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Are Expat Families Really Any Different?

Quick link: But What’s So Different About Being an Expat Family, Anyway?

I wrote at Velvet Ashes about being an expatriate family and what that means for my kids. Honestly? I don’t know exactly what it means for them, they are going to have to figure that out on their own. I have some ideas and we have some conversations, but ultimately, as two of them are about to ‘launch,’ they will have to do some work in this area. From race to gender to wealth to faith, things have been different for my kids than they would have been had we stayed in suburban Minnesota.

My twins are seniors and our conversations have naturally turned toward university choices. For my family, of course, that includes conversations about America and culture, home and upbringing. We moved to Somalia when the twins were two and we’ve lived in the Horn of Africa ever since.

One evening, my daughter asked, “But what’s really so different about growing up here? How does my experience compare with that of a high school girl in Minnesota?”

How can I even begin to answer?

Read the rest of the essay here: But What’s So Different About Being an Expat Family, Anyway?

Transportable Expatriate Christmas Traditions, on Velvet Ashes

Quick link: Portable Expatriate Holiday Traditions

Today I’m writing at Velvet Ashes about rejoicing and the importance of Christmas traditions that are easily transportable for expatriate families. The rejoicing part mainly comes in when I share one of our favorite traditions. It might not look like rejoicing. It might look a lot more like wrestling or even like crying some years. But I promise, it is rejoicing. A hint? It involves a foam WWF wrestling belt.

wrestling belt

If Christmas has to be a certain, hard to find food or a major location-based event or includes a massive and heavy object, that Christmas tradition is going to be pretty hard to pack on an airplane to bring to a new country. Or to celebrate during the years you are traveling over Christmas.

Most of our Christmas decorations are small and our traditions are mostly transportable. Of course not all, but some of our favorites and some that have built memories over the years.

Click here to read Portable Expatriate Holiday Traditions

Hard and Beautiful Marriage, Velvet Ashes

Quick link: Marriage is the Beautiful Hard

Yesterday I had a post published on Velvet Ashes about marriage and being an expatriate.

Sometimes I wonder what my marriage would look like if we had never moved overseas. We are coming up on fifteen years and all but two and a half of that have been as expatriates. Would we hold hands if we hadn’t moved to a Muslim country? Would we have more couple friends? Would we laugh more? Less? Would we know each other’s sweat spots (and I do mean sweat spots, not sweet spots)? When one of us says: I’m going to Somaliland and might have to fly through Mogadishu and will be gone 5 or 14 or 21 days, would we be able to say, “Okay. Just let me know.” And then would we both know that this is a good response? The things you learn about a person who is jet lagged or culture shocked or culture-shock-jet-lag-weary could seriously tear a relationship apart. And the things you share while walking through countries and loneliness and deep valleys and crazy mountain tops could seriously cement a relationship together.

tomI’ve said it before and I will say it again, I don’t think I could have stayed so long in the Horn of Africa without this specific man by my side (even though he drives me crazy sometimes).

Click here to read Marriage is the Beautiful Hard

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