It happens every so often that people contact me for advice on this or that aspect of moving their family abroad. I always try to help if I can, since I have asked for and received help and advice on this topic from so many generous people around the world the least I can do is pay it forward. So when a year or so ago I was asked to share some of our story in a how-to book on moving abroad with a family, I was delighted to oblige. My copy arrived just this week, and it was a lot of fun to page through it and remember some of the crazy and fun stuff we’ve done.… Read more
What do I love so much about Thanksgiving? I think it’s that there are no traditions to worry about except hanging out together and cooking and eating with people I care about. There’s something so cosy and nice about being warm together inside while it’s cold outside and the smell of turkey and stuffing and pie and everything else taking its turn in the oven wafts in from the kitchen.
It’s the quintessential family holiday, but it’s also a holiday that I have spent many times away from family. Thanksgiving away from family is a puzzle to be solved. Not celebrating is just sad and unthinkable, but since people, preferably lots of people, are a key ingredient to the holiday, celebrating does involve some planning and inviting, which can be more or less challenging depending on the circumstances.… Read more
When did I stop referring to trips back to California as going “home”? Was it when I realised my son has spent half his life outside his (first) passport country? The day we bought a house across the sea? Little by little on walk after walk over miles and kilometres of foreign roads? I think the first inkling of the feeling must have begun long before all that, when the plane touched down in Istanbul half my life ago, and I realised how much bigger the world was than I had ever imagined.
But whenever and however it happened, the truth is that the centre of my universe has shifted.… Read more
Last week my husband and I submitted our resignations from the Mormon church. It was the final step in a journey of several years. In 2014 we stopped going to church after Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, was formally excommunicated by the Mormon church leadership. For years I had felt increasingly constricted by my lived experience as a woman in an overtly and overwhelmingly patriarchal church. And that church could not have sent a clearer message to women like me that we were not wanted than by excommunicating Kate Kelly, leader of the movement that sought equality for women within the church.… Read more
Dear Loved Ones Near and Far,
I confess that one of the main reasons I write this Christmas letter is not so much to let you know what we are doing as to find out what you are doing. Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to grow up and live my whole life in the same little village. And then I watch a moody European crime drama awash in small town secrets and decide I don’t so much mind my itinerant city life. But I do miss being able to see all the people who mean something to me and be a part of your in-person lives.… Read more
So, back to Iceland. Because when I think of it in my head now, it’s this idyllic place that belongs somewhere alongside halfway remembered books I read as a child and have always wanted to find again. Maybe I need another vacation.
The place we did our photoshoot happened to be near the Golden Circle, which is a route containing some of the main tourist attractions in Iceland, so we decided to pop in and see them, since we were in the neighbourhood.
Stop one on the Golden Circle was a waterfall that stands out even in a country full of spectacular waterfalls.… Read more
For our first full day in Iceland, we decided to see some waterfalls and go hiking, and I think that’s pretty much the best and most beautiful thing to do in Iceland. There must literally be thousands of waterfalls in this country, of all sizes and shapes, each one more beautiful than the last. It’s a feast for the eyes and the soul.
There’s one major waterfall just ten minutes from where we’re staying, so we decided to start there.
This is Hraunfossar, which means “lava waterfall”, because it comes down off a lava field.
You can drive right up to it, and it’s spectacular, although I should really be saving that adjective for later waterfalls.… Read more
It’s not that easy to find the perfect photographer for your romantic Iceland photoshoot if you don’t live in Iceland. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Because we already have! If you are in need of a photographer in Iceland, I highly, highly recommend Gunnar Jónatansson. Not only is he a talented photographer, but he and his wife Rósa took us on a fantastic tour of some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. And if you’re wondering why the quality of photos on my blog has suddenly improved so drastically, it’s because all the photos in this post are courtesy of Gunnar.… Read more
We took a 21:30 flight, so by the time we arrived in Iceland and were shuttled to the place where we were picking up our rental car, it was well past midnight and I was tired and somewhat questioning the wisdom of leaving after work on a Friday. Then our shuttle driver announced that the Northern Lights were outside, and did anyone want to see them. Of COURSE the entire building full of new arrivals in Iceland wanted to see them. We all trooped outside and improbably, miraculously, there they were.
I hadn’t expected to see them at all, since we were only barely hitting the edge of the season where they’re visible.… Read more
My in-laws are here visiting, and we wanted to take them somewhere picturesque and typically Dutch. When I heard about Giethoorn, the pretty little village with canals instead of streets, I knew it would be perfect. Especially since we were also planning to go up north to visit Groningen, so it was right on the way. We're trying to do some more exploring and get to know this tiny country we call home.
Giethoorn is another corner of the Netherlands that somehow recalls the Shire to mind.
We rented a boat, as one does. They happened to be out of the basic metal boats, so we were forced to get an amply sized one with cushioning.… Read more