Getting you up to speed

Getting you up to speed
From the day we moved out of our house

So quite a while ago, Annuar submitted his resume with the Association of American Schools in South America. We had casually discussed how it would be pretty cool if the kids learned Spanish in an actual Spanish-speaking country. We even looked at a few videos of the impressive international schools in South America. However, he never did actually apply for any positions and we just let that resume float in the sea of thousands of other resumes. Out of the blue, he received an email asking him to apply for a particular school in Colombia. He applied for the high school principal position and after a string of interviews…he got the job! We had prayed a lot. We weren’t praying that He would get the job, but whether this move is a move from the Lord. Where He goes, we follow. There were several interviews and we prayed at each juncture. I was even asked to sit in for a few minutes in one of the interviews, I think it was the third one, and I had to speak English and Spanish! Yes, I was nervous. To say the least. I guess for the most part they probably just wanted to make sure that I was a good fit for their community and that I wouldn’t “bail” on my husband if things got too tough over there. Haha! But, in the days leading up to that particular interview it finally really started settling in that we may actually be moving from the American ‘burbs to a developing country. Why would we make such a move? 1. If we sensed it is the Lord’s leading and blessing 2. To care for His church (praise the Lord for the believers all over the earth!) 3. To share the gospel 4. To enrich our children’s cultural adeptness and to broaden their world view 5. To hone our Spanish language skills 6. If it improves the quality of life for our family 7. To give our children an amazing life experience. And yes, in all these matters we have just felt so blessed and sense the Lord’s covering and peace.

We will miss our park, but new adventure awaits

As I reflect, I honestly felt like it was always in the works. For those who don’t know me well or even friends who met me as a Suburbanite mom (and I even had to remind myself as I often get lost in mom world and forget who I was prior to momhood), I have to say that I guess I was somewhat “prepped” for this outwardly capricious enterprise…in undergrad, I double majored in International Business (Hook ’em!) and Latin American Studies (fancy way of saying I held on to all my credits from the Spanish AP test, took some interesting phonetics and ethnomusicalogy courses, and read Don Quixote. Okay it wasn’t only that–I read Gabriel Garcia Márquez too.) I traveled to either Puerto Rico, Spain, or Mexico every summer or winter between 2000-2005. And, this may sound like an oddball, but hear me out, I traveled rather extensively to China off and on from 2005-2008 for work. And in 2008 Annuar and I had our destination wedding in Mexico. Just wanted to tack that one on for the sake of nostalgia. 😉 The travels to the Spanish-speaking countries provided obvious prep work for the new undertaking in terms of the language and culture. However, China is the most like what people have described to me of the Colombian daily grind. In particular, the “developingness of the country…”, the bureaucracy of a simple bank errand, the rodeo show to obtain a long-term visa, and the dozens of official stamps needed to process anything and everything over there. Not only do I have to bring original paper documents of our marriage license and birth certificates, they need to be newly issued and within 3 months of issuing the visa! Annuar and I are guessing that it’s due to the recent refugee crisis at the Venezuelan border with too many people wanting to escape into Colombia. But. I’m from the USA, I cry. Anyway, it’s fine, I LOVE going to government agencies stateside with four kids in tow anyway. -_- Sufficient to say that I will simply be ready for a different pace of doing things, and I’ll bring a cup of Juan Valdez to enjoy along the way.

Did I mention that I have never been to Colombia, let alone South America? So I guess God checked off an item on my bucket list that I didn’t even realize I had. Going to South America nicely completes the baseline of my personal Spanish language and cultural journey on all the Spanish-speaking continents: Spain–the motherland, Mexico–our Southern neighbor, Puerto Rico—our fun and fast talking neighbor, and having lived in Texas and California gives me that Chicano-Tex-Cal-Mex experience.

With the first haul of our stuff

Annuar already moved over there this week. The rest of us move on July 27. 16 days and counting!

Parting is of such sweet sorrow

Marie Kondo-san

On Friday night I mysteriously lost my voice. Well, at the time it was a bizarre mystery to me but I have since realized that the voice loss (and runny nose) was from an allergic reaction to the dust from the remodeling being done at my work. I digress. Since I was voiceless and “sick”, I stayed home rather than going to Friday Night Bible Study. Annuar had taken the boys to his see his parents to share the important news with them in person. (The girls and I had made plans to attend a ballet with her cousins months in advance, so we stayed back. By the way, we haven’t told the kids yet. Sigh.) With the new found spare time I flipped on Netflix and to my absolute delight, there it was waiting for me–queue twinkling fireworks and smilie emojis with the floating hearts (like these 🥰🥰🥰 which you can see if you’re an Apple advocate)–Tidying Up with Marie Kondo!! I had heard of her and her bestselling book and had an idea of her method. Since reading about her “spark joy” philosophy, I had been buying less unnecessary stuff in the past year…to some extent. 😬 This Netflix series launched just in time for New Year resolutions of organizing. I certainly needed practical guidance in that department ASAP and to me the Netflix series is like the Cliff Notes version of the book so………yeah, I almost binged the whole series in one sitting. Mama ain’t got time to sit down and read a whole book about this right now! For lack of better words, the show tidied my mind about tidying–with the KonMarie ritual greeting and thanking the homes (most days I’m angry at the things that need to get fixed rather than recollecting the beautiful memories we have created here) to the therapeutic process of decluttering (it is overwhelming to think about having to toss-dump-purge like a reckless bulldozer; her method is a mindful, item by item journey through your belongings whereby you keep those that spark joy and thank the ones that do not before disposing of them), to the mending and strengthening of the relationships between the clients as a distinct objective of giving in to the process (which I do long for…because I am TOTALLY making my husband watch the show and help me KonMari our way through the house). Plus, the episodes that have the couples with young children really struck a chord with me. These episodes get real, y’all. I teared up at some point in almost every episode. Maybe I’m a little emotional about moving abroad. (Ya think?!)

With the fresh inspiration, I got right to work on my closet that night!

Illustration by Juju Sprinkles


I cheated. I left the ones that sparked joy in the closet rather than dragging them all out. So there’s actually more clothes than shown in the photo…and…oh-the-shame-I-also-left-out-the-clothes-in-the-4-dresser-drawers. I didn’t want to refold everything. And since I’m fessing up, I’ll also add that I didn’t fold them into perfect Kondo nuggets of joy either. Ahhh, M-Kon would be so disappointed in me!! I realize that the lack of mindfulness in my rushed process yields a lower success rate of adequately honing in the sparking of joy that is essential for achieving tidying zen. HOWEVER, I’m moving in 6 months so, again, mama ain’t got time for that jazz! I’ll have to settle for Cliff Notes zen. Nevertheless, I was proud of my accomplishment:

Look at all of those empty hangers!!! A huge portion was maternity or nursingwear that I had been styling (know that I use this word with utmost sarcasm) for the past 8 years, so auf wiedersehen to that stage! I loved nursing my babies and all, but I wasn’t wanting to spend $$$ on the high end maternity wear that would only last a stage in my life. In hindsight, I would have invested a little more on quality had I known I would have 4 babies! You live, you learn, and the moral here is to buy only when joy is sparked. Still applies with maternity clothes. Just say no to the sale or to something that evokes “meh, it’s frumpy but it fits”, and most definitely have some strong convictions before stepping foot into Target! I have totally done that and that’s why my KonMarie mountain was extra high! Ask around to get free maternity clothes from a friend wherein the joy is sparked by the free-ness of the clothes and knowing you will also pay it forward. Chances are they are glad to be rid of those clothes too. I’m happy I’ll be able to pass on most of my maternity clothes and baby things to friends. Ok, I’m probably wayyy muddling the true KonMarie ideology by now…I’ll read the book…one of these days.