say thanks again to her for taking time to answer questions for an interview and for giving a signed copy of her book away to a reader. I also wanted to say thank you to all of you who entered the giveaway and supported it by sharing about it on various social media avenues. Thanks!

Now, for the winner. The signed copy of B at Home: Emma Moves Again by Valérie Besanceney goes to emmanuelle niollet. Please check your email for an email from me. Valérie can mail you the book as soon as we get an address. Congrats!

 

100th Blog Post and Giveaway!

Watched the show from our rooftop!

Bring out the Fireworks!

In China, and in many Asian countries, families celebrate the 100th day of the newborn baby. I kind of think of “Raising TCKs” as my baby. Although, it has definitely been over 100 days since I first posted on this site, this is the 100th post. Yes, I’ve finally gotten the 100th post published. For this grand feat, I’ve decided to celebrate with a giveaway. This giveaway idea came at the perfect time and is somewhat me. How so? Well, it is about TCKs, living overseas, and a book. Perfect, right? (for those of you who know me well, know this really is perfect)

Okay, so what is the big giveaway? It is a signed copy – yes you read that right, a SIGNED copy – of the book B at Home: Emma Moves Again by Valérie Besanceney. I can’t believe that Valérie is helping me celebrate in this way. Have you heard of this book? It was just published and released by Summertime Publishing a few months ago. I did a book review that you can read here. Check it out. If you are an expat with children or you work with children, this is a book you will want to have on your shelf.

Next week, I’ll be writing more posts regarding the theme behind B at Home: Emma Moves Again, including an interview with Valérie, who shares the background story. You won’t want to miss that post. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you might want to now so that you’ll receive the notice in your email regarding this interview. You can subscribe at the top on the right hand side.

Details of the giveaway: This giveaway is open for one week. It is open now and will end Friday, May 30th at noon Taipei time. A few options are available to earn points that will be “drawn” by Rafflecopter. All you need to do is click on the options below in the chart and go for it. Note that some of the options you can do daily. On Friday, I will announce the winner, who will need to contact me with an address. Valérie will then mail the signed copy.

Please pass the word around about this giveaway. Both Valérie and I would appreciate it!  ~Thanks

So, why are you still reading? Go and enter the contest!

**I’m noting that the “Chart” is not coming up, but if you click on the link for Rafflecopter, it will take you to the site to sign up there!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summer Camps for a TCK

Camping kids 3-a
Summer camps…Oh, the memories.

Swimming in the lake after tipping the canoe over…

Raiding the boy’s cabin and having our cabin raided…

Shooting the bow and arrow, sometimes hitting the mark…

Pounding wet leather keychains with my initials…

These memories took place at church, 4-H, and in FFA camp (remember I grew up in Small Town, USA). They were fun times away from home for one week, but I learned new skills, made friends, and began to practice my independence. I had to remember to change my underwear, brush my teeth, and all those things that my mom probably reminded me everyday to do.

Now, my kids are getting older and we have been looking at sending the oldest to camp. Living overseas sometimes makes it hard to find camps because either 1) there are very few or none in your area or 2) they are in the local language, which is fine if your child speaks the language well enough to cope for 24/7 for a week, but doesn’t workout if you just recently arrived.

As I’ve been looking around, I’ve actually discovered – probably because I’ve never looked before – that there are more and more camps geared towards those kids living overseas. You can google “TCK camp” and get a few hits. Here is what I found:

Thousand Hills TCK Camp – They only had a Facebook page, but they are a cattle ranch in Guizhou province of China.

OSCAR – is a site for Missionary families in the UK. They have a listing of many events going on for kids re-entering the country.

Camp Beyond – geared for older kids who want to experience America, who may not have a chance to do so otherwise. They target the Asian community, but I think it would be a great experience for anyone wanting to experience outdoor education. They have a Youtube video linked to this site that really shows what they do during their sessions.

This year we are breaking in slowly. We are not traveling “back” to the US or to Germany – so we are looking at a Bible Camp for GeGe that is put on here, on the island, during the summers. He is excited – I am too, but as I remember my list of memories I take a deep sigh and think, “Oh, what goes around may just come around…my poor mother.” HA!

Your Turn: Have you ever sent your child off to camp before? Share below your experiences with us.

 

Why do I blog?

BLOG IDEASWhy do I blog? Why does anyone blog, really? I’m sure for some it is a place they can put their thoughts down. I know for others it is a place to practice the art of putting words into a format to better their craft. For me? Well, it is a mixture really. I am amazed I have people who subscribe to read this blog. I really am. I mean there are many who blog these days – and they blog about anything and everything. If you think you have an odd hobby, I’m sure there is someone out there blogging about it – if not then they’re on Pinterest, for sure.

I was humbled again a few months ago when Jo Parfitt asked me to write a guest post for Summertime Publishing about why I blog. A real publisher asking me to write an article. For this reason, it took me awhile to put into words an article to submit. If you are interested in why I blog, then you can head here to read more about it.

Thank you for following me, for leaving a comment.

Happy New Year! and the Top 5 Countdown of 2013…

Watched the show from our rooftop!

The New Year is rapidly approaching here in the Far East. Usually at this time of year I’ve chosen My One Word for the upcoming year and preparing for the celebration that we have as a family each year (not that the kids have stayed awake with us). Well, this year has been different. We have been battling the flu this past week. So I do believe the New Year would have slipped by without us noticing, but Social Media wouldn’t let that happen to me.

No, Social Media has become everyone’s best friend. He? She? Whatever…It reminds of of birthdays, updates us on breaking news, and of course gossip. This year though, I got an email from my web-host, WordPress, reminding me that the New Year was here and to let me know what my Top 5 Posts of the 2013 were.

So, without boring you about the “sick apartment” and what I have scrounged up to feed the family tonight – and maybe some games/movies I’ve picked out…I’ll just end with the list and a HUGE Thank you for taking time to read these mere thoughts of mine and for even posting comments.

Drum Roll….

5. Meeting a Famous TCK – I had the chance to listen to author Linda Sue Park! (And apparently this was right before another attack of the flu in our apartment….hoping 2014 leaves us with less Flu attacks!)

4. Awareness Week for Cri-du-What? Syndrome – Cri-du-Chat Syndrome is what Jie Jie has and I wanted to help promote awareness to it and the organization that has helped me and others gain support and understanding.

3. An Expat Special Needs TCK Parent – Boy, was that a mouthful of a title…

2. Make Sure to Say Good-bye – This was a tribute and a reminder that you just don’t know when it will be the last time – so make those good-byes good ones.

1. Combating Loneliness in Expatland – I’m guess I definitely not the only one…

So there you have it, the Top 5 at Raising TCKs. So, now to get onto my One Word for 2014…

Happy New Year!

Combating Loneliness in “Expat-land”

Loneliness in expat-land is a feeling that can unfortunately be constant – what I mean is that it will can come and go with every transition. Sometimes it creeps in during the holidays or when visiting friends and family. Other times it pounces on you after the big move and the husband is off to work and the kids are off to school – your alone and would love to get a coffee with a friend, a friend that you don’t have in the new place ~yet.

ypamphitheater

One of my dear friends just wrote me this week. She’s been in her new country for almost six months. She has two very active toddlers with her, and she left two step children back “home” for college. Her husband is gone this week and she is feeling very lonely and homesick. Can you relate? I know I can.

Or how about the parent of a child with special needs? What I’m about to share is not meant to point fingers or start a pity party club for me. It is just a fact of life, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has felt this way. So here it goes *deep breath*I have felt at times lonely in the middle of a party. All the adults are gathered in the living room or around the snack table chatting, laughing, and relaxing. The children are outside playing basketball, riding bikes, or in one of the rooms playing legos or dolls. I’m wherever Jie Jie is ~ I’m sitting at a table feeding her a snack or outside helping her “ride” a bike. I’m usually by myself feeling uncomfortable and fighting the big bad bully: Loneliness. Please note that this is only at times, not every time and it is just a fact of my life. 

What did I tell my friend? What do I do in those times when I want to run to my room and cry like a teenager?

I run to my room and cry on my bed like a teenager. Yes, I do. I’ve learned that it’s okay to cry, to be sad. Crying is healthy to do in doses. The key to not letting my tears turn into something worse like depression is that once the tears stop, I immediately begin praising God for who He is and what He has done in my life. I turn on some praise music and sing really loud. I begin a list or look at a list that I’ve made of all the things I have to be thankful for: a home, food, therapy for Jie Jie, school for all my kids, a great husband, sunshine, chocolate, etc.

Then when my mind is starting to lighten up a bit, I call a friend and make a “date” for coffee.

Your Turn: What do you do to fight the battle of loneliness? Please share in the comments below.

If you like what you are reading, you can subscribe at the top right. Also, you can find me on Facebook where I post other articles that I find from other sites that are relevant to raising Third Culture Kids.

 

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When My Name was Keoko – Book Review

“What did you like about the book?” I asked my eleven year old son about When My Name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park.

I’m enjoying this season in life. My son is older and now reading books that I find interesting. He doesn’t like discussing them with me still, but he will give me his opinion.

A month ago, or so, I took my son to Taipei American School to listen to Linda Sue Park. After listening to her that evening, I wrote a post about the importance in telling family stories to our children. One of the books that she talked about that night was When My Name was Keoko. Both of us like WWII, so we both couldn’t wait to check that one out from the library.

I thought this was a great book for upper elementary and middle school TCKs. I believe that they could relate in someways, especially if they are South Korean.

1. The characters are TCKs: The events of WWII were from the point of view of Sun-yee and Tai-yul, a Korean sister and brother. The children at this time were really more like TCKs in their own home country. The Japanese occupied Korea and tried to replace the Korean culture with Japanese culture. One of the ways was by changing everyone’s names to Japanese names. So, Sun-yee became Keoko; and Tai-yul became Nobuo. Throughout the story you see the family struggle to hang onto their Korean culture by trying to teach the children what it means to be Korean.

2. Language is important: Korean was forbidden to be used during this time. All classes were conducted in Japanese. No one was to speak or write in Korean. Because of this, the Korean language was almost lost. We see that Sun-yee’s father saw the relationship between culture and language, so he secretly taught her the Korean alphabet.

3. To see the human-being: What I mean is not being judgmental towards other nationalities. Sun-yee’s good friend until she got older was the Japanese neighbor boy. She doesn’t see in her friend what everyone says and calls the Japanese. She is confused by this. When she is older, she does become friends with the Korean girls, but she never has harsh feelings about her neighbor. In fact, they help each other out at different times.

My son’s opinion about the book? He told me that he really liked reading about the Asian side of WWII and that he really liked the ending.

Your Turn: Have you read this book? What did you find in it that your TCK could relate to? Please comment below.

Parenting TCKs Top Ten

 

10. You memorize expiration dates: passports and resident cards – because if you don’t and they expire you know how much it will be to get it all worked out.

9. Home communication becomes a mixture of words and phrases from various languages. (eg. Chinglish)
8. Airport security doesn’t scare you – even with all the changes.
7. Who needs Google Translator when you have a live version living with you? (kids always learn the language quicker)
6.Vacations are planned by looking at countries not gone to.
5. You know certain words like fever, diapers, toilet in many “foreign” languages, but are not fluent in any of them.
4. You don’t need to print off the directions for filling out a passport, because you do it often enough between you and your children.
3. You know the guards and office workers at the Embassy from all the visits for passports, citizen abroad papers, etc.
2. When your child(ren)’s friends come over to the house, your living room looks like a mini United Nations.
Though this is number one, it does NOT in anyway count as my favorite – I’d say it is the hardest of all…

Drum Roll, please……

1. You take your child to college in another country and watch them grow/struggle to figure out who they are as a TCK.

And there you have it, my Parenting TCKs Top Ten

Your Turn: Anything you’d add to this list? Please comment below.

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Debunking the Excuse Rail – Part 3

Emotions. They can really get to us, well I can say to most of us. There are a few of you out there that are very logical and keep us emotionally minded people grounded. That is why I’m so thankful for my husband – well, I’m not usually so thankful during the time he is being logical and I’m not, but later after I get past all the “feelings” I am so grateful that he was there with his stable mind, especially when dealing with “feout“.

Emotions are not all bad, though. They are good to have. Without them we can’t really comfort those that are hurting, nor can we celebrate with those that are rejoicing. I sometimes tend to be more emotional, than logical. I’m a woman, what can I say? Though, I may have emotional outbursts, I’ve learned to not make decisions based entirely on them. If I did, I’d never get out of bed in the morning and make breakfast for the hungry crew of four. Thus, the reason for debunking those excuses. This is the last of this “series” from me, though as I ponder this topic, I am seeing more places/situations arise – as I’m sure you are probably starting to see in your own life.

This “excuse” that I’m about to share, though, is the winner – the one that began this whole pondering process.

It all began with reading this post on parents of special needs children. Especially this section:

The panic and constant state of anxiety parents of special needs children experience almost become a part of you.  It consumes you.  The nature of the beast becomes embedded in our brains and we know that with so many variables to triggers that we can never completely let our guard down.  Many parents become proficient at being proactive, walking on eggshells and creating a sensory friendly world that is foreign to others.  We are militant in our preparedness to avoid that dreaded meltdown and disregulation that once started can set off a chain reaction that can last hours or even days.  Studies have shown that special needs parents have cortisol levels equal to or higher than war veterans. We are warriors.

Read that last part again, “special needs parents have cortisol levels equal to or higher than war veterans”. If you are wondering, “Cortisol is a biological marker that plays an important role in linking stress exposure to health problems”, says Rick Nauert PhD in his article “Parental Stress with Special-Needs Children“.

And everything made sense...

Okay, honestly I already knew I had high stress in my life. I mean I have performed the  Heimlich countless times, I’ve had surprise nutella splatters, conditioner baths to clean, unplanned wall paintings, falls, a whole handful of hospital stays (with just Jie Jie alone), and I’ve lost the little rascal in an airport. Life is stressful with a special needs child – I agree with both of those articles.

But it was interesting how I responded right after I had the reason for my stress levels.

Yes, my response to the study that my cortisol levels were the same, if not higher than a war veteran’s was lame. I used it as an excuse. In my head I could eat more chocolate “because I’m highly stressed and need it for sanity purposes.” I also used it as an excuse for when I’d get really upset with my other children or with my husband. I found that for a few days I would immediately think of that report and excuse my behavior.  “I can’t help it, my cortisol levels are just too high,” I’d say to myself.

But, something in my gut disagreed, so I began some searching…

In reality, it was the scales and the tightness of my pants that directed that spotlight to my attention of my silly thinking. The book I mentioned in Part 1 also blew this thought process out of my mind. Yes, it is the truth that I’m under some stress, stress that is causing super high levels of cortisol – but it shouldn’t excuse my behavior. In fact, it should have caused me to step up my game in taking care of myself, or as what Dr. Neusert calls in his article, “stress-reduction strategies”.

So there you have it – don’t let scientific reasons become your excuse for your behavior whether towards yourself or to others. We are responsible for how we treat each other – and as parents, especially living overseas, we teach our children how to treat others.

I’ll share next week what those “strategies” are that I’m now doing and I’d like to share what others are doing to reduce their stress. So please share below in the comments what you do to reduce stress, especially if you are a parent of a special needs child living overseas.

 

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