It’s December 7th and ten years ago today I was half way thru the 2 hour drive with my 3 year old daughter in the car when I got the call. My mother who was 69 years old and was in a nursing home after having a stroke during open heart surgery had past. But I am only one hour away from you!
Today is also my father’s birthday (they were divorced) and he turns 81 today. So today is bittersweet.
I miss her and I miss who I thought she could be but I understand why she was the way she was because I am her. I try and I struggle to be a good mom, in the moment mom, a friend but still MOM. I think her relationship with the boys (my 2 brothers) was easier because they were boys and boys aren’t as emotional as girls (me).
Who are we? So independent, so on our own mission, so much loving our children BUT – you can do it on your own, you don’t need me, but I want you to need me and I hurt when you don’t but I want you to do it on your own.
Mom you would love my daughter, your granddaughter, to pieces and she would love you (she’s ½ me which means she is ½ you) – Oh I can hear the debates now!!!
You would be proud of me even though I’ve made lots of mistakes.
You would tell me what I’m doing wrong and tell me how to fix it. If I listen-OK, If not-OK.
I couldn’t be more proud to be your daughter and to call MOM. I love you and miss you.
Becoming an expat can be a daunting and daring idea at first, but with some good planning it can be achieved smoothly. Little doubts are quelled with the power of knowledge. Most of us have made little moves before or have known someone that has moved. Of course, some come with horror stories but those instances are seldom well thought out moves. Moving can be a delightful experience with the right mix of know how.
Know what you are getting into
All too often, we jump into something headfirst without proper research and although this works out in some circumstances, moving overseas is not one of them. Make a checklist of all the things you will need to look into.
-Gathering important documents
(SSC, birth certificates, medical history, school documentation, etc.)
-Cultural differences to note
-Attaining Travel Brochures and other local information
There are a couple of other checklists to check into: one from april international and expatfocus that we find helpful.
The ‘Know It All’
What if there are things that we don’t catch? There will be instances in which not everything will be thoroughly planned and that’s a part of life. The comfort of having a solid plan will outweigh any minor problem that arise and you will have plenty of time to deal with unforeseen issues.
Key factors to be considered are primarily the transfer of education for children. After collecting all the documentation provided by their schools, we’re done right? Absolutely not! There are different kinds of education systems and are all worth considerations. In particular, international schools provide many benefits that are generally popular options among expats. International schools often present curriculum and grading systems that are similar to our own.
Depending on the area you are moving to, there might not be an international school located nearby, or the reverse, local schools may be too full to accept your children. Knowing the school and education you are moving into will probably be the most challenging factor of your move. Learn more about international schools here.
Choosing between moving companies is the key to getting all your belongings together and in the right place. We encourage minimizing the amount of items for the move so that the transition is less complicated. Once you are settled in, you and your family will be in a whole new environment and will undoubtedly collect more treasured belongings in no time. Moving companies such as these provide online pricing for local and long distance moves. Consider a service that provides storage in the event that complications or issues may arise.
Depending on location there may be a language barrier but there is more to just learning a new language to adapt. Moving into a new culture is a challenge. Some people don’t realize the significant change they are about to enter in. If you have the ability to visit the area before you take the leap, pay close attention to your surroundings. Everything changes! Little things such as greeting people, societal norms and even legal issues all differ from place to place.
These changes will now have a daily presence and it is best to prepare your family to accept change and new ways of life. Children have the amazing ability to adapt in new surroundings quickly but they might need direct warning in order to widen their mindsets and welcome the transition.
Take a deep breath and know that you can do this, no problem!
Today’s post is a guest post from our friend Anna. Anna is the blogger behind paidtwice.com. She most enjoys writing about DIY, personal finance, and her terrible cooking skills.
I love music, I honestly do. That’s why I could’ve never turned down the offer from The Charlotte Symphony to visit their opening night of The Magic of Christmas. I knew I would enjoy the company – I had some fantastic social media gurus with me (like Carissa from Good n Crazy and Genelle from The Third Boob) – and of course, the music would be great too.
(photo courtesy of John Graham)
I had no idea just how amazing it would be. If you don’t read anything past this point, that’s ok – as long as it’s because you’re taking a break to get your tickets for one of the remaining shows (it runs through the weekend – some matinees too!) or to put a reminder on your calendar for next year (I’ve already done that.) Next year, I’ll be taking my daughter. She would have loved this!
Last night was a rainy one in Charlotte. Nothing horrible, but just a little fog and drizzle. It made getting into town on time a bear! My friends and I met up at Enso, a great restaurant uptown, and despite being late for our reservations and really rushed, the staff did a fantastic job of getting our food out quickly so we could make it to the symphony on time. Bonus – showing your symphony ticket will get you a discount!
Albert-George Schram. Say who? If you’ve seen him conduct, you’d remember him. This man – he embodies the definition of “loving your work”. It was clear from the first moment he spoke that this man lives, breathes and is enveloped by the music. Our mommy instincts were kicking hard as he bounced around on that podium – we were just waiting on him to bounce himself right off of it. He was as surefooted as he was enthusiastic though and bounced his way right through over 2 hours of music without incident.
I honestly had no idea going in that we’d be hearing not one, but two choirs! The Oratorio Singers of Charlotte and The Charlotte Children’s Choir were amazing! There is something about the sound of a choir that stops me in my tracks. Maybe it’s because I was a chorus junkie in school, maybe it’s just the haunting sound one can evoke – maybe it’s both. Either way, the sound paired with the musicians was breathtaking.
If the music and the choir weren’t enough, added to the mix were the areal silk artistry from Caroline Calouche & Co. I am in awe at the strength these women possess. I don’t have the best vision ever, but even I could see the muscle definition and cut in these ladies legs as they used their sheer strength to maneuver themselves through the air with nothing more than some fabric. Honestly, I want to try it just to see how badly I’ll fail. Because I’ll fail. Trust me.
My biggest disappointment from the whole night was that there wasn’t more bagpipe. I don’t know what it is about the bagpipes, but they make my flesh tingle and move me to tears. The Loch Norman Pipe Band only played one song, but it was blissful, the kind of sound that makes you close your eyes and literally fall into yourself. I could have listened to much, much more from them.
Sing-Alongs and The Tenor
As I mentioned before, I was a chorus geek. I love to sing. I sing in the shower, I sing in the car, I even sing sitting at my desk at my office. Needless to say, I loved – absolutely loved – the chance to sing along with The Charlotte Symphony! We hit 6 classics throughout the evening, and of course I sang along to some non-singalong songs too!
One of my favorite parts of the show was listening to Frank Portone. He is outstanding! He’s often featured singing the National Anthem for The Carolina Panthers home games, and why wouldn’t he be – like I said, he is outstanding! I could’ve listened to him far longer than what we did. It takes an incredibly powerful voice to sing over the symphony with a choir behind you.
All Good Things End
Who knew a Christmas concert would be so much fun?! As sad as it was to reach the end of the performance, it had to happen. The show (including intermission) was over 2 hours. It would be a lot for a young child to sit through, or really any child at night, but for a child that loves music – a night at the symphony to see The Magic of Christmas would be… well, magical!
You can see all of our chatter from last nights performance (and tons of photos) right here. Seriously, go. Go, go, go! I can’t wait to go back and take my daughter with me!
In case you missed it, and for the sake of clarity, my ticket to see The Charlotte Symphony was a freebie from the lovely folks at The Charlotte Symphony in exchange for my honest opinion about the show. And, my honest opinion is that The Magic of Christmas was AMAZING!
A big thank you to Super Cuts Franchising for sponsoring today’s discussion about starting your own business! If franchising is something you might be interested in, be sure to check out their franchising program.
I’ve always had a knack for observing little things and making note of them in my mind. It might be the number of stop lights on my route home from work, or it might be the location of something in a movie scene moving from one shot to the next. Since I started researching franchising, I’ve started paying attention to the owner information I see displayed at local franchise locations. I’ve discovered that a local group of restaurants (a well-known, international franchise brand) are all owned by a local husband and wife team.
I find myself wondering… what made them start a franchise and what makes them successful? Can anyone become a franchising success story?
Chris is a former real estate professional turned Super Cuts Franchisee. Her story is similar to many others. What started as a supplement for an existing career became a very profitable venture. While there are many franchising options out there, what Chris mentioned is a huge part of what sets one franchising opportunity apart from the rest… an affordable, quality product. Like I talked about in this post last month, having a consumable, affordable product means there will always be a demand for what you’re selling.
Opening a franchise verses starting from the ground up can really save you a lot of time. Take for example, my dad. My dad is a successful automotive mechanic. He’s owned his own business for my entire life. He’s worked hard, very hard to build his business to what it is today. There will always be a demand for his service, so his business is secure, right? Yes and no. While he has a successful business right now, he has no support system. He has no one helping him in the right direction through the leaner times. He has no business model to follow. He flies by the seat of his pants. It works great for him, but he’s also been doing things this way for 30+ year. 30+ years in, and now he has a successful business. When you become a franchisee, you see your results a lot faster and you always have someone there to support you as a business owner. You get to start out from the beginning with a successful, proven business model. No fumbling your way through for years until you figure out what works.
Are any of you business owners or franchisees? Do you have your own success story? What is your business and what pushed you toward that particular business?
I shared this picture on Instagram yesterday. Yes, we have two trees this year (that’s new for us) and yes, they are blue and purple (also new for us). My kids picked them out, the boy picked the blue one and the girl picked the purple. They picked their ornaments too. The decorated their trees themselves, with the exception of the bow on the top, which I tied on for each of them.
In the past, we’ve always had a 7-1/2 ft pre-lit tree (white lights only) with coordinating ornaments (solid colored balls and blown glass hearts/stars), tree skirt, huge bow and matching stockings, decorations for the mantle and all that jazz set up nicely in our family room. Last year, our very expensive, fairly old pre-lit tree developed a short in one of the light strands. Knowing that it was getting old and was starting to look less than stellar, we made the decision to pitch it at the end of the holiday season and get a new tree. A logical person would’ve gone shopping for a tree on December 26th, but sometimes logic eludes me.
Fast forward to this year…
Time to put up the tree rolled around, yet we have no tree. Allergies dictate that we have an artificial tree. I looked at some when we were out on Black Friday, yet the idea of dropping $200 on a fake tree just didn’t sit well with me. Going home empty handed, we made plans to head out tree shopping as a family on Sunday.
I started joking about letting the kids get a purple tree. Of course, the boy started screaming (quite literally) because he didn’t want a purple tree, he wanted a blue tree! Of course, I knew we wouldn’t go home with a purple or a blue tree, but a regular green one… one with white lights. Clearly, things don’t always go as planned.
After rolling into Garden Ridge and finding out that they did indeed have both blue and purple trees (2 shades of blue to be exact – and orange, red and black – and in multiple heights), we had a problem. I should have known better than trying to joke with my kids. They are 4 and (almost) 7. It never ends well. Ever.
We made a few laps around the Christmas tree block, yet nothing really sat right with me. I looked at all the trees, ranging from $99 – $299 in price, and just couldn’t see them making my kids as happy as the 4′, brightly colored, $29.99 versions. My husband and I batted the idea back and forth for a few minutes, and ultimately, we left Garden Ridge with a 4′ blue tree and a 4′ purple tree. Each child has their own tree, and each is very excited about the idea of Santa piling their gifts around their very own tree.
There’s no big family tree this year. This is the first time since moving out of my dad’s house that I haven’t had a big tree. In fact, I haven’t even brought out the mantle decorations or stockings yet this year. I’m sure I will, but for now I’ll just sit in the glowing blue and purple light of a new tradition.
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and its client.
How many reasons does one need to bake? Baking cookies has become a regular part of the holiday shuffle (and I don’t just mean those cute cookies we leave out for Santa!) Baked good have become office party and class party staples, not to mention those most anticipated cookie exchanges! My favorite bakers are always the ones baking with chocolate.
Want to impress your friends with your baking skills? Bake a dessert that will be the highlight of every meal with M&M’s®chocolate candies! Print out your coupon, buy some M&M’s® at Walmart, and pre-heat the oven, because whether you have an office or class party, or just want to treat your family, it’s time to get out the oven mitts and start baking! #BakingIdeas
I know you guys love coupons (who doesn’t?), so grab yourself that $2.50 off coupon (awesome high value coupon!) and get creative! Short on ideas? No worries! The internet is a wealth of information – I’m looking at you, Pinterest – and Bright Ideas has some amazing recipes using M&Ms® and your other favorite Mars® candies. Check them out and tell us which recipe is your favorite?
My personal favorite are these Tasty Table Lights…
I love that they are easy enough that the kids can help, but cute enough that they really look like you put forth a lot of work into them. You can make them match your party theme, or go crazy with a multicolored version.
What will you bake this holiday? Will you be baking with chocolate? Class party recipes, office party recipes… M&Ms® are the perfect ingredient!
Some of you have been waiting since the day we announced our American Girl Giveaway to see if you were the lucky winner. First, I have to thank the other bloggers that came together with us to make this happen… Please tell them ‘thank you!’
Well, December first is finally here (can you believe it?!) and the lucky winning entry is…
With over 9,000 entries, you guys really showed up for this one! Heather and I have been in touch today and she’s chosen Kit Kittridge as her prize! Kit has been ordered and is on her way! She’ll arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.
This is definitely not the last American Girl giveaway we’ll host, in fact, be on the look out for another American Girl giveaway sometime around Valentine’s Day! I should also have some free printables for you guys and instructions for making some cool spa accessories for your dolls soon.
Please take a moment to congratulate Heather and also to let us know what other things you’d like to see us give away here on Mama.Mommy.Mom.
I’m hoping to have at least one big giveaway a month for you guys in 2014, but in order to do that, I need your help! Make sure to visit and comment often so our site sponsors know you guys are engaged. Also be sure to keep up with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. The content varies from place to place, but there is always something interesting going on in one place or another. (If you do the Elf on a Shelf thing, Instagram will be particularly interesting for the next 24 days and we’ll be having some random stocking stuffer flash giveaways on Facebook throughout December as well.)
So, again, please congratulate Heather and don’t forget to let us know what giveaways you want to see in 2014!
Nothing screams ‘good parenting’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ like using a tiny, stuffed elf to scare your kids straight. Not only does the little creeper watch them, but he moves – and only when they aren’t watching. He reminds me of those paintings in the Scooby Doo movies… you know, the ones where the eyes follow you.
He looks entirely too happy about being creepy, right?!
He vexes parents around the globe, usually a few minutes after realizing everyone’s up and the elf hasn’t moved. Like this morning. The first morning Elfie was supposed to be in a new place. Um, fail. Somehow, in my Black Friday stupor, I’ve already forgotten about moving the elf. Why did I think this elf was a good idea again?
Why do I keep bringing the elf out? Really, it’s just to torture myself, and a few of you (you know, the ones who get creeped out by dolls in general). And it’s kind of fun to see what I can come up with for the elf to do.
Perhaps tonight the elf will swing from a wrecking ball?
Do you have an elf? What’s his name and what kind of crazy things does he do?
It’s officially the day I will no longer yell at you for dragging out your Christmas decorations and stalking your children with creepy stuffed elves who (in theory) move on their own. You are now free to light up your house in a fashion that would make Clark Griswold jealous and blind your neighbors as they drive down your street at night.
I’m thankful for each and every one of my friends, each and every one of you here.
I am thankful for Adam Levine, Charlie Hunnam and the rest of the man candy that keeps me entertained each week. I am thankful for Apple, Kindle and Pandora for making those hour and a half long trips in the car with my kids endurable. I am thankful for Wi-Fi and 4G service. I am thankful for the anxiety meds that help me remain a functioning part of society rather than a shut-in.
So, as I prepare to go out on Black Thursday Friday with the crazies, what are you thankful for?
A special ‘thanks’ to Take Shape for Life for setting me up on my weight loss journey. Take Shape for Life has provided me with a health coach and all of the products/materials I need to evaluate their program and take this journey toward a healthier, much smaller me. While the products/materials are free to me, that will in no way influence my opinion of the program or any of the information I share with you through this journey. All thoughts and opinions will be mine and they will be honest, good, bad or indifferent.
Packaged, processed food. That was one of my biggest hangups when I was approached about trying Take Shape For Life. I love to cook. You don’t really cook packaged, processed food. And processed is bad, right? Yes and no. Sometimes it’s about the greater good. Six months of packaged, processed food has netted me a 50 lbs weight loss, a lesson in how to control my own eating habits and a much healthier body.
Packaged and processed was a means to an end. An end of obesity, and end of over eating, and end to years of punishing my body with my choices.
Were all of the foods good? No. Were they all bad? No. I’m going to tell you what I thought.
Cookie Dough Chewie Bar – This one is yummy if you like the texture of cookie dough. The only thing I think I’d like better were if it were coated with dark or milk chocolate instead of white chocolate, but in the end, chocolate is chocolate. This is great for a sweet treat or after dinner dessert.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Bar – This is great just the way it is! I like this one as an anytime snack, but try to wait until at least my second meal of the day. Something about starting the day with chocolate chips just feels like I’m cheating.
Caramel Crunch Bar – This has been one of my favorites since I first started TSFL. I love caramel, so this was perfect for me. The only downside to this bar (and a lot of the others) is that they do not hold up well to any kind of heat. You can not toss one of these in the dash of your car and expect to have it handy in case of a snack emergency. What you’ll have is a mess.
Chocolate Crunch Bar – This one is ok. Nothing earth shattering, but it’s not bad either. It was a good ‘starter’ bar, but not one I’ve ordered in a while.
Chocolate Mint Crunch Bar – This is pretty much like the bar above, with the exception of the mint. For this reason, I like this one much better. It kind of makes me think of a thin mint cookie.
Cinnamon Roll Crunch Bar – This is a great breakfast bar. It gives you the taste of a cinnamon pastry without all the fat and calories.
Fruit & Nut Crunch Bar – I did not like this bar at all. It was very dry and very much tasted like cardboard.
Oatmeal Raisin Crunch Bar – I don’t care for oatmeal, so I still haven’t tried this one.
Lemon Meringue Crunch Bar – It was ok. The lemon was very artificial tasting to me. I ordered one box and haven’t ordered them again.
Peanut Butter Crunch Bar – This is a favorite for breakfast. I love the flavor of peanut butter. Something about it just makes me feel full and sticks with me. I’m sure it’s a mental thing, but I’ll take it either way.
S’mores Crunch Bar – I love, love, love s’mores, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really like this bar! It’s my go-to late night snack. I love picking off the little marshmallows before I eat the bar itself.
Strawberry Crunch Bar – Like the lemon meringue, this bar had a very artificial taste to me. It was too sweet and tasted too chemically.
The bars are just the start of the offerings from Medifast and Take Shape For Life. They were the easiest and quickest way for me to get started on the program without worrying about messing anything up. They were easy to grab and go, and having a very busy schedule was a concern of mine about trying to try any sort of program to lose weight.
Clearly, after having lost 50 lbs, I say the program works and works well! If you’re interested in learning more about the program, please let me know and I will answer any questions you might have. Want info on another Medifast food? Just ask!