JAPAN: In Review

It’s that time of year again. New Year’s is the biggest holiday on the Japanese calendar, and as it approaches Japanese TV is full of “talent” (celebrities with no actual, recognizable talent) reflecting on the year that has passed.

And it’s been an awful one for everyone in eastern Honshu.

So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the things I am thankful for thus far in 2011:

-I’m thankful we didn’t die in the earthquake on March 11. For two or three minutes there, I wasn’t so sure.

-I’m thankful my son was home with the flu that day. So many children ended up spending the night at school and daycare because their parents were unable to come home from work. Not to mention the parents who never came, or the children who never made it home from school. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Interview with Deborah Quinn of Mannahattamamma

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Interview with Deborah Quinn of Mannahattamamma

Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the UAE, but whenever anyone hears me say “Abu Dhabi,” the association is immediately Dubai, the “big city” to the north of us.  (Yes, Abu Dhabi is where the second “Sex in the City” movie was supposedly set…but it was filmed in Morocco!)

No, I’m not from here. I grew up in Illinois, went to college in Boston and lived there for a few years, and moved to Manhattan in 1988 to get my doctorate. I intended to live in New York only until I finished my degree…but I never left! So I think now I’m officially a “New Yorker” who moved to Abu Dhabi in 2011.  My husband and I teach at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, which is a four-year college that just started last fall (2010), so it’s a brand-new project and very exciting.

What language(s) do you speak?

I speak English. And faux-French (which is to say French with such a bad accent and such poor grammar that my French brother-in-law almost winces every time I open my mouth).  My kids are learning Arabic (more…)

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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HUMAN RIGHTS: China Uncensored

HUMAN RIGHTS: China Uncensored

Photo of the author and her father at the Great Wall of China in November.

I landed in China after a thirteen hour non-stop flight from Chicago, feeling elated, excited, tired and uncertain about what to expect. I had been to Asia before with a visit last year to India and Nepal and trip to Japan years ago.

I’ve found these countries fascinating, yet, for some reason, I was unsure what my expectations would be of China.  I had heard a lot about it both, good and bad.  It was time for me to experience it for myself.

I knew there would be tons of amazing history and culture to see.  Not many other places in the world can boast about having a 5,000 year-old civilization.  Yet, I also read it would be crowded, polluted, controlled, different, and, perhaps, confusing, given the huge paradox between the old and the new.

As I got off the plane and entered Beijing’s new Terminal 3, one of the largest terminals in the world that was completed just before the 2008 Olympics, my eyes widened.  It was so huge, so modern, and so clean. It caught me by surprise.   (more…)

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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SOUTH KOREA: The Stages of Sleep Deprivation

I am, by nature, a champion sleeper. And when I say champion, I really mean it.

If given the opportunity, I can enjoy some epic, luxurious, long sleep. Or at least I could. I stopped sleeping approximately at the beginning of my second trimester of pregnancy, and I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since.

While I was pregnant, I just couldn’t get comfortable at night. Lying on one side just wasn’t for me, and besides, the babe would start his nightly high-kicks routine as soon as I settled into bed. By my final weeks of pregnancy, I was sleeping about 2 solid hours a night, with 5-6 hours of tossing and turning.

And moms, if you can believe this, I kept telling myself: “I’ll get some sleep once the baby comes. Sure, it will be interrupted, but it will at least be real sleep”. Oh how foolish the first-time mom can be. In hindsight, I can remember the few mothers of small children I said this to who simply smiled and nodded in response. I mistook their kind desire to not burst my bubble as reassurance that my delusions were true.

We are now 5 ½ months into my son’s life on the outside, and while I, of course, cannot imagine my life without him, nor would I ever want to, I am still struggling to make peace with the whole sleep deprivation thing. I mean, what becomes of a champion who cannot hone their skills?

As I was discussing this with my husband, I realized that the emotions I’ve been experiencing about sleep and lack of sleep are quite similar to the emotions associated with grief, and so I present to you: The Five Stages of Sleep Deprivation. (more…)

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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Travel Itinerary for the Week of November 28th!

We start this week in South Korea with new writer Ms. V. Remember when you were able to get a full night’s sleep? Nope, neither can Ms. V! She takes us on her journey from sleep champion to sleep deprived.

On Tuesday, we travel back to the United States. We will be in Minnesota with Nicole at Third Eye Mom, who is doing a human rights post on censorship in China.

On Wednesday, we are off globe-trotting again. We will go to Japan, where Melanie Oda reflects on the upcoming New Year and what 2011 has held for her and her family. It has been an eventful year for sure.

On Thursday, we will be back in the United States, this time in Texas. Diana at Hormonal Imbalances talks about how she is introducing her young daughter to an activity that she herself loves – and how her daughter seems to be interested!

And on Friday, we will be in Washington with Tara B. You know how, as kids, our parents said things to us that we vowed we would never say to our kids? In this post, Tara tells us how that has worked out for her!

We have another new writer, from a new corner of the world! Come read about Deborah from United Arab Emirates in Tuesday’s writer interview!

On Saturday, check out the Saturday Sidebar with Eva Fannon, where the World Moms give their thoughts on an important topic, and chime in with your answers to the week’s question!

— World Moms Blog

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World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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