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We both considered the white button-down shirt as I held it up for inspection. It (like almost everything else in the trendy clothing store) was made out of an inexpensive grade of cotton, required daily ironing, and would undoubtedly shrink the first time it we washed it. All this for only $29.99.

“I know it’s kind of expensive, but can we get it Mom?” my sweet 17-year-old daughter pleaded.

We raised our now bilingual daughter abroad, which helped her land a great job at a nearby hospital. This was the type of shirt she needed for her position, so even though she and I usually hunt for bargains, I bought the shirt.

Our children spent their formative years in Costa Rica and have both grown into thrifty, empathetic, confident, and bilingual teenagers. They’re TCKs!

TCK: Third Culture or Trans-Cultural Kids

According to the website, TCK World:

“A TCK is an individual who, having spent a significant part of the developmental years in a culture other than that of their parents, develops a sense of relationship to both. These children…who live abroad, become ‘culture-blended’ persons who often contribute in unique and creative ways to society as a whole… A TCK can never change back into a monocultural person. Parents of TCKs can return ‘home’ to their country of origin, but the children, enriched by having shared life in their formative years with another people, will find characteristics of both cultures in their very being. Acceptance of this fact frees TCKs to be uniquely themselves. In fact, TCKs have tools to be the cultural brokers of the future.”



Our children were five and seven when we moved to Costa Rica, and we’ve found this glowing description of TCKs to be spot on.

Let me share a little of what it was like raising our children abroad:


During our first couple of months in Costa Rica, we helped our kids make the transition into the schools (where the majority of courses were taught in Spanish) by providing some language tutoring. This tutoring, combined with the daily immersion at school, helped our kids quickly become fluent in the language and flourish in their studies.


All of the schools our children attended (both private and public) did not have air conditioning – just ceiling fans in various states of disrepair. Fortunately, our kids had no memory of air-conditioned modern classrooms in the US, so they contentedly considered each day’s weather conditions (even in the jungle) as just what to expect that time of year.


Most people in Costa Rica are rarely in a hurry, so our children became incredibly patient. Like the Ticos (the preferred term for Costa Ricans), they would wait without complaint in the inescapable hour-long lines at banks, government offices, or utility companies. This was even more remarkable because cell phone use is not allowed inside of banks, even to play a game.

Instant gratification is unheard of in Costa Rica, and Ticos understand that life is rich and should be savored. It took a while for us to learn how to slow down and “smell the roses,” but our children were oblivious to the stateside stress that still occasionally impacted us, and happily embraced each day as it came.

Days unfolded slowly in Costa Rica. My friends and I visited in rocking chairs while our children played for hours in the yard. Like most kids today they enjoyed some electronic gaming, but our children were equally happy outside exploring and playing active games with their friends. The lack of malls and theaters nearby prompted imaginative play and a willingness to help in the garden and kitchen. Going to see a movie in a theater was a special treat saved for our infrequent trips to a bigger city.


Trendy clothing and gear was simply not available where we lived in Costa Rica, so our kids weren’t aware of current fads or “must-have” items like their counterparts back home. Because electronics were prohibitively expensive, we never had the latest technological gadgets, but our kids never felt deprived. They simply did not know anyone who had or used the most recent technology. What they were lucky enough to own was perfectly adequate.


Our children ate locally grown organic fruits and vegetables harvested from our garden, or readily available in town. They helped collect eggs from the neighbor’s chickens and drank fresh milk delivered by the local dairy farmer in his little pickup filled with metal milk cans. Having access to such an array of delicious fruits and veggies, our kids learned to make great food choices, often choosing a sweet and juicy mango over a candy.


Our kids shared a room in our 400-square-foot, simply furnished,  two bedroom home. They spent time with friends who lived very different lifestyles. Some of their friends lived with multiple extended family members in very modest, open air, 300-square-foot homes, while others lived in spacious, air-conditioned mansions, overlooking the ocean. Regardless of where they found themselves, our kids were always comfortable and content in any environment.


During our seven years in Costa Rica, we lived in four different small towns where everyone seemed to know each other (or were often related). Ticos treat every child as their own, so we were blessed with a “village” of kind, loving, supportive “family members” who also kept an eye our children.

Once our kids got a little older, it was wonderful being able to confidently let them hop on the local bus with their friends and go down to the beach. Violent crime was practically non-existent in the communities where we lived, and news (gossip) traveled fast in our “village.” Whenever our kids were out of sight, someone would invariably be “watching“ them and later mention they’d seen them with their friends enjoying an ice cream, or walking along the beach.

Returning to the USA

We decided to move back to the US three years ago, so our kids could attend high school and college here and experience their home culture for a while. We’re confident the time spent both here and abroad will inform their decisions and give them significant advantages in the future.

Here are just a few of the benefits our children enjoy as a result of living abroad (in no particular order):

1 | Our children have befriended many kids in the large public schools they attend in the US. I believe their ability to make friends and enjoy friendships with kids in different social circles, is a direct result of growing up in Costa Rica. As bilingual TCKs, they’ve become better listeners, are more empathetic, and communicate much more confidently than many of their peers.

2 | Studies have shown that being bilingual keeps you alert and improves your listening skills. You follow social cues more closely, which helps you figure out which language to use, with which person and in what setting. By the way, it is also said to improve memory, help you multitask, solve puzzles, make decisions, and stay focused.

3 | Now that both of our TCKs have entered the workforce, their ability to speak two languages and their broad cultural exposure has given them access to more – and better – employment opportunities.

4 | Our kids now recognize, and are often turned off by, the materialistic world they now inhabit and I’m proud to report that they often search out bargains without my prompting!

5 | They are incredibly patient, and seldom flustered or fearful.

We – like thousands of other expats with well-balanced, confident, kind, bilingual, and fairly fearless children – believe the advantages of raising a TCK almost certainly outweigh the disadvantages.

My husband and I are incredibly grateful we had the opportunity to raise our children abroad. We all learned numerous impactful life-lessons while living in Costa Rica, lessons that will serve my children today and in all the days to come.


Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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