Dragon Skulls, Fairies, and Trolls at Wira Bruk’s Christmas Market

Dragon Skulls, Fairies, and Trolls at Wira Bruk’s Christmas Market

Wira Bruk is an old iron works village that was active back in the heyday of Sweden's superpower era when they were cranking out weaponry as fast as they could. It's the site where the King's weapons (read: swords) and townspeople received tax credits for supplying Sweden with iron goods. Visiting Wira Bruk is like taking a stroll back in time and it is well worth a gander. But let's talk about their Christmas market, shall we? Wira Bruk has hosted a julmarknad (Christmas market) for the past three years during the first advent weekend. Be ready to be shocked by sights not usually seen at other Christmas markets. Have you ever seen a dragon's skull (that's surprisingly small)? A fairy skeleton (that's surprisingly big)? Or how about a 7" tall stone troll (that's surprisingly realistic)? No? Then get yourself over to Roslagen's Wira Bruk because they have them all on display. Part of me wondered if these installations were left up from Halloween but the...
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My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

Steninge Slott's Julmarknad is always a fun trip out to Sigtuna, Sweden.The Christmas market is housed in the stone barn behind the 17th Century palace and the interior is stunning.The vaulted ceilings of the barn give it an airy atmosphere and illuminated advent stars hang from the ceiling begging to go home with you.Our favorite purchases usually involve buying a paper sack of candied almonds and some warm glögg while we walk around the property among the tree-lined pathways.However, Steninge Slott's rustic charm is undergoing a bit of a renovation and the grounds are currently under construction with new housing development on the property.No longer do you feel like you are on a large estate property but now you feel a bit like you're intruding on people's backyard.Another change from years past is that Steninge Slott now sells furniture and home decorations year round. The inventory for this new business has pushed the crafts and local vendors who participate in...
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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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Visiting the Christmas Markets in Sweden

Visiting the Christmas Markets in Sweden

It is Christmas Market (Julmarknad) season in Europe and Sweden has some of the most darling Christmas markets. Glögg (mulled wine), reindeer meat, and candles on evergreen trees are all part and parcel of a good Swedish Christmas market.Kickstarting the Christmas spirit for me entails switching over to the Christmas carols on our Spotify playlist and piling into the car to our local Christmas markets.My kids love the idea of going for a pony ride, drinking warm chocolate, and possibly participating in a fiskdam (where they "fish" for a present and the fees for "fishing" go back into the local community.)I love finding handmade goods from small businesses and local artists. I absolutely love finding small handmade gifts that are perfect for stockings or adding a little flourish to our bookshelves. If you make a cute little elf or anything featuring a long Santa beard, I will probably buy it.This December, we are heading to a different Christmas market every weekend...
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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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Creating Kiddo Story Time—Improvisation at Its Best

Creating Kiddo Story Time—Improvisation at Its Best

I sat down with my son, Calvin, to ask him a few questions about his new school and find out what he likes most and least about living in Sweden. His answers surprised me a bit! After we finished the Q&A, we did a fun storytelling exercise where he provided a few details like the main character's name and a setting and I took it from there, pausing at random intervals to let him fill in the blanks. Allowing for 100% pure improvisation can take you and your child down some fun paths and I encourage you to try it out tonight. Our kid-lib story starts at minute 6:00 above if you want to skip over the Q&A. Creating kiddo story time: Ask them for the name of the main character Ask them what special characters they would like to include like a dragon, ghost, a tree that comes alive, I don't know. Encourage them to be creative. Start the story with, "Once upon...
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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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You’re My Favorite

You’re My Favorite

You crawled into bed with me this morning after the sun rose. My arms wrapped around you and I breathed in your hair. You smell of the shampoo you didn't wash out of your hair last night when you giggled in the shower with your brother.Your little body nestled against mine and I felt your bones relax. Your soft cheek brushed my chin, and I thought, "Ahh, you're my favorite."I would never say those words aloud, of course, because parents aren't allowed to have favorites.But, at that moment, in that space, my heart was full of you.My attention was 100% focused on you and only you as if we were the only two people in existence. I allowed myself to think that you were my favorite because, for that moment, you were. Later today, you and your brother played at the playground while your Daddy and I sat on a rocky cliff overlooking the Baltic Sea.Worn down over time by rain...
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The Return of the Lost Wedding Dress

The Return of the Lost Wedding Dress

Five years ago, I discovered that my wedding dress, photo albums, and a few fragile items with sentimental value ended up in a dumpster somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia.It wasn't my choice to throw away my beloved sentimental items but that of our property management company. I discovered it long after it had happened, so there was nothing to do but accept what happened and move on.I tried to rationalize away my sadness and to make sense of the grief I was feeling over *things*. Afterall, nobody was sick, nobody had died, but I was still heartbroken over this loss. Sentimentality is expensiveWhen it comes to sentimentality, highly mobile people select their "must have" items very carefully. Each relocation costs money and each box packed represents only the items we "must have" or what we think we must have when we move to a new place.During every relocation, boxes are lost or damaged. Basements flood and houses catch on fire—my wedding dress...
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