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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Parenting: Leave it to the trolls

Parenting: Leave it to the trolls

  The first image that may come to mind when someone mentions trolls is probably a small plastic figurine with a shock of bright hair, large eyes, and a bejeweled belly button. These Danish troll dolls were the US' biggest toy fad in the 1960s and then again in the 1990s (you may remember them fondly from your childhood). Trolls are now in our movie theaters—DreamWorks recently released a colorful Trolls movie—or perhaps you are more familiar with trolls as mystical healers from the movie, Frozen. When my children see any moss-covered rock, they point and yell, "Trolls!" because trolls turn into rocks when the sun comes out. (You can add that to your list of random troll facts and impress your kids.) Whatever your familiarity with trolls may be, you probably haven't given them much thought to these cute but often inconsequential characters. However, with a bit of strategy, imagination, and storytelling, trolls can do so much more for you as a parent than...
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Expat Entrepreneurs: Do they have the answers?

Expat Entrepreneurs: Do they have the answers?

  Motherhood didn't kill my career—moving abroad did. And by "killing my career" I mean that moving abroad completely changed how I needed to view my employment opportunities. It forced me embrace a field that used to terrify me—entrepreneurship. I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur. Not in a million years. Entrepreneurism was too risky, too uncertain, and too extroverted for my inner nerdy introvert to ever consider as a possible career choice. Besides, I'm pretty skilled at learning languages and motivated to integrate into local society. Finding a traditional local job will be a snap, right? Not quite...   I don't have the "risk-taking gene" or the "wanderlust gene" gene, I have the my-brain-needs-to-be-engaged-to-be-happy gene and when landing a job in my field ended up being much more difficult than I had imagined, entrepreneurship was my best option. If you don't like the term entrepreneur, embrace the term, "digital nomad." It's so much sexier and sounds like we are very 21st century, no? But why is everyone pushing...
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Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

  Maybe I'm just a simple gal who enjoys the simpler things in life but in all of our travels, my favorite vacations have been the ones in which I can let go of all of my stress. I'm a casual jeans and T-shirt, comfort over style, laid back type of person and my most favorite vacations are the simple ones. Don't get me wrong. I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have seen the gilded ceilings of the Vatican museum, ridden in a private boat on the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como pretending I was Amal Clooney, and relaxed beachside at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. Those were all amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have experienced them. However, my favorite, most special moments occurred after everything went "wrong" and all of our planning didn't match reality. I think back on our trip to Tuscany and my heart aches to be "stranded" again in the middle of a tiny Italian...
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12 Strange Truths In A Snowy Climate

12 Strange Truths In A Snowy Climate

  Living in a snowy climate can be fun if you like snow, but it can result in some strange lifestyle adaptations. For instance, you discover that gloves don't keep your fingers warm and you double up on mittens, and you end up owning an excessive, yet completely justifiable, number of hats. These truths were inspired by my morning haul of the kids to school in a sled. What can you add?   1. You carry kitty litter or crushed gravel wherever you go   http://gph.is/2hQU9KP   2. Adding skis or sleds to everything becomes a necessary form of transportation http://gph.is/1NlUNON   3. You have a hat for every type of weather http://gph.is/1Zt2TX7 4. Like socks, you have orphaned mittens but you keep these orphans in vain hope that someday it's pair is discovered in another storage bag and they can finally be reunited. However, by then, your child's hands have outgrown the mittens, and they end up in the donate pile. Surprise! http://gph.is/195IEsW 5. Your bed never feels as cozy as it does in the winter http://gph.is/Vx8ZaB 6. You don't want to...
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My Kids Will Never Be “American as Apple Pie”

My Kids Will Never Be “American as Apple Pie”

Cultural Identity Identity changes occur often throughout all of our lives. Changes in growth and development, family structure, education, and career all result in remarkably complex personal transitions. Far and away, the shift in our cultural identity—who we identify ourselves as and how we label ourselves—is a challenge for many people to handle on a daily basis. Identity changes happen to everyone—children, teenagers, college students, stay-at-home moms, moms who work in an office, dads, military families, retirees—basically anyone who has ever lived a life where things change—everyone. But since I am a person living abroad and raising her children in a foreign country, I will speak from my perspective. "American as Apple Pie" I read an article written by a mother who has taken her children to 30 different countries and considers her family to be serial expats. And while I agreed with her goal of raising global citizens who are adept at handling the challenges of a global world, I disagreed with her on her last...
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