WASHINGTON, USA: Settled, Just in Time to Feel Unsettled All Over Again

WASHINGTON, USA: Settled, Just in Time to Feel Unsettled All Over Again

Photo uploaded from PotoBucket  from Jawandapuck

Hello from Washington State!

I can hardly believe it’s already been three months since we arrived from Korea. We just unpacked our last boxes of books last week and are finally feeling a bit settled. The transition took much longer coming back than it did going.

Neither my spouse nor I was prepared for the culture shock we would experience returning to the country of our birth. Parenting in the States is a whole other ball game, and we are still getting our bearings.

We also underestimated how difficult it would be for our son, who had only been here once when he was 7 months old.  Despite our best intentions and what we thought was good preparation, it was a hard landing for all of us.

Thankfully, things are starting to change and we’re all feeling comfortable and content and present. It’s been three months of feeling in between two places, with daily (and sometimes hourly) utterly heartbreaking questions from our little one about when we will be returning home to Seoul. And of course, now that we’re all settled, our baby is due to arrive any day, throwing all of our new comfortable routines out the window. Such is life, right? Constant change with all of us just trying to keep up with as much dignity and grace as we can muster.

I find myself filled with unanswerable questions about how life will be with a new baby. Will I have enough time with my firstborn? Will our relationship change? Will I ever have time for myself or my spouse or our relationship? Will my body recover? What will it feel like to be the mother of two? Am I ever going to find my parenting tribe here? And on and on and on.

If I’ve learned anything from the times I’ve lived abroad it’s that unknowns eventually become known and in the meantime, you just make it work. Life will be what it will be.

My husband’s paternity leave has already begun so this morning we all walked down to the Farmer’s Market. It’s one of those perfect Pacific Northwest days with sun and breeze and Mt. Rainier looming. As we drank our hibiscus tea and nibbled on some vegan tamales, all the while surrounded by the heady fragrance of freshly cut bouquets of lilacs, I felt completely at peace, perhaps since the first time since we’ve stepped off the plane.

You know what that means, right? Come on baby. We’re ready.

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Ms. V. who we are happy to announce at the time of this posting has given birth to her families’ new addition. Both baby and mom are doing great! 

Do you sometimes feel like as soon as you become settled in a routine in life, something inevitable changes creating a new variable?

*Photo uploaded from PotoBucket from Jawandapuck

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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Democratic Republic of Congo: All The Things That Never Happened

Democratic Republic of Congo: All The Things That Never Happened

That's a termite mound, not a rock!

That’s a termite mound, not a rock!

I’ve reached a time in my life when it’s easy to be anxious about so many things. I think that most mothers of small children, whether living abroad or not, are often plagued by the anxiety bug.

For the last six years, my family and I have lived in Congo and we’re moving away in just a few weeks. I find myself thinking back to all those worries, big and small, that I had about raising two kids in the proverbial “heart of darkness.”

So as an exercise of gratitude and reassurance before we begin our next African adventure, I’ve been reflecting on all the what-ifs –real and imagined – that never came true.

Those mosquito bites never led to malaria.

There were no broken bones, stitches or other ailments that couldn’t have otherwise struck us in the United States.

Getting stopped by the police was never more than a hassle and a good story.

Our girls made it to and from school every day without incident.

We never ran out of quality disposable diapers, Sensodyne toothpaste, or anything else we hoarded from home.

My shoes held up.

Every fever went away without too much suffering.

Nothing was ever stolen (that we noticed).

No one was bitten by a snake or spider and a few worms in the feet were no big deal.

The termites never swarmed and carried our children away.

The vehicles always returned to their respective lanes before a head-on collision.

No one was lost in an angry mob.

We never got sick from all that “questionable” food.

That crazy Congo lightning never came through our window and zapped me in my bed.

Both of my pregnancies were picture perfect.

The electricity always came back on.

The water always returned.

The internet was always repaired.

The planes did not crash.

We made friends. Good, lifelong friends.

And no one is worse for the wear.

As infinitely grateful as we are for all these things that never happened, we’re even more so for everything that did. We had two beautiful children, our family learned a new language and we reached far out of our comfort zone. We will forever be connected to the culture and people we grew to love in Congo.

I hope that the next time everyday stressors take over, I’ll be able to stop and think about this list and remember more often than not everything is alright in the end.

What things have you worried about that never ended up happening?


This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Sarah Sensamaust.  You can find Sarah blogging with Jill Humphrey at Mama Congo.

Photo credits to the author.

VIRGINIA, USA: Moving Family Around the World

Just because I am a list maker doesn’t mean I always have it all together. And just because I check things off the list, on-time, and double-check each list, doesn’t mean I’m able to feel calm and confident. Not when it comes to moving my whole life and family half way around the world it doesn’t. No. Last week, I satisfactorily ticked off items on my list for moving to Vientiane, Laos from Washington DC, USA. This week, I feel nervous and uncertain about every single aspect of our lives that will change.

It’s the things that you can’t tick off of lists, uncontrollable unpredictable things, that throw you out of your comfort zone and force you to surrender to new and different ways of going about the business of everyday life. It all works out in the end, sometimes even for the better. Yet you end up feeling off kilter having to tilt your head sideways to feel balanced while it’s happening. Eventually, life is normalized again and your posture corrects itself. But this takes time.

So what do I do to stay grounded during this period of high anxiety? I try to accomplish the things I CAN do, focus on the things that I have control over. Like my lists. Read on if you’d like to get a sense of my world at the moment, in all it’s wanderlust and jet-setting glamor. (more…)

Dee Harlow (Laos)

One of Dee’s earliest memories was flying on a trans-Pacific flight from her birthplace in Bangkok, Thailand, to the United States when she was six years old. Ever since then, it has always felt natural for her to criss-cross the globe. So after growing up in the northeast of the US, her life, her work and her curiosity have taken her to over 32 countries. And it was in the 30th country while serving in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan that she met her husband. Together they embarked on a career in international humanitarian aid working in refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan, and the tsunami torn coast of Aceh, Indonesia. Dee is now a full-time mother of three-year old twins and continues to criss-cross the globe every two years with her husband who is in the US Foreign Service. They currently live in Vientiane, Laos, and are loving it! You can read about their adventures at Wanderlustress.

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Taking the Leap: A Family Journey to Asia

Nine months ago we uprooted our little family of four and moved halfway around the world, to the tropical half-island of Timor-Leste (East Timor). The physical process of relocating was a monumental feat (one that I don’t want to repeat anytime soon) and the tear-filled goodbyes were hard. Yet the idea of trading our comfortable Oregon life for a new home in one of the poorest countries in Asia seemed…well, normal.

I’d never been to Timor, or even SE Asia, for that matter. Most people I talked with had never heard of the country I was moving to and even I had to quickly educate myself. Though I’d spent many years living overseas as an adult, I’d never done it with kids. Let alone twin two-year olds. It was a daunting undertaking, but the timing felt right, and we were ready for a new adventure. (more…)

Shaula Bellour (Indonesia)

Shaula Bellour grew up in Redmond, Washington. She now lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her British husband and 9-year old boy/girl twins. She has degrees in International Relations and Gender and Development and works as a consultant for the UN and non-governmental organizations. Shaula has lived and worked in the US, France, England, Kenya, Eritrea, Kosovo, Lebanon and Timor-Leste. She began writing for World Moms Network in 2010. She plans to eventually find her way back to the Pacific Northwest one day, but until then she’s enjoying living in the big wide world with her family.

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