Leaving Well : Pretoria, South Africa

This guest post is brought to you today from Clara Wiggins. We are exploring the concept of “leaving well” [the act of intentionally saying goodbye to a place, as one makes their way to the next destination] and today’s post discusses Pretoria, South Africa.

Leaving Well: Pretoria

Naomi has asked me to write about “leaving well” and come up with some of the things I knew I would have to say goodbye to. Yes we aren’t going for a while yet but when you know a break will be as hard as this one will be, there is no such thing as too soon. This is an excellent chance to begin this process … the process of “leaving well.”

The views

Every week when I take my children to their weekly horseriding lessons we climb up to a point on one of the hills high above Pretoria. From here the city lies below – spreading in every direction out to the surrounding country. It’s not a classically beautiful or majestic city but the combination of the height, the breeze and the space makes for something very restful. Add to that the stunning display of purple in every direction you look when it is jacaranda season and I know this is one place I will certainly miss. And talking of jacarandas….

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

The flowers

As I say, Pretoria is not one of those cities that people think about when they list beautiful cities of the world. But it is a pretty place and one of the main reasons is because of the foliage. Everywhere you go, especially as we reach spring, blossom is appearing. The bright red, pink and orange bougainvillea is stunning – particularly set against the brilliant blue skies that this country is famous for. But jacaranda season is when Pretoria really comes into its own – even though many cities around the world boast streets of this famous flower, I am told it is good enough here to attract Japanese tourists for this reason alone.

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Cape Town

There is much discussion amongst expats in South Africa about the best place to live. Everyone assumes it must be Cape Town – one of those cities that frequently makes it into the top ten cities of the world for its dramatic Table Mountain backdrop, it’s cool restaurant scene and its proximity to the winelands. Personally though, as an expat, I think Pretoria is a better place to live simply because it is a city where many other transients like us reside. This means finding and making friends is very easy. What I LOVE though is that I can drive down the motorway, hop on a plane, and be in Cape Town for a weekend within a couple of hours. I am sure that if I lived there the beauty of the city would wear off, I wonder whether you would even notice the Mountain after a while? But knowing it is there, practically on your doorstep, for whenever you need it, is a great feeling. We have been twice as a family already and I also went with a friend for a girls’ weekend, but I am sure we will be back at least once before we leave.

Johannesburg

This is a late entry but as I wrote about Cape Town I felt I needed to mention the other great city of South Africa, Jo’burg, too. Just down the road from us, this vibrant city has a reputation for crime and violence that is fast being replaced with fashion and food. It really is one of the most hip cities on the planet right now with so much going on it’s hard to know where to start. If you ever get the chance to come to SA I would recommend trying to stay at least a couple of nights in Johannesburg, maybe booking a graffiti walking tour or a cycling tour of neighboring Soweto or a foodie tour or…..you get the idea!

The dog walks

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

My life turned around when we got a dog. And although the dog himself is wonderful (a very good natured miniature schnauzer called Cooper) it is the accompanying life with him that has been the change. Every week at least once, often twice, a group of us meet with our pooches to walk them in the dog park about ten minutes from where I live. It is one of the only places dogs can be let off the lead safely – we also regularly meet at another place which is more of a hiking trail than a park! This group started small but has been growing in size and is now practically an institution. What I means is that every week not only do I get to catch up with my friends, meet some new ones, get some exercise and see my dog have fun with the other pups, it also means we can extend our social lives beyond those hour-long walks. So we meet, we chat, we get to know each other, we work out what ages our various children are (if we have any), we exchange numbers, we arrange to meet for coffee or playdates or doggie dates…..these walks are the highlight of my week (Cooper agrees!) and in all honesty are one of the reasons I have been so happy here.

The roof-top terrace at the Moroccan House

Never have I eaten out as often as I do in Pretoria. Why? Because it is so darned cheap! It isn’t quite as cheap as it was before the Rand had a little rally and the pound fell through the floor but even so, it is still almost as cheap to eat out as to eat in. I would probably do it a lot more if it wasn’t for the fact that portion sizes to tend to be big and the pounds are piling on….As well as eating out in the evening, with or without the children, I try to meet friends for coffee at least once a week. When you work from home life can get pretty lonely if you don’t get out so I see this as a necessity more than a luxury.

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

Our favorite place to meet is actually not South African at all but Moroccan – a café tucked away in a place you wouldn’t know was there until someone took you. But I suspect it’s one of the worst kept secrets in Pretoria as the car park is often lined with diplomats cars and lunches can be dominated by large groups of a certain type of lady….however, it’s a perfect spot for a morning coffee (or perhaps one of their intriguingly named Magic Juices) – an airy roof top terrace, served by attentive staff, surrounded by beautiful pieces of Moroccan pottery, tables strewn with rose petals, gorgeous little spiced biscuits and cakes on offer…..

The wildlife

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

No post about South Africa would be complete without talking about the wildlife. From the zebras we pass on our way to horse-riding to the majestic Kruger park, animals have dominated our time here in South Africa. I can’t get over what it feels like to live somewhere where you can hop in a car and see rhinos in your local reserve within 20 minutes. We have all got used to telling the difference between a springbok, an impala and a kudu.

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

Whales, penguins, leopards, elephants, snakes (yes, one in our garden!), dung beatles, wild dogs…you name it, we’ve seen it. Except cheetahs – the one thing that has evaded us yet. So on our list before we leave? See cheetahs…

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

Braai’s and outdoor living

There aren’t many days when you can’t be outside in this country. In the winter it gets pretty chilly at night but the days are generally still bright and sunny. In the summer we get thunderstorms (see my next item) but it’s still hot. We have a total indoor/outdoor life with the patio doors always open and food eaten wherever the fancy takes us. We also have a built-in braai on our patio – the Afrikaaner word for barbecue – much to my husband’s delight. He loves mucking around with fire and if it were up to him we would eat freshly grilled steaks every day. It’s lovely and casual, very little standing on ceremony and the sort of lifestyle that I think is more familiar to us from Australia. Shoes? What they?!

Storms

When I say storms I mean storms. Real storms. I have never heard thunder like it or seen as much lightening in my life. Let alone hailstorms with hailstones the size of golf balls (which can cause a helluva lot of damage in a very short period of time – our cars are always put in the garage overnight). It can be a tad noisy but it is certainly dramatic.

It’s hard to think about leaving when we are only half way through our time in Pretoria but when you only have a year left thoughts do inevitably turn to what it is you will miss most about a place. I know I will miss everything. Everything. The weather, the people, the friends, the food, the restaurants, the weather, the wildlife, the travel, the expanse, the wine and did I mention the weather?  So leaving Pretoria is going to be very, very tough – I am already well aware of that and need to mentally prepare myself a long way in advance of our departure.

Clara Wiggins Leaving Well

Clara Wiggins was born in Cuba to British diplomat parents and hasn’t stopped traveling since. As a child, she moved between the UK, the Philippines, Nigeria, Venezuela and Gibraltar before flying the nest. Her work as first a journalist and later a diplomat in the British Foreign Office took her abroad again, including to Jamaica where she met her husband. With his job, they and their two daughters have lived in Pakistan and St Lucia and South Africa. Following her experiences as an accompanying spouse, Clara has written the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide. You can find out about the book at her blog: Expat Partner’s Survival

Tuesday Triangle Tunes: Rivers and Roads

mix tape

 

A year from now we’ll all be gone
All our friends will move away
And they’re going to better places
But our friends will be gone away

Nothing is as it has been
And I miss your face like Hell
And I guess it’s just as well
But I miss your face like Hell

Been talking ’bout the way things change
And my family lives in a different state
And if you don’t know what to make of this
Then we will not relate
So if you don’t know what to make of this
Then we will not relate

Rivers and roads
Rivers and roads
Rivers ’til I reach you

 

Tuesday Triangle Tunes : Hardship Post, WotSheLike

Hardship Post Tuesday Triangle Tunes

Introducing Liz Cotton and the Wotshelike band … with “Hardship Post”:

 

 

Welcome to a first in what will hopefully be a new series called Tuesday Triangle Tunes! Once per month, I’ll share some expat / repat / life abroad related songs for you!

Today, I’m introducing the sometimes crude, always honest Liz Cotton and her band WotSheLike with their song, Hardship Post.

Our very first home as an expat family was in Delhi, India, which was classified as a hardship post. But what IS a hardship post?

From Wikipedia:

A hardship post is a term used in the United States Diplomatic Service to describe a diplomatic post where living conditions are difficult due to climate, crime, health care, pollution or other factors. Employees assigned to such posts receive a hardship differential of between 10 and 35 percent of their salary.

From an article on CNN, I found these comments:

What defines a hardship post? There is the question of war and personal security, but for the average multinational company much more is involved — health services, education, climate, language, how remote the place is and the availability of goods.

“Traditionally a hardship posting is defined as one which presents particularly onerous or unhealthy conditions,” Sarah Collins of Sterling Corporate Relocation told CNN.

“It does depend on the individual and there are certain people who, when taken away from their frames of reference, their support networks, their friends and families, would find pretty much anywhere a hardship,” she reiterated.

Re-location advisors say that success and enjoyment in a hardship post depends on attitude and that planning is essential, as is getting advice.

That piece of the quote that I’ve put in italics, I found, was so true! There were people who THRIVED in Delhi, in spite of the label “hardship post” and there are people who can barely get out of bed in some place like Singapore, which is nicknamed “Expat Lite” because of its general ease of lifestyle and lack of struggles.

I find often that expats rank the level of their hardiness by the locations they’ve lived. “Oh, that was where you lived? WE lived in _______.” (as if it earns them extra badges or jewels on their expat crown) I have talked to countless Triangles who then struggle with feeling as though they aren’t worthy enough because they lived somewhere “so easy.”

What do you think? Should the insinuation of having lived through a hardship post be relegated to days of past and instead focus more on the quality of life that a family / individual / couple is bringing to their current adopted / host country?  Should we stop talking about hardship posts and instead simply support and encourage each other, regardless of where we’ve lived?

Smiles to Africa

A remarkable thing happens when two heads come together with their ideas, passions and thoughts. I dare say an even MORE remarkable thing happens when those two heads are young minds.

Meet Mia and Cassia.

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Cassia Price is a spunky five year old full of sparkle and ideas. She loves to perform, tell stories, do art projects and search for the perfect rock. One day, she decided that she needed to have a purpose for her growing rock collection. As she was painting, she said, “I have an idea! What if we paint them with hearts and leave them around town as a surprise for people? It would spread love and make people smile.” And so Cassia’s Rocks began. She has been leaving rocks all around Loudoun County and other cities in Virginia for over a year.

Mia Hattaway is 10 years old and has always had a heart for service and giving back. She created “Mia’s Mission” when she was 7 years old with an intention to make rainbow loom bracelets and then sell them, to raise money for various projects (donating to a high kill shelter, to an organization that provides heart transplants for young children in developing countries, and to raise money to send a young girl in Kenya named Robai to school).

Mia and Cassia met in 2014 and became fast friends due to my commitment to the Lucketts Elementary School PTA board, where Cassia’s mama also serves. Together, they soon joined forces and created a very special project they named Smiles to Africa.

These two young Loudoun County residents – both on their OWN mission to make the world a better place – realized that by combining their ideas, their reach and effectiveness would be greater!

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Mia’s grandmother lives in Kenya and does service based work with young children and single parent families, and our family already sponsors a teenager in Kenya. Mia and Cassia both have an intense love for learning, reading and had a soft spot in their hearts for girls who otherwise might not be able to go to school.

They knew that there is power when girls help girls, and Mia’s grandmother identified one particular girl, named Deb (who happens to have been named after Mia’s grandmother!) and the rest is history!

Smiles to Africa Mia Hattaway Cassia's Rocks

Many young girls attend only a few years of primary school while they are young, but due to various circumstances, many of them do not continue to attend school. Whether their family needs them at home to help with younger children, chores or just daily life, the percentage of girls who continue in school past Class 8 (what we would call middle school) is very small.

As the only daughter to Nathan and Alice, Deb’s five brothers have priority — according to Kenya’s culture — to the right to attend school because of the fees associated with school. Because of this cultural tradition, it was highly possible that Deb wouldn’t be able to continue attending primary school.

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The girls’ original plan was to paint rocks, and “sell them” for a suggested donation of $5 per rock. They wanted to raise $120 so that the remainder of Deb’s school year for 2016 could be paid for. However, their goal was quickly smashed and they raised their sights to include the school year of 2017. However, big dreams often come with bigger responsibility and soon the girls realized they had raised enough to pay for the entire REMAINDER of Deb’s primary schooling! $1,200 in total!

“I knew that it was a great idea because it is helping people and I like to hear about helping and I want to do whatever I can to help people around the world. I like smiles.” ~Cassia Price, 5 years old

“I didn’t think the idea would help in such a big way. I didn’t realize it could impact Deb so much in her daily life for a long time because our original goal was to raise $120 to pay for the rest of THIS school year. Instead, Cassia and I – with the help of many others – raised almost $1,200!” ~Mia Hattaway, 10 years old

(Side note – the money raised will pay for all of Deb’s elementary (“primary”) schooling expenses (including books, school fees, uniforms, sundries, etc) at her boarding school through the end of primary school (until she enters Form 1, which is equivalent to our high school Freshmen year.

In July of this year, I traveled with my two youngest children, Mia and Antonio, along with my niece Aaliyah TO Kenya for a month long trip. What an amazing trip it was! We carried ALL of those purchased Smiles to Africa rocks with us to leave in various places in Kenya, and with children we met along the way!

While we were visiting many locations in Kenya, we were able to travel “upcountry” to meet Deb’s family, and they invited us to come for lunch.

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Alice and Nathan graciously fixed a feast of chicken, rice, chapati and soup, complete with glass bottled orange Fanta! Typically, in rural areas of Kenya, they eat ugali (maize flour (corn) that is boiled to a dough like consistency) and sukuma wiki (boiled greens – and the name means “to stretch the week”) so the meal they prepared for us was very special.

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After lunch and visiting with the neighbor children (none of which attend school), we traveled to Deb’s school, some of us by boda-boda (on the back of a motorbike). Meeting Deb was so wonderful! Her smiles were ear to ear! She has grown so much because of being able to attend school and her future is bright because of it!

Smiles to Africa Mia Hattaway Cassia's Rocks

What’s next?

Since Cassia’s Rocks was initially never about selling the rocks to raise money, and was simply a “smile based project” for Loudoun County, Cassia will continue leaving her rocks around town. Mia has already started brainstorming about her next Project Mia’s Mission plans, but we are pretty sure Cassia and Mia will find another project to work on together in the future!! The girls each have facebook pages: Mia’s Mission // Cassia’s Rocks.

However …. their work with Smiles to Africa isn’t done yet!

We have collected money so that we can send Deb to school for lots of years. We only hoped for one year but we got lots more. It will change her life! ~Cassia

Deb deserves to be able to go to school, just like I do! ~Mia

The girls have decided they will see if their Smiles to Africa project can continue on, and they are excited to see if they can now raise additional funds to ensure Deb’s high school years (called Form 1-4) are also covered and funded.

 

If YOU would like to participate, you can donate here:



My rocks mean so much to me. Happiness, love, cheerful spirits. They make my heart happy because when people find them, they smile. Smiles make the world better! ~Cassia

We feel accomplished because not many girls have the opportunity to go to school (not as much as boys do). It was a really good opportunity, as well as a fun way to spread joy around Africa. ~Mia

 

One smile has the power to…
Calm fears.
Soften stone walls.
Warm a cold heart.
Invite a new friend.
Mimic a loving hug.
Beautify the bearer.
Lighten heavy loads.
Promote good deeds.
Brighten a gloomy day.
Comfort a grieving spirit.
Offer hope to the forlorn.
Send a message of caring.
Lift the downtrodden soul.
Patch up invisible wounds.
Weaken the hold of misery.
Act as medicine for suffering.
Attract the companionship of angels.
Fulfill the human need for recognition.
Who knew changing the world would prove so simple?
― Richelle E. Goodrich

Table Grace Cafe

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Recently, while visiting friends and family in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, our dear friend Cynthia took us to Table Grace Cafe for lunch.

Utilizing physical food donations from companies like Wohlners and Whole Foods, Table Grace Cafe is able to create amazing meals, using food that otherwise would have been thrown away! Look at this menu from a recent day of service:

Salad: Mixed Lettuce, Toppers: Craisins or Strawberries with Champagne – Berry Vinaigrette or Balsamic, or Ranch

Soup: Roasted Potatoes and Pepper Soup, Mild Chicken and Potato or Cream of Asparagus

Pizza: Antipesto or Roasted Brussel Sprout and Squash

 

From their website, their mission:

To foster a healthy community by offering great food prepared and served in a graceful manner to anyone who walks through the door.

Gourmet Pizza, Salad and Soup
no set price
different varieties prepared daily
fresh and organic ingredients when available
no cash register
funded by donation box,
patrons may donate or serve.
10 day work program/referral

Our goal is that everyone regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat wonderful food while being treated with respect and dignity.

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If you find yourself in Omaha, Nebraska, take a gander over to Farnam Street and pay a visit to the folks at Table Grace Cafe!

Hours

Monday – Saturday
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Location

1611 1/2  Farnam St
Omaha, NE  68102-2113

 

I don’t fit in, an interview with the Two Fat Expats

Have you lived abroad, or have plans to in the future?  Make the Two Fat Expats podcast a part of your weekly listening habits!

The Two Fat Expats podcast does not refer to being rotund and plump around the middle … instead, it refers to living a fat life, full of experience, joy and relationships. It was lovely to have a chat recently with Kirsty Rice and Sarah Derrig, the founders of the Two Fat Expats podcast.  We talked about the process of repatriating, moving back home and what advice I have for folks planning to do the same in the near future.

Click the image below to listen … my interview begins at the 21:00 mark.

Two Fat Expats with Kirsty Rice

 

The entire podcast library is lovely to listen to, subscribe via iTunes!!

 

Things I’m scared to say out loud

This post was inspired by this from Nina Badzin and this one.

I have been not writing much at all like I used to. I have so much to say, but it feels weirdly tiring when I try to write a post that makes sense. When I saw Nina’s post about things she won’t write about and then Alison’s piece on what she’s afraid to tell her readers, I realized that it was ok to just write my thoughts down, whether or not they make sense and then just hit publish. That’s the beauty of my blog, I appreciate that I don’t have any rules and no one looking over my shoulder at my content / themes and subject matter.

Without further ado, some things I’m scared to say out loud:

I really didn’t like living in Florida.

It has nothing to do with the friends we DID make while we were there, but instead all about the combination of trying to repatriate, realizing that we didn’t fit in anymore (but we looked like we should have) and struggling to find common denominators with those we encountered.

I loved the climate, or so I thought. It was great to have consistent flip-flop weather and a garden that grew nearly year round. It was nice living in a place where so many friends and family came through on vacation, so we got to see more of them. The reality was that I missed the four seasons and snow in the winter. I wore skirts nearly every day because it was THAT hot in Orlando, almost every day. As my friend Lynden will say, skirts allow one to cool off the undercarriage!

I don’t know how to parent my children.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know how to LOVE them, cherish them and encourage them. I do not, however, know how to parent them. I realized recently that they have no idea how to do any kind of housework and all three of them are very unorganized and unable to prioritize. I also am not quite sure how to instill tradition into their lives because we’ve bucked the system for the majority of all their childhood years by raising them overseas and some days, it feels too late to begin.

I don’t like talking about politics or racism, even though I am very outgoing and not afraid to voice my opinion.

I recently wrote about how it feels to be from a mixed heritage but several months ago, I had another experience that made me realize just how uncomfortable of a topic it is. When I passed my Real Estate Exam, at the end, I was asked to fill out a form that asked about my race. The four options were 1. Caucasian 2. Asian 3. African-American 4. Hispanic.  “Huh” I said to the proctor, “I’m half and half, what should I put?” She said “Well honey, up here in Virginia, I’d say you look black.” I’m currently investigating this with our State Board as I think this paperwork needs to be updated a bit, don’t you think? I will work hard to change things like that, but I still don’t like discussing racism. Sometimes that feels ignorant, and sometimes it feels like a way to protect myself. I don’t know how to have that conversation either.

I have a family member who struggles with addiction and is in rehab, after a considerable amount of time in jail.

Someone said the other day that she enjoyed interacting with me because our family was so fascinating and interesting, and “whatever your parents did, they sure did something right.” She went on to say that she sometimes feels shame when talking about her sister, who is in and out of jail, who struggles with addiction and is letting their family down. I listened to her, and then when she was finished, said “I know what you mean.” She was shocked and said “You too?”  We then had a very strange conversation about the assumptions and stereotypes that we give one another when it comes to criminal matters, family drama and discussions about addiction. I don’t have a solid, streamlined way to have this discussion, so I’ll leave it here for now.

 Are there things you wish you could talk about to others, but feel afraid to open your mouth?

 

Brunswick Stew. Georgia on my mind.

During the summer that came before our departure for India, we spent some time in Georgia with the Husb’s family. It was back in 2009, but it feels like just yesterday. Some of the best memories included:
  • a family reunion on Mimi’s side (46 strong)
  • swimming nearly daily at the hacienda
  • creek schlepping
  • watching spiders build intricate webs
  • fishing with Papa
  • Sushi with Aunt Carla (yummo!) and My Sister’s Keeper (crying, crying and more crying)
  • LOADS of eating and food (pulled pork, Picadillo, fried plantains, Brunswick Stew, deviled crabs)
  • fireworks that you wouldn’t believe from Uncle Pete
  • crafting, crafting and more crafting
  • low well tables meant an afternoon at the laundromat with Mimi (and Dairy Queen)
  • Build-a-Bear (twice!)
  • a trip today to the Georgia Aquarium
  • Six Flags tomorrow for Terran and I

One of the things that came out of that summer was an intense desire to master the art of making and recreating Brunswick Stew. Said to have originated in both Brunswick County, Virginia AND the town of Brunswick, Georgia, no one is quite sure. In fact, a plaque on an old iron pot in Brunswick, Georgia, says the first Brunswick stew was made in it on July 2, 1898, on St. Simons Island, however another claims a Virginia state legislator’s chef invented the recipe in 1828 on a hunting expedition. (Credit: Wikipedia

brunswick stew recipe

No matter the origin, I was introduced to it’s loveliness by Mimi (Husb’s mother) and it is divine. Using smoked pulled pork and the most delicious of homemade barbecue sauce as part of its base, it’s a treat that we’ve since come to love.

 BRUNSWICK STEW
:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

First the sauce:

In a 2 quart sauce pan, over low heat, melt 1/4 cup of butter. Then add:

  • 1  3/4 C ketchup
  • 1/4 C mustard
  • 1/4 C white vinegar

Whisk until smooth, then add:

  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 T chopped garlic
  • 1 T Tabasco
  • 2 T Liquid Smoke
  • 2 T worchestershire sauce

Blend until smooth, then add 1/4 C dark brown sugar
Stir constantly, increase heat to simmer (DO NOT BOIL) for approximately 10 minutes. Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups of sauce.

Then The Stew:

In a 2 gallon pot, melt 1/2 lb of butter and add:

  • 3 C small diced potatoes
  • 1 C small diced onion
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth
  • 1 lb rotissierie chicken (white and dark)
  • 1 lb smoked pork (boiled, then shredded)

Bring to a rolling boil, stirring until potatoes are near done, then add:

  • 2 14.5 cans stewed tomatoes – (chop tomatoes, add liquid to the stew pot)
  • Prepared sauce
  • 1/4 C Liquid Smoke
  • 14.5 oz. can creamed corn

Slow simmer for 2 hours

Yields 1 gallon

Heroes Home Advantage, Northern Virginia

ARE YOU A HERO, OR KNOW ONE?

Service of our country and community means an awful lot to me!

I haven’t talked a whole lot over here about my new real estate business, but I’m super happy to share with you about the Heroes Home Advantage program that I’ve aligned myself with here in Northern Virginia.

I recently started counting up the HEROES in my family and the numbers were a surprise to me! Because I want to honor them and their service, it is truly awesome to be able to give back by participating in the Heroes Home Advantage program. My husband is a veteran of the Marine Corps, as is his father. My grandfather served in the Air Force during the Korean War and my step-mother is active duty with the Air Force. My mother-in-law and grandmother served their communities by teaching, my father’s uncle is a retired firefighter. Law Enforcement also runs deep with my family with many working as police officers, prison personnel and more.

The only category covered as a hero that doesn’t have family representation is the health care field … maybe I can convince one of my children to go that route?

 

As a way of saying “Thank You” to the HEROES of America for their services to our country and communities, I give back 25% of MY commission when I work with a HERO to buy or sell a home via the Heroes Home Advantage program.

In addition, I’ve been working hard over the last couple of months here in Northern Virginia to identify Agents (from all over the country), Lenders, Home Inspectors, Title Companies and more to all join with me in giving credit and other discounts when a hero buys or sells a home using my services. I have partnered with the Heroes Home Advantage program SIMPLY so that I can give back to those who have served. Not only does this benefit cover active duty / active employment but also provides amazing services for veteran military, retired teachers, retired police force, and on and on!

The great thing is, it doesn’t cost the hero a thing!

When you or someone you know (who qualifies as a hero, see below) is ready to buy or sell your home, call me at 571-482-7356 or leave a comment and I’ll first say “Thank you for your service.” Then, if you’re not in Virginia, I’ll connect you with an amazing team of professionals to help. If you ARE located in my service area, I’ll jump in with both feet and all hands on deck to help you and your family navigate through your real estate journey.

 

HERO CATEGORIES:

Military: Active Duty, Veteran, Retired, Reservist, National Guard

Teachers: Current and retired

Law Enforcement: Police Officer, Prison Guard, State Trooper, County Sheriff, Border Patrol, Retired

Firefighters: Active, Retired, Volunteer

Health Care: Doctor, Nurse, Technician, EMT, Home Health Aide, Ambulance, Dispatch, Therapy, Dental

 

 

Heroes Home Advantage Naomi Hattaway 

* Realtor credits based on purchase/sale price of home

Free eMeals planning service trial

I found a really fun freebie for you guys this week! As many of you know, I LOVE eMeals! eMeals is a meal planning service that sends you a weekly list of recipes including side dishes with a completed grocery list. Not only does eMeals get you organized, but they can help you eat healthier, save money and have more time with your family…and who doesn’t want that?!


eMeals Free Trial

Just tonight, after a long, full day, I realized we had zip, nada, zilch in the fridge as far as meal prep ingredients for the week.  Never fear! eMeals is here! I simply opened the app, swiped through to create my menu plan for the week and hit the “Shopping List” button. A quick trip to the store, and before I knew it, Balsamic Beef Tips with Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Green Peas were waiting on our dinner table. Are you ready for the free eMeals planning service trial? eMeals is offering 2 weeks free of their service right now for you to try out! If you decide to stick with it after the two weeks, you can enjoy your choice of over 60 meal plan options including breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As we move our family into the new year, here are the EIGHT promises I am making to my family as we start the New Year.

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