Tuesday, August 3, 2010

the good, the bad, the ugly, the spending, the not-so-celebratory

It's been two weeks since my last post. TWO WEEKS. I know you're all super sorry I didn't take time to document every detail of our move preparations in all their fascinating minute. Truth is, it's been pretty monotonous and painstakingly boring at times. Having to write down everything you own, how many you have, when it was purchased and how much it would cost to replace is really a wonderful catalyst for WANTING TO GET RID OF A WHOLE LOT OF STUFF.

While shipping our household goods down to Bogota is paid for, we decided early on to take as little as possible. We're taking everything we need (no need to have to buy things down there that we already own), we're only taking about half of the boys toys, 2/3 of their clothes, maybe a tenth of all our books, and -prepare yourself- hardly any of our Christmas decorations.

We have A TON of decorations. Dozens of strings of lights (white and multicoloured), boxes and boxes and boxes of balls (from shatter-proof to hand-blown glass, from vintage to ones I made as a preschooler to brand-new last year), twenty-some nativity sets (some handmade, some store bought, some given to me as gifts, others purchased from Ecuador, Argentina, Egypt, etc), and various other stockings, linens, napkins, placemats, etc, etc, ETC. 

Oh, and books. We have a couple dozen Christmas themed books that we only pull out during the holidays.

We narrowed it down to the lights, garland, the tree (!), and two toddler-friendly nativity sets (the Fisher Price Little People one and a beautiful, simple wooden one given to us as a wedding gift from friends in Regina *thanks, Lorraine*)


From an enormous Rubbermaid (fondly referred to as "the Christmas coffin") and several smaller totes... to one book box. 

It's a little sad, but also a little exciting. 

This year will be my chance to really flex my crafting muscles and hopefully get the boys involved and really appreciating our Christmas "away from home". So if you know of any great Christmas/craft/tutorial related blogs, leave me the links in the comments section. Pretty please.

(Although we also run the risk of having a bare tree with nothing but lights and whatever toys the boys decide to hide in its branches.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

We have been hemorrhaging money these last two weeks in a sometimes-fun-but-almost-always-sickening way. After being so careful and frugal and making sacrifices whenever possible in order to pay down our debt, spending this kind of money is more than a bit unsettling. 

It's not that we've been foolish with our money. We've needed to stock up on things that we either know we won't be able to get down there or know they're hard to find or more expensive than here (ie, all the different flours and other food stuff I'll need to feed Simon and Andrew safely down there for a year, given their allergies). Also Peter needed a new suit and a sports coat, the boys needed rain gear, Liam needed a few shirts and shoes (STOP GROWING, CHILD), I had to order our homeschool supplies/books/curriculum and I needed a few pieces of clothing befitting my new wife-of-a-diplomat status...


In my case, that means I've traded in my ratty sweats and pj bottoms for some more respectable black yoga pants.

We also stocked up on a few toys for the boys for birthdays and Christmas since we don't know what will be available down there. Several Lego sets, a few new games for the Wii, new markers and other craft supplies, and about 7 or 8 new dress up costumes (I'm super excited to surprise them with these when our shipment arrives in Bogota), along with some marbles, Nerf guns, mini hockey sticks and nets, and a couple super cool remote control helicopters for Liam and Simon.

I think we just might have subconsciously tried to buy our way out of some move-related parental guilt... the whole taking-our-kids-away-from-their-home-their-(amazing)-friends-and-church-and-throwing-them-into-(yet another)-new-culture-and-new-language-AND-MAKING-THME-LIVE-IN-AN-APARTMENT kind of guilt.

That type of guilt can be assuaged with Lego, right?

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

It was my birthday last Saturday! My 31st birthday on the 31st of the month. Friends on Twitter informed me that it was my "golden" or "champagne" birthday. The one where the year matches the date. I guess you're supposed to drink champagne, but we opted for sangria.

(Peter makes the best sangria.)

The day itself was pretty low key as far as celebrations go -see, we have this little move we're preparing for- but I was made to feel special nonetheless. In addition to the sangria, Peter also made a delicious supper with steak, shrimp, scallops, fresh veggies with hummus and tzatziki, and cheesecake with fresh berries for dessert.

My favourite part of the day was hearing Liam and Simon pray for me at supper and again at bedtime.

By far my least favourite part was -one duvet, one pillow, two sheets, two sleeping bags, and four changes of pyjamas later- confirming that Simon does in fact have an allergy to either shrimp or scallops. Or both.

My 28th birthday saw me spending the night in the ER with Simon because of a diner-time tumble down the stairs that resulted in a broken collar bone (he was only 9 months old), and I got to play nurse to that very same Simon the night of my 31st birthday.

So maybe not the best way to ring in the next year of my life, but I am genuinely excited about this next year and all that it promises to bring.

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

I don't know how many of you have ever suffered through experienced a move like this -a last minute international move with only four weeks to organize/pack/inventory the contents of your house, prepare and sell said house, complete passport and visa applications, purchase all the necessary food/toy/school/clothing for a family of five for a year, and fit in some precious visiting time with good friends whenever a golden moment presents itself- but I will not admit to you select few (hundred) who read my blog the following things:

  • I will not admit how many times I've fed my family MacDonald's, TacoTime, frozen pizza, or those hot dogs at the exit of Costco over the last few weeks.
  • I will not admit how many days in a row Liam wore the same shorts EVEN AFTER WEARING THEM ALL WEEKEND AT CAMPING (but there's the slightest chance that it possibly, just maybe  was in the double digits)
  • I will not admit that while Liam's grass-stained, smoke-smelling, ketchup splattered, every-present shorts were more than a little cringe worthy AT LEAST HE WAS WEARING PANTS. Never in my life have Simon and Andrew gone so ill-clothed for so long. While we did manage to stay on top of Andrew's diaper changes, I can make no promises for how long he might've been in the same shirt. And Simon? Let's just say that he's lucky he had some almost near-misses over the last week so that at least his underwear got changed.* 
  • I will not admit how poorly/little I've been sleeping these last few weeks. When I do sleep, it's not soundly because Simon and Andrew have both been waking often. And whenever I get out of bed to see to them, it takes me forever to fall asleep afterwards because my mind starts racing with all the things we have to do before we leave and questions about what it will be like when we get there.
  • I will not admit how poorly/little I've been eating these last few weeks. Never mind the poor quality of many of our meals (see above), I often find myself forgetting to eat altogether. I've heard wondrous things about these stress/anxiety diets before, but clearly I'm the exception. Not only are the pounds not melting away in all of my fears and worries, but I actually feel bloated and gasses and tired and sluggish. I need energy, but feel even more lacking than normal. Hmmm, think this might be related to all the gross processed foods we've been eating? We've eaten more garbage this month than the rest of the year combined and I think my body is rebelling. Even with how hectic our lives are right now, I'm thinking some daily green smoothies are in order (now to find time to get to the store for supplies...).
*SERIOUSLY WHO HAS TIME FOR LAUNDRY AT A TIME LIKE THIS? How am I supposed to get all the clothes organized/inventoried/packed WHEN THEY KEEP GETTING THEM DIRTY? For this last week, my plan is to keep out two outfits and just rotate them. It's too hard to keep track of what they have and where it all is when they have free reign of their closets.


  1. Hang in there Amy...everything seems to somehow, miraculously, get done. I can't imagine the stress you are feeling but you are a terrific organizer and if someone had to pack a whole house etc in only a couple of weeks, I know you'd be the one who could do it! As for the boys clothes...well, little boys are supposed to be dirty...right!??! We'll see you soon and we'll have calm down and relax drinks (and food!)

  2. You can do it!! Soon enough it will all be behind you, and you can (hopefully) relax a bit. Can't believe the move is so close now!!!

  3. Wow Amy, That is so much weight on your shoulders I can feel the stress in your words. I must admit that I don't think I could handle it at all so you are doing amazing (dirty clothing and all!)

    When my mom was 31 years old we moved south for a year as well (St Lucia) and she had to face a similar situation that you did (although she had 2 months to prepare). Your paragraph on packing stuff to bring is amazingly similar to what we experienced. We had a crate we were allowed to fill and she said it seemed big at first but in the end they had to pair down what they took to keep within its limits. She had family visit us in the fall and asked them to bring the Christmas gifts she couldn't buy there. Maybe you could strategically plan restocking of special items with visits from Family and friends.

    I wish we would have time to see each other before you go but I know the chances are slim. I am looking forward to reading about your adventures here :) Hugs!

  4. My heavens, Amy, I don't know how you are surviving. This is such a huge project! You'll make it, though. I'm so excited to hear all about the move, the new place, and how the home schooling is going in a foreign country. You're so inspiring!

    Just let us know if you run out of anything crucial while away. Your bloggy friends are here to send you all the care packages you need!

  5. Amy!! Late HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! What a trooper you are!!! You have such a monument of a task and sounds like you get things done under pressure--something I am very familiar with :)!!! I hope you feel a lot better with your green drink!!!! :) A. Dianne

  6. Hang in there!!! If anyone can do it you can! You guys are doing great and I know that all those little presents and details you have planned ahead with an purchased will do the boys well. Don't think of it as "guilt" think of it from their point of view...you are giving them a taste of home in a beautiful new setting. Hey, it worked for my family. Love you guys and we will keep praying, for all of you and every detail.

  7. When we moved to Buenos Aires, we had only one month as well, to do all the zillion things to be done, and pack up. We left some of our things in storage but took most of our possessions with us. I also went on a huge spending spree before we left to stock up on things I knew I wouldn't be able to get in Argentina. And I'm so glad we did. I bought lots of lego, and other toys for the kids christmas and birthday gifts. We were only supposed to be in BA for 3 years, but it turned into almost 6. I also stocked up on our favortie food items. It's interesting living in another country because some things are so much the same as what you are used to, but there are also so many things that are very different. I also bought a lot of clothes in various sizes for our kids. They did have lots of clothing stores in BA, but they were more expensive, and most were not made as well. Plus a lot of them were not the style that my kids wanted at the time. When we first arrived in BA, one of the first families we met were your in-laws. They were so friendly and helped us to feel more at home in a strange country. I remember going to their house one sunday after church, and Mora made taco's. It was such a delicious meal, and I realized that you could make your family's favorite meals but in a slightly different way. When the Bundy's left BA we really missed them. In fact we bought their Fusbal game from them, which we still have in our family room. A reminder of our wonderful time in BA. I'm sure your husband played many a fusbal game with his friends and family on it. There was some cultural shock for us when we first arrived. But your husband speaks spanish, and has lived in South America so that will make a huge difference. And you sound like you are a wonderful, loving, capable, adventerous mom. I enjoy reading your posts from time to time. I went to CBC and knew your Dad from there. Plus my husband Gord is Ruth Purvis' brother, so we met you and your family several times at their place and church in Regina. I guess the last time we saw your mom and dad was at Steven's RCMP graduation in Regina. We had a nice visit with them. I was sorry to hear that your Dad passed away. He was always such an interesting guy. My only suggestion from what I've read,,,,take a few more (not a lot)kids books. It's really expensive to buy books there, especially english ones and sometimes hard to find good ones. I'm sure your husband must be thrilled to be able to go to South America to live for awhile. You will love it. It will be different, but you'll be so happy that you went. I remember when we would have company come visit from Canada, I would always give them a list of things to bring for me. They didn't mind at all. One thing on our list was cheddar cheese. Something that wasn't available in BA at that time, and my kids really loved it. Well, sounds like you are doing a great job with getting ready in such a hurry. It can be done. I remember when we were in the thick of things,,,Gord was already working in BA, and I was left to pack for the unknown, and do all the paperwork, etc by myself in such a short time and things just all seemed to fall into place, somehow. I was so amazed. But I knew it must have been the Lord helping me get through it all. God bless you all in this exciting adventure.
    Lois Good, Calgary

  8. GAH AMY! I'm so excited for you all! And OMG the stress you must be going through, and the packing and everything! Exciting times, for sure. Can't wait to read more... xo


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