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South Africa - November 2011

  • Pilanesberg landscape
    In November 2011 we traveled to South Africa and brought Charles's parents along for the ride. We spent a week in and around Cape Town, a few days near Hartbeespoort and the Cradle of Humankind, a couple days at Pilanesberg National Park, and two days with my friend Stephanie and her family in Pretoria. It was a FANTASTIC trip! There are (currently) 78 photos in this album and don't include some of the great places we visited or people we saw. I may add more as we finish weeding through the approximately FOUR THOUSAND photos we took. Seriously. It was a great trip.

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Kate C.

On the up side, they're practically *giving away* houses in Michigan right now. ;)

It's a tough choice and one that would probably depend on what sort of employment Charles got hooked up with. Anything is possible if the money is good. And hell, if you find a job in Troy (or even near Troy) drop that baby off at my house on the way to work!

I understand the lonliness you're feeling. It was a dealbreaker for me in California. Any luck meeting people in similar situations (ex-pats close to you?) on the internets?

Kate Degelau-Pierce

The where-to-live decision is a hard one, especially with kids. I can share one piece of relevant experience: I'd have been miserable with Anna in daycare more than 40 hours a week, so Jeff and I came up with a system where I go into work early (so I can pick Anna up early) and he goes into work late (so he can drop her off late). That means she only spends about 6 hours a day at preschool. It's definitely not what you've got now, but it's manageable.


Ugh, I don't envy this decision process! For what it is worth, Emily just put an offer on a house in Ann Arbor close to where you and Charles used to live. She got a really great job - she had offers from two different places! And neither one was UM! So, maybe the job market isn't so depressed?
Good luck either way you decide to go.

Elaine Lauerman

What a tough decision you're faced with. You've made a good argument for and against. Having Aldus grow up around family and friends is huge. I remember my niece and nephew visiting Michigan and being afraid of Grandma and Grandpa because they didn't really know them, and living so far away (Texas) they weren't able to build a relationship with them until they were older. You are such a good writer maybe you should try writing a book on your experiences :-)


Oy ditto. Why are tough decisions so tough?! I tend to agree that it's hard to totally compare your choices in a vacuum. A great and close-to-home job (Charles) or jobs (you and Charles) in Ann Arbor could be out there and would allay a lot of your worries, if so. (And whether true or not, people are now saying that MI was the first to tank and so we'll be the first to recover because we started rebuilding earlier...). Maybe start checking some things out (without putting too much pressure on yourself!) to have a better idea of your options?

I've always admired and envied your opportunity to have this international experience for yourselves and Aldus too, however. It's definitely something worth valuing in and of itself!

Something I've been thinking a lot about recently is that no choice is ever perfect. So, does your gut have a feeling about what things are MORE important to you? For instance, now that I've been in MI MUCH longer than I ever expected, I'm somewhat open to leaving but also really suprised to find just how wonderful it's been to have a steady group of friends, be near my aging mom, and be involved in my niece's and nephew's lives. I may ultimately be willing to give up parts of my lifestyle to maintain this stuff and have a family of my own within it. Of course, I'll be delving into the MI job market in about a year, too, so maybe I'll change my tune!


well, depending on the skill set and specialties, the job market is quite robust. . .for consulting.

i'm interviewing now (issues with strategic changes at work), and if i were indiscriminate, i think i could get 2 interviews per week, so don't worry about a job.

i think at charles' level, there are jobs in consulting well into six figures, so you may be able to pay for quality of life without batting an eyelash.


Hi Kris,

How are you? I just found your blog - Aldus is looking absolutely gorgeous!!

My $0.02: friends and lifestyle are the key. I totally hear what you are saying about the lack of 'real' friends i.e. people unconnected to work. Also the lack of amenities and social life really got to me in Holland.

Sydney is amazing - people are friendly and there is a sense of community. The food and coffee are great, as are the dog parks, clubs. I am running marathons and loving life. I hope you find a decision that makes you all very happy! All the best, Lisa x

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