Hello December

December always brings with it so many kinds of emotions.

Excitement, happiness, anxiety, and maybe even some stress.  No matter how much we prepare ourselves there always seems to be just so much going on. And so many things to get done.

The kids have about 2 weeks left of school here till we're out of here for some downtime.  My older one has exams coming up for which I hope she's studied hard for.  I can only tell her so much and remind her to do so, but the rest is up to her.

Bring on December....


Good bye November

so today is the last day of November 2016.

Since Thanksgiving happened this month I thought to share 30 things that I'm thankful for.  In no particular order.....

I'm thankful for.....................

1.  family
2. that my husband has a job, and a great one at that.
3. that I have the previlege of being a stay at home mom. (there are some days when I resent it.  I'm keeping it real)
4. my oldest daughter living on her own and doing it well.  Even while she's doing her last year of high school.
5. that Renee's knee is healing well and that she's gotten rid of her crutches and is walking on her own.
6. that Tanysh and Joshua have settled in well at the school in Kazakhstan and are doing well.  Even with the change of cirriculum they are doing well.
7.  Tanysha is playing the piano again and is actually enjoying it.
8.  I have been able to be consistent with my workouts every morning. 8am in the gym every morning!!
9.  the snow.  It's  magical and makes the cold so much more bearable.  we haven't had any ore snow as of late and I'm really hoping it does again.
10.  living here in Kazakhstan.  There are so many things about it that are great.  There are days when I wake up thinking - what in the world!!
11.  watching the sunrise over the river.  I look forward to that in the mornings. 
12.  the community I live in.  The togetherness and being there for one another is always so great.
13.  that I live with the river view.  There is so much life on the river and I see so much from my house.
14.  a warm house.  The fire place
15.  that I am healthy and physically fit.  I may not be the weight that I want to be....yet, but I am working on it.
16.  TV shows like Blindspot, Blue Bloods and Modern family.
17.  volunteers who help the community around me and constantly challenge me to do better.
18.  trying to live simply
19. the familiar foods that we can find here in kazakhstan that makes my kids happy.
20.  knowing the people in my community and loving how diverse our community is.
21. the teachers that teach my kids and the patience they have for them.
22.  my childrens friends.
23. the air that i breathe.
24.  my childhood friends that I can see and chat with on facebook.
25.  my PNG family that I can keep in touch with on facebook.
26.  my dishwasher.  my washer and dryer.  Life would be so different without these white goods in my house.
27.  my friends in London that made my stay there comfortable and entertaining.
28.  The visa group here in kazakhstan that helped me with my visa process.
29.  my bed to which i can retire to every night.  I take this for granted.
and lastly for this list.....

30.  Coffee.

Goodbye November.

Bring on the festive season.  Bring on December.


weekends are for........

 A community Thanksgiving Dinner,

walks along the river and baking.

I think I've finally settled again here in my new home for the next couple of years.
In all honesty we never really know how long an assignment will be.  Of course we used to know that assigments lasted at least 3-4 years, but with so many changes in the oil industry we just don't know.

We've settled.  We're happy and we will make the most of our time here.

Hope you all had a happy weekend.


Happiness is Giving Thanks.

So today is Thanksgiving.

This morning I woke up wondering what the day would have in store for me.  It was a cold start but as the day went on Atyrau gave us it's blue skies.  

I love the blue skies here in these cold winter days  They make me happy.  They certainly make the winter cold bearable.  

2016 has been a tough year and so much has happened but when I go to put my head on the pillow at night I still smile because life is still good.  And there is a lot more good than bad so we must be thankful

Today I had that aha moment - i know this is going to sound cheesy but I realised that the more we give thanks, the more happy we are.  Not that smile on my face happy, but heart happy.  That bubbly, warm happy feeling in your heart that puts a smile on your face.  
That's a good feeling.

So today, the day of Thanksgiving we will give thanks, but I'd like to give thanks and continue to be grateful tomorrow and the next day and the next - and hopefully the day after that.  
I think that's maybe something I'll need to be working on.

We won't have our dinner till tomorrow night in our community.  It will be on Friday night here and also cause we're a diverse community and we like to bend the rules a little!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.  Enjoy your families and enjoy your meals.  

I know they'll be good!!


finally home....

since the last time i posted, I made another trip to London.  I just got back last night.
my oldest girl needed knee surgery so of course mama had to be there.

Thankfully the surgery went well and now she has to get through her rehab.  which in my opinion is always the hardest part of any post op.

My daughter is motivated and is pretty determined to get back to doing some sports and being active. I'm hoping though she doesn't rush through recovery.  On the other hand, I think it can get frustrating learning to move around in crutches and just having to re-adjust to how to doing things.   I hope she gets past this stage ........even though shes on her own.

It's been a tough couple of weeks for me.  Actually the last couple of months have been difficult.  It's not easy having kids in 2 different locations and managing 2 different school calendars and trying to be there for them.  Oh and don't forget the husband.

I'm tired.  I'm jet lagged and I'm still the 'new person' here in Kazakhstan (even though I'm not!!) because I've been in and out the community so much, I still feel like the new person and of course I am the new person!!

I'm here for a long stretch now so hopefully I can get some routines going..................hopefully!!

Happy Halloween.


a month and 10 pounds later.....

I'm finally home.

to a house that's still empty, but I'm home.

Maybe you heard about my little visa problem.  Well it's all been resolved now (between country and company) and I can now travel in and out of Kazakhstan without any restrictions.  And it's a good feeling.

A month and 7 days is way too long for anyone to be living in a hotel and out of a suitcase. There are so many reasons for it being bad for you and at the top of the list is how bad your diet becomes.  Hence the 10 pounds!!
You just don't and can't eat well and sometimes meal times is what is convenient.  At least I made sure that I started the day off well and ate breakfast in the hotel. But perhaps didn't work too well.

Although some good things came from it and here's 3 off the top of my head....

1.  my husband can totally take care of the kids.  Actually I always knew he could cause before we married I saw him take care of his nieces.  Change diapers, feed them and even play with them.  So that was never going to be a problem.  I guess it was just me having to let go and letting him.

2.  my kids grew up......fast!  In their own ways Tanysha who is 12 and Josh who is 8 missed me on different levels.  And of course each ones needs are different, but they totally grew up quick in the time I was away.  I guess if there is one main purpose for me is 'raising my kids to be capable and able'.  And sometimes being forced to be away from them forces that issue upon us.

3. I got to have some down time.  before I left my husband told me to look at it as a mini vacation.  A time to take care of me.  It was great.  I got to catch up with friends, go to the movies, had lots of retail therapy and then there were days when I didn't have to do anything.  It was good for me.!

But it is so good to be back at home.  To be able to sleep in my own bed and eat home cooked meals!

And now I think it's time to do something about this 10 pounds that I picked up from somewhere!! LOL...


where are you from?

more than any other question this is the one I get the most, Where are you from?
Sometimes I'll ask those people to guess.  And the responses I get are from all over the world.  Although I get India and some south american country a lot.  And then when I speak a full sentence - well then I get either the USA or some other English speaking country.  It's always interesting.
Anyway on this day today,  my home country of Papua New Guinea is celebrating 41 years of Independence.  We've come a long way as a nation.  I've come a long way as a person.  And no matter how far I've traveled and places that I've had the privilege of living in, I am a Motuan.  A Papuan.  But most of all A Papua New Guinean.  And I'm proud to be an islander from a small island at that,  but so rich in diversity and culture.

the photo above is me proudly displaying my heritage. Because I am a motuan.  I am a Papuan. But on this day and every other day I am a Papua New Guinean ... and whether I like it or not an ambassador of my country.
My niece wrote this piece a couple of days ago on facebook and I thought I'd share it today. Because she summed up everything about our country.  where we are from, where I am from........
I come from the “Papua” part of “Papua New Guinea”
But people don’t know of the Papuan part or the New Guinea
They only know Papua New Guinea
They don’t know that there are four regions
And that our looks and languages and customs differ
They only know we are uniquely diverse
They don’t know some of us have Afro hair and while others have curly or straight hair
Or that our skin colors differ from black, white and brown
All they know is that we are Melanesian
That’s why I choose not to confine myself to a particular provincial group because you then develop an ethnocentric mentality
So ask me where I’m from and I’ll tell you I’m from PNG
Because at the end of the day I write down my citizenship as being a Papua New Guinean NOT a Papuan
(Alythea Jae Siraba)


changing stages

yesterday I had coffee with some moms from my daughters school here in London.

There were some new moms, moms who have been at the school for a couple of years and then some moms who have left the school but still have friends there - so came along.

as an expat (actually even just as a mom) these gatherings are so important.  You meet, you share and we exchange contacts for a doctor or an orthodontist that you would recommend.  It's important.

As I sat there, across from me was a mom whose been at the school for a couple years but I noticed something(someone) was missing.  You see last year her son would be there with us. Having his glass of milk, some apples that his mom would bring and a few toys to keep him busy while the moms talked.

I asked my friend where her son was and she said - he's started school, his early years.  Oh what a wonderful time for her and her son.  A new beginning, a new chapter.

I sat there thinking about how she might be feeling I thought about my own changes for this year, and the need to manage 2 school calendars.  Our family of five have some changes of our own this year.


unexpected hiccup.....

so remember when I shared that I had my visa....well I did but as you know tourist visa's always come to an end.


And before my KZ tourist visa expired,  the visa I'm waiting on has not been issued, so here I am stuck.

Stuck in London!!

It can't be that bad can it?!.......

but I'm missing my babies.

Things don't always go as planned but what can you do really, but just make the best of it. At least I'm here for my other daughter.

thank goodness for Skype and Face time I get to see them everyday....


out again, this time in the Capital.

We are in the capital of Kazakhstan for the next step in this visa application process.  At first glance and comparison to Almaty - everything looks so flat.  And it's cold and there is so much construction happening.  I am guessing it's for the Expo that is to happen in 2017.  I'm looking forward to it.

I think I'm becoming an expert at this.  But it still is never so straight forward and it is always testing, but here we are!

I'm grateful that I'm able to travel and see a little more of this large country, but of course this one is not a leisure trip.

I have all the paper work ready .....and there is so much of it.  So many forms.

but for now, I will enjoy the views.


monday morning grind and a Room with a View

So the weekend came and went and now it's Monday.  I'm not so keen for Monday. It's always slow and the list of things to do and 'get cleaned is long necessary.

And so here we are ...... at Monday!  I hope you had a good weekend at least!

Anyway this Monday I've decided to join in on the fun with Nadine at TinyWoolf's art challenge. Actually a room with a view challenge.

I was in Almaty these last couple of days to do some 'visa stuff' and we stayed in the Ritz Carlton in Almaty.  Now if you ever have the pleasure of visiting Almaty that's a place to stay.

So here's the view while we were having breakfast on the 30th floor......  Lovely greens and snow capped mountains.  Truly breathtaking and mysterious.

As I sat there and ate, I could not help but think of the mountains and wonder how the people historically known an Nomads inhabited the land with their nomadic tribes survived out there.

To learn how they lived and why they moved so often.  That is my challenge to learn the history of these things as I reside 'again' in this beautiful country.

Even a ground floor view - from Starbucks was also breathtaking...


city hopping...

so my daughter and I had to make a quick trip to Almaty.

Almaty is the largest city here in Kazakhstan and at one point served as it's capital.  It's gorgeous and you can be certain that there is so much to see here.

Unfortunately our quick trip is not a leisurely, touristy trip.   Its to get a test done required by the UK government for a student visa.

These processes are never easy and time consuming, but necessary.

And so here we are in Almaty, a city formerly known as Alma-Ata.

we did manage to make a stop at one of their markets.  Interesting to say the least - but a real market!!


simple things...

this weekend was quiet.

My husband flew out Friday morning for a meeting in London and also to travel back with our daughter back to KZ this weekend after her trip to China.  (the wall of china looks like a place to visit)

Anyway, so it was quiet.

I did manage to get our curtains put up in the house and they look great.  Our house is empty at the moment as we are waiting for our air and surface shipment.

I'm thankful that the curtains went up cause it sure does help with the acoustics of the house and not to mention keeping out the sunlight!

I even managed to sleep in this morning thanks to the 'black out' curtains that are good for when the sun comes out before 6am and sets after 8.30!

I hope you had a good weekend too.


that was a first.....

So today I was accosted!!

By a kid.  I couldn't believe it that he had the nerve.  Actually when I stepped out of my taxi he approached me begging me for some money in a calm voice, and in a tone where I could tell he was begging.  Before I could say anything, he's voice got aggressive and he lunged toward me as if to scare me.

He was a kid!  no taller than my own son who is only 8.  I didn't feel scared or threatened in any way, in fact if I had reacted and maybe hit him or pushed him, I think I would have gotten into more trouble.

I walked away thinking wow............now that's a first here!  I'm not deterred but it was a good reminder to be careful and aware of my surroundings, no matter where I am.

Anyway after that I walked over and took a picture of this place.  Its a restaurant.  I love the structure of it and how very traditional it looks.  I've been once but in the winter.  maybe it's time to go now, the last summer days in Atyrau.

Happy Hump Day!


weekends are for...................

friday nights at the tiki bar and pool.

and the rest of the weekend, exploring this city which will be home for the next couple of years......(i think).

coffee lab.  kvb

hope you enjoyed your weekend.


Dear London.......

I'm missing you. it's only been a week and I'm missing you much.

transition is not always smooth sailing.

The physical part of a move is always the easy part.  Packing our boxes and lives into suitcases is kind of normal now and you just do it.  Of course there's work involved but you just get on with it. That's the easy part.

What's difficult is the emotional and psychological part of a move.  It's the leaving behind, the saying good-byes and the desire to have a proper closer...(i'm still working on that one - let me know if anyone has that down or at least has some good tips!!)  And that's just the leaving.

On the other end, it's the anxiety of a new destination.  The fear of what's waiting for you and your family on the other end.  And in our case this time, what's changed or not changed.  And then on top of that, it's the settling in, and trying to find your way around - not just the place, but people.  That's always tricky.

And so London, i miss you.  The easiness, the convenience and the choices of what one can do.  The history of the place, the forward thinking of a vibrant and diverse city.  You are missed.

Our first weekend just happened. my family and I are working on what will be the norm for us during weekends.

I did drag the kids out of our gated community to the grocery store, to get them out.

I think that might be just what we have to do......get out and explore because there's a lot out there.  We just got to get out.

It's only been a week.  But I think London will always have a special place in my heart....


3 days in.....

it's as if we never left!

my kids have fit right back into the school and community and things are different but familiar for me.

When I think about it, it really is a great thing to be 'community living'.  And it certainly makes transitioning easier.

We arrived Sunday night to a house readied and a kitchen stocked with the basics to get us through the first couple of days.  the baked cookies and cranberry bread, gave that homey feel and they were so good.

Of course not everything was smooth sailing.  We boarded the plane with 11 bags and only 3 made it with us!!

Not so great, but we've learnt to pack a carry on with at least 2 days worth of clothing for everyone so we were covered.  silver lining for our bags not arriving altogether - i can unpack a few bags at a time!!   There's always a positive................. you just got to look for it.

Well my life is here now.  I'm thinking it's time for me to merge all my blogs together, but I got to find someone to help me with that.  Or do I just go back to my of Kazakhstan blog - Come Into our Yurta.  I liked the title...

Anyway, here's to new adventures and new beginnings!



it's been a very busy week!

And today officially marked the end of our short 24 months here.  We did a final checkout of the house we've been living in and handed the keys back.

Our work assignments have usually been 4 years, and so 2 really is a little short, but when it's time to move you move.
And even though it's been short, it's been wonderful in so many way.

London has been a wonderful host and we love this place.  But it's time to look forward and move on, but London will always hold a special place in our hearts.

now to live our last week as tourists........................again!!

Thank goodness it's Friday!!

Happy Weekend.



just stuff....

today was the second day of packing.

i spent the weekend still trying to sort through and decide whether or not I needed all those glasses and mugs, or if i still needed the 3 different sets of linen.(ughhhh....)

At the end of the day, it all really is just "stuff".

It will take almost 2 and half, maybe 3 months before our things arrive at the other end, so I'm forced to make do without them.  And in doing so I prove to myself that I can do with 'very little'!

Everytime I do this, I a do ask myself why so much stuff, ...but then before I leave there seems to be this mad rush of shopping for things that "I think" I'll need.

although today one of the packers told me that 'this was a relatively easy pack for them!!  I (we) must be doing something right!!

Anyway, the last day of packing is tomorrow and then my last days here will be spent as a tourist.  Well until we do the final checkout of the rental property we've been renting.........  

I'm gonna miss Richmond....