Growing Up Global Read-Along: Greet Your Friend

Growing up Global Read Along

We’re back for the second instalment of our expat parenting book read-along with Chapter 2 of Growing up Global: Greet your friend (you can find the Introduction and Chapter 1 here).

We’re a couple of days behind schedule due to birthday celebrations (someone turned 4! Already!) and The Baby Who Refused to Nap for an ENTIRE DAY! I’m just lucky he has a very sunny disposition, otherwise it could have been disastrous!

Anyway, back on subject, I finally completed Chapter 2 of Growing up Global. I’m finding this book quite an easy read despite being a bit behind; I’ll blame that on my procrastinating personality.

Chapter 2: Greet your Friend deals mostly with language and, as you can guess from the title, sociocultural conventions regarding greetings around the World. Once more, I found this book to be very USA-centric, but I guess that is the general audience for it, so let’s leave it at that.

The first thing the author tackles hit a bit close to home with me – getting your child used to saying hello (and generally greeting) people. I’m going to publicly admit here, before having kids I was one of those people who thought “how rude! MY child is going to be brought up to be more polite and greet others (a simple hello – I never thought you should force kisses/hugs/etc.)”. Well, I’m eating my words. The author points out how, especially American children, are not used to greeting people they meet. I agree with her and have always emphasized this with my children. all went well until around the time Sprout 1 turned 2 and suddenly decided he was shy (yes, I’m aware it’s not exactly a decision – you get my point). Now I have a 4-year-old who not only will most probably NOT say hello, you might be greeted with a scowl as well. And there you have it. I honestly don’t know what to do. I tell him it’s polite to greet people and, at a minimum, not try to scare them. I’m hoping it will pass with time and was hopeful Ms. Tavangar would have some tips other than reading one of Emily Post‘s books on etiquette for children, but I do realise this isn’t the focus of the book. I’m open to any of your suggestions/tips though!

After getting into the habit of saying hello, Homa suggests learning greetings outside the children’s own culture, giving tips such as watching for cues and showing respect when you aren’t familiar with the proper way to greet someone. This chapter also has a list of general principles for greeting people according to continent. A good way to practise would be looking at the map with your child and talking about different ways people greet each other, as well as role-playing.

I’ve personally always found greetings in European countries to be a bit confusing. Being Portuguese, I’m obviously well aware of the rule of giving 2 kisses to everyone if you are a female and 2 kisses to women and a handshake to men if you are a male. In other countries, Belgium included, it’s not so straightforward. After living here for over 6 years now, I still don’t have it straight and all the other nationalities you encounter just seem to add to the confusion, so I’ve made a mental note to more purposefully educate myself on this.

All throughout the chapter there is a big focus on getting to know people of different cultures and ethnicities as individuals and not stereotypes, adjusting your behaviour accordingly.

There is an entire part on activities to do with children divided by over 10 and under 10, as well as many resources, both paid and free.  A few I found interesting for younger children are Muzzy, by the BBC, Beth Manners’ Fun French for Kids ages 2-6, Putomayo’s Playground collection of world music for kids (we have a few of these – really good) and looking for Listmania lists on Amazon by relevant topics, such as Father & son’s social justice picture books for children list.

How about you? Do your kids greet people? Can they do so in different languages?

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book directly via these links, a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore. However, if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop stocking this book, please pay them a visit if you would like to buy it!

Read-along time: Growing Up Global

It’s time for our read-along to begin! I hope others have been reading the book as well and I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, even if you haven’t been reading along.

Expat Parenting book read-along: Growing up Global

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

I have so far only read the Introduction and Chapter 1: Be a Friend, so I can truly limit myself to commenting on only these two.

I’m enjoying the book so far, but I do have to point out that this book is very much aimed at an American audience (as in USA, not American continent). I’ve been reading the Kindle Edition bought from the US Amazon site, so I’m not sure if the UK version has any differences. There are many references to the United States and how cultural differences are perceived there (such as references to the way Muslims are viewed post 9/11) and some of the resources presented are specifically for the US. This book was clearly meant for an American audience with a more or less ethnically  and linguistically homogeneous background. This seems natural considering the author is American and this book is very much based on her experience and aimed at those who can not easily travel overseas to have first hand contact with other cultures.

That said, most of the information and tips can be interpreted and applied elsewhere as well.

The introduction tells us what brought the author to want to write this book (you can find out more about that on the book’s website as well, here: Growing up Global), basically to help parents raise children with a global perspective, whether or not they can travel overseas.

The book is structured like a recipe to make a friend – a global friend – and that’s clear in the Chapter’s names. It is also strongly based on the Golden Rule – one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself – which exists in most world religions in one form or another. (I will not argue here any quibbles I may have with the Golden Rule, but let me just say, I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to assume others would like to be treated the way we would like to be treated. But that would be a philosophical question, and I do think as a general principle the Golden Rule does have it’s merits and is simple enough for a child to understand.)

In the first Chapter there is a list of “10 things to do now”, which you can also find on the book’s website here, which I find is very useful. Many of these tips I already have incorporated into our daily life already, such as having a World Map over Sprout 1’s bed (we chose the Peters World Map because the representation of the size of countries is more accurate than the more widely used Mercator Map).

Peters World Map

Peters World Map

We also have some of her recommended books (that’s a surprise, huh!) such as Children Just Like Me, a Unicef publication by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley  and, Sue Copsey.

Children Just Like Me

Children Just Like Me, by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley and, Sue Copsey

The part about exposing children to other languages and cultures is almost a given for expats. However, it has made be thought quite a bit. While my children have constant contact with many different languages and cultures, do to the very international community they are living in here in Brussels, I do find they don’t have enough (in my opinion) contact with the national culture.

I find we don’t have many Belgian friends. Acquaintances yes, but friends – not so much. While I do find language to be one of the barriers (my French is fluent, but nothing compared with a native speaker and sadly I have yet to learn Flemish),  I do find cultural differences to be the biggest obstacle. It seems to me people are a bit weary of making “international” friendships. I don’t really blame them;  it does seem people are coming and going constantly, which leads to inevitable good byes, so investment in a friendship may feel high risk. Or maybe it’s just me and I have to find a way to better integrate into Belgian culture. I would love to know how others have been handling this, especially if you’re here for the long run like we are.

Homa Sabet Tavangar, an Iranian growing up in the US herself, shares her own stories of hidden prejudice towards others, as well as prejudice from others, which I personally found I could relate to. As much as we don’t want to be prejudiced, it sometimes does seep in without us even being aware, or wanting to acknowledge!

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the book, especially the hands-on suggestions promised in the next chapters.

The next installation of our read-along will be on Wednesday, 17 April. Get reading!

Sprout’s first visit to the hospital

Baby’s First Hospital Visit in Brussels

Sprout 1 on the day he turned 4 months, before surgery

Today I’m over at CheeseWeb talking about Sprout 1’s first visit to the Emergency Room and first (and only so far) hospital stay. Here’s an excerpt:

The first time this happened to us was almost 4 years ago, but I can still remember it clearly. 3am, my little almost 4 month old Sprout couldn’t settle himself to sleep, his tired eyes looking up at me, unable to nurse, constantly vomiting. We weren’t sure what was going on, but knew he had a hernia that could become blocked and require urgent surgery. After debating for a short while if we really should take him out into the cold August night (this is Belgium – August nights can be cold) to the emergency room, or wait until morning and call his paediatrician, we bundled him up and headed to Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc.

Click through to read the rest.

 

 

Brothers

I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since we welcomed our second Sprout into our family. From the moment we decided to have a second child the doubts were plenty. Not about the actual WANTING another child, but how it would affect the family dynamics, especially regarding Sprout 1.

Brothers

Would I be able to love another child as much as I already loved Sprout 1? Would they get along? Would he be jealous? Could we dedicate enough time and resources to a second child? What would I do about breastfeeding (I was still breastfeeding Sprout 1 when I found out I was pregnant)? Is this fair to Sprout 1? And on, and on…

Of course, looking back now these questions seem almost silly. It’s amazing how these little ones fill our hearts so completely, yet there’s always room for more. My two sons are so very different, yet quite similar all at once. My sons’ relationship has grown. I think they both benefit from having each other, and they both love each other… most of the time.

Sprout 2 (10 months) is still at that stage of adoring his big brother, even when he gets knocked over! Sprout 1 (almost 4 years) has moments ranging from adoration to frustration and occasional spurts of jealousy when baby is getting “too much” attention (think milestones, like sitting, crawling, eating).

We’re into a good groove at the moment, but it hasn’t always been this way. I was surprised to find after Sprout 2’s birth that Sprout 1 wasn’t upset at the baby, but rather was upset at us. At me in particular, for a while. he was NOT happy with all the time I was spending with his baby brother.

We found ways to help him with his feelings and things got better as they got to know each other and as baby grew and became more responsive (smiles for big brother! giggles! chasing! yay!).

One thing I found helpful was giving him a doll to take care of. He would change diapers, burp, carry and even breastfeed (too cute!). We were also very open and explained why babies needed so much attention and how he was when he was a baby. We never denied him expressing feelings of wanting the baby to go back in mama’s belly, or insisted he loved his brother when he said he didn’t. Soon enough things fell into a new sort of normal.

I also found books to be a big help with the process, both for him and for me. Here are four books which really helped prepare the way and that he occasionally STILL asks to read.

Books for preparing the arrival of a new sibling

There's going to be a baby, by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury

This book is brilliant. It’s a conversation throughout the seasons between mother and son where they both imagine what baby will be once he’s big. Sprout 1 loves the scenarios and really identified with the little boy. I loved that the little boy expressed his negative feelings toward the baby, yet ends with a “Grandpa, we’re going to love our baby, aren’t we?”;  brought tears to my hormonal eyes.

What's inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

What’s inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

This book was recommended by a friend and it’s perfect for little ones to get a month by month picture of what is going on inside Mom’s belly. It consists of month by month 2-page spreads with tidbits about the growing baby along with real sized pictures of baby inside the “mummy’s tummy”. Sprout 1 loved to have me hold it up to my belly. It’s great for preschoolers who want to know the why’s and how’s, without too much information. It ends with a push and some information about newborns (referencing both breastfeeding and bottle feeding).

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

This picture book depicts many scenarios of what happens when baby is here. Lots of discreet breastfeeding images and side by sides of what baby does and what big sister or brother can do. Also pictures of going for walks with baby in a carrier. It gives kids an idea of how they can be included in activities with baby (helping with the bath, etc) and how activities like story-time and singing can include baby as well. A great little book for toddlers and preschoolers.

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

This book is certainly geared towards attachment parenting families. It has images of baby sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to the parent’s bed, being carried in a sling, breastfeeding, etc. It has little tidbits for the older sibling, and includes more than one older sibling, so good for families with more kids. Sprout 1 loved seeing familiar scenes and could relate to the parts addressing the older sibling’s feelings like wishing the baby would go away.

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Finally, a book for the parents. I must admit I’m still reading through this as it covers before birth to adolescence, so I dip in as I feel the need. I researched many books on sibling relationships and from the reviews, this one seemed to be what I was looking for. It addresses the many stages of sibling relationships and family dynamics. The book is peppered with anecdotes from real parents, children and health visitors. It’s easy to read in short spurts (is it too much information if I tell you this book sits in our bathroom?) and is packed with sound advice and reminders of simple things we sometimes forget or overlook.

Do you have more than one child? Are you thinking about it? How have you handled it and do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share?

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

Haricot Magique in Schaerbeek

Sometimes you just want to get out with friends and the littles and find the offerings are really quite limited when it comes to places where you can go and have a chat with your adult friends, without worrying about your kids being – well, KIDS! Enter Haricot Magique…

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

Laurent and Audrey, the friendly faces at Haricot Magique

Haricot Magique is the first Stroller Café (Café Poussette) in Brussels. Born out of frustration in feeling unwelcome at certain cafés in town, The Haricot Magique (magic bean) team brought the growing European trend to Schaerbeek in Brussels.

I’ve personally had a hard time in many cafés and restaurants finding a place to change the baby Sprouts other than on top of the toillet (not nice at all with a newborn – yuck!). And while most places do welcome children with open(ish) arms, most do expect you to keep them “sage” (literally means wise, which I guess they better be if they don’t want to get into trouble!) and I’ve even had sideways glances and sighs from staff upon seeing us enter with kids in tow.

In and Around Brussles with Kids: Haricot Magique

Here, however, you can have a light snack and coffee (or tea, etc) with your friends AND  include the kids as well. They have baby food for the very little ones, and a range of high chairs to suit first sitters as well as sitting pros that just need the extra height to comfortably reach the table. They even have bibs and cutlery for small hands, so no need to bring anything from home. Oh, and most products are Fair Trade and/or Organic – a definite plus in my book.

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

There is also a little boutique with high-quality children’s ware, from creative kits to bento-boxes, clothes, toys and more (you can have a glimpse in the second picture above).

In and Around Brussles with Kids: Haricot Magique

But, hands down, their best feature is a children’s area in the back stocked with toys, mats, books and a table and chairs, where the small ones can hang out while their adults enjoy their snack at the tables. The only con is the current lack of visibility, but the owners have let me know they have plans to install a concave mirror in the near future to improve visibility.

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

Live music

The place is usually bustling on Wednesday afternoons and weekends, and there is lots to do as well. On their website you can find a calendar with activities, ranging from baby massage to live music. If you want some calm, then I do suggest weekdays, especially mornings.

Both my children love coming here, and so do I. Oh, and they speak English as well, if French isn’t your thing ;)

Haricot Magique
Avenue Louis Bertrand 22,
1030 Bruxelles
www.haricotmagique.be

Expat parenting book read-along: Growing up Global

Expat parenting book read-along: Growing Up Global

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavengar

Life off-line has kept me away from the blog this past week. I’ve been busy preparing things for the BCT’s Nearly New Sale, plus we had a quick trip to the Emergency room with Sprout 1 (nothing serious, just a cut on the head after falling off a chair with a book in his hand and landing head first against our side-table), and now the snow. OMG the SNOW! Our balcony was covered almost to the height of Sprout 1’s waist (he’s almost 4)! Beautiful, really, BUT WHERE IS SPRING? Ok, rant over.

I’m back now and I have lots of things planned here! Can’t wait to get it all ready.

First up, our Expat parenting book read-along. The winner of the poll (with 50% of votes) was Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavengar.

This book has 9 chapters, plus and Introduction and Conclusion. I’m thinking of doing one Chapter per week, plus one for the Conclusion, which means this series will run for 10 weeks. I’ll include the Introduction with Chapter 1: Be a Friend.

I propose “meeting up” on Wednesdays, when I’ll post about the book and you can feel free to join in in the comments. To give those who wish to read-along time to get the book and start reading, the read-along will begin on April 3rd.

I have the Kindle Edition, even though I don’t actually own a kindle, because I like reading on my iPad or iPhone (great for those times when I keep my kids company to fall asleep at night). You can get the Kindle app for other smart-phones and tablets as well.

What are you waiting for? Let’s start reading!

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book directly via these links, a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore, or the above link but for the Kindle edition. However, if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop stocking this book, please pay them a visit if you would like to buy it!

 

In and Around Brussels with kids: Technopolis

Spring is definitely in the air, which for most families means more time spent outside. Hurrah! However, there are still many rainy days to come  – we are in Brussels after all! It’s always nice to have an indoor alternative for those rainy days when you don’t want to be stuck at home, but don’t want to venture outside either.

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Technopolis

Technopolis is one of 3yo Sprout’s favourite spots for a day out. It’s just outside Brussels, in Mechelen, only a 20 minute drive. It is a truly hands-on science centre which caters to just about any age group.

Inside the big complex (which is currently undergoing expansion) you can find The Children’s Science Centre (TCSC), advertised as being for ages 4-8 – but don’t let this put you off if you have younger children. I would say your average 2yo would get a kick out of it, as would their parents.

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Construction site

Inside TCSC you find an entire town, with a working crane to build a house, an ambulance with working sirens, a vegetable patch, a pizzeria, a garage and a bank where you can even print your own money with your picture on the bills!

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Pizzeria

The best part? This area is closed to visitors without small children and the button to open the doors from the inside is out of children’s reach, meaning they are in a safe, age-appropriate area where they can wander freely without the fear of getting lost.

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Garage

Within the area there is also an adapted restroom with little toilets and sinks (along with the bigger ones), and a changing table. If you would like to stay for lunch, there is a small cafeteria with healthy-ish kids’ meals (currently undergoing work, so check before you go).

Technopolis 4

And of course, don’t forget to have a look at the rest of the centre; one of my son’s favourite attractions is the water elephant near the cafeteria (very handy if you’re still eating and they are done, or you’re busy feeding a smaller one. Even my 8mo baby had a blast the last time we were there!

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Baby water play

It can get pricey though, and if you plan on going back, I definitely recommend getting an annual subscription. It also comes with additional discounts and perks, such as a free entrance to the Boudewijn Seapark in Brugge.

The best time to go? I would definitely say school holidays and weekends since it can get pretty packed with school visits on school days.

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite book for the read-along! We’re at a tie at the moment and I’m looking forward to announcing the winner this weekend!

Weekend links

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Don’t forget to vote for your favourite book for the read-along! We’re at a tie at the moment and I’m looking forward to announcing the winner on Friday!

This past week Sprout 1 (almost 4yo) went on his first school trip. To a castle themed indoor playground. All kids got fed chocolate sandwiches (oh, yes! This IS Belgium) with juice and waffles for dessert (because, you know, you really need dessert after a CHOCOLATE sandwich). And no naps. Needless to say I brought home an overtired, sugar high child. This was Thursday, and we’re still recovering, believe it or not. Anyway, that was probably the highlight of our week (lame, I know). How was yours?

Here are some links from around the web. Enjoy!

Self care makes child care easier, by Simple homeschool

Multilingual children in Geneva, by Geneva Family Diaries (lots of tips for raising multilingual children)

How breast feeding saves lives… And how you can help, by PhD in parenting

Expat parenting book read-along

I’m an avid book reader, both fiction and non-fiction, and as such, I have a collection of more parenting books than I (or my husband) would care to admit. It’s just how I work – I have questions, I read up on them. And read. And read. You get my point.

Anyhow, I thought it would be a nice idea to share relevant books I’m reading with you, my dear readers, and I would love to invite you to read along with me. Or, if you haven’t the time or inclination, maybe you’d just like to read the Cliffs Notes* version?

Obviously, you don’t have to be an expat yourself to join in, I just figured “multicultural, multilingual parenting book read-along” would be too big, so there you have it.

Expat parenting book read-along

So this is how it would work: Today I’m going to propose three books and I would love for you to help me choose one for our read-along. I will give those of you who would like to actually read-along 3 or 4 weeks to buy the book and read the first part. Would this be enough? Too much? I would then post about it every week or every fortnight (I just love that word) until we’re done, and you can join in in the comments if you’re so inclined.

These are my first suggestions, but if you have another in mind, please do share in the comments.

Here are the nominees, in alphabetical order:

Book 1 – Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

Growing Up Global - Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

From Amazon’s book description:

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, how do we prepare our children to succeed and to become happy, informed global citizens? A mother of three, Homa Sabet Tavangar has spent her career helping governments develop globally oriented programs and advising businesses on how to thrive abroad. In Growing Up Global, Tavangar shares with all of us her “parenting toolbox” to help give our children a vital global perspective. (…) Growing Up Global is a book that parents, grandparents, and teachers can turn to again and again for inspiration and motivation as they strive to open the minds of children everywhere.

Book 2 – Growing up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven, by Xiao-lei Wang

Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven

Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven

From Amazon’s book description:

This book is for parents who live in a foreign country and intend to raise their children in their own heritage language(s). It offers helpful suggestions for this challenging situation and providesuseful strategies in the daily interactions between parents and children.

Book 3 – Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reke

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reken

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reken

From Amazon’s book description:

Filled with real-life anecdotes, Third Culture Kids examines the nature of the TCK experience and its effect on maturing, developing a sense of identity and adjusting to one s passport country upon return. For many third culture kids, this book will be their first opportunity to discover that they share a common heritage with countless others around the world. Highlighting dramatic changes brought about by instant communication and new mobility patterns, the new edition shows how the TCK experience is becoming increasingly common and valuable. The authors also expand the coverage to include cross-cultural kids, children of bi-racial or bi-cultural parents, immigrants and international adoptees all of this bringing hidden diversity to our world and challenging our old notions of identity and home .

So, are you in?

*From Wikipedia: CliffsNotes (formerly Cliffs Notes, originally Cliff’s Notes and often, erroneously, CliffNotes) are a series of student study guides available primarily in the United States. The guides present and explain literary and other works in pamphlet form or online. Detractors of the study guides claim they let students bypass reading the assigned literature. The company claims to promote the reading of the original work, and does not view the study guides as a substitute for that reading.

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book via this link a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore, but if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop please pay them a visit if you would like to buy these books!

Online reads

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I hope you had a nice weekend, even with the cold, the fog and the snow if you’re reading from Brussels!

Here are some things I’ve been reading on the inter-webs. Feel free to add any other links you’ve enjoyed in the comments.

Activities for Kids and Parents in Brussels, over @cheeseweb – http://cheeseweb.eu/2013/02/activities-kids-parents-brussels-belgium/

Ages and Stages: Overstimultaion in babies – http://simplekids.net/ages-and-stages-overstimulation-babies/

A birth-story at St. Elisabeth in Brussels – This one is in French, but you can always use Google translate if you can’t read French. This is actually a very interesting project. Lots of birth stories from mums demanding a more humane birthing experience – http://moncorpsmonbebemonaccouchement.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/120-sylvia-bruxelles-2012/

You are your child’s strongest advocate – whatever their age @childhood 101 – http://childhood101.com/2013/02/you-are-your-childs-strongest-advocate-whatever-their-age/