The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Tonight, we turned on our house light and abandoned our basket of candy-goods on our door stop.  In recent pasts, Beau and I would put on a spooky Halloween playlist, dim the lights in our house, and watch our neighborhood light up with trick-or-treaters from the comfort of our home.  We'd drink wine, fill little Jack-o-Lanterns with candy, and pretend we existed within the pages of a children's story.  I love Halloween, and love the spirit that fills the streets of our neighborhood.  

This year, however, we left our candy at home, and took our Very Hungry Caterpillar for his first trick-or-treating experience.  

And thanks to Grandma Kelly, Cruz discovered a love for chocolate Kit Kat bars.  Here he is attempting to disclose his attempt to tear into one through its wrapping. 

It's the first of many end-of-the-year celebrations, and I am ready to stretch out and soak up every one of them.  We had so much fun this weekend --- I may just have to keep this costume in a familiar place for the occasional rainy day.  

So much to catch up on---but for now, it's bedtime.  My 'hungry' caterpillar is a sleepy one!  

Hope you had fun tonight :)

It's the Great Pumpkin, CB!

'Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He's gotta pick this one. He's got to. I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.'

A few weeks ago, we searched and searched, and we found the Great Pumpkin. 

It was big and plump and tall and orange, and looked as though it belonged in Cinderella.  Like any minute, the Fairy Godmother was going to pop from its vessel, say a 'bippity-boppity-boo,' and turn its exterior into an exquisite pumpkin carriage.     

While Cruz didn't quite understand the beastly thing that towered over him, it served as an adequate standing post, and made a wonderful little pumpkin fort for him to crawl around and explore.    

Wishing everyone a ghostly creepy Halloween weekend.  We are looking forward to a weekend at home, sticking our hands in some pumpkin muck and taking a very hungry caterpillar on his first trick-or-treating experience.  

Twitter update week 43: All about kids growing up in other cultures

9 Great tips Baby steps to biliteracy
start when the baby's in the womb

Thanks for the mention by "10 more tweeters all expats should follow"

Dutch third culture kid celebrating halloween in Beirut all about growing up globally!

I was on the great wall, sorry to have missed out on the toboggan! Sounds like fun read

Orchids, I love tropical flowers.
“Learning a 2nd language: I know my children will be thankful later on”  

Freshaliciously- Sunshine Soup by Jo Parfitt is the perfect book to read if you are an expat. Loved it!

Read this Children of expats may gain valuable advantage in global workforce arena

"Preparing Your Global Nomad for Transition to University" by

RT TCKs would you describe yourselves as rootless? Look forward to your thoughts on

Informative post: A Guide to relating with third culture kids, written by a TCK:

An unexpected culture shock on returning home (China) from overseas. Third culture kid Elizabeth tells her story

Wish I could attend 3 nov'11 20 pm free lecture on Third Culture People A New Cultural Reality in Athens

Interested in how a guidance counselor at an international school in China explains what third culture kids are?  

Have you heard of the new book for third culture kids? Slurping Soup & other Confusions

Interesting article The right to vote in the place you live...complicated!

Wisten jullie dat Mauro ook een third culture kid is? Net als ik, lees meer over TCKs
Wat zijn dat?

Leuk stukje over third culture kids Ken je Jutta K├Ânig? Weet je wat TCKs zijn? Wereldburgers?

For more links see my twitter update week 38 all about kids growing up globally. Do you have any interesting links on this topic? Please let me know.

Dong-A Comssa Computer Sign Pen

I don't know what a 'Computer Sign Pen' is vs. a regular 'Sign Pen', but you can get a box (of 12) of the Dong-A Comssa Computer Sign Pens at JetPens for $5.75 (U.S.) They have been marked down from the original price for well over a year, so I took a gamble and ordered them. 

As you can see from the review, I was a bit torn by these. They are comfortable, consistent, and if you like line variation, you can achieve it quite easily with this pen. I thought my handwriting looked atrocious - more so than usual, so that was somewhat off-putting to me. If I were one who doodled, and I'm not, I think I would appreciate these much more than I did.

I cannot fault the pen for my lack of drawing abilities, so I will say that I liked this pen, but I would like it more if I had different direction in mind. If you doodle, love sign pens, or don't care about your writing, you should probably give these a chance. 

The cap includes a raised portion to prevent it from rolling off of your desk, and there is no clip to speak of.

I did try using the period over the course of a few weeks, and the tip has not worn down at all, so it seems that you will get some good life out of these, unless you have a very heavy hand.

I tried to do the frontal shot of the point (a la No Pen Intended), but I do not have the skills to utilize my camera to the best of its abilities quite yet. As you can see, there are little fibrous hairs that compose the tip, and I do not know what the material is, but it seems like it could be some sort of plastic.

Overall, not bad. I just wish I liked them more for my preferences. I gave the rest to a friend of mine, and he is currently using them for some doodling. I am glad they found a good home.

Libby Stephens explains what third culture kids are!

Libby Stephens explains in this short video what third culture kids are. Libby is a cross-cultural transition consultant. In short she knows lots about third culture kids and has been working with them for more than 25 years. Let's just say she's an expert on this topic.

In my last post A confession to make about the term third culture kids I already wrote about the definition.

Putting it simply. She explains what the 3 different cultures are.
  1. The first has to do with legality. What is your nationality? In my case that would be Dutch.
  2. The 2nd culture has to do with geography. In which countries have you lived in? I have lived in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands.
  3. The 3rd culture has to do with community. It is all about a group of people that have lived some of their growing up years internationally. So this is all about relationships. It's true I really feel at home in an international environment.
Have you seen the short trailer "Les Passagers" all about third culture kids by Aga Magdolen. It's really worth watching!
    Do you have any questions about what third culture kids are? Have you heard of the term before?

    A Confession to make about the term Third Culture Kids

    Well I have to admit that I have a confession to make. So listen all. I hope you have discovered that I am passionate about third culture kids and that I want more people to know what third culture kids are. I want you all to know why and how cross-cultural childhoods affect children and that cross-cultural childhoods do matter.

    For those who are new to this DrieCulturen blog. I want to let you know that it all started on the 12th of June 2011. As I write I want to let you know that the past 24 hours people from 8 different countries have visited this blog. You came from Germany, Singapore, India and Sweden for example. The blog is just over 4 months old and people from more than 50 countries of this globe have visited here. I am so glad you came and I really hope you found what you were looking for. In Indonesian they say "Selamat Datang" meaning Welcome!

    The most readers to date were from these countries. Here's my top 5:
    1. the Netherlands
    2. USA
    3. Belgium
    4. UK
    5. Canada
    Now the confession. When I started this blog I took the definition of third culture kids from wikipedia. Recently I discovered that experts like Ruth van Reken are not happy with this definition and actually think it is a little incorrect. This is the definition I found on wikipedia in June 2011.

    A third culture kid (TCK, 3CK) or trans-culture kid is "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture." 

    To all the readers who have read the definition on my blog I want to say I am sorry that I had the wrong definition. The problem with the above definition is that it talks of integrating pieces of culture. Culture is not individualistic, it must be shared.

    The correct definition is the definition used in the book "Third Culture Kids, The Experience of Growing up Among Worlds" written by David Pollock and Ruth van Reken. So please forgive me for leading you astray. I will better my ways from today.

    “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

    While I am writing this blog post I have just discovered that wikipedia has recently changed the definition of a third culture kid. It is now a correct definition. In April 2011 Ruth van Reken wrote an article explaining what third culture kids really are.

    Dr. Ruth Useem a sociologist from Michigan state was the first to introduce the name third culture kids in the 1950's. Originally her definition was very simple "A third culture kid is a child who accompanies a parent into another culture".

    If you want to find more information about third culture kids visit
    DenizenMagazine is an online magazine dedicated to third culture kids and written by third culture kids. It's really worth a visit.

    Read my blog on: Third culture kids learning to be themselves and on cultural identity confusion and third culture kids. Well that's enough talk on definitions. I was really relieved to discover that I was a third culture kid. Relieved that there was not something wrong with me but that the feelings I experienced had to do with my cross-cultural childhood. What a relief that was, of course it does not explain everything but it gave me a good starting point from which to go forward. What are your thoughts on "third culture kids"? Are you one? How was it to discover that? Do you know one? Please share with us. Thanks.

    6 Months Old

    So here we are at month number six, half a  Six months of photo shoots, six months of stickers, and six months of a whole lot of fun with sweet little Avery here.  As you can see from the pics, our photo shoots get more and more fun each month as her personality just keeps growing and her smiles are now paired with laughs and babbles.  Long gone are the days of her tipping over in the chair like in month one, this was this first month that Avery was able to sit all by herself in the chair, which she seemed pretty darn happy about.

    "Ha ha! I'm 6 months old!"
    Here are her monthly stats, weight: 20 lbs (around 95 percentile) and height: 30 inches (above 100 percentile).  As I've said before the girl loves to eat, and I continue to feed her on demand...when I'm home that is.  And it seems like her Dad's height might be coming into play here as well!

    6 Month Stats
    Want to see the monthly changes...look below. What once was a tiny little one is now one big girl.  I can't help but wonder what she'll look like at 10 months? 12 months? 2 years?! Okay that is way to far ahead to be thinking! Let's stick to one month at a time. ( :

    As with every month, there are usually some highlights of the photo shoot.  This month, we had several.  The first is that she loved playing with her toes.  Since she was "Miss All Grown Up" and sitting up during the pics, her feet were what she often grabbed to keep herself entertained (and balanced).  Love those toes!

    Other highlights include....
    Chewing on her hands.

    Blowing raspberries.
    Another funny thing she did was taking breaks from sitting up by "relaxing back" in the chair and then popping back forward again.  She did this several times in a row, silly girl!

    "Just taking a break guys."

    "Don't worry, I'm back!"
    Here's some other fun pics from the photo session with the "birthday" girl...

    Showing off her sitting up skills.

    Teething: Last month I mentioned that she was cutting two teeth and although it was a struggle to get a pic then, it was much easier this month, which you can see below.  I'd love to post more about some alternative teething remedies we've been using other than her amber teething necklace, but until I find time to do that in my schedule, I've got to tell you that my must-have item is Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets...couldn't live without these things!
    "See my little pearly whites?"
    What comes with teething is lots and lots of chewing!  ( :

    Daddy's Birthday: Also this month we celebrated Brandon's 32nd birthday, his first with Avery here, so that was a lot of fun. Here are some photos of the birthday celebration.  We got the party started the weekend before his birthday at his parents house, with the usual cake, candles, and presents.
    First "family" birthday shot.

    "Hey guys, it's my dad's birthday!"

    "Yep, he's pretty cool."

    "No smiles for you's not your birthday."
    On his actual birthday, I went "green" with his decor and wrapping by using fabric instead of wrapping paper.  Kind of ghetto-looking I know, but it's the same fabric I used from last year and it worked again, so I'm sticking with it.  All I did was get some Halloween-style fabric from a fabric store (since his b-day is near Halloween) and I cut it into some generic sizes (big square, small rectangle, etc.).  From there, I wrapped it around the presents and tied it off with a strip of alternating style fabric.  Someday I'd like to finish off the edges so it looks a bit nicer, but Brandon doesn't mind, so for now it's all good. Glad he's okay with me "greening" up his birthday! ( :

    Brandon's "green" birthday wrapping and decor.

    Oh yeah, it doesn't hurt to have this little cutie help me celebrate as well!

    For one of my presents to him, I made this picture-collage from an idea I found on Pinterest (oh Pinterest how I love you!).  After seeing the idea online, all I did was pick up some big letters from a local craft store, took Avery's pictures holding..and eating them, and then had them printed and I put them into this frame.  I was really happy with how it turned out and Brandon loved it too! I thought it would be fun to re-take this picture again each year and see how she changes. 

    Brandon's b-day present from Avery and I.
    From this fun little "daddy" photo shoot, I got a cute outtake picture that I just have to share.  It's one of my new favorites of her.  Something about that smile and those cheeks. 
    We wrapped up his birthday week by going to our favorite restaurant, Genghis Khan (which we hadn't been to since my "due date party" six months ago!) with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend.  Avery got all decked out for the occasion and was pretty happy to try it out.

    You can bet there was some good
    gluten-free, vegan Mongolian BBQ food!

    The birthday crew after dinner.
    Baby-Led Solids: While we're on the topic of food, I've started giving Avery some solid food of her own with a method called Baby-Led Weaning or "Baby-Led Solids" a name I feel describes it more appropriately.   I plan on posting about this more in the future (can you tell I have a lot of blog topics on my mind and no time to write them in!), but for now, let give you a quick description from a baby-led weaning (or BLW) website:..."Baby-led weaning is a somewhat cheesy term for just letting your infant self-feed. You cut food up into manageable sticks and offer it, they eat. It’s really pretty simple."

    Although the word "weaning" may make you think I'm stopping breastfeeding, I'm not.  I continue to nurse her just as often as I always would, just now I offer her some form of solid food at least once or twice a day while I'm eating my meals.  Towards the end of month 5, Avery really started showing an interest in the food I was eating and would crawl towards it, reach towards it, and even try to grab it from me. This along with many other signs that baby-led solids talks about, lead me to believe she was ready to try some solid food.

    Now you may be asking, where are the jars of baby food? Where's the purees or mashed veggies? Well, a unique aspect of baby-led solids is that there is no "baby food".  You start out by giving babies, real food from day one, such as a stick of apple, slices of a banana, a stalk of broccoli, etc.  And you don't chop it into ten million little pieces.  The key is to actually give them the larger chunks of food so they can get practice with their fine motor skills of holding the food and bringing it to their mouth, a task that is difficult to do with finely chopped food. 

    Now this approach may not be for everyone, I know some people may not feel comfortable with does look a bit odd to see a baby just gnawing away at a broccoli floret, but so far it's working for us.  It really is just fun and stress-free, because she continues to get all the nutrition she needs from breast milk, so I don't have to make sure she eats a certain amount.  She hardly eats any at this point, and mainly just chews on the food...and gets messy.  Also, since she usually eats similar things to what we're having, I don't have to mess with buying jars of baby food or preparing special, homemade purees.  
    Banana quarter...I leave the peel on one side to
    give her something to grip and usually that's what she
    ends up chewing on.

    As of now, she only eats organic fruits and vegetables, some cooked, some raw.  I'm sure in the next couple of months I will continue adding some new foods to her "plate", but one thing that won't be on there for awhile will be gluten of any form.  With my history of food sensitivities, especially to gluten, I feel it's best to wait until Avery is at least one or two before I even try letting her have any form of gluten.  For now, it's super easy to avoid it since I'm gluten-free too and all the meals I cook are obviously gluten-free.  Other things that will NEVER be on her plate are animal products of any kind...milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, meat, you name it...this vegan baby won't be touching or eating it. 
    As I said before, I will post more details about this approach and how I'm making it work with Avery in the near future, but if you can't wait until then, here is an awesome blog I've been using to learn more applying this approach, and here's the book that got it all started for me: Baby-Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley.  Now on to some fun pictures of Avery's first "adventures with solid food"...
    Apple sticks.

    Stick of pear.

    Some cooked broccoli (with curry) and apple slices...
    interesting combo right?

    Broccoli seems to be her favorite right now since it is the
    easiest for her to hold and it can be flavored lots of
    different ways.

    5K Race: Another fun thing we did this month was to do a 5K road race...which we walked. Now this is not just any old race, this is a race my mom and I have done for 3 years in a row now, and so it was only fitting that we do it again this year with Avery. So we broke out the stroller and headed off to the race.
    "I'm ready to race guys!"

    Our racing crew...with one extra this year!
    Cross Country Meet Fun: Adding on to the outdoor time we had during the race, we also went to a few of my dad's cross country meets.  He coaches a local high school cross country team, and when his meets were close by, we made sure to stop by.  Avery loved being outside, seeing all the different color jerseys of the runners, and most importantly, seeing her grandpa!

    "Hey grandpa! I think I like cross country!"

    "Just give me a purse to play with and I'll be good."

    "Sunglasses girls"

    Spending some more time with "Coach Grandpa"
    and Grandma after the meet.
    Growing, Growing, Gone: Well, after 6 months, we've finally done it.  We've filled an entire storage tub full of all the clothes Avery has outgrown.  I bought the container around 4 months when the "too small clothes" started bursting out of drawers and it took me about 2 more months to fill it up, but is officially full! Before sending it on down to storage in my basement, we took a few last "farewell" pictures.  All I can say is, boy do babies grow fast!
    "Oh yeah, I'm a big girl now!"

    "Uh wait mom, I like this one!"

    A comparison of how she is now, next to a "newborn" size looks so tiny!
    Crawling: As I mentioned last month and showed in a play-by-play of pictures, her crawling skills were starting to show, even though it was more like she was doing "the worm."  This month she has gotten stronger and more purposeful in her movements, although she still takes on a "worm-like" motion of throwing her chest forward when starting out. The biggest change this month is that it is hard to keep her in one area.  Usually I'll put a rug down and be like, "Oh okay, you can crawl, but let's stay here on the quilt." Ha...yeah right! This month she is everywhere but the quilt.  Crawling towards the couch, the entertainment center, vents on the floor, and her favorite: the fireplace.  I have a feeling I will be posting about "baby-proofing" our home in next month's post.  For now, here's some pics of our little crawler.

    "Big A" the crawler.

    All kinds of new things have caught her attention,
     like the cable box and DVD player.

    And vents...and cords...time to baby-proof this green house!
    Here are a few more from our tummy time/crawling time one day...

    One of her many facial expressions. 
    Pumpkin Girl: With Halloween approaching, I looked to cross a fun idea off my "fall bucket list" (now that I have a baby) and try putting Avery in a pumpkin.  Yes, you read that right...I wanted to put Avery in a pumpkin.  I saw the idea on good ol' Pinterest and after finding a little pumpkin hat clip at Target, I knew it had to be done.  So off we went to find a pumpkin that could fit her.  After finding it, Brandon carved off the top and some holes for legs.  Then with the help of my parents, we snapped some pics of our "little pumpkin girl."  It turned out to be one fun picture!  ( :
    Warmly waiting with grandpa while we got the pumpkin
    ready for her.

    Thinking about it....

    "Bam! I'm in a pumpkin!"
    So there you have it, an update on my little six-month old pumpkin baby. Whew...that was quite a busy month and it's not over yet! Look for some more Halloween pictures to come soon...