If You Are Going To Be Me Tomorrow

If You Are Going To Be Me Tomorrow

If you're going to be me tomorrow, you'll need to know the following: You will be woken up by the sound of your door opening, and you'll be able to tell, without opening your eyes, which child is coming through the door to crawl into bed with you. The boy will have sure, confident steps and will run and leap onto the bed—landing on your right side. The girl will stumble in an uneven stride, still wiping the sleep from her eyes, come to your left side and pull on the sheets because she still needs help getting up onto your bed. She'll demand cuddles but won't tolerate kisses this early in the morning. They'll all be wiped off, and she'll yell, "Stoppy!" at you if you persist. For her, everything has a -y attached at the moment so the translation of her toddler-speak will take a minute. Dogg-y, stopp-y, hund-y—except for "Mama." That one is the same. (more…)...
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They Don’t Need You Anymore

They Don’t Need You Anymore

Two of the neighborhood girls zoomed past me on their bikes with a cheery, "God morgon!" Good morning! from both of them. Their mother followed behind a solid distance away at a relaxed pace. No pace could keep up with those excited children riding their bikes. "They don't need you anymore," I told her with a smile on my face. She proudly replied, "Nope! I'm only here to carry the backpacks." For the past few weeks, I have been watching my neighbor run behind her daughter's bike holding onto the long broomstick handle jammed into the bike's frame to help her daughter balance as she pedaled. The fruits of their efforts had ripened, and now both of her daughters were zooming along independently. They were—on a small scale—launched into the world. And that's the entire point of parenting. We put in years of hard work, effort, and energy to send out these self-sufficient children to positively contribute to our world. We parent, we love,...
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5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

This article originally appeared at Parent.co, "5 Tips For Raising A Viking Child" in their Analog Life section that has other great articles for helping parents venture outdoors with their children.   I just returned from an exhilarating dragon expedition. After picking up my children from their Swedish preschool, my son frantically dragged me to the woods they had explored earlier in the day, eager to show me what they had discovered. We came upon the “dragon” quickly enough and to my eyes it was an old felled tree but to my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, it was a massive, dangerous, and scaly sleeping dragon. In Sweden, according to a study, 80% of children between the ages of one to five years, attend Swedish daycare which promotes play, napping and eating meals outdoors. There are also some preschools that have no physical building as all of their learning occurs outdoors—in nature’s classroom. Conversely, in a recent cross-sectional study with a U.S. nationally representative sample, 44% of...
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A mother’s quilt

A mother’s quilt

I didn't feel the change at first. When I first held my baby, I thought I would know what to do, but I felt the same. The love was overwhelming, but the fulfillment of the massive role of "mother" didn't come right away.   My role as mother slowly became stitched into my soul in pieces like a patchwork quilt. Some stitches caused pain, but others resulted in the most amazing experiences beyond compare. Each and every stitch is placed with love and care. I knew that I was making something unique, and the bittersweet journey would be worthwhile.   The first stitch pierced my heart and broke it into a million pieces—some of which are still healing—when I left behind my 12-week-old son with a stranger when I returned to work. The struggle to produce enough breast milk while pumping at work—a severe ache and tender swelling—the physical difficulty unmatched only by the emotional strain.  The second stitch was ongoing sleep deprivation. The...
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5 Tips For An Enjoyable Field Trip With Young Children

5 Tips For An Enjoyable Field Trip With Young Children

Not many people would volunteer to chaperone twenty-two children between the ages of four and six when you don't speak the language, but that is exactly what I did. My main goal for the trip was completely selfish. I have been seeking out intensive language immersion opportunities and Swedish children don't understand English. My basic Swedish was going to get a workout and I figured, at the very least, that I could provide an extra pair of hands and eyes to help out the teachers. I'm pretty sure the kids thought I was a crazy lady because I accidentally switched the Swedish words for "gloves" and "wait." Luckily for me, shouting, "Gloves a little bit! Gloves a little bit!" while waiting for the bus did still get their attention, so I wasn't completely ineffective. While on the trip, I observed how Swedish daycare teachers fearlessly manage large groups of kindergarten-age children. Without a doubt, corralling that number of kids while venturing out in the big...
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Top 10 Takeaways from the Families in Global Transition Conference 2016, Netherlands

Top 10 Takeaways from the Families in Global Transition Conference 2016, Netherlands

The hunger pangs subside and the bleariness of the morning-after-a-long-travel-day fade into uncontrollable laughter as I listen to the hilariously honest opening keynote narrated by Christopher O'Shaughnessy. I'm sitting next to Jodie Hopkins, a woman I had only met two hours earlier but yet we instantly connected, and I keep glancing over at her as we laugh at the ridiculousness of this situational comedy. We've all been in that fish-out-of-water, cultural nakedness scenario that Chris is so fluently describing. "Expats arrive at their destinations culturally naked." [Tweet "Expats arrive at their destinations culturally naked. —Chris O'Shaughnessy"] Or in Chris' case, physically naked. The self-deprecating nature of the opening keynote grants us permission to humbly acknowledge that we've all experienced unbelievably embarrassing moments that we mortals would prefer to forget let alone share with 200 strangers through a microphone. However, as the laughs dissipate through the crowd, a more important topic is introduced—empathy—the theme of this conference. We have become a community of digital nomads and in the quest to build communities without geographical limitations,...
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Swedish Parents Don’t Expect Pinterest Perfection

Swedish Parents Don’t Expect Pinterest Perfection

It’s mid-1990s and I’m in the fourth grade. My mom opens a box of 24 red and pink Valentines featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the front. I sit next to her and fold them along their dotted lines, signing my name and making little hearts above my I’s instead of dotting them. You know, for that special Valentine’s Day flourish. Somewhere between my school-age days and my children’s school-age days, the way Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day (and every other Hallmark holiday) has changed dramatically. No longer are store-bought Valentines the social norm. Now we have Pinterest and YouTube tutorials showing us moms how to create the perfect, homemade Valentine for our children’s classmates that will still eventually be trashed within two days (if we’re lucky). In the effort of full-disclosure, I am the mom who produces Pinterest-fail worthy creations. Not for lack of effort but due to the extreme absence of any artistic ability whatsoever. Some moms enjoy buying the perfect little buttons...
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What Pregnant Women Should Know About the Zika Virus

What Pregnant Women Should Know About the Zika Virus

  In the past few days, both the US CDC and WHO have issued guidelines for pregnant women regarding the Zika virus and I wanted to provide more information based on the research I conducted. Zika is very similar to dengue—a virus with which I am intimately familiar.  I investigated two dengue fever outbreaks in Brunei back in my field-work public health days. All of the underlined text is linked to scientific articles if you want more information. Where is Zika now? There was an explosive pandemic in 2015 that has everyone at WHO and US CDC quite nervous, and for good reason. As of week 3 in 2016, the following countries have Zika confirmed cases: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands, Venezuela. January 13, 2016 a case was reported in Texas, US. January 15, 2016 another case was reported in Hawaii.   What is the Zika...
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Knocked Up in Germany—Insider Tips From Two American Women

Knocked Up in Germany—Insider Tips From Two American Women

  Upon first arrival, many expat women must navigate a foreign medical system that may be remarkably different from the healthcare system back “home.” Germany has a reputation for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, providing its residents with comprehensive health insurance coverage.   Approximately 85% of the population is part of the public health insurance while the rest have private health insurance. In 2007, health insurance reform required everyone to have coverage for at least hospital and outpatient medical treatment. This mandatory insurance also includes coverage for pregnancy and certain medical check-ups.   Pregnant women in Germany receive three mandatory ultrasounds: One scan weeks 9-12, another during weeks 19-22, and a final scan during weeks 29-32. All scan results are entered into your Mutterpass, a booklet documenting your health statistics.  But aside from the typical Google search results, what else does a pregnant expat in Germany need to know?   I asked two American women currently living in Germany, Michele Landreman-Löschner, and Maureen...
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Be brave, little toaster

Be brave, little toaster

I don't know anyone who is fearless. Fear is a necessary emotion that has evolved to increase our chances of survival. It warns us of dangerous threats in the form of people, animals, and other situations that may cause us pain or harm. I see a lot of fear on social media—people who want to close the borders to those who don't speak, look, or worship as they do. It is understandable—the border-closing supporters are afraid. We all are. Except a life lived in fear is no life at all. In 1945, the state of New Hampshire adopted the motto, "Live Free or Die." I used to think it was a bit aggressive but in this time where people are very much threatening our freedom to live our lives in peace, that succinct motto is appropriate. It is very easy for the fear of the unknown to rule your life. To make you a prisoner in your own home. No, instead we...
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