My next adventure … with VIPKid

Blurry, yet totally adorable

Hey there everyone!  I’ve completely fallen out of the habit of posting here about my day to day life in Austria.  We’ve traveled to new locations, gotten a couple of new Corgis (!) from Italy, and become reasonably good skiers (more the kids than me!) from a couple of ski weeks in the Alps.  Life is an adventure (as always) but one of the reasons I’ve not been blogging as much is that I’ve been working.  A few years ago, I started working as a freelance copy writer and editor.  I’ve had some fantastic opportunities writing for a variety of companies and websites, everything from a nail salon to a new age health site to a clothing designer to a coloring book company!  It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s been incredibly satisfying to help small, woman-owned businesses polish their public presence.

But the inconsistency of freelance work can be daunting — I can go from being overwhelmed with work one month to having tons of free time the next.  And frankly, I get used to the income during the busy months and kind of miss it during the quiet ones.  So I wanted to find something else I could do to help keep my income level a bit more consistent.

I started looking for something that would really suit my life.  I wanted to be able to make some good money for the time I would invest.  I wanted to have the flexibility to be available when my kids are off of school.  Ideally, I wanted to work from home.  And, in a perfect world, it would be something I’d enjoy as much as I like writing.  So my search began.

And what I found was VIPKid.

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Tag der Arbeit

We get different holidays here.  No Thanksgiving.  No Martin Luther King Day.  No Presidents’ Day or Columbus Day (although I don’t think I’ve ever actually gotten either of those last two off of work).  No Fourth of July.  But, of course, we get other holidays — St. Stephen’s Day (the patron saint of Vienna, also, conveniently, the day after Christmas), Austria Day (similar to America’s July 4th), a smorgasbord of religious holidays (Good Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday for the Christians, a few of the Eid holidays for the Muslims) and May Day/Worker’s Day/Labor Day.

It’s a little weird “celebrating” a socialist holiday, coming from a country where the term socialism is so vilified (though we Americans have our own Labor Day in September, we just don’t think of it in the same way).  Regardless, I’m not going to complain about a day off in the most beautiful time of year here.  We intended to spend the day outdoors, enjoying May in Vienna.  We gave Liam the option of choosing our activity for the day (since B got to choose on Sunday) and he chose, surprisingly, to stay home.

So we did.  Per his request, we watched a movie (with popcorn), we played video games, we played hide & seek, we raced trucks all over the house, we watched tv and we had macaroni & cheese for dinner.  It was lots of fun and very restorative.  We had a great day.

I’m also using May Day as an ironic, if unintentional, opportunity to change some things about my blogging habits.  We have been here more than two years — beyond our initially intended stay.  With very few exceptions, I have blogged nearly every day that we’ve been here.  I was determined to be religious about it to avoid only writing on the days that I felt most inspired to write — usually the best days.  I wanted my chronicle of our travels and adventures to be honest, and I felt that for it to be truly honest, I had to require myself to write, every day, regardless of how much I wanted to or how easily the words came.  And I think I’ve done that — I think I’ve accurately captured the thrills, the failures, the struggles, the homesickness, the occasional boredom and the personal discoveries that this journey has brought about.

And so, I think I’ve kept my promise to myself.  I promised myself 2 years of daily records, and I’ve done that.

I’m not going to stop writing.  I love recording the myriad details of this adventure.  I love that these little nuances will be memorialized for the future, for myself, for the boys.  I love that I’ve been able to be a help to others taking on this immense challenge by giving them a window into the reality of this process.  I will continue to write, to record, to capture, to share.

But maybe not every day.  So yesterday, I marked Workers’ Day by not writing.  My blog was silent for the first time since my intentional Christmas holiday.  It’s a liberty I’m going to allow myself more and more going forward.  I hope to keep the honesty just as vivid, but allow myself more space to breathe, to rest, and to enjoy our last year here.

What are you doing?

Benjamin came out of the tub, just now, walked up to me sitting at the computer and asked, “What are you doing?”  “I’m writing my blog.”  (He has some sense of what that means — most days I write after he’s in bed, but some days, like today, I write when he’s in the tub and he gets to see me writing when he comes out.)

After nearly six months of religiously daily blog entries, I’ve struggled against writer’s block, I’ve struggled with figuring out which stories to share, where to draw the line at “too much information” and I’ve struggled with divulging some difficult times, in order to make this an honest description of this experience and not an overly optimistic, “everything is great all the time” tale.

I want this to be more than a journal — I try to avoid writing a log or a diary (“today we did this, then this, then this, ate this, went to bed”).  I want to capture the ups and the downs — not just of the huge adventure of moving a family of four, with two very small kids, to Europe — but the struggles and joys which make up daily life.

My hope is that writing this lets everyone at home share our journey with us.  I want everyone to know that this IS possible — travel with children, even moving abroad, isn’t as daunting or insurmountable as it seems.  My children are adaptable, enthusiastic travel companions, and I know their worldview, and mine, is forever broadened for having had this experience.  We miss everyone at home, and this adventure, sometimes, is incredibly hard.  But, we’re writing an exciting chapter in our lives, and for me, sharing it is an important part of the experience.