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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Växtförsäljning’s Christmas Market Review

Växtförsäljning’s Christmas Market Review

Don't try to say "växtförsäljning" three times fast unless you are from a Scandinavian country or unless you want a tongue twister challenge.Växtförsäljning translates simply into "plant nursery" and our local nursery sells wonderful plants, bushes, and trees during the year and converts into a Yuletide haven during the third Advent weekend.This Christmas Market was the last in our Christmas Market Marathon and the kids were feeling the holiday fatigue. Too much Christmas cheer, perhaps? You know it's been a few long weeks in a row when the promise of warm waffles and pony rides stirs little excitement in this bunch.But they dug deep and somehow mustered the strength in their little bodies to hop on a cute pony and ride around a few laps.The restaurant/cafe on site at Växtförsäljning is one of those hidden gems that not many people know about in our sleepy town of Åkersberga. I know that because whenever I head there for a casual lunch...
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Länsmånsgården’s Christmas Market Review

Länsmånsgården’s Christmas Market Review

Continue to live vicariously through our journey to various Christmas Markets in our Swedish town and beyond. So far, we have traveled north to Sigtuna, and Gävle, and stayed closer to home to Wira Bruk, and now Länsmansgården. Länsmansgården is an old mid-18th century property featuring a manor and two-story cottage built in 1743. The historic buildings now house antiques and the main manor serves as a local art gallery, and the barn is now a cafe that serves up dynamite fika desserts and coffee with a cozy atmosphere to boot. Our kids love playing in the garden, which also houses school children's class projects as part of an "outdoor classroom." Different classes plant crops and see how they fare during the season. We love visiting Länsmansgården on a regular day and they always host cultural festivities during midsummer and Christmas. New additions from years past: a new Swedish fence surrounds the property, presumably to keep out the wild boar that destroyed Grade 4's...
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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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The Gävle Goat Survives

The Gävle Goat Survives

Gävle, Sweden is famous for this oversized straw goat. It's only famous because vandals burn it down every year much to the sadness of the townspeople of Gävle.Or are they really sad when the goat burns down? It is hard to tell, exactly, because on one hand, the goat is a main tourist attraction. On the other hand, they sang fire-related "burn it down" songs during the opening ceremony which left this tourist feeling a bit conflicted.So...do they want it burned down or not?My guess is, they want to keep the goat for as long as possible but it is somewhat of a foregone conclusion that the goat will eventually meet it's fiery fate.We traveled the two hours to Gävle and saw this big goat for ourselves. Frankly, it's not much to write home about. The town of Gävle itself is somewhat of a normal place, which means it's kind of boring.It's a place where people live and work—the only...
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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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