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...
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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...
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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...
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Forest Preschools—What, Where, Why, and How?

Forest Preschools—What, Where, Why, and How?

Forest preschools—a potential solution for whiny kids   My kids are super sweet but the annoyingly high level of whining that occurs after I pick them up from their Swedish preschool is shocking. I'm always amazed how they can go from an environment of nearly seven hours of loosely-structured-mostly-free play time to totally free play time at home and still be unhappy. It was only after we detoured to a playground directly after school pick-up when I connected the dots. They weren't miserable leaving school but they needed more time transitioning between activities. The immediate removal from the preschool play environment and straight into the home environment was too much for them to handle. I had no idea because they get at least two hours of outside play every day at their preschool. I thought it was enough. It wasn't. [Tweet "Forest Preschools—A potential solution for whiny kids"] Necessary outdoor time Since the eight-minute walk between preschool and our house wasn't enough time for a smooth transition,...
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A Day in the Life of A Bilingual Family When the Parents Aren’t Bilingual

A Day in the Life of A Bilingual Family When the Parents Aren’t Bilingual

  A lot of emotions swirl around every day as a parent, but when your children are bilingual and the parents are monolingual, there tends to be a wider range of emotions related to language on a daily basis. From navigating disagreements between my kids and their friends to ordering food for all of us at a local restaurant to speaking with the teachers at drop-off and pick-ups, I'm always met with this clash of emotions due to my spotty comprehension of the local language. "If only you learned more!" I scold myself. Well, if it were that easy, it would be easy, but it's not. On a daily basis, I will feel all of these emotions within seconds or minutes of one another. Feeling embarrassed, guilty, defiant, and proud all within a short span of time can have any parent who is balanced on the verge of losing it feel completely overwhelmed.   Frustration via GIPHY When you can't understand what your child's friend is saying, and you don't know why...
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Here Come the Easter Witches

Here Come the Easter Witches

  When you think about Easter, you immediately think "witch." No? Me neither. Probably the funniest Scandinavian tradition is the Easter witch. In Sweden and Finland—young children hit the streets the Thursday before Easter dressed as peasants (or in their finest witchy costumes) that their parents bought during the post-Halloween sales the year before.   Is this like Halloween in the spring? Yes. Kids make handmade Glad Påsk cards (Happy Easter) and hand them out door to door in exchange for candy. This trick-or-treating type activity was new to me and caught me off guard when we first moved to Sweden. I heard tiny, gentle knocks on my door and not surprisingly, didn't happen to have any loose candy in the house to hand out. Having to improvise, I gave a few kronor as payment to each disappointed child. Don't be like Lisa. Be prepared and always have loose candy around your house at all times.     Last year, I swore I was going to get it right. After years of...
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Can expat spouses ever be equal?

Can expat spouses ever be equal?

In case you missed it on Facebook, here is my discussion about expat partner career, how we define equality in partnerships, and why communication is vital.   Link to Alix Carnot's data on expat spouses from her 2016 survey. Join the closed Tandem Nomads group if you are an expat spouse who can totally relate to this issue. Join the I am a Triangle Facebook group if you are looking for support during expatriation, repatriation, or anything in between....
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The Gift of the Aha Moment

The Gift of the Aha Moment

The light bulb flicks on and all of a sudden, the hair raises on the back of your neck and goosebumps cover your arms. The aha moment. The sudden crash of insight as you realize that your perspective has been too narrow even though you thought it was broad. For me, it was a feeling of slipping into someone else's shoes for a moment and feeling the discomfort, the pain, and the struggle that they have carried for so long. I gladly change back into my own shoes with the realization that my issues no longer felt quite so heavy as they did before. Families in Global Transition The Families in Global Transition Conference has been called "a reunion of strangers" because of the warmth that the organizers and long-time attendees bring with them. Whether it's your first or fifteenth meeting, everyone is welcomed with a smile and open arms. Nobody asks, "Where are you from?" because it's the question every attendee dreads the most. Instead, introductions cut...
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Nudity in preschool? Why not?

Nudity in preschool? Why not?

The notification from my children's preschool app lit up the front screen of my phone. "You have an important message," the text said in Swedish. I logged in with my email and password and opened up the "important message" that contained photos of my five-year-old son's preschool field trip. From the photos, it looked like the kids were in someone's yard enjoying the beautiful sunny day, eating grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and running through the sprinkler. Most notable was that the kids were running through the sprinkler completely nude or with only underwear on. I didn't even know he was heading on a field trip that day but none of that shocked me. The fact that I didn't know that my son was going on a field trip that day? Pfft, whatever. The fact that there were nude photos of my child on this preschool app shared with the other parents in his class? Not an issue. The fact that they went to a...
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7 Ways Swedish Women Can Revolutionize Your Life Today

7 Ways Swedish Women Can Revolutionize Your Life Today

  You know what they say, "You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been." In honor of Women's History Month, I am highlighting seven largely unknown Swedish female revolutionaries from history. Okay, one of them is really really well known but the women are probably new names for most of you. Sweden, the first feminist government in the world, has feminist actions and beliefs dating back to the 17th century. It was recently ranked the best country in the world for women and it didn't get there without the help of some famous women throughout history. The Law of Jante, common in Scandinavian cultures, diminishes the importance of individuality and focuses on merging with the herd culture. Every single woman listed below fought against the status quo and subsequently, changed expectations for what women could accomplish. From saints to anarchists, Swedish women have been breaking the mold for hundreds of years. After learning a bit of their history, I challenge each one of you to...
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