Monday Morning Emails May be a Future Preview of Our Lives

Monday Morning Emails May be a Future Preview of Our Lives

Every parent is afraid they are making a mistake when raising their children—abroad or domestically—and Jo Parfitt and Terry Anne Wilson are no different.In their book, Monday Morning Emails, they often question if their decision to move their families frequently throughout their children's childhood results in their children's inability to cope with difficulty.Monday Morning Emails is written by two women through the lost art of letter writing (in this case, email letters), results in heartfelt and intense revelations about their personal and family lives.As their children head off to university and navigate the world as independent adults, both women are faced with circumstances that are compounded by long distances and frequent travel.Jo Parfitt describes the tear she feels between needing to be supportive of her son with caring for her elderly parents. "I have to be strong for the kids who have never lost anyone close and for my mother who hates being in charge. I'm starting to set several plates spinning. For...
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The 20th Anniversary of Families in Global Transition—Perhaps the best yet

The 20th Anniversary of Families in Global Transition—Perhaps the best yet

Photo Credit: Sandra Bissell You know when you meet someone in person when you've only connected online that there is a moment of I-already-know-you-but-I-don't-really-know-you awkwardness? Yeah, that doesn't happen at the Families in Global Transition Conference. You know you've "come home" when the first hug you're given when you walk into the hotel lobby rivals one of the strongest hugs you've ever gotten from one of your family members. (Looking at you, Sundae...)I think strangers who were checking into the hotel were shocked at the public displays of affection these apparent strangers were giving one another after an introduction.Attending an FIGT (say each letter in the acronym individually) conference, even for the first time, is one of the warmest feelings a group of strangers can ever provide.Others, not just me, have also described this rare phenomenon of instant warmth.Gina Dunn describes, "Never have I felt so welcomed at a conference before. EVERYONE was warm and easy to strike up conversations with. Having...
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The Swedish Approach to Postpartum Health

The Swedish Approach to Postpartum Health

It seems like all too soon, mothers of newborns are concerned about losing the baby weight."What a cruel scheme to keep a woman from knowing her power. To put the focus on what pregnancy did to her body rather than focus on what her perfect body just did. Here we sit, creating and nourishing the guture and we are diminished to "baby weight." I will not succumb to your demanding ideals." —Amethyst JoyOne thing I noticed upon arriving to Stockholm was that all of the Swedish moms at my six-month postpartum check-up all looked super fit. Didn't we all just give birth six months ago?  Mental HealthMy postpartum appointment was focused on my mental health. My midwife asked me how I felt about my delivery, how I was handling the sleepless nights, and how often my baby was nursing. I don't recall her weighing me or even inquiring about my physical health aside from sleep—which I obviously was not getting much of.But...
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A Vehicle: A Partnership

A Vehicle: A Partnership

The headlight beamed into our garage. It is after 9 p.m. and my husband, and I have been working on the front end of our cranky Volvo for at least two hours.Successfully self-conducted car repairs would be considered a victory if we still lived in Atlanta, GA because I always enjoyed saving money but to do it in a foreign language gave me a boosted sense of accomplishment.Boo ya! We solved a problem and didn't damage our relationship in the process. Teamwork, baby!Like so many issues we've experienced in our partnership together, I viewed this headlight repair as mini capstone project representative of our lives abroad.The Warning MessageIt all began after I noticed a warning message in Swedish on my dashboard after I picked up my kids from school."Lampfel halvljus"Two words that I deduced meant that one of my lights was out, but which one?Happily assigned with a task, my six-year-old son eagerly hopped out of the car to report...
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Feed the Baby Hummus—Book Review and Giveaway

Feed the Baby Hummus—Book Review and Giveaway

Feed the Baby Hummus is the newest book to hit the shelves that dives into international practices related to bonding, soothing, and nurturing babies.Pediatrician, Lisa Lewis, MD, gathered all of the cultural practices related to behavior and development, nutrition, and building immunity and presents it in an easy-to-read format for mothers everywhere.We can learn from what other cultures do and while we may not be able to incorporate every aspect of each cultural tradition into our lives, Dr. Lewis provides slight modifications that allow parents to incorporate what they can into their parenting. Balinese babies are held during their first 105 days of life Balinese babies are held extensively for the first 105 days of their lives—their feet never touch the ground.Dr. Lewis explains that the spiritual practice of never placing a Balinese baby down may not be practical in our everyday busy lives, but that extensive holding benefits both the baby and the often sleep-deprived parents. "I suggest you enlist the...
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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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