Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas! We hope that wherever you find yourself this holiday, that your days are filled with joy, love, and hope.

Happy Holidays!

The Fultons
Gordon, Elizabeth, and Rolo

Friday, October 31, 2014

Blogdentity Crisis

Happy Halloween to all!

I hope you have a fun evening planned, whether that includes dressing up and dancing to the wee hours of the morning, or eating a bowl of candy at home and watching Hocus Pocus (oh you know everyone does it). Hubby and I are headed to the Florida Keys for the weekend with some friends. Should be a lovely getaway. :)

I know it's been quiet around here for a while and I've struggled to comprehend or explain why. But I read this blog post today and realized that it pretty much sums up the silence. Every word (except the part about being a Chinese supermodel; that, I am not). You can click the link and read the post below. It's that good that I had to re-post it.

Just replace "China" with "South Africa".

Have a wonderful weekend! xo.

By Jerry Jones:

They say that blogs resemble their owners.
They don’t actually say that.  They do say that about dogs.  They should say it about blogs too.
Blogging for me has been a thoroughly enjoyable stress release in the chaos of my daily bumblings as a foreigner in China.  It has forced me to process, more completely, what I actually think and feel in the context of a constant flow of phenomenal experiences such as having my bowel issues publicly assessed by an entire community of well meaning, amateur Chinese medical experts or coming home with 28 enormous hickeys on my back.
It’s therapeutic really.
Beyond that . . . it’s me.  Through this goofy little blog I have discovered something about myself that I didn’t realize before.
I love writing.
I wish I was a painter . . . that would be so much cooler.  Or a musician.  Maybe a drummer.  Famous rock star with tattoos.
But I’m not . . .  and chances are, at this stage, short of a lobotomy and a dramatic shift in popular culture that’s not going to happen.
But I do love to write.
Writing has become a part of my identity.  I even say so up there at the top of this blog . . . And I quote:
“I’m a husband, a dad, a trainer, a writer, an expat, a foreigner, a Chinese faker and a culture vulture who loves having a front row seat to watch the world turn.”
Here’s the kick in the pants — My blog is having an identity crisis.
Somewhere between my last post (ages ago) about my career as a Chinese supermodel and this post we moved back to America.  Did you catch that?  Even though my so-called blog still says I am . . . I am actually no longer an expat (although I’m feeling very much like a foreigner).  I’m still a dad, still a trainer, definitely still a culture vulture and I still fake Chinese (albeit only in Chinese buffets)
That was the whole fun point of The Culture Blend.  Goofy foreigner  . . . China . . . bumbling.  I feel like my blog doesn’t know who it is anymore and you know what they say about blogs.
Or at least they should.
My blog’s identity crisis makes the whole writing thing painfully inconsistent.  It’s confusing, misleading and unclear.
In short, it’s in transition . . . and so am I.
But in the chaos I’m starting to get a clear picture of two simple truths.
1.  Culture keeps on blending no matter where you are which means there is a lot more to write about
2.  I still love to write.
So give me some time and I’ll replace the growing number of “used to be true” statements here with the “yet to be seen” facts as I figure them out.  I’ll push through the awkward part and someday soon it will make more sense.  The whole thing will be less utterly lost and more profoundly insightful.
I’m talking about the blog . . . not myself.
But you know what they say about blogs.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happenings of late (but mostly One Direction)

When did it become October? We are not even in the same season as when hubby and I moved to the US a few months ago. (That's our timeline for everything right now.) And that's nuts.

But we are staying busy while I continue to be on the job hunt and hubby is waiting for all sorts of government paperwork. Here are some photos of all the happenings that have been going on around here...which partly explain my absence.

I took the General Knowledge Exam for the state of Florida so I can be a substitute teacher; it's at least a little bit of income while I'm looking for a full-time job. Yes, I needed to review odds and factorials. No judging please; math has never been my strong suite. :)

 Beautiful sunset over Miami.

 I baked a giant doughnut with doughnut holes for a friends birthday. It was pretty yummy, if I do say so myself.

And I made a pumpkin cake with cream-cheese frosting and walnuts, of course. We needed some fall around these warm parts. And this one was even yummier. 

And we've been to a basketball game.

But the best part...

Husband received the Husband of the Year Award for taking me to the One Direction concert! I can't get over it - I'm still so excited!

We only heard about the concert the day of but got tickets on StubHub for $13! I highly recommend using them. Who cares what the view is like for that price!

Bless his heart...he was genuinely excited for me, but the glass-shattering screaming was just a bit too much (and to be honest, it was for me too - gosh, when did I get that old?). Here's a small sample:

(Still makes me laugh...and remind me of my Nsync days. How embarrassing.)

Thanks mister! I love that you enjoy something just because I enjoy it. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One show you must watch this fall

Have any of you seen the show on Discovery Channel, Alaska: The Last Frontier? The whole family has started watching it over here and we LOVE it! Maybe it's because we were just in Alaska (and now I'm totally obsessed), but either way, it such a cool show!

It's about the Kilcher family who live completely off the grid in the Alaskan wilderness. They spend all summer building/repairing their log cabins, herding cattle, and collecting and storing food for the winter. They raise their own chickens and vegetables; they hunt rabbit and bear; they fish for Alaskan salmon; and they fend off wild wolves! And in winter...they try to stay warm and survive. It's nuts! Here's a preview of the next season that starts on 5 October.

What do you think? Have you watched it? Will you?

PS - The images at the top are from our recent trip to the last frontier, which I am so overdue in sharing with you. I'm sorry! The full itinerary is coming soon. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Steve Jobs didn't let his kids use...

This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but Steve Jobs didn't let his kids use Apple products very much. In fact, in late 2010, Jobs said his kids had never used an iPad! You can read more about it here and here.

What do you think?

I think most people would agree that everyone uses electronics far too much, but to hear that the creator of the device that I am currently typing on (and the smaller one that is playing music right next to me) limited the use of these greatly, really changes my perspective. At the same time, how could I cut back my usage? Yes, not be on the phone when I'm talking to people...but aside from that, our society is so technology based that I'm not sure how those of us wanting to cut some tech devices out could keep up.

How much do you use your phone/computer/tablet/etc? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumn in Miami

I would love to have a post for you showing the changing leaves in my backyard or the abundant pumpkin patches filled with cider doughnuts and caramel apples; alas, I cannot. I live in season-less Miami which means any "seasonal" activities are completely contrived. So here are few snapshots of what we do in autumn in Miami:

We go boating with friends!

A pod of dolphin came and swam around our boat - so cool!

By the way, you can tell the difference between a shark fin and dolphin fin by the way it moves: dolphin fins will "roll"...dolphins will never come straight at you. Shark swim straight; they don't do that wavy (rolling) motion: ~ ~ 

Then we went out to Stiltsville. It's an area just off of downtown Miami that was built by Al Capone in the late 1920s/early 1930s. He wasn't allowed to run gambling rings on US soil, so he just sailed a few miles out and built these. Now they're just abandoned structures, but still a pretty cool piece of history. 

(One benefit of unemployment: extra down-time with the hubby:)


Not quite cool, crisp weather, but such a beautiful day nonetheless! Thanks to our friends, Leo and Myra, for taking us all out!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why do you read blogs?

It may seem a bit of a silly question but I'm curious: why do you read blogs? And what kinds do you read?

There are the obvious travel blogs that perhaps let us escape our normal routine for something a bit more exotic and colorful. The fashion blogs, that either help inspire our wardrobes or at least allow us to feel like we're somewhat in the know when it comes to fashion. And of course, cooking/baking blogs - need I say what those are for? And those are all great.

I follow 84 blogs on Bloglovin', of which only about half are actually active (posting at least once a week). Most I follow because I enjoy the content, the writing style, and/or the photography; some I follow because I do not enjoy the content or writing style (just being honest) and I like to read them every now and then to make sure I'm not slipping in to similar patterns. But to be honest, I'm starting to feel like blogs are becoming all to similar. What do you think? Why do you read blogs? What keeps you coming back to certain ones?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Happy Friday!

The flower we gave my mother-in-law for Mother's Day, blooming for the third time! 

Thank you everyone for your kind responses to my post about what it's been like being back in the US, here and on Facebook. Your words of encouragement are so appreciated. :)

Hope you've had a great week and have a wonderful weekend! Here are just a few photos from my week...See you on Monday! :)

Fun outfits (and a new top) are extra encouraging right now. :)

We were given a free date night (thanks, mom!) to MexZican - delicious!

I love how Heath (the basset) is alway there, just a different pose.

And how could this face not set you up for a great weekend?!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts from an expat-returned-home

One of the reasons I love writing this blog, is to be able to share my story and relate to other people. So many situations in life arise that leave us feeling and thinking that we are the only ones in that position (which is never true). And one of the most comforting things is finding people who can truly relate. That's why I love sharing things I learn and experience from being a Christian, a wife, and an expat (or a returned-home expat?).

But since arriving back in the US about two and half months ago, it's been hard for me to try and write a synopsis of our move so far (what life has been like, what we're doing, how we're doing...). Half because I'm still trying to absorb everything and adjust, and half because we're still in a constant state of how can I ever absorb and assess it all?

Moving back to the US has been SO great for us. Really. The main reason we chose to move was because, for a variety of reasons, we felt that it would be the best for us spiritually and we both agree that so far it has been. And that has been a source of constant encouragement and reassurance during these past two and half months. Just because it's been the best spiritually, doesn't mean it's been easy. Actually, there have been moments where I thought that this move, and everything that has come with it, have possibly been the hardest thing in my life up to now.

It's been extremely challenging transitioning cultures - from South Africa to here - and there's even a whole other set of weirdness that comes from Miami/the US being my home, but feeling foreign in a way. It's challenging not having our own home. I don't think I've explicitly said this on the blog, but hubby (and Rolo) and I are living with my parents currently. Actually, we truly feel that living with them is a big blessing in so many ways. But it still isn't our house. We got use to our own way of doing things, our own routines and now, they're gone. (They're not totally gone but they've been seriously rocked.)

It's really challenging not having a job. I'm pretty good at finding things to do and creating a routine for myself even without a job, but it gets tough to hold to it. Even more, it gets emotionally challenging to stay positive, to focus on the good, and to not think that I haven't yet found a job because I'm totally inept and have nothing to offer. And when I don't stick to my little schedule for the day, I feel less productive, which makes me feel more inept and useless. It's a vicious cycle.

As I sit here and write all that, I know it sounds totally depressing and miserable. And sometimes, I kind of feel that (depressed, not miserable). But honesty is the best. I totally prefer to risk sounding extreme and crazy (because I am only slightly so ;) than making my life sound like a perfect dream. But with that being said, I have to share all the positives too.

As I mentioned earlier, moving here has been THE best for both hubby and I (individually and as a couple). I'm not sure I've ever felt more encouraged, more hopeful, more full of growth in my marriage and as a result of that, more in love and more best friends with my husband than ever before. I feel like I've grown as a person, as a wife, and as a disciple of Jesus in ways that actually amaze me. Like, "I really did that?!" or "I actually held my tongue and didn't say x, y, or z?!" It's pretty cool.

And I HAVE TO brag about my husband! I get emotional even as I write this, but he has been incredible. I know how hard this move is for him, because I've done it before...but in a way, I didn't and don't know. When I moved to South Africa, it was supposed to be for a year. That one year turned into three and half, but (as you see) I came back. Hubby has moved continents, knowing that it's probably for good. Maybe I couldn't completely handle that thought about living away from my family forever and that's part of how we ended up here. Either way, I am forever grateful to him for being willing to do this. It's unbelievably (like really - you can't understand until you've done it) hard to move cultures, families, home, life, etc. and he has done it beautifully. (I'm sure he won't appreciate me describing him as "beautiful" but whatevs.) He is making friends, he's being honest when he really misses South Africa, he learned to drive on the other side of the road, he's staying busy while lots of government processes are patiently being waited upon. He loves my family. He loves learning from my dad. He helps out with the yard, cleaning the pool, and the house. He still takes me on wonderful dates and doesn't negate the things that are hard for me in this move, because his are probably harder. He has been a sponge spiritually, learning and absorbing all that he can from many incredible people around us. He prays for his family back home and talks to them often. He even sleeps in a full size bed with me, when it's already to short for me and he's a few good inches taller than me. I could totally keep writing about the sacrifices he's made and how amazing he is, but you get the idea.

Although I can feel lost in terms of starting a career and finding what I really want to do, I'm so grateful to have the luxury of time to figure it out. I'm aware that very few people get that opportunity.

I live a 15 minute bike ride away from the ocean and get to see green trees all year long. I get to call best friends any second of any day that I want, that I previously had to set up Skype times weeks in advance with. And I have gotten to eat queso, nachos, Publix cookies, and cafe con leche (ok, not full of that yet) till my heart's content. And watch Sherlock and What Not to Wear on Netflicks. Even the little, sweet things are what make us happy in this time of drastic transition.

I actually wrote everything you just read a few weeks ago. I wrote it all down one day and thought I would look over it the next day and then post. But things got in the way. As I read all that now, it's all true but even more encouraging is that in those few weeks, we have both continued to grow in being more faithful, more encouraged, and more secure about the future. We were recently reminded in a church service that as long as we build God's house, ours will be taken care of. So that's what we try to focus on above all. Despite challenges, hubby and I truly feel so blessed and thankful to be where we are.

I was hoping all of this would be more of a "what to expect" for expats but I think it's more of a dumping session for myself. Either way, thanks for reading and sharing the journey with me. :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

The new trust exercise

Remember the trust "game" from when you were younger? You find a parter and take turns falling backwards into each other's arms, trusting that even though you can't see them, they will catch you. (This is what you're NOT supposed to do.)

Well, I have a new version: let your husband trim your bangs. Ok, so I want judge you if you don't really want to participate, but in our case it turned out well.

Not the greatest picture but still, BEFORE


My bangs (or fringe, for my South African and British readers :) needed some trimming and I wanted to try it myself. I bought some scissors, read the appropriate tutorials, but I struggled. I'm not sure if it was my coordination skills or what, but it didn't go great. My bangs didn't turn out that bad, but not good enough that I felt confident going out in public. So before I ran to the hair dresser, hubby was beyond eager to try. And fortunately, or unfortunately, he's kind of good at everything. (I say unfortunately because my pride does not always appreciate that gift.)

He barely trimmed them in the beginning in case the whole ordeal went sour. But after the first round actually went well, I let him keep going. All the while, both of us were secretly praying that this would be a success and not the start of our next fight.

What do you think? I think he did a fantastic job! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

One Day in Juneau, Alaska {Pt.1}

We got back from our vacation to Alaska just over a week ago. It was incredible! We went on a seven day cruise through some of the southern Alaskan islands, with one final stop in Victoria, Canada. I'd like to share some of my photos from the week.

The cruise itself was a fairly typical cruise (except for the outdoor movie theater and zero, cheesy steel drum music...which both made it better than typical), but it was great. I know a lot of people aren't fans of cruises, but if you want to see a lot in a short time, I think they're excellent. And it's definitely nice that all your food is paid for in one shot. (Also, hello 30-whole. I think my whole family will start this soon because we need some serious purging and cleansing.)

We went whale watching in Juneau (pictures to come later) but this was the only killer whale we saw in the whole trip. That fin - see it? I KNOW it was a killer whale. :)

The locals' catch.

We spent one day in Juneau at the beginning of the week. It was lovely! The day started out rainy and misty, but turned in a glorious summer day!

He's so handsome. :)

Juneau was charming. I loved how the mountains surrounded the port and the clouds became an umbrella over everything.


Part two - which includes whales and salmon and glaciers - coming soon! xo