Category Archives: Planning

mind

How Not to Lose Your Fracking Mind (My Family is the A-Team)

In my mind my family are like the characters of the A-Team. Well, sort of. And moving from the States to Costa Rica to Czech Republic with teenagers is not for the faint of heart or the weak of mind. It seems best to approach life with a bit of humor or you will lose your fracking mind. Or at least your patience. Moving in general is a nerve wracking experience. Try getting rid of almost everything, twice.

Give me a minute, I’m good. Give me an hour, I’m great. Give me six months, I’m unstoppable. COL. Hannibal Smith, A-Team. I like the colonel.  In our family my hubby is the colonel. He’s the one with a plan. I’d follow the colonel anywhere. I’ve proven that and will continue to follow him. I trust his abilities.

How Not to Lose Your Fracking Mind While Moving Around the World with Teenagers

1. Save the Legos and other childhood memories. When I was frantically packing and purging I felt like I would lose my mind. There were things I wanted to keep. Boys toys, books, and memories. I was pressed to make decisions fast. Although I had a few months to clear out the clutter nothing really happened until we were down to the wire on time. I had to step it up. I got rid of kitchen things I thought I’d keep. I got rid of clothes we or the boys  might need later. There were a lot of things I might need later. I wouldn’t need them in Costa Rica but everything could fail and I’d need them in the States. I wasn’t trusting in the calling. I was making back up plans. Then, when pressed I decided to keep what was not replaceable. Books, art, memories, kid stuff, and a few heirlooms. I purged like crazy. Got rid of linens, kitchen ware, etc. Etc. Etc. I let it go but I saved the Legos and other childhood memorabilia. One day my children will thank me.

2. Legos Rules but so do handmade gifts and books Those things I couldn’t part with. Quilts my mom made. Art and books that I’d collected. Legos that my son collected. School projects from my kids. I got rid of a lot of fluff but when it came down to it I imagined my grandchildren. I thought about things that I’d want to pass down to them. This made the decision easier. Hopefully I’ll have grandchildren some day and I’ll have things connected to memories to share with them.

I see my oldest son in the role of B.A. Baraccass. B.A. has a good heart but a bad attitude. He follows orders and has a gruff way of expressing himself. My son is a 16 year old grumpy yet lovable walking hormone machine. About 80% of the time his attitude isn’t good. Moody yet vulnerable. Total teenager. One day he’ll come back to me. Normalize I hope.

3. It’s all crap. Okay mostly crap. Seriously you don’t need all those things that are stuffed into corners and forgotten.  Rule of thumb if it’s broken, toss it (or recycle). If it doesn’t fit, give it away. If you don’t use it, give it away. Clutter will wear you out. Clearing out the clutter is more than cleaning it’s liberating. It’s life affirming.  It’s powerful. It’s totally awesome.

My younger son is Mad Dog Murdoch. No he doesn’t suffer from an mental issues like Murdoch but he is kind of crazy but crazy talented. He’s willing to put himself on YouTube and create awesome videos. He’s so creative and yet not quite like the rest of society. He’s handsome, crazy talented, and a little different.

4. Seriously, if you don’t like it or wear it, toss it. You need clothes. Clothes that look good on you and that you feel good about. Everything else can go to someone else. You need cleaning products but you don’t need gallons and gallons. If you don’t use it regularly, don’t buy it. If you clean like a mad woman and go through lots then buy lots. Otherwise buy what you need at the best price and use it. Think twice about purchases. Will you use it? How often? Is it worth it?

Face. The last character in the A-Team. I’m not gorgeous but I do like to talk. I’d say I am the most outgoing talker in our group. The extrovert. Getting myself into trouble by not thinking every through. Face is who you send in to do the talking. Most days that me, able to talk to anyone, anywhere. I don’t lie very well.

In all honesty, my hubby and I switch roles on occasion. Sometimes I’m the leader of the group but sometimes I sport a bad attitude or crazy ideas. So, in a way, we are each the leader, the face, the bad attitude, and the crazy one.

5. Take what you need. Need what you take. Get rid of the superfluous. In the end when you’ve reduced, given away, and gotten rid of things you discover it’s really not about the stuff. People and memories you make with those people are what matters. See and do things with your family and friends. Take pictures and write a blog. Share laughs and love. Make memories.  When you leave this world the memories are what they are left with. Make them good.

What do you think? Could get rid of 90 percent of everything, move across the world, and have an adventure of a lifetime?

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The road less traveled. Will you?

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Life, the Universe, And Everything (or How to Lose 300 lbs)

In the past six months a lot of things have changed. Life, the universe, and everything. At least, in our corner of the universe. In fact this is more about the second move and change I had in six months. I did, in fact, lose 300 pounds in a month. Sometimes I look back at the stuff I left behind and I’m relieved. Sometimes I not.

We originally planned on moving to Italy. Then we decided to move to Costa Rica. We got certified, tried to get jobs, and decided to move to Prague. We moved to Prague, got jobs, moved into a flat, and now are beginning our new adventure in Europe.

That being said its been a curious six months. Last April I was in the midst of planning on getting rid of almost everything while working overnights at a department store. And we had begun to prepare mentally to move to Costa Rica for a long while. That meant a plethora of shorts and flip flops. I began to go through everything. Giving away tons of things and selling a few things, and basically reducing our stuff by 90%. That’s a lot of stuff. So much stuff. So little time.

It happened slowly. Week after week.

Hubby didn’t think I could get ‘er done but I did. The fun part started when thepacking began. We had eight checked bags that needed to weigh under 50 lbs each. Sounds easy right? It wasn’t. But it was. All I had to do was make very hard decisions very fast. No problem.

Actually I’m fairly certain I might have started to lose my mind somewhere in the middle of it all. There were things I needed to take, had to take, and wanted to take. And there are things that got packed away in storage that I couldn’t part with like heirlooms, Legos, and books, etc. The pressure to get it right was immense.

I wanted to be prepared. So I bought tubes and tubes of sunscreen, bottles and bottles of bug repellent, quick dry towels, and rain jackets. I packed shorts and bought flip flops.  I brought kitchen stuff and bedding. A few things to make our new home in a new country feel like home. Not to mention home school supplies and books. I didn’t want to be in need of anything for a while. I even bought extra toothpaste and tooth brushes. I had it all planned out.

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Then we decided to move to Europe. And our airline had planned to make my last month in Costa Rica the most interesting and stressful. I needed to lose 300 lbs in three weeks.

Yes, 300 pounds. I needed to lose 300 pounds of stuff. This meant all the extras. Pillows, blankets, and sheets. Books, school supplies, bug spray, and sunscreen. Kitchen supplies and random things that would bring our eight bags to four bags. And 400 pounds down to 196. I got rid of a lot. Some of which was easy and some things I still miss ( a little). I know I’ll be provided for and that things are just things. Things can be replaced. So I decided to grab life by the horns and get rid of almost everything I didn’t feel sad I felt encouraged.

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The biggest issue with moving to Prague in the fall was our clothing. Or lack thereof. The weather had changed and we went from shorts and flip flops in 32° to pants and jackets in 12°. It was a bit of a shock to the system. We bought coats and dressed in layers and mossied on. Our bodies adjusted to both the time difference and the weather and we got down business.
In the first week we secured jobs and began our house hunt.

Finding an apartment was not a simple venture. We’d started in Costa Rica but we’re advised to wait until we arrived and actually saw the apartment before handing over any money. Plus we didn’t really want to pay for an agent. This would cost us extra money we didn’t want to spend.

In the end, after many inquiries and quite a bit looking we found a place. It’s not quite where we’d like to (a.k.a. closer to work). It’s quite an adorable place. It’s mostly furnished and close to transit.

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So we’re are enjoying our new flat and our new life in Prague.

The Chase Is On

The chase is on…chasing Italy is moving from central America to central Europe. We’ve decided to move up our plans to Europe. Originally we thought that we’d spend a year or two in Costa Rica. Learning Spanish, teaching English, exploring near and far. We’d had plans for Nicaragua and eventually Panama. You know what happens when you make plans. They are subject to variables sometimes out of your control. We are trusting that although we had a plan, this is what we are supposed to be doing. Moving to Prague.

Moving to Prague. Why Prague and not Italy? Well it’s all about the jobs and the cost of living. Currently we both need to work and we have plans to write more for the blog and otherwise. We just need a place to halfway settle in. Moving every month isn’t good for the kids or us. A little stability goes a long way. Prague looks like it will be the place. More jobs and affordable housing. What more could you ask for… how about history, architecture, and culture. Prague has it.

So our hope that we’ll both find jobs in Prague. That these jobs don’t take up all our time and we’ll get see Prague and other places with kids. We’ll take lots of pictures and write about our adventures. And hopefully we’ll get  to Italy sooner vs later.

Prague is an awesome place to start our European adventure. Historically and architecturally intact through World War II. It’s centrally located to lots of other countries we want to visit. Germany and Italy are just a train ride away. Not to mention the rest of Europe. Our kids really want to visit the UK and my understanding is that flights to and from can be highly affordable. So that could happen.

The chase is definitely on. We are indeed chasing Italy and meanwhile we are enjoying the adventure.

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It’s My Spot (or Finding Your Place in the World)

It’s my spot. It’s where all things come together and you feel at home. Most people don’t search for home. It’s where you grew up or where you’ve spent most of your life. When you’re a dependent of military personnel, the question of where you’re from is a difficult one to answer. In my case I often have a multifaceted answer. I say I grew up on the east coast. Meaning most of my early life was in Maryland and Virginia. After college I moved to Colorado, although I wanted to moved to Washington – but that’s another story. In Colorado, I met my wonderful husband and had my boys.

But our journey was just beginning. In our seventeen years together we’ve moved a dozen times (I’m rounding down), a least three states and we’ve been to few countries separately and now Costa Rica together with the kids.

We’ve always had a huge sense of wanderlust. We’ve talked and talked for years about living abroad and seeing more of this great big world. Now we are doing what we’ve always talked and dreamed about. The kids aren’t thrilled about it, but they’ll adapt or not. They are teenagers and grumble over almost everything. We want to give them an experience greater than themselves.

Have we found our spot? Are we home in Costa Rica? Time will tell. The greatest gift our upbringing has given us is the ability to adapt and take chances. We are not afraid of trying something new or going somewhere we’ve never been before. Costa Rica has been good to us. Very welcoming people and its an easy country to love. Beautiful sunsets, awesome beaches, and tons of wildlife. If you’re a adventurer or photographer or just need a good rest then Costa Rica is an awesome place to be.

Our next adventure is always on the horizon. For us, ‘It’s my spot’ can be found almost anywhere. We adapt to our circumstances and make the best of things and sometimes we move on to the next thing.

Update: We’re taking the leap and moving to the Czech Republic. Yep, Prague. Currently interviewimg for teaching jobs and looking for housing. Are we closer to finding our spot? We’ll see.

Have you found your spot? Where is it? Comment below.
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Big Week (or Calgon Take Me Away)

It’s been a big week. Last week we were accepted into the TEFL school. So this week we got to pay for school, find a place to stay, buy plane tickets, yada, yada,yada. Calgon take me away. Just for a moment. I need to wrap my head around all this.

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Phew…. that was good part of this week. Everything took a few emails or phone calls but we got it done and got some good deals in the process. Great priced plane tickets, a cheap and reasonable place to live while at school, and even a fair priced ride from airport to Samara.

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Then things got weird. It’s been raining and cold all week. Rain I can handle but I’m over the cool temperatures. It’s even  supposed to snow on Sunday, Mother’s Day. Yuck. After working three overnights this weekend I was exhausted and sore. The frosting on top of my icky week cake was getting prepared for a yard sale (in which it’ll be raining), car issues, and refiling taxes for the state.

Our newly paid off car needs repairs and its too much to do just to sell the car. So we’ll be selling it as is and losing any money we put into it.

I’m having a yard sale because I’ve been waiting for a month to have this yard sale. Usually I work Saturday mornings and therefore had to take off but it’s going to rain. I’m doing it anyway under my covered porch and parking spot. Improvise is my middle name.

Finally we had to redo our state taxes. Instead of receiving any kind of return we are having to pay. It’s just a little bit but the whole process is annoying.

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Overall awesome week but I’m having a beer and a shot of tequila for the not so savory parts of my week. We’re very excited about moving to Costa Rica but we’re suffering from ‘senioritis’ wanting this to be over and the next part to begin. Calgon take me away.

Shoot for the Moon (Chasing Italy Does)

The-Thinker

Sometimes you need to shoot for the moon.

So about six weeks ago my husband started freaking out. (Visualize the Thinker). Which, in turn, caused me to freak out. (Visualize cartoon Tasmanian devil). My anxiety aside, Kurt freaks out so quietly that I find it completely unnerving. He ponders and frets and keeps to himself. Being a natural introvert this is how he deals. But to me, not introverted at all, I begin to wig and wig hard. I become an annoying little bird, jumpy and trying to figure out what’s wrong, what can I do to fix it, or what did I do. I’m not a quiet patient wife. I fret and I try not to nag.

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After about three days and a bunch of forwarded emails with links to getting visas and jobs in Italy he finally broke his silence. He was concerned about Italy. Concerned that we’d be setting ourselves up for failure by leaping head first into our adventure. A multitude of blogs and websites say that though not impossible, it’s difficult to start ESL teaching in Italy. That experience is what we need and we can’t afford to adventure into the unknown willy nilly like. Our little bit of money would go much further, while we get experience, in a different country.

Knowing that we were not going to give up this dream of traveling and of Italy, we began to discuss options. What countries? What continents? What would be acceptable and reasonable and what wouldn’t be acceptable? Kurt threw out the idea of South America. Possible. He’d been there ten years ago on the Amazon river on a missions trip. I threw out Asia and Kurt cited a few reasons why he’d rather not. Not possible. Among them the cuisine and the Asian work versus play lifestyle. We wanted to not have to work a ‘regular’ job in a foreign country but to work some , explore some, travel some, and blog about everything in between. Plus we have teenagers and we want them to experience as much culture as they can between their studies and our work. Family time is quite important. So Asia is more or less off the table. Europe is on hold. For some reason we’ve never discussed Africa. So we started looking at central and south America.

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Out of the blue I suggested Costa Rica. Not sure why. I didn’t know much about it outside of ecotourism. I even had to check a map to see where exactly it was located. I felt rather blonde as I discovered that it was actually just north of the country I was born in. But then again I was born in Panama but left at six months of age. I’ve always wanted to see the place of my birth maybe now I’ll get a chance.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Norman Vincent Peale

So Chasing Italy will shoot for the moon. It might take a while but it’ll be an adventure.

Where is your ‘shoot for the moon’ place? Italy? Europe? Asia? Australia? Tell us in the comments below.

A Changing Perspective

Throughout our fifteen years of marriage we have moved across the country and back again twice. Sometimes with very little notice and sometimes with plenty of time to pack and plan. We haven’t, until now, taken on such a huge relocation. In comparison, moving across the country is easy and uncomplicated than picking up stakes and going out of country. During the first days of Italian contemplation I read many a blog and article regarding how to and what to move. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to ship my Porsche, because it only lives in my imagination.  We will be taking very little in comparison. Though we did promise the boys a few luxuries like their gaming system.

Sometimes late at night my mind is trying to work out all the things that need to be done in the next four months. My body generally wants my mind to shut up and go to sleep. So I go through my house, in my head, and all its stuff and mentally make notes on what to sell, give, take, store, etc. During the daylight hours I’ve started to go through boxes and bins to toss things I really don’t need to hang on to. It feels like I lose weight daily as I purge things.

Since we’ve moved further and more often than your average Americans we travel fairly light. When you decide to pick up and leave the country your perspective totally changes. Those clothes and shoes you’ve hung on to just because you might wear them become additions to the give-to-Goodwill pile. You decide what things you’re truly willing to store and what you’re willing to sell. For us most everything can go. The treadmill, the bookcases, the massage chair, and the random things collected that won’t be utilized in Europe. There are some items I refuse to part with and those are books (we have quite a few), childhood paraphernalia from the two kids, some Christmas ornaments, and some kitchen things (especially my Fiestaware). The majority of my things can go because selling them allows us to go to Italy. And it’s just stuff and I hear that you can buy sheets, towels, plates, silverware and even new clothes in Italy. It’s not like we’re moving to the back country of Uganda or some other third world country. It’s Italy, and this is the beginning of my perspective changing.

It begins…

When my husband got word that he might have a little bit of money from his beloved grandmother, we didn’t think much of it. We figured that it probably wouldn’t change our lives. Then we learned that it might make a difference if we allowed ourselves to dream a little.

After some contemplation, my dear husband, Kurt, says that he has a couple of ideas. Now you should know that we never back down from a challenge or adventure. We have moved across the country with very short notice for a job with a newborn and two year old. That adventure landed us in northern Virginia right before 9-11 and the sniper shootings. We moved back to Colorado to be near family and six years later did the cross country thing again.

Back to the idea and the dream. In his reasoning, (being way more logical than myself) we could invest in a future, like a restaurant. We had discussed this before but without means didn’t seem possible in our lifetime. So we spent some time investigating this option. The quality of restaurant we wanted was beyond our means. We still held onto the hope that it could still be possible but in the end came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to happen.

So I begin to imagine option B. What is option B? Option B is Italy. Yes, the entire country. Actually, we had dreamed for years of going abroad. We have many countries we’d like to visit but Italy has always been at the top of the list. As a child, Kurt, lived in Vicenza while his father served in the U.S. Army. He has very fond memories of Italy and he wants to share Italy with me and the kids. I’m all for it. Can you imagine, the food, the wine, the art, the architecture, the history?
So we’re getting out of dodge and chasing Italy. It begins…