Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

"Where's the chamber pot?" I asked my husband at 2 am. "You're kidding me," he mumbled. Wish I was, my dear, wish that I was. If you ever wanted to know what life was like before modern conveniences, then look no further than your nearest Swedish stuga. Stuga is Swedish for "cabin or cottage, " and they are generally pretty rustic—mostly because they were constructed sometime in the 1800s and electricity and running water were later additions.   Your classic Swedish stuga has low ceilings—people were shorter 100+ years ago—a wood burning stove in one or all of the corners, and if you have a fancy stuga, you'll have more than one room with big heavy wooden doors. For whatever reason, my daughter thinks opening and closing stuga doors is the funnest thing ever and it keeps her busy for at least an hour. Many of our Swedish friends have mentioned spending their Easter holidays and summer vacations "at the stuga," and we always thought...
Read More
Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

My approach to parenting involves a lot of shrugged shoulders and raised eyebrows to indicate that, "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm hoping for the best." Based on my conversations with other parents, we're all in the same boat. A few months ago, I was asking a fellow American-in-Sweden parent at what age is it culturally acceptable for kids to bike by themselves to school and to friends' houses? The answer was a bit vague—well, depending on the distance, your kid's ability, comfort level, etc., etc., you know how it is. Basically, the advice was to launch the bike riding kid in steps. You slowly remove yourself from the equation and increase the distance and time they have on their own. For this American dad, he drops his seven-year-old daughter on the pedestrian/bike path, and off she bikes solo from school to home. He then follows along on that same route a few minutes behind her in case she...
Read More
The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

In an ideal world, there would be only perfect relocations. A world in which everything goes according to plan, nobody is running around at the last minute all sweaty with stress, and the children are well behaved on every flight and breeze through connecting airports. In this ideal world, here's what a perfect relocation might look like: In a perfect relocation, there is plenty of time to prepare, find renters/buyers for your current house, sell off unwanted possessions, and close your door one final time without a hint of sadness. In a perfect relocation, you have familiarized yourself with the local language and have language classes lined up to help ease your family into society upon arrival. In a perfect relocation, you get one last visit with all of your family members, and your friends throw you an amazing farewell party complete with meaningful gifts and inside jokes. In a perfect relocation, these same friends and family members promise to keep in touch and they do!...
Read More
Celebrating A Lagom Swedish National Day

Celebrating A Lagom Swedish National Day

Blue skies, swings hanging beneath leafy trees, blooming flowers, and a bright sun with a slight breeze—the setting was perfect for a typical Swedish holiday. The temperature was lagom—not too hot, not too cold—and the sun felt just right against our sunscreened, sunglassed faces. All of the doors to the house were open allowing all seven children and the breeze to freely circulate. Adults chatted in the white sunlit spacious kitchen as they prepared the food. A Swedish pop music Spotify playlist played in the background. Outside, the grill was fired up with cheeseburgers and hot dogs sizzling.     This year, Swedish National Day had extra special meaning for us as newly minted Swedish citizens. In comparison to US citizenship, Swedish citizenship had been very easy to acquire. I'd say, given our limited time (five years isn't that long), we deserve a B-B+ in integration. There's still room for improvement, but we're doing a good job. But we know that some things we can only learn with...
Read More
The Moments That Surprise You

The Moments That Surprise You

The post below contains affiliate links to help support Knocked Up Abroad at no extra cost to you.   Ever since starting this book publishing collaborative journey, I've reached out to a lot of writers, illustrators, marketers, and people in the business. During the Kickstarter campaign for Knocked Up Abroad Again, my "Why not? Meter" was at full tilt and I was daringly reaching out to New York Times bestselling authors. You know, because why not? What did I have to lose? Well, all of that outreach ended up being tremendously helpful and I received amazing support from NY Times bestselling authors AK Turner, Jen Mann, and Suzanne Kamata (their reviews on are on the back cover!) and I also managed to get looped into their world. Have you ever wondered how those reviews get onto book covers? Usually, the author or publisher sends around a beta version of the manuscript to other writers and asks for a few review blurbs months before the book is published. These reviews are then featured on the...
Read More
Taking Route: Finding Your Parenting Style In Between Cultures

Taking Route: Finding Your Parenting Style In Between Cultures

  The ladies (Denise and Alicia) at Taking Route have a great podcast up and running if you are looking for a new podcast to listen to about life abroad. When they approached me to chat about the Knocked Up Abroad series, I was super excited to share my story about how living in Sweden has had a profound influence on my approach to parenting. Denise has six (6!) children abroad (I don't know how she finds time to put together a podcast) and we connected right away. We both love allowing our kids to play unattended and our lives abroad have reduced our "nervousness" in our approaches to parenting. (We also both harbor an unnatural hatred for Pinterest, but that's another story.) Be sure to follow Taking Route on Instagram for more of their great content including Denise's awesome passport hack. Also, Alicia from Taking Route is knocked up abroad again herself—and she uses that term!—and I love it when women refer to themselves...
Read More
Wherever you go, there you are

Wherever you go, there you are

  "Money in the bank. Braces are money in the bank," my Nana told me at her kitchen table in upstate New York. I was 15 years old; my mouth was sore and full of twisted metal. I didn't feel like having a mouth full of braces was such a wise investment. Her words were of little comfort to my angsty teenage self. For six years, my brother and I would take the bus to our grandparents' house after school. We lived outside of the school district and we needed a place to do our homework (me) or watch TV (my brother) until one of our parents could pick us up. My Nana would come home and she'd start making dinner. I sat at her kitchen table in a high bar stool chair, finishing my homework and chatting about my day. These kitchen table conversations created an inner voice that spouts off two sentences of wisdom at a time. We all have voices...
Read More
Moana Ruined My Kid’s Perception of Death

Moana Ruined My Kid’s Perception of Death

Clicking on the affiliate links in this post support Knocked Up Abroad at no extra cost to you.   Like many families around the world, when we watched the movie Moana (otherwise known as Vaiana), we fell in love with the strong heroine of the story and her fierce independence. We loved the songs, the humor, the supportive family dynamics—we even loved the ridiculously useless animal sidekick, Hei Hei.   The movie has been played on loop since it was released a few months ago and my kids know all of the songs. My son wants to be a Wayfinder, and he wears his Maui shirt proudly. My daughter found a stuffed toy pig and named him Pua, after Moana's pet. While the movie got a lot right, they missed the boat (ha! ocean pun) on one large topic—death.   ***Spoiler alerts below*** ***Spoiler alerts below***   I have never liked the way death is portrayed in Disney films. It seems like someone has to tragically die for the main character...
Read More
Book Review: Arrivals Departures and the Adventures In-Between

Book Review: Arrivals Departures and the Adventures In-Between

**This is an honest review of a book I purchased with my own money cause I'm a book hoarder.** Knocked Up Abroad uses affiliate links that deliver great content at no extra cost to you.   I first met Chris O'Shaughnessy as the opening keynote speaker at the Families in Global Transition conference in 2016. He made a lasting impression because he made me laugh so hard that I cried. After hearing him speak in person, I had high hopes that his book would also be full of the self-deprecating humor that I love so much and I wasn't disappointed. He recounts how he didn't know the US Pledge of Allegiance and instead recited God Save the Queen hoping that patriotism, in whatever form, would be an acceptable substitute. It wasn't. [Tweet "...instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, he recited God Save the Queen"] Chris grew up on military bases around the world and experienced what life is like when being different from the local kids isn't always...
Read More
Can it ever be enough?

Can it ever be enough?

  I've been there for every moment. Every smile, every laugh, every wobbly step—every everything—and yet it feels like I am still missing out on so much. How is it not enough? I look back at baby pictures taken years ago, and I see that squishy face. I can see hints of who you will become hidden around your smile wrinkles, arm folds, and fuzzy hair.     You and I were different back then. Through the long nights with multiple wake ups, the constant changing of sheets, and endless laundry, I was too mired in the hour-to-hour chaos to reflect on anything meaningful. Back then I couldn't see the sweet, crazy kid you would become. Back then your happy moments were constantly interrupted with fussy ones. Your smiles turned into cries, and I'd quickly have to intervene. It felt like we were on this emotional roller coaster together, but the ride was taking too long. I was tired, and the ride kept on going and...
Read More