Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brussels is NOT Paris

Turns out the job Ms. Chicken has been chasing is in....Brussels.
Now nothing against the fine folks of Brussels but that was, initially, more than a bit disappointing.

I have a habit of eavesdropping on important phone calls and what I heard went something like this: "Oh. The jobs not in Paris? Brussels? Oh, Brussels. Ok well I'm going to have to think about that. Brussels. Hmmm."

And on the other side of the door I began googling "Brussels with children".

Paris is sexy. Everyone knows that.
Brussels is... Um. You see, that's the problem. Aside from beer, frites and chocolates--we knew next to nothing about Brussels.

Less than 24 hours later we'd found out enough to be sold. Turns out Brussels is a mighty fine place for a little lesbian family.

-Second country in the world to legalize gay marriage 10 years ago in 2003
-European Union headquarters means many, many expats from all over the world. This is a city used to dealing with "different" (Paris, for all her charms, does not embrace "different").
-Housing prices are much cheaper than we could have even imagined. And because of the expat in/out way of life there is a constant surplus to choose from.
-Green. My god it's green. Forests and parks everywhere.
-French is the dominant language spoken, followed by English and then Flemish. Yes, the ability of being able to conduct at least some of life in English is expat "lite", I know. But it's better than than being reduced to tears on a daily basis (like the last time I lives in Paris) because my French sucks.
-FREE preschool! Yes, I've been planning on homeschooling here in NYC and road schooling while traveling long term but c'mon this is totally different. They can go to 'maternelle' from 8:30am-3:30pm M-F with a half day on Wednesdays. And it's ALL in French. If we're going to do it, lets DO IT.

Best of all there is a huge, active expat women's community that has already welcomed my inquires with welcome arms. You can never underestimate the power of community--especially since we have such a strong one in NYC we will be leaving behind.

The weather is less than spectacular. There will be a lot of rain. Perhaps cold rain. With grey skies. This part sucks and does give me pause. But then I remember how close and easy it is to travel around the region and what an adventure it will be.
I'll buy a sunlamp, do more yoga, up the antidepressants and embrace the changes.

Hmmm.....Brussels? Didn't see that one coming.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moving to Paris with Young Children?

Things are moving at breakneck speed all of the sudden.
I knew it would happen like this, but it's still overwhelming.

Chicken has an interview in Paris.  She'll be flying out sometime in the next week or so (TBD).
The direct quote was "They feel very, very, very strongly about you" and a bunch of other fabulous things.
So, um, whoa.
If they* like her, she will be

Friday, June 7, 2013

How Do You Prepare for the Unknown?

We are gearing up here at Casa Puffer for travel.  Um, maybe.

The plan has always been to take off as much time as possible and travel as a family.
Originally we thought we'd be able to take a year, but the rules have changed at Chicken's employer and it's highly unlikely we'll even be granted 9 months.  We think we'll get 6 months and honestly that is a wonderful chunk of time to have as a family traveling together.

Once we decided we were really going to DO this, Chicken also decided she was ready to put a new message out to the universe:  Send an

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Cherry Blossom Festival

Every spring the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival with an enormous Japanese Festival, planned for the peak of the blossoms.  It's an amazing celebration, but also an incredibly expensive one at $20/person.
I don't know about you, but I'm not one to shell out $80 for a family of four to see....a garden.  Yes, a magnificent garden, but for $80, I'll pass.

Here's a secret:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yes, Girls Can Do Push Ups

In regards to my previous post, thanks for the comments and suggestions both public and private you posted.  The support is appreciated and it did help me.
I wish so much crazy wasn't woven deep into the fabric of "me" but it is and I just have to keep moving forward and do the best I can.

The healthiest thing I've done is to let go.
Meditating the negative past away in a burst of air--although it may have been something like a bursting fiery flame released from the dragon's mouth that made me feel better.  Burn, baby, burn.
I know, that doesn't sound terribly forgiving or a very healthy way to go about it, but imagining fire engulfing certain "events" in my life makes me feel better.  It works.

Other things work, too.
Working out works.
Running, biking, pumping.  Letting those good endorphins wash over me.  It's been something I have let go since getting pregnant and finally almost 4 years later, I'm back in the gym and getting serious about my fitness future.

This past month and 1/2 I've gone back to a weekly yoga routine, biking, lifting, and swimming.  I'm not the best swimmer but I love it and the fact that I get to swim laps with Julia Stiles really helps me to get motivated.  She, by the way, is an awesome swimmer with a rocking body.  I fully admit that I can't help but stare when she gets out of the pool and walks away.  In the hopes of seeing Julia nekkid I always think "Hey, maybe I should go take a shower now!" But that's seems too lesbian stalkerish of me.  So, I keep on swimming.

The yoga practice is by far the most rewarding--even if I'm surrounded by grandmothers instead of movie stars.  You don't get too many young people or uh, even people my age taking yoga classes mid-mornings.  Naturally, when you are doing poses next to an 80-year-old you feel pretty awesome about your practice.  I highly recommend it.

Today, I saw my friend at Our Spirited Life posting about a 100# push up challenge and I thought....YES!  This is what I need.
Girls can do push ups, too, right?  Well, I can do 6 perfect ones right now so we'll see how I end up by the end of the month.  It can't hurt and holy crap pregnancy didn't do my arms any favors.

Reminds me of when one of my very best friends came to visit me a couple of months after the twins were born and remarked "Wow, you've really lost most of the baby weight already!"  Then she reached over and jiggled my upper arm as she said "But your arms are still fat."
Love her......honesty.

So, here I go, 100 Push Ups Challenge.
Care to join?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bringing Up the Past and Letting Go of Anger

Have you ever found yourself unexpectedly facing the past?  A past that consumes you with anger?
Oh, my past.  There are so many stories to tell.  Many that I've forgotten and many more that I want to forget.
Damn you, FB.

An innocent friend request.  Someone from my 20+ years ago past.
I hesitated for over a month.
Finally, I accepted.  When, out of curiosity, I scrolled through her friend list the name I found hit me hard and sent me reeling.
In an instant I was back there again.  I knew better but I couldn't resist, I'd gone too far already.  I clicked through and found the current details.  I saw photos and almost vomited.
My skin crawled and anger rose instantly.

I'd hoped she was dead.  She'd almost died so many times.
But there she was.  A new name.  Much older and withered, but very much alive.

My first love.  She not only broke my heart, but she broke me.
The emotional, physical, financial and psychological pain she caused me all those years before derailed my life for the better part of a decade.

Reliving those memories is not something I want to do.  But now I'm forced to do so.  And I'm angry.
My god, for the last 2 days I have been so incredibly angry.

Last night, I meditated and let my mind go.  I remembered the past.  The snapshots of toxic 'us' played in my head.  I tried to forgive myself for making such bad choices.
My entire life had been filled with drama and abuse and bad choices.  There were no good role models for me to model any other type of behavior.  Of course, I would be attracted to complete trash.  I was trash myself.
Ouch.  Cutting myself open and bleeding it out.  Bleeding out the trash, the past, the filth, the lies, the love, the hate....letting it all go.
I cried for that girl I used to be.  I was only 21 and I was such a fucked up mess.  How damaged must I have been to love someone like that.

I want no ties to that.  I can't erase my past.  What's done is done and I paid the price heavily.  But I need to remember it, embrace it, forgive it and let it go.

Easier said than done.  How do I do that?
I've come so far in my life and this one act brought me back 23 years.  It punched me in the gut and rocked my emotional state.  I need to let it go.

How do you let go of anger?

I defriended the original request as I don't want my perpetrator to have any access to my life/details.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bangkok or Bust

There's been so much going on with 'plans' and I've gone too far inside my future head.
Taking a step back here's what we have decided:
We don't want to move to Europe or Latin America.  Our sights have been set on Asia 100% and that's where we want to channel all of our energy.

Receiving a blessing from the monks in 2004

So, Chicken is interviewing for

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Paris or Berlin?

In a strange sudden twist, there's more on the table for our possible expat life.
For the past year I've only been focused on Asia.  Nothing else was on the radar.
I might as well have declared "Asia or Bust" because it was only going to be Asia.
And start putting things out in the universe and she not only answers--she yells.
In the past month we've gone from traveling for 6 months - one year to:

Living in:
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • Latin America (Mexico City, Buenos Aires or Santiago)
  • Paris
  • Berlin
And if you are curious I've listed them in order of personal preference.  This is important because of regardless of our focus on Asia, the EU gig has

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Favorite Way to Wake Up

He nudges me in the soft early morning light.  It's not time to wake up, but he's so snuggly and sweet I can never refuse his small body burrowing under the covers next to mine.
"Are you mommy?" he whispers.
"Yes, I'm mommy."  This is something he does regularly in the dark, in the night, when the lights are low.  
"Are you my mommy?" he asks as he touches my face.
"Yes, I'm your mommy.  Your mama-mee."
"Are you the nicest mommy?" he wonders.
"Yes.  I am." (Well, what would you say?)
"Are you the prettiest mommy in the whole wide world?" he declares, not so much of a question and definitely not whispering anymore.
"Well, yes, sweet boy.  I guess I am."

My heart melted over and over as Grunter wrapped his little boy arms around my neck, hugging me tight as he said he loved me.
I've never been told I was the nicest or prettiest, but this little boy, MY little boy thinks his mommy is the best thing in the world.  It doesn't matter if I don't think I'm the prettiest mommy, which I assure you I do not, someone does.  My child.
What an amazing thing.

There have been many different 'favorite ways to wake up' in my 43 years, but right here, right now, this one tops them all.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stolen Pregnancy Photos

Long time readers will remember that more than once in the past I have had my pregnancy photos stolen and posted on FB's accounts.
It's happened AGAIN.
I can't be sure, but I think this is the 5th time.
What is up with that?
Why would anyone post a photo of MY pregnant twin belly and then try to pass it off as their own for thousands of people to see??

And the irony of this last THIEF, is that the woman calls herself "Fashion" and yet she posts a belly shot of ME in Old Navy pj pants and a white sports bra?! WTF?!
Ha! Ha!
Not so fashionable!
If you're going to be all low class and steal photos, for god's sake at least do your homework a bit better.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Travel Abroad or Move Abroad?

These two motivate me to be a better person every single day.


"What's the plan?"

"I don't know.  I'm waiting.  It doesn't feel right.  I can't rush these things."

I stop asking and wait.  I've learned, after 12 years, that continuing to ask, push, prod and poke is not going to get me an answer I want.

That's where we were last fall.  I believe it was November, right about the time I started my blogging 'hiatus'.  It looked, at that time, that we might not travel at all.  Chicken had landed a prime project and had no plans of sacrificing career mobility in pursuit of travel.
Her words, "this is YOUR

Monday, February 4, 2013

Update #2 on Travel Lifestyle Goals

Hello, Mr. Crab, pleased to meet you

It's been so long since I've posted I hardly know where to start, so I'm just going to dive in with it.
Back in September--I can hardly believe it's already five months ago--I blogged about our travel lifestyle goals here.

So, I might as well start with some updates.  Let's go!

 Just another sunset in Ko Phayam

My friend, a former Hell's Angel.  We made an unlikely duo.

Financial Goals:

Accumulate enough frequent flier miles for