5 Ways to Make Your Move Easier

Now that we are officially on the road and have been living out of our suitcases for the past 6 days, I have some hindsight on things I would do differently next time around. Hopefully this post will save you some pain and suffering if you decide to move or travel to a foreign country.

  1. Give Yourself Time

This is something that Chad and I both thought we were doing right, but it turns out we were a bit too lackadaisical with. We gave ourselves 5 months to plan this trip. We planned our first four flights. We decided on types of baggage, travel insurance, and took care of all the paperwork needed for our trip. We felt that we had everything under control, the things on our to-do lists were getting checked off. Its not until a move is almost over that you realize that there is a ton of stuff that lies beneath the surface waiting to reveal itself when you least have time for it.

Chad worked until the Friday before our move on the following Sunday. We had our going away party on Saturday and so Sunday had to complete all that was left (which ended up being a lot more than I thought) with massively bad hangovers, both emotional and physical hangovers. I can say that it was an unpleasant experience and the lesson that I have taken away from this trying experience is to give yourself enough time when planning a move such as this. One and a half days was not enough time for us. Make sure to give notice at your place of employment at least one week before your planned departure date from your home. Figure out what amount of time you think you will need and add a week. This gives you time to get all those little surprise tasks out of the way without making you a walking talking stress ball.

  1. Pack Your Bags Numerous Times

This morning I realized that I have no shampoo/conditioner, no body wash and no hair goop. I have not had a chance to go buy some either. Because we did not give ourselves enough time (see how I tied that all in?) to do everything and double check our bags, I look like the crazy cat lady in the Simpsons. It’s hard enough living out of a suitcase without the added embarrassment of people crossing the street so as not to walk past the crazy looking traveler. Check your bags many times before your last day at home and then check it once more before you leave for good.

  1. Work Together

    Chad and I are a good team. We are able to communicate and discuss things that need to be done and then do them. What we should have taken advantage of though, is working with others. There were many people that offered their help to us, whether it was to move heavy furniture, or play with Zoë while we packed boxes. We didn’t want to impose on anyone and we tend to shy away from letting others help us. We are a bit too self-sufficient sometimes and I think that that was to our detriment, we should have utilized the offered help and lowered our stress levels.

  2. Exercise More

    I know this may seem a bit weird, but to someone who enjoys eating as much as I do, the possibility of gaining weight while traveling is high. Like red alert high. I wish that I would have gotten into an exercise routine (even just doing a few sit-ups everyday) before we moved because once one is on the road, routines get harder and harder to make and hold onto.

    We have stayed with my parents for three days and are currently staying with Chads’ parents and the amount of good food that they have made for us is both awesome and scary at the same time. I have to be very careful to watch the amount that I eat because I want to be able to fit into all those lovely clothes that I packed for the whole trip. I really wish I would have exercised.

  3. Say Good-bye Only Once

    This last one is probably the most important one to me. I felt that it was imperative that we take some time to stay with family before we head out on our adventure. I thought that it would give us quality time to visit and make memories with our extended family. And indeed it has been a great time of bonding with both sides of the family, especially for Zoë, who is completely attached to her Nana and Grandpa, and Grandma and Grandpa. She also probably loves the fact that she has been spoiled rotten this week. It will take many weeks to repair the damage of her being completely doted on for the past week.

    That’s not the only reason that I think that this week long good-bye is too long. It is way too emotional for me. Between wanting to cry all the time and pulling away from my family and getting cranky so as not to cry, it makes for a stressful situation sometimes.

    I love our family, but for my own emotional well-being, I know that if I were to do this again, I would have a going-away dinner (or maybe a whole day) with them and then say good-bye and leave. This would also save me from having to retrain my daughter in every way imaginable (okay maybe that’s a little exaggeration), not that I don’t love that fact that Zoë is special to her grandparents. She is one lucky girl and I am happy that her grandparents want to give her everything.

I am sure, absolutely sure actually, that there will be many more things along the way on our journey that I will look back and want to change. I know that I will be making more lists like this, it is inevitable, we learn from our mistakes. I accept that challenge, I will learn from my mistakes and hope that I can help you learn from my mistakes too. Now it’s your turn to share, what are some things that you wish you could have changed about the way you left your home and/or family behind?

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Good-bye For Now

On Sunday we will officially be homeless. We will be homeless by choice, our trip is set to begin. Our bags are packed, our boxes of what we felt necessary to save are tucked away in my wonderful sister-in-laws’ attic, and all that is left to do is to say our good-byes.

This last part of what must be done is the most awful, heart-wrenching, emotionally draining aspect of preparing to travel for such a long period of time as we are. Up until this point it has been easy to just think of the amazing places that we will be going to and experiences we will have, putting the thought of saying good-bye to those I love out of my mind.

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The last time that Chad and I left for foreign shores we had a set time frame as to when we would return to the States. Our plan was to stay for at least two years. And two years it ended up being, mostly because I had it in my head that I would be seeing every one back home in that time frame.

This trip is different, we are leaving for an indefinite amount of time, we may travel for a month or we may completely relocate, only to return periodically to see family and friends. Good-byes are difficult, but saying so long when you don’t know when you are going to see the person again… well it’s awkward and sometimes unpleasant and mostly just downright sad. I struggled quite a bit with the good-byes on our last trip, so I have to admit that I am apprehensive as to how the ones for this trip will play out.

For our friends, we are having a kid-free going away party (many thanks Mom and Dad!) where all of our acquaintances, friends and adopted family can come and get a little bit of quality time with us before we go. We will entertain them with the current plans we have for our trip and try to harass them into coming to visit us at some point in our travels. Seeing a familiar face after traveling for a while is so refreshing, so hopefully some people will take advantage of the opportunity of a free-place to stay in a far off land. The night will be full of laughter, probably some tears, and most definitely a bunch of beer, whiskey and other spirits will be enjoyed. (Really, how often do you get to leave your toddler over night and just have fun? We must take advantage.)

As far as our families go, for the first three days of our vagabonding we will be staying at my parents house, followed by three days at Chads parents house. We are going to try to get as much quality time with both sides of the family as possible. Its hard to equate three days with an unknown time apart, but it will have to do. Quality not quantity right?

We are hopeful that both sets of parents will come and visit us along our journey. My parents have traveled in Europe before, so I think they will be an easier sell than Chads parents. I am not sure, but I do not think that they have traveled far (with 7 kids how could you really?), at least not outside of America. So for the three days that we have them all to ourselves, we will have to lay it on thick (think used car salesman “Have I got a deal for you!”). I would love nothing more than for our families to share in part of our adventure. And if they cannot then at least we live in the age where everyone is just a video chat away. Thank God for Skype!

On an even more somber and depressing note, there is one parting that I am finding especially trying. I am in denial that I will have to say adios to Mexican food. Delicious burritos, tacos, nachos, carnitas…I seriously cannot continue with the list, my mouth is watering, my stomach rumbling. How will I assuage the craving once we are on the road? I know that even though I have to leave my mom, when I miss her, I can still call her. How can I call a tostada de ceviche? Seriously, someone needs to invent the food maker box thing from Star Trek. I guess until someone does that (come on people, there are 3D printers now that can print guns, wheres my magical authentic mexican food maker?) I will have to cook my own mexican food. This good-bye, feels like a most final good-bye. And that makes me sad (and hungry). I love my family and friends and of course mexican food is not the only thing here in Santa Rosa that I will miss, but when you all come visit us you better smuggle me a burrito in your carry-on.

What was something that you had a hard time saying good-bye to when you’ve traveled or moved? It doesn’t have to be a type of food, unless you are obsessed with food like me. On that note, I am off to get a snack!

So Much to Do

I hate using cliches in writing this blog, but I find myself thinking over and over again, “so much to do, so little time”. Its true, our time is short for our hometown of Santa Rosa, even shorter still for the home that we have lived in these past three years. We are moving out of this amazing home we were so blessed to be able to rent in exactly 8 days. Yes, 8 days! We are leaving town in just 15 days!

So far Chad and I have done the important things. We have packed up our belongings in nice clear rubbermaid containers that my (very generous) sister-in-law is letting us keep in her attic until we come back. We have given notice to the utilities, bought our travel insurance, gotten all the important documents together for the most part. We have done all the boring, mundane preparations, I cross them off my written list hanging on the fridge while C checks it off his electronic list on his phone.

I have started to pack my clothes and shoes for the trip and have been pleasantly surprised at how little room my clothes actually take. So far I have packed: 3 dresses, 6 skirts, 3 bathing suits, a sarong, 6 tank tops, 4 t-shirts, a sweater, a hoodie, 2 pairs of skinny jeans, 2 long sleeve shirts, 4 pairs of tights, 4 bras, 8 pairs underwear, 2 pairs socks, converse all-stars, one pair flats, 2 pairs flip-flops, 2 pairs of boots, and Keen hiking sandals. All of the clothing items fit into a carry on sized bag, the shoes with the hygiene products I plan to bring with me take up another carry-on size bag. Not bad if I do say so myself. I am going to go through it a couple more times before we leave and I am sure that I will probably end up leaving some stuff behind along the way but I have enough clothing and shoes to not have to worry for awhile (I hope).

Even though we have been busting our rears and accomplishing many things on our moving to do list, I cannot help this nagging feeling that I will forget something important. I feel this way before we go anywhere, I mean I feel this way even doing something as simple as going to the grocery store. I have a perfectionist frame of mind and I think because of this I tend to over think things… I am sure Chad is right now nodding his head in agreement with this. I have a hard time realizing that I am not in control of any of this. Neither is Chad. God is in control of this trip (and of course ultimately our lives), He has been this whole time. I need to trust Him more and lean on him, instead of my own memory (which with my memory lately is a very scary thought!).

On a very happy note, we have had an amazing answer to prayer this week. As I had written in a previous post we have been trying our darnedest to find a new home for our two dogs. We have run into dead end after dead end with this. But this week, our friends that are moving into our home and inheriting most of our belongings also decided that they wanted to inherit our dogs as well. At least until they can find them another amazing home. So not only will our dogs not be going to a shelter, they will be living in the same house, with two wonderful women that will love them and care for them until a better home comes along. Chad and I cannot even express our gratitude and thankfulness to D and M in their help with this and their friendship! They are an answer to prayer!

So, there it goes again in my head..”so much to do, so little time.” I know that God will see us through this time of preparation and stress and my job is just to pray and be thankful for all the blessings during it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Reno

This past weekend was filled with many firsts. I went on my first “girls” trip, it was my first time away from Zoë and Chad, and it was my first time seeing Reno, NevadaI feel like a new woman, it has been a long time since I have taken an extended period of time just for myself and it was long overdue.

I am one of those annoying mothers/wives that feels guilty as soon as I walk out the door to do anything for myself. Chad consistently and persistently tries to get me to do more and I balk and get anxious and usually end up cutting short any time I do take. It’s silly and I have no idea why I do it. Maybe it’s that I like spending time with my little family. Maybe its that I worry that Zoë will feel abandoned. Maybe, just maybe, I have a hard time letting go (insert sheepish looking face). What if something happens? What if Chad can’t find Zoës purple socks, or some horrible thing like that. These are the thoughts that go through my head whenever I leave.

When we decided that we were going to travel around the world, I realized that my time to go on a girls weekend was dwindling. I decided it was now or never. I decided on Reno because, well I like to gamble. I do not gamble often (maybe 2-3 times a year) and I do not gamble huge amounts of money, but I love to play penny machines and sit for hours uninterrupted except for the occasional service of a cocktail.

I invited a few of my girlfriends that I know really like to gamble (because there is nothing worse than trying to gamble when the person that is with you is rushing you to finish). It was really spur of the moment, so only my wonderful friend, D, was able to go with me. We got a room for one night and drove down on Saturday and came back home on Sunday.

Let me tell you a little about Reno, it is a smaller, dirtier version of Las Vegas, but it has it’s own charm. The casinos are old, they are a bit run down. We stayed at the Silver Legacy, which was comfortable, clean and well-ventilated (they will have a Starbucks by the end of March!). I know it seems silly, but as we were being served champagne while we waited to check in, and everything around me was gold and lights and wood, I was excited and pleasantly surprised at the outcome of my quickly thrown together trip. We actually checked into our room, dropped off our stuff, had a quick bite to eat in the hotel cafe and gambled the night away. After just playing in one area for a while, we ended up at the casino floor bar, where there were dueling piano players and we played video poker and drank whisky cokes until we could no more . We never left the Silver Legacy although it is connected by walkways to the El Dorado and Circus Circus. I had such a great time!

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(Photo found on Bing Search Images)

Another reason that I really wanted to go to Reno, is because I wanted to try Hash House A Go Go. Hash House A Go Go is a restaurant (they have other locations in Las Vegas and San Diego) that serves amazing breakfasts. I think they serve other meals too, but the breakfast food is honestly the best I have ever had. Chad went to Reno for a bachelor party a year or so ago and had sent me pictures of the breakfast he had at this restaurant tucked away in Harrah’s Casino. I had been craving the 17 inch pancake and chicken and waffles ever since and was so excited to finally get to go. Sunday morning after D and I checked out of our hotel, we drove over to Harrah’s and had an amazing meal. I had the Andy’s Sage Chicken Eggs Benedict, which was enormous. I tried but was only able to eat about a third of it. I took the left overs home and it was enough for two more meals. I spent $16 for a meal that was three meals! I love it when that works out!

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(Andys Sage Chicken Eggs Benedict-Photo taken by Jenny)

So if you are thinking of going to Reno, I would definitely recommend staying at the Silver Legacy and eating any and all meals at Hash House a Go Go (seriously, I am not kidding-ALL meals!). Have you been to Reno? What did you think of it? But more importantly, have you tried Hash House a Go Go?

Training in Trusting

Chad has been in England for the past two weeks, which has given me many opportunities to learn, prepare, and mature as a mom, wife, and soon to be world traveler. This past week especially has been trying and emotional for many reasons, and yes, you get to hear all about them!

I take my hat off to all of you single parents out there, because it is incredibly draining and difficult. To be the sole care-taker of a toddler can be tortuous. On the other hand, it can also be incredibly fulfilling. This week I have tried my darnedest to take the moments that Z and I had and make two weeks of girls days and nights (when did 24 hours become so long?). This worked most of the time in helping me to cherish the moments we spent together, but I will admit there were some tantrums that just made me feel totally inadequate and exhausted. Not even high paid actors can keep a happy face on all the time, twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week, and neither could I, but I sure as hell tried. And really I am happy with that, I know that I am not and never will be a perfect parent. I am alright with just being a pretty good parent and these past two weeks I think I accomplished that. Zoë is alive and healthy, she is happy, the house is clean and the laundry is done. I think these are things that I can be proud of (when I have the energy to anyways).

In-between finger painting, playing with Zoë’s numerous baby dolls, and watching Bambi (almost every day… I admit I let her watch it almost every day, I sure hope she gets sick of it soon!), I was trying to pack what we are going to keep in storage. Our plan is that once we settle somewhere, we will come back to visit our wonderful family and friends and go through the carefully packed boxes and decide what to ship to our new home and what to get rid of.

I must make a side note here, I am a minimalist when it comes to what I feel is important to keep. I don’t collect anything, I don’t really feel that there is much in life that cannot be replaced, except for the sentimental childhood keepsakes of course, of which I have one medium sized box. Chad on the other hand, has many collections (did I say many, I mean many many many). He collects shot glasses, Magic the Gathering cards, Star Wars collectables, DVD’s, and the list goes on. I have a medium size box of keepsakes, Chad has two medium sized boxes of DVD’s alone. I truly think this is one of the reasons why our relationship works so well, if both us collected, we would be hoarders and not have any money, and if both of us were minimalist like me, our home would be pretty stark and boring.

It’s interesting though how I have been affected by this, not so much the packing of the things we are keeping (I honestly could care less about most of that stuff), but I am getting sad about some of the things that we are selling. I just sold the hiking backpack that Chad used to take Zoë in all over the place for our walks together. Yes, me, the minimalist literally teared up thinking about all the wonderful memories of Chad walking around with our adorable daughter on his back in this backpack, and I wanted to keep it! I wanted to keep something that we will not use again, because of the memories attached to it. I am beginning to understand my (pack rat) husband a bit better now. This has been a good learning experience for me, yes I still sold the back pack, but I can understand attachment to possessions now. This may be the beginning of the end of our uncluttered living situations… Uh oh.

The most upsetting and stressful thing to happen this week (seriously why do so many stressful things happen when your spouse is away?) was that I found out that the person who was going to adopt our two dogs, Whiskey and Soda, is now unable to do so. This hit me like a punch in the stomach. I don’t think I have mentioned our pups in this blog before because I knew that they were going to an awesome person that loves them as much as we do and I felt that in all honesty, they would probably be happier with him. I have become that person (I’m embarrassed to say) where her dogs were her children until she had a human child, and then the dogs turned into dogs and lost couch privileges and had to start sleeping on their own bed etc, etc.. I knew that they would regain their pre-Zoë life with their new person. I just felt so comfortable with the idea of them going to him, that I didn’t even give them a second thought.

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So, what else could I do, I scrambled. I have called rescues, shelters, annoyingly blown up Facebook begging my friends and family to share their bios and pictures. I am still hoping, praying, running around, calling, emailing, whatever I can, trying to find them a home. It is heart-breaking and honestly made me doubt that we should go on this trip for a minute. Its funny though, I know this may sound corny, but a song that we were singing for the toddlers in our church nursery this past Sunday kept replaying itself in my head, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, theres nothing my God cannot do.” And its true! We didn’t know that Chad would be offered remote work when he went to give notice to his employer, but they did and now we can travel more because we won’t have to use our savings as much. We didn’t know how we would be able to sell or store all of our big items, and our friend came back from her round the world trip and needed everything, not only that but she rented our house from our landlord immediately, so we don’t even need to move anything, so we had an incredibly easy time with that (Thanks Danielle!). We don’t know what will happen with our dogs right now, but something good will happen. We may not even see it, we may have to take them to a shelter, but an even better home will come around for them, I know it.

We have had an incredibly easy time preparing for this amazing journey, and we have run into a rough part. God has seen us through all the good, and he will definitely see us through this difficulty. This is training grounds for spiritual maturity. I choose to make this sad, horrible , exhausting experience a lesson in trust.

 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

 

A Million Miles Away

A Million Miles Away
By Chad 

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“To travel is to live.” H.C. Anderson

There was a time when a man would leave his home, set out on the sea for months at a time, and leave loved ones waiting behind. He would shoulder his rucksack, pull his pea coat tight about him and stare longingly at the shore as it retreated from sight. If he were a family man there would be a lady watching him as he left, a handkerchief waving in the wind, and perhaps a baby at her hip. The last thing he would see before the fog closed in was the sight of his wife’s loving eyes, misting up with tears as she disappeared from view.
The world is very different today. There are many people still travelling, on business, away from family, and even more frequently. They even have to travel for extended periods of time, and over even greater distances. But thanks to the engineering and technological marvels of our time it doesn’t have to feel so distant.

Or so we are told.

The nice part of being told that I had to travel to England on business is that it was a free trip to somewhere I hadn’t been. It was an all expenses sojourn into the land of legend. I have read many a fine book that has been written in ye country of old, and I was semi-excited to take the journey.

Even though it was away from Jen and Zoë, for two weeks, and only a month before we plan to move abroad for good. And it was the middle of winter.

I am not a fan of the cold.

So it was that I set out from my darling ladies, feeling underprepared, both in mind and luggage, and traveled to the UK. I didn’t even bring a heavy coat, assuming that I would encounter similar weather to the bay area in almost March. (I was wrong, more on that later.)

Jenny drove me to the bus stop where I was to meet up with my coworker, and we said our goodbyes. Those are never easy, and I was reminded of how my mother says she will feel when we leave upon our bigger journey. It wasn’t easy. But I put on a good face, kissed her goodbye, and watched the car disappear from view as I boarded the shuttle. I was quickly distracted, or attempted to forget, the heaviness in my heart as I “manned up” and discussed the flight with my counterpart. He was also feeling the effects of the leaving, he has two kids and a wife, and we commiserated as men do: vaguely and with machismo.

The rest of the trip to Britain was uneventful. I plan to write a less sappy account of the journey and the trip once it is through. But in the meantime I have to say that leaving from the loved ones is harder than I even imagined it would be…

I have left before.

Sure, I have left on business before, for a few days or a week. To less interesting places, with far less to do… And I brought my utensils. Those gadgets that keep us connected. The iPad, iPhone, Macbook Pro… (I am an Apple sell out) and steady Wi-Fi is never far from where I roam. In fact I have been able to make video calls, almost every night, and see my darling daughter, and beautiful wife, in stunning hi-def detail. It does help, to see them, to hear them. My daughter even gives me virtual kisses to the camera. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen. But it’s never quite the same. It’s funny how distant yet close they can appear.

But it gets me through the journey.

Jenny has been busy. A steward of the houses affairs. She has been busy packing, sorting out the house, preparing the necessary details for our eventual departure. And here am I, sitting in a hotel room, eating a meal, and resting after a long day. But I am away. Not quite able to help. I do what I can, and try what I must, but at the end of it all Jenny is doing the heavy lifting. And this makes it even harder to be away.

Soon it will be different.

I am glad I am in my final stretch. The trip only has four more days left to go, and I am more than ready to return. I feel like this is a hold-up, a delay in our journey. But I am thankful to have a wife and daughter to have and to hold on the return. It makes my heart leap to think of holding them tight once again.

I can only imagine what those men and women felt, as they departed on long trips, into the bitter sea, and without the easy return. We are so fortunate to have it so much easier, even though it’s still hard. For even though it is difficult to leave, we are so very blessed, for in only a few short hours, much less than a day, we can return. I have always envied those early days of exploration and adventure. But to leave without a guarantee of return, must have been tragic. And I for one am thankful for the blessings of today.

“[It is] as [when] a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch.” Mark 13:34

Note: Review of a well-designed toiletry bag coming soon! Also stay tuned for a 24-hour guide to London!

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Lessons from Living

There are many things as first time parents that you learn as your child grows. There are a ton of promises and oaths you make while pregnant that you realize were unattainable or just down right silly. I have had to eat my words many times so far in the almost 20 months that Zoë has been on this earth.

While pregnant I vowed that I would not let having a child change me, that I would continue on as I had been, working, taking time for myself often, going out with friends, going out to eat (even in nicer places), shopping, whatever it may be, I would keep on doing it or going there. I quickly learned after giving birth to my 9 ½ pound munchkin that I could not continue to do all these things. Some of them I could do at certain periods of her life, others not, but certainly my life did change. For example, I have gotten up twenty or so times already while writing this blog to help Zoë because she wants more “boo” to finger paint with.

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Another thing that Chad and I vehemently opposed was letting our daughter watch any screens (tv, computer, iphones, etc) before she was two. We had read the studies, we knew that the flatscreen lcd, plasma, whatever screens were bad for the development of infants eyes. We were going to entertain our daughter ourselves, we didn’t need the TV to entertain our daughter. We lasted until she was about 6 months old. Chads parents took him to see Star Wars in the theater when he was 6 months old and, as the story goes, he sat and watched the whole thing. This was just the beginning of a life long addiction to all things Star Wars for him. Chad wanted to pass on this tradition to our daughter. So at 6 months old she was (indoctrinated) given the gift of Star Wars (whatever the first one is called, or is it considered the fourth? Anyways…). From there it was Baby Signing Times (she needed to learn sign language- our daughter needs to be multi-lingual!) and on and on. Now our 19 month old daughter is obsessed with Bambi and in all honesty while she was sick last week, I let her watch it numerous times a day. 

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I have eaten my words about many other things in parenthood so far and I know there will be many more, but I am so happy that we are still in the mind set that we can travel with our daughter. Some people seem aghast that we are taking our daughter on a trip to see the world (what about stability?), others think we are crazy for trying at her age (what about the terrible two’s?), others are excited for us and think that Zoë is blessed to see the world and different cultures. I try my best not to respond too pridefully, because one thing these last 19 months have taught me is that I don’t know anything. Only God knows for sure what our future holds and all I can do is trust that His way is the right way. I of course have ideas and thoughts on how traveling with a toddler will be. I can think that Chad and I will be awesome communicators and will never argue, I can even staunchly oppose putting Zoë on a child leash, but I have learned to not to actually assume these things will happen. Life has a very real way of teaching you humility.

So as we prepare to leave this place, I also a preparing my mind to learn the lessons I am given and not fight against them. I think that learning that will make this trip amazing more than anything else, no matter how many times I have to eat my words.

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  Psalm 25:1-2

(All Photos Taken by Jennifer)

 

What a Week!

Wow, what a week this has been! First of all, we had Zoë’s dedication last Sunday morning. I have wanted to have her dedicated at our church since we started attending regularly when she was 3 weeks old. Time flies by though and when Chad and I decided that we would definitely be traveling, one of the first things on my mind that I wanted to do before we left was have the ceremony to dedicate ourselves to raising Zoë in the Christian faith. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am not a person that enjoys or subscribes to anything that can be considered ceremonial (my dream wedding was going to the courthouse in jeans, a t-shirt, and converse all-stars). I have always felt that my faith is a personal relationship with God and that the pomp and circumstance of ceremonies are unnecessary. But I really felt that this was something I wanted to do, a public promise that we would be an example of faith in God for Zoë and pray that someday she too would believe for herself. We promised this in front of our family, our church family and our good friends. It was a great day!

Also on Sunday, we gave notice that our last day living in our home for the past three years will be March 31st. We have been truly blessed to have such a kind and responsible landlord. She is also a traveler and lives in Europe for most of the year and was very understanding.

The next day, 19 people from our church began having symptoms of the novo virus flu, as well as all the members of our family that attended, one of our friends and poor little Zoë. I have no idea how I came out unscathed, but I think God kept me healthy because I needed to take care of my very sick little girl. I have never seen such a horrible stomach flu. For four days and nights, Zoë was unable to keep anything down.  Luckily she didn’t become dehydrated and now is fully recovered. But boy, was I on the edge of my seat waiting to get sick too. I am so thankful that I was not affected.

Chad is leaving for a work trip to England (for two weeks) tomorrow and so we were in high gear starting on Friday, trying to decide where we are going to travel to. Yes, that’s right, we are leaving in 49 days and we had not decided where we were going yet. We hate to rush things obviously.  It’s just such a daunting decision, there are so many places, I had to keep telling myself that this will not be the last time we travel and the places that we don’t see this time around will still be there.

Our original plan was to go to Austin, Texas (in case we come back to the states, we might move here) and then Buenos Aires, Argentina. That was all we had until yesterday.

After what has seemed like hours and hours of discussion and research we finally have flights for the first leg of our trip! We are first heading to Disneyland (we have annual pass holders and this will be Zoë’s sixth time there, we are total disneyphiles), then to Austin, Texas and Miami, Florida. Then our international trip begins. We will be spending two weeks on the beautiful white sand beaches of Curacao, and then taking a 19 hour (4 stop!!!!) flight from there to Lisbon, Portugal! From there we are planning on seeing a bit more of Europe and then heading to Thailand and Taiwan.

Now that we have real plans set in motion, the real preparations can begin. I am going to be doing a bunch of packing and cleaning and paperwork for the next 49 days. The fun begins! I am so excited and feel so blessed that we have the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, landscapes, and ofcourse, food! God is good!

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

Coming Soon…

I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I will be writing a post this weekend. Our house was attacked by the horrible and nasty novo virus. While I remained unscathed, I found it has been difficult to concentrate on anything creative while stinking of toddler vomit. Now everyone in the house is healthy again and I will be posting soon! Just an hint of what’s to come…we are booking flights today! Thanks for your patience with me!

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

There are certain things that must be given up when you decide to travel for an extended period of time. Some things you give up with ease, like cooking dinner every night (ok, some of you may hate to give up cooking, but not me!) or even reliably hot showers. Other things are much more difficult to give up, like amazing Mexican food from your favorite taqueria (yes, its true, almost everything I think about has to do with food).

I have just started one of the most difficult tasks to prepare myself for roughing it on the road. I had to break up with my hair. Yes, you read that correctly, I had to end the relationship I have with my hair, long-distance relationships almost never work and this one definitely won’t.

My hair has been a beautiful platinum blonde consistently for the last 4 years (thanks to the wonderful Missy Jean at Daredevils and Queens) and before that off and on for 4 years. I love having blonde hair, always the whiter the better. I always have had more fun as a blonde (Marilyn Monroe wasn’t wrong) and the blonde has come to be part of my identity, it’s me.

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It was a stressful day for me when I realized that I would not be able to take my blonde hair with me. I knew that I could not trust just anyone to bleach my hair as we made our way around the world, not even myself (although I am sure I would look great bald). This scary realization almost made me question our trip (I know it comes off as vain, but I really love my blonde hair!), can I really go back to my natural hair color? What is my natural hair color? I guess we will see.

After some (ok, lots) of self-talk, I decided that I should be excited for a change and now have started the process to letting my blonde hair go (have I told you how much I love it?). I decided though that if I am going to grow it out I am going to go a little crazy with it first.

Last year, for some fun I added a little bit of neon pink to my hair. Having a little color around my face, although I didn’t know it at the time, was a good preparation for what was to come.

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Then I tried blue. 

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Then I fell in love with purple. 

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All of these colors though just accentuated the brilliant white blonde that was the rest of my hair. I still wasn’t ready to lose the blonde totally, until this week. We have two months left in good ole’ Santa Rosa and I was ready to start the process of going back to my natural hair color. So this past Monday, I had Missy dye my hair completely. No more tip-toeing around. I am now the proud wearer of lavender hair

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Obviously I still haven’t come to terms with having to go back to drab light brown (or whatever it is now), so this was a fun and crazy in-between color. As our travels progress we all will get to see the way my hair grows out from the purple. It should be fun, so make sure to stay tuned!

It was a difficult break up for sure, but I may get back together with my blonde side when we settle somewhere. Until then I am a free woman, checking out what happens when I put away the bleach bottle. 

(Photos Taken by Chad, except for the last one, which I obviously took myself, would have made an awesome myspace photo, right?)