I'm so excited to share a resource with you today! I was recently searching for online resource for parents of TCKs, and came across an amazing SIL website. There are hundreds of resources here - books, articles, websites, and so on, addressing nearly every area of raising TCKs. I hope you can be encouraged, instructed, and blessed by this website!

 

SIL's resources for families overseas

 

I also want to share a short list of books for TCKs or their parents. Some of these books are not written by Christians, but are still helpful in understanding the TCK experience. Please use your own discretion.

 

The Expat Bookshop

 

 Happy Clicking! :-)

Where I live, it's not so easy to find clothes for my little girls. And it is very, very easy for my little girls to ruin their clothes, as almost all their play involves dirt in some form or another :)

 

Here are a few very simple ways to whip up a little dress in less than 30 minutes... okay... in a short time, anyway. Some of these dresses are not your classiest ever, but at least my kids look halfway decent again for as long as it lasts! You will need a sewing machine and some basic sewing skills.

 

 

SHIRT DRESS (picture 1)

 

Find a ladies' shirt (men's would work too). Cut up the sides (see pic 2). Hem the sleeves. Sew up the sides. Done.

 

 

SLEEVELESS BLOUSE DRESS (picture 3)

 

Find a sleeveless blouse with a round neckline. Or, if there is a collar, just cut it off. Use bias tape to finish off the neckline. Thread thin elastic through the neck. Tighten to fit, sew to fasten. If desired, you can take in the sides a bit to make it less blousy. I added a strip of contrasting fabric to the hem to lengthen it. Done. (I have also heard of people making a similar dress out of a pillowcase!)

 

 

T-SHIRT DRESS (picture 4)

 

Winner for comfort! Find a t-shirt. Find a piece of matching fabric. Or vice versa ;) Gather the fabric onto the waist of the t-shirt (note: this is not the bottom of the shirt but where the natural waistline would be). I often add elastic in between the shirt and the skirt so the shirt doesn't stretch out as you sew. Hem the skirt. Done.

 

 

PEASANT DRESS (picture 5,6)

 

My favorite. There is an excellent free pattern for this dress here: onceuponasewingmachine.com/diy-toddler-peasant-dress. For my oldest (3 years old) I often add some elastic in the waist. This pattern is so versatile and can make a tunic or shirt as well, and sleeves in any length. And while you're at it, why not make a matching dress for the baby? :)

 

 

Toddler Dress





Today I'm thrilled to share an interview with a young friend of mine. She was raised overseas, and has now transitioned into adulthood in the States. I was excited to ask her some of the questions that burned on my heart as I considered raising my children as TCKs. Please note that no name is used, to protect my friend's identity.

 

Q: Was your childhood overseas a good experience, one you look back on with good memories?

A: Yes, it was. Like any child, I had good times and bad ones. But overall I had a very happy childhood. I think the single most important thing was that our home was secure. My parents were unified, my brothers and sisters were my best friends. There was love in the home. We always had each other’s support, loyalty, and love. 

 

Q: Was it hard to have your father in ministry and gone a lot? Did you feel frustrated or bitter about that?

A: Sometimes, yes. More in my teen years than as a young child. The hardest thing was that his schedule was unpredictable, so we couldn’t count on having him there for the family times and things we felt he ought to be there for. But we had weekly family nights and daily family devotions. He did make his family a priority.

 

Q: How were furloughs for you as a child?

A: They were a difficult time. We didn’t just stay in one place, we traveled a lot and that was hard. The hardest thing was not wanting to make friendships because I knew they wouldn’t last since we were leaving again in a few months. 

 

Q: What are some things your parents did to help you grow up "well-rounded" while you were living overseas?

A: My parents made our home a “mini America” - they didn’t throw away their American culture when we moved overseas. When we were at a local friends’ house, then of course we adopted the local customs. But when we were at home, we were expected to use American manners, speak proper English, and so on. Also, my parents made our education a priority. My dad took the time to teach us music and other things that were important to him.
Another thing I really appreciate, is that my parents knew they would be letting us go, and didn’t try to hold onto us or make us take up their calling or vision of missions. They blessed us to each find our own way.


Q: How was the transition from your home country to the States? What helped you the most through that transition?

A: That transition was very overwhelming. My parents were here with me the first year, and I don’t know how I could have done it without my family. They knew where I was “lacking” and worked to fill in the gaps and teach me how to do things. I felt like a little child again, I had to re-learn everything. Banking, driving, cooking - all those things I knew how to do in my home country, I had to learn how to do here in America.
I also really needed people who genuinely wanted to be my friend, and weren’t just curious about my life overseas. In the beginning, I needed people who were willing to come my way - I didn’t have the energy to pursue relationships or even figure out how to get places.


Q: How do you feel that being a TCK has impacted you as an adult? Positive in what ways? Negative in what ways?

A: NEGATIVE - There have been some things to work through. One hard thing is not knowing how to maintain relationships. I’ve never had the opportunity to be friends with someone “long-term” before, and I’m learning how to do it. Overall, the negative things are minor, and I am learning to work through them and overcome them.

POSITIVE - I have compassion for immigrants! When I see someone trying to order at a restaurant or something like that, I just want to help them - I know what it feels like to be lost in a new culture. I have different values. A lot of the fads and fashions don’t mean anything to me - of course, that can make it harder to relate to my peers, but it’s also a good thing. I realize there’s more than one way of doing life. That takes some of the pressure off. I’m not afraid to be different - I’ve been different my whole life.



Q: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for mothers who are raising their children overseas?

A: 1) Watch your attitudes. Your children will pick up on your attitudes, especially toward your host country and the local people. If you express distaste, frustration, fear, etc they will either pick that up and also be discontent and frustrated, or (as they begin to identify with the local culture) they will get bitter towards you for your attitude.

2) Understand how hard it is for your adult children to transition back to the States. Don’t pity them, but be there for them. Remember what it was like for you when you first moved overseas - and realize it's that hard or harder for them. Give them the support they need, help them fill in the gaps.

 

Great words of wisdom for us as moms raising TCKs! Many thanks to this brave friend for sharing her heart!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we have officially entered the Christmas season. This weekend is the first Sunday in Advent, and next week the month of December begins! Rather than focus on a character trait this month - although several appropriate ones came to mind - I decided to focus on the Christmas season. Here's a roundup of my ideas:

I love advent calendars! There are so many ideas out there, some of them simple and some quiet complicated. There are also many different ways to do Advent. Some use a piece of candy for each day, or a slip of paper with a verse of the Christmas story. Another idea is to have a Christmas-related activity for each day of advent.

Of course the simplest is a paper chain with 24 links, to count-down to Christmas.

I also found another cute one that can just be made with paper and string.

This idea uses an egg crate, with a small candy or a slip of paper for each day. You could use your own picture to make it nicer.

Here's an idea that uses an object paired with a Scripture each day to tell the Christmas story. You may not have all the objects needed, but be creative - maybe you could find pictures or make the objects you don't have?

This is a printable of twenty-four Bible verses telling the Christmas story. You could use them for Advent, or chose a few of the "best" to use as memory verses this month.

Here's a list of activities you can do, whether as part of your advent calendar or just for fun when you have time:

  • Serve a red and green themed meal
  • Make homemade caramel corn
  • Make gingerbread cookies
  • Make snickerdoodles
  • Make eggnog
  • Make hot chocolate - even if it is 100 degrees!
  • Decorate a gingerbread (or graham cracker) house.
  • Invite a few friends over for a cookie decorating party
  • Make a birthday cake for Jesus
  • Have a birthday party for Jesus
  • Use nativity figurines to act out the Christmas story
  • Write a letter to Jesus
  • Make paper crowns while talking about the wise men
  • String a popcorn garland
  • Make a paper chain garland
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Make thumbprint snowmen
  • Add food coloring to bubble solution, to blow red and green bubbles
  • Make red & green playdough - and use it to build a nativity scene
  • Make a video of your family singing favorite Christmas songs and reading and/or acting out the Christmas story. Then email this video to far away grandparents and friends.
  • Have a treasure hunt for anything red or green around the house & yard
  • Have a pajama party, eating special cookies and reading the Christmas story
  • Share homemade cookies or other goodies with all your expat friends
  • Write special letters and cards to family far away
  • Clean out your toys and give the extras away to neighbors or friends

If you're looking for nice nativity coloring pages, I found a few that aren't silly cartoons:

Nativity story

Christmas story

Baby Jesus

And lastly, two winter crafts that don't necessarily have anything to do with Christmas:

Make your own snow globes

Ice sculpture fun

Our boys are still young, and we haven't established any Christmas traditions with them yet, but I'm looking forward to doing some special things together this year! Let us know what you're doing as a Christmas countdown, or what kind of activities you're planning for this month!