I’m Just Going To Show Up…Try Not To Get Lost…And See What Happens

Growing Up Austin - A Lithuanian Story All the Way From Texas(Welcome to a special series on GrowingUpAustin.com, A Lithuanian Story – All the Way From Texas. I am traveling to Lithuania this summer to teach storytelling at A.P.P.L.E., an education conference that I first taught at almost twenty years ago. The new conference is fully of mystery and adventure. The first conference gave me stories I have been telling ever since. So, I decided to write about the trips here. If you have just joined, here is a summary of the posts. I’ll return to writing about hiking, live music and art for Austin kids when I get back in July. Information is always available at AustinKidsHike.com (hiking), AustinKidsDance.com (live music) and AustinKidsDraw.com (art).)Growing Up Austin

Carol in Lithuania, 65 days and counting. 

I could have used a shot of tequila to help give me the courage to press the CONFIRM button for my flight to Lithuania. I will be away from my little girls for 16 days. They will be with Grandparents and with Blue Eyes and at summer camps during the day, but 16 days? REALLY? I don’t have a single concrete and absolute reason I must go and I’m not in my twenties anymore! What is going on around here!?!?!?!

But my gut told me I need to go. I clicked on SUBMIT.

Thanks, everyone, for the questions last week. Here is my first answer…

Question: Why Lithuania?


I’m going to an education conference in Lithuania now because I taught at this same conference almost twenty years ago and I’ve always wanted to go back.

But, why Lithuania the first time?

1. I was pretty poor.

I had just finished my Computer Science degree at the University of Texas and my net worth was -$7,000. I wanted to travel during the summer before starting work without creating a heap of credit card debt. So, I backpacked Western Europe for five weeks, then spent two weeks teaching at the conference, where my room and board were paid.

2. I didn’t want to be only a tourist.

I was also pretty poor the first time I graduated college, in a year I won’t mention, so instead of studying abroad or backpacking, I found a job in England for the summer. I got to really know people and learn how we were the same and how we were different. I got to visit their homes and eat their regular dinners and hear what they talked about over regular dinners. I got to drink beer in the neighborhood pub with real neighbors. I enjoyed the people I met at the job just as much, and sometimes more, than seeing the tourist sites.

3. This was before the Internet.

I found a CLASSIFIED AD in a NEWSPAPER asking for proposals to teach at a summer conference in Lithuania. Now, an Internet search could lead to dozens or hundreds of summer job opportunities overseas, but then, it wasn’t easy to find. I applied for this one job and, lucky for me, I got it.


Looking back, I don’t think I knew anything about Lithuania then. Without the Internet or a Smart Phone or my own personal World Atlas, I don’t even think I knew where it was. I might have known that it recently gained independence from the Soviet Union. Maybe. (UT does have a library or two, but I don’t remember looking anything up about Lithuania. Strange, huh?)

Also, I didn’t know what the conference was really about. I didn’t have a recommendation or reference of any kind. I didn’t know the teaching format. I knew that the dress was business casual, because I asked about that. That is just about all I knew.

I just showed up.

And then I immediately got lost, with no money and no place to stay. But that is another story.

My time in Lithuania was the most interesting, educational, awe-inspiring and challenging time of my life, up till then.

I don’t expect to be impacted the same way this time. Lithuania is different and I’m different than we were then.

I’m just going to show up…

Try not to get lost…

And see what happens.

Thank you for being part of this story! If you have questions about the trip, leave them in the comments! If you like this series, I would appreciate a Facebook Share or a Tweet. Thanks!

How To Drive To School ln Two Cars and Four Trips

Growing Up Austin
This is Blue Eyes and I driving Buttercup to school the other day…
1. It’s time to go and we can’t find Buttercup.
2. We find her in the car, in her booster seat.
3. We realize neither of us made her lunch. I go inside and make a quick lunch.
4. Blue Eyes heads off with Buttercup.
5. Just when they are too far away for me to call them back, I see the Teacher Appreciation Day flowers still waiting by the door.
6. I get in my car and follow them to the day care, with flowers in tow.
7. I’m almost there when I get a call from Blue Eyes. Buttercup isn’t wearing shoes.
8. I drive back to the house to get her shoes.
9. I drive back to the day care.
10. Blue Eyes and I meet in the day care parking lot. I put on Buttercup’s shoes and carry her and the flowers into the day care.
11. Just when Blue Eyes is too far away for me to call him back, I realize Buttercup’s lunch is still in his car .

Later that day, as I’m walking into Buttercup’s room at the day care, the kids are getting their lunches out of the fridge. Buttercup is telling her teacher, in a sad and worried voice, “My Mommy didn’t bring mine, I don’t have any food.” I clear my throat. She turns around and sees me with a lunch bag in my hands. She smiles an enormous smile and runs to give me a hug. I stay for lunch and we have a sweet time.

Maybe it is all the bad news lately, but I can’t get worked up about a forgotten lunch these days, even if it happens twice.

Maybe I Should Open a Costume Shop

Growing Up Austin

Dress up clothes worn at our house, at most, one time: Doctor, Astronaut, Chef, Cheetah, Race Car Driver, Wizard, Batman, Superman, Bat Girl and Super Girl.

Dress up clothes worn at our house 1000+ times: Pink Princess, Blue Princess, White Princess, White Wedding Princess, Indian Wedding, Mermaid Wedding, Mermaid Princess and Snow White.

(Best place to get fun and inexpensive dress up clothes – Savers, at 5222 Burnet.)

One time Buttercup was wearing the Race Car Driver outfit and I was so excited but ends up she was playing the Lion in a Princess game and she just needed something in a dark color.

I want to give my girls choices. They don’t always choose what I want them to. Maybe I should open up a costume shop.