Living With Kids: Karey Mackin

April 23, 2013

By Gabrielle.

I’ve known Karey Mackin for ages in Internet years. She was one of our original Kirtsy editors back in the day, a speaker at the first Alt Design Summit and the year after that, and someone I simply enjoy reading. Her blog, Mackin Ink,  has always been a place to marvel at her family’s experiences living in the Middle East and now Southeast Asia, and a nice assurance that yes, it is a good idea to take your kids on adventures around the world! In short, she’s a friend. Whenever I see corners of her home like this one on Instagram, I ask if she will take us on a tour. I’m so happy she said yes! Enjoy this one, Friends!

Q: Please tell us all about the family who lives in this Jakarta home!

A: Hi everyone. I’m Karey. I’m a writer (and a horrible photographer!) living for at least another year and a half-ish in Jakarta. Indonesia is made up of about 17,000 islands – seriously, some are just dots on the map – which might not be the best place to live for someone like me who is deathly afraid of water and all things drowning. Surprisingly, I love the steamy climate of this place. I had heard nightmare stories about the interminable rainy season, but even the rainstorms are pretty lovely. It feels like the thunder and lightning are smack on top of us, and it always makes me think “Oh, man. We are just floating in the sea in a little canoe!”

I’m married to a guy named Patrick. I like him very much. He works for the government, and is an amazing cook; the kind of person who can taste a dish and then try his darnedest to recreate it at home. He is a good dad who teaches our girls things like how to wrestle, how to throw a football, how to make risotto, and all the dangerous things a dad should teach his daughters. Since two of our girls are now teenagers, he has added how to not let a boy rest his head on your chest while slow dancing to the girls’ bag of tricks. He tells funny stories, too.

Lillie Kate is our oldest at 14. She is the nicest person in the world, unless she is not. When she is not, stay away. She is that girl who always says yes if you ask her to go on an errand with you just so you won’t be lonely. She has a chandelier smile and killer eyelashes, and lately I’ve been telling her she doesn’t need to go away to college. My heart won’t let her leave, I’m afraid.

Grae-Rose is 13. She is perfect and stunning and the best athlete ever. Just ask her. If, God forbid, something happened to you tomorrow and you needed someone to take care of your family, she’s the one. To describe her as responsible doesn’t even begin to cover it. I remember thinking when Lillie was born that “Wow. We are awesome parents. Look at what we made!” But then Grae came, and we realized that babies come who they are. There’s no way I could’ve made someone that principled and strong.

Last is our Esme Dahlia. She is seven. She is hard for me to describe in a sentence or two. If you’d like, you can read about her here. Or here. But basically, we didn’t know how much our family needed her. As Grae said once, she makes us…us.

Q: Jakarta! Tell us a little about how you’re living there with kids.

A: It usually takes a year somewhere, in my experience, to feel at home. I can’t really imagine that ever happening here in Jakarta, though. I think we’ll always feel like we’re far away from home. I’m not sure why; we never felt that way in Oman or Jordan. Indonesia is just funny like that.

But. It’s super safe here. The positive things are our house, the girls’ schools, and our little neighborhood. The girls are kept active every day with some sporty activity and they can run around freely after school, which keeps our older ones young, I think. We’re within walking distance to a grocery, flower stalls, a coffee shop, a bookstore, a Mexican restaurant, and a French pastry shop with a cranky owner. Those are a lot of positives!

One of the harder aspects of Jakarta is the traffic; if my girls need me in an emergency, there’s no way I could ever get to them fast enough. Add to that third-world medical care and ambulances that could never get to you fast enough. Only two negatives. Yet those, to me, are things that make a country difficult and more stressful with kids no matter how much of an adventurer you may be.

Q: How did you find your house, and how did you make it your own?

A: Well, we’re assigned housing at every posting. We arrive at an airport, feel a slap of culture shock, and then take a car to our new address. It’s usually full of government-issue couches and tables and chairs and beds, which are always sturdy and in odd colors that somehow go with anything else we bring. It takes a few months to get our things, so I always try to carry-on pack a lot of little decorative items that will make our houses feel like homes. Garlands, decals, and anything else colorful that can stick to the walls and make it all less sterile.

You’re going to think I’m a self-centered jerk when you see all the photos of our girls on the walls, but it’s part of my how-to-deal philosophy. I think anytime you see photos of yourself having a blast, smiling huge, and experiencing something new and cool, it changes your mood. Helps your head and heart adjust to the new and cool that’s in front of you. Helps you smile back.

I guess I’ve found that it’s not the monumental moments that make it easy to live someplace completely foreign. It’s all the little moments when you smiled and said yes.

Plus, I’m a big fan of each of us seeing ourselves as pieces of art. Masterpieces, really. I think it makes us take better care of each other.

I for sure bring too much. Every moving person hates the armoire we bought in Jordan; it weighs a million pounds. Same with our bed. And I can’t think about storing the drafting table my dad refinished before he died. I just can’t. And there’s a trunk in our front room that Pat’s grandfather used to carry all of his family’s belongings from Italy to Ellis Island. Humbling. I guess these are our comfort items. Whatever it takes to feel home.

Q: What’s your daily life like in Jakarta? How different is it from your life in the States?

A: The biggest thing is that we have cleaning help here. It’s a good thing when you’re living in another country to support local workers. But seriously, it’s not that altruistic! It’s really a major perk, affordable even with the overpaying and gratitude-tips we all seem to give, and completely happy-making for me.

I remember when we moved back to the US after six years in the Middle East. I was standing in our master bath, completely befuddled. I knew the cleaning of it required bleach and probably those rubber gloves and a stick-like apparatus with a sponge on the end of it, but other than that I was lost. Do you even know the cleaning supply inventions that had been dreamed up while I was away? It was like magic.

Otherwise, life here is the same as anywhere. Get your kids off to school, exercise, work, see your friends, maybe get a pedicure every so often, and then shuttle everyone to after-school activities and weekend events. Jakarta is the first place where I don’t drive. Seriously, the traffic is nasty. Plus there are too many distractions. I would kill myself trying to drive AND look at monkeys dressed up as tiny people on the side of the road. We have a driver who speaks zero English, so I rely heavily on Google translate and hand gestures.

I can’t say it enough: traffic here is crazy. People are routinely stuck in it for hours, so it’s hard to schedule more than one or two errands while the girls are at school. I was super impatient at first, but then my friend who has been here for years advised “Stop acting like a monkey in a cage! Quit crying about the traffic! It’s there. Read a book. Take a nap. Forget about it.” Easier said than done. I’m finally getting it, but I think my newfound calm has more to do with me not scheduling a lot where I have to be in traffic and also leaving much earlier than I think is necessary to arrive on time. It is necessary. I’m lucky I can work from home.

Q: Do you ever feel guilty when you compare how you’re living to the poverty in Jakarta?

A: Yes. There’s no way around that.

The poverty is awful. As it is in a lot of places in the world. Awful. The first few months, I swear I gave away all my money to the kids in the street and the old people being led around car to car to beg for change. But it’s overwhelmingly bad and never-ending, so at some point you settle for helping those closest to you. All I can do is as much as I can do.

Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? Did it change when you added kids to the mix?

A: If our girls had never happened, Pat and I would live in a sleek contemporary with zero clutter. All white. If you came over to our house, you’d gasp at all the cutting-edge gadgets we’d have. We would both drive shiny cars to and from our shiny jobs. We would have all the time in the world to do everything we wanted to do after work and on weekends, and would plan romantic getaways at least twice a month. Our conversations! Oh, they would be epic and uninterrupted. And it would be the emptiest life and I wouldn’t even know the joy I was missing, which makes it all the more tragic.

There’s a lot of pink and sequins and mini-drama in our lives. There’s a lot of noise and stuff and bins of plastic stuff and more plastic stuff in storage. There is red nail polish on our Persian rug, more chips than you could ever count in our china, glitter in the grout, nothing matches, a lot is rushed and haphazard, and I would not trade it for anything.

I couldn’t even begin to tell you my style. I know I love one-of-a-kind. I know I don’t enjoy seeing lots of unorganized clutter, so I make sure I have enough bins to settle my OCD brain. Even though my entire wardrobe seems to be a shade of black, I like color. Can’t stand darkness. Lamps are on all the time, especially if it’s a dark, rainy day.

And I know I’m not a fan of rules. Like, I hated that the dining room table was in the dining room. Why? It’s the darkest room in the house! So I put it in the main hall, and now it’s brighter and we can see the whole first floor when we’re sitting there. It’s the happiest place to work on projects or eat a pineapple or polish your nails.

Q: What do you hope the decor is teaching your daughters?

A: I’m not sure I’m so intentional. But maybe by moving and editing our belongings every few years, they’re getting a sense of how to make a house – any house, anywhere in the world – a home. That may end up being a pretty valuable life skill.

This might be silly, but I also wanted to make sure there are lots of places for them to cozy up in the house. I want them to stick around. Understand how it feels when someone wants them to stick around. Feel their place. Get used to feeling their place.

It’s funny, but the girls never hang out upstairs in the bedrooms unless we’re headed to bed. I don’t know if they’re chickens or if it’s just cozier on the first level, but we all stick together either in my office or in the sunroom or in the garage. Otherwise known as the art studio! This is a wonderful layout in which to be a family, and I like it that way.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your own kids? What do you already miss?

A: I like my girls. I just do. In between all the yelling I seem to do, I look at them and mist up. How did I win this lottery? I certainly don’t deserve them, and there are many days they don’t deserve me; they deserve better! I’m sure we all feel this routinely, yes?

But my favorite part of the day is when it’s ending. There are nights every so often when we’re all in the same spot and in the same mood and willing to listen to each other. Not just willing. Wanting. The listening, to me, is the easiest and most enjoyable part about living with my kids. They are story-tellers who understand the power of a beginning and a middle and an ending. I hope they live their lives with the same kind attention to all those parts of their own stories, too.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: …how heartbreaking it would be to have a family. It’s not even these years that are the heartbreaking ones. Everyone said the teenage years would be gut-wrenchers, but they’re not. They’re actually pretty wonderful.

It’s the ones coming. I can feel it. I am going to have to let these girls go someday and hope they want to come back and see me sometime.

I mean, imagine it. Someone gives you the best gifts you could ever dream up. Three of them. And every day is like Christmas, with the waking up and seeing those same happy gifts every single day. Over and over and over again. Except if they’re at a sleepover. And then one day, it all turns into Casimir Pulaski Day. Which could be a very fine day, but I don’t think you get the same sort of presents. If any. I’m going to have to figure out how to celebrate it. And no matter how awesome a day it may be, I know I’ll always miss the never-ending Christmas.

–-

Oh, Karey! I loved this. Thank you for the tour around your Jakarta life. I’ll miss the never-ending Christmas, too.

Friends, I’m curious about one thing she mentioned: How do you feel about family photos on the wall? Karey’s home seem like a huge photo album that they can look at every day, and I like that! How about you? What’s your philosophy on gallery walls?

P.S. — Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. And if you’d like to share your own home with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

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monday: best of last week | The Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly
April 29, 2013 at 6:07 am

{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sarah p April 23, 2013 at 10:23 am

I love the family pictures on the way. It seems to say, “a real family lives here.” I love that.

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2 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

also, in the middle of teenage girl brawls, it’s good to point at the wall and say “remember when you smiled all the time?!”

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3 Regalo Foto Blog April 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

I’ve never seen a pregnant Barbie doll!
Loved the house…

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4 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

yes! barbie’s not just a pediatrician and dog groomer and large animal vet and supermodel…she is also a mom!

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5 Julie April 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

Oh how I loved this Living With Kids interview and home tour! I can definitely relate. My husband was in the Air Force for 9 years and we did the best we could with whatever home structure they gave us. It was what touch we could add to it and the people inside of it that mattered.

Her home is beautiful, both from the pictures and words that she shared. And I too feel the same way she does about her teenagers. We have two and the thought of them leaving someday makes me feel ill. Our 7 year old also doesn’t like the idea of them leaving. Sigh.

About the family pictures everywhere? I love it. It made me realize I need to add more to our home. Why not decorate our home with the people I love to look at the most in this world?!

Thank you for sharing your home Karey.

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6 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

isn’t it funny the first few weeks in a new space? walking around and getting to know it?

and yes. ill. i feel you. xo

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7 Linda K. April 23, 2013 at 10:57 am

The house is nice. But Karey’s writing is breathtaking. I am a crumpled heap in my office having just read “Our Hero.” Wow.

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8 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

i’m sorry, linda! (no matter how many times i read it, too, i cry still.)

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9 Ann R. April 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

Karey,

Why do your words always fit, even when I didn’t know they should fit….as I walk in from tennis…..tears coming….”how did I win this lottery….every day is like waking up to wonderful Christmas gifts (re your girls)”…

….and the shot of the kitchen window looking out toward the gas canisters….made me unexpectantly nostalgic…

Cheers – Karey

Ann R

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10 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm

we’re the same person, ann! that’s why!

(ann lived in the exact same neighborhood as where i’m now living. we never met, but she wrote a million mails to me before our arrival and told me EVERYTHING i needed to know. lifesaver.)

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11 debbie April 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

Thank you for sharing this post! I was moved by the way Karey described her family and home, so I checked out some of her own posts that she linked to. I just finished reading “our hero” about her sister and am blown away. Such amazing words. Thank you!

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12 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

xoxo. thank you.

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13 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag April 23, 2013 at 11:18 am

I am always, always struck by what an amazing writer she is. This is my most favorite house tour that I’ve ever seen here (and I’ve loved them all!). I adore all the photos she has on the wall. Adore adore. I have a gallery wall, but seeing this, I just want to start blowing up photos and hanging them all over the place. I can’t believe how cozy and warm she’s made a temporary place..what a skill!

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14 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm

so…they’re all cheap kodak enlargements, with no real care of pixels or all that other techie stuff. as big as they can make them, i say yes. the trick is, for me, all the same framing color and matting, which makes it all look more intentional, you know?

the key is just taking them to a copy shop. don’t over-think it. just go. xo

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15 Amy3 April 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

My dad lived in Jakarta for 4 years in the mid 90s. The tile floors took me right back! What an amazing experience for your kids to live in such different cultures around the world.

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16 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:06 pm

i wonder how much it’s changed? i’ve heard the traffic floors people who were here only a few years ago. it’s gotten that bad.

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17 Tania April 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

I am such a chicken about moving – or making big changes in my life, really – but this definitely makes my qualms seem like nothing at all. I can’t imagine just uprooting everything and move not only to a different country, but to a whole different culture. Multiple times! Wow!

I don’t know if I would be able to put family pictures on the walls like that – just need to wait and see till we have kids. :) But my husband and I have blown up some of our travel photos and I am so happy about that! Because, honestly, how often do we go through the hundreds of photos we take? Exactly. Not so often. And it’s great to have pictures I love decorating our space. It gives it such a personal feeling and I am always reminded of the great trips we had!

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18 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm

exactly! you never know how great a life you’ve had unless you’re reminded of it. at least, that’s true for me.

DON’T BE A CHICKEN! go for it. what have you got to lose? (don’t answer that. i’m sure there’s a long list!)

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19 The New Diplomat's Wife April 23, 2013 at 11:36 am

I spy some foreign service furniture in there – it’s funny how we travel the world and still have some of the same items no matter where we go. Loved the tour and how you’ve personalized the space, it always makes a house so much more of a home!

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20 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm

oh, that furniture!

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21 Maria B April 23, 2013 at 11:38 am

My husband just retired after 22 years in the military. I can relate to so much of her story! Just went and checked out mackin ink and I must say I’m smitten. Such wonderful, rich writing…and “our hero,” well, it basically slayed me.

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22 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:11 pm

ooh! i bet your life is so different now!

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23 Kaley April 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

Beautiful home, Karey! You really rock that Embassy furniture! :) I always find it hard, living in government housing, to make it look like your home, and different from every other government house. I think the family photos all over the walls are amazing, and very comforting when you are so far away from everything and everyone you know and love.

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24 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

thank you, kaley! xo

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25 Lena April 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I am very familiar with moving all over the world so I can relate as well. Love the home!

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26 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm

thank you, lena! xoxo!

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27 erin//suchsmallsteps April 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

This is by far my favorite Living with Kids you’ve ever run- Karey’s words are just perfect. I love what she says about seeing ourselves as pieces of art. Plus, what fascinating insight about Indonesia. Love everything about this post :) The way she writes about her girls is so inspirational to all of us moms.

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28 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm

ha! i bet you say that to all the living with kids’ tours!

(thank you, erin!)

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29 Angela April 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

So I cried four times during that house tour (to be fair two times were on links). Lovely, lovely.

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30 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm

oh, dear! xoxo, angela.

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31 Aryn April 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I really enjoyed this home tour. My husband recently took the foreign service exam and, well needless to say, I’m going to be pouring over her blog tonight!

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32 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm

fingers crossed he passed with flying colors and you end up somewhere spectacular in a year or two! (note: everywhere is spectacular.)

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33 Natalie April 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I don’t think her self-centered or jerky at all for having family pictures up! Her reasoning was very sound. And it made the home, as was said, THEIRS. Very comforting. I also have a lot of family photos up and have always been a little bit embarrassed, uncultured, or unsophistocated because I wasn’t as artsy as I could/should be. It seems very rare to have ‘model’ homes with pictures of family members. But until we can afford/find more art that we love, I think having pictures of my most precious creations – my girls and my family – is the best art we can display! I lament no more!

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34 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm

you know, i sometimes feel that uncultured/unsophisticated thing, too. but then i see what we’ve made and it all goes away.

no more lamenting! xoxo

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35 Marci April 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I love this blog and I was so surprised and happy to see a FS family featured! You have done an amazing job making your house a home, which isn’t always easy with our standard issue hodgepodge of government furniture. Hi from another FS family in Tbilisi, Georgia.

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36 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm

hello back at you! also, a bunch of my friends have non-embassy furniture and i’m jealous. and always a little shocked when i don’t see thomasville brown wood stuff and seven golden couches in their homes, you know?

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37 Barefoot Hippie Girl April 23, 2013 at 1:27 pm

We visited Jakarta and Pontianak on Borneo, earlier this year. The traffic IS crazy. It gave me a head ache, and it made my baby sick. But, how wonderful that you have settled so beautifully into your life. Kuddos.

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38 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:21 pm

see? i’m not kidding!

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39 Dee Wilcox April 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Ooh, I loved this one. I like that Karey’s home is unpretentious — she might have cleaning help, but I like that all of her girls’ odds and ends aren’t tucked away in some super modern, un-lived-in kind of way.

I love that she puts photos of her girls on the walls. I think the idea of showcasing photos of her girls as masterpieces (and hopefully teaching them that they are masterpieces) is a beautiful, wonderful thing. We do the same with my daughter, but to a lesser extent. I also think that there is power in capturing those bright, happy, every day moments. They really do help us face moments when we’re less sure with a little more courage and hope.

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40 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:22 pm

yeah…i don’t really notice the photos until i NEED to notice the photos. “see? we were happy!” xoxo

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41 Michelle April 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Hell0 from Argentina – It’s great to see my furniture pictured here. The gold stuff – all of it – is in my house, too. I have often thought I can’t really decorate without my own house or furniture; but this post has blown my theory. Thank you for this wonderfully written tour.

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42 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm

i always think why hit pause on making a home just because the furniture is not what we’d choose? life’s too short. and those couches are too funny.

thank you for reading! xoxo

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43 Amber April 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Thank you for sharing. It’s things like this that make me love these ol’ interwebs.

Also- Casimir Pulaski Day!! I grew up in Chicagoland and we always got this day off of school but try mentioning that to anyone else in the country and you are met with only puzzled looks.

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44 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm

i grew up in joliet and am currently coveting anything that reads MIDWEST IS BEST!

it is! go casimir pulaski! xoxo

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45 Elise April 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Thank you for this – so uplifting and beautiful!

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46 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm

thank you, elise!

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47 meta April 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I always wondered and felt sorry for those expats living in Jakarta. I’m Indonesian. born and raised in Jakarta, and left in 2001 to do my PhD in Germany. Now I live in Switzerland with my Indonesian husband and 2 kids. I really can understand when you said you could not feel at home in Jakarta. I don’t blame you. Honestly I don’t either. Not anymore, not after more than a decade in Europe :(
But this post shows me that you have successfully created the best for your everyday living, and I would like to congratulate you for that. Thank you for letting me peek on how expats are living and enjoying everyday life in Jakarta.

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48 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:26 pm

switzerland? lucky duck. this is a wonderful country…but, man, that traffic kills a day. and the medical issues.

(i kind of can’t get past the idea of you living in switzerland.) xoxo

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49 vermontmommy April 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Your home is wonderful and full of life. Your blog from the the links above about your sister were beautiful in every sort of way. My, oh, my…tears, smiles, more tears, reminding me all while how lucky I am to have my sister and my children.

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50 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:27 pm

thank you. we’re all pretty lucky, yes? xo and thanks for leaving your words here.

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51 Lara April 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I adore your Living with Kids series and was so happy to see Karey’s house as the featured house this week. I adore that lady. I only know her from reading her words all these years, but man does she have some amazing words. I loved seeing her house, because as strange as this might sound, it’s exactly what I expected. A million pictures of her kids, disco balls, bright colors, and little prizes from every corner of the earth. Thanks for the sneak.

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52 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:29 pm

ugh. my photos stink! sorry about that! and it makes me happy that you weren’t surprised by my house. isn’t it funny how we know people we don’t even know? xoxo

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53 cal April 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm

SAYANGI JAKARTA!!! cemburu!

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54 karey m. April 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm

ok. google translate just told me you are saying DEAR JAKARTA! jealous.

i stink at bahasa. just ask my driver. xo!

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55 Shannon { A Mom's Year } April 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I knew I was going to like this as soon as I saw David Sedaris and Neil Gaiman in the stack of books! Your family sounds lovely. And before you get too sad about the future Christmases-turned-Casimir-Pulaski-Days, there’s always grandchildren. I think my parents are having way more fun now. :)

Wonderful interview, and so fun to get a glimpse into foreign service life. While we were living in D.C. we became good friends with people there to learn languages before they headed off to Jordan and Israel and the Dominican Republic. I kept thinking, I wonder if Karey knows them! But I know it’s a big world….

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56 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 7:26 am

it IS a big world…but i probably knew them! ask next time!

also. grandchildren? oy. i cannot. not yet. xoxo (and neil gaiman! i know!)

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57 Cheltz April 23, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Swimmers! I personally love it when people hang pictures of their family in their homes — it’s so fun for me to look at and learn about them. I do love all your rich wood, and I hate, hate traffic — I may have to pass on Jakarta.

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58 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 7:27 am

my favorite thing: swimmers’ shoulders.

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59 Andrea April 24, 2013 at 5:57 am

I’m always in love with a house that homes swimmers as that was the sport of choice for my sisters and me. There is so much I wanted to say about this life with kids, but in the end it comes down to thank you for sharing a piece of yourself.

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60 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 7:30 am

they are going through an i hate swimming laps phase. did you experience this yourself?

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61 Andrea April 25, 2013 at 8:35 am

I did! I think everyone has that with a hobby they love, but eventually after a time a part I found waterpolo and a whole new way to love the water! (I still do love lap swimming too!) I hope your girls get over their hate. :-)

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62 Sherry April 24, 2013 at 6:11 am

Karey is, and always will be, my favorite writer & blogger. I would buy a book full of blank pages, if it had her name on the cover. Every time a new writing idea pops into my head, I always get even more inspiration from reading her words (or even just stalking her instagram). It was lovely to see her home tour..that way I could stalk her a little more than I already do :) My own girlies will be happy when I tell them we need an art studio in the garage pronto. Brilliant idea!

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63 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 7:31 am

sherry! your neighbors will hate you for parking in the driveway or on the street. whateves. go for it. somehow, you’re much more free in the garage than actually inside the house. plus get some hudson chalkboard paint for the walls. it’s so pretty. xoxo

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64 Azra April 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

Karey you are such a great writer. I’ve enjoyed this post so much.
Love your home, pictures on the walls, life philosophy. Well done!

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65 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 8:19 pm

thank you, azra!

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66 Stephanie @ southfeasterdelphia April 24, 2013 at 11:24 am

This is a perfectly imperfect home, my favorites! I love the idea of taping family pictures to the wall. I never really know the right way to display family photos without it looking too precious. I’m always amazed at how profound the answers are to some of these questions. Thank you for sharing a great house and even better words!

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67 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm

here’s the trick (for us) on the photos: cropping. massive cropping and zooming in. pat is so peeved at me half the time because his pics of the seven wonders are cut so i can see the girls’ smiles better. whatever. i know that clay wall is somewhere in petra! ha!

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68 Jennifer April 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

Love, love, love all your beautiful photographs!!! Yes to the gallery wall. You can feel the heart and soul of your home through your words and images. Your writing is amazingly down-to-earth, optimistic and so genuine. The last paragraph made me teary. . . I feel it, too, but thankful to appreciate these everyday moments with my kiddos. My oldest child is 14, as well. . .high school next year? Can’t wait to read your blog. And Midwest is the best, ha! :)

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69 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 8:23 pm

high school…aargh! it is coming. xoxo

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70 Jennifer April 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

So, I laughed and cringed when I read a few entries into your blog about how you dislike being called downtoearth. Sorry!!! Ha, I completely meant it as a compliment. . .I really like your readers comments about that word. : )

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71 Courtney K April 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

So I only know Karey online, but this is exactly what I’d expect from her! She’s such an amazing person and her words have such a way of enveloping you in emotion- of coaxing you into a vulnerable state (in a good way.) It’s like reading the words of an honest friend- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Her home has the exact same feeling. Like you could walk in, grab a book and cuddle up into a chair. A house you can actually touch- which is such a beautiful thing to see. Thanks for sharing, Karey! (and thanks for posting it Gabby!)

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72 karey m. April 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm

you can come in and grab a book anytime, courtney! xo

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73 Cassandre April 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Loved this interview. Karey had my crying throughout. Mainly because I just had my third girl (hormones) and cannot imagine losing my 5 yo, 3 yo, and 2-week old to any boy or college. I love being around them and agree that everyday is like Christmas.

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74 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 7:50 pm

oh, cassandre! that is something to cry over! secretly, we can hope they never get into any colleges, right? wait. that would be worse! xo

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75 krista April 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

oh, karey. you are perfection.
question:
would it be weird if i had a gallery wall of your family in my house?
yes?
okay, carry on.

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76 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 7:53 pm

ha! you’ve got two beauties of your own who would do just fine! as if you didn’t know that. (do you think your girl’s gonna be a writer? i do, too.)

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77 Christine April 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm

“mom, do you know why karey’s name is karey? because she cares.”
per my son. and he’s spot on. her house resembles that quote to a tee. so naturally i have read karey’s living with kids no less than 25 times. i am imagining those two cups in the dish strainer are from our drinks of water after a long walk, but the walk from hong kong to indonesia would involve more than just walking…

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78 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm

they ARE ours. leftover from virginia. i am saving them. (this is potentially true, since you KNOW two things about me: not a good cleaner and i get oddly nostalgic about my favorite people.)

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79 Laurel April 25, 2013 at 7:53 am

Love, love, love the family photo walls!! What did you use to stick your photos up? I’m always concerned about getting all of my pictures in frames, but it is such an expensive habit. Would love to just plaster them on the wall (without damaging them).

Thanks for sharing your lovely home! :)

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80 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm

first, i think you should suck it up and get them framed. a friend of mine taped/glued hers in an arty way because she didn’t want the expense. now? all her gorgeous glossies are all ruined. i never get the priciest frame…i just get the same color. it hurts once but lasts forever.

otherwise, for those big posters i used double sided tape. hopefully they will be able to come down sometime. otherwise, whatever. they were cheap here!

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81 Kelli April 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Loved the tour. I, too, love Karey’s writing. I check her blog often, but there are never enough posts for me!

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82 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm

never enough for my husband, either! xoxo

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83 Shannon April 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Oh your words Karey. I am moving from my east coast home to the west coast, it is no Jakarta, but my heart is in a pretzel of worry. I am wrapping up in your words, all will be fine, family together is what is important. Your family “wallpaper” is exactly the art a home needs.

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84 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 8:05 pm

shannon! do you even KNOW how much nicer it is on the west coast? (i’ve never lived there, but i’ve heard stories!) the weather makes people happy. you are going to love it, i just know it. xoxo and good luck!

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85 Mackenzie April 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for sharing Karey! My family lived in Jakarta for six years in the 1990s, with my father working at the Embassy. Your furniture and experiences brought back such memories!

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86 karey m. April 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm

you made it out unscathed! xoxo!

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87 Sarah faith April 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Ohhhh you are the loveliest of lovelies. You have always killed me with those words of yours but now that I have my own little one, well, I GET it. This really is the best life. He better not dream of leaving his mama ;)

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88 Melissa de la Fuente April 27, 2013 at 7:44 am

ack. sob. chortle, chortle. sob. I adore you, sweet Karey!!!!! And I LOVED getting to see your beautiful home! You, my friend, are so good with capturing the magic of being a mom to girls, girls that you adore more than life itself. The never-ending Christmas is exactly how I feel and thank you for putting it all into words. Though, now I am sobbing into my coffee. humpf. :)
xoxoxoxoxxo
Melis

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89 richie April 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I love the way you love your kids. it makes my heart ache and happy in the same moment.

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90 Becky April 30, 2013 at 6:22 am

It’s obvious your home radiates with love. Incredible how personality reflects in the space so … Accurately? Just struck by how you describe and honor your kids in such an adoring way. Each their own brand of precious that you can sum up in a beautifully ‘them’ sentence or two. How nice for them to have a mother so in tune to uniqueness. I love the home and I love your words.
I love the pictures everywhere. They indeed do seem like illustrations of a story being made. Being lived. Being loved. It’s such a thrill to seeing yourself through the lens of someone that loves you. I don’t think photo studio pictures plastered all over the house would have the same effect. Beautifully done.

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91 Deirdre April 30, 2013 at 9:23 am

I love this series, Gabrielle, and this is my favorite one yet. “Christmas every day” is exactly right, and I’m an a Chicago-expat living in Utah so it made my morning just to read “Pulaski Day”. The best part: seeing all those photos on the wall—I’m the same way. I love that our walls send the message/reminder that we love each other and love being together. I have three boys and so enjoyed seeing how different the paraphernalia of girls is so different.

Worst part: my already-too-long list of must-read blogs just got longer. Thanks for introducing me to Karey’s writing.

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92 Marina April 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Loved this tour! The decorating is fun and the writing is absolutely lovely … I’m off to check out the blog. And what a nice surprise to see a FS family! As a first-tour FSO, I’m always scouring the internet looking for ideas on how to decorate around/with the Embassy furniture. So much inspiration here!

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93 Kaho July 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm

This is a great post!! Karey, your words struck me especially about having a family. Oh my. I recognize your home and I think you should give yourself a lot of credit for great photos! There are a few pieces that we keep with us when we move and in my case, they change as we move. I acquired a few pieces in Jakarta right before our move and I didn’t get to enjoy them there. I cannot wait to decorate our new apartment with them. Keeping my fingers crossed that they arrive in one piece… Missing you very much!

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94 Catherine September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm

I have read Karey for years and am always floored by her way with words. I knew her home would be wonderful and personal and full of love as well. Thank you for this! I am an expat too (on our 3rd country which happens to be the US) and have always struggled with missing home and now nowhere feels like home except for the spot wherever we currently find ourselves. Karey’s ability to embrace the beauty of where she is always encourages me to look for it too somehow.

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