Tag Archives: Family

A New Year of “Globalness”

2013 was a momentous year in our family. We moved into a new home, our little girl, Eleanor Grace was born in August, and I started a new part-time position as a study abroad advisor at a small university in Oklahoma City. With all that was going on, I decided to take a year away from blogging. But now that I’m finally getting my little one on a schedule, I want to bring “globalness” back into our household. I’m sure my posts will be a little less regular than before, but I really want my daughter to be exposed to the world beyond our little city and for this blog to be a record of all we do together.

Eleanor got a B. Global Glowball for Christmas from her Auntie Karen. Now she's really got the whole world in her hands.

Eleanor got a B. Global Glowball for Christmas from her Auntie Karen. Now she’s really got the whole world in her hands.

I’m excited to get Global from Home back up and running and can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead for Hubby, Eleanor, and me.

What “global from home” adventures did you have in 2013?

 

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Abroad Blog of the Week: willtravelwithkids

If you have children or not, this Abroad Blog of the Week is definitely one you should add to your reader. Even though Hubby and I don’t currently have children, I have been enjoying willtravelwithkids now for several months. The author blogs from her home base in San Diego but she is no stranger to travel with her two little girls. Her posts detail their adventures exploring God’s creation whether they be in Japan or Nova Scotia. My personal favorites so far include her exploration of cemeteries around the world and her reminisces of Anne of Green Gables while visiting Prince Edward Island. When not traveling, willtravelwithkids is a global from home expert and explores San Diego just like she were abroad. I caught up with the author via email and found out more about her family travel the globe with stroller in tow.

This is just after dawn in Istanbul, before the tourist buses arrive and the view is continually obscured.

Why do you think it’s important to include your children in your travels?

I want my kids to grow up experiencing the unfamiliar and understanding that just because something is new to them or different, it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable, scary or considered inferior to what they know.  Experiencing new things should be a normal, desired part of life experience.

From your experiences, what are some of the easier places to travel with kids?

We don’t usually pick our travel locations based on ease.  I could push my stroller down the aisle of the train in Germany, which made traveling in Germany with small children ‘easier.’  We had wonderful kid-friendly travel experiences in Germany utilizing public transport.  However, when we visited family in Africa, we took the baby carrier/backpack, knowing the stroller would not be practical.  Transport with a baby was not ‘easy’ and required significant pre-planning.  But, the people we came across in Africa were so glad to meet our baby and were thrilled when we let them hold and hug her.  They were more touched by our willingness to share our precious child with them and come all that way than anyone I came across in Europe.  They did not take our effort for granted.  In the same way that raising kids isn’t “easy,” traveling with them is also not easy.  But we know that raising children and also traveling with them are both extremely rewarding.  The positive outcomes outweigh any negative experiences along the way.

How does your faith play into how you see the world?

My faith is the primary component that impacts how I view the world.  People, cultures and geography were created by God to show us some aspect of his nature.  The more experiences we have outside of our cultural comfort zone, the more opportunities we have to learn something new about God or have God show us something new about himself.  Of course, most people can step out of their cultural comfort zone without spending a lot of money and globetrotting.  That why I like your blog, Elise!  It’s a good reminder that we can stretch ourselves and seek new experiences without owning a passport.  It’s a mindset.

Considering all the places you’ve lived and traveled, where do you feel the most at home?

Home is wherever we can be together as a family or, as I often say, home is where my toothbrush is.  Last summer we spent three months away from our house so we could be together while my husband worked on the east coast of the U.S.  I felt more at home in that hotel than if I had stayed at our house on the west coast with the babies (3 months and nearly 2 years old at the time).   No matter where we are in the world, when we are together as a family, it’s home.

What advice would you give other parents who are about to embark on family travels?

  • Focus on what is important – time together as a family sharing an experience.  If you show up to a museum and it’s closed or a visit to the zoo is cut short because of an ‘accident’ or your hike gets rained out, all is not lost.
  • Try new, local foods together.  You can even do this from home!  If it turns out you don’t like what you ordered, you will laugh later about the experience.
  • Germs are everywhere and are normal – get over it.
  • Don’t focus on the places, but focus on the people.  People matter.

The Non-Fighting Irish

My Hubby loves American football. If his life weren’t so busy, I am sure he could watch games all of Saturday and Sunday. He even partakes in a game called Pigskin Pick’em with my brother and cousins. I, on the other hand, could take football or leave it. While I’m happy to watch a game in person, watching it on television just doesn’t excite me very much. However, I do like spending time with Hubby so this past weekend we decided to find a win-win solution.

I love cultural food and activities. Hubby loves football. We both love to hang out together. So we compromised and watched the Falcons beat the Redskins at Dan McGuinness, a local Irish pub here in OKC. While Roddy White made touchdowns, Hubby and I enjoyed fish and chips and a corned beef sandwich while traditional Irish music played in the background. While I sort of doubt the authenticity of Dan McGuinness, I still enjoyed myself and so did Hubby. Which in the end, I guess that’s all that matters.

Guest Blog: Hosting Your Host Family

When Jennifer, a dear student from San Diego, posted on Facebook that she her host family from Spain would be visiting her in California, I immediately asked her if she would do a guest post. I couldn’t think of a better way to be global from home than welcoming the family that showed her so much care and support in Spain to the U.S. As one of the most entertaining and genuine people I know, I’m so excited to share this guest blog from Jennifer on her experience.

Guest Blog by Jennifer Guerra:

Host: a person who receives or entertains other people as guests
Family: a person or people related and so to be treated with loyalty and intimacy

The sky was dark; there was a table covered with a cherry design tablecloth that had obviously been used for several years filled with food plates I did not recognize; laughter echoed from everyone in attendance and there was the sound of flamenco music in the background. I was immediately greeted with kisses on the cheek and tight hugs and was pointed to my seat. The chatter ceased and a prayer was offered to bless the food and the fellowship. Everyone quickly started back to their conversations while passing the plates of food around. I was completely overwhelmed. This was the first Sunday away from home and I was missing my family, my church, my friends, my comfort. As I smiled around and attempted to make conversation, my host mom would often interrupt saying, “She is our daughter from the States.” My host dad made sure my cup was always filled with lemon flavored Fanta and would often check in with me with his eyes. At the end of the night, once the guests were gone and the music of the crickets was all that could be heard, my host mom held my face in her hands and kissed my forehead. Looking back it was that night that sticks out in my head as my favorite time that I spent with my host family. There was genuine intentionality, love, empathy, care, and understanding.

Landing back into the US leaving that behind was one of the hardest transitions I have had to make, so when I got the news that they had the opportunity to visit, I was thrilled!!!! One of the nights they were home, I made sure to take them to the beach. There was a bonfire prepared along side with worn out beach chairs and all the works for hot dogs and s’mores. The night followed the pattern of that fist night in Seville but the roles were reversed…it was I who had to make sure to make eye contact with my host dad and reassure him that his marshmallow would indeed be ok even if it has been engulfed in flames. It was I who made sure that my host mom’s soda can was replaced, and it was I that reminded her that “host mom” was no longer a proper name for her. She was now “mi madre Española” (my Spanish mom).

You know, if you learn to enjoy the journey, the finish line will be bittersweet. It is a reminder of all the moments and struggles that made that finish line so worth it and valuable. The drop off at the airport was the day we had all been avoiding. There was a huge difference this time. The first goodbye was in a tiny airport in Spain; we truly never knew if we were going to see each other again, if the connection would ever be developed. This time around, we said “see you soon” for we are family now and family will move mountains to see each other and keep in touch. Instead of exchanging tears, we exchanged hugs and laughter as they walked into the crowd of people and disappeared. We will see each other soon and not care how many days, weeks, months and years pass by until we embrace again.

Jennifer (far right) with her American and Spanish family (sitting)

Disconnected

Although it was only 10 years ago, studying abroad has changed a great deal since I went to Italy in 2002. iPads and Facebook didn’t exist. We didn’t travel with cell phones or laptops. Generally, we went to the pay phone to call our parents once a week and to the internet cafe when we could fit it in. We even wrote our papers by hand due to the lack of computer access. To be 100% honest, I loved the lack of technology. I loved being disconnected with few expectations to communicate outside of those who were with me abroad. I was able to focus on exploring Italy and building relationships with the other students. Being abroad was relaxing and re-energizing without the constant ring of the phone and the tiny red flags in our school email indicating unopened messages.

This past weekend I took the same mentality from studying abroad and disconnected. Hubby and I flew to Minneapolis on Friday afternoon to join family and friends for a weekend at the lake in central Minnesota. When we arrived Friday evening, I quickly realized my cell phone received limited service and the internet was patchy. My first inclination was to be frustrated. How was I going to blog? What if our realtor called? But then I looked around me. I was surrounded by a beautiful landscape with family and friends I’ve known since I was a small child. Why would I want to spend my time on a computer when there were so many other things to enjoy? So dear friends, I disconnected this weekend to enjoy all of this instead: