A mother’s quilt

A mother’s quilt

I didn't feel the change at first. When I first held my baby, I thought I would know what to do, but I felt the same. The love was overwhelming, but the fulfillment of the massive role of "mother" didn't come right away.   My role as mother slowly became stitched into my soul in pieces like a patchwork quilt. Some stitches caused pain, but others resulted in the most amazing experiences beyond compare. Each and every stitch is placed with love and care. I knew that I was making something unique, and the bittersweet journey would be worthwhile.   The first stitch pierced my heart and broke it into a million pieces—some of which are still healing—when I left behind my 12-week-old son with a stranger when I returned to work. The struggle to produce enough breast milk while pumping at work—a severe ache and tender swelling—the physical difficulty unmatched only by the emotional strain.  The second stitch was ongoing sleep deprivation. The...
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“Slotting” it up in Sweden

“Slotting” it up in Sweden

When we said we were heading to one of Sweden's most famous "slott," my mother thought I was saying a bad word in English but really, "slott" means castle in Swedish and our activities were pure and innocent. Being a tourist in your city is a fun way to expand your horizons without ever leaving your comfort zone. We are currently on a budget (buying a house is not a cheap endeavor in Sweden, nor is a new roof and new windows for the aforementioned not-cheap house), so we've been on the lookout for interesting things to do in our backyard (relatively speaking) that we've never done before. About an hour and a half from our house is one of the most famous castles in Sweden. Swedish castles aren't that impressive, in my opinion, after viewing other European cities' gothic style castles. We've been to Neuschwanstein—a most impressive mountaintop castle in Germany—and I'm not sure anything can top that. This day trip...
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I am your home

I am your home

  My voice is hushed and soft as I sing the lullaby to my two-and-a-half-going-on-ten-year-old daughter that I have sung to her since she was born. I had a lot of time on my hands to memorize the song during all of those hours rocking and nursing her when she was a baby. I've sung other songs to her, of course, but that one was my go-to. My favorite song about us. Singing a song about love and friendship seemed like a better alternative to the redundantly boring Mary Had A Little Lamb.   We used to rock in the oversized faux leather chair that we bought when I was pregnant with my son. That rocking chair has seen many sleepless nights. Many nights rocking babies back and forth held in my arms throughout the dark hours of the morning, night, and who knows when. Time has no meaning when you're upset instead of sleeping.   Today we aren't rocking but the song has the same calming effect.   "You be...
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5 Tips For An Enjoyable Field Trip With Young Children

5 Tips For An Enjoyable Field Trip With Young Children

Not many people would volunteer to chaperone twenty-two children between the ages of four and six when you don't speak the language, but that is exactly what I did. My main goal for the trip was completely selfish. I have been seeking out intensive language immersion opportunities and Swedish children don't understand English. My basic Swedish was going to get a workout and I figured, at the very least, that I could provide an extra pair of hands and eyes to help out the teachers. I'm pretty sure the kids thought I was a crazy lady because I accidentally switched the Swedish words for "gloves" and "wait." Luckily for me, shouting, "Gloves a little bit! Gloves a little bit!" while waiting for the bus did still get their attention, so I wasn't completely ineffective. While on the trip, I observed how Swedish daycare teachers fearlessly manage large groups of kindergarten-age children. Without a doubt, corralling that number of kids while venturing out in the big...
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International Resources for Domestic Violence

International Resources for Domestic Violence

Nobody wants to believe that they will ever need these resources, however, as expat women we are at a severe disadvantage if the unimaginable happens. Living abroad means that we are often without the support of our family and friend networks. There may be a language barrier, and we may feel like there is nowhere to turn for help. I have lost one friend to domestic violence and every year, we lose more women to the unthinkable. We cannot help others if we do not discuss these issues. I am committed to helping women near and far seek out helpful resources and support. This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources but it is a start. Always, you can email me or Skype me as a sympathetic ear, an objective listener, and someone who cares. I care and there is a way out, I promise. Guide on domestic abuse Understanding alcoholism, signs, and treatment ORGANIZATIONS/AGENCIES Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Line 3300 N.W. 185th Street, Suite...
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Breaking the Mom-Guilt Cycle

Breaking the Mom-Guilt Cycle

"Please, Lucy. Mama went to six different stores to find that costume. Can you please wear it?" My heart crushed, my ears burning, and my inner self, the mother who promised never resort to guilt-trips, is disgusted that I am practically begging my daughter to wear this ridiculous outfit. Why do I care so much that she doesn't want to wear a costume? Why am I behaving like the type of mother I swore I would never become? Because Mom-guilt is a potent force and it takes an even stronger person to recognize it before it poisons your motherly influence. Don't ask me why, but Easter witches are part of Swedish culture and every spring, little children dress as witches and warlocks to hand out handmade Easter cards in exchange for candy. (It's basically like trick or treating, but no Swede would ever admit that.) After spending two days driving around town and frantically searching through six (or was it seven?) different stores, the...
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Book Review: The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide

Book Review: The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide

  The Expat Partner's Survival Guideby Clara Wiggins is nothing short of volume full of incredible resources, personal accounts, and tips from an expert expat and 70 contributors. Clara is a fourth generation expat and has lived in twelve countries on five continents. Her worldliness shows in her approach to this guide and anyone who is considering a life overseas should read this book first before making the leap. As I was reading it, I wish I had this guide before we moved to Sweden. It was one of those, "Man, why couldn't I have read this before we moved instead of after?" thoughts. It remains at the top of my recommended resources for anyone considering a move abroad or relocation. Clara's narrative style is like that of a good friend guiding you through one of the most difficult life-decisions you've ever made over a nice cup of coffee (or tea since she is British). She is calm, humorous, and keeps things in perspective. The world "trailing spouse"...
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Top 10 Takeaways from the Families in Global Transition Conference 2016, Netherlands

Top 10 Takeaways from the Families in Global Transition Conference 2016, Netherlands

The hunger pangs subside and the bleariness of the morning-after-a-long-travel-day fade into uncontrollable laughter as I listen to the hilariously honest opening keynote narrated by Christopher O'Shaughnessy. I'm sitting next to Jodie Hopkins, a woman I had only met two hours earlier but yet we instantly connected, and I keep glancing over at her as we laugh at the ridiculousness of this situational comedy. We've all been in that fish-out-of-water, cultural nakedness scenario that Chris is so fluently describing. "Expats arrive at their destinations culturally naked." [Tweet "Expats arrive at their destinations culturally naked. —Chris O'Shaughnessy"] Or in Chris' case, physically naked. The self-deprecating nature of the opening keynote grants us permission to humbly acknowledge that we've all experienced unbelievably embarrassing moments that we mortals would prefer to forget let alone share with 200 strangers through a microphone. However, as the laughs dissipate through the crowd, a more important topic is introduced—empathy—the theme of this conference. We have become a community of digital nomads and in the quest to build communities without geographical limitations,...
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Lessons Learned After Editing an Anthology

Lessons Learned After Editing an Anthology

Despite never having managed a professional sports team, I imagine that writing an anthology is somewhat similar. There is a bit of cheering from the sidelines, calling periodic team meetings, and encouraging your contributors to provide you their best work possible. First, let's get the terminology down: A collection of stories versus an anthology. Some people use these terms interchangeably, however, in the publishing world,  a "collection of stories" is described as a book of short stories written by one person and an "anthology" as a book of short stories written by several people. Knocked Up Abroad is an anthology featuring 23 different writers in 24 different countries. On my long list of goals, getting knocked up and giving birth in 24 different countries is not something I would ever attempt so a collection of stories, it is not, according to a publisher. Communicate clearly and regularly with your contributors Be super clear with roles and responsibilities in the beginning of the project....
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Leave a Review!

Leave a Review!

This is an example of an amazing 5-star review a reader wrote on the book's Amazon page. Wonderful reviews like this not only make me smile (that should be enough motivation, right?) but they also help other readers discover the book. If you've read the book and feel inspired to share your thoughts and opinions about the book, please head back to Amazon to leave a review. It doesn't have to be nearly as thorough as this one but any honest feedback is warmly welcomed. To leave a review for the Kindle version click here. To leave a review for the paperback version click here. To leave a review on Goodreads, click here. To buy the book to read and then review, click here: Many thanks! Lisa ...
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