Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

A simple pink carnation…

Green plants with pink flowers dotting the arrangement….

Pink construction paper folded with a note scribbled by a child…

These thoughts fill my head when I think of Mother’s Day.

Having lived in Taiwan for a few years another thought has come to mind…Mother’s Day Ads.

Yes, ads selling cakes and cookies at the convenience stores, restaurants having special Mother’s Day meals, and other places offering whatever for a good price for your mother. It’s like Christmas for the Mom’s only club, which is great if you are a mom and if your family goes for that type of thing. 

I’m a mom, but my kids don’t get into the “buy mom all the great deals”. Do they love me? Yes. Do they appreciate me? I’m pretty sure most of the time. Does my husband not care and love me? He cares greatly and loves me way too much.

Why not go all out and get me the works? Because I don’t want all of that. I’d much rather spend time with them. In fact my favorite Mother’s Day was just a few years ago when they didn’t buy me a thing. Instead, my husband planned a day at the beach. He had a picnic packed and we left early before traffic. We were the only ones on the beach and it was perfect.

Waves splashing….

Sand in my toes…

Those are now my newest thoughts when someone mentions Mother’s Day to me now.

Your Turn: How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Any special one that you remember the most? Please share in the comments below.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

A TCK kind of ad…

Maybe you’ve seen this commercial from HSBC, but I just watched it today while waiting in the lobby at the American Institute of Taiwan. It made me giggle. I thought: This has TCK written all over it. Watch and see what you think…

I could totally see my kids doing this, couldn’t you?

Children and Visas…

“If all this trouble saves one child from being trafficked, then it is worth it,” my husband said after he told me what all we needed to do to get visas for the kids for a two day trip to China.

Yep, I love that man.

Why are we going to China? It’s a fun expat story…

We decided to try to use our miles to get at least one ticket back to the US for the summer. Turns out that after years of traveling and saving miles we were able to get THREE tickets using miles. Amazing, isn’t it? So, I and the girls are using those tickets.

There’s a catch. There is always a catch. We have to make a stop over in China.

“That’s okay,” I say. “It is still cheaper to get three visas and a hotel than to buy three tickets. And, hopefully I’ll get to visit some friends while we are there.”

Last week I had a good friend book the hotel.

Visas. We called and found out that we need documents. Lots of documents for the kids. Original birth certificates. Passports. Old passports with old China visas. Adoption records. Basically anything that shows these kids are ours, legally.

My mind was blown. So. Much. Work. UGH!

But then my brilliantly smart compassionate man said, “If all this work saves even one child from being trafficked, then it is ALL worth it.”

My mouth shuts. All my complaints deflate because I know he is right. And I’m glad he’s right.

Your Turn: Ever used miles to buy tickets before? What is your story on the prep work to travel with kids?

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Cherry Coke, Kinderschokolade, and Seaweed

Cherry Coke has made its way back to Taiwan. At first, I thought it returned to only the special “expat groceries”. You know the ones that carry all the yummy delights that you miss from your “home” country. Nope, they can be found at pretty much any convenient store. Which didn’t excite me, because I’m not a huge fan of soft drinks, but many of my friends posted it with photos on the Facebook status.

I guess it excited my son as well. He just had to have one the other day. I laughed to myself because I don’t think he’s ever had cherry coke, and if he has it was at least 2-4 years ago. How could he remember THAT? It’s not that special. Could it be because it is “American” and we are visiting family there in a few weeks? Or because his American classmates/teachers were all raving about its return?

His excitement spilled over onto my youngest, Mei Mei. I know there is no WAY she could remember drinking it, but it is now her favorite “soda” (btw, we only drink soft drinks about once a week if even that).

This incident made me analyze what my kids say their favorite snacks and beverages are. The results were interesting, but not really surprising. It was a mixture of cultures.

  • “American” culture – Cherry Coke, Nerds, Cheese Puffs (just found out this one today)
  • German culture – Kinder Eggs and Nutella
  • Asian culture – seaweed, kimchi, seaweed flavored chips, shrimp flavored chips

This is just a basic lists of their favorites, but I think it shows a visual of who they are as a TCK. Not that each “culture” is filed and organized, but that it is mixed together forming a part of who my kids are. Ge Ge’s mixture might have many of the same ingredients as Mei Mei’s, but they differ each other just as much as they differ their sister, Jie Jie.

I’m reading a book on TCKs right now called Home Keeps Moving by Heidi Sand-Hart. Though I’m getting some great insights about my own TCKs, I must remember one thing while raising them: They all are third culture kids, but they are very unique and differ from each other. 

Your Turn: So, what do your kids find to be their favorite foods? Have you found them to be a mixture of cultures? 

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Holiday Cheers

Although living overseas can bring some holiday blues, it can be blessed with some good cheer as well.

Here are some of my blessings this year:

1. Skype: We were able to skype with most of my family just this past weekend. I have 4 siblings and they are all married with kids and some with grandkids even , so there are a lot of people to visit with. Skype wasn’t so nice to us, as we had trouble…but considering that we were able to see each other briefly over miles and miles of ocean, I really can’t complain. Something that was NOT available when I first moved overseas.

2. Boxes like this! LOVE my European chocolate and candy…do I really have to share it with my kids and husband? 

3. Putting up the Christmas tree and looking at all the ornaments like this and this.

4. Keeping old traditions and making new traditions.

My kids are all home now for vacation. They are counting down the days on an hourly basis. I love my time with them watching Christmas movies, sipping hot chocolate, and watching Christmas tree lights.

I pray that your Christmas holiday is one full of joy, peace and good health.

Merry Christmas!

Your turn: What has brought you cheer during this Christmas season? Please share in the comments below!

An Expat’s Christmas Tree

I love Christmas. I love listening to all the carols new and old. I love the smells of cinnamon, ginger, and all things Christmas-y.

I love the laughter and squeals from my girls as my husband begins to assemble the tree.

I love the excitement as I open up the black luggage tote full of ornaments. Ornaments that ring out our family’s history. Like these:

Our first Christmas together.

The Christmas we spent in Austria.

The Christmas in Germany.

Our last Christmas in China.

Our Christmas in the US.

This is a tradition that my husband and I started our first year. We make sure that we have a new Christmas ornament for each year.

Each has it’s own story to tell and we talk about our time in that place or the events of that year. I love this because we pass down stories to our kids. Some stories portray them as the main characters. Other stories they are not part of, but each year we remember. It’s good to remember. Remember the fun times, the hard times, the joyful times, the times of grief.

It’s during these times of remembering that I’m reminded to be thankful. Thankful for all the good friends I’ve met. Thankful for all the beautiful places I’ve been to. Thankful for the family I’ve been able to visit during the Christmas seasons of past. And to be thankful for what this season means to me and my family.

That Love came down as a Babe.

Do you have a special ornament that tells a story from a Christmas somewhere? Please share in the comments below.

*Sorry that some of the pictures wouldn’t flip correctly. I tried, but it just wouldn’t let me. Ugh!

Traveling without Kids: Packing their bags


Flickr Photo by Andrew Stawarz

Sometimes couples just need to go away for the weekend without the kids. And there maybe times when couples need to leave for a longer period of time for business. It’s during those times that the Extended Family Tree comes in quite handy.

My friend and her husband had to leave the country for meetings a few weeks ago. I thought she did a great job preparing her child and us for that week, so I asked her if I could share some of the things she did.

So, here is the list:

1. Contact information: This is a given that you’d leave your contact information, but still want to note it because it can be the one thing we forget to give the caregivers. You should have any phone numbers and email addresses that you can be reached at. Also, skype is a great cheap way to communicate with the caregivers. Or setting up a “skype date” with your child mid-week to see how they are doing would be fun for all.

2. Medicine: Another given, but still worth mentioning. Vitamins and any other medicine that your child needs to take should be labeled with clear directions. You can even divide it up into days by using those daily tablet holders.

4. ID card and passport: This is something none of us like/want to think about, but anything can happen in the world and we need to have our passports ready and easily available in case we need to leave the country immediately. This is true for your child as well. Leave their passports with the caregivers, so if there should be an emergency, they have all their important identification records with them. Also, make sure you leave any insurance cards or other health information like their pediatrician’s name and number just in case of an emergency.

5. Extra money: This may not be necessary, but it is a nice gesture to help with any extra costs that may come up during that week.

6. Favorite foods: Make some cookies or muffins anything that is a comfort food to your child. Take it to the caregivers so that your child has food he is familiar with, something that speaks of home and you and that will bring comfort him while you are away. This is also really helpful if your child tends to be a picky eater.

7. Little presents: Wrap small packages with little notes for your child to open each morning he/she wakes up. This package can be small treats, erasers, really anything that you would like to give. This makes the time go quicker for those that do not like to be away from you AND it makes it more fun for those that enjoy the sleepovers.

Okay, your turn. Have you ever had to leave your kids with friends? Have you been the caregivers? Any other ideas or thoughts from your experience?  Please comment below.

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