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!

Book Review: “Home Keeps Moving” by Heidi Sand-Hart

by Heidi Sand-Hart

Summary: Heidi shares her life as a TCK/MK from India moving from country to country from continent to continent, and from culture to culture. She shares the joys, the excitement, and the hard ugly truth of the pain from her experiences. She uses many quotes from other TCK related books and then shares stories as examples. Some stories are her own, others are from fellow TCKs who have written about their own experiences. She discusses issues such as loss, grief, education, and “rootlessness”.

My thoughts: Loved it! I checked it out from the library and had a hard time not writing in it – so I am ordering my own copy soon. It’s not a “how to” book that gives tricks and secrets to making a TCK’s life work out perfect. Instead, Heidi gives the reader a glimpse of her journey in life. It gave me some insights to not only my children, but to my husband as well. She tackles some pretty tough subjects and I like that she doesn’t give a recipe on how to approach the difficult times. She reminded me that each TCK is different, so therefore the process for each is going to be different as well.

If you are a TCK and haven’t read this, I encourage you to check it out. It just might give you the courage to continue to seek out some unresolved issues in your life.

If you are a parent to a TCK – I recommend it just to be able to hear views from a TCK who is open and honest. You just might be get a few insights of your own.

You can get the book here at Amazon. Or if you want possible free shipping click here at Book Despository.

Your Turn: Have you read the book? What were your thoughts?

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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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When Actions Speak…

photo from

You know that American phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.”  Well, today I experienced just that.

Walking along a busy sidewalk in Taipei. Gripping Holding the hand of Jie Jie, I noticed an older couple holding hands. They were probably in their 70s, at least. I smiled. The man said something. The lady let go of his hand and slapped him on the back. The elderly man chuckled. She smiled back and shook her head. Their hands found each other and with fingers interlocked together once more continued walking in front of us. My smile broadened.

I hope Uwe and I are just like that when we are 70, 80-years old.

Nice scene isn’t it? I mean, I didn’t hear/understand the conversation, but I gathered up enough about this couple to know that they have a love for each other still. It was apparent in the way that they interacted with each other.

About, oh say, twenty steps later, I was struck with this thought, What do my kids see from me? Do they see love? Do they see patience? Do they see forgiveness? Do they see joy? Ouch…

We tell our kids to do this and to do that. Or maybe more so, don’t do this or don’t do that, or stop that now. But, what are we showing them in our actions? They learn more from what we do, rather than from what we say. Seriously, think about it. What did you actually learn from your parents? Was it something they said? Or something they did? Yeah, me too…

Well, if you think times have changed because of social media…wrong. I just read a paragraph from a middle school student about the same thing. This student wrote about how adults always tell him what to do, but he sees that these same adults do just the opposite. Hmm, interesting, isn’t it?

Actions do speak louder than words.

Your Turn: Do you agree with this phrase or not? Why? 

Holiday Blues

Sad snowman on Commonwealth Ave.

photo by flickr

I’m beginning to see Facebook statuses that read:

“He’s here! He’s here! Let the fun begin!”  or

“I’m at — airport and only a few more hours left to be home!”

I’m excited for my friends and their children that get to be with them for the holidays, but it made me begin to wonder about the ones that won’t get to see their kids this year. Living overseas can be difficult during the holiday times, especially if your children are no longer living with you and can’t come “home” for Christmas. You worry about where they might go, how they are going to get there, among all the other worries you already have about them.

Many go to visit grandparents or aunts and uncles.

What if your child is not from the country where they now residing and can’t come “home” for the holidays? Where will they go? What will they do?

I’ve thought about this and have watched Facebook and listened to moms here that are in this scenario. Here is what I’m “seeing”:

1. They are going to friend’s houses for the holidays. Fellow TCKs they know from high school whose parents have moved back.

2. Hanging out with other international students during the holidays.

3. Hanging out with college roomate and family or new friends they have made.

If you’ve had children that couldn’t come “home” for the holidays, what did they do? How did you cope? Please share in the comments below.

Christmas Gifts for the Grandparents

Christmas presents under the tree

photo by flickr

Buying presents is something I like doing. Even though I live overseas, I like coming up with ideas for my nieces and nephews. Sometimes this is done online, but most of the time it is at the local market.

What I do find hard is buying for the grandparents. My husband’s parents lived here and have every little trinket and painting that they have to offer in this Asian country. My mother doesn’t need another trinket, table covering, wall hanging, etc. So, a few years back I began to think about this dilemma. What do you buy them? Do I just add money to the gift fund that all my sibs are doing and let them buy the gift for us? Do I try to find a new book that they haven’t read?

A light went on. The one thing they don’t have is seeing my kids on a regular basis. I decided to make something with them as the focus. So, here are just a few gift ideas that I have given in the past.

Note: I’m not mentioning this year’s idea because they might read this. But, I’ll post a picture of it AFTER Christmas.

1. Home DVDs of the kids.

2. Calendars with the kids’ pictures for each month. I’ve used Shutterfly, which has been great because they mail all over the world.

3.  Album of specifically of our time with them that previous summer/winter. This I also did with Shutterfly.

4. I’ve had the kids trace their hands to make various craft projects. This was a visual for them to see how big they really were getting. I’ve made Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths. Pinterest is a good resource for finding ideas of this sort.

I have this year’s gift almost completed, which is a good thing since I’m about out of time to get it there before Christmas Day!

What are some gift ideas that you have for the grandparents? Any favorite that they really liked the best? Please share in the comments below.

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Christmas Traditions Broken

I’m sure you have certain traditions in your family that you just do at certain times of the year. Our family is no different. Christmas has become a time of traditions for our family.

Here is a small sampling of our traditions:

  1.  Make Christmas cookies
  2. Put up the Christmas tree and stockings the weekend of American Thanksgiving.
  3. Drink hot chocolate with straws while enjoying the lights of the Christmas tree.
  4. St. Nicholas clean their shoes and we put fruit and candy in them.
  5. Open presents from our German family members on Christmas Eve.
  6. Open presents from our American family members on Christmas Day.

The kids pretty much remember them, so we have kept them. Except for this year…

  1. We didn’t get our tree up until mid-week after Thanksgiving.
  2. We forgot St. Nicholas Day! That morning we told the kids that we’d do it “tomorrow.” Well, that didn’t happen either (and probably will not happen this year).
  3. Haven’t made ANY Christmas cookies, yet.

I think about beating myself up with all that I’ve NOT gotten done, but then I think about what we are doing and what we are going to do. And more importantly, what Christmas is all about in the first place.

  1. We started reading from the Jesse Tree Advent devotional. Something I have really enjoyed. I hope to sew together this tree and ornaments to go along with our readings for next year. A new tradition in the making…
  2. We are going to make cookies together this weekend and during the first week of vacation. There is still time.
  3. Christmas Eve will be shared with some dear friends of ours. We will have our traditional Christmas Eve meal…brauts, baked potato salad, red cabbage, and Christmas cookies!
  4.  Christmas Day will come and we’ll hear the wrapping paper rip, the shrills of delight from the girls, and watch our three little blessings enjoy being blessed.

I may not have accomplished all that I have wanted to this year in regards to traditions, but I’m enjoying the simplicity of things because of it. Maybe that was how it was intended to be in the first place.
Simply a Babe born.                                                                                                         Simply laid in a manager.

I like that.

What are your family traditions during the holiday season? Have you dropped some of those traditions or started new ones? Please share below.

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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!