The good life Little boy, big dogs and I Thu, 21 Dec 2017 22:18:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Snowflake Thu, 21 Dec 2017 21:24:45 +0000 Yesterday was sunny and warm. We were all outside enjoying the weather which seemed to have stayed autumn-like deep into December. They predicted snow and freezing temperatures for next day and although everyone was saying winter is coming we could hardly believe it. Before bedtime the cold front started moving in slowly. It still seemed … Continue reading Snowflake]]> Yesterday was sunny and warm.

We were all outside enjoying the weather which seemed to have stayed autumn-like deep into December. They predicted snow and freezing temperatures for next day and although everyone was saying winter is coming we could hardly believe it.

Before bedtime the cold front started moving in slowly. It still seemed warmer then it should be so perhaps the weatherman was wrong. But come midnight everything started freezing. Ice covered the land. It looked pretty with its shiny surface but we all knew the dangers it brings. The ice formed thick and fast and it was relentless.

By early morning little snowflakes appeared. Each one more beautiful then the next, unique and pure, traveling down on it’s path quietly without ever interrupting others. As they landed on the ground they united. First few wouldn’t stick, they simply couldn’t. But they persevered, slowly layering bit by bit until everything was covered in white.

It took hours before they covered the ice enough for it to not be visible and even longer before snow was so significant that ice didn’t matter anymore. We knew it was there and we remained vigilant but we were protected by the snowflakes who laid down in numbers and made ice and all it’s dangers go away. Those tiny little snowflakes who once were alone now covered the ice despite it having the advantage of being there first and created stronger and tougher. Mighty snowflakes that could.

My wish to you all is to find your inner snowflake in the New year to come. To celebrate your uniqueness, to be yourself and to find a way to land in a group that will make you stronger and work together to make this world a better place for us all. And when sun comes out and melts us all may we take the ice with us so we can soak the soil which in turn will sustain and provide for us all, equally.

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Strange strangers Sat, 04 Feb 2017 08:01:19 +0000 Continue reading Strange strangers]]> If you read my last post you know I am an immigrant. Although my main reluctance to moving back to the States is because I find living in Japan as a foreigner easier then living as one in America, the current political environment in the US is not encouraging for a gal like me either.

Here is an example of how each and every person born in America has ever made me feel like an outsider:

Stranger: Hi. Your dogs are huge. They look like bears.

Me: Indeed. People tend to say that a lot.

Stranger: Where are you from?

Me: Whidbey island.

Stranger: NO, I mean where are you originally from?

Me: Slovenia.
What I want to say: Where are you from? Like originally? Cause you don’t really strike me as a native American either…

Stranger: Yeah, I could sense a slight accent but I couldn’t place it. Thought you were British.

Me: I get that a lot.
What I want to say: Is that meant to sound like a compliment?

Stranger: Slovenia? That’s like Eastern Europe right? Part of Russia, one of the communist countries?

Me: Not really but yes it is in Europe.
What I want to say: Probably two hundred miles away to where your family is from originally…

Stranger: So how did you end up in America?

Me: I met my husband abroad and we eventually relocated to The States because of his work.
What I want to say: How did you end up being born here and not back on the continent I come from?

Stranger: That’s nice. Bet you were happy to move here.

Me: Yes. It is nice to be together as a family.

Stranger: No I meant…

I will spare you the rest. Now oddly enough I never have those conversations with other immigrants, ever. You might think it is because we don’t want to embarrass each other but that’s not the case. Once you establish the person is different from you pointing that out while trying to make a conversation has the opposite effect. Not because I am not happy to explain to you where I come from, how we live, what the land looks like and so on but because that is something that will develop over the course of conversation that will hopefully turn into friendship. But pointing out that I am different from you, how is this making us become friends?

Imagine if tables were turned:

Stranger: Hi. Your dogs are huge. They look like bears.

Me: Indeed. People tend to say that a lot.

Awkward silence where we scramble to look for something to talk about. Then puff I become curious about something obvious. Great conversation starter I say!!!

Me: So what’s your hair color?

Stranger: Blond.

Me: No, I mean your natural hair color.

Stranger: ????!!!?? Brown.
What the stranger wants to say: WTF?

Me: Yeah, I could see the roots, they are not that obvious yet but I figured you can’t be blond. I thought maybe dark blond.

Stranger: ?????!!!!
What the stranger wants to say: Are you for real?

Me: Have you been coloring it for long?

Stranger: Since high school.
What the stranger wants to say: This is the most obnoxious conversation I have ever had.

Me: Wow, that’s a long time. You must be really glad you have discovered hair coloring kits at that age. Imagine what opportunities being blond has brought you.

Stranger: What do you mean?
What the stranger wants to say: If I went through my life as a brunette I would not have been as happy? How freaking dare you judge me or my decisions?

Me: Well I mean because I as a …

Before you start going through your mind wondering of every time you might have ask someone like me where we are from and feeling like from now on you must tiptoe around people even more, before you throw your arms up in the air and say political correctness will be the end of us all let me assure you that I am not getting my knickers in a twist. I am used to it. Just like not being white in America you live with the fact you might be perceived as criminal faster, just like being Muslim you don’t pray in public, just like being a woman you don’t argue when you are paid less, just like being single you avoid going to dinners with couples. We all know that what makes us different will be exposed and label us. That’s life. But in America, the land of immigrants where every single person has a different story of becoming American labeling makes the least sense. Over the years I have learned that Americans label each other because they believe that is what makes them different and special. But coming from a tiny nation where most look the same, think the same and sound the same I can assure you each and every person is unique no matter how similar their background is. So being American but not white, male and Christian doesn’t make you any less American. And if my husband ever decided to return the favor and embrace my language and my land and make it his home I would hope that instead of thinking of him as “The American” when he would walk our dogs Slovenians would be chuffed that he decided to be a Slovenian and cross all obstacles to become one. Because living somewhere, learning to speak and think in a foreign language, embracing the culture, paying the taxes and identifying yourself as one the same should be what brings you closer to people and not something that makes you different.

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Leaving Japan Sat, 04 Feb 2017 00:49:28 +0000 Continue reading Leaving Japan]]> After nearly two years in Japan the time has come for us to return back to the States. I have not written anything on the blog because living abroad has stripped me of my northwestmomminess. So in order to not sound anti-American I have avoided sounding anything at all. Let me explain.

Living in Japan has reminded me of how it feels to be part of your society, how it feels to fit in, to be included. Most of us bloggers found our voice because we didn’t fit the norm. Moms speaking up on motherhood, people moving abroad, women defying standards, men choosing to stay home, photographers embracing the new era of picture taking, families traveling on a budget, homeschooling, adopting, marrying same sex partners… You name it. Most blogs are born out of the need to explain how we are negotiating change or challenging times. For me I started writing when we moved to USA. Although I relocated to Washington state as a US citizen and I lived abroad most of my adult life I was an outsider. Perhaps growing up watching sitcoms Americans seemed to us Europeans just like us except more free spirited, opinionated and with bigger cars but once I made America my home I realized the main difference is not how we act but how we think.

In Europe, much like Japan we celebrate togetherness and achievements as a society. We strive to work and contribute to society first and in the process find personal success and fortune. If we do not achieve these we don’t stand out tremendously because when it comes to basic human needs they are met and not having more then your neighbor is not viewed as a failure but more as a personal choice. I’m sure this could be disputed, it’s just how I was brought up and how I see my friends still living back home and it is how I perceive Japanese who quietly commute on the train, politely greet each other on hiking trails and go out of their way to not inconvenience others.

In America we are taught you can be anything you set your mind to because you are fortunate to live in the land of opportunity. In order to do that you must work hard on yourself and by yourself yet the measure of how successful you end up being is set by society. And that measure lets be honest is to end up being a rich, white guy…

So after we moved to Japan I became European again. I went around every day fitting in. No longer did I have funny stories of me trying to negotiate through daily life because everything fell in place. I might look different, don’t speak the language and perhaps struggle remembering with all the etiquette differences but when I look around I see my people. They act like me and think like me and that is why I am sad to leave for sure.

On the bright side I will no doubt find our new city challenging so stay tuned 🙂

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Road trip movie list Sat, 19 Sep 2015 17:26:15 +0000 Continue reading Road trip movie list]]> Many have asked me how Julian and I kept our sanity driving West coast to East coast this summer and back.

I know everybody thinks being stuck in a car with kids for hours on end is terrible but I thought that was the easiest part. Finding decent food on highways is much harder then spending time with family on them. Of course I could tell you that I discussed answer to life, the Universe, and Everything ( which we all know is 42 ) with my kid for hours but I did enlist some electronic help occasionally. Not to say we didn’t have some fantastic conversations, punch countless bugs and other fun activities. But I also gave Julian my iPad and found some great things for him to watch while we drove through less exciting landscapes. Kansas for example is a 3 movie drive in itself!

Although I mostly let Julian wear my fancy wireless headsets while watching movies I admit to asking him to stream Despicable me through car stereo because it’s too much fun not to. You know the jokes are good when you are not seeing the story yet laugh listening to it.

Another huge winner was Planet Earth: The Complete Collection. I grew up watching Mr. Attenborough’s documentaries so I found listening to his narration really soothing. We pulled over at a rest stop once just so I could watch a beetle in Sahara desert struggle with his new acquired camel dung. Netflix also suggested to us Moonrise Kingdom ( I am convinced they follow me on Twitter and must know we are obsessed with Wes Anderson ) which although Julian saw last summer he loved seeing again. It’s not until you listen to Anderson’s movies without watching them that you realize he is not only a visual genius but his music choices and impeccable silence pauses are perfectly combined in movies too! Another fantastic film we found was ‘On the way to school’ – a must see for any school aged child! Also ‘Living on one dollar’. Honestly if you have your child’s attention for a couple of hours it is the best time to show them the real world. Both these were inspiring and humbling and truly a must see.

I had no problem however with Julian wearing headsets when watching LEGO movies. Who knew there were that many of them? And yes, I absolutely let him catch up on all the episodes of Clone Wars. Sometimes a girl just needs a little peace and quiet while driving to daydream and decorate my little cabin in the woods concentrate on the road.

All and all there was never a moment I hated being in the car with my family during this road trip. Some stretches were boring to drive but never was there boredom in the car. Bruce napped, Julian and I talked, Max looked out the window and trucks kept passing me ( because apparently I am one of the few people on Earth who actually drives only 10 miles over the speed limit ). Sure, I love to fly but sometimes it really is all about the journey. And having the right apps.

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Volvo V60 Cross Country in Utah Tue, 15 Sep 2015 02:30:17 +0000 Continue reading Volvo V60 Cross Country in Utah]]> I remember when I was my son Julian’s age, my friends and I spent lots of time imagining what our lives would be like when we grew up. It was a game we spent hours at. Even then, we had ideas of what we wanted. A house, a family, cars, jobs.

While my friends had no trouble choosing where they wanted to live, who to marry, and how many children to have, I always struggled. As far as my imagination could take me, I had a Newfoundland dog, the best skis money could buy, and a job that took me places. I couldn’t really commit to marriage and family, and I certainly couldn’t have a fancy sports car because I had my big, imaginary dog. And my skis! Maybe that’s where my love for station wagons was born. Because ever since then, I’ve imagined myself in a family vehicle going up the mountain in the snow.

It didn’t turn out quite like I imagined—at least, not at first. I spent my twenties traveling the world single, so I drove smaller, sporty cars dealers always pushed on me. One time I took a big family van for a test drive, and the car salesman wouldn’t stop chatting about my family, so I had to invent a husband, three kids, and a nanny. Yep. Things I did for my dream car…

So when Volvo asked me to take their new ( V60 Cross Country for a spin last week I said yes before they finished their invitation. Not sure if they took my neighbor for lunch and asked her everything about me, but when they delivered the car it was

a) White – my favorite color (with a pearly shine!!)
b) Had a beautiful Volvo kid’s car seat – which Julian said was super comfy
c) Came with dog equipment in the trunk so you can secure your canine during travels
d) Has all wheel drive

Pretty much my childhood dream car except it was very handsome with curves in all the right places.

We had to do this beauty justice and take it for a proper spin. Utah’s slogan these days is “Life Elevated,” so that’s where we explored. Because remember: ALL WHEEL DRIVE!!

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As soon as I sat in the car, it asked me if it could please connect to my iPhone. The rest was history. (I love my iPhone.) Anyone who makes friends with my favorite accessory—or as Julian calls it, “mommy’s brain”—is a friend of mine. My V60 Cross Country picked up my music playlist, my phone calls, and directions. All that on a beautiful, clear screen that wasn’t distracting at all when I drove.

The interior is fancy, sleek, and comfortable. The air-conditioning, which is a must for my dogs, is fast and pleasant. Further, I felt like I could see everywhere I needed to—no dreaded blind spots us moms hate so much in bigger and higher family vehicles. If you ever had to back out of your kid-friendly suburban driveway, you know exactly what a blind spot anxiety attack feels like.

Speaking of backing up, the camera that kicks in when you reverse is amazing and so detailed. Just look at these pretty flowers that popped up on my screen when I was doing a three point turn on the dirt road.

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Volvo also told me about every movement on my side of the car, which I appreciate since I get taken over by trucks a lot. Don’t judge.

We drove up dirt roads in search of Utah’s ghost towns. The car handles well, and even on gravel and in fields it doesn’t lose its sportiness, even while it give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that you got this. I would love to take this car skiing. It seems perfectly unfazed by the challenges of the mountains.

Despite my well known affinity to drive the speed limit all the time, which my son likes to reinforce from the backseat, I couldn’t resist going to the Salt Flats. I mean, a little slice of heaven with the most perfect scenery and no speed limit? It had to be done!

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I could tell you I am pretty confident we broke the world speed record in best family car category. I could admit to some donuts and rooster tails. I might even show you photographic proof. But bragging is not my thing. Let’s just say I allowed my dogs to stick their head out the window for the first time ever in their lives and experience the wind blowing away their slobber. And they loved it.

After all this adventuring, with tons of salt and dirt on everyone’s feet and the car what impressed me the most is that the Volvo stayed so pretty. Seriously, this is after driving all day both on dirt roads, highway, and Bonneville speedway:

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The leather seats wiped off all the salt easily and we were good to go back to Salt Lake City. I started running out of gas, and Volvo found me a gas station. I had a go at parallel parking, and it was easy peasy. Every time I returned to the vehicle it picked up my Pandora station and played it. Julian had no trouble putting on his seat belt, puling down the table, organizing his books and drinks and snacks. It’s like first class on SAS back there I tell you.

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My only regret is that my husband is gone to Japan already because he would have loved this car. It’s not easy to find a vehicle that is functional and family friendly yet exciting to drive. Sporty, comfortable, spacious. A little too big to fit into my suitcase and take to Japan otherwise I would never have returned it for sure.

On our drive back Julian and I were chatting and he told me that he changed his mind ( again ) and when he grows up he wants to be an engineer. He will live in the cabin in the mountains and drive a Volvo. I guess it’s in our blood.

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The Cabin Tue, 25 Aug 2015 00:27:48 +0000 Continue reading The Cabin]]> Today is our last day at the cabin in Upstate New York.

It’s hard to believe a month has gone by so fast. This has been the most relaxing and soul filling vacation ever. We came with big plans to explore the whole of New York, from Adirondacks all the way to the coast but we ended up in this tiny spot in the mountains happy as can be perfecting the art of doing nothing.

Most days we read and walked in the woods, Julian watched old reruns of black and white Lone Ranger episodes, we ate and we laughed and spent time with family and friends. Just down the road we befriended Paulina who grows the most amazing vegetables and fruits and Julian helped her at her stand. We ate nothing but local produce and hung out with our neighbors. Julian learned to do the dishes and took up archery. Max and Bruce stalked deer and barked at owls, slept under thousands of starts and swam under waterfalls. This truly has been a month to remember.

Some have asked me if this is our summer home and I wish it was. It belongs to a wonderful couple who lovingly call it their cabin in the woods. Luckily for you it is available for rent and you can find it HERE.




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Sleep Better Chat Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:17:17 +0000 Continue reading Sleep Better Chat]]> They say that if you really want to get your questions answered ask your child just before bedtime. Nothing is more inviting to them then a way to stall going to sleep. They will even answer beyond ‘fine’ the good old favorite ‘how was school’ question!


I often find myself talking with other mothers and while comparing parenting challenges I rarely have one to add. Not that my son doesn’t give me his share of reasons to turn gray prematurely but most of the time he is very obedient. Among other things he has always had a very structured and happy bedtime routine. In fact he informed me in kindergarten that he was the only child in his class that had a 7 PM bedtime. Of course he never quite begun his slumber that early but once in bed Julian stays there entertaining himself until he falls asleep.

Until this summer…

As days got longer in spring tucking him in while the sun was still up became harder and harder. He never complained but I would often hear him shuffling under the covers as late as ten o’clock. We agreed he can read until he gets sleepy but he would finish not chapters but entire book pushing his bedtime past nine on school nights.

I worried. But since only a few weeks of school were left I let it go. At the end of the day how can I tell my child off for reading J.R.R. Tolkien on his own at the age of seven? Couldn’t help but feel proud.

However summer vacation did nothing to help the cause. As I got busy getting the house ready to rent and packing our belongings for the move Julian’s bedtime routine kept getting more and more relaxed. Until one day, after driving across the States and crossing three time zones we finally reached the point of no return. My son’s bedtime these days is midnight!

I justify it in my head that realistically that means 9PM pacific time. I convince myself that he still gets at least 10 hours of sleep a day or more since he rolls out of bed in time for lunch. I tell myself it’s OK because that’s what summer is all about, indulging.

But let’s be honest. That’s just nuts. I have become a mother of a seven year old teenager.

So I am here to tell you THE STALL is real! It can happen to anyone and I want us to unite, share the experiences, find ways to tackle and defeat it and bring back the bedtime routine our children will thrive on again. Let’s claim back our evenings!

I am excited to tell you I have teamed with Sleep Number to host a Sleep Better Chat on Instagram tomorrow evening at 8PM CST. Join me to share and talk about what works best for us in ensuring our children get a restful, goodnight’s sleep every day. There will be prizes drawn daily with the grand prize Twin Sleep Number® SleepIQ® Kids k2 mattress set given to one of you participating in the chats at the end of the week! Please register HERE to enter the draw and join me on Instagram tomorrow evening.


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Summer so far Mon, 03 Aug 2015 04:12:16 +0000 Continue reading Summer so far]]> Half way into summer calls for a recap!

Since the last day of school we:

1. packed out all our things to be shipped to Japan

2. packed out the rest to be stored while we relocate to Japan

3. prepared and rented out our house

4. left the island, drove across USA visiting 11 states along the way ( and wrote all about it HERE )

5. settled into a little cabin Upstate NY for the rest of the summer

6. said goodbye to friends way too often

7. had Max and Bruce groomed twice

8. Facetimed with daddy ( who crossed the equator two times already ) twice

9. took many photos but not nearly enough

10. and since it is 10 minutes past midnight I can declare this a Monday Listicle! Now that’s something!!!


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Rugs are my drugs Sun, 21 Jun 2015 08:14:08 +0000 Continue reading Rugs are my drugs]]> I totally stole that from Nez’s Instagram feed.

Here’s why. I have exactly 77 hours left until huge moving trucks park in front of my house and start packing my life away. Today I was meant to organize everything because tomorrow Julian is playing violin at his end of school year recital and that really leaves me less then 48 hours to get everything sorted. Clearly I am running out of time.

Naturally what I chose to do today instead is get a new rug. I love rugs. I am obsessed with rugs. I would cover my floors with them and then cover rugs with more rugs. In fact if it was up to me my whole house would be full of nothing but rugs, art, chocolate and cheese. I was introduced to Nez’s beautiful online store via Instagram and I have officially clocked one full 8 hour shift staring at the rugs, trying to decide which one to order.

Finally I thought, how about I ask you? Clearly I am nowhere closer to choosing and I must go to bed so here are my favorites:

can you see those Star motives? Woman who has made this rug was praying about happiness and babies. I think she wanted to have a baby girl 🙂 Today when we were laying rugs and taking their photos, one couple from that village approached and started asking questions. I love so much when it happens cause I am always so eager to learn new stories!! Man said that his wife also was making rugs. Actualy she had to learn to make a rug. Cause in those times groom's family would not let their son be married with a girl that can not weave rugs 🙂 Every girl who wanted to get married first had to make a kilim. And she learnt and made a rug to be togeather with the man she loves ! Isn't it sweet and touchy??Such a lovely couple. We talked a lot today about rugs. The man was telling us about his childhood and his mother who was creating wonderful rugs all her life. KAIRA rug 5.4×12.3 feet 167×375 cm

A photo posted by My name is Nez (@kayakilims) on

Also this pillow:

Am I right??? Stunning.

Before you ask this is me narrowing down to favorites. Because really I could just have them all. I hope Mrs. Kaya doesn’t mind me displaying her Instagram pictures. It is for the sole purpose of you helping me choose my new carpet. I need to know by Monday so it can arrive here on time for the movers to load it on the truck!!! Help!

Vote here:

Which rug should I get?

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Pacifica Beauty Tue, 02 Jun 2015 04:21:03 +0000 Continue reading Pacifica Beauty]]> I stumbled upon Pacifica beauty brand last year when I searched for natural cosmetics on Google.

After I ordered a few items and liked them I became a regular customer. Imagine my surprise when they contacted me asking if I would like to be their muse? Initially I thought they were going to paint me or write poetry about me but it turns out it is this lovely contest where we can create a video explaining what makes us the next muse, inspiring others to cherish their beauty and perhaps teaching them skills to enhance our looks.

Obviously since I only ever order the mascara from Pacifica makeup line I figured I would leave this muse business to others. But since I know many of you would be great at this, here is a video explaining more about it. Grand prize is $10.000 plus money to spend in Target and a bunch of other goodies. So much cooler then being painted nude by a moody artist…

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