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One Month To Go! The Purge Continues.

I am hunkered down in a coffee shop as my husband and children are hawking all of worldly possessions that we don’t want anymore. Sounds pretty sad in some ways. However, we have been divying up jobs for months. This, the Great Yard Sale, is one of the worst jobs for me. Being a salesperson to my personal belongings is like having a root canal. In many circles, I am considered by some to be a ‘sensitive’ soul so, I attach a lot of meaning to things and that bites me in the bum from time to time.

My husband was very patient with me as I poked through boxes I was helping set outside and pulled things out saying, ‘Really, we are giving up this?’ IMG_2945A saint, the man is a saint.

Don’t get me wrong, sorting out our house and reducing our belongings feels good and liberating. Only, I am a product of a pack rat mom and with both of my parents having now passed on, there are little things of theirs that I attach enormous meaning to. It is a bit crazy since I know these things won’t help bring them back but, they spark a bit of memory in me as I consider them.

My parents would have loved this round the world journey. They taught me that the world is more than the neighborhood around you. I grew up in a town of 5826 people with one stoplight, one movie theater and one newspaper published once a week. Yet, I knew of the magical lands beyond our borders.

My father was a businessman who travelled to various ports in Asia and Europe at least once a year. Mom, traveled with him and wrote a food column based on the foods and adventures from their destinations. Interestingly, us kids didn’t travel with them but, we had the spark to follow our own paths.

In 1980, my sister was a Rotary exchange student to New Zealand at age 16. I remember the day she got the call informing her where she was going. She covered the phone and yelled at us to quiet down so she could hear (likely, my brother and I rough housing in the background). She hung up and announced, “I am going to New Zealand”. I stared at her as I had no idea where that was. We pulled out an atlas and I gasped. The vast distance across the Pacific Ocean marveled me.

I winged it to Europe the summer of 1989 and was in the Netherlands for a year while witnessing the Velvet Revolution that winter. I was hooked. Since then I have lived, studied or worked abroad for five years of my life. However, the last 14 have been in Portland, Oregon. So, I got all tied down again with things, places and meaning in routines.

These are not bad things, just a different allocation of energy. So, we are ready to shed our skin of living here. At least for a while.IMG_2949
As I have written before. I have been feeling a great responsibility to our kids to make sure they are okay. And now they are chatting up folks on our front lawn convincing them that their Spiderman costumes and Elephant and Piggie books would be a great addition to their lives.

I am learning to let go and be again. And my kids are helping show the way.

 

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100 Days to Departure. It’s like a countdown to a due date.

Here it is…a marker many look to as progress towards or away from an event. We have reached our 100 days to departure date. Since we grew this idea of living overseas, we have been wrestling with the possibilities of whether it would happen or not. Like most people, we like to wax poetically about the things we could do as parents or as adults. 

Taking the step to make a plan actually started a couple of years ago. With my background of internationally living which had accumulated to five years by the time I married Kelvin it has always been perculating in the back of my mind. We had originally had the idea to live overseas in another country for a year. To live, work and learn in that community. We were heavily looking at Belgium as our place of destination. In December of 2015, when Kelvin got the news of his upcoming walking papers for his job  we really started the wheels in our heads.

Last year after attending the World Domination Summit (again, I would highly recommend it), where I attended an academy on long-term travel with your family by Tsh Oxenrider who pens The Art of Simple and  Stephanie Entre who has traveled around the world with their FIVE children. You can follow their current trip in Central America on Instagram.Gurr(small)_20090620_034 This academy opened the world of possibilities for us to repackage our trip, ideas and come up with an alternative plan (note: not to be confused with alternative facts).

So, last summer the round the world plan was born. We have been carefully tinkering away with the plans for this journey for nearly 10 months. Like a long overdue pregnancy. Currently, we are not setting a set schedule of designations and what we are doing on ground in where we are going. We have a basic start and have about the first month set up.

A lot of our work has been in wrapping up our life as we know it in here in Portland, Oregon. Gurr(small)_016_20090823Changing jobs, leaving schools, packing up, preparing goodbyes and selling belongings. We still have a lot to do but, we have a couple of Homeland style planning boards with tasks that we are following up on.

So today, Mother’s day, is our 100 day to go mark. I am enjoying a homemade breakfast from my sons, pondering where we will be next year and if where we are even celebrates Mother’s Day!

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One Small Personal Way We Measure Obama’s Legacy

Our son, Oakley Grange, crawled into our bed early this morning. This hasn’t happened in a while and it was a welcome, warm snuggle. There was a time when this was a nightly occurrence and, while it did disrupt my sleep some, I so loved the snuggles and pure loveIMG_1320 that radiated from this little boy along with the furnace heat from his body. It was like a living hot water bottle. I figured there would come a time when he wouldn’t come find us in the night and so, I always welcomed it.

Last night I thought it was poignant that he came to snuggle. See Oakley is, in his words, exactly seven years, six months and four days old. He was born in July 16, 2009.

He was our second successful pregnancy after his brother and a series of losses. We fought for our boys. So, in that journey to grow our family we tracked and tracked our ‘progress’. We knew exactly when he was conceived, Election night, November 4th, 2008.

He was a hard-fought prize. During my pregnancy I called myself an Obama Momma. I had read that Obama himself was a Kennedy baby being conceived when JFK was elected. I felt we were in good company.

I proudly felt that he was a gift of good will that came on a night when the world celebrated good things to come with an budding Obama presidency. Yes, we can and yes, we did. Oakley was one of our ‘good things’.

Gurr(small)_001_20090823Now, at the end of Obama’s presidency I feel a strong sense of melancholy when I look at Oakley. To us he is a living representation of length of Obama’s transition, presidency and tenure.

Of course, we will keep measuring Oakley’s life in other common ways; weeks, months,  years, feet grown, grades achieved, teeth loss and Lego sets built, however, he will always have this special place as a living reminder of the time that Obama was in office.

Oakley is snuggling less and less and Obama has left the White House. Change is upon us. Tomorrow will be the first day of his life that Oakley will wake up with a white man as the President. I hope his early years and Obama’s legacy give him wings, hope and strength in his life that what is diversity to us older folk is his ‘normal’. Right now, we can all use some hope and a return to normal.

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Holding onto Memories from Travel

Last week we got our passport applications in for the boys. A unique experience of paperwork, official documents, checks and the execution of a right-handed pledge to a post office employee in the middle of the postoffice to state that our children are, indeed, our children.

Valid for five years I wonder what their pages will be filled with. In my expired passports I thumb through the stamps from the DDR, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Britain, an EU work permit for the Netherlands, student visas to NL and UK, many over they years to and from NL, US and the UK as well as an unused visa for Pakistan.IMG_0676 I have memories attached to all these stamps.

Those who know me cite my weird penchant for being able to remember fine details about a day in the past. I don’t have a photographic memory but, I do have a rich memory attached to dates. I can recall events to days decades past. It is my party trick. I admit this skill faded some as I’ve gotten older, became a parent and was more sleep deprived but, it is still somewhat there.

So, with my memories, I look to our seven and nine-year olds and wonder what they remember. I can show them photos and videos from years past and they will remember some of those events and others, nothing. Today, most of us have this odd IMG_0677arsenal of event evidence in our phones, let alone our computers. In a minute I can pull up a 1000 video snippets from the last years.

When I was kid, it took a bit of organization to find the tapes, films or slides from years past and then plug them into the appropriate mechanism to show them. We don’t have the documentation from our childhood we do have of todays events. With that information I wonder what our kids will remember.

I know I have memories that are really memories of being told about certain memories. Then these memories slowly became ‘my’ own memories but, are they? So, again, I look at our boys as we prepare for this year-long adventure in the wide world and I wonder, “what will they truly remember?”.

Part of our purpose of our journey is to impress upon them the diversity of the world around us and the exploration of new cultures in ways that would not be possible at home in Oregon.IMG_0675 Our boys have now folded our plans into their everyday discussions. “So, next year at Christmas time, where will we be?” or “How will we celebrate Thanksgiving when we are not in America?”.

My hope and dream is that we create a rich year full of adventures and life long memories for them to refer back to forever. My worry is that they won’t remember what we experience and it gets filed away in a dusty box. Then again, I do know my travels experiences impressed upon me urges to make various life choices that led me to go overseas again and again. I find more value in travel than in trinkets.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the comforts of a secure life; house, access to transportation, technology, clothing and the odd thing to explore but, I get more excited from the promise of a ticket to travel than I do a new gadget. I find my excitement grows when I know change, adventure and travel is coming up. Anticipation is a very good drug for me.

I have discovered my dream is to instill the hope, love and adventure of travel into our boys. I hope their memories fuel them for decades to come. We are passing on our values. So, that pledge that Kelvin and I made in the middle of that crowded post office seems even more important now. A small memory of hope and anticipation. We pledged to help them create amazing memories and a lust for life. The travel life.

 

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