Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Allergy Friendly Shepherd's Pie

Way back in March, for St Patrick's Day, I was suppose to make a corned beef. It was just something my family always had on that particular day of the year, & while we use to eat it a little more often in our own home, it was always on the menu on that particular day.

The problem is, that prepackaged corned beef here is also semi-pickled & the crazy pink sauce on the stuff has things in it some of us can't eat without getting pretty sick. Crazy, right? Well, I figured no big deal I'd pick up a piece of silverside & brine it myself. I had a few recipes flagged to try out & it seemed like a great idea.. you know, until I pulled up the recipe that morning & saw it said to let it brine for 15 hours at the least & up to 10 days.

I stood there for a minute debating what to do, we had company coming for dinner & everything! In a minor moment of genius I thought, "Now's as good a time as any to attempt a gluten free shepherd's pie." Did you know they normally have some form of gluten in them based on the typical recipe? It's been a long time since my gang has had Shepherd's Pie & they bemoan it all the time. My last attempt was pretty tasteless so I wasn't exactly rushing to try again, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

I do not remember where I stumbled upon the original recipe, but I edited it to fit our needs & supplies & this is what we ended up with:

Shepherd's Pie

Meet Layer:
500g beef mince
500g pork mince
2 medium onions, diced
2 T coconut oil
2 t Herbamere salt
1 t black pepper
3 T tomato paste
1.5 c chicken, plus 3 T
3 T arrowroot powder

Veggie Layer:
Mixed veggies of choice

Potato Layer:
Mashed potatoes

Heat the oil in the pan & sauté onion until soft; add beef & cook thoroughly. Add spices, tomato paste & the 1.5 c of broth & stir well. Combine the remaining 3T of broth with the 3T of arrowroot until smooth. Add to pan & stir to thicken. Place in the bottom of a casserole pan. Top with veggies & potatoes. Bake at 200 C for 40-60 minutes, or until the top is golden & the gravy layer is bubbly.

I've used whatever oil I happen to have on hand at the time ranging from coconut oil to rapeseed.

If I remember correctly the origional recipe called for straight beef mince, but at the time I had an excess of pork mince in the freezer for one reason or another so I split it 50/50.

We use homemade chicken broth most of the time, but on the rare occasion we don't have any I purchase a Paleo Bone Broth as it's the only one locally that is safe for our gang. It's crazy expensive too. Needless to say both work in the recipe without any issue.

Herbamere is available in our local grocery stores & health food stores. It's basically herbed salt. While I don't use it in everything it's great in recipes like this to add some extra flavour. We've only ever used the green bottle, original I believe it is, in this recipe

If you don't have a corn allergy you could use cornstarch in place of the arrowroot, unfortunately we have a pretty severe corn allergy to most corn products in our home. Thus our choice of thickeners.

The recipe above generally fills our luxuriously large green casserole pan, but I can't tell you what size it is. generally there's enough in it that I can make 3-4 mini pies as well for lunch the next day.. unless I go off to a double header hockey match & forget to set the oven to keep warm. In which case you'll have really burned the entire large pie & have to feed your family the small one. Either way, our family of four, including 2 teenage boys, manages to have enough for 1 full dinner meal & enough for lunch the following day including some in a thermos for Mr S most of the time. The photo above is one of the mini versions..

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Random Messages

Sometimes we send insanely funny photos to Mr S while he's at work to break up the monotony of sitting at a desk all day. We've been known to be the reason the whole office is chuckling with laughter, asking for another photo or two, & even had them all gather in for a group photo in reply.

Here's a small collection of a few crazy photos & captions we put with them. To Mr S's boss, thanks for not minding our insanity or the random chuckles he spits out during quite moments & the occasional meeting.

Great, someone peed on the floor again!! I thought our potty training days were long over.

Hey, if your meeting gets too dry just shout this out, might be wise to be sure no one else speaks French first. You say it: "To {short e} es bet." Be sure to say it with some real force & then smile.

Hey check it out, we found a boat.. when the boys offered to clean the beach after the flood I didn't know this kinda work would be involved. And no, we're not bringing it home, but I'm considering charging for spectator fees. You should see the crowd of onlookers checking out the boat. 

Maybe this explains why you feel like I'm talking another language most of the time. Maybe I am. Bwahaha. Wait, that wasn't another language, that was just my evil laugh!

The dog is unimpressed with your idea that he shouldn't sleep on the stool. I told him to take it up with you, & this is the look he gave me. I'm pretty sure that's Dog for, "I hate you!" I told him I was never taking him for a walk again & he misunderstood me & is now expecting a prompt walk.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wonders of The World

While rounding up resources for an election & government study for our final term of the school year, I discovered one the latest Lap-Pak by HSITW: Wonders Of The World. It brought a quick change of plans about as someone got pretty excited to use it! As this will be the crux of his work over the term I decided to round up a few extras for each of the various Wonders to enrich his study.

Please note that it's always best to watch videos to decide if they are appropriate for your own family. I've opted to choose 1 longer documentary & 1-2 shorter videos depending on our time. We've watched some previously, & others are ones we'll watch together. I've included a few websites as well, especially if the Wonder had it's own. I will round up links for the Modern Wonders for this Lap-Pak when we hit that portion.

The Ancient Wonders Of The World:

BBC Documentary on the Seven Wonders Of The World.'s Seven Wonder Of The Ancient World {short videos & photos}.


Discover New's Why Is Stonehenge Still A Mystery:

Stonehenge Documentary:

The Leaning Tower Of Pisa:

Inside the learning Tower Of Pisa Video:

BritLab's Why Does The Leaning Tower Of Pisa Lean:

The Learning Tower Of Pisa's website.

The Colosseum:

Discovery's The Roman Colosseum: The Real Truth

Drive Thru History's Ancient Rome:'s Short videos on the various aspects of the Colosseum
Rome's website on the Roman Colosseum

Hagia Sophia:


Jewel Of The Byzantine:

Hagia Sophia's own website.

The Great Wall of China:

National Geographic's Documentary:

National Geographic 4 minute video:

China's Great Wall Of China Website.

The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa:


Unmuseum's Website {lovely photos}

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cinema Adventures

We're not regular cinema attendees. The truth is it's down right costly to go to the movies around here, & it can be equally hard to find something everyone wants to see at one time, but it's always been Nana's tradition to treat grandchildren to a picture or two during term break.

She'd wanted to take the boys to see OddBall way back in the beginning of the year, but it was just after Jayden's big scare & he was really worried about going. As it turned out the movie wasn't actually playing anymore anyway. Then when The Peanuts movie came out there was hopes of going to that one, but between time constraints {we weren't on term break} & waiting to long to try to get tickets it just didn't happen.

Back at the end of our 2nd term Angry Birds was playing at the local cinema & Nana really wanted to take the kids. Mind you, she was keen to take them to whatever, but it was the one film playing I knew both children would enjoy. This caused some minor issues because Jayde was still pretty nervous to go to the pictures, especially without Mom & Dad. We've been slowly encouraging him to face various fears helping him along the way, & he's made huge strides through it all.

This was just one more thing we needed to tackle with him, so rather then ask him if he was ready we made a time & date with Nana. Only, minutes before we were suppose to leave Mr S hopped online to check how long the film was, & realised I'd gotten the times mixed up {thank you VPD} & we had to go to a later showing.

Not an entirely bad thing as it gave our boy time to adjust to the idea that he was going. I told him I was going to pop into the mall below the cinema & pick up a couple of things & then I'd be waiting in the lobby for him when he got done. I told him this over & over, I enlisted friends around the world to pray for him during the time he'd be in seeing the film, & I secretly left my mobile phone with the eldest. I told him to leave it turned off unless something happened, then to step out of the cinema, ring Mr S's phone {which I had} & I'd be there as quickly as I could.

I thought I had it al covered as I dropped them off, helped them get up the stairs, the boys refuse to use the elevator with Nana anymore. Last time they did they got stuck inside & she wouldn't stop smashing the emergency help button so they could hear what the fellow on the other side was telling them to do in order to get out. It's actually something we can all laugh at now, but it's burned them out on elevators.

We get them up there, we remind them where I'll be. I remind them to call Dad's phone & not mine because they'll have mine. The lady opened up the correct cinema & after seeing them in I walked out. Mr S was with me, & we'd no sooner hit the stepped outside the cinema & turned around then there was Jayden. He says, "They are forcing us to watch X-Men."

Now, I know my kid & I know he probably heard "scary movie" & ran for it. Not that X-Men is scary for some people, but for a 12 year old little boy who is trying to cope with a fear it's a pretty big huge issue. Especially for a 12 year old kid who's never been allowed to watch any movie over a PG rating. So I take a deep breath & say, "Let's go find out, they can't force you to watch anything."

As I'm trying to go in, the worker is trying to come out. She says, "He just ran, he ran so fast! I was trying to catch him, but I couldn't." As it turned out, the original clerk booked them in for the wrong movie, but they quickly fixed the problem, we reviewed what previews were likely to be playing & reminded our boy that if any preview came on that made him uncomfortable he could close his eyes & his brother would tell him when it was over. We left again.

Our mall is very small & kinda crazy with little to choose from. At 4pm on a Sunday evening it's pretty much closed up. I managed to get the items I needed all from one shop, which was nice because when I walked out everything else was closed up. We wasted some time in McDonald's attempting to get a bottle of water & then watched a few boats come into port & a few more go out before we wandered back into the cinema. We sat downstairs watching the previews for upcoming movies until we realised that we'd watched the whole reel a half dozen times.

We moved upstairs to a sofa just outside the cinema the kids were in. Which reminded me of another reason I hate going to the cinemas. I have super super sensitive ears & I despise loud anything. I'm the girl who has the volume "cranked up" on you know, 4 or 5 & anything louder will elicit a shout from me of, "For goodness sake turn that down before my ears burst!" My family thinks I'm a nutter, but I can honestly blame it on the whole SSS/VPD thing which affects all 5 senses.

In order to help me block out the noise Mr S pulled up FoxSports live on his phone & we sat there huddled together {much to the amusement of the attendant} with one earplug each watching the footy game that day. When the gang finally came out of the movie & we got in the car I announced I still had to stop by the grocery.

Mr Jayden pipes up from the back seat with, "Uh, why didn't you just go while we were at the movies?"

"I said I'd wait in the lobby, & I did. I was sitting there for 3/4 of the time you were in the movies!"

"What! Why? I mean I'm embaressed to admit this to you, but I wasn't even thinking of you! You should have just gone to the store to save us time."

Thank you. Thank you very much. Hey, at least he can check another fear off his list, right? Maybe..

Happy 13th Birthday

This kid turned 13 earlier this month. I don't know exactly where the time went, we blinked & here we are. He was out unexpected blessing. He arrived just when we needed a beautiful distraction from the trials that are life. The loss of Mr S' Dad was a trying time for us, unable to go for one final visit.. yet we had our loveable Jayde, who sports this grandfather's name.

The day he was born my grandmother's funeral was taking place 4 states away.  The distraction of a new life was not lost on any of us.

Days before this kid turned 10 my own father died. A trying time,  & yet the distraction of a child, this child, hitting double digits was a pretty big deal in our home. Hid distress that maybe he wouldn't get the family pocket knife, Poppy's tradition, was a big big deal to him.

This is the child who gave us many scares while we awaited his arrival. 24 hours of no movement sent this Mamma into panic overload. Spotting at another point in our pregnancy drove us right back to our knees. His name means God has heard, & there's a pretty big reason we chose that name.

When he has his moments, & he thinks all is lost. When he's overwhelmed & frustrated thinking everyone hates him. We remind him. We remind him of why he has his names, how we prayed for him before we ever held him, & of the beautiful amazing loving distraction he was during some of the most painful moments in our adult lives. He smiles, & sometimes, when he needs a pick-me-up, he asks us for the story of when he was born. Which was an ordeal all it's own in which Mr S had to step up & play Dr because the nurse underestimated this young Mamma's knowledge that Baby was indeed here. NOW.

We bought sparklers to mark this monumental moment. The fact that he was officially this odd thing the world calls a teenager. He reminded us that it's a made-up word thanks to The Reader's Digest article way back in the 1950's. I panicked because the black & white polka dot candles I hid away to match the StarWars candles were suddenly missing, & he just begged us to sing so he could eat the cake. I don't make cake very often, much less cake with real icing on it. It was a huge deal.

It was allergy safe, & it passed the ranks of being good enough for those who don't have allergies. I wouldn't know, it wasn't quite safe enough for me, but watching his face light up at the idea of a chocolate cake was sweet enough for me.

His presents filtered in over the course of a week. Flooding in our state prevented them arriving any sooner, but who can complain when your home is safe & dry? This one may take him a while to put together at the pace he's taken with it, I'm the single man cheering squad desperate to see what it will look like when it's done. I'm equally curious to see it's capability, or is that his ability with it?

13, it's a pretty big number for a pretty special kid, & we're so glad he's ours.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Prepping For Term 3

We’re gearing up around here for the beginning of our third term! That’s rather exciting as we look back over the first half of our year & consider all that we’ve accomplished. It’s also exciting because we can now see how much work we put into things.

Part of getting ready means printing out new portions of books & putting away the finished sections. The kids are on the final stretch of their lovely writing books which is bitter sweet in some ways, & very very exciting in others. They are both likely to finish writing in the coming term which will open up the opportunity for some other fun activities like creative writing from Story Starters.

In previous years we’ve made changes in Term 3 to accommodate needs, but this year we’re staying the course we paved in the beginning & carrying on. Morgan will continue to work on Bookshark History Level 7, he’s ahead of schedule & I’m quite curious to see how far he makes it in there this term. I wont’ be at all surprised if the spines are finished well in advanced of the various literature he’s using.

Jayden will be doing a literature study with the amazing Redwall. He’ll be using the Progeny Press Lit guide which I picked up from Currclick as a download. I have to confess that once I received it my mind was alight with many ideas which could take an entire term to wrap up, but we’ll just see where the actual lit guide takes him for now. We may purchase the fun Mossflower Country album from iTunes & the Redwall Cookbook as well, but time will tell.

If he finishes that study before the end of term I have more he can do depending on time. I also have a few mini studies he can do from HSITW or we may just cover some various American history for now. Our family has taken a huge hit with the latest US disaster, & while we ache for our fellow countrymen we equally ache for those who choose to seek us out to voice their unsavoury opinions. It’s remind me just how important is to be sure our children understand the basis for the founding of each country they are a citizen of. It’s far wiser to make their own minds up based on fact based truths then fact based opinions, & let’s face it there are a lot of opinions floating around on politics on every country in the world! 

We begin a new level of spelling, which is an incredibly huge deal in our home. If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know my kid struggle with VPD & spelling is not something that comes easily or naturally to them. There was much rejoicing & excitement over finishing the previous book last term & much delight over the world of new words they hoped to learn to spell quickly & correctly.

We’re also beginning a new grammar programme this term. I’ve really ignored the IEW bandwagon for a long long time. It’s not that I had anything against IEW, but rather I was content where we were & what we were doing worked for us. However, with the boys filters now being adjusted, or is that hormones levelling out here a bit & the filters working so wonderfully for them, I’m noticing some issues in grammar that I want to deal with.

I decided, after researching & speaking with some really awesome friends, to go with IEW’s Fix-It Grammar. It covers a few things from like vocabulary, gramma, & punctation. My kids have had basic grammar down for a while, & while I’m not that fussed about more in-depth grammar & absolutely disagree that you need it to be an amazing writer, there are still some areas that I believe they need to stay fresh with & others to brush up on. The punctation practice excites me too.

My boys know I’m a hard-knock kinda Mamma who doesn’t tolerate text-talk or any other form of slang spellings unless it’s an absolute rush or emergency. I’ve been known to reply back to my kids with, “When you can spell that correctly I’ll happily answer your question.” Thus, my children have been known to send me text messages that say, “Mum, this is my very best spelling, may we please..” Ha!

So while we’ve tackled the weaknesses in spelling I’ve noticed a huge issue with punctuation. My eldest has been dutifully working away on the first volume of Writing With Skill & doing an amazing job. But every single rough draft he asks me to look over has little to no punctuation. I was reminded, recently, of a comment my husband once received in school on his own writing paper & opted to try it out on my son. I took a huge breath of air, exhaled & took another. He honestly thought I was having an asthma attack, but rather then answer him I just began reading in one long rushed manner. Upon reaching the end I gasped quickly for air & told him I’d have enjoyed his piece far more had I been allowed to take breathes more often. Thus my desire for daily punctuation help.

Everything else stays the same, which is nice in it’s own way. It can be hard, sometimes, to adjust to the changes of a new curriculum or path, especially halfway through the year. We will have some big changes next year, at least for one child, but we’ll cross the bridge when we come to it! In the mean time we’re looking forward to another term of learning.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What's On The BookShelf..

The Autoimmune Solution: This was an interesting read if you’re struggling with any health or allergy issues. The book’s basis is written on the scientific research that shows certain foods can aid inflammation & if you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease {allergies are considered one}, then you would likely benefit from the book. The author herself is an MD who opted to specialist in the field of Functional Medicine. She herself also has an autoimmune disease & thus maintains to her own principles. Having said all that I’m so-so with some of the information provided. I felt the first half of the book was incredibly interesting, but the second half of the book {home toxins} really did me in. I will say that our family all ready avoids many of these foods for the mere reason that we show sensitivities of allergies to them, due to my inability to cope with artificial scents of any kind we also don’t use the majority of the toxins listed in the section that I felt dragged on a bit, perhaps that’s why I struggled with it? There were foods on her no-no list that we do consume such as legumes & I’m not sure about giving them up for a lifetime. All up it was certainly an interesting read & available in the state library system for those interested.

The Green Ember: This has been on my list for ages. I started it last year while using our indoor bike, but for one reason or another found myself engrossed in a variety of other books & never made it back to this one. I pulled it back out & listened to it front to back. It brings to mind several other books all mashed into one, & will certainly appeal to my animal loving, sword twirling, self described book hater. There is all ready a prequel written & a book that would, historically speaking, take place after this one. The main story is about a small rabbit family who end up separated due to an attack of wolves. Through the course of the story the young sibling pair who survive the attack learn much about the history of their own family & all that it entails: good & bad. They learn to overcome their fears, face their enemies, & find courage to do what’s right even when no one believes in you. As a side note, the audio copy is a little difficult to get into at first & I think that’s part of why I put it aside for a while. However, after picking it back up & starting over I found the narration quite enjoyable.

Thornwood House: I crash listened to this over a couple of weekends, listening to the majority of it one cold rainy weekend. The book is a hefty listen with something like 16+ hours of story! I was drawn to the title way back during an Audible Daily Deal when the book was a meagre $4  or so. The story is set in Australia which is what drew me to it in the first place. It’s listed, I believe, as a thriller or edge of your seat type story & there are certainly aspects of it that are written in just such a way, but once you really get going with the book I found it to be less edge of your seat until the end. The story opens with the death of the main character’s ex, the father of her child. It’s believed he took his own life which both daughter & mother find hard to cope with. In his will he leaves them a family home & they set out on a new adventure to bring life back to the home. The story travels between various times as you learn about people who lived in the home, other family members who are gone, & then find answers to many probing questions along the way. I really enjoyed this book, especially as an audio while I was busy working around the house. I was probably 1/4 or more through the book when I had it laying by the sink playing while I cleaned the kitchen one evening. I’d felt reasonably confident that while my children wouldn’t enjoy the story I’d have no qualms with them overhearing portions of it, however on that occasion one of the characters in the story began cursing at such a rate I was in a made scramble to pull rubber gloves off my hand in order to pause the thing, thereafter I only listened while wearing my headphones.

Raising Grateful Children in An Entitled World: This book has been on my list to read for ages, but I always find more pressing books then the majority of non-fiction. I’ve never been willingly drawn to non-fiction books in the same manner that at least one, if not both, of my children are. Thus, this book remained on the “some-day list” until a friend mentioned she was reading it & was grateful I’d suggested it to her. I’m still trying to decide if I actually suggested the book or merely mentioned it, but it inspired me to read it. Unfortunately neither of my local Christian book stores had the book & I’m not generally a fan of Kindle books. Especially as our home is often very dark at night time for those of us who struggle with bright lights {thank you VPD}. This makes reading in an evening hard, especially when my headlamp & book light keep being “borrowed”. Thus I ended up choosing the audio option for this book. I’m glad I did. The female narrator did an amazing job & the book itself is written in such a conversational tone I had a hard time putting it down. The author shares her own parenting struggles & successes in regards to raising children to be grateful in a world where most children are given anything & everything. I appreciated her humour, her honesty, & her wisdom. It’s a rare day I purchase, or even take time, to read a parenting or homeschool books. I find most are written by Mamma’s of very young children who haven’t experienced the various emotional highs & lows that they’ll one day face as their children grow up. I know they may have wisdom to share & they may have some very thoughtful insights, but generally they aren’t ones I need or can use. This book wasn’t like that. I finished this book & was ready to listen to it again, it was that kinda good. That kinda wise. That kinda inspirational. I really need to obtain a hard-copy though as there’s an index full of goodies in the back one can’t access via the audio version as there doesn’t appear to be a pdf companion as there are for some. There are also some suggestions at the end of each chapter which would be lovely to have in written format to review & revise for use in our own home. My only caveat with the book is no matter which format you opt to read it in, be prepared to do a light of highlighting, note taking, or “clipping” it’s just that full of awesomeness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

5 Things American Expats Need Americans To Know

So, to be fair & unbiased I have to admit that as an American Expat there are things I wish my own countrymen understood in order to make things a little easier on those of us living overseas. Now, if you’re American you may be saying, “WHAT??” Just read through top 5 things & see if it helps you understand any better:

When you’re visiting another country, remember You Are An Ambassador — Come on, you hear all through the olympics, the word Ambassador. Have you ever stopped to consider what it really means? When you leave your home soil & enter a fresh new country everything you do & say sets the standards the world judges the rest of your country by. When you go to another country & climb all over memorials, it sets a bad tone. When you go to another non-English speaking country & complain that no one speaks English, you set a bad tone. When you go to another country & you act superior then everyone else, that’s NOT patriotism, that’s just idiotic & you make it harder on those of us who live overseas & take the flack for your 10 minutes of fun.

You would not believe how many times we’ve caught flack all because the person we ran into had a bad experience with a fellow American. 

Stop asking if my host country celebrates rather American holidays like Thanksgiving or Independence Day, & don’t call me UnAmerican for celebrating my host countries holidays.
Yep, i’ve really been asked if Australia celebrates these holidays. My first inclination is to roll my eyes, come on people don’t you remember every history class you’ve had since you were 5 years old?! But generally I just say no & that’s enough to trigger the person to remember every history lesson they’ve ever had since they were 5 years old.

I don’t feel the same when people in my host country ask these questions. This is normal, this is to be expected & I enjoy answering that question because it allows me a moment to share the culture & experiences of half my family.

On the other hand, I find it irritating & stupid when fellow Americans tell me off for celebrating things like Australia Day or the Queen’s Birthday, & yeah I’ve had actual family members tell me I better not forget who & what I am. Here’s the part they forgot. I live in a bicultural family, this is who I am. However, even if our family wasn’t bicultural I’d still be celebrating the holidays of my host country. Nothing helps you appreciate the beauty & history of another country then fully understand those holidays..

Those late night talk shows you find such a blast, your country is being judged by them.. That means those of us living overseas are equally judged by them.
Look I know it’s both funny & shocking to watch some of those insane clips where they hit the streets & find the stupidest people they can. Remember the one where they went out & asked everyone why we celebrate the 4th of July? It took them something like 20 people to find one person who could actually answer the question.

The problem is, though, that when people from other countries find these clips they begin to think all Americans are dumb as rocks. I had a family member once find one of those clips & the question was name 1 country that begins with a U. Many people couldn’t. This family member couldn’t believe how stupid Americans were that they didn’t think of their own country. Without considering I was sitting right there said family member went on & on about the stupidity of the American people. Ouch. 

Your political rants on Facebook aren’t getting you anywhere. 
Your friends aren’t suddenly changing their political stances, are they? In fact most of them just end up unfriending each other because no one can agree. Lines are drawn in the sand & people each go their own way. 

What does happen, though, is that those of us living overseas are suddenly lectured on the politics of our own country. We are told what is & isn’t acceptable, which candidate is clearly he better choice, & which Constitutional Amendments we need to deal with NOW or we’re just plain bad people.

If you want to rant, go for it. Go find a group of like minded people & rant away. Share your burdens, get it all out. Save FB for connecting with your friends, sharing photos of your family with me because I haven’t seen you in forever. Show me things I can’t see anywhere else: changing leaves, purple mountain majesties, & amber waves of grain. But please, keep your political opinions off of social media.

Don’t quiz me on the stupidity of laws in my host country. Your opinion is invalid, & it’s downright rude.
I am obligated, both as a human being, & by the visa I was granted by the Australian Government to follow the rules of this country. I don’t have to like them, I don’t even have to agree with them, I simply have to follow them. Your opinion on them is invalid & mocking my host country is not something I take lightly.

If the people of my host country were living in the USA wouldn’t you expect them to be bound & obedient to the laws of America? Of course you would, so don’t think I get special privileges because I don’t.  Besides, telling me how dumb a law is won’t really change it, you do know that, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 Things American Expats Would Like You To Know

Living overseas isn’t an easy task, & it’s not for the faint hearted. I hear often from people who aren’t coping, who can’t handle it & are desperate to “get back home.” Often times, it has nothing to do with where the Expat is living as much as it has to do with the way they are being treated. 

I’m no exception. Living overseas is hard work. It’s made harder by a lot of contributing factors. There is nothing quite like hearing someone say, “Oh you’re from America..” to make you weak in the knees & your tummy start quivering. 

Here’s my top 5 reasons, many of which only fellow ex-pats will ever understand, that it can be hard living overseas:

If you don’t like something about America, that’s your problem not mine.  I’m talking politics, policies, laws, vegetables, & everything else here.
I once had a clerk ask me if I was American. When I said yes she spent the next 3 minutes telling me how she visited there once & hadn’t had a proper serve of vegetables her entire visit so now she hates the place. Vegetables? That’s your biggest problem? I mean, you didn’t think to walk to a grocery store & get more? I went to a family party where people I didn’t know happened to be.

I had a family member tell me how horrible it was, three years AFTER a certain hurricane happened, that the President hadn’t extended his hand to the city most in need. This family member was completely unaware, because it wasn’t reported in my host country, that the President had offered help, but that government of said state refused to declare a state of emergency.

I’ve been quizzed about past presidents, current presidents, gun laws, & the educational system. Got a beef? Get in line, I’m likely to be being berated by at least a half dozen other people.

When a crisis happens in America, I’m not interested in your political stance on the situation. I don’t blame you for your country’s problems, stop blaming me for mine.

Nothing brings out the opinions quite like a crisis! Every single time something happens, instead of offering me condolences, asking me if I’m okay, if I knew anyone effected, or any other 1 of a million kind, considerate, & polite questions or comments I could receive I am, instead, treated as though I caused the problem.

If you’ve never received notice from your local consulate to stay put, avoid going out, & do nothing to draw attention to yourself you have no idea what it’s like to be an Ex-Pat. That’s just a normal part of living overseas. Instead of berating me for what you think is wrong, consider the fact that I’ve just been told how much danger my children & I are in.

If you don’t have an American Embassy or Consulate on speed dial in your mobile device, there’s little chance you can understand the gravity of the comment above. It’s a normal part of living overseas. Don’t berate me when things go wrong, offer me a hug or ask me if I’m okay. 

Most Ex-Pats aren’t living overseas because they love the country they are in or wish to gain citizenship. Please stop thinking I left my country because yours is so much better.
Any normal human being is likely to feel patriotic to only one country, the one they were born in. That feeling you get walking down the street & hearing a familiar accent or saying can make you stop in your tracks until you find the source. 

I’m not saying we’re ungrateful to our host countries, we aren’t, at least not all of us. However, many of us are here due to jobs or spouses. On top of that, there were a lot of hoops we had to jump to get here. Have you ever stood in line for 3+ hours just so you & your spouse can remain in the same county together? If you have you know exactly what Im talking about.

We’re grateful the means & abilities are there for us to make the journey & face the adventure, but don’t mistake our love for our significant other, or the need for a job, to be confused with our sudden change of Patriotism for another country. 

Your snide comments, mean jokes, & pathetic insults hurt. We’re not immune, we just choose to pretend we didn’t hear. In reality, we went home, locked the door & cried it off.
I once attended a family party several hours from my home. I was aware people I wouldn’t know would be there which always puts me a little on edge. After being there for a while I was sitting on a bench watching my children play when a couple sat down across from me & introduced themselves. The man said, “Canadians sure do love it here.” I didn’t respond. I am not Canadian. He snickered & said, “You know that’s my little joke because Americans hate being called Canadian, I can tell which ones are the stupidest when I use that little joke on them.”

I sat there, stone faced & said nothing while he & his wife threw back their heads & rolled with laughter. When I got up to walk away they followed me around the park until I escaped into the women’s bathroom hid in a stall & cried.

My kids were at the park one day when a little boy walked up to them & asked if they were American. They nodded their heads & he said, “You’re a-holes then.” His parents threw back their heads & laughed. My kids had to come ask what the word meant. 

My kids have been called more names, & when the bully is finished my children smile & say, “You know we’re Australian right? We were born in America, but we are Australian.” 

My children are far more resilient them I am. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home from the park, the Dr’s office, or any one of another public situations & cried. It’s funny, you know, we’re told the reason we’re hated is that our countrymen are so rude, but nothing says loving like name calling & belittling.

Don’t ask if we’re homesick. I mean think about it, if we were would asking do any good anyway? If we aren’t then you only accuse us of not loving those in our family who aren’t here.

As soon as people realise you’re from another country this is the first question out of their mouth. I know a LOT of ExPats who are incredibly homesick. They’d give anything to pack their bags, head home, & wrap their arms around family members. Sometimes it’s just about being able to feel safe again, sometimes it’s just about knowing they can go to the grocery store without being called names.

There are also a large amount of Ex-Pats who are content right where they are. I despise being asked if I’m homesick because there is no right answer. When I say no, people presume I hate the family members I’m not living with. If I say yes they presume I’m not happy with where I am & demand to know what’s wrong with their beautiful country.

Of course we miss the people we can’t see, & sometimes we miss all that goes with it from family celebrations to jumping in leaves. We miss seeing familiar things in the grocery store, or finding beloved books on the shelf at the library. We miss hearing the thunder roll across the mountains, or seeing fireworks on Independence Day.

That doesn’t mean we are discontent & ready to jump the next plane home. I am amongst those people who are content where they are, despite the ups & downs. The hard days, the lonely days. We fill ourselves with the good & surround ourselves with those who understand.