some q&a

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i have had a list of questions asked by blog readers (many of which i have promised to answer!) sitting in a draft post for ages. finally today i found some time to get to three of them! i'll keep working through the list and, as always, i am super happy for any reader of this blog to ask me anything in a comment.

I was wondering if you could share some of your thoughts on integrating into a new country and culture. Such as building a support network, starting a family, and finding time to communicate with those in different time zones.
I would like to hear about what things/customs seem strange in London. Also what you miss the most from the USA (not counting family). What are some things you think the US should adopt from England? Not big political stuff - just everyday things.
I would be interested in what you miss about the US (is it just what you can get in the grocery store? Is it a particular place? Restaurants? Activities?).


ian and i absolutely love living in england. it is getting increasingly hard for us (mostly me) to live so far away from most of our family members and closest friends, but there are so many reasons we enjoy and appreciate being here in london, in the uk, in europe. it has definitely been an adjustment to integrate into a new country and culture, but because i have lived in england before (and have a lot of experience in many different countries and also big cities) i haven't been hugely affected by that adjustment. for ian there have been a few more things that have seemed foreign or have been difficult to become accustomed to, but he is generally a very flexible and open person so it hasn't been too much. i just think the experience of moving abroad is so unique to each individual that takes on that adventure!
our membership in a worldwide church with well-organized, service-focused communities all over the world has made building a support network in a new country massively easier that it would be otherwise. from our first sunday in england we have felt that we are part of a family of good people, and connections through the church have helped us with everything from developing friendships to understanding healthcare options to finding babysitters to discovering the city's best restaurants or playgrounds or grocery delivery services. we've also found community by actively building relationships with coworkers, neighbors, and the group of new parents we met in our prenatal class before moses was born.
i would say that probably the hardest part of living abroad is living in a very different timezone than most of our loved ones! it can be tricky to connect in real time with family members and friends. (this is one reason i love the marco polo app so much!) we just plan around those hours and afternoon/evenings are when we get to see or hear grandparents and siblings and our kids' cousins!
after three years of living here in england, it is honestly difficult for me to remember what is different here than in the states. visitors will come and comment on the way the grocery store is laid out or phrases we use or some other random thing in daily life (i can't even think of many specific examples right now, ha!) - and we will be like, "huh? that's not how it's done in america?" we are really used to the way things go here!
things i miss about the usa:
-the physical geography/landscape (of the west) - utah's mountains, the national parks, red rock in the desert, etc.
-certain foods/restaurants/grocery stores - i'm often craving a turkey sandwich from my favourite restaurant in salt lake city (the dodo), an in-n-out-burger, or a salad from cafe rio (another utah restaurant favourite). i miss shopping at trader joe's and being able to buy corn tortillas and diced green chilies and enchilada sauce at any grocery store.
-target, and some clothes stores.
what should the usa adopt from england? massive generalizations being made here, but off the top of my head i would say politeness, european chocolate, smaller portion sizes, and more vacation time/parental leave.

In the past I've enjoyed reading about the baby gear you find useful, and as we're about to add a 2nd baby as you have just recently done, I'm curious to hear what items you've kept, what is no longer useful, and if any new items have popped up that help you handle two kids at one time! (is your diaper bag still as useful or do you feel like you need a larger/different one? Will you be getting a two kid stroller when the baby is a little older, etc)

we bought a few new outfits for baby #2, just because we felt like he deserved a smattering of things that were not hand-me-downs (and just because i'm a sucker for darling baby clothes...). other than that - and obviously diapers - we have literally bought zero additional/new baby gear. eventually we will need to get a toddler bed for moses so that gabriel can sleep in the crib, and we are planning to get a ride board and a scooter for moses so that gabriel can eventually sit in the stroller ... but we really have felt like we've had everything we need for a newborn. we don't plan to get a double stroller, but we may end up getting one - we're just going to see how it goes over the next few months. for now, we use a wrap or baby carrier for gabriel and we hope that by the time he is big enough for the stroller / too big to keep wearing, mo will be happy on the ride board or his scooter. we kept basically all of our baby gear and clothes from our first time around, and so far we've found all of it useful again! (here's my post about what we bought when i was pregnant with moses.)

As a Mom to a little guy around Mo’s age, I would love any parenting advice. How do you deal with the challenging/defiant behavior? What about when they get so frustrated because they can’t do something themselves? Or have a little meltdown because you said “no” or won’t give them something they want? Does Mo prefer one parent over the other and if so, how do you handle those moments? You get the idea... thanks. :)

i can't decide if i am amused or flattered when someone asks me for parenting advice, haha! i feel really quite inexperienced and like i'm making things up as i go! but, for what it's worth, here's a few things we have implemented/have found helpful.
-no empty threats or promises. ian and i committed to each other before moses was born that we would always follow through with any consequence we presented to our children. we both feel really strongly about this. we diligently watch what we say, especially in moments of frustration or chaos, so that we don't promise or threaten something that we are not absolutely willing to follow through on. and then we always deliver. sometimes we kick ourselves, wishing we didn't say this or that, but we always deliver regardless. we feel that this will help our children to trust us and will make our consequences effective.
-we are also very committed to explaining things to our kids. so when we have to take something away from moses, or we cannot allow him to do something himself, or we don't give him what he wants, we try to always take the time to explain why. when we have disciplined him (pretty much the only tactics we've used so far is putting him in his bedroom for a little "time out" or holding his hands down when he hasn't been gentle - but these are just experiments for now...), we always explain why. when explaining, we try to also tell him we understand why such-and-such would make him upset. i think because we have done this since moses was literally a newborn, he has developed excellent listening skills and he almost always looks us in the eyes and tunes in on what we are saying when we are explaining and/or expressing understanding.
-on a related note: i try to remember that there's a lot my kids don't understand or haven't experienced, that their brains are just in the very earliest stages of development, that they cannot intellectually and/or emotionally grasp most things that i very easily can. this helps me to be patient and loving towards them when meltdowns seem ridiculously dramatic or when actions seem a little outrageous.
-i read the book how to talk so little kids will listen and highly recommend it. a big message that stood out in that book to me is that we need to remember that kids are little humans - meaning, they are fundamentally like us. and when we put ourselves in their shoes, we can try to to help or discipline or protect them in similar ways that we would like and that would resonate with us. empathy, i believe, is a huge part of parenting (even with the very big understanding gap i mentioned above).

in my next q&a post, i will answer questions about struggles with my faith / church culture, how ian and i plan our trips and how we organize our finances, and what i do to pull my mood up when i'm in a slump. i also hope to do a little "flat tour" with pictures of our home sometime soon. so stay tuned ;)

and if you have a question for me, please ask it in the comments!

14 comments:

  1. I too physically missed the USA when we lived overseas. I didn't go back for a visit for over 3 1/2 years, so it was pretty acute. I wanted to just be on American soil! And I missed crushed ice in soft drinks!
    When we came back home, I had to try to remember that everyone I encountered (almost) spoke English and I didn't need to ask, or say "English, please." (We'd lived in Germany) And I didn't need to show my military ID everywhere!

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  2. I'm excited to read about how you organize your finances! My fiancee and I have started having these conversations and it has been so interesting to see how we use different processes in seeking the same goal.

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  3. I would love to know your favorite baby carrier! If forced to choose, what’s your top choice for ease and comfort when wearing a newborn? Thanks for any insight you may have!

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    1. http://drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com/2016/12/baby-wearing.html :)
      if i could only have *one* i would probably get the ergo 360. i don’t have one of those, but i love the ergo we do have (the only problem with it is that it doesn’t have an outward facing position option). it’s not as comfy or cute or breathable as the solly wrap but it works better with breastfeeding and it can be used for much older babies.

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  4. I would like to know how many children you and Ian plan to have? Is it "whatever happens, we're not going to prevent it?" or do you have a set number in mind?

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    1. we don’t have a firm set number in mind, but i think i would like four. ian wants at least that many. we are definitely into using birth control in between kids, though, haha. we are planning/hoping on a significantly bigger gap between gabriel and our next baby than the 21 months between he and moses. but — you never know!

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  5. My question for the next Q&A is, roughly how much longer do you see yourselves living in the UK, and will your next move be your last one? If so where would that be, and if not, where do you and Ian hope to live in the future?

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    1. we plan to be here a few more years - but who knows?!
      it is very unlikely that our next move will be our last one. we will probably have 1-2 more stops until we settle down somewhere somewhat permanently. probable next stops are hong kong or new york. but again, who knows?!
      eventually we think we would like to settle in the western part of north america. that’s where most of our family members are, and we love the rocky mountains and all of the west coast. we have thought seriously about settling in canada. our dream is actually to run a bed & breakfast after retirement.

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    2. As a Canadian, I think there's parts of living in Canada you'd absolutely love, especially after haven gotten used to living in the UK for the last few years. You'd still miss Target and Trader Joe's, but you and Ian would probably enjoy any of the larger or medium-sized cities here (I'm partial to Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria, personally). On the whole, things are a tad more left-of-centre than the States, and there are certain things we have (or don't have) here that constantly flummox my American friends.

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  6. A question for your Q&A is - with being an American & living in the UK are you teaching Moses British words & sayings or American ones?

    For example, biscuit, nappy, rubbish bin, tidy up instead of clean up? (Clean up to me means to dust & hoover etc but in the US it means to tidy up)

    Hope you're enjoying the heatwave:)

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    1. we teach moses whatever we have come to say - wether we have adapted to british words or not. and for us it’s randomly a mixed bag! for some reason we have totally switched over to saying buggy and trousers but still say diapers and trash can. when we go home to the states people sometimes comment that we are saying british phrases — and we didn’t even realize it!

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  7. i am answering questions that seem to have a quick answer here in the comments and will save meatier ones for a q&a post :)

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  8. I'd love to see a post about your photography, especially with travel or walking around town. You've taken some beautiful photos of your boys with an IPhone. Do you also use a "good" camera? How do you haul that, along with the kids and their gear. How do you get your group shots? I noticed the use of the selfie stick earlier on, but I don't think you've done that lately. And please address my biggest challenge - getting my family to pose for more than one photo during a trip. I tend to take candid shots, but we never have a great pic for the Christmas card. Gorgeous photos - it's more than just the amazing scenery, you have a great eye.

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  9. This is so lovely, Charity, thank you for sharing. I've always envisioned myself (and my future family) living in England, temporarily, sometime in the future; however, I'm not sure how feasible that would be as an American physician. I'm going to still keep my fingers crossed and on the outlook for any who have successfully transitioned for 1-2 years. I have fond childhood memories of my life in England, and I hope to give my future children a similar experience. You and your family are lucky and will surely cherish these moments years down the road :)

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