Monday, 29 October 2012

I believe.

I believe in signs. I believe in karma. I believe in the little things.
I believe that when pink skies guide you into a safe landing on the first leg of a journey, it is going to be a good one.
I believe that when our first glimpse of our newly adopted country looks as beautiful as this, it is a good sign of things to come.
I believe that when you arrive to your new home to learn there is a fountain in your foyer, hilarity and time outs will ensue.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Nueva Adventuras

We have left the US for our next post and are slowly getting our footing in San Salvador. I remain convinced that my daughters are some of the world's best (if not enthusiastic) world travelers.

Friday, 19 October 2012

My contribution

Allison Tate's piece in the Huffington Post was spot on -

Monday, 10 September 2012

A must have for every EFM

In an ideal world, there would be a CLO for incoming EFM's and the CLO would be able to provide them with a welcome basket of goodies.
Included would be a slew of amazing books, including "Married to Adventure" by Osa Johnson. I devoured the book, as I hoped to gain insight into living around the world as a "trailing spouse". (Can we all vote it is time to get ourselves a new, hipper label? That one makes me a bit sick). In case anyone is curious, also included in this basket is a sense of humor, tequila and band aids.
When I clicked onto a website this morning and saw this new (to me) Kate Spade clutch, I almost passed out.
Kate always gets it right. I adore her sense of whimsy and fun when it comes to design.
I know nothing about fashion. I do, however, know that every woman needs and deserves at least one clutch in her collection and this should be standard State Department issue.

Friday, 7 September 2012


September 4, 2012

Dearest Allison -

This is a big week. You start Kindergarten and you turn 5.

You are thrilled about both. And contrary to the tears that keep falling, I am thrilled as well.

You have always loved learning and having a schedule, so school is very comfortable for you. You were up this morning two hours before drop off, ready to go.  Like everything else in your life, you face things head on with bravery and enthusiasm.

School is wonderful, and I am excited for you to explore a new world, surrounded by your peers and friends. Asking good questions, learning, reading, exploring.

As you enter school, my mother gut goes into full effect overdrive. I pray that I have prepared you enough for the journey ahead and that I have the strength, good health and wisdom to continue to guide and prepare you.

Trust your gut. It never leads you astray.
Help others when they need it.
Be kind.
Enjoy yourself.
Do your best.
Try (almost) everything once.

As a mother, I would love to keep you forever in a safe, cozy cocoon, blocking out all pain, sadness and suffering. But I realize that all of that is part of living. You will have your feelings hurt. You will get upset and angry. You will fail. But I am confident that you will overcome all obstacles.

If all else fails, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take a deep breath and just carry on. As I always tell you, as my first grade teacher told me, Life is Not Fair. But it is messy, gloriously fun, wonderful, and worth the ride.

You have wanted to be 5 for a long time. Probably because I kept telling you that you couldn't do something "until you turned five" or you could only begin doing something "when you turned five". I, for some reason, thought that was a long time from now. Except that now it is happening in four days. Four short days.

I keep telling you that my tears are not of sadness, they are tears of joy and awe and amazement. You are, quite literally, growing up right before my eyes. And the adventure of life is just beginning for you.

Please remember that no one else determines your self worth. YOU are a unique, glorious, amazing being.

You are a magical kid. And I keep pinching myself that I was chosen to be your mother.

I am not perfect. Far from it. But I promise you that I will always try my best when it comes to you and that my intentions are always good.

And never forget how very much I love you. I am always your biggest cheerleader and never far behind.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Summer 2012

This is what summer looked like around these parts.....

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Growing pains

I am the one with growing pains, of course, not these sweet girls.

The freckles that now sprinkle across the bridge of her nose. The way she tells us "I do it" every day.

The way this sweet, caring older sister asks more questions, searches more truths and spreads her wings, all while keeping her loving, pure heart close to home.

As I teeter on the balancing beam of motherhood wishing to freeze time while I welcome the new adventures of the next day.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


We have been home in the US for two months now, and I finally feel like we are settled - into our temporary digs, our new routines.

I thought that once we landed back in the US, I would feel right at home, but instead I do feel like we are visiting, or better yet, just passing through. Perhaps living abroad gives you that perspective.

I only now, after our very first post, realize how many times people ask you "Where do you live?". Um....I don't, well not really, but only for a while, we just got back, blah blah blah - there is no easy or short way to explain our deal.

DC has welcomed me home, as she always does. I beyond adore being a 20 minute car ride from my parents - seeing extended family and friends on a regular basis is a wonderful gift, and being in the same time zone for phone calls is refreshing. We are living in a neighborhood that allows us to walk everywhere, which is a wonderful change.

Flip the coin, as it were, and life here is taking some adjustment on my part.

After being in SE Asia for two years and not once questioning my personal safety, I had to overnight remember to be aware of my surroundings and keep my eyes wide open.

Some things feel very foreign - hash tags on twitter, shellac manicures, say what?

Also, stores in the US are FREEZING. And I have become el cheapo - Topping the list of things I refuse to buy - WATER. I always try to have water bottles for me and the girls when we are out and about, but PV (pre-Vietnam) if we were out and thirsty, I would gladly stop and pick up a bottle of water or two. Now? No way can I bring myself to pay $2 for a teeny bottle of water.

It is interesting to watch the girls interact with their new world. Water fountains, crosswalks, Poptarts and greeting card aisles provide endless entertainment and opportunity for instruction!

My tropical babies have definitely had to adjust to wearing shoes everywhere we go, and then not removing them as soon as they enter a building, a la Vietnamese style. Also, seatbelts took a good week of reinforcement. And one classic, mothering moment of "Don't make me pull this car over!"

Being in the US does take some adjusting. And wrestling. A two year old into a coat. FUN.

Friday, 25 May 2012


Spring in DC is a wonderful gift - the girls and I enjoyed a recent morning at the tidal basin enjoying the FDR memorial, which is always a wonderful sight to behold and the moving, lovely new (to me) MLK memorial.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Good ole America

We are safely back in the loving arms of America, however, the past 20 days have looked something like this - 

lots of adjusting, tears, laughs, caffeine and unpacking. Stay tuned for some US style adventures!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

looking for geckos

here in vietnam, the geckos are out and about....

so the girls stop.

i stop.

and we play our game, where are the geckos?

it is a boy or a girl? a mommy or baby?

we tell the geckos - have a great day! or sweet dreams!

so, my blog will continue because geckos are everywhere...

my small reminder to take a minute, look around and find joy in the little things.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

A perfect ending...

Our last full night in Saigon was spent at a Vietnamese wedding - the lovely young woman, Chung, who works for our housing complex and cleans our apartment invited us to her wedding. She married a nice young man who also works here, and we got to see lots of familiar faces last night. A super duper added bonus was that Ty and Toan were also invited, so we spent the evening with them as well.

Friday, 30 March 2012

And what I won't...

So, there are a handful of "things" that I won't miss about living here - which I write for other FS families who are interested in learning more about Saigon life. Nothing too terrible, in the grand scheme of things, but annoying nonetheless.

  • The dirty air - pollution is an issue world-wide, and I definitely took clean(er) air in the US for granted. All in all, we have been lucky and haven't had too many issues with the air here, but running outside becomes quite dicey and after two almost solid years, it is catching up with all of us, especially Amelia, in terms of coughing. The only impact this had on our day-to-day life would be the ability to run outside.
  • People staring - at me, at the girls - Now, as a redhead, I am used to people staring and public attention, and I knew that bringing our blonde daughters to SE Asia would attract attention, but I will not miss sticking out in each and every crowd. Being able to "blend in" is not something that has happened once in our tour here, and it has eventually begun to wear on me.
  • Public urination - this, I am sure, is not Vietnam or Saigon specific. But here, it is quite common for men and children to urinate on the side of streets or corners of sidewalks. And occasionally, you will come across poop - Again, not the end of the world, but to me personally, super gross. In full disclosure though, I have allowed Alli to urinate on the sidewalks twice in two years because there are no usable public bathrooms here. None. So, now we are part of the problem! Amelia has also peed twice on the ground at the pool, but she was only 1 and she firmly believes she is Vietnamese, so I am giving her a pass.
  • Brutal honesty - Several months ago, Co Ty told me that one of the gardeners where we live was confused as to how the girls ended up being so beautiful when Erik and I are not beautiful. Ouch. The Vietnamese, I believe, are kind people. However, they have no filter in expressing their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Several times Ty has stopped me from leaving the house in an outfit she thought was inappropriate. I have been stopped countless times by women with suggestions on how to "rid" myself of my horrible skin condition (freckles). I do believe, people feel they are trying to be helpful. But it is the kind of help I do not really want.

Just like living anywhere, you take the good with the bad. Our good greatly outweighs the bad, so I am calling this tour a win. Big time.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

What I will miss.....

So, it is time.

Two years, come and gone. Here is a (brief) glimpse into what I will miss most

  • Bike Riding - I have loved having my bike here - whether I am riding with the girls or by myself, it is an easy, fun way for us to get around. It is also a wonderful way to explore our neighborhood - check out some of the gates in our hood:
  • Inexpensive, delicious Vietnamese coffee - It is incredibly potent, and you can get it hot, iced, sweet, sour - basically, any way you want it. A lovely way for us to support Vietnamese farmers while we get our daily dose of caffeine.
  • Sunshine - It is sunny here 365 days a year, even during the rainy season. And the sun is good - good for our moods, good for my little fishie girls. I am thankful we are heading into another sunny post!
  • Fruit, fruit and more fruit - particularly, passion fruit. See coffee reference - local, fresh, delicious and inexpensive. I have become quite the passion fruit addict - straight, in a smoothie or as a mojito - I will take it!
  • Pampering - Never before (or probably again!!) in my life have I had the opportunity to enjoy facials, massages, pedicures with such frequency. Both Erik and I have taken FULL advantage of the numerous spas here - the service varies, but there are some real gems and the prices are so low it seems like you are doing something illegal! It is not rare for me to tip the same amount for the service itself. Examples include .70 cents to get my bangs trimmed, $5 for a basic pedicure AND manicure, and $10 for a 90 minute massage.
  • Fabric markets - I have written about our tailor before, and we have had the chance to have clothing made here at rock-bottom prices. But I have really enjoyed searching the markets for a great fabric. And recently, I started sewing, so I have been looking for fabrics for household goods. Ah, sewing. That is a topic for another post. But, here is one of my recent finds. Fabulous, right?
  • Coconuts - From what I understand, coconut water is sweeping the nation (the US nation that is), true? So yes, I know I can get my fix when needed. But, we pay 9,000 VND (approximately 40 cents) for one and it is fresh off the tree :)
  • Co Ty. And yes, Co Ty is not a "what", but a "who" - but she tops my "what I will miss" list!To know our family in Vietnam is to know Co Ty. She has been with us from Day 1 and we are heartbroken to move on from her. I can never repay her for loving our girls like an auntie and caring for them as we would. Our tour here would not have been as enjoyable or easy without her presence in our lives. Our separation from her will be one that takes getting used to - we are all hoping to be reunited one day.
  • Children are allowed everywhere - EVERYWHERE. And, more importantly, they are allowed to be children. We take our girls on errands, to restaurants, bars, and they are welcomed with open arms. Yes, their Western features lend to their novelty, but the Vietnemese way is to include children in every aspect of the adult's life. It has made going out, socializing and living quite enjoyable here. I know we are going to have to restrain our girls in the States. While their manners are top-notch, it is going to take some work to explain why all bars don't have pools and why they are not welcome in every restaurant's kitchen.

The list goes on and on -

Stay tuned for what I won't miss - yes, there are a couple of things.....

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Xe om

Look! Alli got a job as a Xe Om (motorbike driver) - frees up so much of my time!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Party time

In the last two weeks, we have partied and partied and then partied again and then once more for good measure. And then we threw in some extra partying just to be on the safe side. At school, at work, at our home.
Turns out the best way to combat the sadness of leaving is to surround yourself with wonderful friends, lots of cake and plenty of cocktails!