Catching Up

I’ve been blogging again over at The Campbell Chronicles, trying to recap the last few months of 2013. You can catch up with all our family news over there. I will link to individual posts below as I get them up.

Eventually, I’d like to start writing here again, but I’m not sure when that will happen. I think it’s safe to say that the Writing Project 365 was a total bust. But I did enjoy writing again, doing something just for me. I should probably rename this blog at some point, though, since I doubt I’ll try to write daily, at least for awhile.

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A Guest Post on TCK’s

So, apparently, when I say I’ll be playing hooky for a few days, I really mean a few weeks. I had to let a few things go when I found out I was pregnant with our fourth (surprise!), and as sitting in front of the computer was one of the things that tended to make my nausea worse, the blog went on an indefinite hiatus. I am 13 weeks now, so hopefully almost past the first trimester ickiness and hoping to get back into my daily writing practice soon.

I am breaking my radio silence today to let you know that I am guest posting over at Djibouti Jones as part of the Painting Pictures series on Third Culture Kids. I am so honored to be a part of this series and I hope you’ll take the time to read my post, When an ATCK Chooses a Life Overseas, and join in the conversation via the comment section. And then stick around and read some of the other posts in the the series — there have some wonderful submissions by some really talented writers and bloggers!

Playing Hooky

I’m playing hooky from my blog for the next few days.

Okay, not really.

But I will be doing my writing practice for the next few days over at The Campbell Chronicles. Our family blog has been sadly neglected over the past few months, but I’ve finally been inspired to do something about it. I’m calling it a “blog reboot.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for me, that’s where I’ll be. I’m listing links below to all the posts I will be making there over the next few days:

És Así Cómo… (My First Post in Spanish)

One thing our language teacher has asked me to start doing is writing blog posts in Spanish. I balked at this at first because I just don’t feel very articulate in Spanish yet. At the same time, when I read or write in another language, I usually feel at least a little smarter than when I am trying to listen or speak. And when you’re learning another language, you need all the confidence boosters you can get! So, I’ve decided to give it a try, and you can expect to see me posting in Spanish every so often. Don’t worry, Mom — I’ll provide the English translation as well!

This first post is an adaptation of something I wrote 3 years ago for Portuguese class. It’s , kind of fun to compare it to the original, so click here if you would like to read it (you have to scroll down to the third section).

És Así Cómo Se Pierde Lentamente la Chaveta (This is How One Slowly Loses Her Mind)

  1. Se casa, y después de dos meses, se muda a Japon trabajar. (Get married, and after 2 months, move to Japan to work.)
  2. Se regresa a su propio país, y se trabaja mucho para ayudar a que su esposo termine sus estudios de posgrado. (Return to your own country and work a lot to help your husband finish his master’s degree.)
  3. Se pasa un año cuidando a su suegra moribunda, y después de su muerte, limpiando su desastre de casa. (Spend one year taking care of your dying mother-in-law, and after her death, cleaning her disaster of a house.)
  4. Se es pobre y desempleado ye sin casa y sin seguro de salud por muchos meses. (Be poor and unemployed and homeless and without health insurance for many months.)
  5. Se tiene tres niños en tres continentes diferentes. (Have 3 children on 3 different continents.)
  6. Se pasa cuatro años preparandose con un equipo para ser misionera en África. (Spend 4 years preparing yourself with a team to be a missionary in Africa.)
  7. Se muda a otro país (otra vez) y se estudia otra lengua por casi dos años, en preparación para la vida y el ministério en África. (Move to another country (once again) and study another language for almost 2 years, in preparation for life and ministry in Africa.)
  8. Al último minuto, se cambia de opinión; no se va a África. En vez de África, se va a América del Sur. (At the last minute, change your mind; don’t go to Africa. Instead of Africa, go to South America.)
  9. Se trata de aprender otra lengua, porque claro la última no se habla en el nuevo país. (Try to learn another language, because of course the last one isn’t spoken in the new country.)
  10. Finalmente, se ingresa al hospicio! (Finally, check yourself into the nut-house!)

And now you know why I’ve got issues!

Two Weeks Later

I’m back. I think. Honestly, I suppose only time will tell.

The last two weeks have been busy. We had a field trip with our homeschool group. Alex had a school festival. We had overnight guests for nearly a week and spent several days taking them to see the sights. We had a group of folks from church over for dinner one night. We had Date Night. We went to my niece’s birthday party. In addition to all that, we have been continuing with our Spanish studies. We committed the months of April and May to focus on formal study (3 hours per day, 4 days per week) because once summer hits with all the short-term groups coming, we will not be able to devote as much time to that. And I have been focused on research curriculum and planning for our next year of homeschooling, so much of my computer time in the evenings has been given over to that, leaving me little in the way of time or functioning brain cells for writing.

This blog is never far from my thoughts, though. I “think” things to write all the time. If only there was a way to actually translate that thinking into a blog post while I was thinking it! On the other hand, maybe that wouldn’t be very pretty! Writing helps me take my muddled thoughts, organize them, and then present them in a way that is (hopefully) clear and understandable to others. And in the process, I come to a better understanding of myself as well.

Starting Again

GAH! Has it really been 15 days since I did my daily writing practice? I should probably rename this blog “Writing Project 300.” It just doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Writing Project 365.”

I think the hardest part (for me) of picking something back up after I’ve slacked off for awhile is just knowing where to begin. That, and fighting the urge to explain make excuses for my long absence. I’ve been toying with the idea of implementing a blogging schedule (writing about certain topics on certain days), just to eliminate some of the work of deciding what to write each day. My two ongoing weekly projects right now are the Stay Awake Challenge (Seriously need to do some catch-up-work with that! Sheesh!), and my chapter-by-chapter review of Unrooted Childhoods. I’d like to start writing and sharing some more poetry, so maybe one day a week for that?

Here are a few other random ideas that may find their way into future blog posts:

  • a series of posts on “the work of a missionary,” focusing on some of the aspects of mission work that aren’t quite as glamorous as “seeking and saving the lost,” or “telling others about Jesus,” but just as vital and necessary.
  • James Bond and the objectification of women — We finished our marathon the other night, which means I have now seen every James Bond film ever made (24 to be exact). So, I feel semi-qualified to write a post like this!
  • I promised to share the experience of getting my Ecuadorian driver’s license, which I finally accomplished today  — yay, me!
  • My sis and I are in the middle of watching the third season of “Downton Abbey,” and I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about that when it’s over. (Confession: I already know what happens in the end, thanks to Facebook, but I’ll wait to share my opinions until I’ve actually seen the whole thing.)
  • Maybe I’ll buckle down and finally write my kids’ birth stories.

So, did I whet your appetite for more?

It’s good to be back here!

Scattered

Sometimes, when I write, it flows easily.

Other times, not so much.

I have been staring at my screen for over 10 minutes without writing a single word. It’s not “writer’s block” in the sense that my mind is a blank. On the contrary, I have so many different thoughts swirling around in my head that I don’t know where to begin, or which one to focus on tonight, for this blog post.

I suppose it’s more a problem of organization. When I can’t organize my thoughts well, I can’t write well. When I can’t focus on one thing at a time, I can’t get organized. I feel scattered right now. I need to collect myself and my thoughts, but I’m not sure where to begin.

What do you do when you’re feeling scattered? Are you a list-maker? An exerciser? A cleaner? A music listener? A nap-taker? A crafter? A pray-er? What helps you order your muddled thoughts and reclaim inner tranquility?

Reflections from the Beach (written March 12)

We got back to Quito yesterday from a few days of family vacation at the beach. It was some much needed time away from all the responsibilities, stresses, and distractions of daily life. I wrote this in my journal on the morning we left, sitting out on the veranda and watching the vast ocean as the day dawned:

We are at Playa Almendro for a few more hours. 5 days we have enjoyed here — 5 idyllic, carefree days — and I don’t want it to end. But all too soon, we will be loading up for the journey back to Quito.

I kept thinking I would grab some time to write while we were here. I even brought my computer, to do some writing for my blog. But I never turned it on the entire time we were here, and I never sat down to write in my journal until this morning. Maybe I was just having too much fun. Or maybe I needed a break from even the responsibility of writing, much as I enjoy it. Or maybe I was more interested in just relaxing, just being, than I was in reflecting and pondering and gathering the words to write about my feelings.

We swam, played in the sand, soaked in the hot tub, played games, read books, watched movies, laid in the sun. It’s amazing how quickly life at the beach settles into a lazy routine based on the rising and setting of the sun. We were up each day by 7:00 (without an alarm) and falling asleep in our books by 10:30. We ate lots of yummy food, and thanks to my prep work last week on the meals, and Rusty’s help with the dishes, I didn’t have to spend all my time in the kitchen.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat out on the beach for quite awhile, watching the waves roll in and listening to the pound of the surf. And I thought how easy it is to be at peace here — away from all my worries and responsibilities and stresses, and with the wide empty ocean to look at, to listen to, to soothe my soul. It’s always been one of my dreams to live by the sea. But I wonder — if I could see this every day, would it still have the power to melt away my cares, to put life back in perspective for me? Or would it just become part of my “normal,” something I see but don’t really notice?

I do know that the sea calls to me, has always called to my heart in a way that I can’t really explain. Every time I come back to it, I feel a sense of homecoming. And that surprises me, not only because I’ve never lived by the sea, but because that sense of home, of belonging, often eludes me as a TCK and global nomad, someone who is from everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the ocean is much the same, no matter where you are in the world. It’s something I’ve been ruminating over since yesterday.

Time for a Check-up!

I can’t believe February is already over!

Since I am 2 months into the Writing Project 365, I thought it was time for a little self-evaluation. I started out strong in the month of January with 30 posts in 31 days (only missed one day!), but in February, I slacked off a bit and only wrote 16 posts in 28 days. I hope I can get back on track with daily writing in March.

I am also 5 weeks into the Stay Awake Challenge (still have some catch-up work to do there)… and thought I would evaluate how I’m doing on each challenge so far:

  • Sleep – Um, not so great. Still staying up too late. Last night, I was asleep by 10:45, and I felt great this morning! But that was the earliest I had gone to bed in several nights. I definitely need to be more intentional about this!
  • Start where you are – Trying to see my life more as a process, a journey. Trying to walk that fine line between being content with where I am right now (and not fighting or denying my feelings) and striving to improve, to get better. It’s a delicate balance.
  • Set intentions – Haven’t done very much of this, mostly because I can’t seem to remember to do it! Like most other habits, it probably just takes time to develop.
  • Rise early – Doing a bit better with this. Alex being in school 3 days a week is really going to help with this, since I need to be up and have him ready to go out the door by 7:15. I’m thinking about starting to set my alarm clock for 6:00, not 6:30, to give me a half hour of true Quiet Time before they wake up.
  • Unplug – Doing better at monitoring my own computer time. My kids’ screen time is now being curtailed more than it was (another side benefit of Alex being in school 3 days per week).

I like what both these projects are teaching me — about discipline and the importance of practicing a little every day if you want to get better at something, about “waking up” and savoring life rather than just wandering around in a daze all day. I like that I’m doing something just for me every day. I like that I have a place to share some of the thoughts rattling around in my brain. And I LOVE when people comment, either on the blog or on Facebook, or to me personally, and let me know that they get it, they understand, they have some of the same thoughts, feelings, doubts, fears.

I like knowing I am not alone.

Stay-at-home motherhood can be very isolating. So can being a first-year missionary, living in a new country, learning to speak a new language. This space allows me to reach out to a virtual community, to make connections, to be heard and understood. This is why I write. Oh, sure, it would be nice to be one of those bloggers who could actually make money with her blog, but at the end of the day, it’s the desire to be real, to know others and allow them to know me that keeps me writing.

A Little Break

I’ve taken a little break from the writing project for the past couple of days, for several reasons:

  1. After spending all week at home with my kids, I sort of feel like I’ve run out of things to say! Not really true, of course — I have lots on my mind, lots I want to and could write about, but at the end of the day, I am usually just so tired that all I want to do is veg out in front of the TV or my computer, not think about putting words to some of the thoughts rattling around in my brain. It has been raining a lot this week, so every day, I would think, “Tonight would be a nice night to build another fire after the kids are in bed, and just relax in front of it,” but then after I got the kids in bed, I couldn’t even muster up the energy to actually get the fire going.
  2. On Thursday night, the older boys had a sleepover in my bed. They watched a movie on my laptop before they went to sleep, so I couldn’t use my computer during their movie, which is usually a good time for me to write. I could have gone out and used our desktop Mac or even Rusty’s old laptop, but I decided cuddling with my boys and watching “Cars 2” for the 542nd time was more important.
  3. Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at my sister’s house. We celebrated Jana’s fifth birthday with a Hello Kitty party and TONS of kids (just including cousins from both sides of the Marcum’s family, there were 13 kids, plus there were a few from Jana’s class at school). It was a crazy fun time, and after everyone else left, we stayed for a sleepover. After we got the kids settled and asleep, we watched a movie, and by the time it was over, it was late and cold, so I just went to bed.

Rusty will be home TONIGHT, and we are all so excited to see him. I am so very thankful for all the folks from the States who come and make sacrifices of time and money to bless Kumanii and the people along the Cayapas, but I’m also thankful that we don’t have another short-term group on the calendar until June! 5 groups in 6 weeks has been a little much for us with such young kids.