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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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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The Ultimate Free Babysitting Idea For Expats

The Ultimate Free Babysitting Idea For Expats

  Do you remember what a date felt like? The dark night, loud music, dress-up clothes, and slightly overpriced food that tastes so good because someone else made it and has to clean the dishes. Or maybe it's a movie that isn't G or PG-rated or a concert of your favorite band because their music makes you feel alive. Has it been months? Years? How long has it been since your last night out with your partner? My parent friends and I were lamenting the lack of good babysitting services in our town and weeping at the exorbitant costs for someone to watch TV for a few hours and make sure the house doesn't burn down. What we wouldn't give for a few stolen hours away. We weren't asking for much. Then it hit me. This idea will work for anyone who doesn't have free babysitters family around to watch their kids. The only thing it'll cost you is time.   However, like any delicious cake, you're...
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How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

BY JENNIFER MALIA Though widely known as an American tradition, Halloween has been adopted by other countries around the world. In many countries, trick-or-treating, costume parties, and spooky decorations have become popular ways of celebrating Halloween. I talked to expat moms around the globe and asked them what Halloween traditions they do (or don’t do) when living abroad. Their stories take place in countries as diverse as England, Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Whether you are an expat family that celebrates Halloween abroad, a family that travels for the holiday, or a family that celebrates Halloween in the US, their stories are sure to entertain you, and might even frighten you in a G-rated sort of way. Kristy Smith, The Midwestern Repatriate “I’m American, and my husband is British. We spent many years in the UK celebrating Halloween, which seems more like an addition to the local village harvest festivals than a separately adopted tradition. Some kids...
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Games Around The World—What’s Inside?

Games Around The World—What’s Inside?

GlobeTrottin' Kids has created a fun resource for families and teachers to introduce kids (first through third graders) to different cultures through games and play. For these age groups, play is the most effective instructional tool and I tested out some of the games with my kiddos. For the Fukuwarai game (similar to Pin The Tail On The Donkey), we used my handy eye mask and some sticky tack. The kids loved the wacky faces that resulted from their efforts.   With 35 games from 23 different countries, there are plenty of activities to keep us busy during the cold, dark winter in Sweden. I love the handy chart that clearly lists all of the items you'll need for each game. What's Inside? The PDF file comes complete with any playing cards or game sheets that are easy to print from your computer at home. Connect children to their peers around the world through traditional games like tag, hopscotch, tic-tac-toe, and dominoes. Each game card includes clear...
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Autumn Crafts And Foods For Multicultural Kids

Autumn Crafts And Foods For Multicultural Kids

I have the honor of hosting the Multicultural Kids Carnival this month and the theme is Autumn Crafts and Foods. I am admittedly not skilled in arts and crafts but fortunately, the bloggers of Multicultural Kid Blogs are here to hold my hand with some really easy and cute crafts. I can't wait to try some of these delicious recipes (hint: pumpkin is the secret ingredient for most of them!) I received so many submissions that I separated them into categories: Autumn foods and Autumn Crafts. I'm sure you will be inspired by these ideas.   Autumn Foods I want Olga Mecking from the European Mama to come to my house and bake some delicious German and Polish apple pie and her savory pumpkin bread.   http://www.europeanmama.com/savoury-pumpkin-bread-recipe/ Grab one of those ready-made pie crusts from the refrigerator section of your grocery store and some ripe and juicy plums and pears and make some French fruit tarts with Phoebe from Lou Messugo. Swedes will love this recipe as it features...
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How To Travel Light As A Family

How To Travel Light As A Family

  As a family, we have traveled all around Europe and the US on planes, trains, and automobiles but no matter where we are headed, we employ these core approaches to traveling lightly. As a mom of two kids, I found that I needed my arms to remain as free as possible to hold little hands while walking on busy streets or helping them up into their seats on the bus. Here's what worked for us:     1. Do laundry wherever you are We generally never pack clothing for more than five days and plan on doing laundry along the way. We stay at Airbnb apartments that usually have a washer on site and a kitchen. This has transformed our traveling experiences with children.     2. Backpack and baby wearing We prefer to use backpacks to keep our hands free for wrangling and carrying our children. Roller bags are good but you lose a hand and dragging it through Europe can be extra difficult over cobblestone streets. They...
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What Does A Bike Have To Do With Parenting? Everything

What Does A Bike Have To Do With Parenting? Everything

Imagine you are riding a bike up a hill. The hill isn't that steep, but it isn't flat either. You shift down into second gear and have to stand to pedal at the same pace. Once you get to the top of the hill, you look back, and you think, "Wow. I'm kind of out of breath. That was a longer hill than I thought." Now imagine that you attach a bike trailer, one of those really snazzy fancy ones with seats for two kids, to the back of your bike. You head up the same hill but instead of easily pumping up the moderate hill, the hill suddenly looks massive, and your progress slows to a crawl while your leg muscles scream with every pedal forward. At the top of the hill, you don't look back or reflect on your accomplishment, but you collapse into a heap and wonder how you're going to do it again tomorrow without killing yourself. [Tweet "You...
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I Still Need Him To Need Me

I Still Need Him To Need Me

  I bend down and kiss my five-year-old son good night. I motion to sweep his hair from his eyes when the back of his hand wipes my invisible kiss from his cheek and I catch my breath. This seemingly natural reflex is new—wiping off his mother's kiss—and it was not something I had expected until years down the road. I thought I’d have more time before this milestone. With my kiss, a small token of love, his hand brushed away that moment of tenderness and in its wake planted the seeds for independence. These are the same hands with fingers that curled tightly around mine minutes after he was born. The same hands that I held while helping him stumble-to-walk. The same I now hold while walking to preschool every day. The same hands that cradled my face on an afternoon to hold my gaze with his bright blue eyes and said, "Mama, will you remember these kisses?" as he proceeded to cover...
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The Delightful Sounds Of A Serene Swedish Summer

The Delightful Sounds Of A Serene Swedish Summer

We have lived in four houses in the four years since we moved to Sweden. I was tired of the gypsy life and after watching the real estate market climb 15% each year, the window of opportunity for owning a house was closing rapidly. If we didn't buy a house soon, it would be out of our reach. We had to move quickly. After three months of searching and watching houses disappear from within seven days (or less) of posting, we bought our house in a stressful bidding war. My husband hadn't even seen the house we had purchased when we were signing the closing documents. Can we really consider that a win? The house needed a new roof, new windows, and a whole host of other repairs but it was situated on the back of a beautiful golf course and overlooked a pasture full of horses. The horses weren't there when I saw the house, but I hoped the current owners...
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