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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Airplane watching

I am fascinated by technology in general, but I think that airplanes are a miracle. They’re huge, and yet they fly and it boggles my mind. Also, just like many TCK’s and ATCK’s, I feel perfectly fine at airports. They’re neither here nor there, neither the beginning of your journey, nor the end of it. I love airplanes, and one of my dreams is to fly in the cockpit of a plane and understand how all of these switches and buttons work.

As a child, I would often wave at airplanes, and think that maybe the people would see me and wave back. I would wonder where they were flying and what they’ll be doing at their destination. My husband is also fascinated by airplanes and he often reads about different airlines and types of machines. It is through this fascination that he discovered a great website called Flight Radar 24. It allows you to follow all the flights and find information such as destination or airline.

One of the great things about living in the Netherlands is that it’s small. We live in the vicinity of two airports: Rotterdam International Airport, a smaller airport for cheap airlines and Amsterdam Schiphol, one of Europe’s biggest airports. So, we often see airplanes flying over our heads.

Before you could only wonder where they’re going. Now you can know. You can point to a certain airplane and tell exactly where it’s going. What’s even way cooler, you can point to the sky and say: “we’ll soon see an airplane here, it’s going from London to New Delhi, and is operated by Air India”. This is the power of technology. Klara loves doing that with her father. When the weather is good, I often see them sitting in our backyard in front of the computer and talking about airplanes.

You can use airplanes as a starting point to explain all about other countries and cultures and explaining your child’s roots. For example, when there’s a plan headed for a country where we’ve been, we say that we used to live there. When there’s a plane from Poland or Germany, we say that the grandparents live there. On top of that, in our case, this is the perfect father-daughter bonding experience.

They both love it.  And who knows, maybe it will kindle Klara’s fascination with technology, leading her to become an engineer? Maybe it will cause her to fly and see the world and learn all about other cultures? I think that you can turn every situation into an opportunity to teach your child cultural appreciation, and this is really a great one.

Do you also love airplanes? Do you also wonder where they’re going? Do you want to know? Tell me in the comments!
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Monday, 29 July 2013

Tarragon chicken recipe- a sponsored post!

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

As you may know, my father grew up in France.  He speaks French as well as he speaks Polish. I still have family in France. A while ago, we visited my cousins in Paris and had a lovely trip there. I have fond memories of Paris from when I was a child, and besides, it is a great city! Always a lot to see and to do. Last time we went to the Louvre, and Paris plage. I wish I could go there again, and since where we live is not that far away, I'm sure we will one day.

 Even though I speak some French, I wish it was better. And it is a real shame that I have never cooked a French recipe. Until now.

Until now. This tarragon chicken tastes both simple and delicious.I made it yesterday for friends and we all loved it. I additionally enjoyed the fact that in Dutch, tarragon is called dragon, and I just love dragons! 

1 tbsp sunflower oil (or olive oil)
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed

8 boneless chicken thighs, skinless all fat trimmed (although I used chicken legs and thighs in this recipe)
100ml dry white wine
400ml chicken stock

½ tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche

2 tbsp tarragon leaves, roughly snipped. I used dried tarragon.

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan and gently fry the shallots for 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking time.

2. Season the chicken thighs and add to the pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes, turning once until very lightly coloured. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Stir in the stock and return to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.

3. Mix the cornflour with ½ tbsp cold water and stir into the pan. As soon as the sauce thickens, stir in the crème fraîche and tarragon, then season. Remove from the heat. Serve with new potatoes. I also served it with green beans and a nice summer salad

The finished dish, as I served it, looked like this:

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Friday, 26 July 2013

Multicultural Kids Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt!

Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt

Get ready to start exploring!

The Pinterest Scavenger Hunt has officially begun!
This contest is sponsored by Multicultural Kid Blogs to celebrate the official launch of our website.
The Scavenger Hunt will run from July 15 to July 28. Participants have until July 31 to submit their entries, and the drawing will take place on August 1.
You could win one of four fabulous prize packages!
Details about the Scavenger Hunt can be found below.

Today's Clue

An animal and three letters!

Now take a look around on this site and try to find the post that fits the clue. Once you think you've found it, pin it to the Pinterest Board you've created just for this contest.
Be sure to pop over to Spanish Playground for the other clue for today. A full schedule and rules of the game can be found below. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom for more chances to win!

How to Play:

Create a Pinterest board specifically for the contest and name the board "Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt." Each day a new clue (or two!) will be revealed. Follow the clue to the blog of the day and pin the post described in the clue. (Any image from the post is fine). In the Rafflecopter below, enter the link to the Pinterest board you created for this contest. The Rafflecopter will also have lots of other ways to earn extra entries. The only required entry is the link to your Pinterest board. Please note: You can enter the Rafflecopter at any point during the contest. Obviously your board won't be complete until the end of the contest, but you can enter the link in the Rafflecopter before then. If your name is drawn at the end of the contest, we will check your board at that time. The final clue will be given July 28. Participants will have until midnight Pacific time on July 31 to finalize their boards. The drawing will take place on August 1. Winners must have pinned all of the correct posts to their board. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn. Good luck, explorers!

Our Fabulous Prizes

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value $128.74)

Language Learning Box Set (3 DVDs) from Little Pim ($49.95): The Little Pim Box Set Volume I is a great way to introduce young learners to over 180 words and phrases in the language of your choice related to daily routines, food, and playtime! Winner can choose the language of the prize from among those available from Little Pim. (US Shipping Only. If the grand prize winner is located outside the US, the Language Learning Box Set will become part of the 1st prize package).
Little Pim Spanish Box Set Vol. I
3 Month Subscription from Little Passports ($41.85): Little Passports is a unique subscription based service that can take your family on an adventure to learn about culture and history from all 50 states and across the world. With this educational, monthly package, kids will become excited about geography, history, and culture by following the world travels of characters Sam and Sofia on their magic scooter! Winner chooses between World and USA editions.
LP World Explorer Kit

Luke's Beach Day storybook from Kids Yoga Stories ($15.95): Yoga-inspired story set on an Australian beach

The Skin You Live In book from Squishable Baby ($16): A book that celebrates the beauty in all of us.
The Skin You Live In_Large
One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99): A well-researched yet highly readable book on raising bilingual children.

1st PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value: $104.88) US shipping only

Two books from Lee & Low ($29.90):
Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell: Released in May 2013, Rainbow Stew follows three African American children and their grandfather as they pick fresh vegetables in his garden to cook up a lunch on a rainy afternoon.

Rainbow Stew Cover

How Far Do You Love Me? by Lulu Delacre: From the Swiss Alps Mountain Range to the Great Barrier Reef, How Far Do You Love Me? takes readers across the seven continents in a new take on the "I love you" game.
How Far Do You Love Me? Cover

Educational toy from Plushkies ($24.99): Plushkies are educational toys in the shape of countries to awaken a curiosity in kids about the world, travel, & culture.

Spanish language bundle from Spanish Playground ($20): traditional wooden toys and digital downloads. Wooden chicken paddle toy and wooden top (una pirinola) to play "toma todo." Digital downloads of Spanish language story-coloring book Los pollitos and animal activity cards.Los Pollitos - Spanish Playground
One copy of the Bamboo Dance and one passport ($14.99) from Hartlyn Kids: An illustrated children's book about the day in the life of a child in the Philippines. The book contains a mock passport sticker. Also included is an accompanying mock passport.

Phillipines Story - Hartlyn Kids

Caxixi Woven Rattle From Africa from World Music with Daria ($10): Awesome fair trade woven rattle from Ghana

Caxixi Rattle
One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99) See details above

2nd PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value: $36.99)

Fire and Gold digital download from Nightingale Creations ($10): A CD on the theme of tests and difficulties

2 sets of postcards and a notepad from Paper Papel Papier ($22): eco & multilingual-friendly paper goods

Paper Papel Papier

One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99) See details above

3rd PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value: $29.95)

One copy of Ramadan Cookbook and Meal Plan (eBooks) from MarocMama ($18): Two ebooks featuring traditional (and some less traditional!) Ramadan recipes and meal ideas
Ramadan Nights

One copy of Coconut Oil For Your Skin (eBook) from Hybrid Rasta Mama ($11.95): an eBook filled with nourishing and simple recipes for skin care and hair care products featuring coconut oil as the main ingredient.
Cooking Oil For Your Skin_Ecover1000px

Scavenger Hunt Schedule

(Visit the Scavenger Hunt main page for a full list of clues as they are revealed).
July 15
July 16
July 17
July 18
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 24
July 25
July 26
July 27
July 28

Final day to enter the contest is July 31, 2013, at midnight PDT. Drawing will take place on August 1, 2013.
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The July Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival: What do multilingualism, video games and sweets have in common?

This is the July multicultural blogging carnival and it is hosted by Stephen of Head of theHeard. The topic is Hidden Opportunities, and so I thought I’d share this post.

You know how you sometimes tell yourself that you will never, never, ever let your child eat sweets or play video games? And then find yourself doing just that? Or you decide to limit their screen time only to find out that sweets and video games are all they want?

I’ve been thinking about this and found that raising multilingual children is no different. I wanted my home to become a safe haven for our minority languages. I wouldn’t allow any Dutch at home, I would yell at anybody who would mix languages with our children and always said: “It is not our responsibility to teach our children Dutch”. Fast forward 2 years later and I find myself singing songs and nursery rhymes in all the languages I speak, even in English.

In short, I went over to the dark side (or should I say the Dutch side?) and allowed all these evil things such as sweets and screen time (which of course happened as well). However, I also became much more relaxed about all these strict rules that in fact were more debilitating than they were helpful.

I’ve been reading so much about reducing screen time, and found myself confronted with even more rules about consistency and being strict and saying “no”. Luckily, I found an approach that better suited my needs: the scarcity vs. abundance approach.

The reasoning behind this is as follows: if something is scarce, everybody wants it. This creates conflicts and anxiety. This is why when you limit screen time or sweets (or the majority language), it becomes scarce and hence desirable. However, if you show your child that technology, sweets and the majority languages are just one of all the cool things we can do, that they are normal, this gives the impression of abundance and takes the pressure off the children.

Especially with languages, rather than concentrating on not speaking a language (scarcity), we can better focus on the abundance of languages, and that the majority language, which is also a part of our children’s identity (I can’t stress this enough!) is just one of all these awesome languages the children can speak. This is why I now allow Dutch in my house and marvel in how well my children speak it.

And the picture? Is it a proof of my failed parenting abilities? Maybe. But maybe not. I think sweets are a part of a healthy diet, and the majority language should be a part of the children's linguistic diet. So here’s my hidden opportunity. It lies in less stress and more fun. In stopping tryng to be perfect, and starting to be me. And, in my defence- these Oreos were homemade!
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Sunday, 21 July 2013

The multilingual parenting dilemma

I love that I am able to raise my children trilingually and that I get lots of support from bloggers and experts where I can get all kinds of tips and information. And yet, I sometimes like to play devil’s advocate and to look for inconsitencies and problematic areas.

So, I have found an inconsistency in the multilingual parenting methods, and it makes me feel a little hypocritical. For example, all experts stress the benefits of speaking another language and especially starting to learn (and teach it) it as early as possible.

However, they also stress the importance of monolingual situations for your child, especially when it comes to the minority language. If the child knows that his family and friends speak the language, he won’t use it.

Please point out if I’m wrong, but don’t these two approaches pretty much contradict each other? On one hand, we want everybody to be bilingual. On the other hand, we want our children to be bilingual by having them speak with monolingual children. Does it make sense? Does it make us hypocrites by wanting the whole world to speak many languages, except when it comes to our children’s multilingualism?

And, how best to fix this situation? The solution that comes to my mind is to have our children speak with people who speak other languages then our child does, except for the one we want the child to speak. For example, my children speak Polish, German and Dutch. Many of the Dutch children at daycare speak other languages as well, for example English, French, or Albanian.

If I wanted her to speak Polish and still the world to be multilingual, I should find somebody who speaks Polish, and then let’s say English and French, but not Dutch or German, right? Except, how would I do that? Many Polish moms try their best to fit in, and teach their children Dutch and send them to Dutch schools, as International Schools are more expensive, so basically I’d have to search low and far for somebody like that.

What do you think? Is it inconsistent to preach bilingualism and yet stress the importance of monolingual situations at the same time? If so, how to fix this?
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Friday, 19 July 2013

A Very Special Friday with Roberta of Burro E Salvia

In this Very Special Friday installment, I would like to introduce you to Roberta's wonderful blog, Burro e Salvia. Roberta is a friend of mine from Sardegna, Italy a lover of good quality food and amateur photographer and mom to her 2-year old Alex. In this post, she shares tips on how to make food for a picky eater and one of her wonderful recipes. I have tried to make these ricotta and spinach rolls balls and my whole family loved them!

Trying to give good eating habits to kids is often a big challenge. You need to prepare something nutritionally appropriate, but also appealing for kids. And yes, you need to variate what you propose to them. My opinion is that trying to force a kid to eat something is an extremely short way for failure.

I've found useful to propose a new thing many times, in different ways, before my son started to like it. Moreover, I believe that a homemade meal will help kid to get used to the family habit. My baby still doesn't like vegetable or fish, unless I prepare them as a finger food. It took me like 7/8 times before he appreciated homemade salmon sticks. But, especially if you have more than one kid, it would be quite difficult to cook something for you and something different for them. There are many recipes that can be appealing for the whole family. The one I'd like to propose you is one of such recipes.

ricotta balls with spinaches-3.jpeg

Ricotta balls with tomato sauce: (4 people-prep 20 min- cooking 15-20 min)

Bread (the inside) 150g, you can use also sliced bread.
Parmesan, grated 100g
Ricotta cheese 350g
Eggs 2
Parsley chopped 1tbs

For the sauce:
Tomatoes sauce 750ml
extra virgin olive (evo) oil 5 tbs
A pinch of salt
1 onion finely chopped

This is a very easy recipe, used in the past to replace meatballs with a more economic dish. It is considered a second course, but you can also make small ricotta balls and add them for seasoning a dish of pasta, and then you have a complete meal. I like to add also spinach to the ricotta for preparing the balls, lovely!
It's a very healthy and tasty recipe for all the family.

Blend the pieces of bread in a food processor and put in a big bowl, together with the ricotta cheese , the lightly beaten eggs, the grated Parmesan and the parsley.

Combine well everything until you get a soft, but enough firm to prepare the balls, mixture.

Add a pinch of salt, if necessary.

For the sauce, I prefer to use onions, but you might use also garlic. Put the chopped onion (or in big pieces if you are going to take it off later) in a saucepan with the evo oil and let it cook for some minutes until just golden. Then, add the tomato sauce and bring it to boil over medium heat. Put a bit of oil on the palms of your hands to hep yourself making the ricotta balls. Take an amount of balls a bit smaller than a tablespoon. Then place them in the saucepan with the tomato sauce and let them cook for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heating and serve.

SANY1137.jpegThis is Roberta, from Sardegna, Italy. She lives in The Netherlands. She was an electronic engineer working in reliability, career which she left when she chose to be a full-time mum. Her baby, 100% home-made, is her best recipe. Come and check out Roberta's blog, Burro e Salvia and also like her wonderfully tasty recipes on Facebook!
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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Highly Sensitive Expat

Being sensitive is not easy because you’re feeling more than others. For example, you will notice the beautiful smell of roses and it will make you happy, but you will also notice that there is a smoker 5 kilometres away and it will make you want to puke, so your reactions are stronger. You notice more and your senses are always in an alarm state.

But now imagine that you hate transitions and have to move to another country. Imagine that you’re sensitive to smells and sounds, but have to move to a country where noise and strong smells are the norm. Imagine you’re overwhelmed by crowds and find yourself in a place with a high density of inhabitants. Many sensitive people can eat only certain foods because of sensory preferences, sensitivities or allergies. But what if you’re moving somewhere where spicy food is common? But what if you find yourself in a culture where sensitivities are discouraged? Or, on the contrary what would happen if you were an outsider in your own country due to your sensitivity, but find yourself in a place where shyness and timidity are very valued? Would you feel accepted or have a hard time not being unique?  In short, imagine yourself becoming an expat with your unique sensitivities. How would that affect your life?

I am highly sensitive, too and every day is a struggle. My noise threshold is very low and unfortunately, that includes my children (crying, whining). I need tons of down time, tons of sleep (and I am not exaggerating when I say tons of sleep, just ask my husband). I spend my days in jeans and t-shirts because other clothes have parts that scratch, hurt or are just plain uncomfortable (in the annoying sense of uncomfortable, not the I- can- live- with- it- uncomfortable). I get sick when somebody smokes, when two people speak to me at the same time confuses me to no end. I can hear and recognize the song on the radio that nobody even notices is on.  Of course, this can be annoying, but it has an upside. I get extremely happy extremely quickly, just as I can get very sad because of small things.  I am also usually cautious and stop to pause before making decisions.On top of that, I am an expat.

I must say that I am very lucky that I’m living in the Netherlands. The house we found is rather quiet. We have daycare to give me my much needed downtime, but I can still be home with the children. There are no unpleasant smells (even though I often notice people smoking), and we changed the daycare schedule so that I can get my sleep.

The only thing about the Netherlands I had to get used to is that fact that the Dutch are extremely direct and they can often come across as rude and uncaring. Shyness is not a trait that is recognized here, and instead Dutch children are encouraged to be direct as well. A shy person is easily overlooked here (and even though you don’t have to be shy or an introvert to be sensitive, but most of us are both). However, I found that the Dutch are extremely helpful and caring, even though they don’t use many “kind words”. Also, somehow I find it liberating not having to learn all these polite words and phrases, which paradoxically made me more outspoken and comfortable (less words, so the threshold is lower).

In the almost 4 years I’ve been living here, I had to go outside, run errands, get formalities done, learn a new language and talk to strangers. I think it made me more comfortable because I know I can do this if I have to. In the Netherlands, I have the best of both worlds-enough quiet time and enough challenges. I love it.

I also find that in my case, being a highly sensitive parent is much more difficult than being a highly sensitive expat. Especially if you have children who are of different characters than you. For example I wouldn’t say that my eldest is non-sensitive, but she is an extrovert and loves people around her, while I can deal with and enjoy having people around me, but otherwise prefer one-on-one relationships. My little girl is highly sensitive to textures and sounds,- more like me. She is a sweet little girl and we get along perfectly, while my eldest is more difficult. Now I am curious to find out what my son is like.

What about you? Are you also a sensitive person who lives outside of his or her culture? How different is it? What bothers you the most? How do you deal with it? 
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Monday, 15 July 2013

Pinterest Scavenger Hunt by Multicultural Kid Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt

I am super excited! My favourite Facebook group for bloggers  is turning into a shared website called Multicultural Kid Blogs with articles, recipes, advice, and crafts! I am so excited. The website goes public TODAY, and it goes live with a Pinterest Scavenger Hunt. You can win tons of great prizes! 

Here are the rules: 

How to Play

Create a Pinterest board specifically for the contest and name the board “Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt.”
Each day a new clue (or two!) will be revealed.  Follow the clue to the blog of the day and pin the post described in the clue.  (Any image from the post is fine).
In the Rafflecopter below, enter the link to the Pinterest board you created for this contest.  The Rafflecopter will also have lots of other ways to  earn extra entries.  The only required entry is the link to your Pinterest board.
Please note: You can enter the Rafflecopter at any point during the contest.  Obviously your board won’t be complete until the end of the contest, but you can enter the link in the Rafflecopter before then.  If your name is drawn at the end of the contest, we will check your board at that time.
The final clue will be given July 28.  Participants will have until midnight Pacific time on July 31 to finalize their boards.  The drawing will take place on August 1.
Winners must have pinned all of the correct posts to their board.  Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.
Good luck, explorers!
You can enter here - please take a while to check out these awesome prizes and the schedules- clue: I am participating! 

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Friday, 12 July 2013

Second Blogiversary, Part Three!

This is the third and last part of my blogging anniversary- the next regular Very Special Friday will be next week! These are all great answers and I would like to thank all these great bloggers who took part! I hope these answers make you realize how great and awesome blogging is, and how much it can help! Are you a blogger but haven't shared your blogging lessons? Please do that in the comments!

Krissy (Little Bins for Little Hands - a sensory experience):Blogging has helped me to continue feeling productive, creative and regimented since I've left work as a preschool teacher and became a stay at home mom 1 year ago.

Krissy (B - inspired Mama):Blogging started as a sort of distraction and therapy for me while I was struggling with my transition from being a full time art teacher to a full time (and new) mother. And while it still does act as a sort of therapy for sure, I never realized how it would transform into a way for me to connect so much with other moms. And as a way to make a (albeit) small difference in their and their children's lives. And now as a way to support myself and my kiddos. B-Inspired Mama has really been a blessing in so many ways!

Katie (Gift of Curiosity):Blogging has given me an outlet for my creativity because I get to create images and printables with fun fonts, beautiful colors, and wonderful graphics. Blogging has also given me a way to give back - I get to share fun ideas for activities to do with kids, just as I used to get so many great ideas from other blogs before I began blogging. - Katie from Gift of Curiosity

Sarah (Kz and Me):I am still very new to it but it has helped through tough moments with my son who is on the spectrum. I feel like I can share what we do and what works and doesn't and I have the ability to look at our day and give it some perspective. It has also given me a wonderful outlet to meet new and like minded people to share with!

Sheila (Pennies of Time): Blogging has been a fun way to shrink the world! I have been able to connect with people across the globe that have similar passions for the same thing I do! I appreciate that it gives even the "smallest" voice a platform to communicate and be heard.

Ashley (Life With Moore Babies): Blogging has forced me to organize my time and be more intentional with my kids! Before I had lots of things I wanted to do but rarely made time for. It has also introduced me to wonderful people who are so helpful and encouraging. Something I really need as we enter homeschooling! (Life With Moore Babies)

Michelle (Balancing Jane): Blogging has taught me the value of finding people who share my perspectives and experiences (my "tribe," if you will) as well as how to grow some tough skin and take constructive criticism when I hear from people who don't share those perspectives.

Gaby ( Beauty by Gaby): Blogging has taught me how to communicate better with an audience and not to be shy especially since others share the same love for beauty as me 

Leyla ( Origami Spirit): Blogging has taught me that we can create meaningful relationships and connections with people through this media. 

Diana (LadyDeeLG) Blogging has taught me how important it is to have a community that supports you, and that somewhere, someplace, someone is also going through the same thing you are! you're not alone!
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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Second Blogiversary, part two!

So last Monday was my blog's second birthday and I wanted to shine the spotlight on the wonderful bloggers who answered my questions: "What has blogging given you and what have you learned from it?" I didn't anticipate so many answers, hence this post will have 3 parts. Here's the second, see part 1 here

Amanda (Expat Life With a Double Buggy): Blogging has literally opened up the world for me and shown me that no matter the issue you are never the first to be going through the experience, and never alone!

Janneke (DrieCulturen): Blogging has connected me to lots of interesting people like you. I do hope we meet in reallife some time. Blogging has opened a whole new world for me. It's so great to discover that people actually read what you write and come back for more!

Susie (New Day New Lesson): Aside from being really effective free therapy, blogging has taught me to be comfortable being vulnerable. Being vulnerable lets people get to know the real you and helps them in turn lower their own defenses.

Kim (Mama Mzungu): Blogging has encouraged me write more, which has helped me organize my thoughts more, which has helped me gain new insights; but I've learned the most from gaining a worldwide community of friends.

Patricia (Mrs C's SugarCoated Life): Blogging has taught me to pay more attention to life's details, and to savor experiences more. I've realized that in order to write pieces from the heart, you need to have gone through the experience with your heart really in it. So in this sense, I've become more truly involved in my life, and in the lives of my husband and son, and we are more connected now.

Martine (Dainty Mom): Blogging has made me appreciate the gift and responsibility of writing well, from the heart. It's helped me to share my joys with like-minded women in an honest, happy, heartfelt way.

Deborah (Mannahattamamma): Writing a blog for so many years has connected me to people all over the world, created an ongoing virtual scrapbook of my kids and our lives (including the things with which I plan to embarrass my kids later in their lives), and (I hope) strengthened my writing muscles.

Jennifer (World Moms Blog): ncreasing friendships far beyond my own neighborhood through blogging, means I have Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist friends and friends of many more beliefs. I also like having buddies all over the world on the cultural inside that I can ask questions to because I'm always curious. I like being in the know of what the latest in parenting is around the world. I like being friends with Tiger moms, homeschooling moms, green moms, working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, etc. I really enjoy learning and the international network that World Moms Blog has introduced me to means that I am always learning. I find myself putting myself in the shoes of others, pondering the perspectives of others, while still growing, forming and making my own stronger. I like feeling like I have a voice. I like creating a platform for more moms to feel empowered and that what they have to say is important, because it is. I like rallying for people who need my help the most on the planet through social good blogging. It would be an understatement to say that the introduction to blogging has changed my life.

Karyn (Kloppenmum): I have learned not to argue with, or worry about, the people who disagree with me online, even if they do so intensely; and I have gained many wonderful friends and insights into their day-to-day lives.

Tina (Truly Rich Mom): blogging has helped me discover with greater clarity God's purpose for me as a mom AND a writer, and has even become a way by which our family has been blessed, because it's opened windows and doors of opportunity for me to network with other people and even brands and businesses, and to "showcase" what I can do as a writer!

Laura (Lalymom): Blogging at Lalymom has helped me go from someone who pins good ideas on pinterest and forgets them to someone who actually does fun, new stuff with my kids. Some ideas are ours and some are from all those pins I've been saving! Congrats and Happy Blog Birthday!
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Monday, 8 July 2013

Second Blogiversary, Part one!

Today, only 2 days after my own birthday, The European Mama is celebrating her second birthday! It is of course no coincidence, since this blog was a gift to myself to tell my stories. And I can't believe what grew out of it! I couldn't be more proud! But I wouldn't have done it myself. Last year, there was a giveaway. This year, there won't be a giveaway, because I want to make this birthday about the very people who welcomed me into their community and supported me in any way they could. I want to make this birthday about other bloggers. So I reached out and asked them to write a little sentence to show how much blogging has given them, and I would like to feature their replies here. Please click over to these wonderful blogs! It will come in three parts since I got so many great replies. Here's part one!

Annabelle (The Piri Piri Lexicon): It has given me a wonderful community of online friends and people who are in similar situations with whom I can share ideas and problems.

Mari (Inspired by Familia) Blogging has taught me that there is power in our stories and as a result we have the awesome opportunity to connect with kindred hearts. 

Becky (Kid World Citizen): Blogging has connected me to globally-minded parents and teachers from around the world, who also aspire to raise compassionate kids. 

Mary (Sprout’s Bookshelf):  Blogging has opened me up to so much - meeting awesome people from around the globe, who also have a passion for culture and diversity. And I've read so many terrific books too! 

Stephanie (InCultureParent Magazine): It's been amazing to meet so many like minded people from around the world, who share my same passion for raising bilingual and globally minded kids. It has also been a big source of learning for me about parenting across other cultures and traditions, and I LOVE that I get to share these stories about global parenting via my website to help contribute in some small way to raising the next generation of little global citizens.

Leanna (All Done Monkey): I have connected with wonderful creative, loving, like-minded moms all over the world! They are so much fun and have been a great source of support for me.

Kristen (Toddling in the Fast Lane)Blogging has given me confidence that I'm a good mom.

Varya (Creative World of Varya): Blogging taught me about Creative Rights which is a great way to show respect to others. And I have made so many wonderful friends by connecting to other blogging moms all over the world!

Stephen (Head of the Heard): Blogging has given me valuable insights into other people's experiences and shown me that together we are strong. To be in a supportive community means the world.

Giselle (Kids Yoga Stories): Blogging has given me the courage to express my ideas through writing and share my experiences of travel, yoga, and teaching.  Connecting with like-minded women from around the world is a gift and brings me joy every day.  Blogging has been a invaluable creative outlet while raising an infant and it benefits both of us ... happy momma-happy baby.

Carole (Your Expat Child): I’ve been blogging for five years now. Initially it started as a way to record events and daily life in a new country and has evolved into reaching out to help others. I’ve learned so much from everyone who has ever read any of my blogs that I can’t begin to put it into words!
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Friday, 5 July 2013

A Very Special Friday with a Homeschooling Mom

This is a very special post because it was written by one of my readers. She doesn't want her identity disclosed so I am not going to do that, but she offers some interesting thoughts about homeschooling options. In the US, homeschooling is becoming more and more popular. In Europe, however, options are very limited, and in some countries, such as Germany, even prohibited by law.
 In the Netherlands, the situation is difficult, making homeschooling legal but only if you can't find a school fitting your philosophy or beliefs. There is a lack of a support system to make homeschooling a high quality option, leaving parents who want to homeschool on their own. We have given the topic of  education a lot of thoughts and made a decision based on available options, our children's languages and quality of school. We have found one we liked and Klara will start in September. 
While we're not homeschooling ourselves, I think that this mom is right in one thing: all bilingual parents homeschool in some way, whether they notice it or not, because if we speak our language with our children and talk about school, we need to provide the vocabulary used at  school- even if when helping with homework. I would like to invite a discussion on this topic- please put your thoughts in the comments! I want this blog to be a place for kind and respectful discussion about different topics- this is why I asked her to write this post even though we have never considered homeschooling ourselves.
It is very difficult for me to say why exactly I want to home educate. I was one of those people who knew I would home educate ever since I first became pregnant. Before thinking about visiting a doctor or birth or cribs and strollers, I thought about schooling options and home education always seemed interesting to me. I suppose the truth is that on some level I see education as extremely important.
What goes into my child's head and how it goes into her head is important to me and to give up complete control over something so important is just difficult. I want to be sure that they are understanding the concepts being taught. I want to be sure that they are actually interested in what is being taught, that they are engaged and actually learning. And the truth is that although I learnt a lot about being social during my schooling experience a lot of my time at school was also wasted.
For me I learnt best when I was not at school. I learnt when I was interested in topics, when I actually started to understand math and science and became fascinated by these things and I feel that I can not offer my child that opportunity if they are at school everyday. I do not think the weekends and after school are enough time, and I do not like the idea of stressing out my child when she is supposed to be enjoying free time. I also learnt a lot at after school lessons and I think that was because I was able to go when I felt to and only to the classes I was interested in..
I grew up in Trinidad in a time when my parents could not send me to school if I didn't want to go and I loved that. Here it is different; I can not enroll my child in school, allow her to socialize and gain the benefits of public school, yet keep her at home when she wants to stay home and learn. I wish I could but it's not that easy in the Netherlands. I do recognize that their are significant advantages to real school though, like trained teachers and facilities and interaction with out students, but I think there are also some advantages to being at home and we all make choices in life.
And if my children are interested in going to school, I would definitely send them. In fact I hope that one day they are interested  and I hope, like all other parents, that everything they have learnt at home before going to school is enough to help them maturely deal with the things they face in school. My ideal version of public schooling though is one in which attendance is not regulated as much as it is, but rather how much the child is actually learning is regulated. I guess something more like university with parental guidance.
The Home education laws in the Netherlands make it very difficult to create anything remotely close to this though. Home educating co-ops are almost non-existent here because the government makes it so difficult to legally home educate, and in fact they only allow it under the one condition that you can not find a school which supports your religious beliefs within a reasonable distance to your home. Two years ago the government even considered taking away the right to home educate entirely. You can read this article to find out more about that.
My question to the Netherlands is how can this be the case in a country so based on tolerances of different schools of thinking? In possibly the only country where prostitution is legal, same-sex relationships are given the same rights as heterosexual relationships, abortion is legal, women's rights are well respected and even marijuana is legal. A country whose name has almost become synonymous with tolerance  I would of thought that the Dutch way was to be tolerant of difference while regulating that things do not become extreme; so why aren't they doing that with respect to home education?
What is the government so afraid of with respect to home education? I can only see that they are afraid of children being socialized in a way that they did not control. If they are afraid of children not being educated well enough; why not just regulate it more, test the children from time to time, check up on them? They must be afraid that the children will not be socialized "properly'', and what they do not realize is that by making it so difficult to home school they in fact ENSURE that the children are not socialized as well as they could be.
The truth is that home educating families often have to lie to get the right to home educate, and because of this many of them are afraid of socializing with other home learners as much as they would like to. They are afraid to advertise themselves as who they really are: regular folk who want to be a bigger part of their child's education and who also would not mind being a part of a home educating community so that their kids can make friends while learning in the the environment they believe is best for their child's education (their home).
This means that in fact Dutch home learning families are not as fully exposed to each other as they could be, and as a result the kids are not as well socialized as they could be. They are still just as well socialized as many kids who go to public schools, but the options available to them could still be so much more. So I am really asking the Dutch government to reconsider their position on home education. If a parent has the time and energy and will to home educate their child how can that be a bad thing?
What the government should do is try to regulate the quality of education the child is receiving  Ah well it could still be so much worse, at least there is an option for Dutch families, unlike in so many other European countries. What do you all think? Have you ever considered home education? And do you think it should be legalized?
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