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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Here Come the Easter Witches

Here Come the Easter Witches

  When you think about Easter, you immediately think "witch." No? Me neither. Probably the funniest Scandinavian tradition is the Easter witch. In Sweden and Finland—young children hit the streets the Thursday before Easter dressed as peasants (or in their finest witchy costumes) that their parents bought during the post-Halloween sales the year before.   Is this like Halloween in the spring? Yes. Kids make handmade Glad Påsk cards (Happy Easter) and hand them out door to door in exchange for candy. This trick-or-treating type activity was new to me and caught me off guard when we first moved to Sweden. I heard tiny, gentle knocks on my door and not surprisingly, didn't happen to have any loose candy in the house to hand out. Having to improvise, I gave a few kronor as payment to each disappointed child. Don't be like Lisa. Be prepared and always have loose candy around your house at all times.     Last year, I swore I was going to get it right. After years of...
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Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

  Maybe I'm just a simple gal who enjoys the simpler things in life but in all of our travels, my favorite vacations have been the ones in which I can let go of all of my stress. I'm a casual jeans and T-shirt, comfort over style, laid back type of person and my most favorite vacations are the simple ones. Don't get me wrong. I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have seen the gilded ceilings of the Vatican museum, ridden in a private boat on the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como pretending I was Amal Clooney, and relaxed beachside at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. Those were all amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have experienced them. However, my favorite, most special moments occurred after everything went "wrong" and all of our planning didn't match reality. I think back on our trip to Tuscany and my heart aches to be "stranded" again in the middle of a tiny Italian...
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Top Baby Names Around The World 2017

Top Baby Names Around The World 2017

Choosing your baby's name is an incredibly difficult task. Will it suit their personality? Will it be easy to pronounce? Spell? Nicknames? Yes or no? Will they hate us for the name we choose and decide to go by their middle name? Finding a name that you and your partner can agree on is the first task but then finding a name that provides your child as many options as possible is equally important. The book, Freakonomics, has an entire baby name chapter that terrified me into choosing a name that was easy to pronounce and spell. Statistically, employers have been known to cast aside resumes with uniquely spelled names and I didn't want my children discriminated against later on in life as adults. When we were choosing names for our children we wanted uncommon but not unusual names. I read all of the books and scrolled through endless websites but lightning never struck. It was important to me that my children's names would fit their personalities as...
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When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

  When we first moved to Sweden (five years ago, ahh!), the newness of everything was overwhelming. Every day we jumped into the unknown with glee. It was thrilling to have a clean slate. We could be whoever we wanted to be in this new place. I spent the first few weeks converting everything into measurements that I could understand and then again into USD to get a sense of the cost. Everything felt expensive (it was). But it was okay because this was all new and exciting. Snow on April 1? Not depressing. Let's play! Get incredibly lost while trying to find a particular restaurant only to discover that they are closed on Sundays? It's alright. We'll get pizza from around the corner. Spend hours in line to get a national ID card, fill out forms, and hope that you've done everything correctly in a language you don't understand? Kind of scary, yes, but we're hanging in there. Everything we did felt like a strange but wonderful adventure....
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Raising a Viking Child

Raising a Viking Child

  A while back, I wrote an article for ParentCo called, "5 Steps to Raising a Viking Child" and it was by far my most popular article to date. The folks at ParentCo contacted me and asked me if they could transform the tips in the article into a shareable video and I absolutely love the end result. I think the video turned out great and even our dog makes a brief cameo. The kids laughed when they saw Bessie's rumpa walking away. It's nice to have a few snippets of their childhood turned into a cohesive video. I hope it inspires more parents to take their kids outside for some adventure and fun.   Here are five steps to help you raise your own little Viking through outdoor play: 1. Be creative and the world becomes magical Even the most familiar and mundane playground can become an entryway to another world if you encourage your child’s creativity. That’s not a slide, it’s an elephant’s trunk. That swing is...
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Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Five years ago, my husband and I packed up our Manhattan apartment and moved across the ocean to France. Our plan was to stay for two to three years and then hightail it back to the U.S. to start a family. There was no way I was going to have a baby in a foreign country! Except that I did. And we stayed. Despite my initial reticence—and bolstered by the experiences described in Bringing Up Bébé—I loved being pregnant in France. I have zero regrets, even though I only understood 60% of any doctor’s appointment throughout my pregnancy. During delivery, my husband stood by my shoulder translating, “Breathe…push…push again…okay, I’m not sure what the OB is saying but maybe push again?...Oh wait, no, don’t push! DON’T PUSH!!” Even though we had lived in France for a few years, we had difficulty making close friends. When my son was born, I realized that we couldn’t continue to operate in isolation. I needed a village....
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Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

This is the fifth post in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series and deals with juggling family expectations and life abroad. So far in this series, we have discussed moving abroad with children, balancing careers and family,  dealing with the loss of loved ones while living abroad, and getting everyone on board before you uproot.   Mansi: Moving abroad, leaving behind things that you are comfortable and familiar with, is always tough. As if juggling your life wasn’t hard enough by itself, you must also now worry about maintaining all your relationships back home while forging new ones simultaneously. What do you do then? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tons of friends, but may not always be as good at keeping in touch with them as you’d like to be. Especially for the strugglers out there, the first thing that I have personally found helpful is to do some mental weeding. It does sound harsh, but the unfortunate...
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I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

  "Let's go down there and play," my husband grabs our daughter's hand and leads her down the bleachers of the gymnasium. Our son is playing on the other side of the gym with his classmates. I watch them as he leads her gently down the steep stairs and he instructs her to run back and forth on a painted line in her socked feet. She loves it and instantly transforms from an I'm-patiently-waiting-for-this-practice-to-end sibling into an I'm-having-so-much-fun-and-I-want-to-stay little kid. I mentally kick myself. Why didn't I think of that? It's not that I'm a wet blanket type of a mother, but I'm a rule follower, and that means that I don't always think about bending the rules. Couple my rule-following personality (which is a great cultural fit for Sweden) with a language barrier and the end result is a slightly hesitant parent. In a lot of ways, my husband reminds me of my own dad (insert your own psychological studies and "daddy complex"...
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Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

As I hugged our friends goodbye at our front door, I heard, "Thank you so much," and, "This was wonderful," from every person as they bundled up into their jackets and slid their winter boots back onto their socked feet. Ending the night with these firm, warm, cheek-to-cheek embraces with friends new and old couldn't be a more fitting way to end the night. During each Thanksgiving we have celebrated abroad, there has been a brief respite in the chaotic day. A moment when I am quiet and I look around the room at the group of people who willingly cram into our tiny space because we asked them to share our tradition. I pause and listen. Conversations blend and weave with one another and the language shifts between English and Swedish depending on who is joining or leaving the conversation. In that brief pause of time, I am so happy and proud to continue the Thanksgiving tradition in our adopted...
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