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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Blended Baby: Learning to Love Your Partner’s Family Background

Blended Baby: Learning to Love Your Partner’s Family Background

One of the best things about having a baby with someone you love? Your little bundle of joy is lucky enough to be half you and half your partner—whether by nature, nurture, or both. When you look into those big twinkly eyes, you may just catch a glimpse of your better half. Of course, your little one won’t just inherit beautiful peepers…every cultural custom, tradition, and practice of your partner and accompanying family comes with the decision to have a baby with this person. Whether you share the same cultural background, or are from different sides of the world, every family is different. Every family is “blended”. Having two families involved in caregiving can be wonderful. Our little ones are exposed to new ideas, learning opportunities, and of course, twice as much love! That’s not to say that melding two unique family perspectives is always a walk in the park. Keep reading......
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The Parenting Advice That Changed My Life

The Parenting Advice That Changed My Life

If you find parenting advice that alleviates stress, follow it. The Anxious Mother For a while, I managed a delicate balance between slight overprotectiveness and the desire to keep my child alive. What looked like common, everyday items before my son was born grew into menacing, dangerous agents of destruction and death. The couch was no longer a couch but a superhero launch pad. The kitchen drawers turned into finger pinching torture devices when he was pulling himself up to a standing position. The playground across from our house, barely viewable from the kitchen window, was surrounded by a pedestrian path of safety. Often, though, the neighbors liked to drive on it and unload their groceries with ease. Their convenience came at the cost of my child's safety. Like a passive-aggressive-slightly-overprotective mother might, I placed a note in everyone's mailbox alerting them to the fact that tiny children (often difficult to see when driving a car) frequently played at the central playground and that they couldn't...
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The Differences Between Then and Now: Reflections on Integration

The Differences Between Then and Now: Reflections on Integration

Over the past six years, we have become a murky blend of less-American-but-not-quite-Swedish. We've kept some of the old but mostly, we have embraced the new. The differences between January 2012 (back then) and January 2018 (now) are stark. Stark also conveniently translates into "strong" in Swedish. The changes in us are noticeable only when we take a moment and conduct a brief mental compare and contrast exercise. Otherwise, everything feels normal, as it should. Back then...and now... Back then, we kept our feet firmly on solid ground even when the lake froze over. We'd marvel at the bravery of those heading out on a skating expedition from Stockholm to Uppsala (80 km/50 miles). Now, we see people skating on the lake and hurry home to grab our skates. Once there, we are greeted by friends we know who warn us that two people have already fallen through the ice. Instead of leaving, we simply tell our kids to avoid the area with weak ice. I...
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A Beautiful Death: Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

A Beautiful Death: Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

Living with an elderly pet is like playing a game of Jenga. As each player removes a block from the tower and stacks it on top, the entire structure starts to sway. Each move makes the tower more unsteady. After enough turns, the tower collapses and the game is over. Similarly, every day with an elderly pet, in my case, our elderly dog, felt that same stressful anticipation as near the end of a Jenga game. The blocks were going to fall any moment. It was only a matter of time. The changes happen slowly. Eventually, they stop doing the things they used to love to do. It is easy to blame a lot on their elderly age and to provide them excuse after excuse for why they aren't as active as they were before.But the reality is that at some point, they stop living. I mean, the pet is still alive but they are a shell of their former selves....
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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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Soul Sighs

Soul Sighs

  Home is... Home is more than a building. More than a house in which we hold breakfasts and dinners every day. More than a place where the kids visit after school. More than a place where we all sleep at night, shower in the morning, and store our toothbrushes. Home is where the morning cuddles happen. It's the space behind my knees where my daughter curls up when we sit together on the couch. It's the Friday night dance parties, silly giggles, and the Candy Land games in the kitchen. Home fills up our essential being, our core. It is fed and nurtured through regular acts of kindness. Home is where your soul sighs upon returning. It is where you do the "comfy dance" after changing into your pajamas after work. Home is the soil between our roots. It is what gets scooped up whenever we are plucked and replanted. We bring our home with us wherever we travel. Wherever we move. It is warmth. It is love. More good stuff from my friends "How fast and seamlessly life changes. We...
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Celebrating Holidays When Living Abroad

Celebrating Holidays When Living Abroad

Holidays have a special place in our hearts. We grow up with certain traditions—some wacky, some practical, and some that sound crazy when we try to explain them to outsiders. Regardless of how we choose to celebrate our special holidays, celebrating a special occasion outside of the country of origin may make things a bit more complicated. For one, there are no seasonal reminders that the holiday is approaching. As Sundae mentions in our podcast discussion, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, there are no changing colors of the leaves to indicate the traditional autumn season is upon us. It can create some last minute scrambling if you have to source food or decorations or have to make things from scratch, as one often has to. We have dropped many US traditions except for a few—Thanksgiving being the one that we've held onto the tightest. Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Sweden like it is in the US—or at all, really. Technically Tacksgiving is a day...
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Beautiful Chaos

Beautiful Chaos

Beautiful chaos. That's what this is. Motherhood. Fatherhood. Parenting. Messy and exhausting it's not Supposed to be orderly. It's not supposed to make sense. We establish routines for normalcy So the children know what to expect But in the end And we all follow the routines like a religion. Bath, books, bed, breakfast, drop off, work, pick up, dinner. Bath, books, bed and so on until Years feel like minutes and Memories of their tiny voices fade. Our current reality always replaces what was. Daily monotony is broken by Giggles unleashed after  a tickle spider attack, Insightful conversations in the car, and other Tiny moments that aren't marked by holidays on the calendar. These special moments are the ones you treasure the most because of their unexpectedness. It's being silly in public because it makes your kids laugh. It's working through exhaustion because there's no other choice. It's messy, tiring, but it's life. We are rewarded with sleepy morning cuddles and bedtime stories that only last for a limited time only, folks. "Get yours now!" while the gettin's good. Today was crazy and tomorrow will be...
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Virtual Midwife—Who is she and can she help you?

Virtual Midwife—Who is she and can she help you?

I sat down with Karen Wilmot, the Virtual Midwife, and asked her some questions about the 6-week course she is offering to mothers around the world.Karen is a midwife who has been helping mothers give birth in foreign countries for the past 20 years. She understands the core of the fear and anxiety that mothers experience while they are knocked up abroad and they are the same themes that come up again and again in the Knocked Up Abroad stories.We're talking about language barriers, unfamiliar healthcare systems, local birthing practices that clash with personal preference, lack of a supportive family/friend network, and the multitude of factors that impact mothers giving birth abroad.The CourseKaren has gathered her 20 years of experience and packed them into a 6-week course that she is offering at a huge discount for a limited time only.The cost is currently $279 which includes all course material and monthly group calls for the duration of their pregnancy—and beyond if they choose...
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