At the airport

On our extended layover before continuing onto our new homeland, I thought I would post this video from the airport. Once we got all our bags packed tight into our car, we pulled into the parking ramp at the airport and realized we had no idea how to get all those bags to the gate. In freezing, windy Minnesota weather, Brian ran into the airport and came back ten minutes later with one smart-carte, only to realize it wasn’t going to pull more than a few bags (and we had two strollers and two carseats to schlep as well). So in he went again to run across the airport and get another cart. Meanwhile, both kids went into total meltdown in the backseat. Thirty minutes and two temper tantrums later… we finally all got inside and on the correct level (taking separate elevators in the middle of airport construction resulted in some lost time as well while we relocated Brian). The rest is well, as they say, history! Our six bags turned into nine checked items (because we checked two carseats and the double stroller), and five carry-ons. The first flight was easy and fun, with extra legroom and lots of surprises for the toddler, and spiked lemonade for two worn out parents. Cheers! The journey has just begun…

Packing for Moving Overseas

For many years of my adult life I have experienced nightmares in which the house is on fire, and I had to get things out of the house before the fire caught up with me…or that I was moving, and only had one day to get my things out of a full house– always making choices about what is most important. I realize now these dreams were just preparing me to handle an overseas move in real life. HA!

As we prepare for our move to the Caribbean, we have to purge most of our belongings. Only the most essential and important things can come along. We cannot take our furniture or decor. The things we spent the last five years as a couple accumulating to operate our household, all have to be sold or stored now. We’ve had a long runway for this move, but it is still overwhelming to think we have six suitcases to pack everything important!

So what goes into the suitcases?

Suitcase 1-3

Clothing. We obviously need some clothes, and growing kids need a lot. Baby needs the next size up too! Now, they do have some of our favorite clothing stores where we are going, so I won’t buy a bunch of extra items just for the move, but I am not about to throw out anything they can still wear. All the fall and winter clothes go though…we won’t be needing boots or jackets in the Carribbean. My kids each have about two large dresser drawers to fit into one suitcase. I think that is doable…

What will Mama bring? I have even less clothes due to the postpartum changes lately, so I only need about one suitcase for my own clothing to include shorts, tanks, breezy tops, a few sundresses, and maybe one super nice outfit for a rare event we might attend. I will take 2 pair of sandals (one gold, one silver or black), 1 pair of cheap basic flip flops for the beach, and maybe a pair of hiking/ river shoes.

My husband will probably pack one suitcase for his clothes and shoes.
That brings us to three suitcases just for clothing.

Suitcase 4

a. Daily Ops

This will be all the things we use every day as part of our routine, excluding disposables like diapers and wipes that are easily replaced.

Toiletries (just enough to get by for the first few weeks), two sippy cups, two bottles, a few kid forks/spoons, perhaps a travel high chair (the kind that is made of fabric and straps to a chair), baby monitors, small electronics like backup phones/ipads for app use, charging cables for said electronics, and basic first aid (a few bandaids, Neosporin, epipen, and emergency nebulizer with a few asthma med vials).

b. Education

Our pre-schooler’s curriculum workbooks, scissors, glue, etc., a few books we read regularly, some smaller musical instruments, and maybe our easel if it will fit once disassembled!

Suitcase 5

Kitchen

A few smaller kitchen appliances that might be hard to find, the Nespresso machine, coveted blender, and some kitchen utensils we really like.

Suitcase 6

Allll the stuff I just forgot about.

 

One thing we plan to pack up, but not take yet is our keepsakes. With so much uncertainty about where we are going to live and how much we will move around in the first year, we will put those special items in storage for now. I am planning to reserve two medium moving boxes for that.

Now what do we do with the rest?!

My heart is a little heavy thinking about getting rid of our wedding gifts or nicer kids toys, so I am hoping to find new or temporary homes for a lot of that stuff… like grandparents who will keep them nice for our kids when we visit, or if they want them when they’re older, or worst case scenario we return with our tails between our legs in total desperation…it might be nice to have something left to our names. (I kid)

Stay tuned for comedic releif in the form of pictures and video on how this actually works out in a month or so!

Fill Their Cups

Over the past three years I have noticed that my daughter thrives on interactions with other people– kids or adults– it does not matter! She just loves communicating and learning from others. When she has spent time interacting with others, she beams a smile to the moon! I have often said, “her cup is full” when thanking others for spending time with her because she truly benefited, perhaps more than they did. They have no idea. We could safely call her an extrovert!
So, it is no surprise that when you subtract the people interaction from her day, she becomes less happy. As a toddler, she has a limited vocabulary for communicating her need for people, so it has taken me awhile to figure out the source of her violent outbursts (which began around the time her brother was born and escalated recently as brother started crawling and eating everything he could find off the floor– thus requiring much more of my personal attention). We jumped to the conclusion of sibling jealousy, but the normal techniques for “treating” typical sibling jealousy did not seem to work.
Recently I thought of a concept I call the “Fill Up Station”. I put down whatever I am doing, hug her, and allow her be the center of attention for the moment. I ask her to tell me how she is feeling, and usually she gets tired of me pretty quick and jumps down. The main idea is to keep her “cup” full of love throughout the day. All day long I ask myself, “what have I done to fill up her cup?” and this reminds me to keep giving to her throughout the day…whether it is setting up playdates with friends for her, going to the zoo or park, working on “school” (which we do at home right now while our home is in flux), doing her hair, making a clay sculpture with her, a walk around the block holding her hand, or just some quality cuddles on the couch, giggling at the silly stories she tells me and giving her my undivided attention that she craves. I can tell she is soaking it up by the ever growing spark in her eyes…and the lack of violent outburts towards her brother during in the day. The idea is to not only give love to her, but to give her so much love that her cup is overflowing and the need for attention is obsolete…thus the violent behavior used to get my attention is also gone. 
Children need love and attention. That’s well known, but I didn’t realize sibling violence was something I could personally control. It turns out that my daughter’s violence towards her brother (hitting, shoving, pushing, scratching…you name it), was a her way of telling me that she needed more love from me. She was not trying to hurt him. She was not even jealous, as we thought. She just knew my attention was on him, and hurting him was the quickest way to get it back.
Giving of oneself continuously as a mom is no easy task, especially with another little one crawling around, who technically requires a lot more attention for his safety.
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Finding ways to balance this makes for a very active day for me, but it is well worth it to have happy, peaceful interactions between my kids. I am grateful to have a few minutes during naptime to type this out, and I hope it reaches other parents who might need it.

 

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Getting some much needed summer rays at the park.

Welcome Family & Friends

So this is it. We are moving to Mexico. Slowly over the last 6 months rumors have leaked, and the time has come to say goodbye to Minnesota. We are packing it up (or..selling it off). Goodbye snow…hello sand and sun!

Why the secrets? Well, we really weren’t too sure where we were going to end up. The reasons for leaving remain the same, but the location had to be a business decision as well as a family decision (not exactly an easy one). However, we believe our new home will be a place you’ll want to come too! If you like to travel, we hope you’ll visit us in the Caribbean someday.

In the months to come we will post short updates and funny stories as we embark on this new adventure, with open minds (and eyes), and a camera always on hand. Please stay tuned!