Meeting a Famous TCK

Before the flu hit our family like a vicious creature from the black depths of the sea, I had the opportunity to listen to a John Newbery Award author speak at one of the International Schools here in Taipei. Linda Sue Park to be exact.

She’s a TCK, really!

I’m not sure she’d call herself a Third Culture Kid, but I do. Her parents are US immigrants from South Korea. Most of her books are tied back to South Korea in someway, which I love. Her curiosity of her parent’s life before America lead to questions, which lead to story ideas.

She was inspiring…

I’m not Korean, but I was inspired to share my stories and to find out the stories of my family to share with my own children. My kids should know about their great-grandparents and how they survived the dust bowl of the 30’s, how their grandparents survived WWII in Germany/Prussia, and how their parents grew up on opposite sides of the world yet still met and married.

How do you share family stories when you live on different continents?

Stories are usually shared around the table at family gatherings. I grew up in a family that met every Sunday after church at my grandparents’ home for lunch. This is where I heard many of the family stories, but my kids do not have that same opportunity. We live on a different continent and see them every few years.

What to do, what to do…

Be proactive. Keep a journal with the questions you want to ask. Get your kids involved if they are old enough and ask them what they want to know. Buy a book that already has the questions written down. Then spend time with those loved ones and find out the answers. You could even video the question/answer time so your children can watch it later. Your kids may not be that interested in it right now, but someday they will be – and when that day comes wouldn’t it be more fun to have a video or book to look at together than to just stare at them open mouthed and say, “I don’t know.”

My in-laws are visiting in a few months – I need to get that journal bought and ready.

Your Turn: Have you thought about your family stories and how you are going to pass them down to your kids? How have you managed it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and responses below.

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Holiday Blues

Sad snowman on Commonwealth Ave.

photo by flickr

I’m beginning to see Facebook statuses that read:

“He’s here! He’s here! Let the fun begin!”  or

“I’m at — airport and only a few more hours left to be home!”

I’m excited for my friends and their children that get to be with them for the holidays, but it made me begin to wonder about the ones that won’t get to see their kids this year. Living overseas can be difficult during the holiday times, especially if your children are no longer living with you and can’t come “home” for Christmas. You worry about where they might go, how they are going to get there, among all the other worries you already have about them.

Many go to visit grandparents or aunts and uncles.

What if your child is not from the country where they now residing and can’t come “home” for the holidays? Where will they go? What will they do?

I’ve thought about this and have watched Facebook and listened to moms here that are in this scenario. Here is what I’m “seeing”:

1. They are going to friend’s houses for the holidays. Fellow TCKs they know from high school whose parents have moved back.

2. Hanging out with other international students during the holidays.

3. Hanging out with college roomate and family or new friends they have made.

If you’ve had children that couldn’t come “home” for the holidays, what did they do? How did you cope? Please share in the comments below.

Christmas Gifts for the Grandparents

Christmas presents under the tree

photo by flickr

Buying presents is something I like doing. Even though I live overseas, I like coming up with ideas for my nieces and nephews. Sometimes this is done online, but most of the time it is at the local market.

What I do find hard is buying for the grandparents. My husband’s parents lived here and have every little trinket and painting that they have to offer in this Asian country. My mother doesn’t need another trinket, table covering, wall hanging, etc. So, a few years back I began to think about this dilemma. What do you buy them? Do I just add money to the gift fund that all my sibs are doing and let them buy the gift for us? Do I try to find a new book that they haven’t read?

A light went on. The one thing they don’t have is seeing my kids on a regular basis. I decided to make something with them as the focus. So, here are just a few gift ideas that I have given in the past.

Note: I’m not mentioning this year’s idea because they might read this. But, I’ll post a picture of it AFTER Christmas.

1. Home DVDs of the kids.

2. Calendars with the kids’ pictures for each month. I’ve used Shutterfly, which has been great because they mail all over the world.

3.  Album of specifically of our time with them that previous summer/winter. This I also did with Shutterfly.

4. I’ve had the kids trace their hands to make various craft projects. This was a visual for them to see how big they really were getting. I’ve made Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths. Pinterest is a good resource for finding ideas of this sort.

I have this year’s gift almost completed, which is a good thing since I’m about out of time to get it there before Christmas Day!

What are some gift ideas that you have for the grandparents? Any favorite that they really liked the best? Please share in the comments below.

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