What To Do When You Speak Like A Five-Year-Old

What To Do When You Speak Like A Five-Year-Old

The long conference table is full of elderly retired Swedish women chattering about at a rapid clip—about what, I'm not sure because my brain switched off thirty minutes ago. My ears are technically hearing words, but the translating machine inside my head has gummed up, and all of the words have run together into one long blur. I can no longer keep up with the flood of language swirling around me.    Donating my time and energies to this volunteer organization is part selfless and part selfish. I volunteer with these women in hopes of improving my Swedish while at the same time, helping women in my local community. A win-win situation for everyone involved, no? I figured that by attending these meetings and volunteering a few times a month, Swedish would worm its way into my vocabulary in a passive and effortless way. The reality is that I am still only catching about 40% of what is being said around me...
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The Bag That Will Revolutionize Parenting

The Bag That Will Revolutionize Parenting

One of the best parts of entering into the crowdfunding community is that other creatives and inventors discover and connect with one another. I had the pleasure of running across Pricilla's amazing invention that is perfect for parents who are looking for a diaper bag that can do it all—The Division of Labor Dual Tote.     Designed by a busy mom who was tired of the mess that became her diaper bag, this bag is durable and stylish enough to last long after your baby is out of diapers. When I was pregnant, we purchased a black diaper bag that my husband wouldn't mind carrying. I was continually digging through it to try to find wipes and an extra clean onesie when diaper physics failed me yet again. I can't tell you how many times I would discover a lost pair of socks at the bottom of the bag. I would've given my right arm (the one that I use for world-domination) for a...
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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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Creating Your Tribe on the Move

Creating Your Tribe on the Move

The Families in Global Transition (FIGT) 2017 conference is coming up and their theme is Building on the Basics: Creating Your Tribe on the Move.  The FIGT conference is not really a conference as one might think of professional meetings. It has been called, "A reunion of strangers," because the attendees are members of the same tribe. We are all highly mobile people living in cultures different from which we were born. Some attendees are newly living abroad and others have lived in more countries than I could ever imagine. The wealth and depth of knowledge and experience are impressive and connecting with this wonderful group of people feels like coming home. The deadline for submissions for speaking roles is September 7 and more information can be found here. The conference is in The Hague, Netherlands March 23-25, 2017 and I hope to meet you there! You can read about my Top 10 Takeaways from last year's conference. If you have any questions, please feel free...
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8 Surprising Things I Learned When I Put Down My Phone

8 Surprising Things I Learned When I Put Down My Phone

My phone is always in my back pocket, my hand, or my purse. I use it to take pictures and videos of my children throughout the day, and I justify that use always to have it nearby. I am mindful of limiting my children's screen time but often forget that I am probably getting more 100% screen time than they are throughout the day. I compulsively check my email, social media notifications, and text messages. It's a problem, and I know it. The average American checks their phone 46 times per day according to a 2015 Deloitte study. People are distracted by smartphones, smart watches, and tablets while watching tv, crossing the road, and of course, while interacting with friends and family. My kids' reaction to my perpetual distraction was enough to convince me that I was glancing at my phone too often. My oldest started saying, "Mama, look at me, not your phone!" (Could it get any clearer than that?) The...
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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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What To Do When Visiting A New Mom In A Foreign Country

What To Do When Visiting A New Mom In A Foreign Country

  Culturally, a new mother living in a foreign country may find herself in unfamiliar territory during the postpartum period. Everyone loves a new baby and visiting the mother is a great way for family and friends to show support and love. However, there may be different cultural expectations of entertaining guests or performing various postpartum rituals in keeping with the local customs. Giving birth in different cultures is always an adventure. Mothers should always expect the unexpected when living in a foreign country. In the article, Top 10 Rules For Visiting A New Mom there are some great suggestions for visitors of American moms but what can new moms in foreign countries expect from visitors? I asked mothers around the world about their experiences during that postpartum period, and they shared what is customary to expect from visitors as new moms in their local culture. What Should New Moms And Their Visitors Expect In Foreign Countries? Singapore In Singapore, the Chinese locals won't visit you for a month. Postpartum...
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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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Make Your Corner Of The World A Better Place For Our Children

Make Your Corner Of The World A Better Place For Our Children

My mom used to tell me, "Always leave the world a little better than how you found it." That meant everything from picking up litter on the street to being a kind and generous person in daily life. Positive contributions were the measure of a good life. I gaze at the two tiny blonde heads that are watching a cartoon in the living room. I hear my son inform his sister that, "This is the last show, okay?" as he sets a self-imposed TV limit for them both. They have no idea what is happening in the news around the world. They don't know that prayers for love and peace have gone unanswered and that hate and violence are dominating the headlines, hashtags, and hearts worldwide. The innocence of childhood will protect them from those horrific realities for a bit longer. Our job isn't to shield them from the evils of the world but give them the tools and knowledge to combat the...
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What To Do When Your Child Tells You They Held A Gun

What To Do When Your Child Tells You They Held A Gun

"It was real, Mama. It smelled like a real gun. But we didn't shoot it, we only held it," my son tells me while sitting in his bubble bath. He is five-years-old. After asking multiple questions, he continued to insist that the gun was real. My worst nightmare has come true—he was playing with a gun with his friends unsupervised. [Tweet "My worst nightmare has come true—he was playing with a gun with his friends unsupervised."] It is summer, and our neighborhood has lots of kids around the same age. It is perfect because we all open our doors, and the kids run in and out of each other's houses—never getting bored or bothering the parents. It's an ideal setup. Sure, parents are nearby, but nobody is hovering. Like a pack of roving wild animals, this pack of boys moves in a group from house to house, and they often get into trouble. If someone starts to cry, all of the parents emerge...
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