Q&A!

I have been trying to keep writing and posting for you guys everyday or every few days if we are too busy and it’s been good so far. I hope that you guys are enjoying all my posts and if you guys are wanting any specific content, you are welcome to talk to me on Instagram or leave any comments here! There are so many aspects of expat life that I tend to forget about or think maybe others will not really want to read/care about those things or even things I haven’t really thought of that you guys might want to hear about! If so, please like I said, contact me! Ask away! Curiosity is a favorite of mine 😛

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily ❤

Little Update:

I am so excited with all that is coming up!! Our condo is moving along so nicely!! We saw it today and it was looking awesome! They are hard at work and it is paying off quickly which is wonderful and really has turned around my anxiety over the whole thing. Today we looked at our coffee table again and decided we will also buy one for our kitchen as it is multipurpose! I am so excited about it and happy that it not only has a lifetime warranty, it will be delivered for free as well!

Joey went to the dentist today to have his teeth cleaned before having whitening done and then he will be having braces put on to fix his teeth has he has been having a lot of issues with them such as not being able to fully bite down (teeth touching), etc. I am glad that he is able to do this 1) without insurance and 2) someplace that has friendly staff and dentists!

We also had a productive day today and the kids got to play and have fun as well. Ms.Ana played with the kids at Kidzoona while Joey and I met with a banker to discuss switching our in-house loan for our condo to a housing loan through the bank and it went pretty well! We also discussed getting two personal loans, 1 for furniture and whatnot for our condo and another for possibly getting Solace off the ground!!

For those of you who do not know, Solace is my dream. A bookstore that is also a vegan cafe, along with a bunch of other things. This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life but it just hasn’t been the right time. I’m not sure that it is quite yet as Im not sure where I would open in, etc and it would be extremely time consuming in the beginning (and the foreseeable future) but it is nice to start opening up conversation, etc.

I have been working really hard on my writing projects lately. I am using two hours three days a week exclusively for writing and have made so much progress on both my poetry book and my novel. It makes my heart so happy that I am able to sit down and work on something that I truly love (not that I don’t love my children but we all need a space and outlet for ourselves!) I am hoping to have my projects (or at least one) ready by November/December so that while I am in New York, I can meet with publishers and hopefully share them!

We are also going to be super busy getting our condo sorted in the next 3 weeks as we will be moving out of this current place and into ours *HOPEFULLY* before July 25th!! That is so soon and it’s crazy how much we have to do, we have 0 furniture, appliances, kitchenware, etc. We are starting to get everything and preparing this upcoming week after we see what progress is made by Monday of this upcoming week. Just to make sure that we aren’t buying things too soon, etc. We will also be clearing out this condo as we have collected quite a bit of “junk” that really needs to go!

The kids are good! They have been enjoying being back in BGC and spending time by the pool, Kidzoona, and just outside playing in the warmth. Yesterday I did all the grocery shopping and a bunch of cooking (steaming vegetables, cutting fruits, etc) and Aubrey was more than happy to help while Ollie took a nap. We also had a decent time getting all our groceries and were able to chug down a 30oz mango smoothie while we did it, ha!

That’s it for now, but i’ll keep you guys updated as always! Thanks for reading!!

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily ❤

Selling our house in Florida…

Yep. We have been talking about it. It seems that the renters who are currently there would really like to buy it.. I am going to contact our realtor and see what they were pre approved for to see if I should even entertain their idea of wanting to buy… Regardless of their answer, I think that we will be putting our house up on the market. We have no plans to go back and live in Florida. As much as I love my family and whatnot, if I am going to go see them, then I’m going to do that. Regardless if we have the house there or not as right now it is a source of very, very little income and we were keeping it mostly as an investment. It is a lot of work though to be “landlords.” Something that is a little obnoxious to deal with when you are 12 hours away on the other side of the world. Especially also considering things like late rent checks, HOA complaints, etc. 
How do I feel about it? Conflicted. I love that house. It was our first house together *truly.* One that we had lived in, where Oliver was raised, where Aubrey spent most of her childhood and I love the neighborhood *not the neighbors but the neighborhood itself and the general area.* Joey doesn’t though. He never has and he has always had a deep hatred for Florida as it is really just a boring place with not much to do. So, maybe this would be good for us. The market is up. We could easily make 50k profit on the house right now and wouldn’t that be nice for our pockets/investment accounts…? Or maybe even to use to buy a few properties here in the Philippines and have someone manage them on Airbnb or rent them out, etc. What would be really great is if we could put that into a place in New York although I know it’s not really enough to do that. New York is ridiculously expensive but I am wishing and hoping that we may eventually have a place there that is just ours. 

Currently when we are in New York we are staying with my in-laws. This is obviously not the best set up and is honestly very hard. I try to not let things get under my skin but obviously it does and it also affects our children, marriage, etc because of the things we have to deal with during our stays. This is not to say that my in-laws are horrible people or anything but living in close quarters with anyone who is not your spouse or children is just rough. We make it work though for now. 

So yeah, this is our next big decision… To sell or not to sell? Time to talk to some friends, do some research and see what will be in our best interest. 🙂
Thanks for reading!!

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily ❤

Planning a trip for a Vegan family.

So, a lot of people ask me how do you plan a trip as a vegan family? How do you make sure you will have food? How do you know that you guys will have no issues finding things the kids eat, etc? This is kind of a weird question for me because to me it seems so simple but I do get what people mean like… How do I know that there will be a grocery store nearby, a stocked kitchen, etc. So, I’m gonna make a post about it! Usually when we are traveling we are booking our home through Airbnb. This gives me the chance to get a kitchen that has everything we need which is basically a stove, pots, pans, and silverware/dishes. I also try to find our homes near vegan restaurants if I can but ALWAYS near a grocery store. I am able to get everything we need from pretty much any grocery store. Canned beans, rice (whether it be uncooked or in a microwavable pouch (like in London), ketchup, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, pasta, sauce, etc. We are good with all of those things and if we happen to find some vegan butter and bread that is a plus.  I always go on whatever Facebook group for that place and ask questions and seek out advice also. London Vegan group and Paris Vegan groups were helpful but since we were just in an inconvenient area for vegan food out, we mostly just cooked at home or ate things like pizza (vegan dough, with no cheese and tons of veg on top.) The kids will snack on fruits and nuts so snacks are easy and I always tend to have some snacks left over from wherever we were before so that is handy. Another good snack I can always find is apple sauce, which they love! I also love to browse around pinterest for vegan options in places we visit. If i think we may be going to a new country or whatever, the first thing I do is make a pinterest board and pin the “best vegan restaurants” etc. It can be a little annoying because Joey is a little more on the picky side and likes his things a certain way but he usually just eats more fruits and hopes for hummus, haha! One thing I do get sad about traveling is that we don’t ALWAYS have a blender. I really want to look into us finding a small and compact blender we can bring with us maybe like a bullet? It’s on my list of “strange vegan things to do.” 😛

 So yeah, that is pretty much it! It is actually super simple and although it can be challenging in places where English is not the primary language, it is totally doable and worth it to save animals and the environment! 🙂

Thanks for reading!!

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily

Part of the Before Life

So, before we were an expat family living in the Philippines. We were a fairly normal family living in BRooksville, FL in a big house that we own with our kids and dog. Yup. A dog. This dog is named Aidan and he has been our baby before babies. We have had him his entire life, since he was about 4 months old. He is now going to be 6 in November. So, while we were trying to figure out exactly how we were going to the Philippines for six months, we had to figure in our doggy buddy… He was staying with my mom while we were traveling and then would come back to us (this made the most sense since we didn’t want to “get rid of him” as he is family.) Fast forward a year (almost) to now. We have been trying and trying to get Aidan to the Philippines.

Having him shipped here (through a service that would fly him safely) turned into a nightmare. We have gone over and over the whole “shouldn’t we just put him up for adoption?” conversation and every time we say no. He is in a healthy loving home and will come back to a healthy loving home (with us). The kids love him and so do we. After going around and around we finally started feeling like, it just won’t happen and my mom is currently moving into her dream house (an RV) with 6 cats, so no more room for doggy… Thankfully Joey’s parents have taken Aidan for now until we are there in November. We had a service to pick him up from my mom with all his things and drive him up north to NYC from Florida. This is great! Joey especially is relieved as the Philippines was his big dream and he was feeling depressed and really sad that he may lose his dog over it. Understandably. Now we just have to work on getting him back to the Philippines with us when we leave to come back from NYC in January…

I wanted to share this with you guys because this is part of having “a before life.” When we got married and adopted a dog and bought a house and got pregnant, it wasn’t in our plans to leave and live in Asia full time. It wasn’t even a thought that this would be our reality. Life changes though. So fast and so frequently. I also wanted to share with you that you CAN still do it! You can still make a big and bold move even if you already have a “before life” or are settled down or have bought a house or whatever! Traveling is such an amazing and enriching experience and if you want it, you can have it! Is it stressful sometimes!? OF COURSE! But it is 100% worth it and I think that it’s important to be prepared for those “before life struggles” because they will be there.

Leaving an animal behind for any period of time is like leaving a family member. You miss them and you wish for them to be there but you know you’ll be together again soon (in my case.) A lot of family and friends don’t understand our wanting to bring Aidan out here and have even told us that it is cruel to have him *bouncing around* but we know that he is with people he knows, love him, take care of him and eventually he will be with who he belongs with which is us. 🙂

Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions feel free to ask!!

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily ❤

Date Days!!

Let me just start by saying that I am a very lucky, lucky woman. I understand that some mom’s do not get “a break.” Whether this be from their children or just in general from their everyday responsibilities. I am so, so aware of this. I have thankfully had either my mother who would take the kids on Mondays every week or my in-laws who would hang with the kids while I wanted to get out and now I have a nanny three days a week which is a pretty big deal because I had always been one of those mothers who felt like “NO! I can’t do that! I have to do it all and I can do it all!” Until i burnt myself out and just was going absolutely crazy. Joey pushed me and told me “it’s okay and you deserve a break. Also, I deserve to see you…ALONE!” haha! So yes, we have a nanny.

I also understand that not all moms want or need a break. That is cool too. Look, I understand every edge of this situation. I used to not want or need a break. I wanted all my time with my baby and if she was asleep then I could feel guilt free/want to spend time with my husband but I discovered after having my second how much it was hurting (SPECIFICALLY) our relationship and how sad it actually made me to not spend time with Joey as much. I wanted to, I just had this undeniable urge to keep Aubrey with me always and that meant he had to be second ALWAYS which is hard for a spouse. Honestly, I can’t even imagine as I am very much in the #Queenstatuszone when it comes to my husband. Every mom is different and some of my closest mom friends really encouraged me to break away and get some me time and also some me and hubby time. This was good for me! If it’s not for you, like I said, do you boo and keep rocking your life! Some friends also judged me for having these “breaks” or we’re upset that I was able to get them and they weren’t. I’m sure they are judging me harder now that it isn’t a trusted grandparent but a nanny but my latest mantra of “I don’t give any fucks” is really working for me so that’s that.

She comes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Usually on those days I am relaxing whether it be with the kids while she cleans up and helps me with random things or at Starbucks writing without the kids or at the movies/dinner/shopping/whatever with Joey. This is such an amazing thing because 1) I get to have a break 2) I come home/get to experience a clean house without the effort (ha!) 3) get to spend time with Joey one on one and recharge my mumming abilities and 4) I get to put some time in for myself doing something that I love and being able to solely focus that without doing what Im doing right now which is watching my kids run up and down a hall in Central Square while sitting at an outside table in Starbucks…. Not that I mind that all the time but sometimes it is nice to put on a pair of headphones, drink a latte and get shit flowing without having to focus on anything or anyone else but myself. As I stated above, sometimes I do just stay home and snuggle with my kids and ms. Ana will spend her day either cleaning up and doing things that aren’t done everyday like cleaning the aircons or the bathrooms or whatever and this is cool because I can be completely present without worrying like, “oh, i really needed to do this today right!?” Another amazing thing that I really didn’t think about before was that my kids LOVE her! This is awesome because it gives them someone else to play with when they are “bored” of me. They have a playmate who is completely devout to them and is there to give her full attention. There are times when they are allowed NO TV time. Sometimes this lasts for weeks and yet ms.Ana has no problems with this. She will literally take them down to the pool and spend hours there, I’m talking from 12PM to 6PM! That is awesome.

We spend the majority of our date days at the movie theaters. We both love movies and since they aren’t super expensive here it is a good way to spend some time together. We also use these “date days” for errands such as immigration, doctor appointments, bill paying, grocery shopping, etc. I have also been using them for yoga days, nail days, waxing days, etc which is just the best haha! I think that we are also going to try and start taking some boxing classes/working out at the gym together on those days as well! Do you and your significant other do “date days?” Was it hard to leave baby or do you have someone completely trust worthy to watch them? That was hard for me.. Trust, haha! Let me know! I’d love to hear about your experiences. Also if you have any questions about having a nanny while in another country or expat living please, comment!!

Thanks for reading!

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily ❤

Packing up!

So I wanted to make a post about how we pack up, including food/snacks!

We ALWAYS pack lunch boxes for the kids because well airplane food just doesnt look appetizing for them, haha! Things I usually pack for them are:

  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Some type of pasta (not always because it depends on the time of the flight and how long its sitting
  • Coconut date rolls
  • Cashews and vegan chocolate chips
  • Red beans/Chickpeas/peas/green beans
  • Peanut butter and apple slices
  • Apples
  • Fruit snacks
  • Water (DUH!) They always sniff it when we go through security, haha!
  • Some kind of organic cereal if we have it.
  • Kind bars
  • Larabars (if were coming from US to wherever because I dont find them usually in PH, etc)
  • Soymilks (Chocolate for ollie, vanilla for Aubrey)

This is a basic list right here. Sometimes I bring all of this stuff and sometimes only half or so, haha! It really depends on the time of the flight. If it is a night time flight I dont have to pack as much because they will usually just sleep/snack and not want a full meal. However if we leave first thing in the morning, then the entire day has to be planned and prepared for.

As far as our luggage, we usually only have to bring one large hard case suitcase. I try to keep it to that or maybe one more so that I separate Aubrey and Olivers clothes from mine and Joeys. We weigh our luggage with a luggage scale that we bought on amazon so we never go over the limit and we also do not pack or bring any toiletries. We are very aware now of where we can get all vegan toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc. This way we are able to keep our bags quite a bit lighter. We havent been bringing carry ons really besides the food carry on, also. So that makes our lives a lot easier. This trip going we brought one full suitcase and one empty, we came back with 5 full suitcases though, haha! We all had gotten new shoes, sneakers, crocs, boots (for Joey), new clothes for the year, plus souvenirs and any gifts that were given to the kids from family and whatnot so we had a lot of luggage coming back this time. Also, coming back was our first time not bringing any carry ons so that added to our luggage as Joeys Asus laptop weighs about 15lbs WITHOUT accessories like his mechanical keyboard, mouse, stand, etc. I am hoping that in November we wont have to bring back as much stuff or need as much stuff. It was really important to me that we get clothes while we were home because for Joey and the kids it was 1) easier and 2) less expensive. Not really so much for me as I just mostly shop at Forever 21 here which I feel is about the same price or less than what I would buy from say Target.

So yeah, that is how we pack up for our trips!!

Thanks for reading!

Love,

ThisLittleElephantFamily ❤