Thursday, October 1, 2015

This American Life

Because who doesn't love dogs in Kiss jackets?!
All around me are people hustling and bustling to and from their jobs and working to love life in between. I am hustling and bustling too -- but in a different way. Sure, this freelance life means i often don't have the same amount of funds that some of my friends do -- but it also means that i can come and go as i please, and i don't have to be stressed about fitting it all in. I have to hustle to make money too -- but i don't expect the world around me to bend at my will to get it all done.

That's the biggest thing that stands out when you've been away from the Matrix of this American life: The fact that a lot of people in a lot of other places don't live lives of stress about going to work, stress about coming home from work, stress about taking care of the home and running around ragged in their off times. There are people out there who take time to contemplate the distinct yellow of a leaf, or to wonder at the jagged lines a little stream of water made on a hill. There are people who look at life and don't just whiz through it. There are people who don't pile their stress onto their kids or burn into their heads that they have to do anything besides live and be an authentic human.

That is not to say that i won't encourage my daughter to go to college or to do good in school or to be a decent person who's not a jerk to others -- but i also want her to take time to breathe the sweet breezes and to see the world around her, not having to see it rush by as she rushes around. I don't nag her at all hours about what she should be doing, because when she's lying around seemingly doing nothing, she's going where her mind wants to go, and that's OK.

Now more than ever i see that this makes me something out of the ordinary -- that it maybe even pisses people off. But to them i say, you do you, and i'll do me. And that means i'll do exactly what i'm doing right now.

I love the URL of this website: Make a Living and a Difference. That's an inspired life! This particular site is all about quality DoTerra essential oils -- go check it out.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Friends Around the World

I'll go for the black.
The title of this blog is Raising a Revolutionary Around the World, and I certainly do. But she's not the only one who gets to make friends and get a slice of the traveling life, obviously.

Before i left Nicaragua this summer, i traveled to Matagalpa in the northern part of the country with a few friends. Like most trips with friends, it was filled with lots of inside jokes and banter. We took a photo a lot like this one, trying to decide which ugly pair of pants would be ours and which ones would be another of our friends'. Now i can't pass by a grouping of these headless pants without thinking of that trip, and the friends who i seem to keep accumulating around the world...

(PS, tell me which pants you want.)


Meanwhile the girl has made friends with some international kids who just moved to the city. It's great to see the tradition continuing, even here. Another great thing that's happening: she's loving being back in a big class where they can do math and science in a bigger way.

If you're in need of some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) help for your kiddos, check out Zyrobotics, accessible STEM e-books for young children and children with special needs.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Looking for housing during Portland's housing crisis? Forget it.

Every morning i wake up in a basement where my bed is in a den, surrounded by the white curtains that give it some privacy, and my first inclination is to lament. It's a basement, after all, and i just moved from a three bedroom three bath with a pool and a maid.
Totally demoted. But at least there are cute dogs here.

But if you're living in Portland -- or you're thinking about moving here -- you have to look at it a different way and say a little prayer of thanks for having somewhere to live at all. Yesterday Portland's mayor declared a state of emergency in relation to the homeless housing situation -- but that problem extends way beyond the houseless to those who have the jobs and the funds to pay for SOME housing, but they're being priced out. In case you haven't heard, this city's rents have skyrocketed, with the fastest-growing rents in the country.

It may not seem so bad if you're moving from San Francisco, but it does if you're moving from Nicaragua.

So i am thankful that i have a place to live, but overwhelmed at the prospect of only being able to  move into an apartment instead of a house for the first time since college. And i'll be paying more for said apartment than i did for any of the rental homes i've lived in in this fair city.

People talk about how it's all due to people from the tech sector moving here for jobs, but i don't see the jobs. This city has always had a relatively unwelcoming environment for businesses, and that's always made jobs scarce. So now i have to wonder where, if they do exist, are all these jobs that are spurring on growth. Maybe i should go and find one...


If you're moving in and around Thunder Bay, Ontario, give T-Bay Movers a call -- and check out their website for some great info for anyone who's looking to move. (Just not to Portland, OK?)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

This Ocean, That Ocean, Same Ocean

When we first moved to Nicaragua and went to the beach, my kiddo was amazed. Suddenly, she could spend all day among the waves, splashing and riding the swells and stuff... and she'd never get cold. That's because there, the ocean is meant for swimming.
Notice no one swimming?

Here in Oregon, where she's lived almost her whole life, the beach looks more like the photo seen here -- where shoes and socks and jackets and all that stuff are necessary to endure the onslaught of wind and rain. Even in early September, when this photo was taken, i required multiple layers.

It is just so funny to me that this type of ocean situation is what my kiddo is used to, when i think the rest of the world thinks of the ocean as that warm, tropical, sunny type of place where you can spend all day in the water and not emerge with blue lips.

Yet another reason it's good to get the kids out of their comfort zones for a while... 


When your kiddos are getting close to college age, the thought of finding the right school for them is yet another edge out of the comfort zone. That's Admitopia can come in handy. This is in their own words: "By creating a free student profile, future attendees are able to highlight their accomplishments and unique talents and make connections with admissions officers before even applying! We also enable high school students to connect with college students at their dream school of choice." Check it out!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Busy Weekend

It's Monday and the last place i'd like to be is in front of my computer. 

When you move in to someone else's home, you tend to have to go along with whatever is going on at the house. Whether you want to or not, you get to ride along for house cleanings, family fights, and even birthday parties that happen under the roof.

Of course, the birthday parties are not a problem.

It's just that when you're not following your own path, you might push through and do things that you wouldn't have otherwise done. In other words, i think i'm turning into more of an introvert than i've been before -- and riding along with someone else's program kind of interrupts that. Today is Monday and i am finally alone in the house -- and all i want to do is sleep. But it's Monday so i'm here at this computer instead... pushing through...


Need something fun to do online, by yourself at home or with other friends? Check out Yahtzee Online.

And here's one to do with the kids! Yamie Chess wwas created by math teachers and uses cartoons to teach kids STEM concepts and math.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dreams of Travel

We have barely set our suitcases down, but i'm dreaming of picking mine up again.

When i told my daughter i wanted to go back to Nicaragua next month, her reaction was a solid "Nnnooooooo!"

OK, got it -- she's done with that place for a while. But for me, an opportunity has presented itself, and that means back again to the land of lakes and volcanoes without her, just for a little while.

More on that later -- but the point right now is: i give myself permission to lead a life that involves as much roaming as possible. If you deign to be a naysayer and tell me that i shouldn't, you shouldn't. This is my one life. I'll live it the way i want. You go ahead and do yours.

The quote -- and image -- above is from QuotesHunter, which has a whole page of quotes about love. This one especially caught my eye today!

And for those women whose dream it is to have a child without a partner, don't let anyone be the naysayer that stops you! The team at Hanka Lifestyles is producing a video about women who have children without partners, by choice. If you're one of them, check out the site to be part of the film.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Where to Next?

Among all of the questions we seem to get directed our way upon our return from living in Nicaragua, one actually has me thinking: Where to next?

For many families who managed to do what we did -- packing up our lives into a meager storage unit and taking the kid and dog on a plane to somewhere else for a year -- that would be the end of it. We'd come home and tell our tales and be ready to fit back into our real reality.

But maybe it's that we are just one kid and one parent, and that one parent does a job that's all online that we don't have to think like that. We can indeed dream of the next adventure, and no one is going to be too surprised. I thought i'd leave that "what's next?" question alone a while, but surprisingly, it's my kiddo who has already started thinking about it. Turns out she's pretty obsessed with soccer, and with the world at her fingertips, she wants to go where the best soccer players in the world learn the game.

First she said Brazil, and i imagined all the kids who grow up in the favelas, knocking the ball down the street. It would be an experience, but learning Portuguese while my Spanish is still in progress could really mess me up. So then she said Argentina, where Lionel Messi is from. I am down with that. Ironically, a man we met at the local Central-South American market here in Portland reminded us that the U.S. of A. is actually a really good place to learn soccer too. So there's that.

In any case, we are already thinking of where to next, and that's a fun thing to do.

If your "where to next" is taking you to Turkey, you may be in need of an Istanbul hotel. Check out the Intercontinental there -- always a great stay!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Not much going on here --

Just looking to find my center here in the U.S. of A., finding free ways to spend an afternoon (kayaking with my new sit-on-top is a good one) and looking after that great kid i get to live with.

I could go on and on about how Portland's rents have become a ridiculous joke -- especially for a single adult with a child -- how this city's charms have finally gone public and that means we're all crowded in and in and in... how work seems to uninspire me and how the days growing colder makes me want to escape...

but the truth is, i am here and i went out on the water yesterday, and for that i need to be grateful.

In need of a lawyer on the East Coast? Check out this family and divorce attorney in Jersey City, NJ.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Woods

The very best part of the day...
To make it as a freelancer in the U.S., you have to be a lot more diligent about sticking to a routine and to keeping up the daily earnings goal. That means there's less time for idleness, meeting friends for coffee, wandering around the town and all that. It kind of takes away the beauty of being a freelancer -- because often the reason people do it is the relative freedom you get in not having to answer to a boss when you don't want to work 9 to 5.

Still, we now live close to one of the loveliest parks in the city, a tiny extinct volcano with needle-covered paths that wind and twist up to views of Mount St. Helens, Mt. Hood and downtown Portland. At 5 every day, i get a daily respite from the realities of having to sit in front of a computer all day, and each day i remind myself that it's the best part of the day.

So even if i have to stick to a solid routine like the rest of the working stiffs out there, at least there are trees to greet me at the end...


Need a great way to engage your social media followers or otherwise promote your business? Check out Cartoons Direct -- which offers whiteboard drawings that help you tell your story.

And when you're out and about and traveling here and there, your kids might need a reminder to stick close to you. That's where the Santa Travels book can come in handy -- reminding kids of safety issues during holiday travel. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Middle School!

5th grade, Granada, Nicaragua

6th grade, Portland, OR
Last week was the start of school in Portland. The rebelangel came home on the first and second days and i asked her how it went and whether people were asking her all about her year abroad. Of course they were. She was so tired of talking about it to everyone who she encountered -- friends, teachers, administrators, parents -- that she didn't even want to talk about it at all with me.

I get it. People ask you what it was like and how it was, and you almost don't even know where to start. You had a life somewhere else -- a life that was filled with school days and friends and homework and activities... a life that doesn't at all look like the one you have here, but at the same time is very much centered around the same day-to-day routine. One, however, ends with a splash in the pool, while the other ends with a splash in a rain puddle.

I look at these two pictures and i see two very different things. One is filled with color and light. The other is brown grass and bit of a stressed look. Maybe it's the fact that the rebelangel is now in middle school and thus feels like she has to be a certain way -- meaning snarky -- to fit in. I don't know.

All i know is that she seems to be content here (while at the same time a salty middle schooler), while i'm still not sure which place i want to be in more. Or do i have to choose?

When you're feeling stressed or in need of some relaxation, check out the Square Breathing app, which trains you to breathe in order to combat stress. Cool!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Doing Something

I love this quote from one of bernArt's t-shirts: "Doing something is better than getting nothing done."

What does that mean to you? Does it imply that doing nothing is bad -- or does it mean (like i think it does) that sometimes you just have to get going doing something? There are so many days as a freelancer when i think "i'll just screw around today... i don't need to work." But i do need to work. I need the money.

So then i decide to do one little thing. And that little thing gets my brian moving and gets me motivated to do one more little thing. And all of a sudden the entire day is done and i've even forgotten to stop for lunch. Not stopping to eat is not living in balance, but the point is, sometimes you just have to start something even when you really don't want to.

People who work in offices and cubicles and for other people probably encounter this a lot more than i do -- but as an at-home worker, i find it a handy piece of advice.


By the way, bernArt has a lot of other cool t-shirts too, all with positive statements aimed at elevating people's moods and attitudes. Who said you can't buy inspiration? Check out bernArt site here and get some t-shirts!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Budget

Summer fun at the Washougal River -- for free. Except gas. There's always gas.
If i had one big gripe about living on the west coast -- and probably living in the US in general -- it would be the speed at which i bleed cash.

When you live in a foreign country in which there simply aren't that many outings, attractions or hobbies for kids -- and adults -- to take up, you're sorta OK with chilling by the pool all day and going to bed early.

Here, there are things to do every day and every night. Every major street has its street fair, art night, boutique sale, hobby-inspired gathering, freak show, happy hour and more, just begging for you to go drop cash.

Meanwhile, kids activities aren't cheap either. Outfitting this kiddo for soccer -- let alone for a school year in which she had almost no appropriate clothing (loose tank tops and short shorts that fit over bikinis won't cut it in this climate) has been a total drain. Eating all the yummy food that is lurking around every street corner or on the shelves of the grocery store -- every non-GMO, grass fed, organic bit of it -- is like an evil plot set against my savings account.

If i had a budget before this -- a dash at diligence and austerity that some doe-eyed, Latin America-living expat dreamed up -- it is sadly, sadly gone by the wayside. Meanwhile we are living in our friends' basement -- one step up from living in my parents' basement. De-moted.

At the very least, we do still have good weather on our side, where we can hop out to one gorgeous river spot or another and soak up the sun while we watch little muttering streams of water pass through rocks, and jump off cliffs and just generally forget the conspiracy of living on the west coast -- that conspiracy of things to do that means there's never enough...


When you have kids, at least some things are worth paying for -- like life insurance for you and them. Check out TermLifeUSA, where you can shop all the big brands and get the best deal for you and your family. 

And at least there are coupons to help pinch some pennies. T Coupons is an excellent source to find coupons and sales to save thousands of dollars. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Friends, Old Friends

This entire crew slept in one house. Plus more!
When you travel -- and especially when you do it the long, slow way -- you make a lot of friends... friends who will be with you for the long haul.

And then those friends sometimes come to visit when you move elsewhere, and they make friends with your other friends, and all of a sudden the web of friends is wider and it starts to cover the whole globe, anchoring it into a network that crosses and re-crosses borders, hopping over Prime Meridians and Equators and International Date Lines and time zones.

It's not a visit to Oregon without waterfalls.
It was like that this weekend, with the friend who i met in Nicaragua, who's from the Netherlands, visiting with her friend from the Netherlands who she met in Nicaragua. All of a sudden we were having a joint birthday party for the friend and me, celebrating with other friends who'd visited Nicaragua, friends from Mexico in the mix, and many of my Portland people blended in and making friends with the Nicaragua-Netherlands-Mexico crowd.

It's a web that doesn't necessarily need to be defined or fully described -- but the ultimate effect is fun times and teaching the kids about this wide world and where we belong in it.

Which is everywhere.


I love what Kate is doing with her t-shirt campaign. At the top of the page, it says "The Mind of a Child is Where the Revolution Begins." Yes indeed! Check out her cool t-shirts, aimed at reminding people that Every Child is an Artist.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Portland Trees

These pics definitely don't do it justice, but it only took a few moments under the trees to remember why Portland -- well, Oregon really -- is so great.

Tall trees that invite you to come and sit, take a walk, throw around a frisbee.

Sprawling parks with views of the mountains beyond, dark blue, medium blue, sky blue mountains, fading until the farthest peaks are just a faint white line.

Crunchy gravel on clean paths, littered only by English ivy.

People playing tennis, swinging, biking, running, sweating, close but far away from the traffic of the streets.




Dogs, those faithful companions.

It might be tough to be back in the United States, but it's still nice to be back in Portland.


Need some help and encouragement finding your path and experiencing personal growth? Angelique's White Lotus Tarot life coaching program may be for you. Go check it out!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

When your dog doesn't know you

There's probably a country song out there about the sad day when even your dog doesn't love you.

You know, since all country songs seem to revolve around trucks, losing women and the loyal dog, a really, really sad country song would of course involve losing the dog's loyalty.

I'm not sure whether i've lost her loyalty, but in the time that we've been gone, my old dog has lost most of her hearing and a good portion of her sight. When we were reunited on our first day back in Portland, she hardly reacted at all. It was a bit disappointing, because in times past she's rolled around on the floor and sneezed and whined when i came home, even after a weekend away.

The old lady's daytime past time. And night time.
This one, though, i have to chalk up to the fact that she's 14 and senile and probably just a little bit peeved at me for ditching her during her twilight years. Honestly, any time she'd come into my mind when we were in Nicaragua, i'd quickly say a prayer that she'd be there when we came home, and then just as quickly put her out of my mind. When you've had a loyal companion for this long and then you have to make the choice between her comfort and your daughter's global education (OK yes, that was an optional choice, but still) it is not fun to have to decide to ditch the loyal pup.

When we left town a year ago, we left our rented house to our friends who rented it and were already in the house when we departed. The morning we left the house was relatively free of furniture, and my friends said the old lady dog scrabbled around the empty house, sniffing, poking at the windows and looking for us, knowing we'd gone and wondering whether we were coming for her. I haven't been able to speak that memory until now, because it was just too painful to recall. Now that we're back, it's kind of OK to bring it up. 

These days the old lady mostly days around on a cold floor, struggles up steps, pants around the house when she's ready to go outside, and growls a little when the little dogs get too close to her food. In short, life is mostly about sleeping. After a lackluster reunion, she chooses to sleep near me over any other people in the house, so i guess she knows me and remembers me... but i've missed out on the year when she went from a somewhat peppy pup to an old, old lady whose friends and family quietly wonder whether she'll make it to her next birthday...

Need a fun quiz in your life to lighten the mood? Try the NewsUp How Well Do You Know Barbie quiz.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

That Frantic Feeling

It's the first week of what i could call "real life" here in the U.S., and it feels like real life has hit hard. It's not so much anything in particular.
Te extra├▒o, Nicaraguita.

It's more of a feeling that i can't quite describe. Like everyone here is frantic to get to the next thing, to get something else done or fit into their lives. Like my kid all of a sudden wants expensive things and asks for them every morning when she wakes up. It's like everyone is wanting things they don't have and they're desperately scrabbling to get them.

I'm not used to all this. I haven't cleaned my own toilets in a year nor taken out the trash nor worried about money nor been worried about keeping up. Living in the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, i was kept up. Now i'm back to being in the back-middle of the pack.

This has me thinking all sorts of desperate thoughts like maybe i should scrap this freelance thing and go get a job, or maybe i should find a boyfriend to take me out to all the restaurants i've missed out on. It's true that i'm feeling that frantic desperate unsatisfied feeling that i haven't felt in a long time, and i don't like it.


Need a job to fill in the gaps? The Weekend Jobs site has some helpful tips on starting your own blog for money.

Ready to find that love that's been right around the corner all this time? The Single Parent Dating site has a review of the top five single parent dating sites -- check it out!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pickathon 2015

 Anyone who's been to Pendarvis Farm for Pickathon, the annual summer music festival, knows the iconic image seen here to the right. The sails above the main stages provide shade in the heat, which always seems to blaze over this festival.

This year our homecoming in Portland was very brief; we spent a day or so in town and then quickly went to this other "home" of ours -- this dusty, forested, bustling home where we get our fill of great music, reconnect with friends and just generally have a great time.

This year, it was allegedly "boring" for my tween, even though i let her bring a friend along.
What can you do? You bring your child back to the country for which she's been pining all these many months, and then to the festival for which she has so many great memories, and all she can do is tell you that it's boring.

I think she was being a bit dramatic... but what you gonna do?

I had forgotten that on top of being rife with great music, Pickathon is also rife with gorgeous men. Where are they the rest of the year? In case you need some help in that department, Two to Mingle might be able to help out...


Traveling here and there and then back again has a way of making you realize -- again -- that home is not just one place. Home has always been that way for me, an Army brat with a new place to live every few years, but after living in Portland for the better part of the 2000's, i guess i kinda forgot.

There are lots of kinds of homes.
Little dog in his nest in the truck-home.

There are homes that are yours and that you pay for. There are homes that are your family's, and will (almost) always be open to you. There are homes that are large and expansive -- like the way i like to call "The West" my home, with its wide open skies, its sweet pines and firs, and its many looming mountains. There are homes that are countries -- like the USA and Nicaragua are now to both me and my daughter. Germany, China and Mexico have also counted among them for me too.

Then there are mini homes within homes -- like the school my kiddo will return to, the neighborhood that has welcomed us back here in Portland. All these homes and more have we seen in just the span of a few weeks.


There are even online homes that give people places to belong. Bondswell -- a new website -- is one of those types of homes -- where creative people from all over the world can come to gather and find other people who want to take part in the same type of creative pursuits as you do. Whether you're a writer, painter, graphic artist, gamer, video professional, traveler, nature lover, or any other type of creative person, you'll probably find someone with whom you can bond on that site.

(Note: There's a big fat link on the side of this blog to Bondswell -- and its early entry code -- in case you want to check it out)

There are all kinds of homes out there; some you can see in real life -- others that take shape in pixels. But they'll all help you along in this wild journey....

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Family Truck

This crew really, really loves trucks. And each other.
Coming home to your parents' house first thing after a year abroad is a nice way to re-enter. There's good food and loving hugs and kids who follow you around as if you're a queen. There are clean sheets with good thread count, swimming pools, grills, and hours that are filled to the brim with all the good things of home.

It's been two weeks of that, but now it's time for us to pack our (new) truck and get on the road, back to where we've lived for more than a decade. With leaving our family home and going out into the "real" world again comes the knowledge that not every day will be country clubs and 4 o'clock cocktail hour; it will be back to getting insurance, paying bills, packing school lunches, commuting to and from kids' activities, keeping kids from the horrible fate of being bored. Of course, it will also be home -- but with a re-entry into real reality comes the stress too. There's also fear of the unknown, which was once known, and a hope that this time we'll do things even better than the last.

Leaving our mark on the new family truck.
We are fortunate to get to come home to loving arms who send us away in the family truck -- now ours for a bargain basement price -- the very same truck that hauled nearly every single material used to build my parents' house, including giant logs and timbers. Everything, minus the concrete. In spite of that payload it's still in good shape, and now emblazoned with our own mark.

May it bring us home safely, and then back and forth to and from our other home safely many times more in the future...

When you find yourself packing school lunches once again, make the cute lunch note-writing easy with Brighten Ups -- customized notes will silly sayings, jokes, facts, quotes and more. 

Need something to help kids overcome their fear of the dark? Check out this review of Bright Time Buddies -- glow-in-the-dark friends for nighttime.

And when stress wreaks havoc on your skin, help it heal with Manuka Honey Acne treatments.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Love the Air, It Doesn't Love Me

I made this photo into a puzzle! Check the link at the bottom of this post.

Scenes like this are why i love the Black Hills. Sunsets over the Hills are always gorgeous and filled with color, and the summer nights are not buggy or humid or muggy or miserable as you wait for the heat to go away.

On the flip side, it is so dry here that for a person whose lungs are used to the tropics, it borders on cruel. I've already spent way too much time languishing as i get over Dengue fever -- and now the dry air is further conspiring against me. The rebelangel experienced the same thing when she arrived here -- my parents thinking she'd come down with strep throat or some other sickness.

It's funny when you look forward to something so much and want it to hurry up and happen... and then when it does, that thing or that place conspires to make you feel worse for doing it.

That's meant a lot of days reading books in bed, watching movies with the nieces and nephews, and far fewer days out in the Hills enjoying the view...

Kids need some encouragement to keep reading this summer? Check out ZipTales, an e-learning resource for kids age 2 to 12+. The link includes a free 14-day trial!

Want to make your own photos into puzzles? Check out this puzzle and this puzzle that I made -- and get more free online jigsaw puzzles at