The next chapter of Bali or Bust

It has been a delight to record our adventures in SE Asia on this blog for the past couple of years. I initially created Bali or Bust as a way to motivate me to meet one of my top goals on my Life List: living abroad for at least a year. We thought we’d be here for two, but we’ve been presented with an extraordinary opportunity… one we can’t pass up.

Indonesia has been amazing, challenging and sometimes even maddening, but nonetheless one of the most incredible things my family and I have accomplished. We have taken on tons of professional development, learned new cultural skills, a new language, and traveled every opportunity possible.

But as all adventures begin, they also must… evolve. Please don’t see this next chapter as an end to Bali or Bust. In fact, I’d like to take this blog to a new level and focus on other big items on my Life List. I plan to share my progress here.

The next chapter is still in the works, but enough has been green lighted to share with you now. Seth has accepted a position for a large organization in the United States, starting soon. I’m thrilled for him, and for what it means for our family. I won’t have to work four part-time jobs or scramble for child care like I did before we left the US. I won’t have to eat dinner alone on weekdays, like I do now, as Seth will be working remotely and will be home, in Portland, up to 60% of the time. We are thrilled!

But… You see I can’t just leave right now. As a teacher, I have invested a lot of energy into my students. I’m managing clubs that I created and a homeroom of seniors, who are desperate for help with their university applications. I feel obligated to at least guide them until the end of the semester, and I also recognize how essential the bridge is between the US and Indonesia. I don’t intend to burn that bridge.

Thus Eliana and I will stay here until mid-December. A part of me is buzzing with excitement, envisioning all of the new projects I get to do in my very own house back home (I forgot how much renting a house sucks). Another part of me is content to stay here forever, especially when I’m at school working. (What can I say? I love my job.)

I have a feeling these next few months will fly by. I have a lot of plans already (Hello Gilis in two weeks!!), which I think will keep me occupied and focused. My goal is to leave without regret; feeling fulfilled and satisfied and incredibly excited about returning home to our family and friends, which will hopefully involve even more growth beyond our wildest dreams.

Growth that I intend to continue to share with you here.

Literacy Week

We’ve been celebrating Literacy Week at school (a spin off continuation from Literacy Day on September 8th) by reading every morning for DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), writing a thank you letter to our favorite author (I stole the idea from Mighty Girl), class creative writing pieces, and a literary costume contest finale!

Eliana dressed as Princess Aurora and I as Fancy Nancy, which is also the book I read to her class on Wednesday. It’s been fun!
photo (3)

photo (4)



A New Year

I wanted to write a reflective piece on the year we’ve spent in Indonesia. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t interested in that year. I’m far more interested in this year.

Now don’t get me wrong, this past year has been one amazing, albeit challenging year for our family. But I really do think that all that hard work will pay off. We now have a car (Seth can fill you in with the details later on), a trip home next month to celebrate a family wedding, a savings plan, excellent professional opportunities and development, and new expat friends in the neighborhood. Things are looking up in this part of the world.

What’s next? We plan to enjoy the fruits of our labor for the next six months, and then we’ll need to make a decision. Stay? Go home? Whatever it will be; it will be extraordinary.


Summer Break

We kicked off our one month (paid!) summer break. Without my maid the first day, I ended up cleaning and doing laundry all day, only to come to the realization that I am now domestically retarded. We survived. With the return of our pembantu, we got to fully bask in all that is summer break in Bogor. Or in other words… Hell.

Mad respect to stay at home moms and dads out there cause all I know is that this is HARD. And maybe I didn’t have post partum depression during my maternity leave 4 years ago. Maybe staying at home just sucks because I like to work. I like my kid, but I also like to work. Balance, you know?

These next few days will be filled with dance parties, nail painting, swimming, art projects, reading, and mini adventures until Sunday when we can get-the-hell-outta-here for a few weeks.

I’m looking at you, Bali.

Bali or Bust!




End of Year Performance

Our school had an End of Year Performance today. Ellie opened her class performance with a traditional Indonesian dance. She had practiced the moves for weeks and did great!

Later my high school students performed Beauty and The Beast, and Ellie and I watched. The students painted the backdrops and created all the props by hand. You could see the natural talent some of them had when singing and acting. It was a lot of fun to watch! Then afterward Ellie had the opportunity to take a picture with Belle… And she was in heaven.





A Year of Preschool

Eliana is finishing her first year of preschool in Indonesia this week. In July she will be begin Prep, which is essentially Kindergarten. But I  have to say that I am extremely impressed with the school curriculum here. Ellie started the year knowing her phonics in English and Spanish (carry over from her days at Aprende Con Amigos in Portland) and is ending the year understanding basic Indonesian, reading three letter words in English and Indonesian, writing letters and numbers, basic computer skills, piano basics, intermediate swimming abilities, and overall enhanced motor skills. Not bad! Here are some pictures shared with me from the school. Enjoy!

Puppet Show: The 3 Pigs

Puppet Show: The 3 Pigs

Puppet show: Goldilocks (Ellie really doesn't get the whole peace sign thing here)

Puppet show: Goldilocks (Ellie really doesn’t get the whole peace sign thing here)

Art presentation

Art presentation



House visit and storytelling by Seth

House visit and storytelling by Seth

Wayang (Traditional Indonesian puppet show)

Wayang (Traditional Indonesian puppet show)

Hindu temple visit

Hindu temple visit

Buddhist temple visit

Buddhist temple visit

Sawah (Rice paddy)

Sawah (Rice paddy)

Sawah visit

Sawah visit

Sawah visit... is that a water buffalo?

Sawah visit… is that a water buffalo?

Yearbook photos in traditional Indonesian clothing

Yearbook photos in traditional Indonesian clothing

Two steps forward, one step back

As I’m writing this, lightning claps the skies in Bogor and rain is pouring. Eliana is at a friends playing because I feel too ill to really give her the attention she wants right now. This is frustrating.

I’m sick of feeling sick all the damn time. This isn’t exactly a fun topic, but I feel it’s necessary to be honest on this blog, especially for those readers who are currently or who are planning to expatriate. The thing is… It’s not all travel wanderlust. It’s popping Imodium and Panadol and vitamins all the time hoping to feel normal for a while. Because I can’t remember what that feels like.

We have been feeling pretty home sick these last few weeks, Seth and I. Ellie? I don’t know. She’s really involved with her friends and school. She loves to give gifts to new friends and she really listens to them. This can be good and bad, especially when they’re critical, such as saying her peanut butter and jelly sandwich smells. (Naturally her lunches are a bit different than theirs and she gets a bit of flack about it.) So the next day she says she hates sandwiches.


The good thing is that I caught her class BFF sounding out words to her from a book. Whoa wait a minute, you’re reading?? Ellie was stunned. Me, thrilled. This was the perfect motivator to get her started. And it’s working!

Anyway, I suppose my point is this. Eliana is continuing to adapt amazing well here. This positive growth keeps us sane, but I’m not sure it’s enough to keep us here too much longer.

August can’t come soon enough.


School update

Eliana had her parent teacher conference this morning. She timidly presented her work to me with a very heavy Indonesian accent. It’s pretty funny to see how differently she speaks around me versus around her friends and teachers.

She showed me her art with mixed media and on the computer. She explained basic math equations to me and then read two syllable Indonesian words, such as roti, susu, nasi, sate…

It was really cool to see her show off her note-reading for piano skills. She explained the names of the notes, then played them on the piano. So proud!


International Day

One of the biggest perks of working in a high school is the competitions. The students will get behind anything you throw at them. (Apparently so will I.) Debate competition? Bam, ranked third in the nation.

International Day? Piece of cake. Each class was assigned a country and we had two weeks to turn our classroom into France, in our spare time. On D-Day, judges toured the school and marked each class based on decorations, food and performance.

We started planning a bit late, but pulled together a romantic ambience, an amazing replica of the Eiffel Tower, a WWI Museum, eclairs to sell in our “cafe”, and a pretty awesome performance to go with it all (which included a violin solo and a flash mob).

Needless to say, we won Best Concept. I can get used to this!