I started writing at the age of seven. In a diary, that is. I wrote often and candidly. You know, about my elementary-school crushes and slumber parties. I started dream journal-ing and dabbled in fiction writing, children’s literature, and poetry, thanks to a high school creative writing class. All the while, I kept writing in my diary – this time mostly about how my hair wasn’t straight or curly -but some horrible mix of in-between – and about the embarrassment of losing my 10th grade election to a class troublemaker who traded Tiger Beer for votes and was sitting solo in detention when the results were announced. I doubled up on English classes so I could forgo AP Calculus. At the University of Virginia, I honed my political writing skills by earning a degree in Foreign Affairs. Not sure how I ended up with a second degree in Economics – too many numbers, too little writing – but some part of me must have thought it would have been a good idea.
After university, I spent nearly a decade in the U.S. Foreign Service as a political officer, serving in Mozambique (2003-2005), Venezuela (2005-2006), Sudan (2008-2010), Washington, D.C. (2010), and Thailand (2010-2011). Took a year off in there somewhere to earn a master’s degree in International Studies. I wrote often and I wrote – well – pretty candidly as a political officer in the U.S. Foreign Service. About the fragile, but successful democracy and giant prawns in Mozambique; drug dealers and the animated rants of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela; the nefarious regime of Al Bashir and the imminent secession of the south in Sudan; and the disappointing U.S.-China climate negotiations in Washington, D.C. Before I had a chance to write at the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, I resigned my work as a diplomat to be a stay-at-home mom.
The one part of my personal time that I was unwilling to sacrifice completely to full-time parenthood was my writing. So I started freelancing – writing about wonderful travel destinations (with family, in particular) and the joys and frustration of parenthood. I also started this blog – Toddle Joy – a blog on traveling the world with children and the wonderful discoveries in foreign countries that I thought others should know about.
My primary job is still to be a full-time mom to my three little ones (ages four, two, and 10 months). But when the kids sleep, I write. Which means I need a good make-up artist to cover the now-permanent bags under my eyes. I’ve written for The New York Times, CNN Travel, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, Bangkok Mothers and Babies International Magazine, and guest posted for premier parenting blogs such as World Moms Blog.