Bringing Bébé Back to the States

Bringing Bébé Back to the States

When my husband and I moved from Manhattan to Paris in 2012, we didn’t anticipate much in the way of culture shock. We were moving from one big, international city to another. No big deal, right?Wrong.Culture shock hit us hard. My husband struggled to navigate the intricacies of his workplace in a second language.As for me, not only did I have to adjust to a new country, I suddenly was a stay-at-home wife with no friends. I spent the days à la Carrie Bradshaw, wandering the streets and looking longingly into cafes full of people gabbing over coffee. Trips to the supermarket turned into cross-cultural minefields, once bringing me to tears as the cashier upbraided me for not having weighed my vegetables.We adjusted. Slowly. We had a baby and enthusiastically entered him into the French childcare system. We had a mixture of expat and French friends. Eventually, we became a little bit more French than American.Six years later, it was time to move back home....
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The Laughter Keeps the Crazy at Bay

The Laughter Keeps the Crazy at Bay

It's the head-thrown-back-uninhibited laughter that I'll miss. The giggles and the demands for more tickles. "Go...[giggle]...stop...[giggle]...go...stop...go...stop..." We play this game every day. They are the best minutes strung in a sequence that I can imagine. We can't play it for too long because the giggling is exhausting. I still get excited to pick you up from school. Your eyes light up when you see me, and you run through the hallway and squeal, "Mama, Mama, Mama!" jumping into my arms to slide down and cling to my leg. Heavily, I drag my child-laden leg over to where your coat hangs covered in dirt from a day of playing outside. I don't want to rush these moments. Yes, we have to gather your things and head to the car but these tiny moments only last for a few seconds. I don't want to accidentally brush past them in an effort to get to the next-thing-we-must-do. Today, I don't want to do things we "have" to do, I want to do whatever...
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Creating Kiddo Story Time—Improvisation at Its Best

Creating Kiddo Story Time—Improvisation at Its Best

I sat down with my son, Calvin, to ask him a few questions about his new school and find out what he likes most and least about living in Sweden. His answers surprised me a bit! After we finished the Q&A, we did a fun storytelling exercise where he provided a few details like the main character's name and a setting and I took it from there, pausing at random intervals to let him fill in the blanks. Allowing for 100% pure improvisation can take you and your child down some fun paths and I encourage you to try it out tonight. Our kid-lib story starts at minute 6:00 above if you want to skip over the Q&A. Creating kiddo story time: Ask them for the name of the main character Ask them what special characters they would like to include like a dragon, ghost, a tree that comes alive, I don't know. Encourage them to be creative. Start the story with, "Once upon...
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Sugar Water Painting Technique for Kids

Sugar Water Painting Technique for Kids

Easily create beautiful watercolor designs with this simple and fast sugar water technique. My kids absolutely loved painting with this sugar water technique. They each raved about how beautiful their creations were and couldn't wait to try it again. This is a great rainy day activity for kids and adults of any age. Watch as the colors explode and bloom into new shapes as you continue to drop new colors of paint. Ingredients Water color paint Paintbrush(es) Paper Masking tape Sugar Water Creating the sugar water Add 2 parts sugar to 1 part water and boil to mix together Allow mix to cool Directions Tape down your paper on all borders Paint a thin layer of the sugar-water mix onto the paper Drop the paint onto the sugar-water mix in small drops and watch the color bloom Be sure to get your colors onto the paper before your sugar-water mix dries Get creative with your colors! The final results... You can add a black piece of construction paper to...
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Dramatic Play is Therapeutic For Your Child

Dramatic Play is Therapeutic For Your Child

Kids recreate the world how they see it through dramatic play. Shouting is emanating from behind the closed door of my daughter's room. "No, Mama, don't go!" "I have to go to work. You have to stay here." My three-year-old is playing in her room by herself. I slowly open the door. Her back is facing me as she sits on the bed with her dolls. We've had this exact exchange numerous times, and apparently, my daughter knows it so well that she is re-enacting our daily ritual of school drop-off with her Elsa dolls. I enter the room and sit on the edge of the bed. "How does the little girl feel when her mama has to leave for work?" I ask but I already know the answer. "Sad." "Yes, but she gets to play with her friends at school." "Yeah, but she misses her Mama sooooo much." Her head is down. Knife in my heart.   Play is a form of therapy My daughter is using play to work out scenarios that affect her...
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Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Imagine an amusement park where only kids are allowed to ride and they receive endless rides on the tea cups, carousel, and trains. Where kids drive cars, motorcycles, and tractors. All. By. Themselves. The 1980s are alive and well at Lådbilslandet—or Soap Box Car Land—an amusement park in Sweden with soap box cars, "motorcycles" (they have three wheels so they are more like tricycles with engines), tractors, and river rafts. Lådbilslandet is a place where your kids can feel like grown ups. Kids Only It's a "kids only" type of place and adults aren't allowed on any of the rides. Not one. If your kid doesn't want to ride alone then you'll need to find a willing child (or sibling) to ride along with them. Honestly, that shouldn't be hard at all to find since every kid I saw was dying for extra rides. The kids are really in charge at this amusement park and parents have no choice but to relinquish all pretenses of being...
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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...
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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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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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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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